• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Lead Stories

Tucked away in the sleepy corner of a west Eugene neighborhood is the workspace and studio of leatherworker Amber Jensen. The entire place is militantly organized — an arts bunker — with waxed canvas, rivets, bags, production tables and tools at the ready.

The Block Party is blasting off with nine stages this year, and each and every one of them is destined to keep you captivated, no matter how much Ninkasi you’ve managed to slide into your belly. The Ninkasi Patio Stage, on that note, is full of local icons — including Adventure Galley, Basin & Range and Marv Ellis, to name a few — but there’s a whole lot more to unearth this year in terms of novelty.

Activity on the block — or blocks — surges with so much energy and character that it’s one of the best features of the Whiteaker Block Party. Last year saw the silk performers set up in the trees and the light-up hula-hoop dancer, among other random delights.

The beauty of the Block Party fashion show is not only the stylish clothes but also how they were made, who made them and who is wearing them. It is insular in a sense, bringing together designers, models and hair and makeup professionals within and near the Whiteaker neighborhood, but it also showcases what creativity can produce with leftover material, wherever you may hail from.

When it comes to screen printing, Revaud Godwin only comes out at night. That is, unless it’s Whiteaker Block Party weekend. Then you can catch him on the street hard at work behind his press. Keep your eyes open for a man of shorter stature surrounded by T-shirts, working at a machine that looks kind of like a new-age catapult or something out of a Transformers movie. That’s Godwin. He is an old-school Whiteaker resident, enthused by the independent spirit and funky ambiance of the Block Party.

For six summers, volunteers of the Whiteaker Block Party have been hard at work adding the Block Party era to the neighborhood’s long and colorful history. The Whit has been home to indigenous people, farmers, families, hippies, anarchists, artists and small business owners — all folks who benefit from creative thinking. This thinking just might be the most continuous generational thread winding through this place that has seen many changes.

The word pet has meant “a domesticated, fondled young animal,” “a spoiled child,” “offense at being slighted” or, a personal favorite, “breaking wind, fart,” according to philologist Leo Spitzer, who once wrote an entire essay on the etymology of the word. 

“Pets” these days has come to mean animals that you treat like family: dogs, cats, even fish. A pig that might be livestock to a farmer who intends to make her into bacon is a loved family pet to someone else — they say pigs are smart. Eugeneans love their pets from ferrets to fish, and whether milking them or dancing with them, our animal friends (or as some prefer, the “furkids”) are part of our daily lives. 

Cutest Ruby

Best Dressed Winston Churchill and Bartholomew all dressed for the Sabbath

Ugliest No name submitted

Honorable Mention Amy the Angry Reindeer

Runners Up

If you’re the type of animal lover that doesn’t want to really “pet” your pet, if you’re allergic to felines, disliking of dogs or repulsed by reptilians, then fish are the way to go. And what better way to experience your fishy friends than in a natural setting, like an outdoor pond?

It happens every summer. Someone makes a quick trip to the mall and leaves her dog in the car “just for a couple minutes.” But the lines get long, the minutes drag on and before long that car sitting in the sun has gotten unbearably hot.

Moving to the rhythm of musical composition is as intrinsic to most as breathing. We humans just can’t resist tapping our toes, drumming our fingers, flailing our arms and swaying our hips, and while we’ve all experienced moments of solitary dance that must remain exclusively behind closed doors, in public it still takes two to do-si-do. “Why not tango?” you ask. Well, some folks have partners that aren’t quite capable of showcasing their gancho. These are the people that dance with dogs.

Urban homesteading, backyard farming — call it what you will, the movement for self sufficiency and sustainable living is booming. In Eugene neighborhoods from the South Hills to the Whiteaker it seems like every other house sports a chicken coop or custom greenhouse.

Cats love to put their butts in your face. It’s a feline way of saying “Hello.” What’s truly disturbing is when there is a host of little worms all wiggling out of kitty’s bottom, saying “Hello,” too. For such fastidious animals, cats can carry a whole lot of worms and parasites.

As an educator and as an architect, making the case against recommendations to improve Eugene’s schools may seem difficult. Our children deserve the very best facilities and access to the highest quality education. However, the recommendations in a recent 4J Facilities Master Plan study are so flawed that the case against them is quite easy to make. 

In terms of building type, the recommendations ignore overwhelming research on the academic value of small schools and disregard the evidence supporting neighborhood schools. In terms of process, the evaluation metrics are skewed to justify new construction, the effort failed to account for citizen input, and the naïve hope for funding misinterprets Eugene politics. 

Nothing in this life is certain but death, taxes and the Oregon Country Fair. Here in Eugene, the Fair is part of our very atmosphere; it is the air we breathe. You can feel it coming weeks before it opens, wafting in the breeze like some hippie hurricane about to unleash its (not quite free) love on our stomping grounds.

The Oregon Country Fair is debuting a new addition: This year revelers can stroll along on the maiden voyage of a new loop that veers off through an as-yet-virginal section of the forested fairgrounds. “It’s taken a huge amount of work to put in the new loop,” OCF General Manager Charlie Ruff says. “We’ve been looking at areas to develop new paths for many years.”

In addition to alleviating congestion as visitors make their way through the Fair’s labyrinthine network of trails to areas such as the Upper River Loop and Wooten Way, the loop promises to carry a special appeal for the younger crowd. “We’re always looking for ways to improve the Fair experience for kids,” Ruff explains. He says there will be great activities for youngsters, “which gives parents a chance to see a show or have a little time for themselves.” 

Real Oregon Country Fair-goers remember “Field Trips” with the Dead: the magical times when Kesey and his Merry Pranksters pranced around the grounds, ensuring every last face was stolen off Owsley’s freshest batch, coaxing you to slip into the oblivion of one of Jerry’s jams. Sounds molten just thinking about it.

OK, so maybe the memories are a little fuzzy for Fair family, but regardless, those times created the enchantment, funk and mystical energy that the Oregon County Fair holds to this day. 

Sorry folks, there’s actually no definitive evidence suggesting that Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, to whom the reversed title of this story can be credited, ever made it to the Fair, but it didn’t take more than three years — after the Fair’s beginnings in 1969 — for our annual psychedelic parade in Veneta to start taking on other famous faces.

Carlos Castaneda, peyote proponent and author of The Teachings of Don Juan, was reportedly a multiple attendee to the abstruse happenings of the Fair in the early 1970s, but he wasn’t the only icon to grace OCF grounds with his presence.

Some people go to the Oregon Country Fair to lose their inhibitions, their worries, their minds or all of the above; more often than not, though, they just end up losing their cell phones.

“Smart phones have memories,” a Samsung LG phone recently lost at the Country Fair tells me. “No pun intended,” the phone jokes, flicking an ash from his cigarette into the street where we are talking. 

Randy Lord and Chris Leebrick rolled into town in 1992, their old Buick Park Avenue packed with the worn clothing and stratospheric expectations of young artists. They were fresh out of college and bubbling with an ambitious plan: to create a first-class theater that features only the best actors, produces timeless plays and keeps ticket prices well within the range of us mortals. 

Twenty years later and that plan is still unfolding. With another wildly successful season under its belt and on the brink of opening a new space downtown, Lord Leebrick Theatre Company is celebrating its past accomplishments, while still looking toward the future.

On Medea Benjamin’s first day visiting the Pakistan-Afghan border in 2002, the CodePink: Women for Peace founder met what the U.S. military terms “collateral damage.” 

Roya, a 13-year-old Afghan girl, approached Benjamin on the street with her hand outstretched and her head cocked to one side, begging for money. Roya’s mother and two brothers had been killed in a U.S. drone attack, their house apparently mistaken for part of a nearby Taliban compound. 

How do you quantify a legend? How Sasquatch is Bigfoot? How Loch Ness is Nessie? In the realm of legend, it’s nearly impossible to gauge magnitude — how golden is Eldorado and how deep is Atlantis? 

In the sports world, where myth and legend remain forever tangled by statistics and star-power, legend status is hard-earned, and just as unquantifiable. Is there a measuring stick big enough to do justice to those giants of athleticism, like Jordan or Seles, who heroically rise above all things mundane and capture our admiration? Such figures seem to transcend our speculations and enter another domain — a pantheon.

It’s hot, humid and breezeless inside the Red Cane Theatre, a new Eugene venue sinking fresh roots at West 11th and Chambers. Right next door is Lava Lounge, the bamboo-and-thatch watering hole sprung like a tropical oasis within Ring of Fire Thai restaurant. It’s late afternoon, in an uncommonly flowery month of May, and from the adjacent lounge one of those tall, fruity drinks with a baby umbrella is calling.

Inside the Red Cane, however, the call for happy hour goes unanswered. Opening night approaches. They want those roots sunk deep.

Clouds made the eclipse and Venus’ transit across the sun a little hard to see, but we still know summer is under way.

While the rest of the seasons morph through the different shadows of sopping wetness, the knowledge that here comes the sun, it’s all right, chills Eugene right out in the sunshine. Whether your summer is festivaling, floating or vineyarding, the fast and free or lazy and peaceful pace — you pick — of the Eugene’s other season says you have a cornucopia in front of you, so please partake.