Tag Archives: academic

Damn the Dam – essay about Colorado River and Lake Powell, 1988-9

“Damn the Dam” By Dave Olson, 1988-9

Photos by Johnny Adolphson (links below)

Originally written for a Creative Writing class at Utah Valley Community College (now Utah State University) taught by Larry Harper. Photos by Johnny Adolphson.

Once upon a time, there was a river, a river and a canyon. Everyone who saw this river in this canyon really liked it. Some lived for it, some died for it, many fought for it, no one hated it. Or admitted they did. All in all though, everyone agreed about its spectacularity. “Every one of these almost innumerable gorges is a world of beauty in itself…. Yet all these canyons unite to form one Grand Canyon, the most sublime spectacle on earth.” This is what John Wesley Powell said about the Colorado River and the canyons it gave life to.

The canyons Friar Francisco Garces described as “…the most profound canyons which ever onward continue.” Powell and Garces knew the Colorado a long time ago; they explored area, an area that is now very different and yet changing even now.

Up until a few years back, people took care of the river, and it took care of them. A relationship that worked well until someone decided that the river could be better used running air conditioners and so they built a dam. No one noticed much then; it was back when few knew much about the wonders this area held. Anyway, there was more than enough of this hostile, rugged area to go around. Dams were built everywhere, lots of them. It was an easy fix for the energy junkies.

“Man has flung down a great barrier in the path of the turbulent Colorado,” proclaimed the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation during the 1960’s. “It has tamed the wild river-made it a servant to man’s will.” The bureau was boasting of Glen Canyon Dam, a 710-foot high monument to technological prowess, but it could have been talking about any dam in the country (Davis 26). Now, the cliffs, the canyons, the plants and birds and rocks and things, and the river is gone.

The Colorado is no longer there as it was. Such dams back up the Colorado that still flows relatively freely and make the canyon a sluiceway between dry hills” (MacDougall 54).

So why do they do it? Why do they try? Electricity and water mostly. People generally need them. A lot of them. Too much? Any alternatives? Sure.

The flood gates should be opened, the river unleashed and the damage repaired. Let Nature reign again. Yee hah and Hieghty ho.

THE RIVER IN QUESTION

Photos by Johnny Adolphson (links below)

Today the Colorado has been rightly compared to hundreds of miles of plumbing system (Sunset 104).

Continue reading Damn the Dam – essay about Colorado River and Lake Powell, 1988-9

Vaclav Havel – Playwright, President, Activist, Leader #report

Vaclav Havel – Playwright, President, Activist, Leader
By Dave Olson, Fall 2002

NOTE: Written for a course at The Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA) as an assignment to report about an admired leader. More resources to follow for archival interest.

Vaclav Havel’s career spans disparate jobs from brewery worker to playwright to President.  His life is highlighted by his unusual rise to power, writing of existentialist plays and political potent essays and his remarkable journey from a dissident in prison to the leading a fledgling country from the presidential castle in a matter of weeks.  Most importantly, his vision of bringing former-Soviet eastern European republics into the European community in a non-violent, efficient and sustainable manner is his greatest legacy.

Havel didn’t plan on a career in politics and came to his leadership positions in strange turns of events, perhaps he inadvertently refers to himself in his discourse, “Summer Meditations,” “…if your heart is in the right place and you have good taste, not only will you pass muster in politics, you are destined for it. If you are modest and do not lust after power, not only are you suited to politics, you absolutely belong there.”

Continue reading Vaclav Havel – Playwright, President, Activist, Leader #report

Review and Commentary of The Skillet Lickers: A Study of A Hillbilly String Band & Its Repertoire By Norman Cohen

Review and Commentary of The Skillet Lickers: A Study of A Hillbilly String Band & Its Repertoire By Norman Cohen

By Dave Olson [originally written as Dave Elliott at University of Utah, circa 1990]

Prior to the time of this article’s publication, “Hillbilly Music” was not considered by many serious folklorists to be a credible avenue of research as it appeared as though it was commercialization and bastardization of traditional folk tunes. The tunes, many thought, had not been learned through word of mouth but rather written expressly for or copied, reworked and preformed for the sole intent of royalties. Cohen explains in his article that this was not always the case as many bands were merely out to share their bit and have a good time doing it. He also goes on to show the comparisons and evolutionary transitions and bridges that developed combining aspects of traditional hillbilly folk music with other styles including Tin Pan Alley, blues and jazz.

Continue reading Review and Commentary of The Skillet Lickers: A Study of A Hillbilly String Band & Its Repertoire By Norman Cohen