Throughout the ages, mankind has searched for the answers to some of life's most troublesome questions. Among them:
• Why are we here?
• What is the meaning of life?
• What am I going to eat for dinner?
and, of course,
• What immediate steps can be taken to enhance the aesthetic beauty of Lock & Dam 15?
Thankfully, we now know the answer to one of these questions, and I'm still up in the air about dinner, so it's not that one.
Where once the Rock Island Rapids caused thirteen miles of mayhem for river-faring folk, tranquil waters now flow. All of this is due to the impressive series of locks and dams installed along the Mississippi. Decades ago, fearless workers tamed the mighty river in an engineering feat that still stands as one of our society's great acheivements.
Too bad, then, that it's apparantly so ugly. Yes, the blight that Lock & Dam 15 has put upon the scenic vistas of the Quad Cities is the horror so great that we townsfolk dare not speak of it. (At least, that's my explanation as to why I've never heard anyone say a single word about the dam before.)
So when the news broke last week that an exhibition was to be held to determine a new night-time lighting configuration for the dam, the townspeople rejoiced. Well, at least I rejoiced. Why? Because I live for things that are inane, and this, my friends, was some serious inanity. I called my friend Jason, and within minutes, we embarked on Damwatch 2006.
First stop? The parking lot of Jumer's Casino Rock Island. The elevated flood wall there would be a perfect place to view the unveiling of the lights. The news had said that everyone who wanted a say in the final lighting choice should be at a place to view the dam by 10:30 p.m. And when we arrived, everyone was there. Yes, everyone. All 7 of us. And that was including Jason, myself, and at least two people who carried themselves like Trusted Political Figures (tm) of some kind.
Beyond us, the gentle majesty of the dam. Adorning the concrete behemoth were 3 different lighting configurations, and we were supposed to pick a favorite. From what I could see, the one on the Davenport side looked yellowish, the one on the Rock Island side looked bluish, and the one in the middle looked whitish. None of them looked like anything I should remotely care about.
We decided to try the Davenport side. Over there, you could get an even better view of the lighting choices (as well as giving the Skybridge to Nowhere its first ever practical use!) And, after gazing thoughtfully from both sides of the river, I could finally state with definite certainty that I could care less about the dam lights.
None of the three options seemed anything to write home about. I guess the yellowish lights were my favorite, because it reminded me of the glow of torchlight (just like they used to light river-spanning concrete dams back in the Middle Ages!) But none of the variations said, "Hey, look at me, I'm a fancy dam!" Instead, it came across more like your basic safety lighting, like, "Attention! Dam here. Maintain appropriate distance."
What's the goal of the project? Is this new night lighting supposed to be so enchanting that it draws tourists? Let me guess: "My Parents Went To the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers LDS 15 And All I Got Was This Dam T-Shirt!"
I say we go full throttle. Heck, let's build ANOTHER Skybridge from the original Skybridge TO the Dam. Let's not rest until we turn all of downtown Davenport into one giant, lit, psychedelic Habitrail. Then let's just stick 20,000 LED's onto the dam. That way, we could send personalized messages across it like the old Northwest Bank towers. What better way to ask "BECKY WILL U GO 2 PROM WITH ME" than to shoot it across the river on 15 foot tall glowing letters?
Then, at long last, we would only be one Tom Jones concert away from turning into Little Vegas, which appears to be our tacky little goal. Now if we could ONLY do something about that pesky picturesque river that keeps getting in the way...
P.S. My vote's for yellow.