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Sniffing out what you shouldn’t miss in the arts this week

It’s hard to imagine creatures more enigmatic than the gray whales that migrate along the Oregon coast each year. Ever since the ban on the commercial slaughter of gray whales took effect in the 1930s, the species has slowly recovered, and now thousands of these graceful marine mammals make the yearly journey up and down the West Coast, from Alaska to Baja California and back.

Each summer, around 200 whales decide that Oregon is the place to be, and rather than go back to Alaska for the summer, they stop in Oregon and hang out until it’s time to return to Mexico. 

As soon as I step through the door, my nose fills with that universal sex-shop smell, a combination of chlorine and something sort of sweetish and sweaty and overripe. The guy behind the Plexiglas says “23 bucks,” and I push him three crisp 20s, apologizing for a lack of smaller bills. Yeah, baby, I’m cool! He gives me back a 20 and then my actual change, and slips a small voucher, room keys (no. 161, no TV), two blue Lifestyles rubbers and a bleached towel through the change trough.

Thanks to a gun law in Texas, Eugene is now home to relationship author and blogger Duana Welch. She moved to Eugene last year after her home state of Texas passed a law allowing guns in classrooms. As a college instructor, Welch says she retired in protest, and she and her husband moved to Eugene in search of political ideals more closely matched to their own.

Welch brings to Eugene a wealth of knowledge on science-based dating advice. She runs the online blog LoveScience and wrote the book Love Factually, a guide to finding love based on scientific studies and data. She’s currently teaching a class at Ophelia’s Place that elaborates on the book’s concepts. 

EW sat down with Welch to find out what science has to say about relationships.

Only a year ago, Kelly Middle School science teacher Dustin Dawson expressed his concern at a school board meeting that Eugene School District 4J wasn’t moving fast enough to adopt new science curriculum. At the time, some of 4J’s schools were using 20-year-old textbooks with outdated information written before Pluto was declassified as a planet and before the human genome was sequenced. Dawson was supplementing his classes with his own material.

Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce President Dave Hauser recently weighed in on the future of Kesey Square in his weekly email Feb. 5, “The Chamber Rundown,” to Chamber members.

On Nov. 17, the Chamber voted to endorse the controversial 2E Broadway proposal — the proposal to buy Kesey Square and put an apartment building on it — when most citizens were still wrapping their heads around the fact that Kesey Square was even up for sale.

• Weyerhaeuser Company, 744-4600, plans to aerial and ground spray 416.8 acres in the greater Lorane area near Tucker, Crow, Kelly, Farman, Redford and Shaw Creeks with 2,4-D, atrazine, clopyralid, glyphosate, hexazinone, sulfometuron methyl, Crosshair, Foam Buster and/or Grounded. See ODF notification 2016-781-01556, call Brian Peterson at 935-2283 with questions. 

The May election might be a primary, but how a local candidate does in that election — only a couple short months away — can determine the final winner for the position.

In the nonpartisan elections for both the Eugene City Council and the Lane County Board of Commissioners, if a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes in the primary, then that person’s name is the only one that shows up on the November ballot. 

On Jan. 30, several members of a group called Save TV Butte held signs at the gates of King Estate Winery reading  “Wines not Mines” and “WTF? King Estate.” 

• A discussion about Eugene’s Downtown Urban Renewal District (DTURD, to some) at the City Council work session Feb. 8 offered indications of some councilors’ disregard for the public trust. DTURD diverts a portion of property taxes away from city, county and schools for projects intended to improve Eugene’s urban center. In general, the council agrees that DTURD projects, such as upgrading the city’s internet infrastructure, merit further consideration, but only a few questioned the ethics of renewing a program they pledged five years ago not to renew.

• Another report on Oregon’s fast-growing economy has come out of the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) and the numbers look great, except for the disparity. Sound familiar? Oregon’s economy is a reflection of the national economy, and the unequal sharing of prosperity is a hot topic in the presidential primary debates. Oregon’s steady economic growth since 1997 has outpaced the national economy significantly. Only North Dakota with its oil boom has exceeded Oregon between 2001 and 2014.

• The Eugene Police Commission meets at 5:30 pm Thursday, Feb. 11, at EPD Headquarters, 300 Country Club Road. Public comments top the meeting agenda. Contact person is Carter Hawley, 682-5852.

Maybe it’s that my children and I twice spent spring vacations at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the early 1980s, when water was unusually plentiful and the birds at dawn were a cacophony. Or that we hiked near the refuge to see pre-dawn sage grouse males burbling like coffee percolators with inflated chests while the females feigned disinterest.

And then, in 1983, there was the memorably titled book, Sacred Cows at the Public Trough, written by former Malheur Wildlife Refuge naturalists Denzel and Nancy Ferguson. It was a ground-breaking book about, well, breaking of the ground.

A search for escarole seed late last summer led me to the excellent website of Adaptive Seeds (adaptiveseeds.com). The seed they sent so promptly (for escarole “Diva” and a locally bred fava bean, “Aprovecho”) was terrific, delivering uniform, vigorous germination at a rate close to 100 percent. “Diva” has proved exceptionally cold-hardy, and the beans are growing strong. 

“I have worked as a caregiver, a CNA or home health aide since age 18,” says Troi, who grew up in Issaquah, Washington, and moved to Seattle in her early 20s. “I’ve specialized in hospice and developmental disabilities.” When her brother committed suicide early in 2004, Troi, who goes only by the one name, took a year off from work to intern at the Lost Valley Educational Center near Dexter, Oregon. “I was an entrenched urbanite, transplanted to a rustic rural environment,” she says. “It was lifesaving. I realized how much tension I was carrying, living in the city.

When I returned from my last visit to Malheur in early January, my friend Gail Hoelzle told me about another Cottage Grover named Jessica Campbell, who was over in Burns during the occupation, working as a community organizer for Oregon’s Rural Organizing Project (ROP). Gail’s description of what this young woman has been through was compelling. What follows derives from two interviews I did with Jessica Campbell.

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Badi Assad comes from a distinguished Brazilian musical family, but she’s blazed new trails, not just as a guitarist (like her brothers Sergio and Odair) but also as a vocalist and body-and-vocal percussionist. Her musical vision broadened to embrace jazz, pop and world music, including collaborations with jazz giants John Abercrombie and Larry Coryell, as well as covers of U2, Bjork, Tori Amos and more. 

FRIVILOUS LAWSUIT

Our four “conservative” (Ha ha! — “Give us more money folks, but we don’t believe in big government!”) county commissioners must be visiting the pot shops a lot these days, ‘cause they’re sinking deeper into their old pipe dream that wiping out the local forests will somehow improve life in Lane County. 

Gay male in my late 20s. I recently ended things with a guy. Our relationship started as a strictly sexual one. We’re both involved in the kink scene in our city and have interests that align in a particularly great way. Quickly it became clear there was a real connection. The next two months were great! I had a toothbrush at his place within three weeks. But early on, I noticed that he was a much more extroverted person than I was. He would laugh loudly at movies, work the room at parties, say things about kink in the middle of crowded restaurants. I prefer to blend in.

Valentine hugs and kisses to all y’all! But first:

Last month, we glanced briefly at benefits of maturing (aging) fine wines. The subject is too complex for one skimpy piece. Besides, we must tell the story of Bill Wilson, about time and wine and love.

First impressions can be deceptive. Take, for instance, Joel and Ethan Coen, whose movies seem distinctly built to not be watched but re-watched. Usually, for me, the initial pass through a Coen brothers film proves a strangely tepid affair — The Big Lebowski and Brother, Where Art Thou? felt flat and disjointed the first time around — and it’s not until I return for a second and third look that things start to resonate and deepen. It is only upon multiple viewings, for instance, that movies like No Country for Old Men, Fargo and especially Miller’s Crossing have revealed themselves as modern masterpieces — rich, durable and endlessly rewarding.

STRFKR frontman Josh Hughes thinks a good bit about living without a home — an intentional, rent-free kind of unhoused lifestyle: van dwellers, guys living out of old school buses. 

“There’s some baseball player who lives in his van,” Hughes explains. “It’s not even about a money thing; it just fits his lifestyle.” 

Eugene: The World’s Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors.

That was Eugene’s, ahem, slightly overstated city slogan until 2010. 

The city then rolled it back to:

Eugene: A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors. 

Never has the chasm between “the” and “a” been so wide.

As of Jan. 31, the Jacobs Gallery, located in the basement of the Hult Center — the only city-subsidized visual arts venue — closed after 18 years. Perhaps the powers that be should tone the slogan down once more:

Eugene: A City Where People Go Outdoors.