Best of Eugene 2010-2011: Miscellany
Best outdoor hangout/public space
1. Alton Baker Park 632 Day Island Rd.
2. Saturday Market 8th & Oak. 686-8885.
3. Hendricks Park 2200 Summit Ave.
The best things in Eugene are not what we’ve built, but the places we set aside to not build on. While EWEB and the UO pursue plans to put big buildings and pavement as close as they can get away with to the Willamette, government leaders and voters from a previous generation had the foresight to set aside one of the best urban parks in the nation across the river. In 400 acres you can picnic at a sunset concert as geese fly by, fling a Frisbee on the lawn, wind through mossy maples and a blue haze of larkspur on a bike, jog through meadows in the steps of a track legend or watch an osprey plunge into a crystal river, all in the much loved heart of a city.
Best way to relax
1. Get thee to the river
2. Sip something alcoholic
3. Smoke up
We nearly gave up on counting this category when it became quickly apparent that there was one thing most responses had in common: the river (OK, rivers: the Willamette and the McKenzie were both represented in the results). To unwind, Eugene heads to the water, whether it’s to drink PBR in a hidden nook or cranny, to bike the trails, to float the stream or to sprawl in the grass nearby with a picnic and a loved one. Plenty of river responses involved the activities in second and third place: smoking and sipping (we’re pleased to note that lots of the sipping votes specified local beer or wine). “Are we supposed to put pot?” one voter asked. You’re supposed to put whatever works for you — and that clearly works for plenty of folks.
Best way to improve Eugene
1. Improve/develop/clean up downtown
2. Build more/better bike lanes
3. More free parking
We clump the many votes for downtown together, even though it’s clear Eugeneans can’t agree on exactly how the area ought to be improved. Everyone wants more and better, but that means different things to different folks — from thoughtless requests to just “kick out” the homeless to very specific ideas about what kind of shopping downtown needs. Voters want the pits filled in, the streets cleaned up and the parking to stay free. Some people want more bars; others want Whole Foods; more than one of you suggested we close the malls and move all the businesses to downtown. But Eugene also really, really cares about getting around: More bike lanes, better bike lanes and improved bicycle awareness turned up on a lot of ballots.
Best local athlete
|photo courtesy: dmitri von klein / monovita.com|
1. LaMichael James
2. Andrew Wheating
3. Jeremiah Masoli
At 5’9” and 185 pounds, UO superstar LaMichael James is a veritable impossibility on the football field, a powerhouse running back whose stature-versus-statistical-achievements seem to defy the laws of physics. The Ducks’ little engine that could combines the explosive speed of NFL running back Chris Johnson and the break-away smarts and field vision of Bears legend Walter Payton; couple these qualities with his uncanny ability to always eke out yardage after contact, and you have one of the most dangerous ball carriers the history of Ducks football — it’s not uncommon to see him suddenly appear from the business end of an unmoving scrum, having stayed upright on his ever-churning legs in a pig pile containing a half dozen or more opposing players. James has a nose for the end zone and an extraordinary ability to get his body across it. In just his sophomore year, #21 has already matched several UO season and career rushing marks (most, and most consecutive, 100-yard games), and he looks primed to break Jonathan Stewart’s career rushing record, perhaps this year. Fearless, focused and lightning fast, James is the nexus of an offense loaded with talent.
Best local news personality
|photo by todd cooper|
1. Natasha Chughtai
2. Marc Mullins
3. Brandi Smith
See how diverse our readers and voters are? We appreciate the irony that a Fox News anchor won an award in the Eugene Weekly. Known for her infamous coffee mug and chit-chats with co-anchor Seth Wayne, Natasha Chughtai hails from Minnetonka, Minn., and spent three years working at the NBC affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska, before moving to Eugene in 2007. “I love Eugene and all the people I have met here,” she says. “It feels like home.”
If she looks familiar, and it’s not from Fox at 10, you might have caught her fleeting appearance (as a news anchor, of course) in the Russell Crowe film State of Play or you might have seen her around town. When not working, she says, you can find her out spending time with friends, frequenting local coffeeshops or at the library. She calls herself “a self-confessed nerd” who loves to hear from her viewers.
Best roller girl
|photo by todd cooper|
1. Bullet Brains
2. Agent Orange
3. (tie) One-Eyed Jack / Lady Lumps
“It feels pretty awesome to be the favorite roller girl,” says Erin “Bullet Brains” Tiel, who’s been skating with the Emerald City Roller Girls since the league’s founding four years ago. You can’t miss her on the track: Just look for the tall brunette with her face painted white and streaked with blood. Even via email, Tiel bubbles over with enthusiasm for her sport and her community, writing about the many bouts (at home and all over the West Coast) the ECRG has planned in the upcoming months, and explaining that derby is a lot of fun, “but also takes an amazing amount of devotion.” ECRG is owned and run by the skaters, who put in hours and hours of time so they can do what they love. “We depend on our fans to keep going,” Tiel says, “and every time someone buys a ticket to our bouts, sponsors us or comes to one of our parties, it helps us to keep growing and succeeding at the goals we have (like making it to the WFTDA Championship!).” We’ll be cheering like crazy when they get there.
Best thing about EW
1. “Savage Love”
2. It’s free
3. Calendar and music listings
This, for the record, is exactly the same lineup of things y’all liked best about the paper last year. And we understand. We mere mortals can’t compete with Dan Savage. We’ll still try, though. And we’re pleased that to some of you we’re “cutting edge and scandalous!” and have an admirable “I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude.” Whether the paper is “providing jobs for people who would otherwise be asking me for change downtown” or run by “upbeat spirits,” however, is probably up for debate.
Worst thing about EW
1. Liberal bias
3. “Ask a Mexican”
There appears to be some disagreement about whether our lefty leanings are a good or a bad thing, and among those who like and dislike “Ask a Mexican.” But the thing is, what you dislike about EW is far more varied than what you like best about the paper. “All those fucking hipsters” vies with “all the whiny hippies.” Can we be both? We’re too negative and “everything’s all kumbaya.” The calendar is great and not big enough. But we’re cool with contradiction, and we know we sometimes make mistakes. Still, we’re not likely to stop being progressive and lefty any time soon, even if we “make Lenin look like Limbaugh.”
Best category we should’ve included (and who’d win it)
This year, there was no clear winner and surprisingly more sincerity than snark in this category. Several voters wanted a Best Doughnuts category, but Holy Donuts!, Voodoo Doughnut and Hideaway Bakery were all represented as deserving winners. Vanilla Jill’s had voters asking for a Best Frozen Yogurt category, a handful of you really love Sy’s Pizza’s ice, and a dozen festivals and events got nods for highlights of the festival season — especially the Whiteaker Block Party. The best thing about this category, we think? It’s seeing all the things that Eugeneans love, from running trails to plant stores to people-watching to smoke shops. And, yeah, the snark is fun too. See the Best of the Ballots for some of our favorites.