Best of Eugene 2006-2007
Best Way to Get a Quick Date
Run naked through the Eugene Celebration crowd screaming, "Somebody stole my clothes!" Also works on campus between classes and at the fairgrounds, but doesn't work as well at the Oregon Country Fair.
Best Use of $2.50
Hitch the LTD 91 bus for an hour and a half ride up to the McKenzie River Ranger Station. Hike or bike the beautiful river trail all day and take the bus home.
Best Reminder of Simpler Times
The egg-laying chicken game at Papa's Pizza … you may be too big for the play structure, but you're never too old to look into her world-weary eyes and know she's endured decades of captivity just so you can feel young again.
Best Non-Sports Bar at Which to Watch Sports
We can't sing the praises of The Bier Stein enough. Seriously. And we almost don't want to tell you that; it's already hard enough to get a table in the tiny space. But we can't help but talk about the servers, who seem to know everyone by name and who are happy to dole out tastes of new beers as well as commentary on the game; the paninis, particularly the pizzanini, sandwich decadence at its best; the beer (oh, the beer…) and the way we always seem to get to watch the right sporting event without the annoying, testosterone-heavy atmosphere of a sports bar. From the World Cup to the NBA playoffs and all the Ducks games in between, we're the ones standing in the middle of the room with our eyes on your table.
Best Reason to Stay Alive One More Day
Oregon has been called Beervana and Beertopia, and the upcoming opening of the Ninkasi brewpub adds another bit of truth to the moniker. While we already have local brewing (Eugene City Brewery, High Street and Steelhead), none of these three are truly local. Ninkasi will not only be local, but they'll create one-of-a-kind beer that you won't find at another location outside of Eugene.
Best Place to Scope Men in Assless Chaps
Diablo's Fetish Night. Remember to wax.
Best Uniquely Eugene Sporting Event
Surely we could list the Prefontaine Classic (it draws one or two big names) or maybe the Civil War. But for a sporting event that truly comprises loyal fans, animalistic competitors and a uniquely Eugene-Springfield alternate reality, try the annual Ferret Agility Trials (formerly the Ferret Olympics). Featuring numerous competitions, including (but not limited to) a tube race, paper bag escape, paper cup toppling event and a weight pull, this annual animal challenge separates the mammals from the mere weasels of the ferret populace.
Best Reason to Sport Green 'n' Yellow All Year Round
Sitting outside in the rain to watch like two minutes of flashing legs isn't perhaps most people's idea of fun, except in Eugene. So why watch? Well, basically, Rebekah Noble. She's mature. Organized. Focused. Or so she appears, with her strong work ethic and last year's success piling on success. She might only be a sophomore, but her prowess in the 800 meters last year, from the Pac-10 to the NCAA Championships, made even those of us who don't worship at the Eugene cult of the runner sit up and take notice.
Best New Trail
On the new Amazon Headwaters trail, hiking up a valley of ferns, mossy old growth and vine maple, it's easy to forget you're in the middle of the state's third largest city. The hike is easily accessible by bike and bus. The only trouble is that a big chunk of the forest is threatened by development.
Best Antidote to Healthy Eating
Eugene has a reputation for healthy eating. Yumm! bowls are an FDA approval away from being marketed as blood pressure medication. So it's nice to know that just two blocks down 18th from the Meridian Yumm! location is the anti-Yumm!, the King's cup. A BBQ King exclusive, the King's cup is a dish of baked beans topped with pork, brisket, ribs, chicken and spicy sausage, with a healthy ladleful of BBQ sauce and a scoop of coleslaw. It's a complete picnic lunch in a bowl and sure to scare your heart into behaving.
Best "Bumper" Sticker
"Fight Terror, Ride a Bike."
Best Spot for Glimpses of Sunsets & Elk
Follow Fox Hollow Road south out of Eugene until it starts getting "woody" and the road gets "curvy." Somewhere on the right side of the road (exact location withheld to preserve its special funkiness), there's Bill's Bench. A longtime Fox Hollow resident, Bill loved this spot so much that when he died, his friends and family dedicated a bench to him. Now it's a relaxing place for a pit stop with views to the coast and the occasional wooded wildlife.
Best Way to Cover Up Your Unpopularity As Former Mayor
Tell people 70 percent of Eugeneans voted for you when in fact you had no credible opponent in your last election and you really got support only from about 37 percent of eligible voters.
Best Moment in Local Sports Following the End of Best of Eugene Voting
We don't even watch football, really. Only when we have to (i.e. when it's on). We managed to keep busy outside the house for most of the Oregon vs. Oklahoma game … but it turned out we got home just in time for some of the strangest few minutes in football, like, ever. Now, whenever the Ducks are down, our football-fan friends can say, "Hey, we can score two touchdowns in two minutes! It's gonna be fine!" Totally.
Goodbye, Android. You worked so hard at being so cool. But you never really understood that when folks go shopping for used clothes, they're not looking to drop $250 on a used suit from J.C. Penney, even if it was from J.C. Penney's "golden years."
Best Way to Segregate Schools
Keep the poor people and the rich people in their own neighborhoods through planning policies and practices, and allow upscale families to send their kids across town to whatever school is trendy.
Best Way to Destroy Neighborhoods
Best Restaurant with Dinosaurs on the Table
Doesn't matter at all what time you (and your kids) go to Laughing Planet, which took a corner of business death and turned it into a destination. From open to close, you're as likely to see a little one in a Halloween costume playing with a brontosaurus and T. rex as someone with a laptop tapping out work-related items. Local enviro-stars, natural foodies and those who believe firmly in decent food at excellent prices congregate for dino-style fun.
Best Attempt at Ballot Stuffing
We're not sure what tipped us off first: Was it the piles of matching envelopes all with the same stamps and postage dates? Was it the handwriting, so carefully slightly varied? Was it the names and phone numbers written in ink that didn't match the answers, like they'd been filled in later? Most likely, it was the fact that while the would-be stuffers varied some answers from ballot to ballot, a telling few were always, always the same. But we wanted to be sure, so we made a couple phone calls. See, it seemed a little weird that a lot of these voters had sort of old-fashioned names. Surely all those Ednas and Horaces weren't big frequenters of Eugene nightlife? And sure enough, when called and questioned, they hadn't actually filled out any ballots. Bingo!
Best Shoe Shop
It was mid-August, and we were desperate. We had to be at a wedding in a very small number of hours, and we had either clothes or shoes, not both. We trounced around downtown, we braved the terrors of the mall … and we wound up at Miss Meers, where a salesgirl with a precise balance of salesy-ness and helpfulness gently nudged us into trying on some things we might never have otherwise tried. Sure, we spent as much money on those shoes as we usually spend on groceries in a week, but it was totally worth it: They didn't hurt our feet all night. Also? They're totally cute.
Best Store for Cool Little Items Like One-Off Cards, Wedding Invitations, Gift Wrap, Puzzles…
We've gone into Letterhead for anything from a hip thank-you card to a baby hat, and we've been entranced pretty much every time. Letterhead, whose owners moved the store downtown to 8th & Willamette a few years ago despite higher rent, shows local art, helps folks find gorgeous invitations and has a fascinating collection of baby toys from Germany and other baby-loving places. Whether you're a hipster who hates children or someone who only wants to wish Mom a traditional holiday greeting, Letterhead has what you need.
Best Way to Discretely Apply for a High-Profile Job Outside Eugene
Find a headhunter who promises to keep your search secret until you're hired.
Best Street for Free Boxing
No, not boxing as in uppercuts, left hooks or knuckle sandwiches (though we've seen a few people fight over lesser goods). We're talking about those boxes that say FREE on them, found on many curbs and driveways. With a heavy student population moving in and out of the houses between 13th and 32nd and its status as a well-known bike-riders' artery, Alder Street is the best among them. The only trouble is figuring out what's free and what's just personal property that's straying too close to the "free zone," which, in our book, is within three feet of the sidewalk.
Best Way to Pass a New County Tax
Spend $250,000 telling voters why there's no money for county services.
Best Reason to Rejoice That When the Season of Frenzied Consumerism Begins, At Least One Can Buy Locally Produced Items
Yes, it's the Holiday Market: Fairy wings. Dragons. Glitter eye shadow. Bamboo T-shirts. Polar Chammies for babies (ooh, could the Chammie peeps start making adult Chammies for those cold Bend getaway nights?). Gift bags made from funky cloth. Door wreaths. And lovely flower, bird or animal-festooned tiles/trivets — we might have run out of people to give those to from buying so many each year. Then there's the smell of pad Thai, the hot chocolate, the spiced wine …. OK, we're only wishing for that last part. But the Holiday Market provides pretty much everything else.
Best Surprise As You Indulge Your Late-Night Sweet Life Tooth
A visit from the wacky costumed raver bikers during the every-other-Thursday Whiteaker bike rides.
Best Mobile Dance Party
Disco cart. Haven't heard of it? Guess you're not hip enough.
Best Way to Piss Off Already Disgruntled Newspaper Readers
Come up with some lame, 19th century policies on not printing birth announcements for gay couples and try to defend it.
Best New Downtown Building
The success of the Tate six-story condo on Olive Street has brought back to Eugene the idea of downtown living, a key to enlivening downtown and the city's livability.
Best Drunken Bean Scarfing at 3:30 am
That would be at the Burrito Boy on Franklin, where it can be hard to find a table during the post-bar munchie rush. We figure that the average blood alcohol level at that hour's gotta be pushing .12. Uh, EPD? Don't mind all the cars in the lot. Everyone takes cabs home.
Best Crepuscular Fish Slurping
Homie Sushi Night, the weekly wee-hour party in a Whiteaker warehouse whose precise time and location shall remain undisclosed. Best be there early — like, before sunrise, with wide pupils and furry legwarmers on — to nab the sushi.
Best Perplexing Parking Lot
The new labyrinth in the 29th and Willamette shopping center. The redesign managed to turn a perfectly functional, wide-open sea of asphalt into an obstacle course of bumps, curbs and excessive concrete barriers. Even MapQuest can't help you navigate from Market of Choice to Hollywood Video. Maybe it's a subversive campaign to get more people walking.
Best Radio Show To Get You Up in the Morning
"Fresh Tracks" with Tom Krumm. When we set our alarm to anything tolerable we sleep right through it, incorporating the tunes into our dreams. But when KLCC blasts into our snoozing psyches at 9 am, the music is so hokey and grating that it gets us up every time.
Best New Bar (in the Place of Business Sense)
For the last couple of years, passing the brick building across from the train station has caused us to say, "That ought to be a bar." Well, the wish-granting fairy must have been through town recently because now it is. The recently opened Jackalope Lounge is warm, cozy and fully outfitted with pool, darts, pinball, a good range of taps (including locally brewed Ninkasi), flat-screen TVs, an affordable menu ($5 for a BLT with fries) and — the icing on a delicious cake — friendly, welcoming service.
Best New Bar (in the Furniture Sense)
Lord, but that wooden marvel at Jameson's is something, isn't it? Massive, padded, intimidating … thankfully, the bartenders don't let the big ol' bar stand in the way of getting your cocktail or pint. Dark and loungey, Jameson's fills an old gap in the Eugene bar scene; it's stylish but not pretentious, crowded but not fratty.
Best Free Camping
You don't need a 4x4, a tank of gas and a propane stove for good camping in Lane County. You just need a blanket, plenty of water and a bike. Choose your direction and start pedaling. In about a couple hours, you'll be able to turn onto a logging road on BLM or Forest Service land where you can drop on the ground for a good night's sleep. No amenities means no neighbors, and no neighbors means no noise. Rest up, then awaken to a peaceful misty morning ride home.
Best Impression of Quaint French-Style Living
If you squint your eyes and stand along some of the stretches with overgrown ivy, Amazon Creek looks, feels and – probably most tellingly – smells like a French canal. Oh, and the ducks! Did we mention the ducks?
Best Traveled Tree
A Douglas fir on the UO campus near the EMU has traveled about 440,000 miles. According to the UO Atlas of Trees, as a seed the fir was carried aboard Apollo XIV in 1971 to the moon and back.
Best Act of Faith
On the 11th of every month since 9/11, the First Christian Church downtown has held an interfaith service. With so much violence throughout the world in the name of religion, it's nice to know different faiths can come together and pray for peace.
Best in Black
Every Monday since 9/11, the local Women in Black have also come together to call for peace.
Best Place to Find Reasonably Priced Secondhand Stuff
OK, we know that shabby chic is en vogue these days, but jeez louise! Eighty bucks for that shredded sofa at Goodwill? A hundred bucks for that rocking chair at St. Vincent de Paul? What, are charity organizations suddenly in the business of antique speculation? Where in Eugene Skinner's name are we to find used furniture we can afford? The answer, of course, is Springfield.
Best Thing About City Hall
Where else can you bike up a ramp into a garden courtyard and ride right up to the office of the mayor, city manager, police chief or council chamber?
Best Adrenaline Rush Off Poor City Maintenance
Riding a bike fast over the kajillion potholes in the gravel alley between 7th and 8th Avenues. Even more fun in the winter, when the potholes fill with rain. Dude, you can get, like, three feet of air.
Best Mural-Removal Decision
Fifth Street Public Market's highly suspicious vegetable stand dude … standing there with his hands hidden behind the peppers, that slightly distracted look on his face. Come on, we're trying to eat here.
Best Reason to Become a Vampire, or Maybe a Cat
You'd be able to see on Eugene's shamefully poorly lit streets at night. C'mon, folks. We live on a major street, and we can't see shit when we (responsibly) walk home at night. What gives?
Best Thing for Developers Conner & Woolley to Do With Their Multiple Run-Down Properties Downtown
Demolition derby with everyone in town invited to bring a sledgehammer.
Best Glimmer of Hope for the UO Men's Basketball Team
It took a few thrown elbows — and more than a few bruises for the Huskies — but at the almost-last minute, the Duck men got it together enough to beat Washington in the Pac-10 tournament. It was a rare moment of excitement in a horrible season; other such moments came in the next game, a nail-biting overtime match-up against Cal. Chamberlain Oguchi (whose name the closed-captioners spelled in some truly amusing ways) offered some spice in a few choice games, but overall it was a downer from that early, disappointing loss to Georgetown to the final finish, seventh in the Pac-10. But still, our fingers are crossed for this year. Go Ducks!
Best Reward for Being an EW Intern
Rock 'n' Rodeo gift certificates are pretty sweet, but we would have to say prison mail. Hi honey!