Once and Future Cosmic Aeroplane

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.

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