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Valentine’s Day is frustrating. We either spend all of our energy on our beloved partner because society tells us that this is the day to do so, or we wallow in the fact that we don’t have a special someone in our lives. So, don’t stress out and keep it simple, stupid.

Guns are so entrenched in American culture that Vice President Joe Biden warned “there’s no silver bullet” to stop the killing. Lane County has gun lovers, gun haters and everything in between. EW hit the street and a recent gun show at the Lane County Fairgrounds to find out what people think about guns. 

If you buy from a private seller at a gun show or anywhere else, no background check is needed. If you buy a gun from a licensed dealer at a show, you must undergo a background check. A recent gun buy-back in Seattle turned up a missile launcher, and concealed weapons permit applications in Oregon are skyrocketing, but permittees, while required to take a safety class, aren’t required to know how to shoot. Do Oregon and the rest of the U.S. need to tighten up gun laws or is it true that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”?

The UO Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is trying to capture an era, an art movement, a revolution.  When artists use drugs, publications, shelter and lifestyle as tools for expression just as artists preceding them employed cameras, paint and clay; when artworks don’t fit neatly into a gilded frame or beneath a sparkling glass case, museums must adapt and turn the establishment on its head. 

Like the glow of a firefly in a jar, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) will attempt to capture the light and art of the ’60s and ’70s in the American West. Opening Feb. 8, West of Center: Art and the Countercultural Experiment in America will document and recreate the ephemeral art of an explosive 12-year period in this country’s history, 1965 to 1977. Originally curated by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the exhibit not only explores the relationship between art and activism but also encourages us to explore the legacy of an artistic era whose effects still reverberate in Eugene, seen in local architecture and happenings like Oregon Country Fair and the SLUG Queen pageant. From inflatables to domes, the Cockettes to The Black Panther newspaper, psychedelic light shows to radical feminist lesbian communes, the JSMA is about to become a revolutionary playground.

Dust is everywhere, cords are hanging from the ceiling and the space is buzzing with workers. I stand awestruck. I knew that a real, professional theater was being built in our beleaguered downtown Eugene, but I’ve wanted it too much to believe. Local playwright and retired judge Greg Foote shakes me out of my stupor, yelling, “Hand her a broom!” as he cheerfully mops past me. 

Continuing my tour of the theater, I see state-of-the-art control rooms, sky-lit rehearsal spaces and a well-positioned scene shop. The lobby is stunning with soft colors and beautiful globes of light hanging from the ceiling, their radiance reflected in the polished cement floor. It feels like an honest professional theater, like they have in Portland or Ashland.

Conrad Barney started a hunger strike Dec. 11 to protest the treatment of the homeless. He says he’s been roused by the police while sleeping, and it’s different from waking up housed. “You’re in this state where you’re tired. It’s Oregon, and it’s wet and cold. When you find a place, if you’re uprooted from that place, you have to start from the drawing board to find another place,” he says. “When you’re running on no sleep and still having to be moving around, active, carrying lots of weight — because you have to have your house on your back — it takes its toll.”

Homeless rights advocates created SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) in opposition to Eugene’s anti-camping code, which criminalizes taking shelter in a tent or sleeping bag or using a heater or fire on public property. SLEEPS and other activists say it’s inhumane to criminalize sleeping.

“Brave Beatrice” was the first to go down in Lane County’s current battle over free speech. “If we can’t protest in the land of the free and the brave then how can other countries protest?” Beatrice, aka Florence Emily Semple, asks. “I think we take our First Amendment and all our amendment rights for granted. They are so entrenched in our culture that in our complacency we don’t realize what our life would be like if they were not only taken away but curtailed.” 

Semple, Alley Valkyrie, Terry Purvis and some 20 other activists — some associated with Occupy Eugene (OE), some with SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) and still others simply interested in their constitutional rights — have been arrested over the last few months in the battle for free speech without a curfew both in the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza and in the Eugene Federal Building plaza. 

More than 130 years after Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote The Brothers Karamazov, UO professor and UNESCO chair Steven Shankman explored the meaning of the Russian novelist’s text within the walls of Salem’s Oregon State Penitentiary. Shankman describes it as “one of the extraordinary moments in class,” or the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, in which Shankman brought students from the UO to discuss literature and ethics with Salem inmates. One passage in particular left a lasting impression on the students:

“Remember especially that you cannot be the judge of anyone. For there can be no judge of a criminal on earth until the judge knows that he, too, is a criminal, exactly the same as the one who stands before him, and that he is perhaps most guilty of all for the crime of the one standing before him.”

“The mountains once were people, our grandfathers used to tell us,” begins a Warm Springs legend of how Eastern Oregon’s Black Butte came to be and how it came to provide the plants and animals used by the Native Americans. Mountains, buttes and knolls seem eternal as they stand sentinel over Oregon’s landscape, but as photographer John Bauguess watched miners dig away at Parvin Butte in the small community of Dexter, he began to wonder what other high places the Willamette Valley might be losing to development. 

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. Or a wigeon, which is also a duck. Ducks are everywhere in Eugene, but they are so much part of our Oregon landscape that we often walk right by them with barely a second glance. But because, through a quirk of history, the University of Oregon’s sports teams compete on the national stage as waterfowl, and through a quirk of Nike the UO has tried to make these spatulate-beaked waddling avians into muscled fighting machines, EW would like to call attention to some of the wonders of Anatidae Anseriformes: the ducks.

Belly’s owner and chef, Brendan Mahaney, a prestigious James Beard Awards semi-finalist, says that getting your hands on duck can be a bit difficult, but in Eugene he’d head straight for Long’s Meat Market. “They’ll carry it — usually frozen, sometimes fresh — and they can order more for you if you need it,” Mahaney says. 

Some might say that you’d have to be pretty stoned to consider a loss a win. Colorado’s and Washington’s creation of alcohol-like statutes for marijuana made Oregon a bronze-at-best state for pot legalization, but marijuana policy reform advocates are riding high. And not (necessarily) from Cheech-and-Chong-like hijinks. 

If there’s one thing EW’s writers like to do it’s read. We’re selfish about it — unabashedly so. We read what we love, and that’s what we offer to you. This year we tried, more than ever, to read Oregon and Eugene authors, including those brave enough to self-publish. This area is awash with rain all winter long, but it’s awash with literary talent and good local bookstores, too. Head over to Tsunami, Black Sun, Smith Family, J. Michaels or the unfortunately named but full of good books UO Duck Store, to name only a few, and support books, local bookstores and those among us willing to put their words and their selves onto page and out into the world.

Just 20 minutes from the heart of Eugene sits Jasper Mountain Center, an internationally recognized nonprofit where kids who are hurt and troubled, often by severe trauma or abuse, can live and attend school in a safe environment while getting the help they need to heal.

The image many non-hunters have of hunters isn’t pretty. Hunters are callous, camo-clad rednecks in big trucks, gun-nuts unconcerned about their prey and the environment in general. There are boorish hunters to be sure. But let’s not forget, Steven Rinella (American Buffalo, The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine) tells us, that America’s first conservationists were avid hunters. And — as Lily Raff McCaulou finds to her own amazement — becoming a hunter might make one a better environmentalist.

The past year produced some incredible graphic novels, especially in the science fiction arena. One of 2012’s strongest premieres is Saga, Vol. 1 (Image Comics, $9.99).

EUGENE, Ore., April 2015: The fifth annual Eugene Fashion Week is only days away and the Eugene Garment House is a beehive of activity. Frenzied designers dart around the open space on the third floor of the Woolworth Building overlooking Willamette Street, colorful swatches of fabric tucked under their arms and pincushions wrapped around their wrists. Apprentices hurriedly reorganize racks of fluttering paper patterns and sample garments while production sewers put the finishing touches on a pair of couture overalls and a hemp wedding gown. At one station, a team of interns dyes a line of jersey dresses. In the corner, set up as a mock catwalk, local designer Mitra Chester is fitting a local model in an edgy, tailored three-piece skirt suit made out of repurposed, studded leather. “Where are my recycled couch-brocade fabric cigarette pants?” one designer yells above the din.

The pistol wasn’t the first gun given to me as a gift, but it was probably the most unexpected. My father usually gives books for Christmas, and that was what I was anticipating. Dad even disguised the gun by packaging it up to look like the box had a novel inside. Imagine my surprise when, thinking I was getting a copy of the latest Book of the Month Club selection, I pulled a .22 semi-auto out of the wrapping paper. My proud parent, dressed as Santa Claus for the occasion, had a camera at ready to capture the moment.

Project Censored has been documenting inadequate media coverage of crucial stories since it began in 1967 at Sonoma State University. Each year, the group considers hundreds of news stories submitted by readers, evaluating their merits. Students search LexisNexis and other databases to see if the stories were underreported, and if so, the stories are fact-checked by professors and experts in relevant fields.

It flows through the city; it flows past parks, gravel pits and buildings, but unless it’s rising up in a winter flood or we happen to glance down while driving over the I-5 bridge, the Willamette River rarely seems to flow through our minds. Eugene is a river city; the Coast Fork Willamette and the Middle Fork come together to the south and the McKenzie River, the source of Eugene’s drinking water, has its confluence with the Willamette to the north. The river goes through the heart of town, carrying our waste, our stormwater and sometimes ourselves — in fishing boats and on inner tubes. It winds its way northward past Corvallis and to Portland where it joins the Columbia and spills out to sea. The river, literally and figuratively, defines us, but the majority of us never think very much about it at all. 

Earlier this year Travis Williams of Willamette Riverkeeper was floating down the river near Halsey —  13 river miles south of Corvallis’ drinking water intake — when he noticed a murky, smelly patch in the river. Williams discovered the murky patch was the mixing zone for two pulp mills, Cascade Pacific Pulp and Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products. Williams and attorney Doug Quirke of the Oregon Clean Water Action Project (OCWAP) think that the dark effluent is in violation of the mills’ permit to pollute.

Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Axe and Fiddle was an event 40 years in the making. Hundreds of people filled the pub, occupying every table, lining the staircase overlooking the stage and some even finding spots on the wood floor. Hundreds of faces, basked in the glow of flickering tea lights, gazed upon the stage as a soft voice filled the cavernous space. Wayne Drury, squeezing his blue eyes shut, leans forward in his wheelchair to the mic as he sings “Cimarron Rose” over the strumming of his former band mates, Rob Anderson on guitar and Randy Crawford on banjo.

 

When southeast Eugene voters mark their ballots in this election, they will make a familiar choice: four-term City Councilor Betty Taylor or an opponent? Taylor, a veteran progressive, is seeking her fifth term on the council, while Social Security Administration counselor Juan Carlos Valle is running in his first public election.

Ballots go in the mail beginning Friday, Oct. 19, for the Nov. 6 general election. The deadline for voter registration passed Oct. 16. Here are our selected picks in contested races and issues. See our recent news stories, Slant comments and letters for more information, along with the Voters’ Pamphlet and websites for candidates and measures. We’ll have more stories next week. Campaign finance information can be found at ORESTAR on the Oregon secretary of state’s website.