Soon we were in Utah, approaching St. George through a valley and town named Hurricane, where velociraptor lawn statues were for sale.. There was no ocean, but the rocky peaks for miles around were strewn about as if they had been tossed around by a hurricane. Some landscapes make poets of us all.
There were also the usual Mormonlandia sights: farmland, cattle, little towns. As we got closer to St. George more and more of the buildings looked brand new, and pre-fab. New freeways were under construction. By the time we reached St. George it looked like a freshly-printed Mars Colony patterned after California’s urban sprawl. All the usual corporate franchises that you would find anywhere in America were present. You could parachute consumers from across the USA there and they would find themselves surrounded by the familiar.
Dystopia was in the air. I kept expecting to see Philip K. Dick’s ghost wandering the streets. I made a note to put a town like St. George in my Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars novel.
We didn’t want to eat at any of the franchises, so we ended up cruising the tangle of shiny, new streets that spewed from the freeways like asphalt spaghetti. The town was like a cancer growing out of the ancient Mormon, utopian core--though now the cancer had grown larger than the original organism.
It’s the Trumpian dream in action: Let the post-modern robber barons run amok. Maybe they can convert the entire planet into liquid assets. Then they can go off in snazzy spaceships to launch a program of galactic liquefaction. We don’t need no stinking aliens. We are the invaders. We are the menace.
In the older, Mormon section we found an artesian pizza joint, called Riggatti’s.
After dark, the hotel seemed like a spaceship deep in the void.
At 7 a.m. the next morning (daylight saving time) it was still dark. The full moon rose over the Barsoomian rockscape of Hollywood’s Wild West, now being carved up to make room for the brave, new post-urban sprawl.
In the complimentary breakfast room a little brown employee materialized when I was frozen in confusion over the Kafkaesque coffee machine. Another hotel guest,an old guy with a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN cap and a white Fu Manchu moustache that curled halfway down his chest.
I had trouble finding the elevator that seemed to be an afterthought in the cramped hallways where I found the dystopian snack machine. First it appeared only to have snacks, but wait! The entire front opens like a refrigerator, revealing drinks. I would have never figured it out, but another guest who did was so excited he ran out into the hall to tell me.
Welcome to America, the Land of Do-It-Yourself Dystopias.
As we negotiated the tangle of throbbing, young freeways, I realized that St. George was not only the gateway to Salt Lake City, and the National Parks, but Las Vegas. That’s why all the hotels.
Emily said,“Next time we’re staying in Hurricane.”
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