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Valentine hugs and kisses to all y’all! But first:

Last month, we glanced briefly at benefits of maturing (aging) fine wines. The subject is too complex for one skimpy piece. Besides, we must tell the story of Bill Wilson, about time and wine and love.

First impressions can be deceptive. Take, for instance, Joel and Ethan Coen, whose movies seem distinctly built to not be watched but re-watched. Usually, for me, the initial pass through a Coen brothers film proves a strangely tepid affair — The Big Lebowski and Brother, Where Art Thou? felt flat and disjointed the first time around — and it’s not until I return for a second and third look that things start to resonate and deepen. It is only upon multiple viewings, for instance, that movies like No Country for Old Men, Fargo and especially Miller’s Crossing have revealed themselves as modern masterpieces — rich, durable and endlessly rewarding.

STRFKR frontman Josh Hodges thinks a good bit about living without a home — an intentional, rent-free kind of unhoused lifestyle: van dwellers, guys living out of old school buses. 

“There’s some baseball player who lives in his van,” Hughes explains. “It’s not even about a money thing; it just fits his lifestyle.” 

Eugene: The World’s Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors.

That was Eugene’s, ahem, slightly overstated city slogan until 2010. 

The city then rolled it back to:

Eugene: A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors. 

Never has the chasm between “the” and “a” been so wide.

As of Jan. 31, the Jacobs Gallery, located in the basement of the Hult Center — the only city-subsidized visual arts venue — closed after 18 years. Perhaps the powers that be should tone the slogan down once more:

Eugene: A City Where People Go Outdoors.

Nature is stirring from her winter rest. She begins leisurely with buds slowly expanding and showing light green in the cracks of the bud scales. Indian plum is the first to be noticed because its eye-level buds are so big and flowers burst from them by the middle of February. I keep a sharp eye on the snowberry bushes because their early spring leaves join the Indian plum for the earliest flush of green in the valley forest understory. Snowberry flowers are much later, however, so the spring buds are small. Pussy-willow buds show fuzz soon.

Eugene city councilors are feeling a little out of the loop when it comes to the construction of the new City Hall and their future offices there. Or lack of offices, as the case may be. Recently more than half the City Council questioned City Manager Jon Ruiz on the latest developments with the public building under construction that they were not aware of.

On Feb. 12 the Eugene tech community plans to address the topic of downtown livability in Eugene with a giant computer programming event called a hackathon. The tech frenzy starts Friday at the Downtown Athletic Club, where Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) will host Hack for a Cause.  

Joshua Purvis, the events coordinator for TAO, explains that local members of the tech community will work in teams to develop and produce ideas and concepts concerning downtown livability in Eugene “with a vision for implementation.”

• M Three Timber Company, 767-3785, plans to aerial and ground spray 66 acres near Muslin Creek with 2,4-D, atrazine, hexazinone, sulfometuron methyl, clopyralid and/or Induce. See ODF notification 2016-781-01311, call Brian Peterson at 953-2283 with questions. 

Marijuana: controlled substance or religious sacrament? 

In December 2015, the Portland branch of the United States Postal Service (USPS) seized a 5-ounce package of marijuana mailed from Eugene by Joy Graves — the leader of the Cottage Grove branch of Oklevueha Native American Church (ONAC) — who says it was intended to help an ailing ONAC member in Ohio.

• As we enter into this election season, it’s time to ponder the question of how much power a non-elected official should have. Appointed City Manager Jon Ruiz appears to be making changes to the new City Hall without keeping the elected City Council in the loop (see News this issue). Maybe the issue of offices seems like no big deal on the surface, but it affects how our government will run in the future and how public money is spent on this project.

• Last fall’s Community Apple Drive has culminated in the first cider exclusively harvested by the community, and the cider will be released on tap and in bottles beginning this week by WildCraft Cider Works. Apples, pears and plums from backyards, alleys and street sides were collected from August through November to produce 575 gallons of a 28-varietal cider. A percentage of sales will go to local nonprofit conservation groups. A celebration will be held starting at 8 pm Friday, Feb. 5, at Hi-Fi Music Hall, 44 E. 7th Ave.

Who’s who and what’s what in dance this month

• A Civil Liberties Defense Center office warming party will be from 5:30 to 8 pm Friday, Feb. 5, at CLDC’s new offices at 783 Grant Street. Find the free event on Facebook.

The brand of basketball in Israel reflects a survivor’s mentality: tough and proud, impulsive and defensive. 

In practices and games, in the painted area or beyond the three-point line, physicality is relentless. Body checks, sharp elbows and swiping hands — the referees let it go. Without the ball, the body is a weapon; with the ball, it’s protection. Everyone competes. They play to win.

Most Willamette Valley gardeners know the popular native groundcover kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). Less familiar are larger members of the same genus known as manzanita. I fell in love with manzanitas when I visited a botanic garden in the Berkeley hills, where I saw mature specimens of several California species and could really appreciate the stems and bark that are their most striking feature.

What is the sound of Northwest rock? Some might answer Bikini Kill, Nirvana, The Wipers or even The Kingsmen. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I posit it’s Boise’s Built to Spill

The Annual Freshman Class Cypher put out by XXL Magazine is something like a rap world debutante ball — a chance for the genre’s most promising hopefuls to prove their mettle in rap’s oldest battle tradition. 

VALUABLE CONTENT

I am distressed and saddened that KLCC has removed Alternative Radio from its broadcast schedule. What is perplexing is the station is repeating other programs (TED Hour, Wait … Wait and Prairie Home Companion).

In the 1970s, The New Mime Circus Theater Ensemble was one of Eugene’s several cooperative community projects. Today, the company has been resurrected in a new form by co-founders Judith “Sparky” Roberts and fellow performer Joe Cronin.

Fools Haven, a nonprofit, launched its inaugural performance with a Shakespeare showcase at Springfield’s Wildish Community Theater in December 2014, and has since staged several showcases and other works at the Eugene Public Library, the Very Little Theatre and other public venues.

What if you could peer into the hearts and minds of the participants of a middle-school spelling bee, just to see what makes them tick? What’s motivating them? What performance rituals do they employ to correctly spell words like autochthonous or eudaemonic?

A large crowd braved a snowstorm to come out to Savage Love Live at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre last week. Questions were submitted on index cards, which allowed questioners to remain anonymous and forced them to be succinct. I got to as many of them as I could over two long, raucous, boozy hours. Here are some of the questions I didn’t have time for in Boston…

 

What do you think of poop play?

I think of it rarely.

 

How long should I keep my partner locked in male chastity?

From a documentary on the emerging queer hip-hop movement to the avant-garde Blue, the 1993 experimental film from Derek Jarman released just months before his death from AIDS complications, the 24th annual Eugene Queer Film Festival offers an array of films expressing the dynamic and diverse queer experience. 

The fest, which runs Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 4-6, will screen international submissions, art films and queer classics.

My press email about this year’s crop of Oscar shorts notes that all the animated shorts are rated approximately PG, except “Prologue,” which is described as “not suitable for children.” I would go a step further and say it’s not suitable to be a nominee; it’s more of a five-minute demo reel for someone who clearly has talent but little to say. Thankfully, the rest of the animated shorts are much better.