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I’m a twentysomething genetic male. I thought for a while that I might be trans, but I ended up deciding that while I hate my masculine features and like girl clothes and want to be “cute,” I have no desire to be female and don’t want to have breasts or a vagina. I also don’t identify with a particular sexual orientation, as I don’t find the concept useful. I’ve been with both boys and girls, and currently I’m with a trans girl.

For a man currently wedged between a rock and that proverbial hard place, Eugene artist Joe Mross appears surprisingly serene. Mross, a metalsmith and perhaps this town’s foremost purveyor of the steampunk aesthetic, has but a handful of days to complete the grandest and most ambitious project of his life thus far — a 5,000-plus lbs. metallurgic behemoth of rivets, Plexiglas, fabricated steel and sandblasted wood that must be trucked down and set up for Nevada’s legendary Burning Man festival by Aug. 25.

In what would become his final film role, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman inhabits a classic fictional persona, that of the downbeat institutional man. As Günther Bachmann, a career spy heading an anti-terrorism unit in Hamburg, Hoffman puts an ingenious modern spin on the existential anti-hero who, against all odds and caught up in a tangle of lies and deceit, tries to do the right thing.

Music teacher Tim Walter swings his arms through the air with gusto, directing a throng of Madison Middle School band members as a jazzy rendition of “Oye Como Va” rings from their instruments. Walter’s junior high students are performing the song for eighth-grade procession, where family members and friends pack the bleachers of the gym.

Music News & notes from down in the Willamette valley.

Sniffing out what you shouldn’t miss in the arts this week.

National high school graduation rates are on the rise: A recent report from the U.S. Department of Education found that high school graduation rates in 2012 marked an unprecedented high of 80 percent. However, last year in Eugene, roughly only 64 percent of high school students graduated in four years in the 4J School District.

At a June 25 board meeting, 4J Superintendent Sheldon Berman asked the school board to release him from his contract a year early, stunning many in the room. According to parent and private math tutor Gina Graham, “The whole room went silent. Everyone just looked at each other.” 

Spencer Butte Middle School’s garden program has grown from the seed of an idea to a self-sustaining garden with its own economic income. The garden, managed by students, sells its lettuce and other veggies to the Eugene School District, which then uses them in the cafeteria at the school.

When the abruptly former UO president Michael Gottfredson first took office in 2012, even the university’s resident muckraking blogger, economics prof Bill Harbaugh of UO Matters, was hard-pressed to dig up dirt on the unassuming administrator. Barely two years later on Aug. 6, Gottfredson announced he was stepping down immediately, and the next day the UO’s new independent governing board voted to give the man, who was giving up the presidency as well as a tenured professorship, a nearly $1 million buyout. 

Back when George Russell served as superintendent of 4J, he had to deal with racism on a regular basis. During a 4J Board of Education meeting about school closures, he says, a man who he assumes was a student’s dad “came up to the podium and said, ‘That’s what happens when you hire the n-word for affirmative action reasons.’”

Betty and the Boy and four other folk, pop and punk bands will play at a benefit show to raise money for the annual Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp. TWAC was initially born from the idea of creating a safe space for trans and/or women in the social and environmental justice movement, according to Ariel Howland, organizer of and participant in the benefit show and camp. Eventually, that idea came into its own: a weeklong camp that focuses on community building and political activism.

Oregon DEQ followed up on the pre-enforcement notice it sent to Keven Cruickshank in June for operating a failing septic system since at least February at 82855 N. Butte Road in Creswell (EW 7/10, goo.gl/KbsSuw) with a $9,305 civil penalty on July 31. DEQ also assessed a $4,707 penalty against Albany-based Dave Hunter Company on Aug. 4 for hazardous waste law violations at its industrial machine shop in Albany.

• We hear rumors that Eugene City Hall could fall to the wrecking ball as early as the first week in September. Gone will be the iconic round council chambers and a city block of massive reinforced concrete understructure — despite earlier decisions by the City Council to repair, rebuild or reuse the $40 million building. The decision-making process is obscure and puzzling, particularly since the evidence is clear that many millions of dollars can be saved by reinforcing and rebuilding on the existing understructure and its valuable underground parking. 

Traditional glassblowing is returning to the Whit. The Gudger Hot Shop announced this week the opening of a studio in the Cornerstone Art Studios, 1068 W. 2nd Ave. Andrew Glenn Gudger and his fellow hot glass artists will be on the First Friday ArtWalk and the public will be able to watch them work.

The ACLU of Lane County’s “Civil Conversation” series is holding a public discussion on the “Eugene Police Department’s Policy on Biased Conduct” from 5:30 to 6:45 pm Thursday, Aug. 14, at the Eugene Public Library downtown. Speakers will include Juan Carlos Valle, a former Police Commission member, and Eric Richardson, president of the NAACP of Eugene and Springfield. For more information, email lanechapter@aclu-or.org.

My “sex education” classes always failed me.

“Your privates are gonna get bigger and you’re gonna start smelling bad,” one of the teachers said during my fifth-grade sex-ed class. At the end, the teachers provided us with a stick of deodorant — thanks, Mr. Johnson.  

Are any of your rhododendrons looking pale? You may be bugged. If you see pale speckles all over rhododendron or azalea leaves, turn over an affected leaf. If there are smutty-looking, blackish spots on the underside, especially along the midrib, then you may be looking at the larvae and poop of azalea lace bugs. 

Crabtree Lake lies high in a glacial cirque in the Old Cascades among ancient and massive old-growth Douglas fir. 

“This sounds really young, it sounds like early Helio Sequence,” says Brandon Summers, the band’s singer and guitarist, of the new record. “To me, it feels like a 90-degree sunny day in Portland.”

In 2009, Shelby Earl quit her job on Amazon’s music team to record her first album. The Seattle singer-songwriter was excited; after three years of promoting other musicians at the internet giant, she was going to be the one promoted — hopefully. 

I’m glad that the new UO Board of Trustees was keeping a close eye on ex-president Michael Gottfredson’s extraordinary contributions to the university for which he was given nearly $1 million in severance pay. Until it was reported that he had quit his job, I’d forgotten his name. 

New Orleans can justly claim to be one of the birthplaces of American music, with its legendary gumbo of Caribbean, African and European music influences providing the essential ingredients for the rhythms that spread from the Gulf of Mexico and conquered the music world.

A familiar tune came on the radio: a fuzzy little snare flush followed by the cheery guitar line that leads into “If This Is It,” that maddeningly catchy ballad off Sports, the breakthrough platinum 1983 album from Huey Lewis and the News. It sounded good, in a cozy, familiar, guilty sort of way — the sort of way we seem to appreciate the smell of our own farts.