• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Lead Stories

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.”

Every other year, University of Oregon professor Marc Schlossberg takes his students to the Netherlands or Denmark — Copenhagen is a bicycling utopia, where 45 percent of people commute by bike. It’s a cyclist’s dream come true.

Students from Eugene explore the European streets by bike, opening their eyes to a world where people take cycling seriously. 

“My mind was blown by the things I saw in Copenhagen,” writes student Holly Hixon in a 2015 compilation of the students’ reflections on the class. “The cycle track system is so complete, comfortable, heavily used by every type of person you can imagine and is ingrained in their way of life as a major form of transportation.”

Filching a page from one of the most baffling political campaigns of the modern era, we asked you to help us Make Eugene Great Again by voting in our annual Best of Eugene readers’ poll. The trouble with governing Eugene by consensus is getting a city of punks, losers, college kids, transients, misfits, strays, normals, hillbillies, skippers, artists, techies and hippies to agree on one definition of greatness. Maybe you prefer Eugene to be a dingy crater with reasonable rents. Could be you’d like to see Eugene clean up its act once and for all. Rather than doing much research or studying trends or even lifting a finger to determine the will of the people, we printed (again for the 20th time, or so) a ballot in the pages of our newspaper and waited. And a few thousand of you responded. Some of you maybe even voted your consciences.

 

 

Best desserts

1. Sweet Life Patisserie 755 Monroe St., 1609 E. 19th Ave. 683-5676. sweetlifedesserts.com.

2. Noisette Pastry Kitchen 200 W. Broadway. 654-5257. noisettepk.com.

 

 

Best artist

1. Shanna Trumbly trumblydesigns.com.

2. Ila Rose ilarose.com.

3. Sarah Sedwick sarahsedwick.com.

 

On a misty October afternoon, six of us — adults ages 27 to 45 — stand in a strip mall parking lot, high-fiving, wiping sweat from our brows and giggling, rowdy from the silliness and mental acrobatics of the past few hours. We stroll over to nearby Dizzy Dean’s Donuts to reward and replenish ourselves with sticky treats for unraveling an ancient Egyptian mystery and surviving a bloodthirsty zombie attack. 

I mean, come on folks, how much do you accomplish in a workday?

Police in August responded to calls from a South Carolina school saying that scary clowns tried luring some kids into the nearby woods. Around the same time and not far away, goofballs in face paint and fright wigs taunted a little boy outside the apartment complex where he lives.

Law enforcement agencies from Eugene to Florida, and beyond, are fielding panicked calls from traumatized parents who say demented jokers are harassing their little ones.

Local writer and filmmaker Henry Weintraub suspects that the horror genre has come to a dead end.

“Modern horror movies don’t really capture me too much,” Weintraub says. “It’s so formulaic. I don’t love a horror movie that’s come out in the last 20 years.”

This, coming from an independent filmmaker whose first full-length feature movie was a zombie flick (Melvin, 2009) followed by a gritty noir thriller (The Darkest Side of Paradise, 2010) and a dark comedy about a wanna-be serial killer (Killing Me, 2012). With these films, promising as they are for such a young talent, Weintraub feels that he’s gone about as far as he can go in a genre that is now dominated by big-budget rehash, like the Saw franchise.

U.S. President 

Hillary Clinton (D) vs. Donald Trump (R), Gary Johnson (L), Jill Stein (G)