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Outgoing Eugene City Councilor George Brown is not a politician; he’s a city government nerd, a bespectacled wonk. Not in the wide-eyed, soaked-in-sunny-positivity vein of Leslie Knope (of Parks and Recreation fame), but in a gruff, pragmatic, detail-oriented fashion. 

After eight years on the council, the Wichita native (he’s lived in Eugene since 1970) has a basement-full of papers in his home from completed, bygone or stalled city projects. There’s a waist-high tower of documents pertaining to Civic Stadium alone, which he describes as “nostalgic” after the historic venue burned down. 

Political leaders leave legacies — Eugene’s first woman mayor Ruth Bascom is remembered as the “bicycling mayor” after establishing bike and pedestrian paths around town during her tenure from 1993-96. 

As now-former mayor Kitty Piercy winds down her stint from January 2005 to January 2017 as Eugene’s second-longest serving mayor, many have wondered what her legacy will be.

The natural world has its regular rhythms disrupted by natural disasters like ice storms, much the way human environments change.

Incense cedar trees have proven much more susceptible to damage from an ice load than Douglas fir. The recent ice storm brought down incense cedar branches in much greater numbers than Douglas fir. The incense cedar’s ecological adaptation to the warmer end of the forest zone allowed them to evolve into a species with weak branches. They are not resistant to snow or ice. Key elements to surviving a disaster seem to be adaptability and resilience.

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.

Christmas-Jesus: A religious message on a banner downtown has stirred controversy this holiday season, with more than 140 comments and replies blowing up a post on outgoing Mayor Kitty Piercy’s official Facebook page.

The sign in question reads, “CHRISTMAS Attend a Church of Your Choice” and “JESUS Celebrate His Birth.” Since the banner is stretched across the public street of 8th Avenue, some citizens argue that it’s in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.

An immense old oak tree crushed Kaye Parsons’  garage roof during December’s record-breaking ice storm in Eugene that knocked out power to thousands. 

Parsons can show you the enormous tilted stump of the tree, which also smashed through her wood fence on a hilly part of West 29th Avenue in the Friendly Street neighborhood. Piles of chopped branches from hundreds of fallen trees are stacked in many front yards of this venerable Eugene neighborhood. 

• Eugene got a windfall of sorts with a nearly $19 million Comcast payment from a fee for broadband services. Take $8.7 million of that payment and put it towards a new City Hall and suddenly the Eugene City Council has $27.45 million to play around with. Woohoo! Or wait, not so fast. The citizens of Eugene have a long history of not wanting to spend a bunch of cash on City Hall, and the city has a long history of making rash decisions about City Hall. More urgently than a fancy city hall, what this area needs is a good homeless shelter.

350 Eugene is off and running in the New Year. On Monday, Jan. 9, from 4-5 pm, activists will meet at the Federal Courthouse, 405 E. 8th Avenue, to protest Trump’s climate denier cabinet nominees, 350 organizer Betzi Hitz says. And on Wednesday, Jan. 11 from 6-9 pm at the First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive, the Winter 350 Eugene Meetup will combine a potluck, campaign reports and strategies discussion. “This is the place and time to plug in,” Hitz says. On Friday, Jan. 13 from 6-9 pm also at 1376 Olive non-violent direct action training is offered.

A recent audit of Business Oregon, the state’s economic development department, will likely generate more local debate about economic development incentives. I spent about 15 years working for the state economic development department and, after learning about the state audit, my first reaction was: It’s about time. 

While I know from experience that incentives are an important business recruitment tool, in my time at Business Oregon I saw a lot of abuse of incentives and very little accountability. The audit was right on the mark. Let’s hope that it does some good. Accountability for incentives has been way overdue at Business Oregon. 

Republicans Donald Trump and Dennis Richardson do not lack chutzpah! Both the recently elected president and the recently elected Oregon secretary of state were already making headlines prior to their coronations. 

Trump’s carnival of cabinet picks and the UN-Israeli ruckus speak volumes about what we’re about to hear under Republican control in Washington, D.C. for the next two years. Breitbart News reports that Trump now intends to appoint El Chapo as the next head of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Here at home, Dennis Richardson is demonstrating why he is the first Republican elected to statewide office in Oregon since Abraham Lincoln, according to Breitbart. I love fake news. Actually, the last Republican elected to statewide office in Oregon was U.S. Senator Gordon Smith in 2002. But you have to go back 36 years to Norma Paulus to find a Republican secretary of state.

Mack Gilcrest, primary songwriter with Missoula, Montana-based band Pale People, says his music celebrates the unpopular and disaffected among us.

Eugene is known for a lot of things — its local rap scene is not one of them. Those looking for live lyricism around town usually have to shell out a Jackson at WOW Hall which, granted, attracts an incredible roster of touring rappers year-round. 

PITCHFORKS AND TORCHES

As a third year law student, I find the University of Oregon response to Prof. Nancy Shurtz’ blackface incident disgraceful.

According to the university, the disruption caused by the professor’s costume “was so significant that it outweighed any right that Shurtz has to free speech and academic freedom.” It is patently offensive for the university to assert the right to selectively abide by the Constitution, because state entities have no such ability.

My brother is a virgin and turning 30 in a few weeks. He said he wants to hire an escort just for drinks and conversation for his birthday, but he doesn’t really know how to tell what’s a reliable service or what criteria he should be looking for to tell whether an agency is legit, reliable, etc.

Must be global weirding: A carny barker-snakeoil hustler gets elected president of the U.S.; ice forms on December rosebuds; and in the wine world, someone launches a War of Labels.

How important are labels? They’re just packaging, right? Commonly, a wine label gives the brand name, the varietal, vintage date (if there is one), alcohol percentage, a warning “(contains sulfites”); somewhere on the bottle we find the retail price, critical info. No more, at least for those enlisted in the Label War.

Despite opening to a fairly lukewarm reception in 1943, Casablanca has become one of the most beloved, if not the most beloved, Hollywood films of all time. The film struck an unexpected chord in audiences, and it continues to do so, offering a bittersweet vision of love that is almost cosmic in its implications — a vision in which romantic possibilities remain only possibilities, and soul mates don’t always mate. This is less tragic than resigned.

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.

When you stumble out of a downtown bar next weekend, you may stumble right into a waiting taxi.

Over the Dec. 16 weekend the Eugene Police Department began a program that sets up two taxi staging areas downtown in an attempt to cut down on drunk driving and increase public safety. 

A recent vote by the Lane County Board of Commissioners to fill Sen. Chris Edward’s seat in the Oregon State Legislature drew comment from the governor, the Democratic Party and, most vociferously, the gun lobby.

Before the Dec. 14 vote, the County Commission received several hundred emails from gun-rights activists weighing in against former state representative and Oregon secretary of state candidate Val Hoyle, who was the Democratic Party’s top pick.

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.

Former Lane County Commissioner candidate Dawn Lesley recently reported a bias incident to the City of Eugene’s Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement office. A friend of Lesley’s came to her after seeing swastikas spray-painted on a Trump sign along I-5 in Lane County. 

"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.