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Like most things in the Whit, the neighborhood style stands out from the common threads running through the rest of the city. The same can be said for the Whiteaker Block Party Fashion show. In years past, spectators have been privy to a no-holds-barred runway spectacle where parasols, antelope horns, corsets, guns (as accessories) and, of course, last year’s now notorious feather headdresses can all be de rigueur. This year will be no exception, with a new location at Uncle Brad’s Secret Stage at Cornerstone Glass, new designs, some new players and perhaps a new future for fashion in the Whit.

Silas Valentino

 et al.

Like any good block party, the Whiteaker Block Party has much to satisfy the aural senses — perhaps too much for one person to make sense of, and thus here are some (stage) handy picks to check out on this wet, hot American summer day and night. But be a good community member and check out all the stages — Blair Alley, Slash and Burn, Hostel, Uncle Brad’s Secret Stage, Territorial — and get to know your neighbors.

Block Party might be a blast for Eugeneans, but it’s even more exciting for the Whiteaker’s small local businesses. “This is our best sales day of the year!” a checker at Red Barn Natural Grocery said at midnight last year, the store still abuzz after its usual closing time.

Veteran Block Party food vendors agree. “It’s our single biggest one-day event all year,” says David Clark, owner of Cousin Jack’s Pasty Company. “We sell a little over 1,000 pies in one day.” This year Cousin Jack’s will serve its regular pasties — pesto lamb, steak and ale, potato leek and wild mushroom, among others — from a new setup; Cousin Jack’s will join 14 other food carts in the large parking lot at 3rd and Van Buren. Clark says the diversity of characters and “random wildness” are his favorite aspects of Block Party. “It’s just a lot happening in a very small area,” he says. “There are so many artistic people all gathered in one neighborhood.”

A week of 90-degree days is enough to make anyone break out short sleeves, but we hairless humans have it easy. Imagine, if you will, a world where the only escape from scorching summer temperatures is a full-body shave. This reality exists, and your cat lives it every time the heat bears down. Thankfully, Beth Swanzy, owner of Amazon Park Professional Pet Grooming, has your kitty’s back, and she makes the job look easy.

When your pet is sick, you visit the vet, and when your pet needs exercise, you go to the park, but where do you go when your pet needs spiritual enrichment? A Buddhist temple, of course. On July 26, a collection of sacred Buddhist relics is coming to the Saraha Nyingma Buddhist Institute, and animals are encouraged to share in the karmic riches.

Gazing into the distance like a sea captain through citrine eyes, crouched confidently atop Nate McClain’s head, is Chester, a 9-month-old ring-tailed lemur.

McClain, owner of Zany Zoo, a pet store and sanctuary in Eugene, doesn’t bat an eye. He prefers this relative calm to Chester’s more rambunctious hijinks. McClain, who keeps several Patagonian maras (something between a rabbit and a kangaroo), says, “If he gets free, he goes right for one, hops on its back and holds on — 8 seconds on a bucking bronco.”

With the growing popularity of urban farming come some concerns. What do you do with your chickens once they stop laying eggs? 

Last February, the city of Eugene adopted a new backyard farming ordinance allowing urban farmers to keep up to six chickens in their backyard, as well as other smaller barnyard animals. Lately, stories of chickens abandoned by overwhelmed urban farmers have been piling up in the national media, but Eugenean chickens can be reassured: It’s still a non-issue in this area.

Cutest Winner - Olive & Louie (ducks) 2nd place - Nugget (Chihuahua) 3rd place - Hazel the Horsedog

Best Dressed Winner - Jessi (cat in bow tie) 2nd place - Mugen (pit pull in tiara) 3rd place - Bronco Buster (Chihuahua with saddle)

Ugliest Winner - Paul (hairless cat) 2nd place - Tulip (snarling Chihuahua) 3rd place - nobody

Do spay and neuter your pet. Don’t leave your pet in a hot car. Do use an identification chip and update its information. Do report abuse or neglect. Don’t opt for cheap flea and tick medication

Pets have been popping up in art for millennia. Nearly 20,000 years ago, people of the Paleolithic era painted at least seven cats deep in the caves of Lascaux, now known as the Chamber of Felines. A fuzzy Brussels Griffon pup appears front and center in Jan van Eyck’s iconic 1434 Arnolfini wedding portrait. There’s an entire book devoted to cats and dogs in Impressionist art; Frida Kahlo painted her self-portrait with a dog and monkey (“Self Portrait with Small Monkey,” 1945) and Andrew Wyeth captures a dog snoozing on a white bed in “Master Bedroom” (1965).

Alex Notman

 et al.

There was a time when the thump thump thump of electronic dance music was confined to abandoned warehouses and private basements or tucked away deep in the Willamette Valley’s forests and mountains. Jordan Cogburn likens finding a rave in the ’90s to a scavenger hunt. Step one: Find the party’s flyer (through a friend or at a record store). Step two: Call the number.

“You’d call the number on the flyer and they’d tell you to go to this spot. You’d go over to this spot and there would be a dude waiting in a car,” says Cogburn, drummer for local bands Dirty Spoon and Breakers Yard. “He’d hand you a map and he’s like, ‘OK, you gotta go to this other spot.’ Then you’d go to this other spot. Then they’d tell you where the party was actually at. Then you’d go out to that party.” He continues, “You get there and it’s out in the sticks, out in the middle of nowhere. You’re driving up this dirt road; you can’t see anything except for what’s in your headlights. Then you get out there, you’re partying, partying, having a good time. All of a sudden the sun starts coming up and you realize you’re on a 150-foot cliff!”

Grammar be damned; there’s no such thing as “the Fair.” “Are you going to Fair?” they’ll ask you, quite correctly. “Happy Fair!” you’ll hear and say innumerably. To the uninitiated, idiosyncrasy and eccentricity abound, but all are quick to adapt.

When you give to the Fair, the Fair gives back. For starters: The first Oregon Country Fair in 1969 was a fundraiser for the Eugene Alternative School. From its very beginning, the Fair has reached out to the Fern Ridge and Veneta areas, as well as the larger community of Lane County. And with its programs devoted to philanthropy, donating a combined total of about $50,000 every year, OCF and its impact extend beyond the famed three days of summer celebration.

Lawrence Taylor may be in his 30th year cleaning toilets at the Oregon Country Fair, but there is more to his story than sanitation. This criminal defender once held demonstrations with President Barack Obama at Harvard Law and, if that wasn’t enough, drove His Holiness the Dalai Lama around Portland during his recent visit.

Amid all the fervor and hoopla surrounding Fair, it’s easy to forget the event is a venerable and respected (hippie-centric) music fest; this year the entertainment lineup for the 44th Annual OCF is full of some pleasant surprises, old friends and just enough ’60s revivalism to please the old-time Fair faithful.

For many years at the main stage area of the Oregon Country Fair, a sign that says “Dick Stewart Memorial Kiosk” has hung above a recycling stand. It’s a nice tribute, but a bit misleading — Dick Stewart is alive and well.

Even in Utopia, shit happens. Take, for instance, the Oregon Country Fair, that vaunted Northwest gathering of boho spirits and fandango oglers, where the freak flag is flown as a testament to some netherworld normalcy. Even here, at peace-loving OCF, where the ’60s spirit of freedom, expression and communal OK-ness reigns in benevolent wooded anarchy, it might happen that you step on a bumblebee, sprain an ankle or suffer some kind of respiratory distress. It’s all fun and games until you forget your insulin.

Whether you treat snack time as a treasure hunt or plan out your prospective meals months in advance, the Oregon Country Fair offers something for every taste, with a cross section of world cuisine from Afghan fare to Peruvian cuisine, Greek standbys and everything in between. With 66 food booths plus a handful of strolling vendors, OCF boasts myriad options for fairgoers who work up an appetite.

Darcy DuRuz created Girl Circus in 2001, an all-age, almost all-female circus that performs every year at the Oregon Country Fair. Featuring performers in a variety of abilities from ballet to aerial silk, Girl Circus offers high-quality family entertainment.

Shanna Trumbly was lying on the sand with her eyes closed, the water lapping at her legs. She could hear her girlfriends splashing and laughing in the “sweet little lake” in southern Oregon where they had been coming every summer as teenagers. The soft patter of footsteps in the sand caught her attention and she opened her eyes, expecting to see one of the girls. The footsteps, however, belonged to a tiny fawn. The fawn tottered right up to Trumbly. She looked out at the water where her friends had gone silent as they watched the scene unfold: The young deer pushed its little snout into her face, gently circling it with its black nose, and then tottered away.

“The deer has always been my animal,” Trumbly explains, remembering the scene at the shore. “It was such a magical experience.” 

Rahul Choudhary and his work sound like the basis for a Bollywood meets Erin Brockovich film — a tall, dark and handsome Indian attorney fights dirty coal, polluting industries and problematic dams while saving lions and elephants. Environmental protection in India may be undergoing a sea change, and Choudhary and fellow attorneys at the Legal Initiative for Forest & Environment (LIFE), based in New Delhi, are leading the charge. The attorneys of LIFE are successfully arguing cases in front of India’s Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal (NGT) that are saving endangered animals, giving a voice to communities and protecting people, land and water from industries that could harm them. Choudhary recently came to Oregon to meet with the staff of the Eugene offices of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) and tour Lane County’s dumps, wetlands and enviro initiatives.

Walking through downtown, it’s easy to miss Eugene’s wayward waterway, hidden in culverts and secreted away behind swathes of pavement and sidewalk. Though Amazon Creek shares its name with a mighty South American river, the comparisons stop there. It once provided a connective pathway for fish and other wildlife traveling from its headwaters near Spencer Butte to the Long Tom River, which further connects to the Willamette River and drains all the way to the Pacific Ocean. But after heavy restructuring in the 1940s and ’50s to mitigate stormwater flooding, Amazon Creek took on an entirely different persona. 

Over the decades, the creek has succumbed to the pressures of its urban lifestyle. Stormwater drains directly into this tributary of the Willamette, carrying with it pesticides, heavy metals from parking lots and motor oil from leaky cars. Algae grows in the stagnant waters near South Eugene High School, forming a thick layer of slime during the summer, and the canals that redirect Amazon Creek’s flow seem more like stagnant moats than a corridor in a healthy ecosystem. 

The U.S. is approaching a defining moment of change in transportation, and Eugene is no exception. For the first decade of the last six, the average American is beginning to cut vehicle miles traveled, and the demand for a shorter commute is on the rise with younger generations. Biking is on the rise nationwide. In the last eight years, Oregon’s gas and diesel tax revenue has dropped by about 1 percent, while the amount coming from Eugene has dropped by 15 percent. Changes are afoot.

Blossoms fly loose in humid draughts, skitter across sidewalks and smile up at the sun, and all the while the temperature rises. Listen closely; can’t you hear it? The sprinkler hiss and lawnmower drone, the river goading you gently to its banks to crack that first summer ale and float away? Whether you’ve scrimped and saved for a five-day wine tour, polished your hot rod for that car show or jogged through the cold in preparation for one special race, the time for fun is finally nigh. Eugene, meet summer 2013; we’re sure it’s bound to be the best one yet.