Au Revoir 2009: a look back at this past year

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As 2009 comes to a close it’s time for a few personal observations about the year. First and foremost it was a remarkable year in that Bend seemed a much more livable place. Why? In part because gone was the bluster and BS of the boom years, or as one local architect likes to call those heady days: “the gold rush years”.
    
I could be wrong but this past year people seemed more civil, the pace of life much slower and there was an apparent return to real values. No longer was living in a 5,000 square foot home with a $6,000 monthly mortgage considered a major status symbol. Making do in whatever abode you could afford looked really smart.
    
As reality set back into Bend even the “if you’ve got it flaunt it” crowd stopped eating out at restaurants six nights a week and actually became familiar with their kitchens. “Oh my gawd Martha, we actually own dishes. how quaint is that?
    
So here’s to 2009 for being a year when Bend was truly much more livable.
    
By the way, when thinking about gold rushes, booms and speculation bubbles, and the like I strongly urge those who enjoy good books to pick up a copy of  “City of Gold-Dubai and the dream of capitalism” by Jim Krane.  It’s an absolutely fascinating read by an author who spent years in Dubai as a UPI reporter years and used that experience plus exhaustive research to create the book.
    
Dubai’s rise from a desert village to perhaps the most amazing city on earth makes Bend’s explosive growth seem, well, very minor league by comparison.
    
What is noteworthy though is the underlying element of greed in both Bend’s and Dubai’s stories. Greed, along with white collar collusion helped unravel things in Bend and are beginning to in Dubai.
    
It’s a cautionary book full of lessons only the very wise will follow come the new boom cycle.
2009’s Best Events
So as Bend got back to normal and the town was suddenly devoid of wheeler-dealers looking to make the big real estate score, quite a few good community events took place.
Topping my personal list of best community events in 2009 was the Tour des Chutes. Over the past several years, this annual bike tour has raised great deal of money for cancer research as well as bringing together all sorts of cyclists from the fast and fanatical to the relaxed and casual for a day of fun cycling.
I always ride the short route designed for kids and families and find it one of the more rewarding experiences of the year.
So hats off to Gary Bonacker and his crew for making this a true community event.
And while on cycling, cheers to the organizers of the cyclocross national championships. The week of races came off so well proving that Bend is a big (well maybe not the winter Olympics) event town.
And there’s not a better event than the Footzone’s annual Dirty Half run. Also their Pie Run on Thanksgiving Day this year proved a true family event. Kudos to Super Dave Tomasen for being the guiding light behind both events and for keeping them fun and well-organized.
Veteran’s Memorial
    
Although not an event per se, the work of Dick Tobiason and friends on creating the new Veteran’s Memorial was exemplary of the community getting together for a worthy project.

Les Arts
Someone noted the other day that apart from reporting on pop culture, our local indy paper seldom, if ever, covers cultural events that might appeal to an “older” audience. So here’s a report on what you missed reading about if you’re over 35 and into culture.
Jazz at Joe’s     
Surprise, there are a lot of loyal jazz aficionados in Central Oregon and Joe Rohrbacher of Just Joe’s Music continues to fill the need for live jazz with regular concerts at the Cascade Theatrical Company. Over the past year, the gigs have featured a variety of accomplished Northwest musicians playing at a high level.
Sisters Folk Festival
    
Although I question the Festival’s seeming programming stray from its folk roots, it’s still one of the best, if not the best, weekends of music one can experience even if they’re not a folkie.

Wheeler County Bluegrass Festival
    
This down home Fourth of July festival in Fossil is a pure delight with free concerts and the whole town transformed into music city. Add in a classic old school Fourth parade and it’s a surefire winner.

High Desert Chamber Music Series
    
What a joy to be able to listen to live “high brow” music in Bend and to listen to it at The Tower.
Nature of Words
    
Bend’s sole true literary event got a real shot in the arm this year with enough departures from its tried, and getting a bit stale, author-reads-works-from-podium format to make for some stimulating moments.
Resolutions
    
I have two for 2010.
1)    I will stop calling Bend “paradise” as is the case in every bit of real estate and promotional ad treacle. This is a wonderful place to live but frankly would have some stiff competition if there ever was a contest to name a paradise on earth. So ease up on the paradise and try substituting phrase like: “it’s a very unique and enjoyable place to live.”
2)    I will not give a standing ovation as Bend audiences give every music act no matter how bad they are. I’ll save my standing O’s for the truly extraordinary musical/artistic moments.


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