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Eugene Weekly : Cover Story : 10.02.08

 

The Jungle Out There

A guide to life beyond the campus box  


Words & Illustrations By Chuck Adams

For most undergrads (but especially freshmen), college can feel like a cocoon. Why would you ever want to leave the bento box of a campus-based life when it offers you everything you could ever possibly need, including bed, desk, booze, drugs, sex and chicken wings? What more could a student possibly require? Well, at some point you will get claustrophobic in the close quarters of campus. This is also when you start getting curious about the wider world beyond Agate and Hilyard, Franklin and 21st. This is where I come in ­ the young’un of the EW staff ­ to paint a road map for your newfound freedom in the college town we will affectionately refer to as “The Euge.”

Little Grocery Stores

Sure, the Safeway on 18th Avenue has the best concentration of young, attractive shoppers (check out EW’s I Saw You’s for proof), probably drawing from the huge clump of student housing in the neighborhood. But the produce selection is terrible. One advantage to living in the southern Willamette Valley is the availability of local meats, cheeses and produce from regional farms and crops. Get to know the little independent groceries and pretend you know an Indian bay leaf from a California one. Sundance (24th and Hilyard), Cappella (25th and Willamette), Friendly Street Market (28th and Friendly), Kiva (11th and Olive) and Red Barn (4th and Blair) all stock the ingredients for a local feast, minus the pesticides and harsh fluorescent lighting.

Get Mother-Effing Jiggy With It

Acquaint yourself with the local music venues, especially the WOW Hall (8th and Lincoln), which you’ll miss when you leave. Heck, you’re thieving enough music off your lightning-fast DSL hookups, the least you can do is redirect all that moolah to tickets to both local and touring musicians. Also, I don’t know about the concert-going customs you’re used to back at home, but here in Eugene we dance to music we enjoy, or else what’s the point? Have difficulty dancing? See your local pharmacist for suggestions.

Get Off The Hamster Wheel

Hey joggers: Running loops around Hayward may feel historic, but shoot me in the foot if an oval track isn’t the dullest way to travel three to ten miles (don’t get me started on treadmills). And no disrespect to Pre’s Trail, or the entirety of Alton Baker Park, but the one-mile loop on the Adidas Trail connecting to the 3.5-mile loop of the Rexius Trail up East and West Amazon Drives takes in a soft, woodchip trail along a grove of trees, meadows and Amazon Creek, where you’re more likely to run across a deer than a hobo encampment. At trail’s end, take a few swigs from the fountain at Frank Kinney Park and either loop back or continue further up the Amazon Headwaters trail for a truly rugged cross country hill climb into a recently protected tract of forest.

Say Hi to High

McMenamins East 19th Street Café you know all too well. North Bank is for when you’re old and spend all day on the putting range. But McMenamins High Street Pub & Café is really the microbrew staple of the off-campus dining experience. When you inevitably flee Eugene upon graduation but eventually make the nostalgic sojourn back, High Street will beckon with its homey décor, fireplaces, free Wi-Fi and good-natured but sometimes slow servers. More specifically, the prospect of High Street tots (Cajun-ized, with a side of ranch dressing) will be too much to resist.

Red Eye, Sweet Tooth

If you’re a nightcrawling minor, you’re S.O.L. on or near campus. Your best bets for late-night, all-ages hangouts are across town in the lively but rough-around-the-edges Whiteaker neighborhood. Sweet Life (8th and Monroe) stays open ‘til 11 every night of the week, offering up the best vegan cheesecake this side of Brooklyn, along with other sweets that require a cup of coffee or steamed milk to wash down the hatch. The Wandering Goat Coffee Roasters (3rd and Madison) is the place to go for mostly all-ages (but sometimes 21+, depending on the whims of the Goat) entertainment, such as punk and indie-rock concerts, DJs, game shows and the ever-popular Heckler’s Movie Nights. Barista-perfected caffeine kicks are available ’til 11 pm every day except Sunday.

Cheapest Seats in Town Are One Town Over

Thanks to the proposed expansion of the EmX bus rapid transit line to Gateway Mall next year, checking out a second-run flick at Movies 12 may be the fastest, cheapest and greenest entertainment around. Even now, flash your student ID for free bus service to  Springfield (15 minutes and a world away from Eugene) and Gateway Mall (another world away from all that is decent), where tickets to a screening of the dumb Hollywood flicks you sometimes crave are usually less than two bucks. But beware: Once you start dubbing flicks “something I’ll wait to see at the cheap theater,” every movie will seem to fall into that category.

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

The unofficial slogan of Eugene’s small but resurgent house concert scene is something along the lines of “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.” This is where creating a Facebook profile and friending as many movers-and-shakers on campus might pay off. The sound will probably suck, and the threat of ornery neighbors and bored cops always puts a damper on what could be a thriving scene, but house shows have a unique quality that can’t be duplicated nor marketed in pretty packages. Given the right connections, you will inevitably be invited to a concert at somebody’s house. Go, but please step lightly.

 

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The Jungle Out There A guide to life beyond the campus box