Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.31.08


On Sunday, Dec. 21, Eugene and the world lost an artist, a scientist, and a friend. Dr. William H. Klausmeier, or just “Will,” left us after battling cancer, leaving a very large legacy and a vision of the world that is filled with answers and compassion. 

Will Klausmeier was a remarkable painter and a true champion of alternative fuels and sustainability here and around the world. His work on biofuels, algae fuels and sustainability for small business is renowned, and we spent many hours discussing and debating these issues. I had the pleasure of speaking to one of his classes, and you could see how his students shared his passion for creating a better world.

As an artist, Will used color and brushstrokes to create scenes of natural beauty that one could get lost in very easily. His brushstrokes in his later work remind one of Van Gogh, and his use of color was brilliant. Will was a longtime member of the New Zone Artist Collective, acting as vice-president for many years. 

A gallery space in the New Zone Gallery at 164 W. Broadway is currently showcasing his work and will be named “The Klausmeier Room” in his memory. Please stop by and view this collection as we share memories of a great man that used his art and his science to make the world a better place. This exhibit will be open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 pm and is free to the public.

William Kasper, Eugene


I’d just like to point out that LTD’s email link to “voice your opinion” about their proposed route changes did not work. I and others in my program (UO master’s in arts management), who are dependent on the bus in order to get to school, tried multiple times this fall to advocate for our routes but were unable to because of the faulty technology. Sorry we weren’t able to make it to a public meeting, Lane County, but grad school has a way of filling up your schedule.

The wonderful sense of panic I feel upon realizing that they really did delete route 76 is a great holiday gift. Maybe I missed the PR meant to soothe me, but I know I’ll be busy freaking out until I can sort out what practical alternatives I now have! 

Valerie Egan, Eugene


Look, I understand that EW film critic Jason Blair is just doing his job. His recent review (12/18) of Slumdog Millionaire, however, is so far off the mark that it requires a response: 

As a film critic, you’re not only entitled to your opinion, you get paid for it. But, let’s be honest, please. By the time you review a film here in the Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors, it’s been previously critiqued in numerous offbeat papers like the L.A. Times, Detroit Free Press, London Standard, San Francisco Chronicle, etc. As a community service to the hayseed EW reader, like myself, you may want to advise that, despite your own misgivings, the film has received some very fine reviews around the world.

Slumdog is “slightly less hot than the sun” (bad simile, that, but you’re on a deadline) precisely because it’s a darn good film, my boy. Slumdog won the Toronto Film Festival People’s Choice Award. As well as best picture at the British Independent Film Awards. You might mention that to the EW reader, eh? Your pseudo-intellectual, subvert-the-zeitgeist act is tiresome, and disingenuous. 

And keep it simple, lad. Because we’re most of us simple people. We read EW on the bus; in a coffee joint; perhaps whilst upon the shitter. I’m uncertain as to what “repudiation of reductive classicist thinking” is, but you use that phrase in a sentence that also contains the word “reductively.” That’s a whole lot of reducting in one sentence, and I’m not sure that helps my wife and I decide whether to pony up for a babysitter. Then there’s “verisimilitude,” and “stylization pressed to the point of superficiality.” What? I need a dictionary on my toilet tank now? Give hubris a rest. It needs one. Review the film, my boy, don’t dazzle us with your own genius and erudition. 

I too enjoy a film that, going in, I am “expected to have to think.” But be careful you don’t overthink it, my son. Slumdog Millionaire is a terrific film. Brilliant cinematography. And delightfully acted by a cast completely devoid of the usual suspects. All around, it is thoroughly enjoyable storytelling. Most curiously, the EW review makes zero mention of Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor), the superbly cheesy game show host, who, I believe, steals the show. His is a triple cream brie to Regis Philbin’s Velveeta. In a good year, there are maybe a dozen worthwhile films produced. Pity you missed a chance to encourage folks to get out and support a good one. Let ’em eat Batman and Jim Carrey, right?

Dave Sheehan, Eugene


Regarding the continuing flap around Barack Obama’s choice of Rick Warren as inaugural invocator, which has upset many because of the pastor’s opposition to gay marriage, I am reminded of what a founding father of this country, James Madison, one invoked: “A just government, instituted to perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy.” In other words, we’d all be a lot better off with no preacher at all at any inauguration.

Steven Kunert, Corvallis


In his letter of Dec. 18, Bob Saxton expressed his understandable frustration around the issue of this country’s religious heritage. I have a shift in perspective that might alleviate his frustration.

The Christian Bible is marketed as two “Testaments,” and with good reason. The message in each one of them couldn’t be more different. The methods by which Yahweh and Jesus dealt with their enemies are as different as black and white: vengeance vs. compassion.

It’s not too hard to imagine that Jesus, were he to write a letter to the editor today, might express an even greater frustration at the way his revolutionary message is being marketed right alongside the diametrically opposite message held by the people who judged and killed him for preaching it.

To put it another way, there is nothing in recent American foreign and domestic policy that is out of line with the way Yahweh did things in the Old Testament: drowning millions of children and animals in a flood; turning a woman to stone for looking back at her burning city; bringing a father to the brink of murdering his son as a test of loyalty. These are the acts of a psychopath who wouldn’t deserve our allegiance even if he did exist. I wouldn’t trust Yahweh to housesit my cats for fear that one of them might turn out to be left-handed.

If allegiance to pre-Christian thinking is called “Christianity,” then, yes, we have certainly been a Christian nation, unfortunately.

To escape his frustration, I recommend that Saxton get in the habit of asking whether someone is an Old Testament “Christian” or a New Testament Christian, because the one message is the exact opposite of the other.

Steve Downey, Eugene


Despite Camilla Mortensen’s great follow-up on the story (12/18) on the West 6th and Madison black walnut, I felt like I needed to bring a little light on the outcome of the story. It should have read, “The Eugene Tree Foundation and Sperry Tree Care have found a way to preserve the old black walnut.” Indeed, the meeting was organized by a collaboration between ETF and Sperry Tree Care, the former responding to concerned citizens and consulting with Sperry Tree Care for a second opinion on the hazard report.

The quote “How can we help [make the tree safer]?” came from Nathaniel Sperry directly to Mark Snyder (urban forester) as an offer to work on the tree, thus reducing the maintenance costs and keeping the tree from being removed.

The win-win situation I mentioned is also the result of intelligent early discussions between ETF, tree lovers, Sperry Tree Care and regular citizens not willing to see a large tree removed quite yet. It allowed us enough time to propose a plan of action to the city and meet in peaceful terms.

The tree maintenance part of the partnership offered to the city of Eugene will not be taken care of by ETF — the nonprofit organization is not set-up to perform tree care — but by the ISA certified arborists of Sperry Tree Care. Doug Hornaday is the owner of Artistic Arborist who enthusiastically volunteered to help and the tree crew of the city will provide a boom truck. We might be joined by other arborists later.

If you are feeling good about the outcome of this story, I’m inviting you to join the ETF as a member or a board member; we always need new energy!

Alby Thoumsin, Certified Arborist



It is true that life is not fair in the sense it is normally considered, but when it becomes unfair for children, we must seriously consider the reasons why, weigh the consequences and then change the laws supporting such injustice. In the state of Oregon, with divorce cases involving children, judges cannot grant joint custody to both parents unless both agree to joint custody. It is important to understand the consequences of such a law.

If the mother or father want sole custody of the children, then a judge must grant sole custody to only one parent, no exceptions. It is then possible for one spouse to leave the household, gain legal custody of the children and reduce the amount of time one parent has with the children to a significant degree. When I say significant degree I mean you see your kid(s) every other weekend. 

The every other weekend plan for “visitation” is the standard in Oregon custody cases; it is not the exception. The mother gets custody 85 percent of the time, and the noncustodial parent is left with every other weekend. The noncustodial parent does not have the right to decide how the children are raised with regard to medical treatment, religious upbringing or education. 

Society needs to ask: “Is it good for our children to see their fathers every other weekend?” Let’s change that law and help our children!

Jason Aulicino, Eugene


The management of the Pacific Northwest salmon runs is despicable. For more than 150 years now we have meddled with artificial salmon propagation, and what do we have to show for it? Vanishing wild stocks, smaller runs, smaller salmon and billions of dollars wasted.

I fish commercially in Alaska and understand the complexity of the issue. Quoting from Litchatowich’s  Salmon without Rivers: “The salmon’s decline has been the consequence of a vision based on flawed assumptions and unchallenged myths.” Because salmon are directly affected by hydroelectric dams, agriculture, industry and urban development, regulation in one area alone is ineffective in supporting wild salmon. The issue has become extremely political, sidelining critical science in favor of ideology and bureaucratic budgets.

Hatcheries are not the solution, plain and simple. The belief that we can replicate a natural process more efficiently than nature is anthropocentric and ultimately destructive. Not only do hatcheries constrict genetic diversity, but they also support and perpetuate flawed assumptions and unchallenged myths and distract from the issues of overharvesting and habitat destruction, the root causes of decline. Until we address these issues, the salmon will continue to disappear.

If we want our children to experience wild salmon in the Northwest, waterways must be strictly regulated along with the protection of spawning grounds, and a moratorium on harvesting must be established. What the salmon need is a vision for the future, not just next season: They need their rivers back.

Ethan McCoy, Eugene


One of the problems in this town is discrimination against teens. Not just any teens, teens with piercings and tattoos. At the LTD bus stop one morning a man talking to me said, “Kids with facial piercings and tattoos are bigger troublemakers than kids who do not have them.” I think that it’s stupid that people say things like that.

Please look beyond the piercings and tattoos. I’m just a kid. I don’t have a criminal record, and I’m not looking to rob you. I know plenty of kids my age who have piercings, kids who don’t get into any trouble whatsoever. People should get to know someone before they judge them. Labeling kids just isn’t fair. Eugene would be much better off if people didn’t judge other people by their appearance. It’s unkind and disrespectful to judge someone by what they have or don’t have on their face.

Taylor Snow, Eugene


I am a student at Churchill Alternative High School, and I have a beef. I had never known discrimination until I became an alternative high school student. People, especially high school students, always have snide comments bout how lazy or easy alternative high school is. Too many times there are pre-judgments that kids who go to alternative high schools have behavior issues or are somehow not as intelligent as students who attend traditional high schools. That’s simply not true. 

Alternative high school is just what the name says it is: It’s an alternative to traditional high school. There are many reasons to attend alternative high schools, and very few of them have to do with behavior. Churchill Alternative is the best school I have attended. It accepts me for who I am and does not try to mold me into someone I am not. I felt like a cog in the high school machine until I came to Churchill Alternative High School. Please don’t judge the kids at alternative high schools until you know them. We are not just lazy troublemakers. Like most kids we want to learn, grow and make the most of our lives.

Rayven Laury, Eugene