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Lead Stories

The godfather of glass pipes works in a bus down by the Willamette River — make that a 1940s bus and a semi trailer outfitted with several workstations. Inside the bus, torch blazing, Bob Snodgrass focuses on a golden glass mushroom inside a pendant. “I’m been working more than 20 years trying to figure out how to do the gills,” Snodgrass says, pushing and pulling rods of molten glass over the flame. “And I just got it together.” Tubes of colored glass poke out like stalagmites from every surface of the bus. Overhead, silver vents are covered with stickers stating, “I miss Jerry” and “Support Local Glassblowers.” One bumper sticker says “Thank Bob for your Snoddy.” 

Close your eyes and listen: The continuous buzz and grind of trucks biting the paved surface sounds like some glorious machine of perpetual motion. Open your eyes, and you behold a swarm of human activity — zooming bodies crisscrossing in space, as one boarder goes airborne and another perches on the berm, greedy to drop into the bowl. This is Eugene’s new WJ Skatepark + Urban Plaza, formerly the den of iniquity known as Washington Jefferson Park, where dirty hypos once hung thorny in the bushes. Like some concrete utopia risen from the dregs of urban squalor, the WJ Skatepark presents a stunning vision of realpolitik in action: The kids and the community asked for a sick place to skate, and the city and the neighborhood colluded, making it happen.

This story contains details of alleged sexual assaults that may trigger emotional distress in some readers and rape survivors. EW uses the word “alleges” not to indicate doubt in the survivor but as a legal term for when no charges have been proven in a court of law.

Conversing with Jeff Geiger is an object lesson in the power of pure enthusiasm. As artistic director of No Shame Eugene, Geiger is a tireless advocate for the sort of populist, no-holds-barred participation in art that defines his outfit, which is less theatrical troupe than a renegade vaudeville venue in which anyone can participate. No Shame Theater, as Geiger describes it, approaches the planned chaos of flash mobs, where minimal rules harness maximum creativity. “We’re much more of an intentionally community theater,” Geiger says of No Shame. “It’s chaos. It’s fun. It’s kind of like putting together a mixed tape.”

Let’s face it — we had a rough winter. OK, so maybe we didn’t weather the so-called “polar vortex,” but with two snowstorms, an ice storm of epic proportions and temperatures plummeting to below 7 degrees in December, there were plenty of “what the hell?!” moments. Now, clear your mind of all that, breathe in the warm breeze and exult in the beautiful thing that is an Oregon summer. And what a summer it is: sand castle building and rock climbing, concerts and county fairs, baseball games and a plethora of races and marathons sure to satisfy the most avid of track lovers. Fire up the barbecue because summer is here!

After an Alaskan earthquake sent a tidal wave crashing down on the Oregon coast in 1964, Cannon Beach residents decided they needed a fun event to raise spirits and bring people back to the beach. Thus, the Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest began, and 50 years later it has grown into a weekend-long, award-winning event that draws thousands out to enjoy the sun, the sea and — of course — the sand.

A muted chorus of flip-flops drags across pavement on a sweltering spring day, as scantily clad coeds make a pilgrimage toward the river, inner tubes draped like bandoleers. Gotta keep those hands free for important things, like beer. Yes, you can drink on any river in Oregon, but as to whether you should … well, as in many things, moderation is key. 

From farm to sea to garden, Oregon is an invigorating place to live if you love good, fresh food and drink. Every summer, foodies gather around the state to celebrate the bounty of our cuisine at food festivals. Here are six events worth planning mini road trips around in the summer of 2014.

Eugene Weekly asked geographer Al Urquhart to let us in on some of his favorite spaces and places in Eugene.

What would he show summer visitors from larger Western cities — Portland, Seattle? We don’t want sites simply of local interest. With these places and spaces Urquhart said he is trying to show the unique character of Eugene and Springfield. Urquhart taught cultural geography at the UO for about 30 years and has been keenly interested in the unfolding of this area. Let us know what you would add or subtract from this list.

Water, timber and minerals are natural resources with which we, as Oregonians, are familiar. Often, communities come into conflict when deciding whether to use or preserve these natural resources. But there is one natural resource that is frequently overlooked yet always available: the sound of quiet.

Galloping down the beach, the wind in your hair and whipping through your horse’s flying mane as her hooves splash in the frothy waves — I’ve daydreamed about it, and I know I’m not the only one. Even non-horse owners get caught up in the romance of thundering across the sand and water à la The Black Stallion

Originally the Santiam Wagon Road was built to move wild horses from near Sisters to Halsey for auction. It was also part of the first transcontinental car race in 1907; the Sevenmile Section near Tombstone Pass was the steepest of the entire race.

Ultramarathon runners push themselves hard, running up to 100 miles at a time and ascending thousands of feet. A deep passion for what they do and strong commitment to running turns a hobby into a lifestyle, and Eugene is home to some of the highest-placing ultramarathon contestants.

The city of Eugene opened its first 18-hole disc golf course at Alton Baker Park just over a year ago and there has been a steady stream of nubby rubber discs flying ever since. Andrew Rich, the course’s operator, says that on a rainy day the course will see about 50 rounds of play, and on a sunny day those numbers shoot upward of 250.

Bikes are born in Eugene. Eugene’s relatively good riding conditions draw cyclists to the area, where many innovate and stay. These are three bike builders in Eugene committed to building a bike economy.

A new route is in the works for bicyclists to travel between downtown Eugene and UO. The possibilities the city is considering include bicycle-specific signals and a two-way cycle track — bicycle lanes going both with and against traffic on one side of the street — on 13th Avenue, as well as a concrete barrier between bicycle and car lanes. The parents of a Eugene cyclist who was killed on his bicycle have pledged a large donation to the project.

Back in the early ’90s my good friend Mike Ryan and his buddy made it their mission to scout a trail on motorcycles that could be done by bicycle from Junction City to Cape Perpetua. It took some time but they eventually succeeded, and as a personal challenge, Mike promised himself he would ride this same route every year until he turned 60. 

Forget the rain clouds, spring is here and it’s time to pump up your tires and strap on your helmet — the month of May is filled with community bike rides. Take your pick, from biking to music in the moonlight to family rides with an ice cream incentive or a workout that comes with both conversation and a view. It’s up to you. 

 “There’s something about doing active things in a group that is just very powerful, and for Eugene we love to bike and we love to drink beer,” says BikeInShapes founder Ross Kanaga. 

Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich has never quite lived down dressing up in a tricorner hat for a Tea Party tax day rally in 2009. The incident came up again at a recent City Club of Eugene debate between Bozievich and challenger Dawn Lesley for the West Lane Commission seat. 

Bozievich was asked about going as Uncle Sam to the rally. He clarified that in fact the outfit was a colonial soldier’s costume. Lesley, when asked to weigh in, laughed and said not only had she never donned a colonial soldier’s outfit, there was also very little chance she ever would. 

Statewide Offices

U.S. Senator (Democrat) — Jeff Merkley

Merkley has two challengers in the primary, lawyer William Bryk of New York, who has never been to Oregon, and Pavel Goberman of Beaverton, an immigrant and perennial candidate for various elected posts. Merkley is a rising star in the Senate and a strong voice for economic justice and health care reform. In November he will face a Republican challenger, either Jason Conger or Monica Wehby.

 

Oregon Governor (Democrat) — John Kitzhaber

The East Lane County Commission District wraps around Springfield and parts of Eugene like some misshapen monster hand pinching the cities in its clutches. It’s a vast district, stretching from the Cascades into, strangely enough, the Churchill area of Eugene, and encompassing Oakridge, Marcola, Coburg, Cottage Grove and Creswell.

This beast of a district also encompasses issues from logging and gravel mining to jobs and rural broadband, and it has attracted an array of challengers for incumbent Commissioner Faye Stewart’s seat who all argue that it’s time for a change.

Springfield City Councilor Sheri Moore and Licensed Practical Nurse Charmaine Rehg are challenging the current Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken for the Springfield district seat. Both Moore and Rehg say the current commissioners are not responsive enough to the public’s concerns.

“I was seeing that the county really does have a lot to do with the lives of the people of Springfield,” Moore says, “and I’m not happy about the way they’re doing the job.”

New wrinkles have been raised about the razing of the old Eugene City Hall and the present proposal that would build anew. Architect Otto Poticha has offered to purchase an option on the old building and site. On the other hand, the city of Eugene and Lane County have announced a plan to swap part of the land where City Hall now stands for Lane County’s “butterfly lot.” 

It looks like another round of downtown area planning is needed to put these issues being raised together in the context of a broader downtown vision. The time is — if anything — overripe for reviewing and renewing that vision and for furthering its goals through all the major projects that are simmering downtown.

From the Cuthbert Amphitheater to WOW Hall to The Shedd, and even Wednesday nights at Max’s Tavern or impromptu nights at Tiny Tavern, Eugene offers multiple stages and shows. But the audience has spoken: People want to see live music that established venues aren’t always able to offer, featuring artists of varying levels of popularity and financial pull. A few scrappy individuals are bringing that music to our ears.

Regular folks who work at salons, radio stations and grocery stores are opting to offer their own homes as venues, booking shows themselves rather than relying on local establishments. Churches in Eugene even have a history of hosting shows such as Holly Near, booked by Meyer, whose hit concert filled the Unitarian Universalist Church last Valentine’s Day. And new venues like The Boreal are filling their all-ages shows to capacity. With independent spaces catering to various genres of music from punk rock to folk, Eugeneans have had the opportunity to catch Mickey Hart, Bruce Cockburn, Holly Near, La Luz, Peter Case, Tony Trischka, King Tuff, White Mystery and Diarrhea Planet — all outside the walls of a commerical venue.