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As Oregon Democrats sadly watch federal politics in our country slide to the right in most states with little to say — Oregon being only 1 percent of the country’s population — it will at least be fun to watch President Obama wield the veto pen as he enters his last term facing a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress. In just three weeks John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have already stumbled on abortion and immigration. Who knows what’s next, another government shutdown? Anyway, since I’m approaching 66, I feel I’m at an age where, to paraphrase Roger Daltrey and the Who from 40 years ago, I shouldn’t get fooled again. So I’m having more fun watching Oregon politics.

Eugeneans — if you think driving 20 minutes to Cottage Grove to see a band play is too long, consider how long Self Decay traveled just to play there. “We are four-piece from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” says Self Decay bassist Pedro Gibson. In 2012 the band lived in L.A. for six months before returning to Brazil, but didn’t have the chance to tour the states until now. 

If you thought Jamaican reggae was laidback, Wayne Enos is here to tell you that Hawaiian reggae is even more chill. Enos, guitarist and vocalist with Hawaiian reggae band Natural Vibrations, or Natty Vibes, says: “Hawaiian reggae is definitely inspired by Jamaican reggae.

The music of Los Angeles’ Dengue Fever sounds like the soundtrack to an unmade James Bond film set in Cambodia. Guitarist Zac Holtzman tells EW his group is inspired by the rich and complex horn arrangements of Ethiopian jazz, as well as plain old American surf rock. 

Send Shakespeare to the moon. Put him in the middle of Nazi Germany, the antebellum South, the Prague Spring, the Whiteaker Block Party. The miracle of Shakespeare’s plays, and the iambic mechanics of their impossible flexibility, is that wherever you set them, Shakespeare more or less remains Shakespeare — even in Castro’s Cuba.

HEADS IN THE SAND

Lane Community College’s inaugural Playwright’s Showcase 2015 gives student playwrights the chance to see their nascent works come to life onstage while also gaining real-world expertise in arts management. Through this innovative program, students not only nurture creative projects, but they learn firsthand how plays are produced and promoted.

My husband and I are a straight couple in our early 50s, and we’ve been married for more than 30 years. We were raised to wait for sex till we got married—this was back in the early ’80s—and we did. Our wedding night was pretty disappointing since neither of us knew what we were doing. He got off, but I didn’t. We both assumed that there was something wrong with me, because he didn’t have any problem coming, right?

In his peripatetic novel, The English Major, Jim Harrison nailed down what we need to know about love — this being Love’s month — and wine: “Desire,” he wrote, “is not subject to logic.” We love how — and whom — we love just because we do, damnitall.

The enormous diversity gap the Oscars tends to leave in its wake can make you want to give up on film altogether. Luckily, here in Eugene, there’s a place less mainstream films can thrive. Currently in its 23rd year, the Queer Film Festival, presented by the UO’s Cultural Forum, will screen 21 LGBTQ-focused films at the Bijou Metro Feb. 6-8.

Sit beside the river and sip a glass of wine after a long day at work. Lay yourself down by the river and relax after a long run. Go fishing, go rafting, go wading, go birdwatching. 

As winter slowly starts to wind down, our river dreams start to flow. The Willamette River winds through Eugene and Springfield, and the McKenzie flows on the outskirts of town, but how often do we really see it from our urban streets? 

Oregon has long had the goal of reducing carbon emissions, and in 2011, an Oregon Administrative Rule declared that by 2020, we should emit 10 percent less than we did in 1990. That milestone is right around the corner, and state legislators and climate activists are legitimately concerned that we are not going to make it.

It’s National School Choice Week, a time for parents, students and teachers around the country to celebrate and recognize the diversity of school options available to kids. Sometimes all those options can be overwhelming — Eugene School District 4J alone has five alternative elementary schools.

Fortunately, the Jan. 31 Alternative Education Fair at the Eugene Public Library is here to help. The fair is a one-stop shopping opportunity for parents and students to chat with more than a dozen representatives from local charter schools, private schools and homeschooling advocates. 

• Swanson Brothers, 935-2231, plans to hire Nick’s Timber Services, 503-910-1120, to spray 33.5 acres near Vaughn Road and Sturtevant Creek with Glyphosate 5.4. See ODF notification 2015-781-05431, call Dan Menk at 935-2283 with questions. 

• Sean Martin, 520-9403, plans to spray 19.5 acres near Vaughn Road with Glyphosate 4 Plus and Triclopyr 3A (amine). See ODF notification 2015-781-05905, call Dan Menk at 935-2283 with questions. 

Rainsong Gates, an undergraduate in human physiology at the University of Oregon, says she transferred from Lane Community College to the UO a few years ago without getting her associate degree.

“I’d reached my credit limit at Lane,” she says, “and so I transferred to the UO. I’m a non-traditional student — I’ve been in college for the last four or five years — and it was frustrating that I hadn’t received anything from Lane after having spent that much time there.”

You might hear the cluck of chickens in certain Eugene backyards. As for turkeys, forget about it: Raising turkeys, as some backyard farmers may know, is prohibited in the city code. 

As more people get behind raising, growing, eating and drinking local, an issue like fowl ownership inside city limits becomes a greater part of the conversation. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sent a warning letter to Goshen Forest Products last month for Clean Water Act violations of Oregon’s industrial stormwater discharge permit. The permit requires Goshen Forest Products to sample stormwater discharges four times a year (with samples spaced out in time to better reflect actual conditions over the course of the rainy season) and to submit sample results to DEQ once a year. Goshen Forest Products failed to perform sampling at least 14 days apart during 2013-14.

• The Eugene City Council is expected to take the next step this week in expanding our urban growth boundary to provide more space for industrial land. It appears the controversial 300-acre expansion for housing is not needed, thanks to a math error being discovered. Puzzling. But the plan to expand 924 acres to create industrial land near the airport is also flawed. Strong arguments against UGB industrial expansion can be found in the Envision Eugene online survey done in December and January.

Bloxi is a new Eugene-based web business startup that appears to be quickly growing an international audience. “Bloxi is a quiz site where anyone can create, take or share quizzes,” says Bailey Koharchick, director of marketing. Find it on bloxi.com or call the company at 505-8044.

Slow Money South Willamette Valley and Willamette Food and Farm Coalition are hosting a launch event from 6 to 9 pm Thursday, Jan. 29, at Red Wagon Creamery, 55 W. Broadway, to celebrate the first local companies and other Oregon entrepreneurs to build their businesses through Oregon’s new Community Public Offering (CPO) crowdfunding rules. See slowmoneyswv.org. 

We have come to a historical moment, when in the course of a few months the issue of racist police violence has fired the imaginations of people all over America, and the world. It represents not so much a reaction to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but the overflowing of a cup that has been filled to the brim with the blood of Americans, mostly young, unarmed African-American males.

As far as band names go, Bass Drum Of Death is in my top five. In recent years, acts such as Ty Segall, Wavves and King Tuff have spearheaded a gorgeous, fuzzy garage revival, leaving footprints in the ashes for other bands to follow. 

For many Americans, the first introduction to the infectiously happy ditty “La Bamba” was either circa 1958 from the crooning Chicano rocker Ritchie Valens or circa 1987 from a pompadour-ed Lou Diamond Phillips playing the crooning Chicano rocker in the biopic La Bamba

It begins with playful handclaps, then charming indie-rock vocals. It builds to a West African-influenced polyrhythmic bedrock and bright, chiming, highlife-style guitar work. This is “Science Camp,” the de facto lead single off Some Friends Feel Like Family, the 2015 release from Santa Barbara’s Ghost Tiger