There was a period where I worked for certain owl-themed social media software company and, as part of building internal community goodness, there were occasional festive parties/activities put on by various departments who were allotted at $300 budget and attempted to constantly one up each other with what they could pull off.
My beloved department (community) was paired with another and chose the theme of 1980s homecoming dance.
I played the role of principal, making various announcements and instigating various contests and hi-jinks including a poorly executed “king and queen” election which was thwarted by an incompetent accountant.
As usual, there’s more to say and more artifacts exists but this gem of an invite shall be your guide.
And yes, the theme was very familiar to me because indeed I attended these sorts of events in the 1980s right out of the pages of Napoleon Dynamite. Evidence follows:
PS We made a video time capsule that night where folks could riff their memories or thoughts or well, who knows… but the time capsule is really legitimately lost to time. In fact in those days of the company, I also created old office tours, various messages and other community videos which have been scrubbed from the Internet. Maybe one day some things will surface again, probably not.
Project: Upon turning 50 years old on August 16, 2020, Dave Olson (me, hello) is posting a photo (or maybe photos) a day / per year – starting with 1970 with intent of chronicling existence through various primary evidence sourced from studio portraits, class photos, ID / passport photos, or occasionally other “casual/group/random” shots when the above don’t exist in my archive (note: not “artificial intelligence,” really me, pulled from shoeboxes, journals, wallets and whatnot – diligently scanned and dated via glasses and haircuts, lightly annotated).
A high school i attended for 1-1/2 year-ish in Utah held a 20 anniversary for my graduating class in summer 2018 – while i wasn’t technically a graduate (nor did i attend the event), i added my dispatch for the record. Shared here for the posterity etc.
A few flashbacks… (PS i was Dave Elliott in those years)
I was a sorta “walk-on character” in the Orem High sitcom – arriving from Canada for the last couple months of 10th grade and then dropping out 2 weeks into 12th grade but dang,… made 11th grade count.
* Running Paul Moody’s “campaign” for Student body president including the “fascist takeover” at the assembly and screening of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in lounge for a campaign promotion – and the acknowledgement speech at assembly in which someone temporarily declined to announce the winner because of the number of “refused” ballots
* The (notorious) Martin Luther King day protest including long banners on newspaper roll ends covering the lockers with rather controversial slogans
* Making a “Stop Aids” balloon/flag/kite and running it up the flag pole with Cory DeMille and my brother Bob Olson (now the US military’s 2 finest examples)
* Thought i wasn’t enrolled in Unified Studies, my attendance was almost perfect
* KOHS, possibly the best invention in the history of highschool (until my FCC license was revoked)
* Ace-ing AP US History with a 98% on the test but failing because of the tardy/absence policy (drop a grade each time or something) – it *was* the first class in the morning
* Being amazed at seminary – meaning you could sign up and have basically a period off (before moving to Utah, i had attended early morning seminary (imagine the horror of riding to church house on cold Canadian mornings at 5AM!)
* Swim team – i wasn’t cut out for football, basketball etc so signed up for swim team which basically meant roadtrips to other schools, hanging out in a Speedo waiting to lose to “whichever school we were competing against” – our girl’s team won all the time though
* Having no idea was the heck a Sadie Hawkins dance was until getting invited by a card written in Alpha-bits cereal – was completely baffled (later Napoleon Dynamite made this clear)
* Umm… after growing up in a very multi-cultural part of Vancouver (little Punjab), arriving to a ummm… sorta non-diverse school
* Feeling like a total outsider but quickly making friends by virtue of driving a limo to school – which was later replaced by an even more fun VW bus (Spicoli had nothing on me)
* Wearing shorts every single day of the school year – usually with wool socks and duck boots and flannel shirts – i didn’t exactly invent “grunge style” but do deserve an honourable mention
* Frequently teased for using Canadian spellings / we like to put in extra an “u” and switch around “re” instead of “er” and saying “zed” instead of “zee” #sigh
* Requiring a note to read Catcher in The Rye in 11th grade AP English > also realizing the teacher had absolutely no idea why the book was “banned” in some alien circles
* Amazed that so many girls looked like straight out of a magazine or movie #outofmyleague – i was more accustomed to punk rock girls
* Never attending a single football game (now if there was a hockey team…)
* Coming “back” for 12th grade homecoming dance and bringing non-Orem high pals and taking photo with the reggae band (Irie Heights)
By the way, when i bailed on Grade 12 (12th Grade), i went to Utah Technical College (later Utah Valley Community College, Utah Valley College, Utah Valley University, Harvard of the West…) and “earned” an Alpine School District Adult High School diploma after rigorous schedule of ceramics, mountaineering, photography and “independent study” – also creative writing (which turned out handy). I did attend class of 88 grad as a spectator.
Later? after a run of a few more higher-ed institutions (University of Utah, University of Guam) i graduated from Evergreen State College, just took me a few decades. Since, travelled 40+ countries, 100 weird jobs (most recently VP at Hootsuite (social media company), gave TEDx talk (not near as popular as Jani Radebaugh‘s) and now live on various remote small islands making poetry, podcasts and paintings (also deal with a weird complex illness #boring).
Dave OlsonFunny how in those impressionable days of high school, we get defined, &/or define ourselves… I guess I was a little naïve about the different cliques and hierarchies of high school in the US… I had gone to four different schools in 10th grade and just desperately wanted to find a tribe to hang out with so tried to be friendly to everyone. Of course most people had known each other for years through junior high or the same church groups or whatever but I came in with none of those preconceive notions.
I’m sure I overcompensated for my nervousness with too much chatter and goofballery –
As it goes, no matter how “popular” one was in high school, we all had to go out in the world and find someway to make a living and make ourselves happy. It turns out there’s a little benefit to “peaking early” And being “cool” in high school doesn’t predict a future of life success/happiness.
Rick HerleviI was telling my kids the other day about the one and only time in my life that I hiked the Y. I skipped class and went with Kraig Kiggins, I think Cory was there and the two Canadian brothers that drove a limo and hiked they Y. Why would I ever want to do it again after that pinnacle experience.
Kelli Robison HerleviThis convo definitely did take place very recently. It was probably our FHE lesson. I thought Rick was making up the story so he didn’t have to commit to a “Y” hike. But it looks like there’s truth to his story. I won’t make him hike the “Y” again. I can’t compete.
Dave OlsonNext time, we will just drive the limo up to the Y with a catered picnic – It’s all true, even the parts that aren’t 🙂
Cory DeMilleMany great memories in this bus! Remember our Good the Bad and the Ugly video Party and camping in the bus in full cowboy regalia on OHS campus? Now that would be considered a terrorist incident!
Dave OlsonCory DeMille Oh great memory! Just the sound of popping popcorn on the bus’s stove would’ve created phone calls to the police about suspected gunshots
Dave OlsonAlso remember driving around and shooting Roman candle bottle rockets out the back of the bus, and later water balloons (filled from the bus’s sink) and big gulp cups through the “accidental” sunroof – would soak BYU students and act all nonchalant like “it wasn’t us”… Sometimes when chased, the only reasonable strategy was to drive really slow rather than trying to out run them. Those activities did produce some actual police incidents however￼
Brief summary of topics discussed in this meeting:
* “Swimming like Sperms” on Orem High swim team
* Saving the Plankton
* Running Paul Moody for school president
* The very-tiny overlap in the Vend diagram of Jani Radebaugh and my TEDx talks
* Matt Harding‘s choice of hats and flavour of blues
* Andy Harding living in Olympia (where i spent years)
* Water ballooning BYU zoobies from the roof hatch of VW bus and other vehicles
* Christopher Lee in a spaghetti western (soon to be major!) and had an awesome ‘stache
* Jayson Lee‘s swinging Mike Brady-esque house
* Sweet Danny Harris (RIP) and fck cancer
* Jamie Tucker and Daniel Reneer, like me, evidently dealing with confusing health conundrums #solidarity
* Cory’s hair in the Jr Prom photo (is Petruchio an Italian deli meat? or did he steal Art Garfunkel’s toupee?) with Tiffany Sparks
* VW bumper meets Granny’s Nova’s door
* Aforementioned VW bus is now a psycedelic suana “planted” in Big Cottonwood Canyon next to teepees
* Amnesty International concerts (and what happened to benefit concert and activism? while Desert Trip banked dollars down the road)
* KOHS radio #Legendary and FCC license violations
* Martin Luther King Day holiday (lack thereof) protest and subsequent first amendment conversation with Principals
* The Trinity miracle (and the fence to keep her safe)
* How swimming season is over in LV when temp drops below 90
* What it was like to be pretty much the only 20 year old guy in Utah
* Visiting missionaries on their missions and assisting with rule breaking
* Wandering off mission #rogue
* REM, U2, Ramones, Replacements,… also played records by The Specials, “Life in the European Theatre” compilation with XTC, The Beat, Madness, Echo and Bunnymen, The Stranglers…
* Jack Kerouac spoken word (also Jello Biafra spoken word) vinyl
* Dive bars, tiki bars, tacos
* Mark Swenson‘s marathon addiction (intervention not needed)
* Driving Limo to school and madcap hijinks
* Being a confused Canadian who didnt understand girl’s choice (or other) dances — later Napoleon Dynamite answered much of this for me, also football games and pep rallies
* The accidental prestige of attending Utah Tech College (now a fancy University)
* Steffi Rastafari in Ohio raising kids and building community from scratch
* The difference of supporting soldiers and supporting war (briefly)
* Not talking about politics and religion (so many other stuff to discuss)
* Several Kiggins extended family members
* How I’ve shot a gun like twice in my life (Chris and Cory somewhat more frequently)
* My brother Bob Olson‘s secret clearance status which is so secret i cant mention it here
* Getting held hostage in New Mexico in the VW mentioned above
* Wandering and wondering elsewhere – Escapades in the Philipines, French West Indies, Palau and so on…
* A load of other topics which i’ll recall upon hitting enter
* Name checks for so many renegades and survivors (including YOU!)
For my part, first time i’ve seen Christopher Lee since prob 1988 and Cory DeMille … abrief viewing at UVCC campus in between Grateful Dead show in 1991 and when he provided safe harbour for me stuck in Vegas during a difficult time a few years back.
The conversation picked up at a rollicking pace which brought great joy to this haggard old dude. Was a burst of happiness for me (also Cory chose exceptional bevvies (i like em malty and dark).
Thanks for the hangout lads. Let’s keep em more frequent moving forward. Also, what did i forget? #medicalMJ
Ascots are awsum as evidenced in this grade 12 yearbook photo which I saw yesterday for first time.
I had dropped out and attending Utah Valley Community College but went in for the yearbook photo.
I’d never seen the evidence until visiting pal Cory DeMille in Las Vegas.
Note I used another last name while sequestered in Utah for part of grade 10 & 11 after moving for various schools in Surrey.
Orem High was like an Archie comic book with pep rallies & all that American school stuff.
Between brother Bob Olson & aforementioned Cory and other renegades, we caused all sorts of commotion from raising giant condoms on the flag pole, covering halls with messages of support for MLKJr day and running a rogue campaign for Paul Moody for dictator of the school.
Anyhow, ascots. Love em. Oh and my specs & safari coat are fine accessories as well.