Archive for the ‘Oregon’ Category

Glenwood: Occupied City

December 9, 2010

The place where I work is located in Glenwood, which is situated between Eugene and Springfield (where the Simpsons live). Glenwood is an unincorporated area, meaning that it has no actual city government. It has a Eugene postal address, and it is patrolled by Springfield’s police. The main strip in Glenwood is Franklin Boulevard, a drab expanse of rental places, used car lots and pawn shops. I guess this is what happens when you have no government. I have seen other unincorporated areas in Oregon, and they all look pretty much the same. This is one of the reasons why I’ve never been able to buy the argument that government is inherently a bad thing.

There are people living in Glenwood, though you might not guess this from driving down Franklin Boulevard. I have not been able to find any estimates of the population. I guess this is due to the place having no government. Glenwood has a reputation for being home to hippies, eccentrics and low income people. There are several trailer parks in the area.

For a while I was without a car. I would get to work using a Eugene bus that goes through Glenwood. I get out of work in the evenings after dark. One night it was pouring rain. I was wearing a poncho. I was walking down the street that takes me to a bus stop on Franklin Boulevard. I was coming up to the intersection with Franklin. There were railroad tracks on my left. On my right was a towing garage that looked as though it had gone out of business. On the other side of the intersection was a trailer park. A Springfield police car came along on Franklin, and it came to a sudden stop in the middle of the intersection. I could see a police officer looking in my direction. I looked behind me, but I could see nothing. The police car then drove a short way down the street, pulled into a parking lot and turned around. I began to think that this perhaps had something to do with me, but I told myself I was being paranoid, and I tried to put it out of my mind. I turned on to the sidewalk on Franklin and crossed underneath a railroad bridge. The cruiser pulled into a parking lot ahead of me. A police officer got out and walked towards me. He was quite tall. He wanted to know what I was doing. I told him I had just gotten out of work, and I was walking to the bus station. He smirked at me as though he didn’t really believe me. However, he got back in his cruiser and drove away.

Although nothing came of this incident, it left me feeling disturbed. I have lived in Boston, New York, Jersey City and Los Angeles. This is the first time I have ever been stopped and questioned by a policeman just for walking down a street. When I told my friends about this, they said the cop probably thought I was looking to buy drugs from somebody. Apparently, Glenwood has that kind of reputation. Of course, there are a lot easier ways to get drugs in the Eugene area than by walking around Glenwood in the pouring rain, though I suppose the Springfield Police may not be aware of this.

Since then, I’ve often wondered if people who live in Glenwood often get stopped and questioned by the Springfield Police. Since the people there have no say in Springfield’s government, this amounts to an occupation. One of the drawbacks to not having a government is that eventually you find yourself at the mercy of some foreign entity. Such as the Springfield police.

Sasquatch

November 12, 2010

When I first started this blog, one of my intentions was to write about some of the lore and history of Oregon. Clearly I’ve moved in a very different direction, but I’ve decided to try to make a return to my original aim. And what better place to start than with sasquatch (vulgarly known as “bigfoot”)? These are creatures who reportedly walk upright, are nine feet tall and covered with hair.

The name of the creature is derived from sésquac, a Salish Indian word meaning “wild man”. There are many Native American stories about tall, hairy humanoid creatures. Sasquatch is an interesting example of a Native American belief being adopted by whites.

There have been 76 reported sasquatch sightings in Lane County where I live, more than in any other county. (I’m not sure whether I should feel proud of this.) In recent years there have been sasquatch sightings in places such as Florida. At the risk of sounding provincial, I must say that I resent this. Sasquatch is a creature of the Pacific Norhtwest. It seems to me that people from other parts of the country are trying to horn in on our fun.

I must admit to being a sasquatch skeptic. Since these creatures are bipedal, they would likely be closely related to human beings. Yet there is no fossil record of nine-foot tall hominids. What’s more, I often walk through the hills of South Eugene at night, and I have yet to encounter any nine-foot tall hairy hominids Still, there are fervent sasquatch-believers. Last June a sasquatch symposium was held here in Eugene. Scholars and academics (well, they call themselves scholars and academics) from all over the world gathered together to discuss all things sasquatch. I would have liked to have gone to this event, but I couldn’t afford it, since I was broke at the time. However, I read about it in the Eugene Weekly. The big celebrity speaker at the event was Autumn Williams, author and Oregon native. According to the Weekly:

    Williams spent a good deal of time talking about a pseudonymous witness she called Mike, a “redneck” bulldozer driver from Florida, who claims to have developed close ties to a sasquatch he calls Enoch. Williams’ relationship with Mike appears to have had a profound, almost life-altering impact on her. “I felt like somebody had handed me the Holy Grail of sasquatch research,” she said of hearing Mike’s story.

    Williams attested that Mike was an “incredibly credible” witness whose stories were “detailed” and “intense” and never once changed despite several retellings. If it’s that the devil is in the details, and so is the believability of any good yarn. And, as related by Williams, Mike shared some lovely, offbeat and wonderfully colloquial observations about “skunk apes,” which is what he calls sasquatch.

This is starting to sound like a bad children’s TV show. (“Redneck Mike and His Forest Friend, Enoch”.) I was hoping for something more in the lurid manner of The X-Files. The Weekly goes on:

    Williams’ bigfoot presentation, over time, took on a distinct utopian vibe, one of rosy romantic primitivism. The underlying message of her story was that the bigfoot — community oriented, nonmaterialistic, free of artifice and, overall, purely pure as nature itself — lives a simpler, less encumbered and more peaceful way of life than human beings. In fact, it is actually us, with our alienating cities and glitzy consumer goods and fear of boredom and, as Williams put it, our constructed selves that “change on a daily basis with fads,” who must learn from the skunk apes. “We’re so far removed from what we were,” Williams said.

Yuck. This is New Age mush. This just ruins it. When I was growing up, sasquatch were terrifying creatures. I would read newspaper stories about people who claimed that sasquatch threw rocks at them and tried to abduct them. I remember when I was about twelve years old, I saw a doucmentary about sasquatch in a movie theatre. It scared the bejesus out of me. (I suspect that if I saw it now, I would just laugh at it. One can never recapture the innocence of childhood.) Now, they’re just overgrown, hirsute hippies. Boring. I think this is another example of the Disneyfication of American culture. Everything has to be made to seem as cute as a litter of puppies. Well, I won’t have it. I want my scary sasquatch back!

The Oregon Elections

November 5, 2010


Six more years of this.

Here in Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District, the Democrat, Pete DeFazio, beat a bizarre Republican candidate, Art Robinson, by only six percentage points. Robinson, who has a PhD in chemistry, has called for abolishing public education. (Robinson sells home schooling kits over the Internet. I’m sure this is purely a coincidence.) Robinson denies global warming and claims that low-level radiation can be good for you. He spent an enormous amount of money on his campaign. His signs were everywhere. He even paid people to drive around with his signs stuck to their cars.

DeFazio has a reputation for being one of the more liberal members of Congress. In a liberal district, why did a right-wing nutjob like Robinson get such a large percentage of the vote? During the campaign, DeFazio made much of the fact that he voted against Obama’s stimulus bill, citing this as evidence of his “independence”. I don’t think this was too bright, considering that many people (myself included) got bigger refund checks because of Obama’s tax cuts. DeFazio should have voted for the stimulus bill and against Obama’s fraudulent “health care reform” bill. (DeFazio is terrible on immigration. He opposes amnesty and calls for beefing up “border security”.) God save us from “liberal” Democrats like DeFazio.

Ron Wyden, another Democrat, was re-elected to the Senate. Like DeFazio, Wyden had the cajones to vote against the bank bailouts, but, like DeFazio, he meekly went along with the health care flim-flam. Wyden’s opponent, somebody named Huffman, was an idiot. Huffman mailed out a campaign flyer that showed a picture of a toilet bowl. The caption read, “This is the state of Oregon’s economy.” Below that was a picture of a roll of toilet paper made out of $100 bills. The caption for this read, “This is Wyden’s plan to save it.” (The color scheme of the flyer was red, white and blue. Get it?) My mother became visibly upset when she found this in her mail. She held it out to me and said, “This is the most vulgar election ad I have ever seen.” She was so angry that she could barely speak. I took the thing from her hand and threw it in the trash. My mother is eighty-one years old, so that tells you something.

Much to my surprise, a measure to enable the medical use of marijuana was voted down. This is in a state where cannabis is a major cash crop, and where I have seen some people brazenly smoking pot in public. I’m still trying to figure out the reason for this defeat. I will write about it in a future post.