Salt Lake magazine

Once and Future Cosmic Aeroplane

November 10, 2016

You know that bit about not knowing history means that you’re doomed to repeat it? It somehow seems appropriate lately to offer a new generation a link to how Salt Lake City dealt with an off-the-rails American society in the olden days.


The Cosmic Aeroplane bookstore, born in June 1967, was a hive of counterculture, sedition, music, good times and a few books. You can read a little bit about it in an ancient Salt Lake magazine.


Mike Evans curates a blog that offers a very groovy window into those heady days and the close-knit tribe (including Ken Sanders, of course) that made Salt Lake an oasis of cool in a very strange land.


When Evans called for permission last week to post the SLMag article, I remembered an encounter I had with the Cosmic Aeroplane spirit in the mid-1980s when I was a reporter for the Deseret News (Yes, I actually worked for the DNews).

There had been a series of U.S. embassy bombings and a Utah legislator was outraged that Cosmic Aeroplane sold the Anarchist Cookbook (which included instructions for making bombs). I dropped by to confirm Cosmic had the book and asked the manager, the late Bruce Roberts, if he was going to remove it. (It was a classic “eek-a-mouse!” story). Roberts patiently explained the First Amendment to me. I took down a couple quotes and bought the book.

Sadly, I never asked the lawmaker why he was in the Cosmic Aeroplane in the first place.

Glen Warchol



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