The earnest but sometimes tone-deaf Shedd Institute for the Arts generated heated criticism over the weekend after Eugene vocalist Siri Vik revisited her 2013 tribute to the late influential jazz singer Billie Holiday in concerts Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20 and 21. Numerous social media posts pointed out that a white woman performing the repertoire that a Black singer is known for is cultural appropriation. Some called The Shedd a white supremacist organization after Vik performed a program of Holiday standards as part of the Oregon Festival of American Music’s weekend program on jazz and American popular music of the ’40s. While Vik is a talented and sensitive performer whose specialty is songs of suffering by women, The Shedd should understand why it’s problematic for her to portray an African American singer — especially in a community with talented Black performers who should be lifted up, not erased.
• We hope folks turn out for the Lunar New Year Celebration from noon-4 pm Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Springfield Public Library, 225 5th Street, and the Springfield History Museum at 590 Main Street. The free event features offers from Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander cultures. Supporting the celebration is more important than ever after the recent devastating mass shooting in California. And don’t get us going on gun control. Or maybe do. WTF.
• U.S. Rep. Val Hoyle dropped by Eugene Weekly’s office recently to talk about her first few weeks in Washington, D.C. Of course, her swearing-in took a few days, as it took House Republicans 15 tries to elect Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The state of the House of Representatives under Republicans, she says, is a world of difference from when Democrats had control of Congress from 2020 to 2022. Then, Democrats had a similar slim majority in the House but still managed to pass historic legislation, Hoyle says, but the Republicans can’t even elect a speaker without giving in to the party’s far-right idealogues. Hoyle hasn’t been assigned to a committee yet, but she hopes she can serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which she says is still a bipartisan body.
• Longtime City Councilor Mike Clark must be pleased. For a decade or so, the Eugene City Council member has advocated for the riverfront EWEB building to be Eugene’s City Hall, and negotiations are underway to make that happen. Some critics have said it is too far from the center of the city, but overall, reactions seem to be positive. It’s unlikely that voters would approve funding to build a new city hall, so let’s proceed on this track and see what happens both to the EWEB building and to the land downtown that had been slated for a city hall site.
• On Jan. 23, Springfield City Councilor Leonard Stoehr announced that he was stepping down from office for a job-related move to Atlanta, Georgia. Stoehr was elected to the Ward 4 seat in 2016, an upset victory over former Councilor Dave Ralston. During his tenure, Stoehr was a reliable ally for the working class. So who will Springfield City Council appoint to replace Stoehr? We’ll see, but we hope it’s someone with similar social justice values.
• The Oregon Duck basketballers, both men and women, are frustratingly inconsistent this season. The women fall behind and then come storming back, not always a winning strategy. The men are good enough to beat top-10 Arizona, and then fall to teams at the bottom of the conference. Let’s hope both teams show their best sides as we head to March Madness.
• Basketball fans in Oregon are mourning the death of 93-year-old Bill Schonely, the original radio voice of the Portland Trail Blazers and the originator of the moniker “Rip City.” The phrase came out of Schonely’s mouth during a game in the team’s 1971 inaugural season, and became iconic. An obituary in The Oregonian says the phrase probably came from Schonely’s time announcing baseball in which a player might hit a “ripping” line drive.