Tickets and Tragedies: The News Week in Review

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We live in confusing times. Every day we encounter events that bring joy, humor, tragedy, and heartbreak. Sometimes those events are welcomed. Other times they make us want to curl into the fetal position and wish the world would just disappear. This week was no exception to the rule. We are reminded once again how much hope and strength is needed and to not take even the small things for granted.

Small things like who we are and where we live. For most, those things seem small. But for some, like Miss Oregon, where one lives can make all the difference. “Rachel Berry will not be able to compete in the Miss America pageant next year. She was selected as Miss Oregon last month. Pageant director Dana Phillips says Berry couldn’t prove she’d lived in Oregon for six months before competing in the Miss Willamette Valley pageant in April.” [1]

Some might say knowing where you live is basic education. But even education these days is up in the air, as a new bill in Oregon pushes to give more independence to universities. “The first draft of a bill to give some universities more independence from the statewide university system would prohibit them from raising in-state undergraduate tuition more than 5 percent a year. The legislation, which is in a very early stage, has been drafted in response to demands by some universities for more autonomy over their own operations. The debate was intensified when former University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere was fired in part for charting his own course in conflict with the statewide board.” [2]

For many, former President Richard Lariverve’s firing came as a surprise. Another surprise this week, though, came to residents of Lane County, when the McDonald Theatre announced the following on their Facebook page: “SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Secret show just announced for comedian DAVE CHAPPELLE at McDonald Theatre THIS SUNDAY AT 9pm!!” [3]

It was no surprise, on the other hand, that the Chappelle surprise show sold out. “Tickets went on sale at 6 p.m. Friday and all 750 at $50 each were gone within a half-hour, McDonald owner Kit Kesey said Friday night. ‘This is the quickest we’ve ever sold a show out,’ he said.” [4]

The Chappelle show was not the only event to sell out. “Mount St. Helens has become one of the most popular destinations for hikers in Washington state…Every $22 permit to climb Mount St. Helens is sold out through mid-September.” [5]

Not every event, though, sells out that quickly. The Eugene Celebration, for example, just opened up their sales and has not sold out yet. “A look ahead to next month, tickets for the 30th annual Eugene Celebration are on sale now. You can buy them at TicketsWest, the UO Bookstore and other locations. They cost $10 in advance for all three days or $15 at the gate. Kids 12 and younger get in free. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity. Eugene Celebration is August 24-26.” [6]

Residents of Lane County are familiar with the Celebration’s happenings, with live bands and arts and, of course, the yearly display of public nudity. But, while there is always the usual display of public nudity at the Celebration, this nudity does not present itself as political speech, unlike a man who stripped naked at the Portland airport to protest TSA requirements.

“A man arrested after he stripped naked at Portland International Airport (PDX) was found not guilty of public indecency at a trial Wednesday. John Brennan, a frequent-flying businessman from Portland, set off an explosives wand in April and stripped naked to show Transportation Security Administration screeners he was not carrying a bomb…A judge found Brennan not guilty of public indecency on the grounds that he stripped naked as a form of protest, which is protected speech.”  [7]

While Brennan getting naked in front of the TSA is certainly an event, it is probably not an event people will buy tickets for any time soon. The same goes for the absurdist act — artistic or otherwise — of shooting one’s own TV while drinking.

Police in Salem, Ore., say a man who had been entertaining himself and his dog with a laser scope on his gun finally pointed it at his TV and pulled the trigger — forgetting the gun was loaded. Police spokesman Steve Birr tells KATU-TV the bullet went through a wall into an adjacent home where five people were present. No one was hurt but one of them called police late Saturday night. Police say the man apparently had been drinking.” [8]

While that Salem man’s neighbors were fortunately unharmed, the brother-in-law of a Eugene spiritual healer was not so lucky. “A spiritual healer from Eugene was sentenced to prison on Friday for using a baseball bat to fatally bludgeon his brother-in-law in the victim’s Reno, Nev., home in April 2010. Timothy Wayne Morgan, 27, could serve up to 33 years in a Nevada state prison in connection with the death of Eric Dee Preimesberger.” [9]

The state of Oregon could use its own healer, though admittedly not one armed with a baseball bat, now that Governor Kitzhaber has declared a state of emergency due to wildfires in Oregon. “Gov. John Kitzhaber has declared a state of emergency in response to wildfires that have burned more than 1,100 square miles in southeastern Oregon. Kitzhaber signed an executive order Tuesday directing state agencies to assist affected landowners and seek federal disaster assistance.” [10]

The most significant emergency this week, though, has been the hearbreaking shooting in Colorado during the opening of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises film. The event has transfixed the attention of this nation. “The 2012 Aurora shooting happened on July 20, 2012, when a gunman opened fire during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in a Cinemark movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. The suspected gunman, later identified as James Eagan Holmes and believed to be acting alone, entered the theater dressed in protective clothing, set off smoke or gas canisters, then shot the audience with multiple firearms. The attack was the largest ever mass shooting in the United States in terms of casualties.” [11]

The lives of so many people have been changed forever, and their pain has echoed around the country. Nolan, the director of Dark Knight Rises, issued a statement on the tragedy: “The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.” [12]

May the dead rest in peace, and may the living continue to heal and find strength.

R.L. Stollar writes the Local Nation segment at EDN. He has a B.A. in Western philosophy and literature from Gutenberg College in Oregon and a M.A. in Eastern religions from St. John’s College in New Mexico. Follow him on WordPress (rlstollar.wordpress.com/), Twitter, (@RLStollar), or Facebook (facebook.com/rlstollarjournalist).

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