• In his life, which ended far too soon when he died Jan. 6 at age 51, Brian West played drums for the likes of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, the Sugar Beets, Halie Loren, Laura Kemp, Alice Dimicele, Calobo, Ashleigh Flynn, Deb Cleveland, Tim McLaughlin and Ballet Fantastique.
We — and the music world — will miss him.
A celebration of life will be held from 2 to 4 pm Saturday, Jan. 27, in the Jaqua Concert Hall at The Shedd Institute, 868 High Street.
• Three speakers gave the City Club of Eugene a brief but brilliant look at the issue of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Jan. 19. Shaul Cohen, UO geography professor; Ibrahim Hamide, activist, chef and restaurateur; and Deborah Green, UO religious studies professor, all said this move did not advance the Arab-Israeli peace process and did not further the two-state solution. A telling question came after their talks: Does Trump stand to personally profit in some way from this decision? We do wonder.
• The Women’s March needs a new name. The terrific rally that tied up downtown Eugene on Jan. 20 was a “Rally of Reasonable People,” “Rally Against Trump,” “Rally of Women and Men and Kids Who Care,” “Rally for Human Rights.” Originating as the huge Women’s March after Trump was inaugurated, it has become that and much more, and we hope the march and its name become as inclusive and intersectional as they seek to be. Whatever the name, we were proud to be there.
• Jacob Laskey, the Creswell man with white supremacist ties who in 2002 threw a brick through a local synagogue and more recently claims to have burned hundreds of copies of Eugene Weekly, was arrested last weekend. EW freelancer Colin Houck broke the story on our blog of Laskey’s Jan. 19 arrest for allegedly stabbing a man with a knife. Laskey is now facing Measure 11 charges for second-degree assault; see our website for updates. We also see that Oregon State’s Daily Barometer broke this story this week of a member of student government who holds white supremacist views. Does Trump’s ugly rhetoric empower those who hate? Or was it quietly there all along? Whatever the case, the media should and will expose those who hold reprehensible viewpoints.
• Measure 101 passed in Lane County and Oregon as a whole by a wide margin Jan. 23, with votes in favor coming in at 62 percent “yes” and 38 percent “no” statewide, and 67 percent to 33 percent in Lane County. It inspires hope for the upcoming midterm elections to know that Oregonians supported health care for those in their communities and weren’t fooled by spin such as calling the assessment on hospitals, CCOs and insurance companies a “tax.” Could the voter turnout have been better? Yes. It was about 40 percent statewide, compared to the 78.9 percent in the 2016 election that put Donald Trump in office. But we are going to look on the bright side and say “Thanks!” to all the people who were out there knocking on doors and making calls to educate voters.
• We mourn the passing at age 88 on Monday, Jan. 22, of Portland author Ursula K. Le Guin, whose science fiction helped us transcend mundane life through 20 novels, several books of poetry and scores of short stories over a long career. A feminist, Le Guin was the daughter of anthropologist Theodora Kroeber, who wrote the 1960 account Ishi in Two Worlds, which achieved its own cult status for its description of California’s last “wild” Indian. Working her whole life in a male-dominated field and in a literary genre too often dismissed as a mere popular diversion, Le Guin was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 2014 National Book Awards.