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After opening its season pulling from classic Christmas fare (A Christmas Story) and pop-oriented crowd pleasers (the Burt Bacharach songbook), the Eugene Concert Choir will step out of the box a bit with two performances this Saturday, April 30: Latin American Folk For Kids at 11 am and Cantata Criolla at 8 pm, both held in the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall. 

Muddy Waters changed Pokey LaFarge’s life. “I was, like, 13,” LaFarge tells EW, recalling the time some “older cats” played him Waters’ classic 1963 album Folk Singer at a pizza joint. “I thought, ‘Wow, the blues are acoustic?’” LaFarge recalls. “It changed my life.” 

Way back when, the late, great American writer Kurt Vonnegut published a short story — “Who Am I This Time?” — about a pair of community theater actors who, awkward in so-called real life, fall in love through the character they play on stage. In Vonnegut’s sure hands, the conceit is melancholy and sweet, a concession to the fraught slapstick of authentic emotional connection.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

In the last year, the world has lost two powerful women in the struggle to end not just aerial spraying but the use of pesticides on all land. A year ago, Audrey Moore left us after making her mark with the first pesticide ban ordinance to get on the ballot in Oregon! And last week we lost Jan Wroncy, who so graciously took me under her wing after my first aerial spray exposure. She and others taught me the history of aerial spraying in Oregon, and it’s not a pretty one. There have been too many casualties on the way. 

I am a trans man and I have no love life. But I did just hook up with a friend two nights ago. It was the first time I’ve had sex in more than a year. My problem is that it was a “one-time thing.” I was hoping to be FWB at least. I’m furious with myself for giving that away for what amounted to a hookup, and thoroughly sorry for myself for it being a “one-time thing,” because it nearly always is. I feel thoroughly unlovable and dejected right now. I was raised a Boston Irish Catholic, and I have PTSD from my parents being difficult.

On a stretch of wall overlooking a gravel lot in the Whiteaker, grimy layers of graffiti and tags have built up, offering non-sequitors like “You glad football is almost over?” and “RIP Crisco.” 

By July, that wall will be a community mural. The Whit neighborhood, long known for its offbeat artistic chops, is about to get a whole lot artsier. Two projects are taking shape: The 2016 CarPark Mural Project and the Whiteaker Art Walk. 

Old Hazeldell Quarry, an investment of Ed King (King Estate Winery), has applied to Lane County to change the zoning of a place in Oakridge known as “TV Butte.” The area, which is outside Oakridge’s urban growth boundary, is currently zoned F1 and F2 forestlands. If the zone change is granted, the property would be open to quarry mining. 

TV Butte is the center of an irreplaceable and endangered piece of local pioneer and Indigenous history. 

Still very much with us, the 105-year-old Chinese-born painter Tyrus Wong is quite possibly the most influential American artist you’ve never heard of — until now, that is.

As the sole inspiration for the expressionistic animated style of Disney’s Bambi (more on that in a moment), Wong’s elegant and economical style, a melding of traditional Asiatic ink-and-brush painting and Western modernist influences, has literally suffused American culture, from dishware and Hollywood to Hallmark cards and museums everywhere.

A huge proportion of seed production in the U.S. (80 percent-plus) and around the world (40 percent-plus) is controlled by a handful of corporations such as Monsanto and DuPont. Should you care? That depends. Do you like to save your own vegetable seed? How do you feel about giant monopolies, genetic engineering and the idea of plants as intellectual property? 

When it comes to weed, a clutch of competing cannabis mythologies seems to guide our collective imagination, each one containing seeds of truth and shakes of misinformation and ignorance.

One of the more subtle myths surrounding cannabis goes something like this: “Dude, it’s all good. Weed is a product of the earth, God-given, and we are meant simply to grow it, smoke it and enjoy. Unlike alcohol, weed never hurt anybody. It’s just a plant, for goodness sake.”

Bridges aren’t just transportation structures; they can be iconic parts of the landscape. Picture the Golden Gate or any of Lane County’s covered bridges. But what happens when the structure is no longer usable? 

Anywhere from 2.5 to 4 gallons of water per minute flow from a standard showerhead, says local inventor Erol Chandler. That’s a lot of water circling down the drain.

This past November, Chandler, who makes   artisan lamps locally and is a former science teacher, began engineering his most recent invention: the Shower Commander. 

Oregon educators say that K-12 school funding is in crisis mode. From dwindling high school graduation rates to booming elementary school class sizes, Oregon kids have endured years of underfunding.

Metamorphose is back, baby. The third annual upcycled fashion and art show hosted by St. Vincent de Paul April 23 is slated to become an Earth Day weekend favorite. 

Two new and relatively unknown candidates, Sonya Carlson and Gary Malone, will be on the May primary ballot for James Manning’s Eugene Water and Electric Board seat. Manning’s term is up, but he is not seeking re-election. Instead, he is running against Julie Fahey in the Democratic primary to fill the open position in House District 14, left by Val Hoyle who is running for secretary of state.

Would you believe there are beavers, otters, herons and a variety of other species living along Amazon Creek in Eugene? 

It’s true, thanks to a growing number of local businesses that are becoming certified by the Long Tom Watershed Council’s (LTWC) Trout Friendly Landscapes program. The goal of the program is to make habitat and water quality improvements in private lands that will, in turn, support native aquatic life in Amazon Creek and the Willamette River. 

On April 12, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) publicly released its proposed plan to increase timber harvest and environmental protections in Western Oregon forests. The plan claims to strike a balance between timber interests and protecting wildlife, but local environmental groups have called BLM’s new plan and “balanced approach” into question. 

Oregon Department of Transportation is spraying roadsides. Call 503-986-3010 to talk with a vegetation management coordinator or call 1-888-996-8080 for recent herbicide application information. Hwys. I-5, 99 and 126 were recently sprayed.

M Three Timber Company, 767-3785, plans to hire Western Helicopter Services, 503-538-9469, to aerially spray 36 acres and 30.1 acres near Muslin Creek West of Lynx Hollow with 2,4-D, clopyralid, hexazinone, sulfometuron methyl, atrazine and/or Induce. See ODF notification 2016-781-01311, call Brian Peterson at 541-935-2283 with questions.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a civil penalty of $6,600 against Maryland-based W.R. Grace & Co. – Conn. on April 6 for illegally transporting thousands of pounds of hazardous waste from a Portland warehouse to a Grace manufacturing facility in Albany in May of last year.

• April marks the passing of two longtime Lane County residents who made the world a better place. Jan Wroncy of Forestland Dwellers fought chemical sprays for years in the courts and through her research and advocacy. Wroncy and her partner Gary Hale, through their group Forestland Dwellers, have compiled and provided EW with a schedule of planned pesticide sprays for more than 10 years. Hale tells us Wroncy passed away Saturday afternoon, April 16, “after a long struggle to recover from multiple strokes.

• Warren Weisman of Eugene-based renewable energy start-up Hestia Home Biogas tells us the home biogas digester manufacturer has been invited to audition for the hit TV show ABC’s Shark Tank. Hestia’s biodigester tanks, which convert compost into “clean-burning renewable energy,” are manufactured in Vancouver, Washington, and metal work is fabricated in Eugene by Chandler Metal Works.

 With a degree in marketing from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, Deron Fort returned to his hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania, for a sales job at a titanium manufacturing plant. “It was not inspiring work,” he says. “We wore badges to measure radiation from the electron beam furnaces.” Fort quit two years later to study for a master’s in education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, then taught middle school for two years. 

One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothin’ can beat teamwork. — Edward Abbey

I confess I may have too much time on my hands as a geezer/retiree. These days, instead of plowing through unemployment cases as I did in my last 12 years with the state appeals board, I’ve gone back to enjoying some of my favorite desert rat ecologists.