Gavins Point Dam Gets Its Own Song

Matt-Cox-Record-CoverA structure as consequential as the Gavins Point Dam deserves its own song.
After all, it is the final gatekeeper of the Missouri River. And, as we saw in 2011, it wields a lot of influence over all those who live along the river below it.
Perhaps those powerful images of water raging through the dam during that Missouri River flood of a couple years ago are what inspired Omaha Americana/country artist Matt Cox to write a song called “Gavin’s Point Dam.” (Geek note: I know from many years of writing about it that Gavins Point Dam has no apostrophe in its name. I’m not sure if Cox included one for artistic reasons, but I get an involuntary tic to hit the “delete” button when I attempt to follow suit.)
Instead of sticking to history, Cox seems to imagine a world wherein the dam didn’t hold and unleashed the power of the Missouri River across the heartland.
It’s a thoughtful and well-composed song, and a must-listen for those of us who know and respect the Gavins Point Dam.
HearNebraska debuted the recorded version of the song this week and writer Chance Solem-Pfeifer stated:

“Gavin’s Point Dam” doesn’t start small — a deluge of muddy water wipes out a dam.
But it does grow. After Matt Cox’s song chronicles the soaking of Midwestern flood-planes, it presses beyond just water into various social onslaughts. The song sees social security failing, politicians floundering. The breaking of Gavins Point Dam was, perhaps, the proverbial last straw for humanity.

The song will appear on Cox’s album “Nishnabotna,” which will be released Aug. 8. Curious what Nishnabotna refers to? I was unaware that the Nishnabotna River is a tributary of the Missouri River in southwestern Iowa, northwestern Missouri and southeastern Nebraska. According to Wikipedia, Nishnabotna is an Otoe (Chiwere) word meaning “canoe-making river.”

Here are a couple of Cox’s live performances of “Gavin’s Point Dam”:

Toilet Humor(?) – Why Do People Keep Insisting On Putting President Obama In Outhouses?

I admit it: I often enjoy toilet humor.

However, why a couple people in this area decided to combine the Fourth of July, outhouses and President Barack Obama has me a bit baffled.

When did everyone with an outhouse decide that they need to put the president in it?

The Fourth of July parade float in Norfolk, Neb., has garnered a lot of attention this weekend. It featured an outhouse with “Obama Presidential Library” written on it, along with a creepy-looking, freaked out President Obama dummy.

Here’s the photo many news sites have featured:


As I was traveling home from a family gathering Saturday, I passed through Bridgewater, S.D. Along the highway through the town, there is an outhouse. When I passed it, I looked over and saw President Obama staring back at me. It caught me by surprise, and I wondered if I actually saw it. My parents were coming through Bridgewater today, so I asked my mom to take a picture of the outhouse just to make sure it was real.

Sure enough, it was:


This outhouse with a President Barack Obama dummy sits along the north side of SD Highway 262 in Bridgewater, S.D. The photo was taken July 6, 2014.

Even as someone who has political disagreements with the president, I find this “humor” disconcerting. It gives me chills, and that’s probably because I can’t shake the feeling that there is a strain of racism associated with it. I know the people who find it funny will vehemently deny that, but given the larger picture of what this president has had to endure — continuing questions about his birth place or the accusations that he is a Muslim and perhaps even a terrorist, as well as outright racist attacks — I think it is naive to believe racism does not play a role.

Matthew Whitaker addressed a strange phenomenon on CNN while discussing an anti-Obama protest last year in Arizona:

One of the most disturbing aspects of the anti-Obama protest was the inclination of some participants to fault the president for increased racial tensions. “We have gone back so many years,” Judy Burris told the Republic, insisting that Obama’s presence and policies have engendered a racist backlash. “He’s divided all the races. I hate him for that.”

This mind-bending perspective has become one of the leitmotifs of the racialized anti-Obama movement, which laments regressive race relations, but which attributes increased racial tensions in Obama’s “disruptive” and “exotic” presence, rather than their own racial stereotypes, hateful rhetoric and divisive behavior. Despite myriad efforts to foster civil dialogue in Arizona, the state has proven to be fertile ground for the kind of chauvinistic crusading that greeted Obama this week.

This also reminded me of a 2011 study called “Whites See Racism As A Zero-Sum Game They Are Now Losing.” Its findings were rather amazing and demonstrated just how threatening some Americans view the changing demographics of the nation. Political Blind Spot described the results:

Their findings claim that self-described white Americans believe they have “replaced blacks” as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America.

The authors say that their study highlights how the expectations of a “post-racial” society, predicted or imagined in the wake of Barack Obama’s presidency, has far from been achieved.

The study finds that while both Caucasian and African Americans agree that anti-black racism has decreased over the last 60 years, whites believe that anti-white racism has increased. Moreover, the study finds that the majority of Caucasians believe that anti-white racism is a “bigger problem” than what African Americans face.

For those who argue that these displays are nothing more than political cartoons, perhaps I missed this meme all the years we had white presidents?

I guess Nebraska and South Dakota don’t have the “presidential outhouse” market cornered. Similar displays have been reported on in New Mexico and Montana.

Despite the latest craze, I’m going to stick with toilet humor involving bodily parts and functions. That’s how it was originally conceived, and I believe it is best left that way. Keep politics out of it, please.