We hear it all the time: People pick up Eugene Weekly for the letters. That’s great news. A local paper with readers who are engaged enough to write in and read what others have to say is healthy for democracy, even if it’s one more conspiracy letter about the chemtrail dragons spraying wrath upon our fair, naïve valley.
This year we wanted to thank our engaged readership by collecting our favorite letters (and online feedback) of 2016 so far, whether they be poignant, inspirational, irreverent, angry, hilarious, compassionate, conspiratorial, offensive or insightful, because they are, after all, a reflection of our community, for better or worse. It’s also a swell and, at times, jarring way to take one last stroll through 2016, an unprecedented year in many ways. Hindsight is 2020.
Thank you, readers. Keep it up.
A PROPHETIC PEG
I’ve had the privilege of being Peg Morton’s scribe for her many writings in the last months of her life. More of these writings will be disseminated after her memorial service, as she requested. In mid-November she wrote a proposal that was communicated throughout the world to her “peace-building, nonviolence-loving groups and others, including faith communities, friends and family.” Thousands of people have now read, shared and are acting upon Peg’s proposal, which begins:
“I am envisioning the rise of a broad, nonviolent movement that calls for this country to face itself, to publicly and humbly acknowledge the suffering and destruction which we have been engaged in throughout our history and in the present. We need to seek forgiveness and to make amends. And we need to grieve. We cannot be healed as a society until we have deeply and honestly faced ourselves.
“My dream is that we, our country, will learn to step back out into the world and our planet humbly, as citizens of the world, of our planet, joining with others in its healing. Let’s give it a start.”
During the days of Peg’s dry fast she was writing fervidly about this being a prophetic moment in time, “for a new world filled with the energy, humility and love for our beloved planet.”
Be a part of fulfilling this prophecy; this was her dream!
“Granny” Laurie Granger, Eugene
A COLD CHRISTMAS
What kind of society allows a young, vulnerable, developmentally disabled, homeless woman to roam the streets in a thin sweater on a freezing Christmas night? No matter what you think of homeless people, those who are not able to take care of themselves or protect themselves should not be left out to wander the streets in freezing weather.
It was my first week of volunteering for the Egan Warming Center when this sweet woman came in. She was too afraid to stay, so we went for a walk and looked at some pretty Christmas lights, but then she got too cold. All the donated coats had already been taken. We went back inside but there she was nervous around so many people.
Another volunteer went to her own house and returned with her own coat to give to this woman. Later she calmed down enough to lie down on her mat and go to sleep. The volunteers were all great, caring and patient, but a vulnerable woman like her should not have to depend on random kindness to help her.
This is insanity and this is one reason why I am supporting Bernie Sanders. Our current government is saturated in greed and fraud and it has to stop. There are enough resources to take care of people and our needs if we get rid of the corruption. Bernie is the one to do it; he is not beholden to the rich and greedy, but only to us, the people.
Ellen Furstner, Marcola
Illustration by Jeff Drew
BABY CHRISTIAN TRUMP
Great news. The New York Times reports that James Dobson, one of the nation’s most influential evangelical leaders, has declared that Donald Trump has been born again. According to Dobson, he was “led to Christ” by an unnamed associate.
Although Trump continues to use language typically considered coarse and un-Christian, Dobson says we should “cut him some slack. He didn’t grow up like we did. He’s a baby Christian.”
Evangelical Christians can now vote for the Donald with a clear conscience. Praise the Lord.
Paul Wilson, Eugene
A small group of armed white Christian militiamen take over a federal building in southeast Oregon. The sheriff claims these men have intentions to overthrow the county and federal governments. These men, some of whom crossed state lines to get here, claim they have no intentions of leaving, have stocked up food and have a generator.
This isn’t the first time. A similar scenario occurred at the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy in 2014. Even though the “protestors” ignored lawful orders given to them by local and federal law enforcement officials and pointed their weapons at federal law enforcement officials, the government backed down and left them alone. As far as I know, the government has yet to collect any of the grazing fees (over $1 million) owed by the Bundy family for grazing their cattle on our public lands.
If these “protesters” had been of some other religion, race or foreign nationality, would they have been dealt with the same way? Recent events would suggest otherwise. This country is governed by the rule of law, which does allow some latitude.
However, if the government were to correctly recognize these people as terrorists, as their actions clearly indicate, there would be no latitude given, and law enforcement would meet the threat with overwhelming force.
If these people think they are protestors and not terrorists, we should refer to them with appropriately less severe names such as Yocal Haram, Ya’ll Quada or Vanilla ISIS.
Jay Schwartz, Eugene
Capstone [see “Tax Exempt, Design Optional: A review of MUPTE design requirements past and present” story Jan. 7] got the scent of ignorant hillbillies and took full advantage. Duh?
Marilyn Mantini, Eugene
DECISION ALREADY MADE?
Raise your hand if, public input aside, you fear that the city of Eugene has already decided to privatize Kesey Square.
Walker T. Ryan, Eugene
Illustration by Jeff Drew
When Montana State paleontologist Jack Horner recently spoke at the University of Oregon, it was as though Dr. Frankenstein himself had arrived on campus.
Horner spoke of his efforts to “reverse engineer” a dinosaur. That is, to genetically manipulate a chicken — an evolutionary descendant of dinosaurs — so that the resulting animal will, in some way, physically resemble a dinosaur. This may involve attempting to add a long tail, altering the shape of the skull, changing the skeletal structure of the limbs and on and on.
The guiding idea is that if evolution could trace a path from velociraptor to modern chicken, then humanity should be able to chart a course in the reverse direction from chicken back to raptor.
Of course, the great sin of Dr. Frankenstein was hubris and an unexamined assumption that, for him, nothing is off limits or could ever be prohibited. But Horner’s macabre endeavors transgress on the sacred; they are an insult to the living world.
If nothing else, respect for animals must bar treating them as a mere assemblage of component parts and desirable features to be rearranged and manipulated for one’s amusement or curiosity.
Ian Smith, Eugene
ART COMMUNITY OF EXILE
Through the symbolic fabric of local art and life, EW Arts Editor Alex V. Cipolle’s writings about the closing of the Jacobs Gallery Feb. 4 [“Art - It Could Happen Here: With the Jacobs Gallery closure, the visual arts community needs help, but who’s going to pay for it?”] describes an art community of exile and vulnerability as one after another local gallery closes.
I’ve presented two solo installations at the Jacobs, been in 10 Mayor’s Art Shows, as well as serving twice on the Mayor’s Art Show jury. The Mayor’s Art Show, as well at New Zone’s version of the Salon des Refuses, were serious endeavors, important to many local artists whose selected or rejected artworks are showcased in these not-for-profit organizations.
How important are these shows to artists? Most artists in Lane County are less concerned about fame or making it into the latest version of Janson’s History of Art than they are about living here in relative comfort.
So what if the city has only a few commercial galleries, no significant art market and a small group of critical reviewers to help create a dialogue and build an informed audience? If an artist is lucky, his or her work would be accepted in the annual Mayor’s Show, and if rejected, shown in the Salon.
And if an artist is really lucky, he or she will be invited to show at Maude Kerns Art Center, LCC Art Department Gallery, UO Adell McMillan Gallery or UO Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. If an artist is really, really lucky, his or her next exhibit might be reviewed or previewed in EW or The Register-Guard.
There has to be more, a dialogue that creates an informed audience that is buying art for more than decorative elements to enhance a blank wall. We need a community that views art as an investment fostering further growth and an understanding of contemporary visual art.
In many ways Eugene is sliding backwards with the closing of the Jacobs Gallery and the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA) as well as the Gallery at the Watershed.
We need, desperately, a stronger sense of our own artistic history as a city. We need a sense that art made in Lane County can emerge from the sphere of private lives and take on a meaningfully public, historical dimension. This means commitment to ongoing preservation and re-examination of art exhibits, particularly those in the nonprofit and commercial sectors, to mount analytical and historical exhibits like, say, those presented at the Schnitzer Museum and Karin Clark Gallery.
Finally, an excellent start toward preservation of local art history would be informative catalogs of exhibitions presented in our own community.
Mike E. Walsh, Eugene
You have made it quite clear that you hate Hillary Clinton with that hideous “artwork” on your cover of March 24. I actually laughed because it was so blatant. Diseased skin, huge wrinkles and actual blood dripping around her. All I can say, I guess, is that I am a fervent supporter of this tough, brilliant woman. She is bloody but unbowed. Viva la presidenta!
Deanna Kuhn, Eugene
EDITOR’S NOTE: Artist Jeremy Okai told EW “I wanted her to appear powerful, especially being the first viable female candidate to run for president.”
Who the fuck is Rick Levin and why the fuck can’t he use a more creative and illustrative verb than “fuck” in the subtitle of a movie review [1/28]? Please buy him a fucking thesaurus or send him to the fucking J-School to learn some fucking new words.
This paper should be for everyone, not just the fuckety fucks. Love,
Lara Sheridan, Eugene
LOCAL DEMOCRACY IGNORED
Library. Police station. City Hall. Civic Stadium. Capstone. EMX extension. Willamette bike lanes. None of these city-altering initiatives won voter approval (voting to staff the library isn’t approval; it’s resignation). In fact, the first two went down to multiple voter defeats over years. Our mayor and council members cynically decided to go it alone on the others, not risking certain defeat in the face of overwhelming opposition (polls so showing).
The architects proposing a Kesey Square redo won (not the first try!) the City Hall “competition.” Does anyone doubt who will prevail in Kesey Square? And the unpopular Multi-unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) — does anyone question that officials will extend it? Park Blocks plans: whereto the vagrants that dominate during non-market hours?
Is there any city that pays greater lip service to inclusiveness? “Come, speak to us, participate in meetings, join advisory committees!” And be ignored.
Bend. Salem. Corvallis. None of these has the setting of our Eugene, with lofty Skinner Butte — and none of them allowed a Ya-Po-Ah obscenity. In a city boasting resources of a respected architectural faculty, this continued despoiling is shameful. It is tragic.
And, in its dismissal of the will of the citizenry, it is profoundly un-American.
Jayme Vasconcellos, Eugene
Actual Voicemail received Monday
at 9:20 AM:
This is regarding the flyer disrespecting Springfield
In the recent Eugene Weekly article,
Uhhh … if you are listening to this …
I hope you are FUCKED for the company that you work for running such a shitty fucking article about any business in Oregon ... or town in Oregon.
And that your whole fucking newspaper is wrong.
And you guys oughtta just fucking BURN AND DIE!
Editor’s note: The employees of EW would very much not like to fucking burn and die. [Response to “All Quiet on the Eastern Front” Springfield cartoon by Ben Ricker]
BAD CIG ADS
I find it very interesting that the Weekly condemns the use of herbicides and seems to strive for healthy, natural choices and yet will be willing to run full-page ads for cigarettes. You are aware that cigarettes cause cancer and a host of other maladies that have been plaguing society for decades, right?
I am sure that full-page ad is not cheap, so it is clear that your need for the almighty dollar gets in the way of your basic sense of right and wrong. Make the right choice and get rid of the cancer. It is the right thing to do.
John Carlson, Eugene
A MODEST PROPOSAL
I am making a trip to Eugene in July and was reading EW’s “Best of Eugene” to get an idea of the culture and the city. I enjoyed the article until I came to the “Extras” section, “Best Places to Take Your Kids.”
For a paper that lists cultural diversity and tolerance in its mission statement, I was deeply disappointed at the flippant attitude of hate toward children. If the threat of being “rounded up and ‘cremated’” had been directed toward any other group or minority, regardless of race, religion, gender, orientation or age, it would most certainly warrant and receive a public outcry.
Treating the murder and imprisonment of children with off-hand humor is irresponsible, using that particular imagery is egregious and I can’t understand why you would give those ideas any validation by printing them. Hate speech is hate speech, no matter at whom it is directed, especially children.
Heather Bair, Los Angeles, California
EDITOR’S NOTE: The suggestion to round up and “cremate” children came from a reader’s Best of ballot.
Last Mother’s Day, May 8, many of us celebrated the powerful bond between mother and child. Tragically, the worldwide symbols of motherhood — dairy cows — never get to see or nurture their babies.
Newborn calves are torn from their mothers at birth, so we can seize and drink the milk that mother cows produce for them. The powerless, distraught mothers bellow for days, hoping in vain for their babies’ return. The babies are kept alive elsewhere to soon become veal cutlets.
Dairy cows spend their lives on a concrete floor, chained, with no outdoor access. To maintain their milk flow, they are artificially impregnated each year. Around four years of age, their milk production drops and they are turned into hamburgers.
Let’s honor motherhood and our natural compassion by refusing to subsidize cruelties of the dairy industry. Let’s replace cow’s milk and its products, laden with fat and cholesterol, with delicious, healthful, cruelty-free nut or soy-based milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream offered in every grocery store. Mother cows and our own bodies will thank us.
Edward Newland, Springfield
Why the big fuss about the University of Oregon’s Greek culture trashing Shasta Lake? If you live near the university (as we do), every year — long about this time — dozens of rental houses vomit forth dilapidated couches, mattresses, busted IKEA furniture and bags of random crap over the parking strips and street, often to sit there for weeks before somebody comes along and cleans it up.
No news here.
Lea Jones, Eugene
Illustration by Jeff Drew
DONE WITH HIDING
The fencing of places where homeless people camp isn’t really about trash. If it was, the city would be providing trashcans and portable potties at locations all over Eugene, along with a lot more managed shelter. Instead, it spends money on services that people have to walk to, carrying all of their possessions, and policing to keep them from camping.
What the fences are really about is trying to force the homeless to hide, to be invisible, so their very existence doesn’t offend the middle class and give the lie to the American way of life. The talk about trash is meant to justify this and demonize the homeless — to portray them as trash.
As activists, we need to understand the difference between protest and resistance. Protest is useful in focusing public attention on a problem, but it doesn’t make those in power do anything. Protest may, in fact, provide a useful social safety valve for people to vent while allowing the politicians and the middle-class folks who elect them to continue business as usual.
Resistance, on the other hand, creates a cost for business-as-usual that makes it more difficult to continue doing it. It inflicts pain and is much harder to ignore.
As a resistance response to the fencing, I suggest that activists publicly designate the fenced areas as dumps for homeless trash and feces, and encourage the homeless to use them to deposit their waste. Create a real problem that the authorities cannot ignore, a cost to business as usual. Tell the community that we are done with hiding and we don’t recognize their authority.
Lynn Porter, Eugene
EDITOR’S NOTE: Eugene Weekly does not condone pooping as a form of protest.
Well, I feel very sorry upon hearing of the tragedy at Orlando. But as I took up my Bible, I opened at the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. After re-reading chapter and verse, I can’t help but think God is giving us an example of his punishment for perverts and deviants. You cannot escape the eye of the Lord!
Lon Miller, Drain
Lon Miller, [Letters, 6/30] when I was reading your response to the editor in the Weekly, I opened up the Bible and opened it to Ezekiel Chapter 16: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
The Christian God did not mention a thing about the lovely butt sex that must have been going on in Sodom when accounting for the sins of Sodom. Arrogant people who turn away the poor and needy are the sinners of Sodom!
As a decent person, people being shot at and killed certainly qualify as the needy in my book.
Bonnie Doran, Eugene
William Kennedy’s “attack” of James Taylor [“The Good, the Bad and the Noodly,” July 14] is nothing short of a pebble sneering at the ocean.
Michael Billings, Eugene
As I write this I stand over a pile of wadded up and crushed copies of Eugene Weekly, and in front of me is a pile of burning Eugene Weeklys. This wasn’t malicious, simply coincidental, but I realized that the Eugene Weekly does so much for so many people who never read the poorly written articles within your “paper.”
I picked up several stacks of EW as packing material for moving. This protected my various glasses and china quite well, kudos. Once done moving into my new house, it was time to fire up the barbecue, and EW was again to the rescue as the cheap printing material is fantastically flammable.
These events gave me an epiphany: If literally nobody reads EW anymore because of the corporate bias blatant in their poorly written articles, what are people using EW for?
I listed the top five uses for EW: #1 toilet paper for the homeless; #2 packing material; #3 BBQ starter; #4 floor covering to collect animal droppings; #5 paper crafts like origami/ paper maché.
Please get better journalists, editors, and stop being an embarrassment to our city.
Stefan Strek, Eugene
FLUSH THE TOILET
Kudos to our next CIC, POTUS, Donald J. Trump.
He pulled off the biggest con in history.
He played the fear card on the American sheeple like a Stradivarius (if Stradivarius had made dog whistles or bullhorns).
He exposed to the world the truth of the “Ugly American.”
After the party of “I hope he fails” managed to plug the toilet of our democracy, Trump as the biggest, greasiest, shiniest turd, was able to rise to the top.
America’s chicken hawk karma has come home to roost.
The next four years will be a test to see if love can really trump hate.
If not, I think Mother Earth will flush the toilet on her own.
Michael T. Hinojosa, Eugene
“Tech is more like Gandalf than Sauron in its relationship to the Shire. For now, Gandalf is bringing some exciting fireworks to the Shire, which entertain but don’t particularly impact the daily lives of many of our nobler residents. As the author alludes, the scouts of Sauron already did come through the Shire, but haven’t really left that much of a mark — yet. Those in the Shire who choose to follow Gandalf now may be in for the adventure of their life, not always pleasant, but upon their return could be the key to ensuring sustainability of the lifestyle we all enjoy. A grinding decline into 'equal opportunity poverty for all' may be our future 'alternative lifestyle' if we choose to insist that the wrenching socio-economic and technological changes in the wider world will leave us alone as long as we just keep ignoring them...”
— Chris Hazen on “And in the Darkness Bind Them: Inside Eugene’s cult of tech," Sept. 22
“Possibly the best writing I’ve ever seen in the Eugene Weekly. It captures an important part of the beating heart of Eugene — its magnificence, its humanity, even its human flaws and errors. It’s also energizing and gives hope. Let’s cut through the bullshit and actually work through the problems we face. Onward.”
— Nathan Zebrowski on “Citizen Terry: No waste goes to waste on Terry McDonald’s watch, Aug. 25
“Every Issue of Eugene Weekly = blah blah Trans community blah blah rape culture blah blah blah homeless rights blah blah kitty Piercy needs to listen blah blah blah marijuana ads blah blah blah misogyny blah blah blah black lives matter blah blah blah.”
Oct. 21, one star
“Well, best issue so far. Best Of. Dont mind the Mary Jane ads, it’s a free country. Other than that the Op Ed is nothing short of Chicago Communist Pravda… What crap. You dont have to be a Left Wing moon bat to like good weed, food, beer, art or be accepting of the LGBT folks. So quit shoving your Commie BS down peoples throats.”
Nov. 5, one star