• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Lead Stories

You hear the rhythmic metal tick-tock of armor plates clapping against chainmail from a long way off.

The sun sinks in the west as three swordsmen reach the wide cement platform that covers the College Hill Reservoir. 

Kurt Gerhard Studenroth lifts the steel helm from his cranium and offers his winded fellows hot tea from a half-gallon camping flask slung around his waist.

It’s the neoprene thermos that looks uncannily out of place; all other signs indicate we’re looking at Studenroth through a wormhole that connects South Eugene to medieval Europe.

The reality is much simpler than that, though. Think of it this way: Businessmen dress in suits and carry briefcases; police officers patrol the streets wearing guns on their hips and badges over their hearts; knights put on armor and swing swords.

An oceanic change has swept over national and international landscape, something swelling and churning for many years that, regardless of your sociopolitical orientation, seems with the recent election to have broken with all the force of a tsunami.

Regardless of whether we are now facing the collapse of Western civilization and the world as we know it or, instead, the prospect of becoming “great” again, a lot of people are feeling really antsy and uncomfortable these days. Nobody seems to feel fine. Anxiety is going through the roof. The forecast is uncertain.

For our annual Health issue, EW decided it best to take a look at quick, or at least quickish, routes to personal well-being — ways to relieve stress, to deal with input overload, to take the pressure off. Because, really, there’s no way to know what’s actually coming in the months and years ahead, but if you plan on sticking around, you might as well be in a decent and balanced frame of mind, to the extent that such things are possible.

A person’s period doesn’t give a damn whether she’s in the woods, if she has a house or if there’s a trashcan around to take care of the, erm, aftermath.

Cue Animosa, a local start-up company that is redefining menstrual product disposal by creating long-term, sanitary and odor-free period pouches.

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.

"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. 

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.

This year, to help battle the hate, we are using our annual Give Guide to highlight nonprofits and groups that are pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-minority, pro-LGBTQ, pro-environment, anti-bigotry and anti-hate. 

Donate to positive ways to fight the Trump agenda. Some groups could use your tax-deductible donations, others need warm clothes or able bodies. 

Dig deep, and give these people some love.

 

Spite Trump, Save the Earth

Social Issues

Fight for Women and LGBTQ

The NAACP Removes Barriers

Invest in the Arts

Ninety-three years ago, cheeky cubist Pablo Picasso reflected on his career choice, on a life spent scratching away at reality. 

“We all know that art is not truth,” he said. “Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.”

Oh, the truth. In 2016, that pesky know-it-all took a punch to the gut. Facts have been shoved to the back of the line behind our aunt’s Facebook rants and the president-elects gas-lighting Twitter feed. 

Fortunately, the arts don’t care about popular or unpopular opinion. Art won’t coddle insularity. Art is an act of revolution. Art keeps us honest.

Giving to the Civil Liberties Defense and American Civil Liberties Union

What civil rights, right? President-erect Donald Trump — who thinks the Bill of Rights is a crisp twenty — has already tweeted (tweeted, for Christ’s sake) that he would like to either jail people who burn the American flag or revoke their citizenship. For real? Likely we’re heading for one serious clampdown on civil liberties, with the biggest assault coming at our First Amendment rights of free speech, freedom of the press, peaceable assembly, etc.

Treehuggers and Climate Change

The man who once tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive” is now the president-elect of the United States. In the week’s after his election, Donald Trump promptly picked Scott Pruitt, a climate change denialist, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. WTF.

“We serve as a reminder of where we’ve been and where we’re going,” says local NAACP President Eric Richardson. “We call on the United States to live up to its promise and its higher ideals.”   

Richardson is speaking at the NAACP’s offices, in one of the historic Mims houses on High Street. 

The charming home is one of the first African-American-owned buildings in Eugene, purchased by the Mims family in 1948 under the name of a sympathetic white employer. 

At the time, exclusionary laws forbade African-Americans from legally residing inside Eugene’s city limits, let alone buying property. The Mims house became a port for African-American travelers, including luminaries like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, who were not allowed to stay in local hotels in what was then a strictly segregated town.

Whether it’s escapism through fiction or a dive into a nonfiction tome because you want to learn more about the world, the digital age hasn’t stopped us from reading and loving books. Whether we’re on a plane reading history on a Kindle or dropping ketchup on the paper pages of a novel we can’t put down, even to eat, at the kitchen table, books let us live more lives than just our own. Books provide us with a mimesis — a representation of reality — a lifetime in 250 pages. Every year Eugene Weekly staff and writers read the books that we love, or hate, and present them to you in our Winter Reading issue in hopes you curl up, read us, then read some more books.

Winter Reading 2016 - Fiction Reviews

Winter Reading 2016 - Nonfiction Reviews

Winter Reading 2016 - Even More Reviews

Winter Reading 2016 - Top Ten Lists

Read Local: A Roundup

Misfit. A Q&A with Lidia Yuknavitch

Read Electronically with the Eugene Public Library

Lidia Yuknavitch is a beast of an author. Her writing is raw, uncensored and has a strength that can only come from living one hell of a life (check out her Ted Talk “The Beauty of Being a Misfit”). Yuknavitch — a University of Oregon graduate and current literature workshop teacher in Portland — has gone from being a professional swimmer to a mother whose daughter died, and from a dazed lover of substances to a best-selling novelist. Her craft has always been constant in her life: She must write. 

The Eugene Public Library says when it comes to reading, it’s going to stay out of the fray over print ebook versus audio. “In practice, most people enjoy books in each of these ways at different times,” the library’s director, Connie Bennett, says, adding: “At Eugene Public Library, we believe in freedom of format!”

When it comes to “buy local,” that suggestion can apply to your reading as well. Throughout the year, local authors drop off their books at EW or send links to their e-published work. We can’t read them all, but somebody should. So we offer you our annual self-published roundup.

fiction

Willful Disregard: A Novel About Love by Lena Andersson, translated Sarah Death. Other Press, $15.95.

essays

 

If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: The Graduation speeches and Other Words to Live By by Kurt Vonnegut. Seven Stories Press, $23.95.

nonfiction

 

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. Hachette Books, $29.95.

Tsunami Books 

 

Favorites

2585 Willamette Street

541-345-8986

tsunamibooks.org

 

Scott Landfield’s staff pick: 

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Simon and Schuster, $32.50.

 

Store Favorites:  

Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig. Riverhead Books, $28.95.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. Random House, $18.

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.

A massive earthquake, a toxic chemical spill, a huge forest fire. If a disaster strikes the McKenzie River, it strikes Eugene’s sole source of drinking water. There is also the possibility of a “malevolent attack on the water system,” EWEB says. 

In these worst-case scenarios the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) has only one or two days of drinking water in its 94 million gallons of storage during the summer months.

And to put it simply: Without water, people die.

On a hot July afternoon, 23-year-old Nicholas Kaasa travels down Broadway in his power wheelchair. The chair is a machine to behold, tank-like, with three gray wheels on each side. It’s outfitted with headlights and red circular taillights, along with orange hazard lights that flash when needed.

With the push of a button, Kaasa can go vertical: A hydraulic seat lift raises him half a foot from the chair’s base. On the left side is attached a black leather, metal-studded saddlebag of the kind more often found on a Harley; it has a Seattle Seahawks logo and silver letters that spell "ICK." “I should probably find that ‘N,’” Kaasa says.

Kaasa — who has cerebral palsy and vision impairment — cannot walk and uses the wheelchair to get around. When I ask him how fast it can go, he responds: “You want to check that?” And then he’s gone, shooting down the sidewalk at warp speed. His answer when I catch up: “Fast.”