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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.

An obnoxious design fad is rearing its head in Eugene: structures that look like boxy Nike gear. No new building epitomizes that more than the Hilton Home2 Suites going up at 11th and Olive downtown. The hotel looms ominously close over The Kiva grocery like a “Just Do It” storm cloud (sidenote: Do Eugene city planners understand what a decent setback from the street looks like? The sidewalk along 11th feels like a tightrope except instead of a net, there’s lots of traffic to break your fall). 

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.

 

You might think of riverfront land as valuable, but in Eugene’s early days, the flood-prone banks of the Willamette were not where you wanted to build your house or business. In the post “dam all the rivers” era we have a much more stable riverfront (and fewer salmon), but our riversides bear the legacy of the bad decisions of the past. You know like, “Hey, let’s turn the riverside into a dump!

In the doldrums of winter, we stare bleakly out the window, watching rain drip down the windowpane for the 30th day in a row. Our dogs, on the other hand, stare fixedly at us, eyes wide and hopeful that any second, we’ll jump up and go for that coveted walk. Or, even better, the all-exalted run.

While we mere mortals aren’t always up to the challenge, we know who can help us: the Oregon Ruff Runners.

Josh and Samara Kramer, a husband-and-wife team, took the concept of dog walking and amped it up a few notches to provide a service that dogs crave.

What’s not to love about the hulking concrete ellipse with whimsical Swiss cheese-inspired peep holes that graces College Hill’s Washington Park? And who even calls it “Washington Park”? It’s The Cheese Park — or just Cheese Park — and there’s no finer place to eat a snack, play with bark mulch or hide from your parents than the ubiquitous cheese. Generations have grown up in its loopy confines, which provide respite from summer sun, and shelter from winter rain.

Heads swivel almost all the way around when people first see the rainbow-colored rock god shredding quietly at Kesey Square. Paunchy office workers on their way to the Broadway Starbucks don’t seem to be able to process what their eyes are taking in. 

They don’t get it. And so maybe they chalk the strange vision up to Eugene quirk.

Nonetheless, Karen Dalyea is doing something very important.

Archie, Little Lulu, Muppets, Charlie Brown, Calvin & Hobbes — they’re all here, in one spot at the Eugene Public Library: Comic Island, a refuge for discerning children who just happen to appreciate that the finer things in life include graphic novels and comic books. Accessible, with comfy benches and a bright window, Comic Island is a quiet place of contemplation, even on a crowded day. The library could consider affording space and funding for a Comic Archipelago, and it would probably be just as popular. Comic Island keeps kids into comics, and that keeps them reading. Bravo!