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There are plenty of traditional holiday sounds available this month, but happily, Eugene music organizations are also providing worthwhile alternatives when the wassail grows stale.

Ramón Ramírez , founding member and current president of farmworker’s rights organization PCUN, will speak on “Equitable Food Initiative: Why it is a Game Changer in the Agriculture Business,” at 5:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 20, in Knight Law Room 175 at the UO; and “Forming Coalitions and Grassroots Organizing,” at 6 pm on Friday Nov. 21, in the Global Scholars Hall Great Room 123. Gabino Palomares will perform after Friday’s presentation. Both presentations are free and open to the public.

For nine years, the killing of 15-year-old Jason Michael Porter has haunted me. Jason was unarmed and operating a reportedly stolen vehicle when he was stopped after being pursued by a Springfield police officer. The officer approached Jason’s car with gun drawn and fired a single shot into his face. The officer said he thought he saw Jason raising a gun. There was no gun. The Lane County district attorney, not waiting until the conclusion of the Oregon State Police investigation, quickly pronounced the killing “justified.”

In Afghanistan

• 2,351 U.S. troops killed (2,349 last month)

• 20,040 U.S. troops wounded in action (20,023)

• 1,559 U.S. contractors killed (1,530)

• 16,179 civilians killed (updates NA)

• $763.1 billion cost of war ($747.9 billion)

• $300.6 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($294.6 million)

 

Against ISIS

• $1.2 billion cost of military action ($909.8 million)

• $478,795 cost to Eugene taxpayers ($358,352)

 

In Iraq

There’s a certain bump that comes from being featured on the soundtrack for HBO cult favorite Girls. The show, about four twentysomethings stumbling through their lives in New York City, has featured new music by established pros like Belle and Sebastian, Santigold and Angel Haze, while also helping launch the careers of acts on the cusp of fame, such as Swedish duo Icona Pop, whose song “I Love It” became a smash hit after it was featured during a coke-fueled bender on the dramedy. 

The message voters delivered to Congress in the recent elections: “We are tired of the political stunts and the gridlock. We are tired of your inability to pass legislation that will improve life in America. We are tired of the influence of big money on elections. KEEP IT UP!”

If you’ve been thrilled by the images of the NASA comet rendezvous, check out First Methodist Church at 13th & Olive this Friday, Nov. 21, at 7 pm for a harmonic convergence of eight local organists and one famous astronomer, Bernie Bopp. Bopp will narrate a performance that includes electronic sounds derived from signals from space, projected visuals of the moon, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, as well as organ music related to the solar system including Mars Aeliptica by Rafael Ferreyra, Saturn by Bent Lorentzen, Neptune (from The Planets) by Gustav Holst, Hymn To The Moon by Gloria Hodges, Missa Gaia by James Scott and more.

Award-winning British human machine, or rather the musician and beatboxer known as THePETEBOX, is touring the U.S. for the first time, producing sounds and rhythms using only his mouth, lips, tongue and voice. 

In the world of bluegrass music, tradition is king. This makes Grammy-winning mandolin player John Reischman’s 2013 release Walk Along John something unique: an album of twelve Reischman originals, two covers and a collection of neo-traditional tunes. 

TWO-HEADED MONSTER

I am a 30-year-old trans guy, on T since college, happy and comfortable with my sexuality. However, I can’t find any helpful health info on a fetish I’ve developed: I insert needles directly into my clit, maybe an inch and a half in. I’m not talking through it, like a piercing, but into it, going in at the head and moving down into the shaft.

As Terence Fletcher, longtime character actor J.K. Simmons fuses bits of the roles he’s best known for — the warmth of Juno’s dad (Juno), the shoutiness of Peter Parker’s boss (Spider-Man) — into one glorious wreck of a man. Fletcher is the tyrannical leader of the best jazz band in the finest music school in the country: He shouts, he intimidates and he humiliates, and he does it all with the firm belief that his students (disappointingly, they’re all male) will benefit from it.

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

Ben Basom of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters gives the example of a worker who came forward and started talking to the union about the Portland company that he was working for and the scams he was seeing. Basom says the employee’s boss found out “and the next time we saw him, his arm was in a cast and he was all bruised up.” 

The worker said, “This guy knows where my family is in Mexico.”

From July 2012 to June 2013, Oregon workers filed claims for more than $3 million in unpaid wages with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Juan Carlos Ordonez of the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP), which analyzed BOLI’s data on the claims, says that’s “just the tip of the iceberg” because workers fear retaliation if they complain about their missing wages, or they simply don’t know how or where to file a complaint. BOLI is the agency that investigates and enforces Oregon’s labor laws.  

The fate of the Elliott State Forest, a sprawling, 93,000-acre forest northeast of Coos Bay and home to some of the oldest trees on the coast, is the topic of a Nov. 17 public forum hosted by Cascadia Wildlands. About half of the Elliott has already been logged, and for the remaining half, Cascadia Wildlands believes in preserving the land instead of privatizing and selling it. 

The Oregon State Land Board will discuss the Elliott’s future next month.

As a peer of the journalists infamously executed in online videos recently distributed by ISIS, the horror of that footage felt particularly real to Reese Erlich. Erlich, a longtime Middle East correspondent for NPR, recently returned from Syria and will speak in Eugene Nov. 19 and 20 about his on-the-ground account of the ascendance of ISIS (the Islamic State) and the United States’ effort to halt it.

Erlich sees an illogical, destructive “third war” coming to a head in the U.S.’s escalating response to ISIS.

Oregon’s economy isn’t exactly booming, but it is improving, and that could lead to about $300 million in tax rebates to individual taxpayers if revenues exceed 2 percent above official state projections in the 2013-15 biennium. That might sound good to taxpayers, but the potential loss of revenue has some Oregonians very worried.

At first glance, it looks like a landfill — abandoned couches and chairs, food wrappers piled on top of plastic bags, electronics and old clothing. But in actuality, it’s a strip of riverbank along the south side of the Willamette River between Autzen Footbridge and Knickerbocker Bike Bridge, and a recent YouTube video portraying trash along the riparian zone has garnered the attention of homeless activists, environmentalists and Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy.

What happens if the kicker kicks next year? Our news brief this week talks about how the Constitution-mandated tax rebate could be a big problem for the state budget. What we hear through the English ivy vine (Eugene’s equivalent to the grapevine) is that Phil Knight might be holding back on giving the UO big challenge bucks this year because it could trigger the kicker and the state could lose up to $300 million in the next biennium, hurting education. Crazy scenario.

Congrats to NextStep Recycling founder Lorraine Kerwood McKenzie who was given the Toyota Standing O-Vation, a recognition of extraordinary people in communities around the country, during Oprah Winfrey’s “The Life You Want Weekend” in Seattle Nov. 8. The award was given by Winfrey and Paralympic bronze medalist snowboarder Amy Purdy.

Lots of little kids take a dance class or two, but most won’t make a career of it. Sometimes, however, a special child comes along who has the talent and drive, along with the family support needed, to keep investing in dance for a lifetime. Choreographer Vanessa Martin was one of those lucky kids, who had big aspirations and a parent to back her up. 

Emery Blackwell, 55, dancer, choreographer, musician, composer and teacher, retires from 25 years with DanceAbility International this fall. A giant figure in the local dance scene and a representative of disability rights around the globe, Blackwell will perform onstage one last time with his longtime dance partner Alito Alessi, as part of Vanessa Martin’s Xcape Dance Company’s premiere piece, Love!

• Eugene author and LCC English instructor Steve McQuiddy will give a reading, discussion and book signing at 7 pm Thursday, Nov. 13, at Tsunami Books, 25th and Willamette. McQuiddy is author of Here On the Edge: World War II, Conscientious Objectors On the Oregon Coast, and Seeds of the Sixties. Free. 

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology has enabled production of previously uneconomic shale gas in North America. Some believe that using more natural gas will slow the growth of green house gas emissions. Five research teams from the United States, Australia, Austria, Germany and Italy completed independent studies for a project led by the Joint Global Change Research Institute. The research analysis was published in October in the journal Nature with the conclusion that increased use of natural gas will not slow climate change, due to increased release of methane and increased total energy use spurred by inexpensive gas.