The Newberry Eagle is billed as “the local newspaper of Newberry Country.” I’m not sure where “Newberry Country” begins and ends, but I picked up this gem of a monthly paper in La Pine, Oregon. I adore local newspapers mostly because they are just so awful. When we lived in Boulder Creek I loved getting the mail on Saturday because that meant that I would receive our weekly copy of The San Lorenzo Valley Press Banner, which as a whole isn’t terrible, but would always contain several ridiculous items. One of my favorite things, besides reading the painfully bad “Comedy Corner” written by a local resident, was collecting blurbs from the police blotter: things like a person breaking into a lock box and stealing $25 worth of donuts. However, the Newberry Eagle leaves The Press Banner in the dust.
The first interesting item that I came across was the poem that was printed a few pages in. Of course, this would be the first thing that I would have to read. What do the local La Pine poets have to say? As I suspected, very little. Wendy Rightmore’s poem entitled “These Are Scary Times” left much to be desired in style, subject matter, and even basic common sense.
These Are Scary Times
Banks are foreclosing daily
Jobs are heading overseas
These are scary times for sure
It’s enough to bring us to our knees.
Tornadoes more numerous and deadly
Follow earthquakes and tsunamis
These are scary times for sure
Bringing disaster and disease.
Who will help us in these times?
Who will calm our troubled souls?
There is one who keeps his promise
Over all he as [sic] control.
Jesus said, “I won’t forsake you
If you trust and follow me
I will keep you safe, don’t worry
I will set your spirit free.”
I don’t think our webhost gives us enough storage space to detail the stylistic problems with this poem, so I’ll set that aside. And although I am not a religious person, I do believe that there is certain religious poetry that is definitely worth reading, say John Donne’s holy sonnets. But Donne’s sonnets have something new and intriguing to say about religious topics, not this trite “Jesus loves you” bullshit here. And if we look at this poem for even a second, we can see some interesting flaws in Ms. Rightmire’s assertions. First, if, as she asserts, Jesus has control over all, then why doesn’t he make the scary things stop? Second, Jesus will, in fact, not keep all of his followers “safe” as evidenced by the fact that many of the people whose houses are being foreclosed or who are dying in tornadoes are followers of him. I may have to consult the Bible again, but I think when we hear such words as “Jesus saves,” we’re supposed to think of Jesus as a saver of souls, not a saver of people’s jobs at the Toyota plant. The list of lapses goes on and on. And what really annoys me about the lack of thought in this “poem” is the fact that hundreds of people in “Newberry Country” will read it and nod their heads in agreement without even stopping for a second to consider the poet’s confused theology.
But we must move on to the next article which details the adorable exploits of two dozen women who volunteered their time to “complete the installation of siding” on a habitat for humanity home. The women received “neat shirts and hats” and thankfully, “nobody got an owie.” I would love to find whoever wrote this condescending article and punch him hard in the rib cage. Luckily, the author redeems himself later by including this stunning piece of sociological scholarship: “Newberry Habitat Executive Director Randy Heise says he’s observed something interesting about these feminine work crews; they can work and converse at the same time, as opposed to men who typically stop, talk, and then go back to work.” Fascinating!
In the “why I’m glad I don’t teach in La Pine” category, we see an article submitted by the board president of the La Pine Blue Lightning Mat Club along with a picture that looks like it could have been taken at the last gathering of the junior white supremacists club. All eight kids look almost identical, their dead eyes peering out from under their crew cuts focusing on some undefined point in the distance (with the exception of one kid who seems to be silently challenging the photographer). The article discusses how one of the kids brought home second place in the 8 and under 100 plus pound weight class and another who placed sixth in the 10 and under 140 pound class. What the hell do they feed these kids?
Next, in an article entitled “Recreation Equals Fun!” the La Pine Peddler details his love of mountain biking and exclamation points. Here is the first paragraph:
“The weather not withstanding, I just couldn’t take it anymore! I just had to go on a mountain bike ride! Having listened to so many people express my same feelings about the continuing winter weather, I had to get out there! Just like John Travolta’s line in the movie “Wild Hogs,” I said to myself, “…let’s ride…I just want to ride.”
And I say, bravo, Mr. Peddler, because nothing lends gravitas to a statement like attributing it to a John Travolta character. You know, like when you want to really express your dislike for tea, you might say, “As Danny Zuko said, “I don’t like tea.”
In the “Variety of Voices” column, Richard Grotsky asks the completely meaningless question, “Do you think society is getting better or worse?” And Brent, in a valiant effort to answer such a question offers us this valuable insight: “Worse…Greed has taken over ever since oil was discovered.” So, what you’re saying, Brent, is that humanity has been in a steady decline for the past 5000 years? Or were you talking about the use of refined oil? Best not to think too hard about this one.
The absolute best part about the Newberry Eagle is the police blotter or “Rap Sheet.” In it, a small town deputy records his exploits with the locals. These pretty much speak for themselves, so I’ll let them do the talking:
- Rp (reporting person) believed that her neighbor who lives to the south, had thrown dirt on her dog…She told me her neighbor was out shoveling and the dog was near the fence. When rp called for her dog, the dog came back with dirt all over its face and body…Rp told me she did not know for sure what happened.
- An argument was reported at a trailer. I contacted them and they both told me that they were arguing because one person accidentally stepped on the other’s kitten.
- Rp found a pile of dog feces in her yard and assumed it belonged to her neighbor’s dog. Rp took the feces to the neighbor’s yard and threw it in his flower bed. Neighbor brought the feces back to Rp and said it was not from them and to not do that. Sgt. Dozier and I explained better solutions to the problems both face.
- Caller wanted to know what to do with his 17 year old daughter who is acting up. No crime.
I know that some people would say that living in a town where the biggest law enforcement problem is disputes over dogs and kittens would be ideal. But I prefer something a little more interesting. As I said as we drove through Eugene the other day, “It has a sex shop and a tattoo parlor. It must be alright.”