John Zerzan’s grumpy remarks about the collective sigh of relief heaved by the world at Obama’s victory remind me that, if memory serves, Gore was no different than W. Bush, right? So it’s stupid to celebrate the end of this dark chapter because, well, everything still sucks.
Seen through this prism of pessimism, the Magna Carta was feudal protectionism for barons, Shakespeare wrote soap operas, Mozart was a royalist fop, Beethoven was deaf, the U.S. Constitution was for rich white guys, Lincoln was an opportunist, Twain a Southern apologist, Van Gogh a lunatic, Stravinsky just noisy, Duke Ellington a faux aristocrat and Shostakovich a Stalinist stooge. Baseball is a waste of time, Charley Parker, John Coltrane and Ray Charles were just heroin addicts, Hank Williams, Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin all just music biz pawns (for turning their deep blues into joyous song). Martin Luther King Jr. was a philanderer, Bob Dylan a Woody Guthrie wannabe, the Beatles were the Monkees and Stevie Wonder’s just a blind man in a mu-mu.
John, we may not all be as hip and arch and sarcastic as you about it, but we all know the world is going to hell on a sled, has been since the dawn of time. That needn’t prevent us from appreciating the small things that make life bitter-sweet instead of just bitter. Hell, the last winning bumper sticker I had on my car before this one was “Impeach Nixon.” I’m going to savor the moment.
Billy Barnett, Eugene
Last weekend I made my first trek into the proposed Devil’s Staircase Wilderness (Wassen Creek), a place that came up in your recent (11/16) interview with Congressman DeFazio. What a spot! I’ve hiked to almost every remote backcountry part of this state, and I haven’t had my breath so completely stolen away from me in a long time.
After an epic four-hour bushwhack through thick woods and incredibly steep terrain, we descended — scratched up and fully drenched — into a towering grove of 8- to 10-foot diameter trees. There were cascading waterfalls, thickets of ferns that came up to my shoulders and wildlife that I didn’t even know existed (ever seen a foot-long salamander?). It was like being in some lost and forgotten world, less than two hours from Eugene.
If you have a good GPS or if you’re highly skilled with a map and compass, I highly recommend you check out this area, sandwiched between the Umpqua and Smith Rivers, for yourself. And if you make it out alive, I guarantee you’ll have stories to tell your grandkids.
For those of you who are less inclined to risk it all, but who enjoy knowing that truly wild places still exist in our backyard, I encourage you to get involved and help us protect this special place forever. For pictures, info and ways to help, go to www.devilsstaircasewilderness.org
There aren’t many places like it left in Oregon. Oregon’s congressional delegation should act to permanently protect this rare and beautiful forest forever.
Dan Kruse, Legal Director, Cascadia Wildlands Project
KITTY’S NO BULLY
My friends have been whining incessantly that Mayor Kitty Piercy isn’t using her alleged power to control the city manager, the police chief, police department and public works. They insist that Torrey controlled them and therefore Torrey was a “more effective” mayor.
This is a bunch of arrogant, male supremacist slime and vomit.
Torrey is a member of the white, rich, male-dominant, conservative, big business elite (timber, saw mills, gravel pits, big land owners, manufacturing, media) in Lane, Linn and Douglas Counties. Kitty Piercy is a former public school teacher. Piercy is an intelligent, college-educated woman whose main interests are inclusiveness and fairness. She doesn’t do bullying and she doesn’t do ass-kissing.
Torrey was “effective” for his buddies and beneficiaries (rich business people and big land owners) because he is one of them, and the managers in City Hall also belong to this group. The managers do what Torrey wants because Torrey wants the same things they do.
The reasons Kitty Piercy had difficulty winning re-election are 1) UO students, who voted overwhelmingly for Obama, did not vote in down ballot races, especially way down ballot where the mayor’s race was, 2) Torrey’s campaign controlled the media, in part because his supporters control the media, and in part by spending more than half a million dollars, and 3) Torrey lies about his record and makes false claims about his opponents.
Ann Tattersall, Eugene
CULTURE OF SPORTS
A world without sports, as Steve Downey fantasizes (letters, 11/6), makes about as much sense as a world without music. Music is wonderful and mysteriously resonates deeply with human nature, but music is not without its sometimes-cutthroat competition and assorted jerks.
But I’m writing to sing the praises of playing sports. I was lucky to have grown up in a culture of playing sports. Many of my lifelong friendships developed playing sports. I learned the importance of teamwork and 100 percent effort. Issues of fairness and justice are dealt with. Playing sports requires cooperatively working with all sorts of people and personalities. And then there’s the thrill of performing well if it’s even for just one moment in a game.
As to Steve’s implication that there’s something “perverse” about sports, and that sports might be somehow responsible for gender politics, our bizarre political system and our military, let me point to two lives that contradict this notion. First, my own life: I had varsity letters in three sports in high school, and yet I became a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War facing two courts-martial. And second, Barack Obama greatly enjoyed playing pick-up basketball several times a week even throughout his incredibly busy campaign schedule. There is nothing perverse about sports or the people who play them.
Jack Van Dusen, Eugene
NO BLANK CHECK
I believe trust is earned. With what little trust the public has in our local county government, maybe it is time to remove some of the variables. People are tired of the annual sky is falling rhetoric, the idea that we must cut police and schools unless we raise taxes. This putting feet to the fire threat doesn’t work.
Year after year, public safety ballot measures have been defeated. This has created a very unfortunate situation for all of us. The Lane County jail system is severely inadequate for our population, and even fully staffed it is less than 50 percent of what is needed. However, the people of Lane County are not going to write a blank check to a governing party that has proved itself unresponsive to the needs of its constituents.
To help alleviate some of this mistrust, I propose new county bylaws be introduced that make any future proposed decreases in funding to public safety and public schools go before the voters. In addition, I see no reason that the $7-8 million needed to fully utilize the current jail cannot be funded from the renewed SRS funds. After all, this is the reason so many elected officials worked so diligently to get these funds renewed.
Marcia Moore, Springfield
In the most recent headline (EW cover, 11/16), the phrase “change under Obama” is used. This seems like language appropriate to the previous administration. I believe the updated preposition in this phrase to be the word with. Obama’s new website (change.gov) makes it very clear this is not a monarchy but a government of the people by the people. He is asking for your input and ideas. This is very refreshing.
David Hazen, Eugene
WHO HOLDS THE POWER?
I’ve been watching the discourse in EW for a while, and after the endorsement of Obama prior to the election, I decided to proffer my voice.
Change is economic. As Gandhi said, “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.”
Expecting one man, or one political party, to be able to affect meaningful political change is irrational and dangerous; after all, the only real power is held in portions by all citizens. We give our government its power, and we give our economic system its power. We, every day, give our power to the government, the military industry, corporations and banks to do terrible things in our names and for our benefit.
If you want change, you must act according to the most basic American value: independence. Produce as much of your own food and energy as possible. What you cannot make yourself, acquire only from independent, ethical businesses. Police your own behavior, instead of that of others. Live free or die.
Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t vote for Obama and then continue to give your labor and your resources to the government, banks and corporations. Justice only exists if you, individually, act justly. And if you do not do this, if you do not change, you will not earn peace and freedom.
Peace and chicken grease,
Jody Sol, Eugene
DEAR PRESIDENT BUSH
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Without your incomparable arrogance, incompetence and venality the election of Mr. Obama would have surely never happened.
Your consistency in trashing the Bill of Rights, habeas corpus and even the Magna Carta, for God’s sake, was just too much for the majority of even the unwashed masses to take!
When you lied us into a bloody, unnecessary war for oil and then condoned the torture of some clearly innocent civilians, you basically signed the death warrant on your party’s personal attempt at a thousand year reich.
Yes, Mr. President, I hold you (and of course Mr. Cheney) personally responsible for the dawning of a great new day in this country and a resurgence of hope that the American dream is not dead.
John DeLeau, Springfield
THE SYSTEM WORKS
It works, really! The system in place has worked as it was designed, and the American people have won. I see many changes are a long time coming. Our wishes have been noted; the election is over, and a new challenge is within the grasp.
I see past differences as just that, in the past. To the GOP: You have a chance to regroup and the opportunity to rework core ideals and positions in actual inclusion and a flexibility do the will of the will of the people. Democrats, Republicans and/or Independents are Americans first. Our nation needs to come together for a new time. The Democrats have all the power they asked for, and we the people should demand the change the last eight years requires. At every level of government we must demand that our needs supersede party rhetoric. Gone are the days of big party control. Blind obedience is being replaced by citizens' ideals.
The needs of Eugene should mirror the national tenor and stop the old guard from business as usual. There has to be new a mandate to match the direction our nation is taking. We should "think globally and act locally." Our needs haven't changed. Our way doing things must reflect that all opinions are worthy of consideration. Add to that we must truly respect all those who are affected by government. We must not let the ideals of today used as a club against those who may descent in future. A thought to remember is that "dissent is not disloyalty" (Edward R. Murrow).
The times are transitioning, and we cannot exclude anyone. We must be receptive to change and share the dream that is America.
George G. Brooks, Eugene
MISSING THE POINT
What an election! There is no doubt that the voices of a majority of voters have been heard. President-elect Obama has created a successful campaign with a mass of dedicated volunteers that has permanently changed the way campaigns are run.
It is surprising to me that a certain percentage of people who voted for McCain are not seeing the significance of this moment. They are angry, frustrated and venting loudly about the mistake we have made. In their ignorance, they miss the point that transcends political parties. We have elected the first African-American president. Millions of African-American children understand now that the position of president is not for a white male only.
So, a shout to those who are so sullen, feeling so abandoned due to their loss. This is an amazing time that should be celebrated, not brooded over. We are striving for equality and moving in that direction with this election. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and join us in celebrating our history! Obama has made it clear that he is the president for all the people.
Brian P. Ellis, Eugene
HEALING FOR THE WORLD
This election was perhaps the beginning of the turning tide. We may have begun to transition our country and planet to a path of healing instead of destruction. Barack Obama and all of our legislators will need support more than ever. Our elected representatives must speak to the will of "we the people" instead of the next campaign donors and/or multi-billion dollar corporations. This will take courage, and we must encourage our president and all of our local elected officials to do this.
The system of political bribery has been corrupting politics at such monumental levels we are killing off 30 to 40 percent of all other species. People the world over are working in factories to supply U.S. citizens with toxic junk that sickens them and their lands. We have been programmed to think of ourselves as consumers rather than citizens. We must all rise and work for the changes necessary to save ourselves and this precious planet. In his acceptance speech, Obama talked about service and sacrifice.
Ask yourself daily: "What do I want my contribution to the world to be?" We get what we focus our attention on. My vision here in Lane County is of a locally owned solar panel and/or a solar thermal manufacturing plant at the former Hynix site, our LTD buses running on methane gas from our landfills, growing food on rooftops in downtown Eugene, diverse organic farms, healthy forests with majestic old-growth trees multiplying and only truly sustainable logging, and communities working together creating vibrant green local economies.
We also need serious conversations about limiting the number of babies being born.
We can heal this planet and live in love as one. Peace. Yes, we must!
Pam Driscoll, Dexter