Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
A Death in the Family
David Alan Johnson (8/12/1945-2/21/2006)
Word to Your Mother
Eugene's feminist bookstore lives again.
Happening Person: John Flinn
FARR SLIDE OF THE MOON
This Saturday, in front of a rolling video camera and a bar full of witnesses, Patrick Farr will moonwalk into the future. Or possibly the post-future. In any case, he hopes to make history. Confused? You should be. Farr, a soft-spoken, 24-year-old Eugene native whose hobbies include ballet, playing bass guitar and restructuring universally accepted notions of space-time, will attempt to break the world record for the "greatest distance moonwalked in one hour." At the same time, he'll be making a statement about technology's failure to deliver on its promise of a better future. Oh yeah, and none of it has anything to do with Michael Jackson.
"I kind of see the moonwalk more as like, Neil Armstrong," Farr says. "And I really see Neil Armstrong as the failure of the future." But by the future, Farr really means the present. And anything still to come is the post-future. As you may have guessed, all this coincides splendidly with the 100th anniversary of Futurism, the Russo-Italian art movement that shunned reverence for the past and glorified speed, violence and technology.
"One hundred years ago, we had all these promises: technology, communism, capitalism, fascism even," says Farr. "They were going to make things better for us. But really, the future has completely failed us. Nothing's really changed that much." One thing that has changed, though, is the ability for aspiring record-breaking moonwalkers to practice on a treadmill, which Farr has been doing for the past six months. Originally, the idea was to use the treadmill to beat the record. But, says Shawn Mediaclast, owner of the Museum of Unfine Art and Record Store and Farr's unofficial promoter, "That idea was recently abandoned. We didn't want to risk Guinness saying that could be rigged or something."
Mediaclast, appearing as the Audio Schizophrenic, together with DJ Dan Craig, will help spin the soundtrack to Farr's epic feat during the Freaks in the House event at John Henry's. Freaks has been a regular reprieve for the weird and the wonderful for the past two years or so. It was here that Mediaclast first got to witness some of the relentless energy that will fuel Farr's push for glory this Saturday. "He treats this event almost like it's a workout," says Mediaclast. "He gets there early, and he'll dance all night, for four or five hours."
Of course, to beat the moonwalking record, Farr will only need to keep moving for one hour, but he'll need to cover more than 1.5 miles in that time. If this sounds easy, think again. The moonwalk, which Farr says can be broken down into a series of movements known in ballet terms as pique, fondu and glissade, is a highly unnatural motion. Past record setters have complained of everything from "blood-torn toenails" to a "tattered soul" to something called "moonwalker's knee."
Adam Hall, who set the 1.5 mile benchmark in the final leg of a (separate record-breaking) 30-mile moonwalk relay in 2002, did so through the back streets of Denver. Interestingly, Hall's team, under the banner "Moonwalk For Earth," used the coverage to promote renewable energy. Farr, on the other hand, moonwalking on his anti-technology platform, will be reduced to tight circles around a roped off section of the dance floor. It'll be quite a spectacle. But then, that's the whole idea. "The moonwalk is completely absurd," concedes Farr. "And really, the future is also absurd." — Dave Constantin
ACTIVISTS SIT ON REPS
The Eugene Civil Resisters launched a civil disobedience action on March 20, the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Eighteen people were arrested, including seven teenagers.
Protesters converged on the Federal Building in the morning, holding anti-war banners and displaying coffins. Ten people were charged with disorderly conduct, including six minors and 80-year-old World War II veteran Henry Dizney.
|Grace, a local high school student, participates in a March 20 protest against the Iraq war.|
"I interpret [the arrests] to mean that we can't protest, and that's why I'm gonna protest," Dizney said. "We're really leaving a mess for the next generation."
The protesters also staged actions outside the local offices of Eugene's three congressional representatives, Sens. Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, who all voted for Iraq War funding. They called on the congressmen to reject the next war appropriations bill, for $67 billion, which Congress will consider in coming months.
Police blocked protesters on their way to Smith's office at the Federal Building. The activists had also planned to sit inside Wyden and DeFazio's offices on 7th and Charnelton, but they were locked out. They called the offices on their cell phones, asking to talk to the congressmen. They were denied.
"We were ashamed that our representatives would not give us a hearing," said protester Karla Cohen.
So the activists sat in the hallway and chanted: "Nothing to hide; let us inside." After the building manager said that the noise was a problem, the protesters stopped chanting and read the names of U.S. and Iraqi citizens killed in the war.
Eugene police arrived and warned the protesters to disperse or be arrested. The protesters stayed; eight (including one minor) were charged with criminal trespass and released. They left the building singing: "Have you been to jail for justice? Then you're a friend of mine."
Supporters stood outside holding banners demanding an investigation of U.S. war crimes under the Geneva Conventions: torture, invasion and use of illegal weapons.
Teens had a strong showing at the actions, comprising nearly half of the two dozen protesters outside DeFazio and Wyden's offices. "I can't believe the war got this far," said 16-year-old Rochelle Cross, a student at Wellsprings High School. "I wonder if there's gonna be a draft."
"Druid," also 16, said that while he opposes the Iraq War, he would fight if drafted. "I'm not against the military; I'm just against this war," he said.
The action was in solidarity with sit-ins at congressional offices across the nation and at the Pentagon. While Eugene activists chanted outside Wyden's local office, Portland activists delivered a petition with 1,800 signatures to Wyden's Portland office, urging the senator to introduce legislation to withdraw troops from Iraq. On March 18, close to 800 people rallied against the war at the Eugene Federal Building. — Kera Abraham
SUPPORTING LOCAL ARTS
Eugene Weekly was honored with the Lane Arts Council's 2006 Business Arts Service Award at an awards extravaganza Saturday night, March 18 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Other recipients included the Gallery Association for Learning and Art (GALA), Maude Kerns Art Center and CaroleZoom Patterson, who won the John Alvord Award "for exemplary service and dedication to the arts."
Featured speaker Kirk Boyd, producing director of Willamette Repertory Theatre, struck a chord with the audience with his personal reflections on a life in the arts. Whatever the art form, art is made despite difficulties, financial and otherwise, because one can't not do it, Boyd said. And, he emphasized, that maxim is as true of the arts organizations, the supporters who attend performances, and the donors who give to keep them going as it is of the artists who produce work itself. It's a collaborative process.
"We urge EW readers to support the arts through volunteering, donating, attending and spreading the word," said EW Executive Arts Editor Lois Wadsworth after the event. "Buy season tickets to the performing arts of your choice. Support galleries that show visual arts created by artists who live among us. Attend readings and buy novels, non-fiction and poetry written by local and regional writers. Such activity comes back to all of us in the form of a vibrant community, which honors its artists."
BUS RAPID TREE PLANS
Lane Transit District contractors have cut several trees from the median of Franklin Boulevard, where construction is under way for EmX, a bus rapid transit system that will add a bus-only corridor from downtown Eugene to downtown Springfield at a cost of more than $20 million.
To make way for the new transit lanes, LTD contractors removed three English oaks and three bigleaf maples from the median between Agate Street and Walnut Street on Franklin. According to LTD spokesman Andy Vobora, no more trees will be cut, and 85 trees will be planted to replace those lost. "What you see will remain and be supplemented with additional trees when the project is wrapped up," he said.
LTD is working with local arborist Nathaniel Sperry and city forester Mark Snyder to ensure the health of the remaining trees. In February 2004, Sperry and his crew root pruned the trees along the median to give them a better chance of survival during construction. This winter, the crew limbed the canopies to give the trees a more symmetrical appearance.
"Given the fact that construction is happening, the winter root pruning gave the trees a chance to generate new roots behind the cut point," Sperry said. "It's an example of a government entity actually making a good decision as far as trees are concerned." — Kera Abraham
• Last week's cover story, "The Pitchfork Rebellion," incorrectly identified Weyerhaeuser as the owner of land across the highway from sustainable timber supplier Fred Mentzer. Weyerhaeuser does own hundreds of acres around the Mentzer property, but Goracke-Templeton Timber Co. owns the parcel referenced in the article.
• Last week in our Calendar section we featured Ed Shultz appearing in Eugene as an Air America talk show host. Shultz can be heard on many Air America-affiliated stations, but he's actually produced and represented by Jones Radio Networks (see www.jones.com/jrn).
Many law school professors at UO are up in arms over what they perceive as a display of cultural incompetence by Johnson Hall. In the search for a new law school dean, university prez Frohnmayer allegedly offended one of the UO's top candidates, a Mexican-American legal scholar who has authored several books on immigration, race and civil rights. In the words of one law school professor, who asked not to be named (another source provided his e-mail to EW): "[T]he central administration folks impeded and bungled the law school's dean search that caused perhaps the most heralded candidate in the history of our school … to withdraw from the dean search even though he had the universal endorsement of our law school faculty." The e-mail went on to suggest that two distinguished law school professors of color might resign in protest, adding their names to the Exit Files. The facts are hard to pin down, since neither Frohnmayer nor the candidate nor the involved law school professors will comment on the record. But let's hope that Vice President for Academic Affairs Lorraine Davis meant it when she said, "We try to increase the diversity of our faculty and our leadership when we can." And let's hope the candidate in question reconsiders applying for the position.
Great turnout at the Take Back Our America rally Saturday. The daily rag reported a crowd of 500, but we figure maybe twice that number were packed in shoulder to shoulder. DeFazio was in fine form, reminding us that just talking to each other isn't enough. We need to talk to the thousands of people around us who are moderate and undecided about the big issues of war, justice and accountability. And the way to pull the rug out from under the Bush administration and neo-cons is to sway the 2006 elections at all levels. Let's not forget that the same destructive ideology at work in the White House is also at work right here in Lane County.
Circuit Court Judge Lyle Velure's recent attempt to shoe-in his own successor got us wondering what other backroom deals have been going on over the years. Most circuit court judges are appointed after resignations mid-term, avoiding elections. The upcoming judicial election in Lane County is the first in 15 years. But secret deals certainly happen all across the spectrum of public office. Who ends up on the ballot or on the short list for appointments is highly political. Let's let our imaginations run wild: Jack Roberts is running for the Oregon Supreme Court. If he succeeds, that would create an executive director vacancy on the Lane Metro Partnership. You can bet somebody, maybe Bobby Green, is already jockeying for that appointment, maybe with help from Roberts. Suddenly we have a vacancy on the County Commission. But it wouldn't be sudden for somebody like Jennifer Solomon, who could be strategizing right now with Green for her appointment to the commission. If so, Solomon probably has some political ally in mind to take her place on the council. Maybe some EWEB commissioner? And on and on it goes. Mostly it's benevolent insiderism, but it's not very transparent, not very democratic, and it doesn't build public confidence in our political system. What are the solutions? For starters, substantive campaign finance reform would get more good people to run for office, and file earlier. Blue-ribbon panels could help take some of the politics out of appointments. Local media need to constantly watchdog this process, and not just wait until filing deadlines.
What do the people of Oregon do if the Legislature doesn't adhere to the law as laid out in the state Constitution? We go to the courts and ask the judges to require it. That's not a wildly radical position, especially when the constitutional issue is so critical to the state: funding for public education. Last Tuesday a complaint was filed in Multnomah Circuit Court for a group of plaintiffs, including our own School District 4J and the Crow-Applegate-Lorane school district. The complaint says the Legislature has failed to fund our schools at a level to meet the quality goals established by law in 1991. The complaint asks that the court require the state to come up with $1.8 billion for the 2005-07 education budget to meet these quality goals established by law. Think about that. A breath-taking remedy. A foundation headed by Paul Kelly, attorney and former NIKE exec, and including Eugene attorney Art Johnson, is behind this creative effort to force our elected representatives to obey the law. Similar challenges have been filed in 38 states; 21 courts found in favor of plaintiffs, saying the court had the authority to find the legislatures in violation of their constitutions in school funding. EW will provide more details as this case develops. For now, as Oregon citizens, we cheer this bold stroke to force our elected representatives to do what the law requires and what the state so desperately needs.
One concern we have about the Whole Foods council vote last week is that the public hearing testimony didn't seem to account for much. Numerous critical issues were raised by the citizens and few of those issues were addressed before the final vote. Are we going to see the same scenario play out when the council votes on the Conner, Woolley & Opus parking garage? Right now, out-of-state corporations are designing our downtown, not the citizens, or even city staff. And it's obvious to us, based on letters to the editor and public testimony, that the people of Eugene don't want their tax dollars going to redundant parking projects benefiting national retail chains. We predict frustrated taxpayers are going to remember the Whole Foods fiasco when the city comes begging for a new City Hall bond measure in 2008. And that's a big problem. New civic facilities, if done right, could be an important part of downtown revitalization. The first public forum on the new City Hall is at 6 pm Thursday, March 23 at First United Methodist Church on Olive Street.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, firstname.lastname@example.org
AfOn Halloween of 1991, the very night of the "Perfect Storm" in the North Atlantic, amateur astronomer John Flinn photographed the northern lights on a trip to Alaska. "I can imagine that fishermen in the eye of the storm saw the same aurora," he muses. In April of 2000, Flinn photographed the conjunction of three planets over Lookout Point Reservoir. "When I got the pictures back, I saw a glow in the sky that couldn't have been the sunset," he says. "I realized I could photograph the northern lights as far south as Oregon." His 1997 photo of Comet Hale-Bopp above the Three Sisters, silhouetted in an auroral glow, appears behind him in the portrait. Flinn keeps an eye on websites that track solar flare activity. Though their X-ray light arrives in eight minutes, the charged particles that cause the aurora take two days to reach the atmosphere, giving him time to be ready in a suitable location. Flinn will give a benefit slide presentation at the Eugene Waldorf School this evening, March 23, at 7 pm. See his photographs and find tips on viewing the northern lights at celestialscenics.com -BY BY PAUL NEEVEL