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More Dogs on Main Street

The underwear selection in Summit County leaves a lot of room for improvement. In a strange way, the paucity of underwear choices is responsible for all the growth at Kimball Junction. Years ago, well actually not all that long ago, Kimball Junction was open ranch country. Growth pressures were mounting, and the County Commission at the time got together with Park City and held a series of living room meetings all around the area. The goal was to discuss the future and identify concerns of the residents that might be addressed by planning. The event became known as County Home Evening, and is still a factor in some decision-making.

The primary "negative" factor that emerged from the County Home Evening process was that people, mostly women, complained that there was a lack of retail opportunity, particularly when it came to buying underwear. I didn’t really understand it at the time. Every three or four years I could go to Salt Lake and stock up, and Alpha-Beta sold Fruit-of-the-Loom tighty-whiteys on the hardware aisle. But women seemed to want more.

Before you knew it, that led to the Factory Outlet Mall. Not only did the county approve it, they actively courted it in a very noble effort to respond to the concerns expressed at County Home Evening. Suddenly you could buy shoes and underwear in Summit County. The Factory Outlet begat Kmart, which begat Wal-Mart, and before long, we got full-blown suburban sprawl, in large part because local women were not willing to buy their underwear from a store that also sold motor oil and furnace filters.

But for all that change, over all those years, I discovered this week that there still aren’t many options when it comes to buying underwear. In the "2006 Follies: Elevated" show at the Egyptian, we hit a kind of slow patch in the script. Despite a lot of tweaking, it was still a little off the pace. So, my co-writers decided (at a meeting I had missed), there was nothing to liven it up like a little gratuitous skin. So I have to appear on stage in a bit of a reference to "The Full Monty." As a shy person, I don’t do the full Monty at home, let alone in public. So it’s about a 90 percent Monty. I’m wearing an accordion.

The kind folks at the Egyptian Theater offered me the use of a g-string left over from "The Full Monty." Apparently the tighty-whiteys weren’t cutting it artistically. I rejected that offer because the g-string was (a) previously owned, and (b) microscopic.

So I went out in search of alternatives. The Jockey Store at the mall seemed like a logical start. Here is a whole store devoted to underwear. Surely there was something there in a suitable leopard skin that was bigger than a postage stamp. No dice. Turns out there are several other stores there that sell underwear or close approximations. I went from store to store, explaining my plight to sales clerks who ranged from women I would happily do the full Monty with, to very helpful, proper, ladies who reminded me of my mother. But there was no leopard skin to be had. I’m writing this before the show actually opens, so at this point, the official costume list is still "TBD."

The Follies show is an interesting process, and says a lot about why I love living here so much. The show was part of an effort initiated by the Chamber of Commerce to put together a big celebration for locals at the end of the ski season. It kind of grew on The Canyons’ pond skimming, and at one point included dog-look-alike contests, a cardboard sled race, and a whole list of well-intended but complicated events that didn’t survive the spring run off to Moab. The end of it was the Follies, a kind of Saturday-Night-Live-does-Park-City look at things.

The Egyptian tolerated it for a couple of years, then decided that with a little professional assist, the show had potential. They adopted it as their own, and it’s now selling out as many nights as the volunteer cast is willing to run it. It’s pure silliness, and great fun to be a part of.

What makes it work is that almost everybody involved has a real job. We’ve got bankers playing the drums and editing video, accountants and contractors singing and dancing, and local politicians playing gang members in an over-the-top parody of "West Side Story." The show has relied on the technical equipment at Park City TV and KPCW, and home movie editing expertise hidden away. Overall, the list of people with a hand in the process is at least 100 deep, and everybody is in it just for a good laugh.

The show this year pokes fun at our nonprofit industry in town. The action takes place at the "Jan’s Friends’ of the Homeless Norwegian Wine-Tasting Pets on an Historic Starry First Night" fundraiser — the mother of all charity balls. And that’s the really cool part: We have such a tradition of volunteerism in this community that it is possible to write a play that lampoons fundraisers, and everybody in town has either been to one, or more likely, helped put one together. This is an active and engaged community, filled with people who are willing to work a day job then work harder at their volunteer projects. More good stuff gets done by volunteers working off kitchen tables around here than most places can generate with full government backing.

In the end, that’s what makes this place unique. If you lifted Park City up and dropped it in the plains of North Dakota, it would still be an exciting place. We’d just do more polka.


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