It's Showtime: All venues in town are lit up.
Between Two Worlds: Writer Barry Lopez honors both nature and culture.
Pawn Trail: Celebrate Readin' in the Rain on the North Fork Siuslaw.
Cool Big River: Corvallis eatery draws lively, appreciative crown.
All venues in town are lit up.
By Aria Seligmann
|The Crucible continues
at LCC through May 4.
-- The Vagina Monologues opens April 30 at the Hult. This is a touring show, with one local actor. The fact that VM is being staged at the Hult and is receiving national attention is incredible. A couple of years ago, Carol Horne brought it to the UO as part of the Valentine's Day initiative to end violence against women and girls. Universities around the world read the show on that date. The UO has produced it since then and now it's reaching a broader audience.
Eve Ensler's compilation of monologues are about sexuality, empowerment and the ability to say "vagina" -- it's not a dirty word and there's nothing bad about it. After interviewing hundreds of women, Ensler was shocked to discover the amount of abuse they suffered. The monologues are their stories, but the play is not a downer. Many humorous moments lighten things up. The play is also meant to raise funds for programs that support women and this production is no exception. Sexual Assault Support Services and Womenspace will receive a portion of the ticket sales. It opens April 30 and runs through May 5.
-- Impact Theatre's hosting a Star Wars Trilogy Marathon this Sunday at the McDonald. The first episode, Star Wars, starts at 1 pm sharp, followed by The Empire Strikes Back at 3:20 pm and Return of the Jedi at 5:45 pm. The event wraps up at 8 pm. Tickets are only $9 adv., $10 dos for all three shows; they get cheaper as the day goes on. Purchase tix at Harlequin Beads and Jewelry next door to the McDonald. The Impact Film Fest is a benefit that helps kids and popcorn's only a buck fifty, so go.
-- The Creative Material Group is a consortium of artists from a variety of disciplines including art, theater, creative writing and music. Included are John Schmor and Leon Johnson, the cool duo who brought us Faust/Faustus, if you were luckier than me and got a ticket to see it before they sold out. Now, they're back, with friends, to raise funds for their 2002 UK tour of "reMEMBERING WILDE," an inter-media work-in-progress composed by Jeffrey Stolet and sung by Matthew Woodburn.
"Wilde," along with Faust/Faustus in Deptford, a video by Leon Johnson, developed from the Faust/Faustus UK Tour in 2000; and Creative Material Group's newest project, "St. Joseph's Book of Acts? A Prologue," written by Portland-based poet David Abel with video by Justin Novak, music by Joey Bargsten and performances by Leon Johnson and John Schmor, will be presented at 8 pm, May 1st at the Lord Leebrick Theatre. The show will last about an hour and you can talk about it afterward.
-- If you can only see one play from now through May 4th, see Arthur Miller's The Crucible, directed by Patrick Torelle and playing at LCC. I caught it last weekend. This production is so good it's clearly making a point that LCC shouldn't be cutting its theater department. Torelle has done a masterful job of bringing out every nuance of the classic tale, with a minimalist set (designed with artistry by Skip Hubbard) that allows the story to take center stage.
Torrelle also brings out amazing performances from his actors, especially Jessica van Rossem (Abigail), Myeesha Madrigale (Tituba), Katharine M. Lewis (Elizabeth Proctor), Rob Aley (Proctor) and Jason Perkins (Mr. Hale). There were other fine performances, but these actors stood out.
Also of note is the professional costuming by Sue Surdam Bean and a huge costume design team. Lighting by James McConkey adds the right amount of mystery and evil to the production. This show is so polished, so tight, it shouldn't be missed. We may be seeing theater again at LCC one day, but in the meantime, catch this show in this space while you can.
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Between Two Worlds
Writer Barry Lopez honors both nature and culture.
By Lois Wadsworth
National Book Award-winning writer Barry Lopez, who has lived in his Finn Rock home on the McKenzie River for 30 years, receives the distinguished John Hay Award from the Orion Society this weekend during a colloquium in his honor, entitled "Literary and Artistic Response to Terrorism." The award includes a medallion and a $3,000 honorarium. Past recipients are: Wendell Berry, E.O. Wilson, Ann Zwinger, Gary Snyder, Jane Goodall, Peter Matthiessen, Homero Aridjis and W.S. Merwin.
|Barry Lopez, recipient
of the 2002 Orion Society's John Hay Award.
The Orion award is not the only honor Lopez has received this year. He was elected as a Fellow to the Explorers Club in late February, based on a career that has included wide-ranging works of fiction, non-fiction and essays. Lopez is quick to say that he is neither an explorer nor a scientist himself; rather he's "one of the people [who] just comes along" on various expeditions.
"A lot of my professional life has been spent with scientists," Lopez said. "I'm an extension of my [writing] community back in North America. And while I'm not a scientist, I'm doing science with them, writing about it as an observing participant. I treat empirical knowledge as a need to look closely at everything around us."
Lopez' high regard for field experience expresses the deeply held values that inform his work. "As a child in Southern California, I was immersed in the physical world," he said. "Then I went away to a school where intellectual abilities were prized. I find myself between these two worlds, still -- the intellectual and the empirical."
In "The Naturalist," an essay published in the Autumn 2001 Orion magazine (www.oriononline.org), Lopez writes about how tyrants historically eliminated or silenced those with firsthand knowledge when it conflicted with their own "political or social designs." He writes that "firsthand knowledge of a country's ecosystems, a rapidly diminishing pool of expertise and awareness, lies at the radical edge of any country's political thought."
Of Wolves and Men (1978)
Lessons from the Wolverine (1997)
Field Notes (1994)
Crow and Weasel (1990)
Winter Count (1981)
River Notes (1979)
Giving Birth to Thunder (1977)
Desert Notes (1976)
About This Life (1998)
The Rediscovery of North America (1991)
Crossing Open Ground (1988)
Furthermore, he explained recently, "There are no local politics anywhere on the planet informed by biology. To say that the jury is still out on global warming is the expression of someone who doesn't want recess to be over. The jury is out because it went home. Our politics are figuratively in the hands of adolescents, people who still believe that they are going to open the Crackerjacks box and find a toy that will save us all. It's a refusal to take on adult responsibility for the [finite] material that we have to work with. The way we've set things up, we're willing to trade-in our biological requirements for a higher standard of living or economic well being, and it's not going to work. It's a child's game. There is no trade-off for oxygen," Lopez said.
His conviction that writers and artists must speak out on issues
that affect us arises from Lopez's experience of the mystery of nature. A modern
naturalist "knows a local flora and fauna as pieces of an inscrutable mystery,
increasingly deep, a unity of
organisms that Western culture has
been trying to elevate itself above since at least Mesopotamian times," he writes in "The Naturalist." He writes it's "a view that suggests a horizon rather than a boundary for knowing, toward which we are always walking."
"Part of our baggage is that we think we can know nature," Lopez said in this interview. "Our tendency is to look at the world as fantastically complicated machinery, which implies that you can understand it and that it doesn't have a soul. Nature is like a warehouse we own and manage, and in a few more years we'll be able to get the lighting into all the corners." By declaring nature outside of ourselves as soulless, he noted, "We've created a profoundly lonely habitat for ourselves. Loneliness comes from the belief that nothing cares for you."
On the other hand, Lopez said we can "get over the adolescent urge to direct the world and become instead a participant. It's what Joseph Campbell meant when he said people want to be fully alive, not figure out the meaning of life. Fully alive means spiritually alive. When we stop and look at a beautiful sunrise or sunset, for a few minutes we remember what life once was for people. It's not so much a moment of beauty as a moment of memory."
The main focus of nature writing is not nature but the relationships between nature and culture, Lopez said. "Justice and relationships are primary interests to those who write across a range of issues," he said. "These are issues I've been thinking about for years. When I started writing, the metaphors I was interested in were natural history, archeology, geology, anthropology. Forty years ago an American writer looked for literature in fiction, but that's changed now. Three writers of my generation -- Annie Dillard, Tobias Wolfe and I -- have worked in both fiction and non-fiction."
Lopez said his literary influences include John Steinbeck, whose 100th anniversary is being celebrated this year. "Further along in my career I looked at Wendell Berry, Wallace Stegner. Peter Matthiessen is interested in the fate of native people all over the world, social justice," he said. "Willa Cather is also in this line. Stephen Crane. Loren Eisley. Rachel Carson. It's all of a piece. The stream of water that contains the literary people and the stream that contains social scientists are running together now," he concluded.
And thanks to Lopez and writers like him, these waters quench the spiritual thirst of a soul-filled natural world that includes us all.
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Celebrate Readin' in the Rain on the North Fork Siuslaw.
By James Johnston
And for another thing, there was nothing not a thing! about the country that made a man feel Big And Important-- The flora and fauna grew or died, flourished or failed, in complete disregard for man and his aims-- I say there was no permanence. Even that town was temporary. I say it. All vanity and vexation of the spirit. One generation passeth away, and another cometh: but the earth abides forever, as forever as the rain lets it. --Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion
The inaugural selection for Readin' in the Rain -- Eugene's first citywide community read along -- is Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken Kesey's poignant portrait of an Oregon logging clan. You can't appreciate the book properly until you get out to the Coast Range west of Eugene, the inspiration for Kesey's masterpiece.
Kesey's Coast Range is an extravagant physical and psychic landscape filled with rugged mountains and even more rugged human inhabitants. The incessant rain breeds lush ferns, fluorescent green mosses, swollen rivers and outlandish personalities. It's a dynamic and impermanent geography where only the biggest and most flamboyant specimens thrive.
A good place to experience the unparalleled vitality of the Oregon Coast Range is the Pawn trail, an easy mile-long stroll through a gorgeous old-growth forest in the upper reaches of the North Fork of the Siuslaw River.
Directions: Take Hwy. 126 west from Eugene for approximately 42 miles to Mapleton. At Mapleton, take a right on Hwy. 36. Head east on Hwy. 36 for 3.2 miles. Take a left at the sign for the North Fork Siuslaw River and Pioneer Trail. Stay on this road, which alternates between pavement and gravel, for 6.4 miles, where you'll cross the North Fork and take a right on North Fork Road. Head up the river another 5.4 miles, take a right onto Elk Tie Road, and park immediately on the right at the well-signed Pawn trailhead.
The Pawn trailhead is the site of a small village established in the early 1900s. The trail takes its name from the first letter of the last name of four of the first homesteaders of the area: Poole, Akerley, Worthington and Noland. There's nothing left of the original settlement, undoubtedly a victim of the same rain induced ennui that plagued the first Stamper homesteaders in Sometimes a Great Notion.
At the start of the trail you'll find a ragged interpretive booklet full of interesting facts about old-growth forests (and some typical Forest Service obfuscation about why there's hardly any left) in a plastic bag jammed inside a kiosk. The first hundred yards of the trail provide a great view of the North Fork looking downriver. The trail is a loop -- if you stay to the left you'll pass through a grove of enormous Douglas fir and western hemlock before you drop down to the riverbank, which is dominated by alder and a few big red cedars. There's a ton of beautiful white trilliums along the trail in April.
The best part of the trail are the giant big-leaf maples draped in a blanket of deep moss, and gnarled old Douglas firs with broken tops and massive U-shaped branches.
It's a great place to read the book and watch the river -- if it's not raining
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Cool Big River
Corvallis eatery draws lively, appreciative crowd.
Aw, this hurts: Corvallians have a joint that's lively, hip, comfy-casual AND puts out some majorly munchable grub and glugable grog. Located on prime property edging the riverfront park renovation project, in a few months this will be the place to sit 'n' sip by the river while smack in the center of the city. That can only add to Big River's already-rich stock of understated cool.
From the outside, BR doesn't look like much, except for the fringe of honey locust trees in pale chartreuse of first-flush, plus lots of barrel-potted plants showing colors to the street. A corner building, it looks like maybe an old warehouse; inside preserves that appearance, with high barn-like ceilings showing exposed rafters and stainless and galvanized ductwork emanating from the semi-open kitchen and the long open bar that dominates the first floor. Twenty-plus stools line the bar and get lots of action, but booths and tables surround the area, lotsa blondish wood, seats of dark red leatherette with half-matching red napkins, burning candles in cobalt-blue holders on the tables, plenty of windows looking out on the poplars and cottonwoods shimmering on the banks of the spring-murky Willamette. The light's soft, which is weird because it's an eclectic combo -- industrial globes, traditional candelabra, contemporary funk sconces -- that throws the beams. Serious jazz riffs blow through the speakers but at decibels that respect both the music and diners.
The upstairs tables are quieter (a little), a good place for the families and the cozy-seekers, but this is not the place for that intimate téte-a-téte.
But it's the place for really tasty food. The dinner menu draws from all over the global map for serious but unpretentious cuisine. We're looking at dinners in the range of $14.50 for Penne with Roasted Red Peppers to $22.95 for 16 oz. T-Bone, options for exotic pizzas and calzone ($13-$14.25). We decide on the heavy test, ordering Dungeness Crab Gnocchi ($16.50), warning our server, Brian, that if the chef isn't fully confident about his homemade gnocchi -- fingertip-sized pillows of dough that can be awful when gummy/chewy or heavenly when fluffy/light -- then come back with the menu. Brian smiles, offers variety of dressings for my salad, slides into the kitchen. Nice chunk of rustic pugliese with plate of olive oil and cracked pepper hits the table, quickly followed by a glass of Farmington (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc ($5.75) (Note: nice little wine list, great list of single-malt scotches and bourbons, specialty cocktails, fair prices), followed almost instantly by the salad.
The wine dazzles, crisp, notes of melon and citrus. The salad greens are still trembling and crunchy, nice vinaigrette, light crumble of blue cheese. Just polishing the plate when big bowl of crab of gnocchi lands on table, redolent recipe of leeks, romas, shredded fresh basil, lemon, vodka, cream. Tenuous taste, Brian hovering: crabs sea-fresh, ambrosial. Fork a gnocchi, dripping sauce: oboyoboyoboy, Da Kin'! Tender, fluffy as my Kat's lips, and generous portions in all parts.
Blissed, we signal for pastries (all $5.75): creme brulee, choc mousse, cheesecake, etc. Opt for choc mousse cake, layer of choc cake, dark choc mousse, lighter, then white choc, topped with darkdark choc glaze. Bingo. Eureka, Watson, we've got it, at Big River. This case is closed.
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