"Air Center" Drawing courtesy of Ken Bretschneider

“Air Center”
Drawing courtesy of
Ken Bretschneider has exclusive
details about a massive new
entertainment center to be built in
downtown Salt Lake.

It will be located on the northwest
corner of West Temple and 4th South.
Just down the street from Gracie’s and
across the street from the new federal

Across the street look at  where "Air Center" will be built.

Across the street look at
where “Air Center” will be built. spoke at length with
Ken Bretschneider. He’s the brains and
money behind this new project. He’s a
Canadian who married a Utah gal,
apparently made some serious coin in a
high tech company and is now building
something truly unique in this state.

As you can see on the artist’s rendition
at the top of the page, this new complex
will be called the “Air Center.”

And while you’re looking at the drawing,
let me give you the “nickel tour.”

Bretschneider told me the front of the
Air Center will face West Temple. But
since it’s so big, some of it will
also be flanked by 4th South.

splash2 copy 2

On the right side of the drawing
(the blue-ish part), the ground floor
will be retail. Bretschneider says a
cafe/juice bar is planned for this
area. Also, on the right side, there
will be a parking structure with nearly
300 spaces. Additional nearby parking
is also said to be in the mix.

splash2 copy

On the left side of this drawing, there
will be an impressive eight story
building. The top three floors will be
office space. Bretschneider says he’s
already getting strong interest
in this area.

Just below the office space –
the middle of the building – this is
where things get really interesting.
And fun.

On two of the middle floors, there
will be a restaurant called Air7.
According to Bretschneider, it will
have a “world fusion” menu. He plans
on hiring a top level chef.

There will also be a lounge in the
restaurant area, a balcony and a 100
seat theatre for various types of

Finally, on the first 3 floors of this
building, Utahns will find “Air Nightlife.”
Bretschneider sees this as a “world class”
club. There will be a dance floor, stadium
seating and access to the restaurant/lounge

Bretschneider (who is going to have to
get a shorter name if I write any more
blogs about him) described the future
look of the club as “industrial glam.”
With a specially crafted German sound
system, “Air Nightlife” is being
designed to be one of the best
entertainment venues in the country.

Bretschneider says he was influenced
– among other places – by a very cool
looking lounge in LA called “The

The owner feels Salt Lake and Utah don’t
have anything like the Air Center and
believes it’s needed – especially with
more outside businesses moving in.

Bretschenider describes the restaurant,
the club and, really, the whole project
as being “high end.” Not snooty
(like the writer of this blog) but classy.

photo copy

Demolition work (as you can see by the
above pic) is already well underway. One
of the existing businesses in that area
will be moved just a little further north.

Bretschneider hopes to have a “soft
opening” by the end of 2014. Then, a
big New Year’s opening in 2015.

Btw – After it opens, here’s a bad pun
you can use.

When people ask where you’re going to
eat, you can tell them that your
dinner plans are “sup in the Air.”


Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

I don’t have much of a filter.

Various ideas, epiphanies and questions suddenly
erupt in my mind and immediately flow out of
my mouth.

Or, in some scary cases, they simply go directly
from my brain onto Twitter.

For example…

There I was Saturday morning reading
about the “all new” Utah Jazz.

Suddenly gone were Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap,
DeMarre Carroll and Billy Paultz.

And to fill out the roster, the Jazz had traded
for players and things I wasn’t all that familiar
with: Richard Jefferson, some big guy whose name
I can’t spell and Rush Street in Chicago.
The Golden State Warriors even threw in
a Hostess cupcake from some kid’s lunch pail
in Oakland.

As I tried to digest all this, suddenly an
earth-shattering question popped into my mind:

“With all the familiar veterans now gone,
who would be the new captain of the Utah

Without giving it a second thought, I posed that
very question on Twitter (@chrisvanocur).

Within hours, this query had gotten a bigger
response than anything I had tweeted before.

A few fans suggested giving the captain’s title
to someone who is an old hand on the team,
23 year old Gordon Hwayward.

Others seemed to favor 21 year old Derrick

A few mentioned the natural leadership skills of
rookie Trey Burke. But since Burke is only 20,
this would mean giving the captainship to
someone not old enough to legally drink
Captain Morgan.

There was even one tweeter who thought
the Jazz Bear should be captain. The Bear,
of course, would be the strong, silent type.

Finally, the two Jazz beat writers were also
kind enough to weigh in on this vital matter.

Bill Oram from the Tribune wrote, “They’ve gone
without a captain before. At this point, though,
it’s Hayward’s team. Suspect he gets the C.”

This thought had occurred to me as well.

But Jody Genessy from the Deseret News may
have had the best suggestion of all.

He tweeted that the captain of the Utah
Jazz should be the team’s new state of the art

Which, in a weird sort of way, makes

After all, if the scoreboard was captain,
this would be the type of leader everyone
could immediately look up to.


photo copy

“Any addictions?”

This was the only question which surprised me at
my first speed dating event.

Apparently, the woman sitting across from me
knew exactly what she wanted in a man. And what
she didn’t. I got the very strong sense that any
sort of addiction (understandably) was a deal

I answered clumsily, “Um. Chocolate?”

She asked other similar straightforward
questions but I don’t remember them. Her
all-business approach both impressed and
terrified me. I felt simultaneously like I was
both a job applicant and a suitor.

This whole idea of speed dating idea came from a
gal pal of mine. She suggested I try some rapid
romance and then blog about it. In hindsight,
I think her main motivation was really just to
torture me.

Anyway, before I knew it, I was headed south
and solo to Sandy. Arriving at something called
Club 90, I was given the exalted title of
Bachelor #6. I took my assigned seat and waited
for the other 29 spaces to fill up.

For those who have’t sped date, here’s the 411.

You get three minutes to talk with a single
member of the opposite sex. He or she is right in
front of you, separated only by a small table.
When the timekeeper prompts you, 180 seconds of
talk ensues. It’s kind of a flirty jiujitsu, mostly
basic Q & A like:

“Who are you?”
“What do you do?”
“What’s your sign?”

Pretty much your usual first date kind of stuff.

When the three minutes are up, the men move
one seat to the right and the process is
repeated with a new “date.” It’s not unlike a
Phoenix rising from his ashes to begin anew. At
the end of the night, you turn in your secret speed
dating list of who you liked. The organizers then
contact those who are mutually interested.

Because I am exceedingly inept at small talk,
I came armed with a few pre-scripted questions. If
there was an awkward lull in the conversion, I
would be ready.

Here are some of the questions I wrote in advance.
Yes, they were needed and, yes, most were well

1) “Presents – Christmas Eve or morning?”
2) “What do you think ‘our song’ would be?”
3) “Is it too soon for me to meet your parents and
4) If I were a younger man, would I have a chance
with you?”

All of these, believe it or not, got smiles and/or

But one pre-scripted question did not fare as
well. I only used it once but, predictably, a
dating catastrophe followed.

Nearing the end of event, we all seemed a little
worn down. It can be exhausting speed dating a
dozen people or more in an hour. So, at a loss
for something to say, I finally grasped for a
prepared question I hadn’t used.

It went a little something like this:

“When you were born, was your delivery natural
or cesarean?”


The women I asked this question of didn’t
necessarily seem…what’s the word I am looking
for…oh, amused. After a brief pause and, perhaps,
a bit of a blank stare, she answered my flippant
question. In measured tones, she explained how
difficult and dangerous her delivery had been and
how she could have died.

Coincidentally, as she told me this horrifying
story, I suddenly wanted to die for having asked
such an insensitive question.

To her credit (and my relief), she handled it very
graciously. But those were the longest three
minutes of the night for me. When our time ended,
I quickly exited stage right.

While that clearly may have been the worst question
anyone asked all night – or, perhaps, the worst
question anyone has ever asked at any speed dating
event – the guy next to me asked a great one.

About halfway through the event, I overheard
Bachelor #7 let loose with what I genuinely
thought was the best question of the night:
“What is the last thing you killed?”

How could you not want to date someone like that?
Pure comedy gold.

As for the best answer of the evening…it might
be one that was never used.

After the speed dating event came to a merciful
end, I struck up a conversation with one of
the cooler bachelorettes. We swapped war stories
about what had just happened, including some of
the trickier questions we had been asked. For me,
an especially challenging one was put forth by
several women, “So, do you have any children?”

Because my nest is barren, this can be a bit
uncomfortable – especially in a child-centric
state like Utah. When a handful of speedsters
asked me this, I tried to carefully side-step
the issue by answering “Children? I am not sure.
But I don’t think I have any.”

But this bachelorette had a more exotic suggestion.
She told me I should simply answer the kid question
by smiling and saying, “They’ve decided to stay
overseas with their mother.”

When it comes to speed dating, she was obviously
much quicker than me. In fact, considering my epic
cesarean fail, I was clearly the “slowest” dater


Sometimes words just get in the way.

State Senator Jim Dabakis proposed to longtime boyfriend (as first reported on Twitter by @chrisvanocur)

State Senator Jim Dabakis proposes to longtime boyfriend (as first reported on Twitter by @chrisvanocur).

Sen. Dabakis says he went to O.C. Tanner (but thinks it may have been Jared)

Sen. Dabakis says he went to O.C. Tanner (but thinks it may have been Jared).

One of my favorite pics of the night.

One of my favorite pics of the night.

Bruce Bastian. A hero to many.

Bruce Bastian. A hero to many.

How can you not take a picture of a disco ball?

How can you not take a picture of a disco ball?

Or maybe two.

Or maybe two.

Enough said.

Enough said.


Twitter @chrisvanocur


Determined not to be a Luddite, I have spent the
last few months sharpening my social media skills.

On Twitter, the number of @chrisvanocur
followers has shot up 25 percent. Quite a few are
now techies, bloggers and internet ne’er do wells.
One even – much to my horror – added me to a
list of high tech tweeters to follow.

My LinkedIn profile is also much linkier than
before. I am quickly nearing the magical 500+
number of contacts. Several of them have
foolishly endorsed my social media skills.

On Facebook, my FB friends and people who
“like” are more than OK number-wise.

Finally, I have created this stylish and
substantive website. Surprisingly, a number of
people actually seem to be reading what I am

But as my social media street cred grows, a
troubling question is gnawing at me?

Is social media making me anti-social?

The first thing I do every morning is troll the
web for items to tweet. Once tweeted, they
magically and immediately appear on the
“Twitter feed” column on the right side of this

Then, I check my Facebook pages for messages or

Soon, I am on Linkedin scrutinizing new contacts and

Finally, after I gobble down my Greek yogurt with
granola and blueberries, I work on upcoming blogs.

Again, there is much that is good with this. My
Klout social media score has risen dramatically –
even if I have no clue what a Klout social media
score is.



But…what is getting lost in all my new found
social media activity is time for actually being social.

Instead of meeting friends for coffee/lunch/dinner/etc,
I am endlessly tweeting, posting, emailing, linking
and many other words which end in “ing.”

Even though I am connecting with others all over
the country, mostly it’s just my laptop and me.
Simply put, Facebook and its ilk are robbing
me of actual face time. I have become a social media
animal but my real life social skills are eroding.

And, let’s face it, they were never that great to
begin with.

Facebook Professional page

Professional page

I have also noticed that all these social websites
are becoming jumbled in my mind. The other day I
caught myself trying to use a Facebook “poke”
on Twitter.


As I madly jump back and forth on all these social
media platforms, I feel like a modern-day Father
Gregor Mendel doing cross-hybridization experiments
with Pinterest and Foursquare.

Clearly, my internet interest has become an
obsession. I worry I have become a a social media
addict. Perhaps, my addiction has gotten so bad I
should seek help.

But I don’t know if I can explain my ailment to
a doctor in 140 characters or less.





IRS Logo Wikimedia Commons

IRS Logo
Wikimedia Commons

Dear John,

Sorry I haven’t written sooner – or ever.

I am growing increasingly concerned about what
people are saying about you. They are questioning
your ethics and your moral fiber.

Since I have publicly stated you should be
reelected to a second term, I have come up with a
brilliant idea. It is so strategically sound, it may
clear your name once and for all.

John, here and now, I am begging you humbly to
show us your taxes.

Yes, you heard right.


For the sake of all that is good and true in the
world, release your tax returns for the past five
years (starting in 2007). Also, make public the
documentation behind them.

Such a noble and brave act might convince Utahns,
finally and definitively, that you are clean as a
whistle and beyond reproach.

Releasing your tax information sends a powerful
message that nothing nefarious has taken place
and that you were involved in no skullduggery.

(OMG – I just used nefarious and skullduggery
in the same sentence!)

Right now, there is all sorts of speculation
going on. It has reached such a frenzied point,
I almost expect Sarah Palin to emerge in Utah and
claim that you have been “palling around” with
(financial) terrorists.

But if…I mean when…your publicly released
tax returns show you have done nothing wrong,
then all your impeachment and investigation
problems might suddenly disappear.

How could they not?

After all, your tax forms will show that there has
been no questionable $$$ activity on your part.

Won’t they?

As you know, Gayle and I are fighting a determined
yet lonely battle to uphold your good name. If you
simply “show us the money,” our job will become so
much easier.

Please do this. Please release your tax returns. Show
the world you have nothing to hide. Show them the media
and the naysayers are wrong.

Because…if you don’t release your taxes and prove you’re
on the straight and narrow, you may soon be getting other
“Dear John” letters.

In fact, I fear the feds, county prosecutors and legislators
may already be busy writing them.

Talk soon,



Scan 131540000 copy

Since I have had some free time lately…

I was tidying up the slightly cluttered
executive offices of
(my study). Since distractions from such duties
are always welcome, I paused to look at some
very “old school” photos. While gazing
nostalgically at these long ago images of
friends, flames and events, suddenly, the
“DeLorean” in my brain zoomed back to the

I had a Doc Brown moment.

Dr. Emmett Lathrop “Doc” Brown, Ph.D, was the
lovable and nutty professor in the Back to the
Future movie franchise. When excited, Doc Brown
(brilliantly played by Christopher Lloyd) would
wave his arms and raise his already cartoonish
sounding voice. All this with his wild hair
setting off in every direction.

My Doc Brown moment came when I stumbled
across a 16 year old picture. It was taken in
October of 1997. For several minutes, I stared
at this photo of me standing in front of the
Wayne County Courthouse in Loa. I was there on
assignment. Someone had given me a tip that there
might be some action in court that day.

Because this was so long ago, some details from
1997 have faded from my memory. But I believe
we were at the Loa court that day because it is
where a special panel of judges was meeting. But
even more importantly – if I remember correctly –
this judicial panel was special because it had the
power to decide whether or not to convene a state
grand jury.

This is why that 1997 picture caused me to do an
excited Doc Brown dance. It sparked a very
important memory; under certain circumstances, a
state grand jury can be called in Utah.

So, immediately I logged on to the state courts
website. It wasn’t long before I found this
explanation of Utah grand juries,

“A panel of judges selected from throughout the
state will hold hearings in each judicial district
every three years to determine if a grand jury needs
to be summoned based upon criminal activity. The
attorney general, a county attorney, or special
prosecutor appointed under U.C.A. 77-10a-1 can
also present evidence…The panel of judges will
hear in secret all persons claiming information
justifying the calling of a grand jury. All persons
appearing shall be placed under oath and shall be
examined by the panel of judges.”

See where I am headed with this?


In my May 22 commentary on the DOJ investigation
of Utah Attorney General John Swallow, I wrote,

“…just because the feds may be looking at a lot
of things and people, doesn’t guarantee there will
be many or any indictments”

All along, I had been focusing almost exclusively
on the federal investigation of Swallow. I
reasoned the feds would ultimately be the ones to
decide whether any charges would be filed. But that
16 year old picture from Loa made me realize this
wasn’t necessarily the only legal option.

As Utah Political Capitol first reported, two
county prosecutors are also investigating the
attorney general’s office. Their probe is to
determine whether any state laws may have been

Now, I have no idea where this “Double DA”
investigation is headed. But all of this made me
think about that courthouse in 1997. Could this be
the direction where the Swallow controversy is
going? Might the findings from the two county
prosecutors end up being presented to that special
panel of judges? Could a state grand jury then be

As you mull these questions over, here is something
else to to ponder. This special panel of judges doesn’t
meet often. According to the state courts website, the
most recent meeting of the panel was on May 9th. Its
next meeting is October 10th.

As I write these words, I have no idea if
Swallowgate has already been discussed before
this judicial panel. The panel meets in private.
Nor do I know if it will be brought up in October.
But, after three decades of reporting, I do know my
news ESP is pretty good. So is my ability to
connect political dots.

But if it turns out I am all wrong about all of
this, well, just chalk it up to a vivid
imagination and too much time on my hands.

If I am right, though, and the future bears out my
intuition, please feel free to address me simply as
Doc Vanocur.


Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/Steve Alexander

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/Steve Alexander

Forget Kevin Bacon. Let’s talk about six degrees
of John Swallow. In fact, I will now connect Utah’s
embattled Attorney General to singer Glenn Frey in
just 700 words.

Recently, I was watching Showtime’s excellent
documentary on the musical group the Eagles.
Frey, the co-founder of the band, was talking
about the classic number one hit, “Hotel
California.” Specifically, Frey was trying to
explain what the song was about. He let
viewers (and listeners) in on a little secret;
he’s a fan of deeper hidden meaning in his

I am hoping “deeper hidden meaning” is pretty
self-explanatory. In this case, Frey meant he
liked it when the exact meaning of something
wasn’t readily apparent, that it’s been
camouflaged well below the obvious surface.

And here’s where I make an abrupt, convoluted,
only-Vanocur-would-try-this sort of connection.

Watching this documentary unexpectedly led me in
an odd/old sort of way to John Swallow.
Because…to me, the scandal currently engulfing
the attorney general’s office is chock-full of
deeper hidden meaning.

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for August 18th,

Nearly four years ago, I sat down for a final
interview with soon-to-be departing Governor
Jon Huntsman. As he packed up his gov belongings,
Huntsman and I talked about the usual goodbye
kinds of things.

But I also had a deeper hidden agaenda.

Sources had tipped me off that Mark Shurtleff, then
Utah’s Attorney General, had asked Huntsman to fire
Commerce Director Francine Giani. As I mentioned
at the time, Giani had given information to
Shurtleff’s office about Utah businessman Rick
Koerber. But the AG’s office chose not to prosecute.
The Commerce Department then gave its information
to the United States Attorney’s office in Utah. It
did file charges against Koerber. What Commerce did,
from everything I was told, was not OK with the AG.

So, just before my interview with Huntsman ended, I
tried to get the truth out of him. I asked the
governor if Shurtleff wanted him to fire Giani. But
Huntsman didn’t seem at all fazed by the question.
Here was his measured response, “We had a
conversation about Francine which went beyond any
specific case.”

Knowing that Huntsman likes to speak in diplomatic
terms, I took that as a yes. Later, I would independently
confirm and report that Shurtleff did ask for Giani
to be fired.

But Huntsman refused Shurtleff’s request. As the
governor explained it to me in that 2009 exit
interview, “I like the job Francine is doing. I
think she is a good gut fighter. I think she’s my
kind of public servant and I’ve decided
to keep her on board.”

Now, Sherman, let’s move forward three years to June 4,
2012. This is where John Swallow enters the picture.

Using a recording of Swallow obtained by the City
Weekly, I did a story about how history might be
repeating itself.

In that June 4th story, I said, “In a leaked phone
conversation, John Swallow says he wants to move
Utah’s Division of Consumer Protection from the
Commerce Department to the AG’s office.”

Don’t be distracted by the fact that I just quoted
myself. The more important point is that these two
stories, three years apart, raise some significant

1) Was there a connection between these two stories?

2) Did both men want the same thing? Perhaps, more
control over the Commerce Department and the Division
of Consumer Protection?

3) If so, why?

4) Is any of this related to the current
Swallowgate scandal?

In that same Eagles documentary, the band’s other
co-founder, Don Henley, was also revealed to be a
fan of deeper hidden meaning. Henley explained
“Hotel California” this way, “It’s a song about a
journey from innocence to experience.”

Maybe this is how some have come to see the attorney
general. At first, they may have viewed John Swallow
innocently. After all, he had won his election
handily and not all that much was really known about
him. But now, with each damning report, experience
is suggesting Utahns may be beginning
to have their doubts.

Ironically, just before I started writing this, an
Eagles tune came on the radio. The name of the song
was “Already Gone.”

Not that there is any deeper hidden meaning there.