Best of Eugene 2018-2019 (Staff Picks)

Rabbi Ruhi Sophia Motzkin Rubenstein
Rabbi Ruhi Sophia Motzkin RubensteinPhoto by Todd Cooper

Best Spiritual Leader

Rabbi Ruhi Sophia Motzkin Rubenstein

Rabbi Ruhi Sophia Motzkin Rubenstein of Eugene’s Temple Beth Israel is our idea of a great spiritual leader and political activist. Whether its her participation in Rev. William Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign, her work for T’ruah: the Rabbinical Call for Human Rights, or her recent letter to the editor in The Register-Guard in which she brilliantly and scathingly defied the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh, Rubenstein is an inspiring example of a person whose faith compels her to guide and protect our community, in the manner of great healers and political activists like Martin Luther King Jr. She is a fierce, intelligent, self-critical and ever-compassionate warrior for human rights, grounded always in the teachings of the Jewish tradition. “I feel blessed to have this grounding in religious obligation,” Rubenstein told EW earlier this year. “It’s not the faith that everything will be okay, but it’s the faith that I know what is called of me regardless of how hopeless things seem … I certainly intend to continue working for justice.” — Rick Levin

Best Piece of My Childhood That Is
Gone But Not Forgotten

As someone who grew up in Eugene and is still living here, I’ve seen a lot of my favorite childhood spots fade away — Southtowne Lanes, Civic Stadium, Gateway Mall’s Cinemark Movies 12 and Flicks & Pics, to name a few. Throughout it all, there was still one noble spot for me to relive my sunshine-y memories of being a Eugene kiddo — Skate World. As did many other young Eugeneans and Springfieldians (is that what we call them?), I attended, and hosted, many birthday parties and have had numerous stomach aches from eating too many soft pretzels and nachos there. From black light skates to Christian music night, Skate World really had something for everyone. As of Aug. 31, that trusty skating rink officially closed down. According to Skate World management on its Facebook page, the business is looking to relocate, although there have been no updates as of yet. Regardless, I think we all know nothing can replace the charm of that beloved roller rink on Gateway Loop. — Meerah Powell

Update: Skate World has moved operations to US Sportsplex (4540 Commerce Street, Springfield).

Favorite Eugene Bands

Here are my picks for Eugene’s Best Bands. If you’ve yet to catch of these acts live, do so right away.

1. Pancho + The Factory

A little punk and a little soul, Pancho + The Factory is mostly indescribable. What’s for certain is it puts on Eugene’s best show, with Pancho acting as ringmaster to a three-ring circus of his own design. When will the world start listening? Look for its debut full-length out (hopefully) sometime in 2019.

2. This Patch of Sky

On the vanguard of Eugene’s emerging post-rock scene (including but not limited to other strong candidates like Gazelle(s) and Eugene/Portland’s Childspeak), This Patch of Sky recently recorded a session with Chicago’s well-known online music site Audiotree. This Patch of Sky will soon be recording the follow-up to 2017’s These Small Spaces.

3. Ferns

Featuring Eugene music-scene stalwarts Jake Pavlak, Dave Snider, Jivan Valpey and Ryan  Cchini, Ferns consistently puts on a great show, bolstered by strong songwriting and Pavlak’s world-class guitar work. After playing around town for years, Ferns is in the studio recording its debut full-length.

4. Holler House

If you’re looking for tight and modern rock ‘n’ roll with plenty of reverence for classic bands like the Rolling Stones or Johnny Thunders, check out Holler House. Like New York meets Eugene, sample the music video for “Bukom” available on YouTube and let’s hope for more studio material soon. In the meantime, don’t miss Holler House live.

5. Paul Quillen

Quillen’s acoustic ballads are dusky little jewels, or the skyline of a city at night: reachable but somehow far away. Quillen put out a debut EP this year, and it’s terrific. As are his live performances. Eugene doesn’t deserve your songs, Paul, but thanks for sharing them anyway.

Honorable mentions: Caitlin Jemma, Girls Punch Bears, Baroque Betty, VCR and Surfsdrugs. — Will Kennedy

Best Hole in the Wall Restaurant 

Chi’s Korean Tacos 30 W. 10th Avenue. 541-636-6136.

Deep inside the Mos Eisley of the LTD downtown transit center is a place you could easily miss. Hanging high next to the McDonald Theatre’s marquee is a sign with a cat happily holding a taco. The cat should be happy because Chi’s Korean Tacos is an establishment that should be hailed as a national treasure — by both Koreas and the U.S. The restaurant maintains a small menu, which is great because I can never trust a place with a menu that could double as a Tolstoy novel. The tacos are a safe bet and, at $2.50 each, you can sample different meats: beef, chicken or pork. The burritos are a creative marriage of Mexican and Korean culinary tropes; it brings together kimchi, rice, cheese and any of the protein the restaurant serves. Of course, if you’re aiming for something more traditional, Chi’s offers bowls that are generous in size. Best of all, the owner says his mother makes the kimchi — ensuring the authenticity of the recipe. The sole downside is the restaurant is only open during the day, but that just means Chi’s is meant to be something of an afternoon delight.  — Henry Houston

Best Move by Local Law Enforcement

When, a few years back, a handful of emergency responders in the New York borough of Queens started carrying nasal-spray doses of Narcan — the opioid antagonist known as Naloxone, which quickly counteracts the effects of heroin — they completely revolutionized the way we deal with the national opioid epidemic. Instead of trained medical professionals being forced to maneuver in risky situations to deliver a hypodermic shot, just about anyone can squeeze a cloud of Narcan into the nose-hole of an overdose victim. So it was nothing but a good thing when police started carrying Narcan in Eugene, which often feels like ground zero of the opioid (and methamphetamine) crisis in America. The recent spate of overdoses in Lane County, linked to a bad batch of smack laced with fentanyl hitting the region, makes the fact of cops packing Narcan more crucial, and laudable, than ever. Dare we say the county health department should make this saving spray even more available? Narcan for everyone? Why not? — Rick Levin

Best Running Community

Run Hub Northwest 515 High Street. 541-344-1239.

I avoided my senior year of high school PE thanks to a loophole that counted marching band as fitness. So it’s ironic that running has become a favorite hobby of mine. There’s nothing more fun for me than plodding through a half marathon and wondering if that black toenail is going to fall off (it still hasn’t). I mean, I’m not going to break any records anytime soon, nor can I sport a moustache like Steve Prefontaine. Thanks to Run Hub Northwest, though, I at least have access to some pretty smart people who know tons about running. About once a year, the Eugene-based running store offers a class that teaches some of the mechanics of running and all the science behind the sport. They also host weekly community runs and sometimes donate running gear to school running programs. Granted, I haven’t run with them since I slogged through 90-degree heat in July, but the store and its staff have a dedication to instilling a sense of community for all runners —not just the fast, decorated ones. — Henry Houston

Comments are closed.