Dead Valley

“In Heaven, there is no beer.
That’s why we drink it here.
And when we’re gone from here.
Our friends will be drinking all the beer.”

— from an old German polka.

by Harry Caines

In recent weeks I have used this space to discuss the large butt poster from Victoria’s Secret that hangs omnipresently in the Cache Valley Mall and the continuing saga of the proposed new downtown Logan library that very few seem to want.

The responses have been plentiful.

I have noticed that two subjects appear to bring forth more reactions to my columns than others. Those being: Cache Valley’s stagnancy and BYU football. I tried hard to find a connection between the two so as to lob a clever witticism, but I just cannot find humor in the correlation.

Wait! I got one! Oh, it is funny and profound. Here it goes:

What does Logan’s downtown and BYU have in common? No beer!

I know this is not entirely true. There are establishments that serve alcohol in Logan. The problem is they are so few that it becomes necessary for many who want to enjoy a brew or two to occasionally leave town just for the bizarre event of seeing different people. One thing about drinking in Logan, you see the same people every time you go out. And then you see them food shopping at Smith’s on Sundays. It is a tribal ritual.

I also experience this phenomenon during my mid-afternoon excursions to Caffe Ibis. Because the only other legitimate choice for people who drink coffee and tea is Starbucks, which is crap, many people who indulge in this pleasure find themselves at some point stopping by Ibis at the intersection of Church Street and Federal Avenue.

Much like hanging out at the White Owl on Friday nights or shopping at Smith’s on Sundays, skulking around Caffe Ibis is a frequent occurrence for those of us who are not an adherent to The Dominant Religion of Utah. So prevalent is Mormonism in the Beehive State that I think the moniker in the previous sentence warrants being a proper noun.

I often refer to the area near Church and Federal as “ground zero for the Cache Valley counterculture.” For those of us who want to be around like-minded people, we are pretty much forced to frequent the same establishments or a near-daily basis.

This is Utah. Specifically, this is Cache Valley. A place that dies after 8 PM. A place that never strives to reach its potential; at least not in the 13 years I have lived here. I have heard stories of what this area used to be like four decades ago. Logan was a party town.

I still cannot fully embrace that concept in my brain. I often like to talk to “lifers” who remember what this town was like back in the late ‘70’s. They love to regale me with stories of redneck bars that once littered Logan that have long since gone away. All to a memory.

Now? Well, if you do not like the limited choices available, you must do what I do all too often: you leave Cache Valley. And when I leave Cache Valley, I take my limited spending money with me.

I opine on this subject more times than I can count. Utah, with its arcane, useless and vindictive liquor laws is losing money. Cache Valley with its neolithic thinking and dearth of innovation regarding the sparse choices found in downtown Logan is losing money. The money is still being spent, it just is not being spent here.

Consider this:

In Cache Valley, there is only one state-run liquor store. This is the only place in these parts you can get beer at full potency. The liquor store does not open until noon. The beer sold there is not refrigerated. So, if you want to drink beer you buy in Logan, Utah at full potency the same day you buy it, you would have to be at the liquor store at noon, immediately go home to put it in the fridge and then wait about six to eight hours before it would be at the proper cold temperature to enjoy its consumption.


I can take the 25 minute drive to Idaho, stop at the lovely Tesoro gas station that is just a few hundred yards across the border and buy beer that is in a cold storage room. And while I am there, maybe I will fill up my gas tank in Idaho. I can eat lunch up there as well. Since I already made the trip up north, maybe I will keep driving up to wonderful hiking spots around Pocatello; or, I can soak in the pools for an hour or two at Lava Hot Springs. And hey, they have lottery tickets for sale in Idaho!

Utah does not want my money? Understood. Cache Valley does not want to offer me more choices to socialize, especially on Sundays? I can go elsewhere. But I am taking my money with me.

Some of you would tell me if I do not like Utah’s dumb laws to leave. You better hope that I and others like myself never take that advice. Taxes in this state would skyrocket, schools would be more egregiously underfunded and municipal services would be cut to nearly nothing if the people who are tired of being treated like second class citizens because they enjoy beer and coffee decided they had enough and went to one of the other states in this country not run as a theocracy.

Change the liquor laws. Improve nightlife in Cache Valley. Make an effort to woo us to spend our money here. This will not only invigorate the economy, it will also help eliminate the Us vs. Them mentality that does permeate in Cache Valley. It is too easy to cultivate a kindred animosity for “them” when you only have a few places to go and you see the same faces in those places day after day.

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