My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"The Dust Bowl" on PBS

Tomorrow night we will be glued to the television, watching Part 1 of Ken Burns latest documentary, "The Dust Bowl"...

Lasting nearly a decade and covering 100 million square miles at its peak, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s was the worst man-made environmental disaster in American history. At least, so far. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," a quote by Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952), keeps playing in my mind as I've watched Ken Burns give interviews about his latest documentary, and as I've begun reading a book that BW just finished (and highly recommends), The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived The Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan.

Part 2 of Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" airs on PBS Monday night. As they say, check your local listings! :-) (And/or your local library for Egan's book!)

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. 
When we see land as a community to which we belong, 
we may begin to use it with love and respect.
~Aldo Leopold


  1. I remember reading about the dust bowl in the soil science class I took 2 years ago. Sounds like an interesting documentary. I'll have to check it out.

  2. What a coincidence- we just purchased a Mumfort & Sons album today and one of the songs on it is Dust Bowl Dance!

    I hope you enjoy the documentary. :)

  3. Also Leopold was a great thinker and writer. Glad to see his words on your post. I don't have a TV, by choice, so I will have to wait a while until I can get a DVD on it. A sad story retold as a reminder what drought can do over vast areas of farm land.

  4. We'll not miss it either! What would the world be without Ken Burns and PBS?

  5. Rose ~ BW said the same thing about his soil science classes in college. Certainly were plenty of lessons to be learned from the horrendous mistakes made that led to the Dust Bowl, so I'm glad they're still teaching them! By the way, have you seen the documentary "Dirt?" I think you'd enjoy it! And Ken Burns' documentaries are always phenomenal, so I hope you'll get to check this one out tonight.

    Molly ~ I don't think I've ever heard of Mumfort & Sons, will have to check them out. I'm trying to imagine a song called "Dust Bowl Dance," and figure it will either be haunting or ominous, or wildly lively to mimic swirling dust. And I'm imagining a folk music style. Will see how far off I am! :-)

    And that's an amazing bit of "coinkydink" ~ Vegan Mind-Meld again! :-)

    Barbara ~ Or in the meantime you can find Egan's book. I'm not very far into it, and can't say I'm a fan of his writing style, but the subject matter and interviews with the survivors are compelling!

    Spud ~ Excellent! And I know that in your house as well as in ours, this means missing Sunday and Monday Night Football, no small sacrifice! (Who's playing, anyway? Doesn't matter - "The Dust Bowl" wins hands down!) :-)

    The world would be a whole lot less informed and entertained but for Ken Burns and PBS!

  6. Molly ~ Well, I listened to "The Dust Bowl Dance" on this video, and it doesn't sound like either of the types of song I was expecting, though the raucous part near the end is similar to the "wildly lively" possibility I was expecting from the entire song! I like it... and I seriously want the shirt the keyboard player is wearing! :-)

  7. I'll have to check out the Dirt documentary too. I'm assuming we can watch it online somewhere...we don't have a tele, but I think PBS specials are also available on their website.

  8. Rose ~ I think that's true, but am not certain. Your library may well have "Dirt: The Movie" (does your computer play DVDs?) And then for $8/month there's Netflix streaming videos, which we just got and are really enjoying. We can watch unlimited films (or TV shows) on our computer and our TV. And, of course, they're not the only streaming media game in town, but they have a great library of Indie, foreign and documentary films, which are our favorites.

  9. am watching it now... and obviously reading blogs, too. It is something you hear about and read about, but really cannot imagine ever living through.

  10. I've only heard vague mentions of this period of American history but will definitely be trying to find out more. That's a great trailer, shame we're unlikely to get the programme over here.

  11. This sounds really good. It reminds me that I need to finish "The Civil War" with or without Jim!!

    I have no doubt that it will be very good. One of my favorite books of all time is "The Grapes of Wrath" which is all I really know about the Dust Bowl but for that reason alone, I'd like to know more. I'm sure PBS will have it on more than once so I will "check my local listings".

  12. I grew up in southwestern Oklahoma and contrary to what many think...the dust storms didn't occur just in the 1930s. I vividly remember, as a child in the 1950s, seeing my mother wet dishtowels and lay them around the windowsills to reduce the dust coming in from storms. I remember looking to the northwest and seeing a black that seemed to reach to the top of the sky...a dust storm approaching.

    We did a good job of wrecking part of the earth then...we are apparently hell-bent on doing a more extensive and more thorough job...if we are to be judged by our activities. Thanks for making note of this series that reminds us of our folly.

  13. veganelder ~ Very interesting to read about your memories of Dust Bowl conditions in the 1950s! And I agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph.

    I could barely finish watching episode one and watched only a snippet of part 2. The human toll was bad enough, but what was done to so many innocent animals (and the callously indifferent attitudes about their suffering and the cruelty and carnage inflicted on them) was more than I could stand.


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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