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Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 10.25.07



BEST OF EUGENE 2007: Tightrope Walkers and Trapeze Artists | Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll |Eat Freaks | The Incredible Shrinking Wallet | Sights, Sounds, Scribbles Everything Else Under the Big Top | Trap Door | We're So Vain | Staff Picks | Best of the Ballots

Staff Picks

BEST EUGENE-APPROPRIATE BUMPER STICKER

"I'd ride my bike, but some asshole stole it."

 

BEST '80S NIGHT DANCER

It could be the sweat-soaked guy who always looks coked out (that's soooo '80s, no?), or the lady who sports baggy pants like nobody's business, but for our money, it's the guy who dresses up as Indiana Jones, Marty McFly and Teen Wolf (his midnight transformation from scrappy teen to masked wolf this summer was priceless), among other incarnations. Word is his name is Chuck (not the EW staffer) and he only visits on summer and winter breaks from his more contemporary life elsewhere in the States.

 

BEST QUESTIONS TO ASK FUTURE EUGENEANS

"Why aren't you using the parking garages?"

"Will you sign my petition to save the historic Valley River Center?"

"You look nearly dead, might I give you a lift to the hospital? It's on the way to my tee time at the country club."

 

NOM NOM NOM-IEST REASON TO KEEP SATURDAY MARKET GOING ALL YEAR LONG

We tied our own selves up trying to figure out if we're more addicted to Toby's Palace Salad (Erin's Way, please! The best dressing mix ever) with its tasty tofu, healthy greens and mouth-watering tiny tomatoes or the delectable seasonal goods from Kitchen Witch's Michelle Lodjic, who uses Fern Ridge Dairy's goat cheese for the most excellently local teeny cheesecake bite. Luckily, we have the Holiday Market coming up, and both of them will be there — Kitchen Witch with the evilly attractive Meyer lemon truffles, Toby's with the too, too salty and good paté, and all of it making us long for the market to keep on going at the fairgrounds through the rainy, rainy months that come between Solstice and April when it reopens.

 

BEST THING (AND PRE-EMPTIVE HANGOVER CURE) IN THE WORLD AT 1:30 AM AT THE HORSEHEAD BAR

A full order of nachos.

 

BEST BEST-OF-EUGENE-RELATED VOICEMAIL

"Hello, Molly, this is Mason Goche with Azure Ocean. I have a food cart and the reason I'm calling you is because I've been told by dozens of people that they voted for me for Best of Eugene but they put, like, weird stuff. Blue Azure. Quesadilla Cart. Mason. The taco guy. Fish taco guy. Albacore deluxe. All that kind of junk. That's all me. I don't know how else to put it. So ... yeah. If you have any questions or anything, my number is 953-4894 and good luck with the sorting! I'm sure that's one hell of a job. Again, my name is Mason — like a jar — Goche with Azure Ocean. So, good luck, and catch you later."

 

BEST LOCAL BAND NAMES

Wetsock, The pHormula, Baitball, The Ovulators, Bazil Rathbone, Scrambled Ape, Nail Mary, Birds Love Filters, DoublePlusGood, Ginger Hustlers, Edward Outward, Telepathic Dumpster.

 

BEST PLACE TO SNIFF BUTTS

With the new off-leash dog park on Royal opening this year, Eugene ups its quotient of most excellent places for our canine friends to run, play, get tangled up in smelling each others' asses and generally wear themselves out. By the way, people, Mount Pisgah is not an official off-leash dog park, though it does provide many a furry four-footer with the chance to meet 'n' greet humans and other dogs alike. What makes the official parks so good are their places to give your dog water and wash off her muddy paws and the bonds that owners make as they stroll around the paths watching King Mister or Sophielicious get socialized, exercised and exhausted all at the same time. Oh, wait, maybe it's actually a human park where dogs take their owners to do the same thing. Sneaky dogs! We love ya though. Hey … how about a dog park … downtown?

 

BEST FEW BLOCKS FOR MAKING FELINE FRIENDS

Walking to work takes us past half a dozen cats, if we go the right way. A tiny, teenager-cat tabby on Washington whose jingling collar alerts us to her presence as she tries to sneak up on us. A pair of round, lazy cats, one black, one black and white, who follow us halfway down 16th until the fence which marks the home of the shy black-and-white cat who isn't quite sure she wants attention. Near the big grassy lot on Lawrence, a tabby and a tuxedo cat with a notch in his ear take turns responding to our calls, each mrowing as if life is unbearably difficult, and don't we have any treats? And on that corner — 15th & Lawrence — is regal, long-haired tabby Bill, who sits on his bench and gives us the evil eye if we try to pass without stopping for an ear scratch.

 

BEST EVENT WE WISH WE'D BEEN AT

Hello, Whiteaker Block Party! Please to be sending our music editor a press release next time! Damn, that sounded like fun.

 

BEST UNDER-VOTED-FOR BARTENDER

You know when you want a drink but you don't know what the hell it is? Maybe it's kind of like a cosmopolitan, but not exactly; maybe it's fruitier, or maybe a little more sour? You go to the Chanterelle bar and you tell Dave Lawrence kinda sorta what you want. And the next thing you know, it's in front of you, delivered with a small, knowing smile. Dave understands what you want better than you do.

 

BEST UNDER-VOTED-FOR BARISTAS

Maybe it's just 'cause we go to the Novella Café um, almost daily for that late-morning pick-me-up, but we simply adore the counter staff there — a handful of fellas and ladies whose boundless patience never ceases to amaze. Espousing upon the brilliance of cinnamon-sugar bagels or patiently waiting for those indecisive among us to make up our minds about which kind of cream cheese to have, they smile cheerily — but not fakely — while we natter away in their general direction.

 

BEST DISPLAYS OF RETAIL BRILLIANCE

Can you go into Marché Provisions without buying something? It's not even about what's in the store, half the time (though the goods are quite lovely). It's about how they look. How they're positioned next to items of complementary colors on pretty tables. How every single thing in the shop would look perfect in every single shopper's kitchen. How the Marché aesthetic is clear in every selection and every display decision. The cohesiveness is ... compelling.

 

BEST NEEDLESS REQUEST FOR DOWNTOWN

"A bigger bookstore." OK, sure, your precious Borders is all the way out at Oakway. But downtown is not just two blocks. Downtown includes J. Michaels, Books Without Borders and — gasp! — the massive Smith Family across from the post office. Oh, sorry, it doesn't have a café (for that you'll have to walk a block to the Beanery), or DVDs, or piles of cheesy greeting cards. But it's still there, it's still fantastic and it's still got quite a selection. Plus, you overwhelmingly vote for Smith Family as your favorite bookstore. So what gives? You think Willamette isn't downtown or something?

 

BEST BUSINESS TO INVITE DOWNTOWN

Hello, McMenamins? We'll apologize on behalf of our readers for that whole "worst service" thing if you'll bring one of your theater pubs to Eugene. Of course, it'd help if all those Buffy screenings hadn't just gotten pulled, 'cause we were dreaming of those, but we can figure something else out. Twin Peaks night, perhaps?

 

BEST REASON TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE R-G

So you can cancel in protest of no birth announcements for babies of gay parents.

 

BEST THING TO PONDER WHILE WAITING FOR LUNCH

How is it that the tastiest, most jam-packed item on the Phatty Snak Shack's menu (the junior cheeseburger) is also the least expensive?

 

BEST LOCAL GAME SHOW HOSTS

Erstwhile parlor-trick everyman Tom Heinl and his dude sidekick Scott K. keep it real at Sam Bond's Bingo Night as they dish out quips on everything from an old issue of the R-G to a mystery chest with plastic fruit inside to Kenny Rogers playing cards to a rusty tin man statue and "Best Granny" signage, all of it winnable at this raucous — and free — Monday night mainstay.

 

BEST PLACE FOR SEX WITH STRANGERS

Eugene dog parks.

 

BEST BUSINESS PLAN FOR CONNER & WOOLLEY

Sell vacant downtown properties at inflated prices to city, get them back for free as partners in redevelopment, enjoy 10 years of tax breaks, sell them again, and again.

 

BEST NEW DANCE FLOOR

This is a toss-up between the Indigo District's revamped stage and dance floor and Davis' fishbowl mini dance floor. A quick poll of EW's dancing class reveals the winner is … Indigo! But does it really matter so long as your booty is shaking?

 

BEST NEW DEAL

Starlight Lounge. Why? Dollar Ninkasi pints. We are so there. Except last time we were so there, we got so outta there at 8:45, when the previously chill music suddenly shifted to something with a little too much bump and a little too much volume for a bar that doesn't even have a dance floor. What gives? We can even take the awkward couches (though we'd so much rather sit in the bar) so long as we can actually hear our friends. But still: $1 Ninkasi!

 

BEST REASON TO READ SAVAGE LOVE

Find out what you should have/could have done with your former lovers.

 

BEST REASON TO PROSECUTE ECO-AVENGERS

The War on Terrorism is a failure everywhere else.

 

BEST REASONS TO KEEP BURNING GRASS SEED FIELDS

Keeps the population down and hospitalization up.

 

BEST PRETTY FACADE

Sure, the flower garden is something you don't normally see at a gas station. Yes, you note the irony of a place to refuel your car and your nerves (at the adjacent drive-through espresso stand) and give a slight chuckle. Hey, a free car wash if you fill up on eight gallons or more, why not? But wait — where are the gas prices listed? Whatevs, you say. Would you like a car wash today? Sure. Um, but isn't he going to follow up that question by telling you how to get that "free" car wash? You're sort of in a hurry and going through the trouble of chasing him down for more info on this "free" car wash just isn't worth it. As you pull out, you glance at your receipt. $37 for 10 gallons of gas. That's $3.70! That, my friends, is one slick con job.

 

BEST KNOCK-OFF BEST OF

Sometimes, daily papers can't take it when the alt-weekly has something they don't. Like almost all alt-weeklies, we ask our readers to vote on what makes the grade, but out the suburban trails at The Register-Guard, the "Team Best Of … " writers apparently think they know what's best for you. Or maybe they're just trying to save you the work of having to, you know, go out on the town; they'll do it for you. Here, it's a democracy: We don't always agree with you (hence our staff picks), but we always let you vote. And contrary to the R-G's opinion about our poll, we do make an effort to keep you from stuffing the ballot box. Anyway, point is, the real team deciding on what wins Best of Eugene is composed of hundreds of players, and that team is you. Don't accept substitutes.

 

BEST PICK-UP LINE FOR EUGENE COPS

"My union's got my back. Do you want my front?"

 

BEST DOORS OF DOWNTOWN TO DARKEN (DAYTIME EDITION)

OK, you told us you love the Lord Leebrick, McKenzie Outfitters, Down to Earth, Kiva and Davis', and we so agree, but we also love countering those who live in the outskirts and think downtown is scary by telling our tales of excellent little downtown businesses. For the vino enthusiasts, of course, there's Oregon Wine Warehouse, the Broadway and Kiva within a few-block range; there's the wonderful service and quirky, fun recommendations of James and Amelia at Books Without Borders; there's the less-wonderful service but interesting food at the Savoy Truffle; there's people-watching from the benches by the Jacobs Gallery after you get one of Café Perugino's gelatos or lattes; there's the slightly oily smell but generally good food of Park Street Café; there's the insufferably adorable stuff at Letterhead; there's the sweet reused baby goods at Bambini; there's lavender aplenty at Gervais Salon; there's mushroom biscuits 'n' gravy at Morning Glory and yummy omelettes at Keystone Café; there's the newly pretty Amtrak Station with its funtabulous local art (and stupid parking policies) … we even heart the post office, at least most of the time. Why aren't you people hanging out in the already functional, already interesting, already full of places to park downtown?

 

BEST DOORS OF DOWNTOWN TO DARKEN (NIGHTLIFE EDITION)

Honestly? It's hard to pick: John Henry's, for concerts, strong drinks and pinball? (Oh, and '80s Night. Did we mention '80s Night?) Luckey's, the oldest bar in Eugene? Jameson's, for cheap bar eats and a superb atmosphere? Eugene City Brewery, for trivia and bingo and Rogue pints? Luna, for classy drinks and mellow tunes? Horsehead, for the food you guys voted Best Bar Food, for pool, for spacious outdoor seating and Eugene's Best Bartender, Ty Connor? The Moxie, for style, cocktails and atmosphere? Davis', for their fantastic mash-up of dining room and dance floor? The WOW Hall, for a huge variety of concerts and their totally underrated little bar? The Vintage, for sweet cocktails and tiny, perfect fries? We think our point is made — and there are still other establishments we could mention. You'll understand, we hope, if we're a bit tired of a certain snobby, dismissive attitude toward the heart of Eugene's nightlife. Now, if you don't mind, we're heading out for a drink.

 

BEST EXCEPTION TO THE WORST RESTAURANT SERVICE WIN

You've voted, we've counted, and you (rather exuberantly) dubbed McMenamins the home of Eugene's worst service. But you clearly meant to write "except Dan Schmid" on those ballots. The tall, lanky musician-slash-waiter is friendly, funny and seems unaware that something like "stress" exists in the world. If you order a beer he thinks you might not like, he might ask, "Do you want to try a little sippy first?" Going to High Street and not getting Dan as your waiter — OK, that you can complain about. But the guy deserves a gold star.

 

BEST NEWS FOR YOUR THROBBING SHIN SPLINTS

The fresh layer of woodchips on the Amazon/Rexius trails. While the softer surface may make your splits slow a few notches, eventually the tread will get packed after the winter rains and will revert back to its firmer, faster, less smelly self. Just in time to show off for the Olympic Trials!

 

BEST WAY TO PISS OFF LONG DISTANCE RUNNERS WHO VALUE TRADITION

Start the Eugene Marathon outside of Hayward Field and finish the race at a football field parking lot, home of some, uh, real good running (or should we say rushing) memories.

 

BEST PSEUDO-RIVAL PLACE TO GET OUTTA TOWN TO

From its flourishing downtown (made up of local businesses, top to toe) to its sweet downtown park; from its activist nature to its scientific grounding, we like the town that is Corvallis. Then there's the theater at the Corvallis High School, a theater that hosts acts from Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Greg Brown along with high school musicals and plays — it's a training ground for aspiring costumers, lighting designers, state managers and fly guys (and gals) of all stripes, and the kids run the place like pros. OK, we don't love the forestry department (though we're happy that our own James Johnston has infiltrated the clearcut-lovin' place), and if push came to shove, we might want the Ducks to win any sports battles, but otherwise we'd be happy to hang out in the little place of cuteness that is Corvallis (and maybe hike in some of the glorious parks near the town) before returning to our bigger, more traffic-focused, just as timber-controlled city.

 

BEST ART GALLERY THAT WE (SHAMEFULLY) NEVER REVIEW

Whenever we receive an email from Doug Russell, gallery director for OSU's Fairbanks Gallery, we can't wait for the picture attachments to load. Russell has a knack for bringing in top-notch, relevant, contemporary artists that challenge artistic preconceptions and are, all around, visually exciting creators. When they brought renowned video artist Bill Viola to OSU for a lecture and exhibition, we nearly wet our pants. Now they are bringing in Do-Ho Suh, probably one of the hottest installation artists from the Pacific Rim, for a lecture on Nov. 14. Kudos to OSU! Hopefully we can make the drive up sometime soon!