What becomes of the seemingly ephemeral creations we leave behind? Especially in the analog-days?
Consider these in the context of missing cassette tapes made by a now departed poet/activist/scholar Foster and guitar-ing Mikael, who recorded spontaneous youthful riffs in parent’s basement in Utah. In this postcard, Mikael Lewis sings “Wildflower (for Foster)” written by Dave in a clinic in Nepal, then adds some more verses, spiels and a poem called “Occasionally Free” – with lightning, rainstorm and crickets chiming along.
Note: Also available in audio-only via all normal podcast channels and elsewhere in this library.
Adding to the variety of artifacts (including my recently re-surfacing essay “Damn the Dam”) about Glen Canyon, which turned into the “home” of Lake Powell, comes this tribute, link assortment and film preview featuring legendary Ms. Katie Lee, the famed model/singer/activist environmentalist who made a noteworthy trip into the canyons – many of which were never documented/explored – with photographers, shortly before the destruction, dam building and subsequent flooding.
Ms. Lee passed away in Nov. 2017 at 98 years old and remained a fiery personality advocating for the wildness of lands until the end.
As such, I’ve assembled a round-up of links about her extraordinary life which follows this film preview and blurb – consider reading all to learn of this exceptionally beautiful renegade.
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
Today the Colorado has been rightly compared to hundreds of miles of plumbing system (Sunset 104).
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￼
Upon turning 70 years old, Dave’s dear sensei (since a teenage Utah community college stint), Larry Harper (among various monikers) curated 70 items of advice (at request of Annie Dandelion).
As such, between licks by Grateful Dead and master potter Marty Kendall, he riffs the list – ranging from practical to mystical to almost comical, many including nudity and space. Oh, also includes his ethereal autoharp songs (rescued from a ca. 1991 Zzyxz Rd cassette).
As documented here and there, i once owned a 1974 VW bus and travelled all over the place and enjoyed many adventures and undertook extensive repairs and renovations. as it goes, it sat in my Granny’s backyard as my travels took me further afield to foreign lands, as such, i passed it along to cousins who sold it to a fella called Zac, who also let it sit for sometime in garage before some adventurous and creative folks called Honi and (Dayglo) Dave bought it for a daughter and quickly realized that it would be an unfit vehicle due to reliability concerns.
You see, Honi and Dave have some great rental lodges and extensive compound in Big Cottonwood canyon (outside of SLC Utah) which they rent primarily to skiiers/boarders and other recreate-ers. They already have a hottub, tipis and so on and converted the noble “Earthship” into a sauna. We connected over some serendipitous internet-happpenstance and i rallied up a gang of pals to go visit. H&D were wonderful hosts and the visit soon turned into an all-night party including hot boxing the sauna (in a couple different ways, soaking in hot tub, and firing up the jukebox in the Mangy Moose cabin. Incidentally, a momma moose and her kids paid a visit.
The bus has been privy to weddings, parties and all sorts of merriment. As is obviously, its extensively painted and decorated, the insides gutted (who knows what lost items were found) its parked in a flower bed of sorts. They presented me a key which travels with me all ’round the globe.
Here are a few pieces of documentary evidence snapped wth Lomo La Sardina (sardine can) camera. Also made a series of friendly postal pictograms with these images. Many of these snaps were captured by Jamielee Eldridge.
Bob and Otto ran up to Uncle Weed shouting, “Wow, you could probably get a ten count against Jimmy Superfly Snuka!”
“Is he as great a wrestler as Gene Kiniski?” Uncle Weed asked, arching an eyebrow but enjoying the boys’ compliment. “Ah, stop it guys,” he shrugged sheepishly.
Then continued brightly, “Hey, go gather up a bunch of survey stakes and three long, skinny branches,” he instructed, then in passing added, “And,… maybe you should let me explain what happened to your parents myself.”
The boys wondered what the big deal about telling their parents, they had fun and weren’t injured or scared, plus they learned a lot about methods of protecting nature.
Then, following the instructions, gathered up armloads of discarded survey stakes before helping Uncle Weed arrange them in a rock-ringed fire-pit.
Then, under a sliver of moon, the three compadres sat around a little fire, eating creamsicles, roasting marshmallows, and talking. Talking about what they had seen, heard, smelled, touched, tasted, and thought that day.
It was a good night, indeed a good night for just about anything.
Inside the modified shipping container trailer, he propped the security man’s exhausted body up against the refrigerator and duct-taped him securely to it, snug, but still allowing ample space to breathe.
“Well that ought to hold you for the night you silly civil servant,” said Uncle Weed.
“MmmmMMMmmm,” struggled the man. Then, opening the freezer, Uncle Weed selected a variety of creamsicles, fudgesicles and drumsticks. From the cupboard, he borrowed a handful of popcorn kernels and half a bag of marshmallows.
“Listen, my misguided captive,” said Uncle Weed, “I would think twice before I pursued this further. I’d be quite embarrassed if I was you, being defeated by a skinny longhaired,… what did you call me…weirdo hippie? Yeah, think of what your buddies will say when you and your gun were brought down by the likes of me! Ha, I can just see the court-hearing now, even the Judge will get a chuckle I’m sure. They might even put you back on garbage patrol on account of this slacking. I would sure hate to see that happen, for your sake that is. Well, goodnight and cheerio!”
Then Uncle Weed stepped out the door, leaving $3 on the counter for the snacks.
“Oh one more thing,” popping his bearded face back into the fluorescent-lit trailer, your bulldozer might have a hard time starting tomorrow, you might want to consider giving it a good cleaning before firing it up, and probably invest in locking gas tank caps. As old Ed would often say, ‘sand works better than sugar!’”
“MmmmMMMmm,” mumbled the gagged man.
He tipped his hat, walked out and secured the outside door handle with the barrel of the gun.
The man continued blasting off his blunderbuss, shouting with wheezing lungs, “Gosh dang it, you terrorists! Thieves! Bad guys! Criminals! Justice obstructers! Malcontents! You won’t get away!”
Uncle Weed crept up behind him and leapt into action, quickly tackling him to the ground, grabbing his weapon, and tossing it safely away. They wrestled, kicked, yelled and worked up a furious cloud of dust.
“C’mon Uncle Weed!” Bob and Otto cheered, “Give him a wedgie! Pile drive him!”
“How am I doing guys?” Uncle Weed called back while in the midst of showing off his wrestling moves learned during his time on the community college, junior varsity team, “Should I pile drive him? Or maybe a supplex?”
“Arghh!” the man said, “You won’t get away, let go of me! Don’t hurt me! I’m just following orders from my superiors at the head office,” the man huffed and puffed.
“Hey, don’t worry fella, I mean you no harm,” said Uncle Weed as he hauled his struggling body into the government issue, corrugated-steel trailer.