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Lead Stories

Cats love to put their butts in your face. It’s a feline way of saying “Hello.” What’s truly disturbing is when there is a host of little worms all wiggling out of kitty’s bottom, saying “Hello,” too. For such fastidious animals, cats can carry a whole lot of worms and parasites.

As an educator and as an architect, making the case against recommendations to improve Eugene’s schools may seem difficult. Our children deserve the very best facilities and access to the highest quality education. However, the recommendations in a recent 4J Facilities Master Plan study are so flawed that the case against them is quite easy to make. 

In terms of building type, the recommendations ignore overwhelming research on the academic value of small schools and disregard the evidence supporting neighborhood schools. In terms of process, the evaluation metrics are skewed to justify new construction, the effort failed to account for citizen input, and the naïve hope for funding misinterprets Eugene politics. 

Nothing in this life is certain but death, taxes and the Oregon Country Fair. Here in Eugene, the Fair is part of our very atmosphere; it is the air we breathe. You can feel it coming weeks before it opens, wafting in the breeze like some hippie hurricane about to unleash its (not quite free) love on our stomping grounds.

The Oregon Country Fair is debuting a new addition: This year revelers can stroll along on the maiden voyage of a new loop that veers off through an as-yet-virginal section of the forested fairgrounds. “It’s taken a huge amount of work to put in the new loop,” OCF General Manager Charlie Ruff says. “We’ve been looking at areas to develop new paths for many years.”

In addition to alleviating congestion as visitors make their way through the Fair’s labyrinthine network of trails to areas such as the Upper River Loop and Wooten Way, the loop promises to carry a special appeal for the younger crowd. “We’re always looking for ways to improve the Fair experience for kids,” Ruff explains. He says there will be great activities for youngsters, “which gives parents a chance to see a show or have a little time for themselves.” 

Real Oregon Country Fair-goers remember “Field Trips” with the Dead: the magical times when Kesey and his Merry Pranksters pranced around the grounds, ensuring every last face was stolen off Owsley’s freshest batch, coaxing you to slip into the oblivion of one of Jerry’s jams. Sounds molten just thinking about it.

OK, so maybe the memories are a little fuzzy for Fair family, but regardless, those times created the enchantment, funk and mystical energy that the Oregon County Fair holds to this day. 

Sorry folks, there’s actually no definitive evidence suggesting that Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, to whom the reversed title of this story can be credited, ever made it to the Fair, but it didn’t take more than three years — after the Fair’s beginnings in 1969 — for our annual psychedelic parade in Veneta to start taking on other famous faces.

Carlos Castaneda, peyote proponent and author of The Teachings of Don Juan, was reportedly a multiple attendee to the abstruse happenings of the Fair in the early 1970s, but he wasn’t the only icon to grace OCF grounds with his presence.

Some people go to the Oregon Country Fair to lose their inhibitions, their worries, their minds or all of the above; more often than not, though, they just end up losing their cell phones.

“Smart phones have memories,” a Samsung LG phone recently lost at the Country Fair tells me. “No pun intended,” the phone jokes, flicking an ash from his cigarette into the street where we are talking. 

Randy Lord and Chris Leebrick rolled into town in 1992, their old Buick Park Avenue packed with the worn clothing and stratospheric expectations of young artists. They were fresh out of college and bubbling with an ambitious plan: to create a first-class theater that features only the best actors, produces timeless plays and keeps ticket prices well within the range of us mortals. 

Twenty years later and that plan is still unfolding. With another wildly successful season under its belt and on the brink of opening a new space downtown, Lord Leebrick Theatre Company is celebrating its past accomplishments, while still looking toward the future.

On Medea Benjamin’s first day visiting the Pakistan-Afghan border in 2002, the CodePink: Women for Peace founder met what the U.S. military terms “collateral damage.” 

Roya, a 13-year-old Afghan girl, approached Benjamin on the street with her hand outstretched and her head cocked to one side, begging for money. Roya’s mother and two brothers had been killed in a U.S. drone attack, their house apparently mistaken for part of a nearby Taliban compound. 

How do you quantify a legend? How Sasquatch is Bigfoot? How Loch Ness is Nessie? In the realm of legend, it’s nearly impossible to gauge magnitude — how golden is Eldorado and how deep is Atlantis? 

In the sports world, where myth and legend remain forever tangled by statistics and star-power, legend status is hard-earned, and just as unquantifiable. Is there a measuring stick big enough to do justice to those giants of athleticism, like Jordan or Seles, who heroically rise above all things mundane and capture our admiration? Such figures seem to transcend our speculations and enter another domain — a pantheon.

It’s hot, humid and breezeless inside the Red Cane Theatre, a new Eugene venue sinking fresh roots at West 11th and Chambers. Right next door is Lava Lounge, the bamboo-and-thatch watering hole sprung like a tropical oasis within Ring of Fire Thai restaurant. It’s late afternoon, in an uncommonly flowery month of May, and from the adjacent lounge one of those tall, fruity drinks with a baby umbrella is calling.

Inside the Red Cane, however, the call for happy hour goes unanswered. Opening night approaches. They want those roots sunk deep.

Clouds made the eclipse and Venus’ transit across the sun a little hard to see, but we still know summer is under way.

While the rest of the seasons morph through the different shadows of sopping wetness, the knowledge that here comes the sun, it’s all right, chills Eugene right out in the sunshine. Whether your summer is festivaling, floating or vineyarding, the fast and free or lazy and peaceful pace — you pick — of the Eugene’s other season says you have a cornucopia in front of you, so please partake.

The scavenger hunt is an activity so egregiously underrated by the adult world as naïve or childish that it really sucks the fun out of all that nostalgia. I ask you this: What would a child’s Easter be without an egg hunt? What would playing pirate be without an “X” marking the booty spot?

There is perhaps no better teacher than Mother Nature. Her curriculum is seasonal and her pedagogy is patience. And though we may at times ignore her lessons, her classroom remains willing to receive us. It is this truth that inspired Lydia Scott and Leela Greensberg to create the Grateful Growers Summer Camp for kids age 5-10.

Faerieworlds, the yearly festival that encourages attendees to “live your legend,” returns. Celebrating fantasy, magic and, of course, faeries, this annual event of pixie dust and gossamer wings provides everything a faer-folk enthusiast could want.

All summer events in one spot.

Long, five-car-caravan convoys, open air, live music, face paint, dehydration, hordes of howling drunks with beers in hand and marijuana smoke rising in plumes above their heads: These are the tropes of summer for those who love music festivals, and there’s no shortage when it comes to these monstrous gatherings.

With summer comes the weather we all love here in Oregon. Raincoats are removed, flip-flops are slipped on and outdoor patios open up. No one knows this last part better than local winery patrons. Summer is wine time.

And Oregon is wine country. But wine contains alcohol, and this does not mix well with driving unless you want to leave pieces of yourself scattered along our state’s scenic byways or spend a night in the clink. Sure, you could motor out to one of the many wineries and have one, maybe two glasses of excellent Oregon pinot, then safely drive your sweetheart back home. Certain occasions, however, call for more than one glass of wine; more than one bottle of wine; hell, maybe even more than a few bottles. Sometimes the circumstances of celebration call for excess (as well as safety) — and nothing says excess like a limousine.

“I try not to paint eyelashes, unless they are really important,” says artist Lynda Lanker, whose portraits of women of the West are as intimate and forthright as the flesh-and-blood women they depict. Though some of Lanker’s work is so detailed that for a moment the portraits appear to be photographs, even her more abstract pieces capture a sense, a feeling, of these generations of ranch women and cowgirls. 

“Tough by Nature” represents almost 20 years’ worth of painting, sketching and interviewing 49 women in 13 western states. It captures not just a moment in time, but also a spirit. The exhibit, which is accompanied by a book featuring the portraits and interviews with the women, presents Lanker’s work in pencil and charcoal, oil pastel, egg tempera, plate and stone lithography, engraving and drypoint. “Tough by Nature” opens at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) at the University of Oregon on July 1.

Minutes after walking away from the oldest coffee tree in the world, Silje Heyland, a German college student studying fair-trade coffee practices in Ethiopia, had a sudden urge to go back. “Perhaps we can eat lunch under the tree,” she suggested. The rest of our expedition party — wet, tired, muddy, hungry — looked at her with unsympathetic eyes and decided it would be better to eat lunch at a nearby village, where there were primitive huts to duck into for shelter against the afternoon thunderstorm.

At first, it seemed possible that what started as a military mutiny on March 22 might simply blow over. After a few days of sheltering in my apartment, I emerged to find Bamako, the capital of the West African nation of Mali, just as I had left it. Besides an underlying uncertainty over just exactly how Mali’s government would shape out, the mood was bright and the city would be as colorful as always. At work, a USAID youth-development project, most of my colleagues insisted the coup could be a positive step for Mali. They believed Amadou Toumani Touré, Mali’s ousted president, to be the head of a horribly corrupt government that was a democracy in name only.

City Hall was a lauded public building when it was built in 1964, with wood fins symbolizing Oregon’s connection to the forests, a very public terrace and a design that bubbled with democratic values and encouraged a connection between government and citizenry that wasn’t dominated by an imposing tower.

But after years rusting in the garage, Eugene’s own City Chitty Bang Bang might be razed rather than remade into something special.

in the U.S., fútbol is a sport that’s overshadowed by football. Mainstream sports networks rarely cover soccer unless it is around the time of World Cup — and it’s no stretch of the imagination to say that there are more than a handful of Americans who have no idea when the next World Cup will be (2014, in Brazil). 

For the record, that World Cup is exclusively the domain of international men’s soccer teams — it’s probably even safer to say that a greater amount of Americans are unaware of when the next women’s World Cup is (2015, in Canada), or even that a women’s World Cup exists.  

Et tu, Andy Stahl? Political smears are hardly a modern phenomenon, nor is political intrigue. You can’t throw a stick at the corpus of Shakespearean tragedy without hitting one in which a character is killed or victimized through the evil machinations of another. To the audience of a play, it’s soon made clear who the true villains are, but in politics where we are not just the audience but actually part of the action — all the world’s a stage — who the good guys are can get a little unclear once the mud-slinging begins.