Category Archives: Multimedia

Dealing with Death

Mark Musgrove gave his mother CPR on the deck of a snorkeling boat during a family vacation in Hawaii. His children stood and watched, panicked, as their grandmother died of a heart attack. Back home, in Oregon, Mark’s brother, Jeff was packing his bags to meet up with the rest of the family when he received the news. The younger Musgrove brother soon altered his vacation plans to make funeral arrangements.

“I wouldn’t have traded that for what Jeff had to go through,” says Mark.

For months after the funeral, Jeff suffered panic attacks. His chest would cinch tight. He would often think about his mother’s untimely death, and how he too, would soon die.

“Just having that experience gave me a deeper understanding for the people that I serve,” Jeff says.

The Musgroves grew up in the funeral business. A trip to pick up a dead body in Salem turned into an enjoyable family outing. The boys’ parents worked in a funeral home that would later become the Musgrove Family Mortuary.

Mark lived in the home until he was three. Jeff lived there during college. Mark became a funeral director after graduating from college. Jeff eventually joined his brother in the family business—a business that is often unpredictable and challenging.

Everyday is different for the Musgroves. One of their many tasks include helping with the pick up and delivery of a body. Within 24 hours, by law, the funeral home must embalm or refrigerate the corpse. If it requires refrigeration, the body must be bathed, the hair shampooed and eyes closed.

“The family will bring in clothing—everything from a nightgown to a robe… we’ve had guys bring in tuxedos; we have no dress code,” Jeff says.

Though Jeff helps in preparing the bodies, his main job is to help guide the family through their grieving process.

“People are so desperate for some guidance. It’s like the tsunami has washed over their life and they don’t know what to do,” Jeff says.

Although the Musgroves need to be sympathetic, they say it is hard not to take their work home with him. Their mother had to leave the funeral business because she would often lay awake at night crying, wondering what would happen to the grieving families she had helped earlier in the day.

“She had to stop because it was killing her,” Jeff says.

The brothers acknowledge the constant exposure to grief is taxing—both emotionally and physically. Fortunately, they had a good example to follow.

“Our parents taught us ethics; especially my mom, who was so loving,” Mark says.

Mark often has to reeducate families about the funeral process because of misinformation perpetuated by shows like Six Feet Under or C.S.I.—a difficult task that is often exacerbated by his clients’ unstable condition.

“Some are in grief, in shock… maybe they haven’t slept in days. Maybe they popped a valium or something to help them deal with this big stress in their life,” Jeff says.

The family seeks to give their clients options, but says their brains sometimes cannot process the information correctly. As a result, the funeral directors are occasionally the recipients of misplaced anger.

Mark says more people are thinking ahead and planning for their funerals—a process that is hard for some people to comprehend.

“All these decisions are heart decisions. It’s really hard to wake up one morning, when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping, and to say, you know, ‘I’m going to go plan my funeral today.’ You know it doesn’t work that way,” Jeff says.

While the business of death is familiar to Jeff and his family, grief is something hard and foreign. When his mother died, he claims it was easier for him because he knew the about difficult decisions he would have to make. He says the planning process even helped bring the family closer.

“We were crying, laughing, hugging, and kissing,” Mark says.

When their mother returned to Oregon, she was dressed up and her makeup was done. The Musgroves say that it made the family feel as though they were tucking their mother in at night and taking care of her.

Ultimately, the family’s own traumatic experience helped them grow professionally.

“It made those of us that went through that better funeral directors. It put us on the other side of the table,” Mark says.

In spite of the hardships, the family obtains a deep-rooted sense of fulfillment from the work they do. They often receive phone calls of gratitude and Christmas cards every winter from families they helped years previously. Jeff says a lot of people need to volunteer to feel self-actualized in their lives, but he feels that he is helping people every day – and helping himself to realize his own mortality.

“There are instances where if I am not touched by the circumstances, then I need to get out of the business,” Jeff says, “the family who loses a little child. If I don’t shed a tear, then that’s not good, but sometimes I need to shed a tear and move on because I need to be the anchor for them.”

 

Grinding the Gears: Inside and Outside of Robotics

Students line up around the stacks of wood. “Let’s get going guys,” the team co-captain says.

Each person picks up a different tool and begins assembling an exact replication of the blueprints the students created before the six-week building period. Quickly, the robotics arm is nestled into position.

SERT is the robotics team at South Eugene High School and is compromised of approximately 20 students with just as many different personalities. Each student contributes skills in distinct backgrounds to attribute to the success of the program.

“Outside of robotics, I enjoy reading, writing poetry, and riding horses,” says Perrin Dunn, 16. “It’s a really good experience because I’ve never been in any clubs before.”

"Having students interested in different things works out well for us," Kelly says. Each student brings a different background and contributes a diverse skill set to the team. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

“Having students interested in different things works out well for us,” Kelly says. Each student brings a different background and contributes a diverse skill set to the team. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

By delving into the meticulous realm of circuitry, SERT provides its students a way to get hands-on experience with teamwork, mathematics, and engineering in an academic setting before entering the real world.

Marcus Hall, the Head Programmer for SERT, uses the education he received through SERT to venture outside the realm of academia and share his passion for science and electrical work to elementary students at the Science Factory, a local children’s museum and planetarium in Eugene, Oregon.

Marcus Hall, SERT captain and head programmer, measures a piece of wood that that will eventually become a target for their demonstrations. Outside of SERT, Hall teaches robotics to elementary and middle school students in the Eugene area. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Marcus Hall, SERT captain and head programmer, measures a piece of wood that that will eventually become a target for their demonstrations. Outside of SERT, Hall teaches robotics to elementary and middle school students in the Eugene area. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

In addition to teaching at the Science Factory, Hall teaches robotics to elementary school students at the Science Factory as well as with the Talented and Gifted program at the University of Oregon, a community outreach program dedicated to advanced education among K-12 students through U of O’s College of Education.

Through his work at the Science Factory, Hall is gaining invaluable leadership and teaching experience that he can incorporate into his team captain position with the SERT team.

Head coach and mentor Brian Kelly believes that having a strong and organized leader is quintessential to the six-week building season. It helps strengthen the team both from leadership and teaching standpoints.

During the non-building season, students take their skills to other areas of the school and invest them into classes and programs such as the Stagecraft class in which they construct the stages and sets for each play. This helps maintain their building dexterity during the off-season, as well as keeps the students in a team setting.

Sandra Lui uses a different take to practice her skills by leading the SERT public relations team. Outside of the building season, Lui travels with Hall to lobby the state legislature for more funding for FIRST Robotics. She feels that having a team dedicated to seeking funding for the program is an essential part of a successful robotics program now and in the future.

Even though the students excel far beyond the minimum requirements to preserve their team, for the future of SERT to travel down the path of least resistance, the team must over come a large hurdle recently set forth by the City of Eugene.

For the 2013-2014 school year, the City of Eugene has proposed a bond measure that could potentially harm the SERT program. Measure 20-201, a $170 million bond measure that would replace four aging school buildings, would eliminate Roosevelt Middle School, the current workspace for SERT.

“I don’t know what will happen,” Kelly says about the future of the program. Roosevelt Middle School is the only school is the area with enough space, storage and equipment for the SERT team to successfully construct a robot.

“There are no other workspaces around that we could use,” says Kelly.

In a time of economic instability, job security has never been at a more pivotal point, and any experience that students can obtain during high school will benefit their chances of pursuing a professional career in a technical field.

Having fundamental, hands-on skills is crucial to obtaining a job in the technical field. If the SERT program is lost, students will have to look for alternative methods to enhance their skills. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Having fundamental, hands-on skills is crucial to obtaining a job in the technical field. If the SERT program is lost, students will have to look for alternative methods to enhance their skills. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

“It’s [robotics is] going to be helpful someday,” Lui says. “I’ve always wanted to help people.” The students feel that robotics has strengthened their ability to assist others and recognize the advantages team collaboration will have on their future endeavors.

If lost, SERT members will have no other outlets within this discipline because FIRST Robotics is the only hands-on program left at South Eugene High School. Churchill High School is the only Eugene school outside South that has an active robotics team.

“This is their one big outlet and I think that’s actually a failing of the schools today, that kids don’t get any practical experience,” Kelly says.

As it stands, SERT relies heavily on funding from outside donors, and this can prove to be a challenge in a city where the largest businesses are also non-profit organizations. To raise more funds, the team participates in outside fundraising events each year to pay for the $5,000 entrance fee required before the competitive season starts.

SERT team members gather around the main controller as they prepare to give a demonstration in an effort to attract more students to their program. Recruitment is essential to the success of their program. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

SERT team members gather around the main controller as they prepare to give a demonstration in an effort to attract more students to their program. Recruitment is essential to the success of their program. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

The students also show off their hard work in “performances” at both Roosevelt and Spencer Butte Middle Schools to recruit eight graders into their program for the following year. Demonstrating what they’ve been intensively working on for the last six weeks helps attract a wide range of candidates as additions to the SERT team.

“I like robotics because it’s a bunch of helping, and electronics, and it’s a team,” Yakov Berenshtein says.

Relentless Forward Motion

The second her feet hit the track, she felt like a movie star. She became conscious of human noises –cheering, clapping, other feet falling into step beside her. After thirty-six hours, she had done it: Carolyn Hennessey had completed her first one-hundred-mile Western States Ultramarathon run.

She had spent half the night in the dark woods, the only sounds the owls, her footsteps, and her steady breath. She stopped occasionally to vomit–her body’s reaction to her attempts to consume food along the trail. The time pacers faded in and out, providing her with enough strength and encouragement to continue on. Relentless forward motion, she reminded herself.

The competition was solely internal: a personal commitment to accomplishment. However for Hennessey, finishing also meant overcoming mental and physical obstacles and fighting to keep control of her body while pushing it to the extreme. Despite the pain, discovering and defining her personal limits thrills her.

“I’m always curious about how far I can go and how long,” she says.

Meet the Runners

The category of ultrarunning encompasses a variety of races of different terrains and lengths. Technically, the distance is “anything over a marathon, which is 26.2 miles” according to Hennessey. Typically races range between fifty kilometers and fifty-miles races to one hundred kilometers and one-hundred-mile races. However, the longest ultrarun in the world is the 3,100-mile Self-Transcendence race in Queens, New York. Runners make 5,649 laps around the same city block, taking about a month to complete the race.

Although the concept of running for hours on end does not at first seem like a form of relaxation, individual runners learn to love logging these continuous miles. Hennessey started this practice young, beginning to add mileage to her high school softball team’s required two-mile warm-up before practice.

“I think I just liked that running made me feel free and got my heart beating,” she explains.

Growing up in the Mojave Desert, Hennessey appreciated the sagebrush and other parts of the breathtaking landscape she could see while on long runs. Running became an addictive form of self-competition, and she continued to add more miles to test her endurance.

“You find something in yourself that makes you keep going,” she says.

Carolyn Hennessey runs with her dogs for companionship and safety.

Carolyn Hennessey runs with her dogs for companionship and safety.

Hennessey ran her first hundred-mile ultramarathon in 2010, but it didn’t go exactly as planned when she began experiencing stomach issues at mile thirty-seven, vomiting for the next forty miles.

“I was so determined to finish the hundred-miler that it never crossed my mind that I would stop,” she says.

Although racing is often a personal journey, Hennessey values the time she trains with others. She and Kristin Zosel, whom she describes as a “kindred spirit,” met haphazardly on a trail when Zosel mistook Hennessey for someone else. The connection was instantaneous and they began running together.

This type of friendship is common in the ultrarunning community, According to Zosel. The sport brings together people of different socioeconomic backgrounds, ages and experiences that build unique friendships.

“You go through a lot of different emotions on the trail, you see each other when you are having some tantrums . . . maybe you’re working through some things in life with that run,” she explains. “And it seems like the bond that you form with those people is just stronger.”

Much like Hennessey, Zosel explains her relationship with running as a “slow love affair” that developed after playing sports all her life. Zosel never thought about running until she was in college and, looking for a way to stay in shape, she realized that running might be the best match for her.

“I did the Stairmaster every day and after a year of that I decided I was not going to be sticking with that for a lifetime.”

Running, on the other hand, she could.

Small laps on the road turned into large loops on mountain trails. “There was more a moment with trails where I discovered that, oh my gosh, why would I ever run on roads when I can run on trails?”

Zosel ran her first ultramarathon in Alaska–a fifty-mile long trek with no road access for miles. “That was the race where I discovered just how badly you could hurt but how incredibly euphoric you can be at the same time.”

She parked her car at the start, committing herself to a run of at least thirty-eight miles to the nearest road. Since then, Zosel has run a total of thirty ultramarathons, having most success with hilly fifty-kilometer and fifty-mile distances.

A Note to the Avid Runner

While Zosel and Hennessey continually run fifty-plus-mile distances, the journey they experience along the trail is not for the feint of heart. Longer races can take over a day to complete, and runners tend to encounter an unavoidable point of misery somewhere in what Zosel refers to as the “middle miles.” According to Hennessey, to achieve that coveted runner’s high, you have to first hit a “runner’s low.”

Zosel and Hennessey run hill repeats at 5am on the trails around Mt. Pisgah. Running early in the morning allows them time for family and work later in the day.

Zosel and Hennessey run hill repeats at 5am on the trails around Mt. Pisgah. Running early in the morning allows them time for family and work later in the day.

“You really have to test your limits,” she says.

On the trail, runners remember three common phrases to help them through the roughest miles:

One: Beware the chair. As runners approach aid stations along the trail, their mind welcomes the food, warmth, and people as a sort of salvation. But this can also be dangerous. Runners must not give in to the welcoming comfort of taking a seat because it can cost them valuable race time.

“The chair becomes this all-encompassing thing that’s pulling you in and you don’t want to leave,” Zosel describes.

Two: It never always gets worse. As the night drags on, fatigue–both mental and physical–sets in. One way to combat this is with the phrase “it never always gets worse.” In this way, runners find motivation knowing that the pain will not last forever, but for Zosel, it is also important to remember that the good feelings will not last, either.

“If you’re feeling terrible, you usually drink a little bit, take in a few calories, adjust your electrolyte intake, and within fifteen minutes, you’re back on top of the world,” she says, noting that it’s all about taking care of your body to maintain the runner’s high of feeling “on top of the world.”

Three: Relentless forward motion. The pit of despair, the deepest, darkest part of the journey where Zosel says she feels like giving up and stopping the race. At this moment, she says it is best to remember the phrase “Put your head down and go.”

“It may not be glamorous, it may not be fast, but as long as you’re taking steps forward you’re getting closer to the finish line,” she adds.

Zosel sees a strong metaphor between her everyday life and this fundamental aspect of racing. If life is moving forward, it is going somewhere progressive. The middle miles, or the part of the race where adrenaline has worn off and the runner begins to realize just how far he or she has to run, are the toughest to work through. The struggle becomes more mental, and the motivation to push oneself decreases.

Not Only a Runner

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. In running, Zosel and Hennessey embrace the trail one mile at a time. “I never think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to run fifty miles today.’ It’s always, ‘Okay, the first-aid station is in six miles so I’m going to run six miles.” In their own lives, the same concept applies.

Zosel works as a physical therapist, in addition to raising a 4-year-old son. The answer? Get up early. “Sometimes the alarm clock has a four on the front, sometimes it has a five on the front, but that way I get my time in,” Zosel says.

At first, Zosel worried about how becoming a mother may affect her running. “From the time you become pregnant, you start worrying about whether you’re running too much or if you’re not running enough . . . or if it’s safe or if it’s not safe.”

Sensitive to her body’s needs, she continued to maintain her fitness during her pregnancy. “There’s no manual anyone can give you about how to treat your body,” she realizes. She enjoys time with her son, Jacob, who likes to bike with her and chase geese in the park.

In addition to running, Kristin Zosel values spending time with her son, Jacob, and encouraging him to pursue his passions.

In addition to running, Kristin Zosel values spending time with her son, Jacob, and encouraging him to pursue his passions.

Hennessey, a stepmother of three children, manages to incorporate family time into her work and running schedules. The time she spends on the trail running gives her time for personal reflection and balances her time with family.

“Running is a way–on a daily basis–just to clear my mind and process things. It’s a way to get closer to myself,” she explains.

While running may seem extremely separate to this part of her life, the individual benefits actually help connect her to the people around her. Her family members function as her pit crew for races, pacing her and providing encouragement along the trail.

Working in human resources and licensed as a family and marriage therapist, she makes time to travel with her husband and stepchildren in their Volkswagen Eurovan. On weekends, she sometimes rises early to fit in a run, then returns around 10 a.m. to join her family for brunch.

“The things that happen when you’re a runner only make you a better mom, I believe.”

Pelton leaves the barn at Eve Burleson’s residence. He treated her horse as well as two others that were boarding at Burleson’s facilities. (Alisha Jucevic/Flux)

Healing Hooves


BY: ALISHA JUCEVIC


A large animal veterinarian provides care for four-legged friends

Jeff Pelton has always enjoyed the company of four legged animals. Growing up in Los Angeles, Pelton had little interaction with large animals, but after working with them in veterinary school at the University of California, Davis, he decided to specialize in their care. After working at a clinic in Sonoma County and two clinics in Oregon, he decided to open his own large animal clinic outside of Eugene. His exam room and office are on the same property as his home, but the majority of his appointments take place at the client’s residence.

Pelton works with horses, cows, goats, sheep, llamas, and alpacas in Lane County, offering a variety of services including dentistry, digital radiology, health examinations, and twenty-four-hour emergency care. During each appointment, Pelton takes the time to consider the animal’s emotional state so it feels comfortable in his hands.

The Best Fit

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As background conversation and karaoke music fill the packed room swarming with students, red plastic cups are scattered across a beer-flooded wooden table. Everyone is having a great time, until Jack Freeman notices the view of Etienne Bean’s fading smile. Freeman sets down his drink and decides it’s time to part ways with their friends, acknowledging that his partner’s well being is more important than a typical night out.

Commitment

Etienne Bean and Jack Freeman enjoy spending time together by riding bicycles. They own a custom pair of singled seat bikes that they ride around Eugene. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Etienne Bean and Jack Freeman enjoy spending time together by riding bicycles. They own a custom pair of singled seat bikes that they ride around Eugene. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Once Jack and Etienne met in Portland, they moved in together in Eugene for school after committing to a 4-year relationship. Shortly thereafter, they realized that their relationship helps balance the burden of everyday life.

“It’s convenient when it comes to chores, it’s convenient when it comes to financial responsibilities and sharing those,” Etienne says. “It’s nice generally just having somebody to talk to at all times when I’m having a bad class or a bad day.”

Other couples in the vicinity recognize the convenience a relationship can offer with respect to their daily lives.

Paul and Noelle live on the second floor of a house in the business district of Eugene. They enjoy staying at home and spending time with each other instead of going out. (Photo by Julia Reihs)

Paul and Noelle live on the second floor of a house in the business district of Eugene. They enjoy staying at home and spending time with each other instead of going out. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Just a few blocks down the road from Jack and Etienne, Noelle Petrowski and Paul Metzler have constructed a lifestyle that redefines traditional notions of the college experience.

Each day, Paul returns home to Noelle, his best friend and high school sweetheart. They talk and laugh, while cutting vegetables on a cutting board Paul made with Noelle’s name embedded in it.  At night, they retire to their room, decorated with a record collection and artwork including mod podge shadow boxes commemorating the first two months of their relationship. To this date, they say their relationship is as strong as it was from the beginning.

“Yeah, I’m still not sick of him,” Noelle says. She never regrets their decision to leave the dorms and move into their upstairs apartment in Eugene’s business district.

“It was a better fit for everything,” Noelle says.

In his free time as a university student, Paul goes to the craft center, where he makes timeless items for Noelle. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

In his free time as a university student, Paul goes to the craft center, where he makes timeless items for Noelle. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Missing out?

For Paul and Noelle, other than some slight criticism from close friends, they both agree that there’s been no difference in their social life.

“I think that the college experience is more relevant to people who are trying to find another person and I already have one,” Paul says.

Since they’ve already found their special someone, the couple doesn’t feel the need to actively go out and socialize with others. Instead, they choose a stay-at-home lifestyle, which focuses their priorities on school and enjoying their time together.

For Paul and Noelle, the act of moving out of the dorms was also a way to declare their independence. As current students at the University of Oregon, they cook for themselves, do their laundry in their bathtub, and balance general life. Committing to this relationship provides a balance to their lives.

On the other side of the spectrum, some students believe living with a significant other impedes one’s college experience, and the opportunities presented in college manifest—a genuine opportunity to discover the identity of oneself.

“Everyone says that’s when you figure out who you are and I just wanted to experiment a lot, like, try drinking,” says Anna Crist, University of Oregon senior. “Just have that freedom of not being at your parents’ house and have them know where you are all the time.”

Anna lived with a boyfriend during her sophomore year at the UO, but immediately felt tied down upon signing the lease.

“It was basically signing a contract, like, I’m going to be in a relationship with you for a whole year, at least,” she said.

After digging the pen on the X line, the situation turned sour. Anna felt increasingly more detached from her friends and social scene. Towards the end of their lease, they separated and decided to pursue different paths.

Today, Anna lives with two roommates in a small house close to campus, where she enjoys going out with her sorority sisters. She finds empowerment in the ability to make independent decisions about her future.

Jack and Etienne never had to choose between cohabitating and living their typical college experience. “As much as a person individually can learn about themselves from the college experience, going out and partying and drinking and learning your limits and your abilities, we’ve been able to do that exact same thing, but together,” Jack says.

When going out, Jack and Etienne enjoy their time, but also remain conscious of each other’s feelings and limitations. If one of them is sick or tired, the other has no problem going home early instead of going out. In the end, their commitment to each other remains their most valuable attribute.

“Maybe I’m missing out on some experiences, but I don’t feel that way,” Etienne says. “He’s not a rope. He’s just – he’s very open and an easy partner to have.”

Making the Decision

Noelle enjoys decorating her house with items with anything she can find at local garages sales. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Noelle enjoys decorating her house with anything she can find at local garages sales. (Photo by Julia Reihs)

Love is not the only reason students are shacking up. The rising cost of a college education also serves as a contributing factor.

“I think we’ve chosen to worry about it and try to find ways to live cheaply,” Paul says.

Other couples, such as Jenelle Barzola and Tim Andrew, recognize the ways their commitment to each other can benefit them, like when filling out their financial aid to attend the University of Oregon. Currently registered as independents, Jenelle will receive more aid after they’re married this summer.

“We both thought that it would be a lot easier to do them together because we would receive more aid,” she said. “That was the first moment I thought we should get married.”

For Etienne, Jack’s support and the willingness to share costs has helped him towards graduation from the University’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. “I will be the first in my family to finish college,” Etienne says, “It’s kind of a big deal.”

A changing experience?

As the needs of the modern-day college population change, so do the experiences. “If I did have the funds to go through it and breeze through college without fear of loans and debt, then I’m not sure if I’d appreciate it as much,” Etienne says.

Pursuing financial stability, independence, and future careers, couples in committed relationships view their decision to live together as the best way for them to manage their goals. Some choose a more stay-at-home style and others value to social sphere.

“I don’t think there is just one college experience,” Jack says.

Of Time and Toys

Produced by Ella Gummer

Music, time, taxes, and death. These are the four absolutes in life, according to J. D. Olson, and they are all represented in his mystical land of antiques. Olson founded The Creative Clock and the Conger Street Clock Museum in Eugene, OR in 1981. It is a family run clock store and repair shop that doubles as a museum; an experience that Olson says is “like walking back through time.” Home to twenty large window displays, walls blanketed in cuckoo clocks, and grandfather clocks twice the size of an average child, the museum boasts pieces that date back as far as the 16th century. Olson, famously punctual, has turned his lifelong interest in small-scale mechanics and a knack for collecting into an exploration of what he calls the “philosophy of clocks.”

"Izzy"

As the band begins to play, a man with a red beret and a white, trimmed beard takes the stage. He grins to the audience before launching into his performance. His cigar and whiskey voice recites spoken word poetry as jazz music fills the background. He finishes his song and slides the microphone back into the stand before returning to his seat. As the next poet prepares to take the stage, friends and other audience members approach the man with smiles, compliments and handshakes.

The man is James “Izzy” Whetstine, a 75-year-old retired Railroad Yardmaster of thirty years, and he is no stranger to the performance scene in Eugene.

Archive Photo Courtesy of James Whetstine

“People have become enthusiastic about my voice… I’ve been found reciting and making a fool of myself all over town,” says Izzy.

He began doing live stage at the age of 30, by socializing and performing with a group of people at Very Little Theater known as the Uptight Players. He became well known in the theater crowd because he attended the plays that he wasn’t in. Since then, he has performed in countless shows at other theaters around town including Lord Leebrick Theater and the University of Oregon.

Beginning in the mid 1980s, Izzy was the master of ceremonies for nine years for a holiday vaudeville show that Lord Leebrick Theater put on. His job was to introduce the acts, put on his own acts, and improvise as they went through a night’s entertainment. During one show, he performed A Night Before Christmas in a tie-dyed jester outfit while moving around the stage and interacting with audience members.

He has also acted in several local movies. It began with a 1962 James Stewart Civil War film, called Shenandoah. There was a casting call for people with beards, and Izzy fit the description. In 1976, he received a call for a role in a movie called Animal House, saying they had the perfect role for him. He played the school janitor and starred in the dead horse scene that took place in the Dean’s office of Johnson Hall. Four years later, in 1980, he played a bartender in How To Beat The High Costs of Living, with Jane Curtain and Susan SaintJames.

In the early 2000s, Izzy was introduced to a man in the jazz scene named Kenny Reed, when a restaurant called Chez Ray’s began doing poetry nights stressing the beatnik theme. Since then, he has been performing with Kenny and Kenny’s jazz band, Stone Cold Jazz, at poetry events.

“I’ve generated a little bit of an audience for the sort of thing that I do, and when you’ve got a good jazz group helping you out, you can’t go wrong. They make all the difference in the world,” says Izzy.

Izzy has become comfortable with performing on stage in front of an audience and loves being the center of attention. He has a packet of material to choose from, and has no shortage of small talk. He also enjoys making links with certain members of the audience.

“It’s not the sort where you meet for coffee or have dinner together,” says Izzy. “You make eye contact with people in the audience and they feel a kinship, you feel a kinship. And, the performer knows that these people will pay attention and listen, rather than to try and talk louder than you’re talking and outperform you.”

The beatnik persona Izzy has created onstage is an extension of who he is as a person offstage. He refers to himself as a compulsive showoff, and claims to always be ready and available for viewing any time, any place.

“I try hard not to be typical in any aspect of my life. I think perhaps I am a little young for a fellow my age. I try to be as silly as possible and go out dancing and cutting up, and carrying on and behaving as if I were much younger, but it’s how I have fun,” says Izzy. “And, I learned a long time ago that seriousness is not something that I am good at.”

Women in Black: Silently Standing For Peace


[cap]B[/cap]usinesses open and close, construction projects come and go, seasons pass, but one presence remains a constant in an ever-changing city. A group of women, between sixty and eighty years old, dress in all black and brandish signs and flags to support a peaceful resolution to the occupation of Palestine and other conflicts around the world. They are known as Women in Black, and they stand silently as a prominent weekly peace vigil in Eugene. Like clockwork, the women are at the same corner at 7th and Pearl every Monday evening, from 5:00 to 5:30. Locally, women have held weekly peace vigils for nearly a decade.

During the 30-minute vigil, cars will honk and people will gesture positively in support of the group. Although the vigil is meant to be silent and serious, the women can’t resist giving a smile and a wave to their fans.

The Eugene network, which began in 2003, is part of a much larger movement. Women in Black originated in 1988 in Israel when a group of women decided to dress in black and stand in protest to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the West Bank.

“The fact that there are Women in Black vigils all over the world, and certainly all over the country, standing for peace is, I think, very significant,” says Peg Morton, one of the active members in Eugene.

Morton emphasizes the fact that  Women in Black is a widespread movement, not an organization. Each city has an independent peace network, where the group size and meeting times vary. Women show up to the vigils on their own free will, and when their schedules allow it. Some weeks there are six or seven women, while other times there are only two or three. Morton believes that this is what keeps Women in Black so simple.

“We don’t have meetings, or get into conflicts. You know, most organizations have meetings, and committees, and boards of directors, and they have to raise money. And, we don’t have any of that. We just come and stand, ” says Morton, smiling.

Even in its simplicity and openness, the local network hasn’t always been welcome on their weekly street corner. In 2011, a man began harassing the women because he believed they were supporting terrorism. He went to their weekly vigils and stood on the opposite side of the street holding a sign that read, “Women in Black support Terrorism.” He took photographs of the women and published them online, along with several negative blog posts about the group.

“It’s not hard to convince Eugene residents that you support peace …. yet I suspect they’re typical Eugene leftists, pro-Palestinian / anti-semitic bigots!” he wrote in December of 2011.* 

The man claimed the group supported Hamas, a militant Palestinian group that advocates for the destruction of the Jewish state and replacement of it with an Islamic state. The women were confused and frightened by the hostility, which went on for nearly six months until he suddenly stopped showing up. This hasn’t deterred the women from carrying on, however. They are out there each week without fail, regardless of the weather, even if there is a torrential downpour or a bitter snowstorm.

“You can never know how effective something will be. People say, well, there have been vigils forever and you haven’t gotten peace, have you? They say things like that. But, I feel as though it’s something I need to do. And, maybe it helps to inspire some people to do something… or to feel that they are a part of this community that wants peace,” says Morton.

*Editors Note: Out of the respect for the Women in Black, FLUX Magazine has decided not to drive traffic to this man’s website. 

Kung Fu Dreams

Inspired by Chinese Kung fu star Jackie Chan, David Timothy started the practice of Kung fu to conquer his physical limits. In learning Kung fu, he has improved his body balance, become more determined, and gained a better attitude towards life. In his eyes, Jackie Chan is a great hero, but to those around him, David has become a hero himself in the pursuit of a Kung fu dream.

Produced by Meng Guo

The Pleasure of Print

[cap]A[/cap]fter ten years of graphic design with creative firms in Boston, Beth Kerschen decided to uproot her entire life and head out West. She settled in Portland, Oregon, and traded the high-pace life she knew for a new life of observation and creativity. Today she practices the craft of a multi-disciplinary artist by combining photography and printmaking to produce prints, cards, and shirts with digitally manipulated urban landscapes.

With a bachelor of fine arts, Beth reflects, “The irony is that what I really wanted to do was exactly what I did in college and the degree that I did got.  I needed to get that because that’s exactly what I’m doing now.”

Beth’s career as a graphic designer was simply a hiatus from what she truly loved:  photographic illustrating.

Whether to seek a stable job or pursue her true passion was a dilemma Beth knew all too well.

“There’s all this pressure; like, you have to make a lot of money, and you have to be practical, and you have to find a good job—a solid secure job.  I always had that fed to me for so long,” she says.

Everyone struggles with conjuring up the confidence to believe in his or herself, and Beth is no different.

“I’ve always felt not enough confidence to feel like anything I did people would like.  And there is that risk.  You do something and you hope people will like it,” she says.  Beth took that leap of faith and decided to follow her heart, diving in headfirst.

After ten years of personal conflict, Beth has since come full circle and is doing exactly what she did in college, printmaking. She loved it then, and she continues to love it now.

“When things aren’t right for you, there are so many obstacles—everything feels like an obstacle—but when you love what you’re doing, it flows better. It made me happier . . . It’s that simple.”