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A recent vote by the Lane County Board of Commissioners to fill Sen. Chris Edward’s seat in the Oregon State Legislature drew comment from the governor, the Democratic Party and, most vociferously, the gun lobby.

Before the Dec. 14 vote, the County Commission received several hundred emails from gun-rights activists weighing in against former state representative and Oregon secretary of state candidate Val Hoyle, who was the Democratic Party’s top pick.

Two days after the presidential election, my therapist asked me how I was feeling. A continuous loop of video footage of people shouting, “Hail Trump,” photographs of swastikas spray-painted on buildings and reports pouring in by the hundreds, and later thousands, of people being threatened because of the color of their skin repeated and shuffled in my mind, and it terrified me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of submerging myself in a sensory deprivation tank.

As a kid, I was mesmerized by Ken Russell’s 1980 sci-fi film Altered States, in which William Hurt plays an abnormal psychologist who repeatedly enters an isolation tank with increasingly drastic and surreal results, eventually emerging as some regressed form of Neanderthal man and then, finally, a big ball of protoplasmic consciousness swirling on the event horizon of galactic nothingness.

Former Lane County Commissioner candidate Dawn Lesley recently reported a bias incident to the City of Eugene’s Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement office. A friend of Lesley’s came to her after seeing swastikas spray-painted on a Trump sign along I-5 in Lane County. 

"Walking is the best physical exercise,” writer Bill Sullivan says. “People are designed to walk. It gets rid of the crap of civilization.”  

Sullivan is pretty famous in these parts, and around the Northwest at large, for his collection of hiking guides. Many of us outdoorsy types have one, two or all of his books on our shelves. 

• Resolution for 2017: Slant will not be “fair and balanced,” whatever Fox News means by that.   

It is difficult not to lament the fate of the University of Oregon in light of the inept administrative response to what should have been seen, at worst, as a teachable moment gone awry. 

On Halloween a respected scholar, in the privacy of her own home, attempted to open a discourse about white privilege using props consisting of a blackened face, a stethoscope and a white coat.

I’ve taught interpersonal communication to college students for 20 years and I thought Gayle Landt’s viewpoint, “Difficult Conversations” [EW 12/8] gave excellent advice. But part of me thinks we’re in danger of re-fighting the last war. 

I agree we need to listen and de-escalate conflict, and that’s blue-chip advice for successful communication. But 2016 also points us toward radical steps to reinvent our habits.

I have two New Year’s resolutions I want to invite others to join.

For many, New Year’s Eve is a night of celebration and rebirth. For others, it’s one of the most dangerous nights of the year. 

“People who don’t usually go out go out and don’t know how to handle themselves,” says Gen Schaack of Eugene group Musicians Against Sexual Violence (MASV). “It’s a prime time for sexual assault.”

With this in mind, MASV collaborated with Tim Khadafi of Eugene band Snow White to present the Eugene Psychedelic Ball, an 11-band psychedelic rock show on New Year’s Eve at the WOW Hall.

It takes chutzpah for any guitarist to compare his band’s singer to Elvis Presley. But Shelby Turner, of Chicago-based post-punk and kitsch-pop act Richard Album, is willing to go there.

“Maybe in Eugene his name isn’t as well known as Elvis,” Turner says of Richard Album, “but after Jan. 2 …” Turner trails off to heighten the sense of intrigue.

However much we’d all like to tell 2016: “Go home, you’re drunk,” New Year’s Eve in Eugene offers plenty of options to get (responsibly) rowdy and dance away the woes of the weird year-that-was.

In 2016, emo was the dominant sound on the Eugene music scene — and across the nation.

About 10 years ago, emo ruled the world. You probably remember it, even if you tried to forget: the punky guitars, the mopey lyrics, the swoopy hair, the eyeliner. 

Well, we’re going to have to stop you right there.

An opera company that produces a New Year’s Eve show typically has two choices: It can present a full opera, often Richard Strauss’ Die Fledermaus (The Bat), which culminates in a bubbly masked ball. Or you can do some version of Opera’s Greatest Hits, featuring popular arias and choruses from the top 10 operas that still constitute the bulk of American operatic fare. 

Or you could do what Eugene Opera is doing with its “Opera Trio” this New Year’s Eve: Present one act from three very different operas. 

(N)ICE SUGGESTIONS

Don’t miss the opportunity to make use of the ice storm’s destruction! 

Rather than cutting and hauling away trees, leave trunks standing (if safe) to provide wildlife habitat. Otherwise, leave logs on the ground to slowly decompose.

Cut limbs for firewood but save lengths of cedar and locust for rot-resistant fence posts and construction materials. Other wood can be salvaged for making furniture or art.

Earlier this month, we recorded our Savage Lovecast Christmas Spectacular live at Revolution Hall in Portland, Oregon. The audience submitted questions on tiny cards before the show, which allowed questioners to remain anonymous and forced them to be succinct. More questions were submitted than my guests and I could get to, so I promised the crowd I would answer as many of their unanswered questions as I could in this week’s column. Here we go…

For the first 30 minutes or so, Passengers is a decent film. If you like Chris Pratt, you’ll probably raise that decent to a “good” or “interesting,” as the first section is essentially a solo act for one of America’s Favorite Chrises.

Barely two weeks after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, Oregon’s regular legislative session will begin Feb. 1. 

Multiple bills being drafted aim to address civil rights, human rights and health care. And while some bills are also being designed to protect existing state laws, others are being proposed to fill in the gaps in federal laws and protections that could be affected by the Trump administration. 

The first stop for many newly arrived Latino immigrants, many of whom don’t speak English, is Centro Latino Americano on 5th Avenue. This nonprofit describes itself as a safety net for the Latino community in our region, one that is even more necessary in light of President-elect Donald Trump denouncing Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.

Give a thousand people the same camera and tell them to shoot the same thing, and maybe five will hit that thousand-word mark. I call this quality “soul,” for lack of a better word — that magical something that only a handful of photographers reveal in their work. You know it when you see it.

EW photographers Trask Bedortha, Todd Cooper and Athena Delene all have this unteachable skill. They belong in that rarified category of photographers who not only capture reality but somehow magnify it, enhance it, elevate it. Each of them, in their own particular way, brings a passion and intelligence to picture-taking that suffuses the subject with the dignity it deserves. Beyond just having “a good eye” — a mere matter of composition, timing, framing, etc. — they exhibit a sense of curiosity and concern for their subjects that can only be called humanity.

The Electoral College confirmed Donald Trump’s election to the presidency of the United States Dec. 19, but many of the millions who voted against him have not given up hope and they plan to rally in the streets the day after Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) fined Eugene-based Apex Machinery, Inc. $6,095 on Dec.14 for Clean Water Act violations at its facility located at 100 Polk Street. DEQ fined Apex for failure to monitor for pH, oil & grease, suspended solids, copper, lead and zinc. DEQ noted that “the system that protects water quality in Oregon is highly dependent on permit registrants complying with the monitoring requirements of their permits,” and that failure to comply with these requirements is “considered to be among the most serious of violations.”

• “Community” and “neighborhood” have been the key words through the ice storm still bedeviling some of us. We were impressed by the Holiday Inn Express at Gateway in Springfield that allows pets to sign in with their owners. Twenty-three dogs, three cats and one rabbit settled into warm rooms rented at an emergency rate to their owners for the first night. Huge thanks, too, for the hard-working EWEB crews who have continued to be courteous and considerate to cranky climate refugees.

At 7 pm Wednesday, Dec. 28, there will be a public meeting regarding The Future of Tsunami Books. The lease for Tsunami Books is up June 30, 2017, Scott Landfield of Tsunami says. Will it continue at its present location, will it be moved, or will it dissolve? The facts will be presented, followed by a facilitated question and answer, and discussion period. An as-yet unscheduled second meeting by invite will be held to deal with specific financial issues. Email tsunami1@opusnet.com with questions or comments.

There is an old story about a village that dedicated itself to pulling children out of a river, until one day one of their members left the project and began walking up stream. “Where are you going?” someone asks. “We need you here!”  

The deserter replies, “I am going to find out who is throwing these children into the river!” 

I am one of those who fancied going upstream to stop the growing tide of homelessness, but I am increasingly finding that I must devote my time to pulling people out of the river. I cite just this one example from the day I write this, Dec. 8.