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Salt Lake City Pop Culture

While you might think you know Salt Lake based on the HBO series “Big Love,” which shows the intimate lives of a polygamist family, a more accurate portrayal of the culture might come from the movie “SLC Punk,” a 1990s coming-of-age comedy that captures the bizarreness of many of the city’s underground scenes. Also, if you’re not familiar with the Sundance Film Festival, it’s worth checking out a few of the festival's greatest hits from the past few years, to get a sense of why the city gets so excited about the event. Learn about the basic tenets and history of the Mormon Church and its origins by reading about founding prophet Joseph Smith in “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling” and the more controversial title “No Man Knows My History” by Fawn Brodie. Then dive into other natural and cultural depths of the region by reading anything by Wallace Stegner or Terry Tempest Williams, in particular, “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place” and “Recapitulation.” Some of the city’s most famous musicians perform in either the Utah Symphony or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Check out recordings from both (the choir’s annual Christmas program should be easy to find). Two of the state’s other famous musical acts include Donny and Marie Osmond, the brother-and-sister team that sprang from the Osmond family performers. And for the ultimate overview of the town, listen to the Beach Boys’ “Salt Lake City,” which references cute girls, skiing and sunshine.