By Johnny Beaver
Shame on me; I’m back. Back orbiting the center of your friendly local alternative news weekly. Having left my spot as Grand Poobah here at The Corvallis Advocate just last April—in some sad attempt to reclaim my right to having a life—I have returned in a limited capacity. After a one-year stint of 70-plus hour weeks, sometimes dropping over 6,000 words a week and balancing everything from public relations to staff training, content management to heavy duty research, my brain gave birth to an insomnia-soaked migraine. And its first words were “^$#@ you, Johnny Beaver.”
Anyway, have I recovered? No. When certain topics come up, my left eye starts twitching and my bowels retch. There are some things you just can’t un-see, and the inner workings of our beloved city is at the top of that list. Don’t get me wrong, I love Corvallis—more than you, actually. I’ve lived all over the planet and would be perfectly fine staying here. But nowhere else have I witnessed such frustrating misuse of potential. So many artists, brilliant minds, great facilities, and (sometimes) great funding… yet there is this slinking, skulking attitude under the surface that drives folks to be more concerned with their role as landlord than what they could be doing to work with others. The city of 10,000 committees, as they say. Eats executive directors like they’re going out of style. Too many great spaces sit empty for too long.
Most Corvallisites can live here their entire lives and never wade into that particular cesspool, but the movers and shakers know it all too well. Those of us in the media can’t even take a leak without mentally checking out to tally up some sort of related drama. Note: Next time you see a Corvallis Advocate staff member, give them a hug and the contents of your wallet. And your kid’s ice cream cone.
See, I was going to escape. Concentrate on my painting career and education. So why am I back? Because I’m some kind of an idiot, or a masochist? Yes. But mostly because as terribly annoying as the above is, including how the underlying attitudes have poisoned local business, activism, and more, this is still one hell of a place to be involved. Two great colleges, theaters, art guilds, parks, diverse businesses, venues, great bands, and more kind-hearted non-profits per square inch than is probably safe.
The talent pool is ridiculous, perhaps especially so here (although I’m a little biased). It’s not all firecrackers and biscuits, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever been in a room before with more brilliant minds at once. Except for this time I smoked salvia and thought there were a bunch of me in the washing machine.
Fact is, not many places afford an individual the ability to so easily get involved and help create positive change in their immediate environment. In that sense, we have a really nice little microcosm. Training writers that will undoubtedly eclipse me, all the while collecting hilariously misguided hate mail is just my personal entry point. You should find one for yourself, because the big ugly hurdle I described above isn’t going to jump itself.