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As the stage faded to black on the final scene of University Theatre’s current production of The Dead, and the cast finished belting out a musicalized version of what might be the finest closing paragraph in all of English fiction, I suddenly found myself clutching my head with both hands. Yes, I tend to overreact. I take no pleasure in relating this, but it must be done.

Some people say there are two sides to every story. Others say three. I wonder how many Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Thirst) would argue for. Park’s latest film, the stunning The Handmaiden, is a glorious exploration of the truth, or a truth: People are made up of the stories they tell, and those stories are rarely entirely reliable.

In a coffeehouse downtown, local artist Alida Bevirt cradles a box in her arms like a delicate fawn. Setting the box on the table, she lovingly pulls out its papery contents: zine after zine after zine. She picks up one wrapped in protective plastic — Apocalypse Dad by Olympia artist Taylor Dow — and more follow, feathering out across the table in all sizes and colors, some as tiny as a matchbook, others larger, bound and glossy. 

Eugene has two park systems with looming funding issues — first, Eugene Parks and Open Space, which has a $2 million budget gap for maintenance plus a backlog of $30 million in deferred maintenance. Then there’s the River Road Park and Recreation District, an unincorporated district with a shrinking tax base.

Local nonprofit (Community Alliance of Lane County) is celebrating its 50 year anniversary, but much of its new leadership is considerable younger that the institution itself. 

Several new staffers at CALC offer youthful exuberance and fresh, modern ideas to a well-established community institution. Adrienne Bennett, 36, is one of those new staffers and was hired this past May. 

Performers don green and yellow, and fly flags as they move about their busy mornings, gathering momentum in their sheer magnitude. Nonverbal cues signal the impetus to swirl towards the stage, as movers walk gingerly along curvy pathways, careening optimistically towards their connected, collaborative vision. Small groups randomly stop to root and chant, sing and swill, even eating, they gather in groupings with one common goal. Inside the performance hall, movers dazzle with this week’s costume, and win or lose, the band plays on. 

In a city that completes projects at a snail’s pace, it’s exciting and refreshing to see the 20X21 Eugene Mural Project take off so fast. The goal: “20 world-class murals in our community by 2021.” The mural effort kicked off in the spring and three murals have already been painted — a colorful, figurative dreamscape by Brazilian art collective Acidum Project in the alley between Cowfish and Killer Burger downtown (pictured); L.A.

On an afternoon when the rain falls in sheets, the federal Wayne L. Morse Courthouse is a beautiful place for a moment of reflection. Hear me out: Once through the metal detector (no cameras, weapons or trampolines, please), the modern white interior envelops you like a labyrinthian womb with natural light filtering in from huge expanses of windows, creating a lovely glowing effect. 

Tricycle races and whiskey drinks. Harleys. Discount RV goods. Guns and exploding targets. What could go wrong? Hop off I-5 at the 30th Avenue exit and instead of heading into Eugene, head east towards Springfield. College View, the little spur road there, is home to an odd cluster of businesses that don’t really lend themselves to a mall-like experience, and that’s why we love it. Don’t be put off by an exterior that one Yelp reviewer likened to “the parking lot of the crime scene of my own murder.” McShanes Bar and Grill has good food and friendly people once you venture inside.

There’s something beautiful about simplicity. And that holds true when it comes to our calendar. Two people who always send in their event information before the calendar deadline and in perfect form are Max Leek and Hugh O’Haire. We first appreciated the weekly, 18-word emails from Leek when they were pointed out to us. O’Haire’s emails are comparable, on time, direct and he always says, “thank you.”

We’ve never been to a concert at the Ant House.

But we hear it’s good.

We hear it’s got all the blood and guts of a real basement punk venue, which is great because Eugene badly needs a place like that.

We hear it’s tiny.

We hear it’s dark.

We hear it’s shitty — that’s what makes it so good.

We hear they do metal shows, too.

And maybe even rap.

We hear Ant House shows are louder than anything.

We imagine it smells like stale piss and B.O. in there.

Most times divorce, that great American pastime, turns out to be sort of a good thing for everyone involved; witness the historic splitsville between Charlemagne and Desiderata, which set the stage for the eventual founding of the Holy Roman Empire. Victory civilization! 

Nestled into the warm armpit of The Horsehead Bar on Broadway downtown, Thunderbird Market deserves a big fat pat on the back. The locally owned convenience store (co-owned by the owners of Horsehead and Jameson’s Bar) has had some hits over the eight years it’s been open. 

Namely, it’s on Eugene’s tiny version of The Corner, a hotbed — according to many downtown businesses and denizens, as well as crime statistics from a website the EPD directed EW to check out — for meth and heroin deals, prostitution and public defecation.

Glamour Girls and Guys Hair has been doing business at its downtown Broadway location for 27 years. While downtown is relatively pleasant now, for a long time, with the inception of the closed-street mall, it was a shitty, violent, racist place to be — according to some longtime residents of downtown — but Glamour Girls and Guys Hair stuck it out. “We don’t run,” says owner Betty Snowden, of The Betty Snowden Show — and fabulous hat — fame. 

It’s a Tuesday afternoon and we’re hankering for something sweet. Rather than reach for the bag of carrots so conveniently stashed beside us, we instead take to fantasizing about chocolate. 

Then, as if through some magical twist of fate brought about by the social media gods, a chocolate-loaded confection of utter magnificence appears on our Facebook feed. Is it a brownie? Is it a milkshake? Is it both

We note that the majestic confection hails from Sundial Café and make arrangements to convene there at once.

As with people, cities tend over time to acquire particular reputations that belie their true nature. Prevailing mythology says that Eugene, former stomping grounds of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, is frozen in place as a kind of progressive hippie utopia — a throwback to the peace-loving ’60s, where personal freedom and lefty politics reached their American apotheosis. Reality, unfortunately, says otherwise.

You see him everywhere in Eugene: a lizardy, milquetoast cross between Ned Flanders and Smeagol, he is most commonly sighted in liberal strongholds like Market of Choice or Saturday Market, where he saunters among crowds of like-minded progressives with his placid, smug smile and vapid eyes, surveying all that he approves.

 Home to old-growth forests of cedar and hemlock, ancient Douglas firs and even more ancient yews, the H.J. Andrews is a blend of science, nature and art. It’s a beautiful spot to go get muddy and roll around in the wild or to sit and meditate.

Westmoreland Animal Hospital on West 11th took the concept of a cute office fish tank and ran away with it, building an enormous wall of glass prominently displayed in their main office. Giant, glossy fish inhabit the tank, swimming placidly from one side of their domicile to the other. In a vet’s office, where worried owners wait with sick pets, the tank serves a therapeutic purpose, slowly lulling visitors into uninhibited calm.

Have you seen that bronze, no, Creamsicle Adonis, strutting down Broadway, making all the passersby swoon? Some even pat his head or ruffle his belly. His name is Tonto, and he’s the king of downtown. Three humans — Jason Pancoast, Elizabeth Fraser-Paul and Taylor Jones — ostensibly own and run the fantastic Shadowfox art gallery and newly relocated Perk coffeehouse, but it’s pretty clear that Tonto is in charge.

If Jake Pavlak didn’t exist it would be necessary for Eugene’s music scene to invent him. As a guitarist with classic local bands like Buckhorn, Yeltsin and Ferns, Pavlak has proven himself a world-class stylist with unique chord voicings, a highly personal ear for melody and impeccable taste level.

While some mustaches stand tall on the promontory of a man’s upper lip, Stephen Buettler (also known as Pancho of Eugene band Pancho + The Factory) has a mustache that reclines atop his mouth like a Rubenesque portrait, like Burt Reynolds on a bear skin rug, like Bill Murray behind the bar. Buettler’s lip fur is sensual, full of promise and intrigue, unconcerned with other mustaches — confident in its own game. Like a Reggie Miller three-pointer or LeBron in the lane, Buettler’s mouth-warmer is simply untouchable.

Car crashes. Gun shots. Break-ins. House fires. Criminal suspects. Stolen goods. Lost pets. There is very little in the way of suspicious activity in these parts that isn’t immediately posted and infinitely commented upon at Lane County Mugshots Uncensored (LCMU), a Facebook page whose watchdog activities run the gamut from philanthropic and altruistic to nosy and neurotic, sometimes tipping the scales into outright calls for vigilante justice.