If you watched travel guru Rick Steves’ program on OPB about festivals in Europe, as we did, you’re probably wondering what happened to our own local festival — the Eugene Celebration and the wonderful Celebration parade, which went away long before the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on large gatherings. Maybe the Scandinavian Festival in Junction City, or the Oregon Country Fair, or Art and the Vineyard are enough festivals for us, or maybe we should contract with Cynthia Wooten — OCF and Eugene Celebration maven — to come back from California to organize a new celebration and parade.
• We’re picking up lots of chatter about Joseph Cappelletti’s fine cover story, “The City Hall of Your Dreams,” in Eugene Weekly’s March 4. Comments on his deep dive into Eugene’s (lack of) city hall like “this is what local journalism should be” make us proud. One reader, noting the ridiculousness of our city hall situation, suggested that the story should have run on April Fool’s Day!
• Reader Miles Todd asked whether EW remembers a Eugene character of the 1970s who called himself “Stupid.” No one here — though some of us are old enough for AARP cards — could place him, but a Facebook post by arts editor Bob Keefer drew an avalanche of replies. “Stupid” was the political nom de guerre of old lefty Marxist/anarchist Russell Dell; so many conservatives called him “stupid” that he co-opted the name. Dell hung out and sold his pamphlets in downtown Eugene in the late ’70s, a model for future characters like Frog. A veteran of the Spanish Civil War, Dell sported wild eyebrows, was a Wobbly (Google it, kids), ran for mayor and didn’t suffer fools. There’s even a cut of “Stupid’s Pledge” credited to Dell on an Ani DiFranco/Utah Phillips album of labor songs. Search “Stupid’s Pledge” on YouTube to hear it. He died in 1982, age 83, after accidentally eating poisonous mushrooms. His story reminds us that Eugene was a bright spot in the 1970s.
• What we’re reading: New book by Bill Gates, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need. Climate activist Bill McKibben gave Gates a lukewarm review in the Sunday New York Times, suggesting that he needs to know not just the science of climate change but also learn the politics. We agree with McKibben and understand that Gates is coming late to this climate disaster, but better to have him late than not at all.
• This week, EW spoke with Rep. Peter DeFazio about some recent actions in Congress (they’ve been busy!) The congressman says President Joe Biden “made it absolutely clear” that he wants to prioritize rebuilding the national infrastructure to be more climate friendly. He also talked about the Democrat’s massive voting rights bill, the Justice in Policing Act, the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ rights and the newest $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, which DeFazio called “the greatest anti-poverty bill in generations in this country.” The House passed the bill March 10 without help from Republicans. Read the story online at EugeneWeekly.com
• Joel Korin is coordinating the March 12 City Club of Eugene program on “Attack on the U.S. Capitol: Impact on the Republic and the Republican Party.” You can pick this up at noon on the City Club Facebook and YouTube pages and it will be broadcast Monday, March 15, at 7 pm on KLCC. Speakers are Peter Walker, University of Oregon professor; David Neiwert, freelance journalist; and Priscilla Southwell, UO professor emerita. Thumbs up for the City Club for putting up excellent programs under tough circumstances.
• It was called to our attention that in a story last week we referred to disabled people as “differently abled.” In doing that we used a term that avoids talking about disability, which for many people is a key part of their identity and not something to avoid discussing. We updated the story and regret the error and any pain it caused.