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10 STORIES OF 2021 A look back at the news from the past year that impacted our community Plus: “What were they thinking?”




DECEMBER 2, 2021



Vol. 45, Issue 6 • December 2, 2021 OPINION


Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Editor’s Note. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Guest Comment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 This Modern World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Second & Flume . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Streetalk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7




Downstroke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 National spotlight on Chico’s homeless woes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Local income gap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12



2021 in review




December Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Holiday Festivities Guide . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Reel World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Scene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Arts DEVO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Brezsny’s Astrology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34


NEW ADDRESS: P.O. Box 56, Chico, CA 95927 Our Mission: To publish great newspapers that are successful and enduring. To create a quality work environment that encourages employees to grow professionally while respecting personal welfare. To have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live. Editor Jason Cassidy Editor at large Melissa Daugherty Contributing Editor Evan Tuchinsky Staff Writers Ashiah Scharaga, Ken Smith Calendar Editor/Editorial Assistant Trevor Whitney Contributors Alastair Bland, Ken Pordes, Juan-Carlos Selznick, Robert Speer Managing Art Director Tina Flynn Publications & Advertising Designers Cathy Arnold, Katelynn Mitrano, Jocelyn Parker Sales & Business Coordinator Jennifer Osa Advertising Consultant Ray Laager Distribution Lead Jackson Indar Distribution Staff Michael Gardner, Drew Garske, Josh Indar, Bill Unger, Richard Utter, Jim Williams, David Wyles

Advertising Mail PO Box 13370 Sacramento, CA 95813 Phone (530) 894-2300 Website chico.newsreview.com President/CEO Jeff vonKaenel Director of Nuts & Bolts Deborah Redmond Director of Dollars & Sense Miranda Hansen Accounting Staff Gus Trevino Developer John Bisignano System Support Specialist Kalin Jenkins Got a News Tip? chiconewstips@newsreview.com Post Calendar Events chico.newsreview.com/calendar Want to Advertise? cnradinfo@newsreview.com Editorial Policies: Opinions expressed in CN&R are those of the authors and not of Chico Community Publishing, Inc. Contact the editor for permission to reprint articles or other portions of the paper. CN&R is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or review materials. Email letters to cnrletters@newsreview.com. All letters received become the property of the publisher. We reserve the right to print letters in condensed form and to edit them for libel. Advertising Policies: All advertising is subject to the newspaper’s Standards of Acceptance. The advertiser and not the newspaper assumes the responsibility for the truthful content of their advertising message. CN&R is printed at PressWorks Ink on recycled newsprint. CN&R is a member of Chico Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Chico Business Association, AAN and AWN.


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Another year here, thanks to you

by Jason Cassidy j a s o n c @ n e w s r e v i e w. c o m

Eachby December, the CN&R reflects on the news of the year

community informed and engaged on pressing issues. As the year comes to a close, we’d be remiss if we putting together a list of top stories. It’s a tradition didn’t reflect on how this newspaper is still around thanks around these parts, as it is for newspapers around the to the generous contributions of our readers. Fact is, many nation and the world. publications haven’t survived the economic woes driven Journalists everywhere have had one subject in by the coronavirus. According to the nonprofit Poynter common for the entirety of 2021: the coronavirus Institute, more than 90 local newsrooms have closed since pandemic. Locally, we’re approaching the two-year mark the pandemic began. on that front. We began our coverage of the virus in early That’s a disconcerting prospect for rural regions February 2020, and we don’t see an end in sight. Not even like Butte County, as history has shown that communiclose. ties lacking local journalism are more susceptible to COVID-19 has been all-consuming. The pandemic has misinformation, government corruption and corporate affected virtually every aspect of our community—from malfeasance. health care and commerce to That’s why it’s imperative arts and education. In a word, to maintain the fourth estate. it’s ubiquitous. History has shown that Holding the powerful to It’s also deadly, more so this communities account, writing without fear or year than the last. As of press favor, simply wouldn’t happen time, 308 Butte County residents lacking local journalism around these parts without the have died of COVID-19— are more susceptible CN&R and other alternative 130 in 2020, 178 in 2021. to misinformation, newsmedia. Of course, coronavirus We very much appreciate our also has caused the demise of government corruption dedicated advertisers, and we’re numerous local businesses, too and corporate especially grateful for the readmany to count. The CN&R was malfeasance. ers who have contributed to the nearly among the casualties. coffers that specifically support When we closed our doors in our editorial efforts. Thanks to March 2020—transitioning those donations, we’ve covered a vast array of topics, temporarily to an all-online, all-volunteer news source— from food insecurity and wildfires to political misconduct we weren’t sure whether we’d ever print another copy. and homelessness. It took a few months, but we regrouped, launched a Our hope is to expand our coverage in the coming new website that allows for greater publishing flexibility year, but we’ll need the support of our readers to sustain and began printing once a month. Local news coverage us. Thanks, in advance, for your continued dedication to is more critical than ever, so printing less frequently local independent news. Ω isn’t ideal. However, we’ve done our best to keep the

LETTERS Better for our elders Re: “Our elders need us” (Guest Comment, Nov. 4): I found this commentary, although well-meaning, a truly sad commentary on our civilization. [Joe Wills] says, as a society, elders must accept isolation from family and home so that children can find happiness with their nuclear families. Mr. Wills uses folk tales to help him deal with the sadness and loss he feels thinking of his mother’s lonely death. But, in reality, it is not unlike the tales of elders put adrift on 4


DECEMBER 2, 2021

ice flows when they are old. Can’t we do better? Cathy Eide Durham

‘Back off the hate’ We have heard it said that eight homeless people and some lawyers are holding Chico hostage with the Warren v. City of Chico case. Looking a little deeper: In December 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition on behalf of the city of Boise, Idaho. The court said, unless homeless people had some other place to go, it was “cruel

and unusual punishment” to enforce rules that stop them camping in public places. It is the Supreme Court that is holding Chico to follow our nation’s Constitution. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all? “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39); “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). LETTERS C O N T I N U E D

O N PA G E 7

We’re not enemies In the Chico neighborhood where my wife, dog, cat and I live, maybe a five-minute walk away from our house, lives the leader of one of the local Facebook “public safety” groups. She is a very vocal personality who has come out against clean syringe distribution and commercial cannabis. Just up the street is the home of a local public official whose been advocating for mask-free, in-person learning for kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. A few doors down from him is a former City Council candidate whose ideas on how to address homelessness in Bidwell Park are antithetical to my viewpoint—as well as positions the CN&R typically takes in opinion pieces—on the matter. I run into these folks, or members of their households on a regular basis. We all live by Bidwell Park, and during walks our paths will cross. We’ll greet each others’ dogs, comment on how beautiful the evening is, stand at the fence and compliment a row of blooming flowers, wave to a porch full of gathered family and friends—normal neighbor stuff. So far, there have been no screaming matches on the sidewalk. No one’s yelled, “Fake news!” or called anyone an anti-vaxxer, socialist, fascist, snowflake, Trumper, libtard, cuck, or godless commie—though I’d bet some of those terms have passed through some of their heads when reading the CN&R. I know one or two have gone through mine as I’ve considered some of my neighbors’ public actions. One of my goals as the CN&R’s new editor is for the paper to be a catalyst for healing—be it from COVID, the wildfires, or the various splits in our community. I’ve been thinking about my neighbors a lot as I settle in to this gig and as I consider how I might navigate communicating with a community that is not immune to the left-right political/ social turmoil plaguing America. In a report by the American Psychological Association called “Healing the political divide,” Columbia University professor Kirk Schneider says, “Research indicates that the divisiveness will continue to grow if fear of the other and the wounds fueling that fear are not addressed.” That is heavy stuff, and would appear very difficult to address. The article suggests, “One way to mitigate the divisiveness is to physically bring people together.” Yes. In the detached world of social media, it’s easy to make an enemy. In the real world, it’s much harder for most people to scream “F-you!” in someone’s face. I’m not suggesting you or I need to respect each other’s ideas. But should we respect the right to have any idea or belief that one wants? Of course. And respect everyone’s right to be alive and to live as an equal to all other humans? Yes, that is required. So, even though I might think your ideas or actions are wrong, I see you (or imagine you), and I’m going to try and be kind, to listen when I can, and if there’s a dog involved, I’ll ask if I can pet it.


Call for DA transparency Dave Waddell published on the Chico Sol Rwebsite (chicosol.org) reveal disturbing new ecent articles by local investigative journalist

details about the law-enforcement-involved killing of 34-year-old Tyler Rushing in Chico the night of July 23, 2017. The articles say that Chico Police Department and Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey refused to release videos of officer interviews in the wake Tyler’s shooting—evidence that was by ultimately made available Ann Polivka The author is a retired to Waddell only after he threatened legal action. family nurse practitioner and a The new interviews reveal member of Concerned that Chico Police Sgt. Citizens for Justice. Scott Ruppel knew he “wasn’t seriously hurt by” a pen strike from Rushing before shooting him. Why then, according to Ramsey’s report, did Ruppel maintain that “the subject was out-of-control of the officers, and was an imminent mortal danger”?

Waddell’s article also asserts that K-9 Deputy Sheriff Ian Dickerson called the shots that night. The highest ranking lawenforcement official present, Chico Police Lt. (now Commander) Billy Aldridge, stood on the sidelines, leaving the “command and control” to Dickerson, an underling. Additionally, Waddell says that the interviews reveal Rushing was in Dickerson’s grasp as Ruppel shot him twice—first in the neck, then the back. The second shot, Ruppel maintained, was because [Tyler] “wasn’t really going all the way down.” But was that because Dickerson was holding him upright? The lack of transparency in a high-profile case involving deadly force by local law enforcement is troubling, especially considering that, of the dozens of such shooting deaths under his watch, Ramsey has exonerated the involved officers in all but one of the cases. The Rushing family’s appeal for a jury trial awaits the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ opinion (the Oct. 5 hearing can be viewed on the Ninth District’s YouTube page—case No. 20-16428). Concerned citizens are urged to contact California Attorney General Rob Bonta to call for an investigation Ω of local law enforcement practices.



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by Melissa Daugherty m e l i s s a d @ n e w s r e v i e w. c o m

Best laid plans One recent evening, I told my son the good news. I explained that scientists had come up with a way to help him get the protection he’d need to be able to return to school after a nearly two-year absence. The rub: He’d have to get a couple of shots. Henry knows all about needles. When he was a toddler, he had an extremely difficult time walking. Unfortunately, though my husband and I sought out specialist after specialist in Chico and elsewhere, it took years and one of the top hospitals in the country to get answers and the proper care. Eventually, doctors at Stanford diagnosed Henry with advanced juvenile arthritis. Since then, every week, his dad and I administer a life-changing treatment, an injectable medication that reduces joint inflammation and pain. Looking back, it makes sense that Henry had an autoimmune disease. From preschool onward, he picked up every illness that ran through each classroom. In his young life, he’s battled six bouts of pneumonia, a few of them quite scary. And that is why, when I began reading about the coronavirus in China back in January 2020, I became nervous about its potential spread to the States. Shortly thereafter, about a month before the state lockdown, I pulled then-8year-old Henry from school. On the bright side, he has never been physically healthier than during this time of isolation. Socially and emotionally, however, Henry has struggled. It’s an understatement to say he misses his friends and teachers. A few times, when I was exhausted and frustrated and he was sick of my company, I’ve briefly wondered if keeping him home was the right call. But then I thought back to his bouts with pneumonia. His labored breathing. His body going limp as I rushed him into the emergency room. The urgency with which doctors treated him. I remembered what an Immediate Care physician said the first time Henry had pneumonia: It’s the leading cause of death for kids with underlying health conditions. According to a report published in the journal Nature, COVID-19 pneumonia is longer lasting and more harmful than other forms of pneumonia. In explaining how it attacks the body, researchers from Northwestern used an analogy about wildfires spreading throughout a forest—that this coronavirus takes hold in multiple small areas and lingers. Children aren’t immune to it. In fact, they can suffer long-term effects, including a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (or MIS-C) that can result in severe symptoms, such as organ failure. Scientists are still figuring out the lasting effects in juveniles diagnosed with COVID-19. What they know is that those with underlying medical conditions—kids like Henry—are most at risk for severe illness. I was elated when the Pfizer vaccine was approved for kids in his age range, feeling hopeful that Henry could soon return to school. But that feeling has been supplanted by concern about the Omicron variant, since vaccines haven’t been tested against this brand-new strain. Our plans for the coming months are now up in the air. I dread telling Henry. He was so brave when he got the first vaccine, all stemming from the idea of going back to school. I know there are plenty of people who think our family’s response to the pandemic is over the top. Some are easy to spot: They proclaim their “Faith over fear” or say things like “I trust my immune system.” People with those convictions used to enrage me, but now I’m grateful they’re outing themselves. Fact is, they’re the kind of folks who’ve helped the virus persist and evolve. They pose a danger to Henry and aren’t welcome in his life. Whatever judgments they have about me are irrelevant. I know what’s at stake here and why it’s important to trust medical experts who’ve dedicated their lives to saving others. I know what it’s like to feel the life draining out of my child’s body. Perhaps that’s what it’ll take for some people to understand how critical it is to defeat this disease. For their children’s sake, though, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Melissa Daughtery is editor-at-large for the Chico News & Review


Make anything special for the holidays? Asked in downtown Chico

Tom Wigton basketball equipment manager

Mom’s leg of lamb. My grandmother made it, and she passed the recipe on to her. She was a good cook.

Danielle Hawkins teacher

We always do Christmas cookies at my mom’s house, which is really sweet. I have two kids and my sister has two kids, and so we’ve been doing it since they were little—at their house in Paradise, which burned down. Now they’re living in Chico, but we all still gather and do this even though the kids are all older. It’s still a fun tradition.


C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 4

Let’s back off the hate and work together. It will be more fun and more effective. Charles Withuhn Chico

ADA triumphs—and a fail People with disabilities and their allies won an important victory that benefits us all: Texas’ ban on mask mandates in schools was overturned and decision-making returned to the districts. Not to have done so would’ve discriminated against students with disabilities by risking their health. Integration has yielded a victory for us all! And in another Americans with Disabilities Act-related case, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Uber regarding its ableist policy of allowing drivers to charge a passenger extra money if their boarding takes longer than 2 minutes. A win would benefit many Americans, including aging seniors acquiring disabilities, like myself. One standard for young, healthy people isn’t appropriate for all in an inclusive democracy. Thank you activists and allies. Now, I wonder why Congressman Doug LaMalfa is allowed to operate an office in Chico that is unequal, discriminatory and inaccessible to people who use wheelchairs, walkers, crutches or who have serious arthritis or heart disease and to others who can’t climb a full flight of stairs? The office claims to have an “alternate” process, but there is no signage about it, it’s cumbersome with delays and there’s no way to signal staff upstairs to come downstairs. Why is this allowed by a congressman who claims to be a friend to vets?

My grandpa’s birthday is on Christmas Eve, so we celebrate that, so that’s kind of like the special thing. He always wants soup for dinner, and that’s about it.

Joseph Forrest

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We’re full-blooded Native Americans, so celebrating the holidays is a little different to us, just because of the genocide and everything. [For Christmas] we like to do seafood—the crab legs, the shrimp.

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Write a letter Tell us what you think in a letter to the editor. Send submissions of 200 or fewer words to cnrletters@newsreview.com. Deadline for January 6 print publication is December 20.

The production of this document was supported, in part, by grant number CFDA 93.924 from the US Administration for Community Living (ACL), DHHS, Washington, DC. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do no, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration of Community Living policy. Its contents are solely the responsibility of A1AA/HICAP and do not necessarily represent the official views of ACL.

DECEMBER 2, 2021



NEWSLINES DOWNSTROKE COUNTY DISTRICTS ON THE CLOCK With the deadline for redistricting fast approaching, the Butte County Board of Supervisors is still deliberating on how the boundaries will be redrawn. The county has until Dec. 15 to set supervisorial districts. At a contentious special meeting on Nov. 22, the two latest draft maps—one presented up by Redistricting Partners, the firm hired to consult the county, and one offered by Supervisor Doug Teeter—were scrapped with a motion that includes instructions for the consultants to draw new maps that adhere to a list of conditions set forth by the conservative majority (see “Districting drama,” chico.newsreview.com). Any new drafts will be made publicly available (at buttecounty.net/redistrict ing/Maps) three days before the board meets next Monday (Dec. 6), when they will be discussed. Any changes to maps at that meeting will then be published for the public to review by Dec. 10, with the supervisors making their final decisions at the Dec. 14 board meeting. For information on how to submit a public comment, visit tinyurl.com/ pubcomm or call (530) 552-3303.

NORTH STATE LINES SHIFT Barring changes in the final phase, the North State will have significantly reconfigured districts for the U.S. Congress and the California Legislature over the next decade. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission released draft maps for public comment last month and is holding meetings throughout December—accessible online via wedrawthelinesca.org—to finalize the districts by Dec. 23. As proposed, the congressional district that includes Butte County would shift southwesterly to add Glenn, Colusa, Yuba and Sutter County voters and remove Plumas, Sierra, Nevada and Placer County voters while retaining the northeast corner of California. At the state level, our area’s Senate district would grow to cover all the areas above, essentially combining current District 4 (which Butte County occupies presently) and District 1. For the Assembly, Butte County would become unified at the southern end of a northeastern district. Now, the Ridge is a dividing line between District 1 (currently home of Assemblywoman Megan Dahle and extending to the Oregon border) and District 3 (extending past Yuba City, home of Assemblyman James Gallagher). The redistricting commission must submit certified maps to the California Secretary of State no later than Dec. 27. 8


DECEMBER 2, 2021

Spotlight on Chico As recall efforts launch, local homeless woes scrutinized by New York Times and ACLU by

Ken Smith kens @new srev i ew. c o m

ast month, a group called Chico Voters

LAndrew launched recall efforts against Mayor Coolidge and Councilman Sean Morgan. Among the group’s cited reasons why the men should be removed from office are perceived missteps related to the city’s treatment of the local unhoused population which led to—and continues to complicate—an ongoing federal lawsuit. Coolidge was first served a Notice of Intention to Circulate a Recall Petition at the Nov. 2 City Council meeting and

Morgan on Nov. 4 (errors cited by City Clerk Debbie Presson prompted Chico Voters to re-serve paperwork to both council members Nov. 16 and again to Morgan Nov. 23). The mayor responded immediately with a prepared press release in which he labeled the recall organizers “extremists” and defended his actions on homelessness and other issues. Morgan, a former mayor, did likewise in a CN&R article, adding that the council was taking steps to resolve the litigated issues by early next year (see “Double dip,” chico.newsreview.com). Chico’s exceptional homeless situation has attracted attention from far beyond the city limits as well, with some recent highprofile examples. On Nov. 1, The New York

Times ran an opinion piece by Jay Caspian Kang that prominently features the city and advocates for civil rights protections for unhoused people. “It has a sizable homeless population that has only grown since wildfires displaced tens of thousands of people in the surrounding areas,” the article reads. “In 2013, Chico lawmakers began passing a series of ordinances that made it illegal to sit or lie down on sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. or to store personal property in public spaces. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, as the homeless population continued to increase, new City Council members were voted in who ran on a more aggressive stance. They have made it illegal to camp in a city park

Mayor Andrew Coolidge confers with Councilwoman Deepika Tandon moments after being served with a recall notice at the Nov. 2 council meeting. PHOTO BY EVAN TUCHINSKY

Above: Chico Voters spokesperson Morgan Kennedy speaks to local media on Nov. 3 about the group’s efforts to recall two Chico city councilpersons. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

and heightened the penalty from a citation to possible jail time. Local law enforcement also began routine sweeps to try to push the unhoused out of the city.” The NYT piece draws from an in-depth report published in October by the American Civil Liberties Union titled Outside the Law: The Legal War Against Unhoused People. Chico is one of a handful of California cities used as case studies in the report, which devotes an entire chapter called “PoliticallyDriven Increased Enforcement: City of Chico” to the city’s actions related to its unhoused population from the early 2010s until today. Elaborating on reasoning behind the recall, Chico Voters spokesperson, Morgan Kennedy, said by phone Nov. 17, “The way

Mayor Coolidge and Sean Morgan are targeting our unhoused population is literally costing the taxpayers in this city a great deal of money. You can’t cite people for living on the street without providing alternatives. Those are the rules; it’s a matter of civil rights. They were told ahead of time there would be legal repercussions for staying their course, and they did it anyway. “Now you have a city that’s already struggling economically drowning in legal debt. We shouldn’t all have to pay for their poor, cruel decisions.”

ACLU targets Chico John Do is a Sacramento-based attorney with the ACLU of Northern California’s Racial & Economic Justice Program. Much of his work in 2021 has been devoted to documenting the unhoused crisis in Chico. He’s spent countless hours doing legal research, submitting public records requests and conducting boots-on-the-ground interviews with Chico’s unhoused citizens. His work contributed to the ACLU’s Outside the Law report, and he was the lead author of an amicus curiae brief filed in June in support of Warren v. City of Chico, the lawsuit filed by Legal Services of Northern California on behalf of eight unhoused plaintiffs. The suit alleges Chico’s anti-homeless ordinances violate the civil rights of the unhoused and that the city has failed to provide adequate shelter. “Chico is not alone with regards to having a lack of affordable housing and harassment of unhoused folks, unfortunately, so it really calls for statewide solutions,” Do said, explaining the main goals of the ACLU’s report are to stop the proliferation of hard-line ordinances The city of Chico’s Airport Resting Site viewed from a distance this past summer. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

that criminalize homelessness and to establish state protections to unhoused persons like those provided for race, gender and sexuality. Do gave a litany of reasons why Chico stands out and was chosen to be included in the recent ACLU report. These include that the city’s homeless population includes a disproportionate amount of people of color; the impact of climate change-driven wildfires forcing more people into homelessness and exasperating a preexisting lack of affordable housing; the creation of ordinances that criminalize homelessness; political changes coinciding with more aggressive enforcement; and the city’s former Airport Resting Site, which he said is representative of many cities’ efforts to push unhoused residents to the outskirts of town. He compared the last item to cities in Los Angeles County that have tried to push homeless encampments “into the actual desert.” “I’d also highlight the vitriol, frankly, that we see in Chico, both from members of the public and some of the language highlighted in the report from Chico’s historical leadership,” Do added. “In my visits to Chico and my interviews with unhoused people there, the one thing that always stands out is the degree of danger they face from the public.” The report states, “Such dehumanizing language may have deadly results by fostering violence against unhoused people as seen in Chico,” referencing the Sept. 4 murder of Guy Steven VanZant, an unhoused man allegedly shot by a 16-year-old at Teichert Ponds. “Words matter,” Do said, “and when we speak about unhoused people with such dehumanizing language, it creates a culture where folks aren’t seen as human and therefore can become subjects of violence. So many people promote fear of this community, but the reality is it’s the unhoused who should be afraid of us, due to their precarious living situations and lack of security.”

Mayor stands his ground Interviewed by phone Nov. 17, Coolidge wouldn’t comment further on the recall, saying he stands by statements in his press release and that he’s already spoken on the subject to local media. He also wouldn’t comment on homeless issues, citing the federal court’s order for confidentiality. He said he hasn’t read the NYT article or ACLU report and expressed doubt that such criticisms have a significant negative impact on Chico’s public image. “If you go looking, I think you’d find a lot of positive [articles] as well,” he said. Coolidge did acknowledge that Chico has severe economic issues, including a lack of affordable housing; lack of high-paying, NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D DECEMBER 2, 2021

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C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 9

upwardly mobile jobs; low median incomes and a prominent economic gap between its highest and lowest income earners (see “Feeling the pinch”, page 12). “Sure, there are problems here, but they’re not issues that can be solved by the city of Chico without help from the state government, which has created most of these issues,” he said. “If you want to talk about why housing is so expensive in the state of California, I’ll talk all about it … but if you want to lay that blame at my doorstep after being in office for one year, that’s false.” Coolidge asserted that past City Councils—

particularly the panel that held office before a flip to a conservative majority last November—are largely responsible for the severity of these particular issues. He noted the current council in April hired a new deputy city manager, Jennifer Macarthy, who is charged with economic development and “has already made great strides in bringing new businesses to Chico.” Referring to affordable housing, Coolidge said, “It feels like the city took a two-year vacation from working on this issue under the last council. Since day one, affordable and lower-income housing has been at the top of

the list for this council. We’ve been moving ahead in a very methodical and fact-based way to make sure this housing comes online as soon as it can.” Coolidge said that, in part due to large developments on the horizon, there is “more affordable housing in the works than there ever has been in the city of Chico.” He also said that business owners have regularly expressed to him that workers at the midmanagement level have trouble finding housing in their price range and that the Barber Yard development will specifically address that need. However, another of Chico Voters’ grounds for the recall effort is that Coolidge and Morgan are beholden to monied developers behind the same projects. Kennedy said those projects may result in the creation of some affordable housing but fall far short of meeting massive demand and that the focus remains on building higher-cost homes. “I take more value in Coolidge’s history than his words,” Kennedy said. “That history indicates a bigger desire to attract high-priced buyers from out of the area than benefiting low-income people.” Coolidge said one thing on the topic of Chico city officials conduct a sweep of the “Triangle” homeless encampment on Feb. 4. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH



DECEMBER 2, 2021

housing that those behind the recall effort might commiserate with: “I know Chico has problems with affordable housing. I’m worried about a place for my children to live in this town someday, and that’s part of the reason I ran for office.” Kennedy, while defending herself and her cohorts against the notion they are “extremists,” expressed a similar sentiment: “Wanting the unhoused to be treated like human beings is not extreme. Wanting affordable housing is not extreme. Wanting a secure future for our children is not extreme.” Ω NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D

O N PA G E 1 2


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M Chico. She’s been here since 1992, moving from Los Angeles

arina Vega works hard to live in

to be close to family, and got her first job in 1996 at Chico Nut sorting almonds. She worked for some of the most recognizable companies in Butte County— Mooney Farms, Lundberg Family Farms, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company—before taking her current position as store cleaner for S&S Organic Produce and Natural Foods. That was 11 years ago. Ten years ago, Vega started house12


DECEMBER 2, 2021

cleaning on the side to supplement her income. She now cleans nine houses and one office a week on top of her weeknight shifts at S&S. Money is a concern in her household, which includes her boyfriend of four years. He is a tree-cutter who contributes but also supports his family in Mexico. Vega, who emigrated from Mexico as a teen in 1979, has four adult children, one who’s deaf and lives with her. “We worry [about] how we can do it,” she said, seated in the living room of her campus-area home. “And sometimes I get cancellations on the houses, so it’s hard for me.” At S&S, Vega earns a couple

dollars an hour over minimum wage. The mortgage on her house, which she bought in 2005, is roughly half her take-home pay after deductions for taxes and health insurance. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, affordable housing should take no more than 30 percent of gross income, including utilities. Of course, she has other living expenses—“extra bills all of the time”—which have continued to climb over the years. Nonetheless, Vega has no intention of leaving S&S or Chico. She likes her boss and workplace. She likes the community, where two brothers, three of her children and her grandson

Marina Vega spends half of the take-home pay from her primary job on the mortgage of her campus-area house. PHOTO BY EVAN TUCHINSKY

live—and which reminds her of her hometown, Guadalajara, with trees and greenery. That choice comes with a cost. “I don’t think things are going to get better [financially], I don’t think so, because everything is going up, up, up and high,” Vega said. “Everything is up and the salary is not very high.”

Largest gap Vega has plenty of company with this concern. A recent report by financial news outlet 24/7 Wall St. found Chico has the widest income disparity among all California metro areas, with the top 20 percent of households averaging $253,472 a year and the bottom 20 percent averaging $12,420 (according to census data). Meanwhile, in a county-by county comparison, 24/7 Wall Street determined the local cost of living is $37,557 per year for a single adult, $49,290 for a couple, $78,336 for a family of four— driven in large part by housing prices, with a median home value of $305,300 in Butte County. The lack of affordable housing is at a crisis point in Chico and the rest of the county. According to a 2020 Affordable Housing Needs Report by the California Housing Partnership, the average rent here is $1,121, an amount that requires a single earner to make $21.56 per hour in order to cover housing as well as their other living expenses. That’s

well above California’s minimum wage, which is currently $14 per hour for companies with 26 or more employees, $13 for those with 25 or fewer (set to increase $1 a year for the next two years). The report also showed that 10,112 low-income renter households in the county don’t have access to housing they can afford and that 79 percent of extremely low-income households are paying more than half of their income on housing (compared to 4 percent of middle-income ones). While the cost of living numbers locally fall a bit below state averages, that isn’t the case for health-care expenditures: $4,163 per single adult, $8,325 a couple, $12,597 for a family of four (compared to $3,711, $7,422 and $11,252 for the state). Chicoans also spend an average of $10,641 a year on transportation and $7,876 on childcare. Local food costs, based on grocery store purchases for home cooking, are $3,301 for an adult and $9,532 for a family of four. So, although the Chico area falls in the middle of the state in terms of average living expenses, economic disparities hit a significant portion of residents especially hard. U.S. Census Bureau statistics show 1 in 4 Chicoans live in poverty. That’s before other specific local

challenges at play. Economist Robert Eyler lists these in a report recently released by 3Core, the North State economic development district that includes Butte County. Water, wildfire, the COVID-19 pandemic and insurance-coverage issues have distinct

By the numbers Average household incomes in the Chico metro area and California statewide.



Top 20%



Bottom 20%






Source: 24/7 Wall St.

impacts in this area, on top of housing and employment. “The assumption that you’re just going to put jobs out there like you used to 15 or 17 months

“It’s hard, because everything is expensive. That’s why I have a second job. And it’s not enough.” —Marina Vega

ago may not work,” Eyler says in the report. “There could be what economists call scarring, meaning specific industries ... will be unable to employ the same number of workers they had prepandemic because those workers are gone. ‘Gone’ in the sense that they’re gone to another locale, they’re gone to another career, or there’s some structural reason—continued childcare issues, for example, or the debilitating effects of COVID for some who got sick.” He also noted the effect on the housing market of relocating retirees: affluent newcomers adding to an already high demand for a constrained supply. Exacerbating these local pressures, consumer prices statewide and nationwide have spiked due to inflation—up 6.2 percent in October (the most recent index available at press time) compared to the previous year. That’s the largest annual leap in three decades and felt especially in California, which has the highest percentage of residents living in poverty. Vega, like other Chicoans, feels the pinch. “It’s hard, because everything is expensive,” she said. “The house is expensive, the food is expensive right now, the gas—and it’s hard. That’s why I have a second job. And it’s not enough.” Ω

Opportunity to Participate in Study about Rebuilding and Relocation after the Camp Fire I am a graduate student looking for participants for an exciting research study on rebuilding and relocation after the 2018 Camp Fire. The study involves one confidential interview which lasts no more than one hour.

Participants receive $25 as a thank you. Topics include the decision to stay or relocate, the rebuilding process, and the future of Paradise and climate change in California. Participants can be any adult that lived or had a business in the Paradise area at the time of the Camp Fire.

Please contact mtk378@nyu.edu or (310) 433-2061 to receive more information. The researcher was born and raised in California and studies in the Department of Sociology at New York University.



chico.newsreview.com DECEMBER 2, 2021



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Bryce Hodge breaks camp at during a Jan. 11 sweep of a Bidwell Park encampment.





here is no sugar-coating it: 2021 has not been easy. America as a whole may have gone through more turmoil than in the previous year, but Butte County had the unrelenting wildfires and extreme drought of our region added to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public health and the economy, plus the worsening housing crisis, homelessness epidemic and increasingly toxic public discourse in the political arena, often playing out on social media. But it’s not over: This Year in Review issue is coming out in early December, so even though the CN&R’s top 10 local stories—and the dozen-plus What Were They Thinking tidbits—in this 2021 look-back don’t feature much good news, there is still time for some positive stories. Some more rain, maybe? PG&E settlement checks for Camp Fire survivors? That would certainly take the edge off the year.



DECEMBER 2, 2021

Homelessness With the exception of a global pandemic, issues surrounding Chico’s homeless population have dominated public discourse and local politics more than any news. Early in the pandemic, the then-sitting City Council relaxed Chico’s camping laws to comply with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the virus’ spread among the unhoused, leading to a boom in visible homeless encampments. The previous council also approved roughly $2 million to fund new shelter and sanctioned-camping options, and the city hired a new Homeless Soultions Coordinator, Suzi Kochems, who initially worked hand-in-hand with service providers trying to get those projects off the ground. A conservative-majority council took control last November, driven largely by the winning candidates’ promises to clear out these encampments. Those enforcement efforts began Jan. 12, when police and city employees broke up camps in lower Bidwell Park—the first of several “sweeps” of areas where campers congregated. Each of these sweeps was met with large protests, which continued outside of City Council Chambers during meetings. As this drama played out, the new council backed away from plans to develop sanctioned camping at the Silver Dollar BMX site, and in May, Kochems said the council was not seriously considering new camping, parking or shelter sites. Instead, she said, it

argued that shelter space currently in development was sufficient, that the city didn’t have a shelter crisis and that homeless people simply preferred a “nomadic” way of life. The CN&R revealed this questionable conclusion, and related strategies were developed in closeddoor meetings between the city and Butte County. Kochems left her job in July. Meanwhile, as the city prepared to sweep the last remaining large local encampment at the Comanche Creek Greenway, a federal judge approved a temporary restraining order against such enforcement. This was part of Warren v. City of Chico, a lawsuit filed in April by Legal Services of Northern California on behalf of eight unhoused people claiming the city’s existing anti-homeless ordinances and camping enforcement efforts defy the rights of the unhoused. In June, the city opened the Airport Resting Site, a fenced-in and sparsely outfitted “shelter” site at the end of a runway with 571 chalk-outlined spaces for campers. The site didn’t fly in the judge’s legal opinion, and the city announced its closure in September. Due to confidentiality requirements, the parties in the lawsuit stayed largely mum about other steps toward solutions, but the city began developing a pallet shelter and camping site at the BMX site with a $1.7 million allocation from the county. The city also engaged in court-ordered settlement talks with the LSNC and its clients while a conservative group fronted by Chico attorney Rob Berry attempted to intervene in the lawuit, saying the current council has failed to protect the city’s waterways and parks.

COVID-19 persists As 2020 faded into the rear view, hopes grew that the pandemic would wane as well, particularly with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Nope—the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, loosening of restrictions on commerce and gatherings, reopenings of schools and resistance to face coverings and vaccination all coalesced into a surge greater than in the previous year. Butte County ended 2020 with 8,261 confirmed cases and 130 deaths since the first local positive test last March. Through midNovember of this year, county Public Health had recorded 13,299 additional cases—4,925 in a late-summer spike (Aug. 2 to Sept. 20)— and 168 more deaths. Hospitals across the nation reached their

capacity for intensive care; locally, as patients flooded the emergency room, Enloe Medical Center expanded its ICU to accommodate the surge. Enloe began releasing daily updates showing the majority of its COVID patients were unvaccinated. County hospitals joined Public Health in promoting initial doses of the vaccine as well as boosters. The rollout of vaccinations began with front-line workers (e.g.,

health care), seniors and people whose health conditions make them susceptible to illness, then proceeded to other adults, then teens. A vaccine for kids got approved in the fall. Nonetheless, only half of eligible Butte County residents ages 5 and up were fully vaccinated by mid-November with 5.5 percent partially vaccinated, leaving 44 percent unvaccinated heading into the holiday season.

Gov. Gavin Newsom averted a recall in 2021. PHOTO BY ANNE WERNIKOFF, CALMATTERS

Mask- and vaccine-reistance contributed to a local COVID surge. PHOTO BY JASON CASSIDY

Recall bids Perennial wildfire

Utility watchdog Robin McCollum overlooking the Dixie Fire’s point of origin. PHOTO BY JASON CASSIDY

Unfortunately, 2021 marked a year that included yet another record-breaking local megafire. The Dixie Fire ignited on July 13 in Butte County, then tore through five counties and set the North State ablaze for over 100 days, destroying 1,329 structures— including the town of Greenville—and displacing thousands of people. The fire burned over 960,000 acres before it was extinguished in October, winding up as the second largest fire in state history. PG&E reported that its equipment could have ignited the blaze, and delivered images to a federal judge of a tree leaning against a power line as well as the remains of its scorched trunk at the fire’s point of origin. The Dixie Fire’s cause remains under investigation by multiple agencies, including the Butte County district attorney’s office. As it promised for Paradise in the wake of the 2018 Camp Fire, PG&E committed to bury 10,000 miles of power lines underground in “high fire threat districts.” A statewide watchdog and advocacy group, the Sierra Club’s Utility Wildfire Prevention Taskforce, has pushed the utility to implement safety upgrades—specifically, insulated wires that won’t arc or spark when dislodged (as may have happened in the Dixie Fire) and a remote current-interruption system that not only cuts off the electric flow immediately but also identifies the exact location of the problem. Earlier in the year, the California Public Utilities Commission reprimanded PG&E for not doing enough to maintain its grid in order to prevent forest fires and called into question its treetrimming methods. Spokesman Paul Moreno told the CN&R that PG&E is ramping up the upgrades, “but it takes time to be able to get the resources and human resources to work toward that goal.”

The second year of COVID brought a statewide recall linked to the pandemic, a local effort that failed to take root and another with an undetermined prognosis. Fueled by the bad optics of a maskless Gov. Gavin Newsom at a party during lockdown, detractors mounted a gubernatorial recall. They gained enough signatures to force a special election, but in a Democratic-majority state and with a right-wing Republican as the pollleading alternative, Newsom easily held onto his job—though at a cost to the state of about $300 million. Around the same time, a group of Chicoans mounted a recall drive to oust four members of the Chico Unified School District board who had voted to maintain remote learning until this fall. That push for signatures fizzled soon after Newsom’s victory. Most recently, in November, a citizens group called Chico Voters initiated recalls of Mayor Andrew Coolidge and City Councilman Sean Morgan, both conservatives in the first year of four-year terms. Morgan, a former mayor, represents the more conservative District 1 in north Chico; Coolidge represents the campusarea District 5. Recall proponents hope to gain enough signatures (25 percent of registered voters—over 2,400 in District 1 and 1,500 in District 5) in time to qualify for the June primary and avoid the added cost of a special election. TOP 10 cO N T I N U E D DECEMBER 2, 2021

O N PA G E 1 8



TOP 10 cO N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 1 7

Cindy Larimer and her partner, Charles Panell, were told by Paradise officials that they cannot live in an RV on her property.

Revolving council chairs Even in the best of years, Chico’s city politics provide enough drama to keep newsrooms and citizens engaged, but 2021 might have taken the cake. In addition to the city’s ongoing lawsuits, partisan bickering and often dramatic public meetings, two of the seven City Councilmembers quit their posts in the course of a week. On June 21, Councilman Scott Huber submitted a resignation letter, citing politically motivated harassment. The first-term progressive, who lost his local job during the COVID-19 pandemic, had taken a temporary position in Jackson, Wyo., and purchased plane tickets to return to Chico for the two council meetings during that span. A social media campaign by the conservative political action committee Citizens for a Safe Chico criticized him for leaving the area to work. In the wake of the PAC’s email blasts and Facebook ads, Huber said both his new employer and his family were harassed online—prompting him to leave public office with around 18 months left to serve. Six days later (June 27), conservative Kami Denlay resigned after seven months on the job, referencing harassment of her family—stating on social media that “certain members of the community have taken it upon themselves to investigate where my young family lives.” Though the CN&R never interacted with Denlay’s family (and the councilwoman didn’t reply to interview requests), the paper investigated allegations that she was living outside of Chico while serving on the council. Public records and interviews with neighbors revealed Denlay owned a home in Red Bluff where she and her family resided and which she listed as her mailing address on her voter registration form. Choosing to fill the vacancies by appointment, rather than special election, the council added two conservatives to the panel: former Chico Police Chief Michael O’Brien and former city Planning Commissioner Dale Bennett. The move pushed the balance even further right, with conservatives going from a 5-2 to a 6-1 voting advantage. However, both seats will be up for election in 2022.

Kami Denlay quit the city council after seven months in office. CN&R FILE PHOTO



DECEMBER 2, 2021


After the fires— struggling to recover While some survivors of the 2018 Camp Fire and 2020 North Complex Fire made progress toward recovery this year, many more continued to be impeded by myriad factors. In June, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began charging rent to the Camp Fire survivors living within mobile trailers in its disaster housing developments and subsequently closed all of the developments even though some survivors had nowhere else to go. Then, in August, Paradise town officials enacted policies geared toward

phasing out the use of RVs—one of the primary sources of shelter for many victims of the megablaze—forcing some residents to plead their case to be allowed to stay on their property without facing fines. The Butte County Board of Supervisors voted in November to no longer allow residents to live in RVs without hookups to all utilities (also known as dry camping) after March 2022. Meanwhile, most fire victims of all income levels await PG&E settlements to help them rebuild, a challenge in itself amid costs inflated by the pandemic. That’s not to say progress hasn’t been made on the Camp Fire rebuild. Within the town of Paradise, 1,112 homes and 222 multi-family units have

been built to date, and another 264 homes have gone up within the burn scar in other areas of the county. Local nonprofits Habitat for Humanity and Community Housing Improvement Program have ramped up their rebuild efforts for low-income survivors. Drawing on lessons learned from these recent disasters, the county made technology upgrades to its emergency notification system. Most notably, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office entered a partnership with ALERT FM to send evacuation orders via satellite to FM radio stations and to battery-powered receivers in people’s homes. The sheriff’s office also began working with Cal Fire and other departments, including the Office of Emergency Services, to create evacuation zone maps.

Public health politicized Butte County is on its third public health officer since the start of the pandemic (fourth if counting fill-in stints by Yuba/Sutter counties’ counterpart), and Dr. David Canton, the current official, only has the job on an interim basis until March. That’s not a unique situation: Public Health departments state- and nationwide have grappled with departures as the pandemic places staff—especially personnel in high-profile positions—under extreme pressure. COVID-19 response became hotly politicized this year, from the Congressional floor to sidewalks. Rep. Doug LaMalfa called for the resignation and prosecution for perjury of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser. California Assemblyman James Gallagher, another North State Republican, railed and rallied against state public health policies—sparking a picket at Butte County Public Health. While recently departed Dr. Robert Bernstein didn’t cite pandemic pressures for leaving BCPH, other counties’ public health officers have—noting that they’ve faced death threats and feared for their safety. This exodus, the largest in history with more than 500 in 19 months, includes firings (as happened to Bernstein in

Tuolomne County last year, months before coming to Butte). Vaccinations and face coverings have drawn particular ire from those who believe mandates in these regards violate their liberties. School districts in Chico and Durham also have faced protests over COVID policies, as has Enloe Medical Center.

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) has turned COVID into a political football.

Dangerously dry

Lake Oroville (shown in August) dropped to its lowest level ever during the drought year. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

California suffered from yet another extreme drought in 2021, facing increasingly warmer temperatures and drier weather due to climate change. Water levels in the state’s major reservoirs dropped far below average this year—Lake Oroville, for example, reached its lowest level ever, at just under 629 feet above sea level and at less than 25 percent capacity, before late-October rains— and rainfall in almost all of the state dropped below half of average. With most of the state experiencing extreme drought conditions or worse, water rationing and subsequent economic hardship followed for growers in the Central Valley, who received only 5 percent of their expected water allocations from the state. The impacts of the water crisis extended to residential users as well: In Glenn County, dozens of domestic wells went dry between February and June, causing the county to declare a local emergency and plead for state assistance. By May, Gov. Gavin Newsom had declared a drought emergency for 41 counties (including Butte) encompassing more than half of the state’s land, which allowed farmers some relief in the form of expedited water transfers between growers and agencies. The drought intensified debate on multiple local fronts—notably, the Paradise intertie, a proposal to convey Paradise Irrigation District water to Chico to reduce groundwater pumping by Cal Water; the Tuscan Water District, an agency proposed to procure water for landholders west of Chico; and long-term groundwater sustainability plans due to the state in January.

Commercial cannabis, finally?

Chico Scrap Metal

Recreational marijuana was legalized in California in 2016, when Propostion 64 passed with 53 percent of the statewide vote. The victory was even more decisive in Chico, with 61 percent approval—yet, five years later, there’s nary a dispensary to be found in town. Prop. 64 called for local jurisdictions to dictate the rules for commercial cannabis. A commercial cannabis committee including representatives from all sides of marijuana issues—with countless hours of city staff time—came up with a set of rules the City Council voted into effect in October 2020. However, shortly after the new conservative majority took control last December, reelected Councilman Sean Morgan asked, and the council approved, that the permitting process be halted to explore financial structures that more greatly benefit the city. In May, when the city decided to include Community Benefits Agreements that require applicants to come up with ways they will financially help the city, Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds stipulated the number of dispensaries be dropped from four to three and that the city hold off on permitting other cannabis businesses (manufacturing, testing, etc.). As the permitting process restarted, the City Council decided to handle appeals of denied permits and spent substantial time in November’s meetings reviewing these staff-level determinations. More than two-dozen would-be business owners pay rent and overhead costs on spaces where they may not even be able to start businesses. It will likely be more than a year before a dispensary opens in Chico. Meanwhile, local cannabis users continue to spend their money—and pay taxes—on products procured from other areas.

In 2006, the city of Chico ordered Chico Scrap Metal to move from its East 20th Street location, as called for by the city’s adoption of the Chapman/ Mulberry Neighborhood Plan. That move has been postponed for 15 years by numerous extensions, legal wrangling and the company’s refusal to budge. In 2015, conservatives on the City Council led by Andrew Coolidge (currently mayor) paved a way for the business to remain via a city ordinance, but that effort was overturned due to a referendum effort by a group called Move the Junkyard. This, in turn, led to more legal battles—namely an ultimately unsuccessful suit in which CSM joined the city against Move the Junkyard and one of its organizers, Karl Ory, after he was elected to the council. Citing the costs of ongoing litigation and the chance they may have to move, CSM stopped accepting recyclables in August, leaving the city without a large recycling center. Now, 15 years after the first amortization order, the end of the battle may be in sight. In October, Judge Tamara Mosbarger ruled against

Former City Councilman Karl Ory got legal vindication in the CSM case. CN&R FILE PHOTO

CSM, setting the stage for a relocation. However, CSM owners said via press release that they’re not ready to stop fighting, and it remains unclear if the city is obligated to help the business move. Another court proceeding is scheduled for Dec. 8. MORE


DECEMBER 2, 2021



What were they thinking? A quick rundown of 2021’s screw-ups and head-scratchers

Council listened to lawyers, advocates, service providers and clear legal precedent asserting that unhoused people actually do have civil rights, there would likely be no Warren v. City of Chico federal lawsuit.

Paging Dr. Feelbad: Enloe Medical Center ER physician Dr. Lamont Leavitt allegedly shared propaganda with a patient that called the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax and lambasted masks and social distancing. Ted Nugent can write the anthem: Declaring its jurisdiction “constitutional republic,” the Oroville City Council stated in a resolution that the city would oppose federal and state orders it considers government overreach. The cause: COVID restrictions, naturally. Sound legal advice needed: Had the Chico City

Bureaucracy 101: The Federal Emergency Management Agency spent over $300,000 per trailer in its Chico temporary housing development for Camp Fire survivors, according to The Washington Post. With the FEMA trailers and that money now gone, and many of the poorest survivors of the wildfire still precariously housed or homeless, wouldn’t it have made way more sense to direct such funding toward permanent housing? District 8? Though it was difficult to discern residency between her purported “decoy” homes and the two successive addresses former Chico City Councilwoman Kami Denlay listed on her voter registration before resigning, one residence was certain: her recently purchased house in Red Bluff, 40 miles east and one county over from Chico’s District 3.

Compassion police: Attorney Rob Berry’s call to perform citizen’s arrests on then-Councilman Scott Huber and other homeless helpers prompted a Chico Police Department press release telling people that’s a bad idea. Airport Resting Site in June.

Camp Tarmac: A federal judge’s take on Chico’s Airport Resting Site boondoggle: “It is an asphalt tarmac with no roof and no walls, no water and no electricity. It is an open space with what amounts to a large umbrella for some shade. It affords no real cover or protection to anyone.” Quarterback sneak: Chico’s Aaron Rodgers has done a lot of good in the pandemic (and for wildfire survivors) with his NFL millions. His “I’m immunized” doubletalk—and double down after contracting COVID— did more harm than good however, and tarnished his reputation. Takesy-backsy? In October, Chico State’s University Communications office sent an email to the campus community announcing the death of Professor Emerita Harriet Spiegel, including quotes of remembrance from her colleagues. It would’ve been a lovely gesture were it not for the fact that Spiegel was, by her own admission, alive and well. The office apologized.

Morgan muzzled: Never one to mince words, Councilman Sean Morgan got a federal judge’s attention when, during a radio interview, he disparaged plaintiffs and was a little too candid with details of the closeddoor discussions of an ongoing lawsuit. A court order has city officials, including Morgan, on a tight leash.

Chico police arresting homeless activist Robert Van Fleet March 2. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

Chico’s shelter crisis declaration expire on June 30 despite hearing its benefits. Surprise! The city needs the benefits, so they redeclared three months later.

Re-do is what we do, apparently: On a spurof-the-moment vote at the Sept. 21 meeting, City Council conservatives downgraded the Climate Action Commission to an ad hoc committee … until public outcry prompted a reversal at the next meeting. Ice Town: The pitch: Fence off City Plaza; guzzle water in a drought year to create a holiday ice rink; give a middle finger to Paradise. Council conservatives: Take our money!

“Integrity, courage, respect”: A cadre of police officers hauling away a 74-year-old protester in handcuffs in front of City Council Chambers—for the offense of lying down—wasn’t the greatest display of the Chico Police Department’s stated core values.

I do re-declare: Conservative council members let


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DECEMBER 2, 2021



Arts &Culture PUB SCOUTS HAPPY HOUR: Traditional Irish tunes every Friday during happy hour. Fri, 12/3, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St.

THE SHOEMAKER’S DAUGHTERS: See Dec. 2. Fri, 12/3, 7:30pm. $16. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-5760. totr.org

TOWNSHIP: Nor-Cal country rock. Fri, 12/3, 9:30pm. $7-$10. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave.

TYLER DEVOLL: The local singer/songwriter serenades the happy hour crowd. Fri, 12/3, 5pm. La Salles, 229 Broadway.

UNITY IN MOTION: A university faculty dance concert featuring guest artists and students. All ages welcome. Fri, 12/3, 7:30pm. $10. Harlen Adams Theatre, Chico State, PAC 144. csuchico.edu

ANNIE: See Dec. 3. Sat, 12/4, 7:30pm. $18-$35. California Regional Theatre at CUSD Center for the Arts, 1475 East Ave. crtshows.com

Dec. 8

BONFIRE: AC/DC tribute band. Sat, 12/4, 10:30pm. Feather

Chico Women’s Club

Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville. featherfallscasino.com

EMMA & WILL: Local duo playing covers. Sat, 12/4, 1pm. The Allies Pub, 426 Broadway, Ste. 130.


REECE THOMPSON: Local singer/songwriter playing covers for the brunch crowd. Sat, 12/4, 11am. La Salles, 229

For all special holiday-related events see Festivities Guide, page 26

ANNIE: See Dec. 3. Sun, 12/5, 2pm. $18-$35. California Regional Theatre at CUSD Center for the Arts, 1475 East Ave. crtshows.com

GIFTING WELLNESS FAIR: Shop local vendors that focus on health and wellness, beauty and skincare and home care, and find handmade items from local artists. Free chair massages and live music. Sun, 12/5, 10am. Free. Creating A Sustainable You, 811 E. Fifth Ave.

PETER WILSON WITH BOB LITTELL: The local acoustic duo, plus NorCal singer/songwriter Gabe Johnson. Sun, 12/5, 2pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

THE SHOEMAKER’S DAUGHTERS: See Dec. 2. Sun, 12/5, 2pm. $16. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 8775760. totr.org




THE SHOEMAKER’S DAUGHTERS: See Dec. 2. Sat, 12/4, 7:30pm. $16. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-5760. totr.org

WED8 JACKIE GREENE: Intimate set by the roots/Americana singersongwriter from Nor Cal. Hannah Jane Kile opens. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Chico Women’s Club. Wed, 12/8, 7:30pm. $62.50. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. eventbrite.com

OPEN MIC COMEDY: Open mic comedy hosted by Dillon Collins. Sign-ups 8pm, showtime 9pm. Wed, 12/8, 9pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade.

THU9 COMEDY THURSDAY: See Dec. 2. Thu, 12/9, 8pm. Free. Bella’s Sports Pub, 231 Main St.

UNITY IN MOTION: See Dec. 3. Sat, 12/4, 7:30pm. $10. Harlen Adams Theatre, Chico State, PAC 144. csuchico.edu

JAZZ NIGHT: See Dec. 2. Thu, 12/9, 8pm. Free. Down Lo, 319 Main St.


artist talk Thu., 12/2, 5pm via Zoom. Through 12/3. Chico State, Ayres Hall, room 105.

SUPERCRUSH: The Seattle indie-pop/rock band is on tour with local support from LDF and Change it. Thu, 12/9, 9pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St.

COMEDY THURSDAY: Weekly comedy show and open mic hosted by Dillon Collins. Thu, 12/2, 8pm. Free. Bella’s


Sports Pub, 231 Main St.

1078 GALLERY: (Forty-Three for) Stories Ten, conceived of in a Brooklyn kitchen, this series began as an annual group exhibition of five to eight artists with strong links to Chico. This is the 10th and final installment. Reception Sat 12/4, 5:30pm. Through 12/19. 1710 Park Ave. 1078gallery.org

CHICO ART CENTER: Small Works, a group exhibit featuring works in any medium that are no larger than 12-by-12 inches. Reception Fri 12/3, 5pm. Through 12/19. 450 Orange St. chicoartcenter.com

JANET TURNER PRINT MUSEUM: New to the Collection – Prints Acquired from 2018-2021, with contemporary artists Donna Westerman, Art Hazelwood and Jiha Moo. Through 2/5. Arts & Humanities Building, Chico State. csuchico. edu/turner

Markets FARMERS MARKETS: Butte County’s markets are open and selling fresh produce and more. Chico: Downtown (Saturdays, 7:30am-1pm); North Valley Plaza market moves across the parking lot for the holidays (Wednesdays, 8am-1pm); Chico State University Farm (Fridays, noon-4 p.m.). Paradise: Alliance Church (Tuesdays, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; “Farmers Market Mobile” in Paradise, 1397 South Park Drive (Thursdays, 2pm).

JAZZ NIGHT: Grab a drink, play some pool, listen to some jazz by Chico Jazz Collective. Every Thursday night. Thu, 12/2, 8pm. Free. Down Lo, 319 Main St.

LITTLE TEXAS: Nope, not the LA hardcore DJ—it’s the twotime CMA winning country band out of Nashville at the new casino event center. Thu, 12/2, 7pm. $30. The Event Center at Rolling Hills Casino and Resort, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning. (530) 528-3500. rollinghillscasino. com

REECE THOMPSON: Local singer/songwriter playing covers. Thu, 12/2, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

THE SHOEMAKER’S DAUGHTERS: An original romantic-comedy, written and directed by Jerry Miller, that takes place in London in the 1960s and tells the story of a father who tries to marry off his three daughters in attempt to lighten his own financial burden. Shows through Dec. 5. Thu, 12/2, 7:30pm. $16. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. (530) 877-5760. totr.org


SMALL WORKS Through Dec. 19 Chico Art Center

FRI10 AFROMAN: The “Because I Got High” MC is coming to town. Fri, 12/10, 9:30pm. $20-$25. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. ANNIE: See Dec. 3. Fri, 12/10, 7:30pm. $18-$35. California Regional Theatre at CUSD Center for the Arts, 1475 East Ave. crtshows.com

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR.: TOTR’s StageCoach Youth production of the Disney tale. Directed by Amber Miller. Shows through Dec. 12. Fri, 12/10, 7pm. $8. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. totr.org

GUITAR ENSEMBLE RECITAL: The seasonal performance by classical guitar students in duo, trio, quartet and octet. Fri, 12/10, 7:30pm. Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall, Chico State, Performing Arts Center 134. csuchico.edu

PUB SCOUTS HAPPY HOUR: See Dec. 3. Fri, 12/10, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St.

SAT11 ANNIE: See Dec. 3. Sat, 12/11, 7:30pm. $18-$35. California

ANNIE: The seven-time-Tony-winning musical and that


spunky red-headed orphan hit the local stage. Shows through Dec. 12. Fri, 12/3, 7:30pm. $18-$35. California Regional Theatre at CUSD Center for the Arts, 1475 East Ave. crtshows.com

Regional Theatre at CUSD Center for the Arts, 1475 East Ave. crtshows.com

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR.: See Dec. 10. Sat, 12/11, 7pm. $8. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. totr.org

B-SO GALLERY: Querida Familia, a culminating exhibition for Chico State ceramics student Rosa Garcia. Reception and



DECEMBER 2, 2021

B-SO GALLERY: See Feb. 2. Chico State, Ayres Hall, room 105.

BILL ENGVALL: Blue Collar Comedy group member known


So is the CN&R calendar! Submit virtual and real-world events for the online calendar as well as the monthly print edition, at chico.newsreview.com/calendar

for his signature “Here’s Your Sign” bit. Two performances. Sat, 12/11, 7pm & 9:30pm. $45-$85. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Hwy, Oroville. (800) 334-9400. goldcountrycasino.com

CELTIC CREEK: Local acoustic duo playing folk tunes on the patio. Sat, 12/11, 1pm. The Allies Pub, 426 Broadway Ste. 130.

THU16 COMEDY THURSDAY: See Dec. 2. Thu, 12/16, 8pm. Free. Bella’s Sports Pub, 231 Main St.

JAZZ NIGHT: See Dec. 2. Thu, 12/16, 8pm. Free. Down Lo, 319


Main St.

THE EMO NIGHT TOUR: Emo dance night is back in town. Thu, 12/16, 8pm. The Maltese, 1600 Park Ave.

ANNIE: See Dec. 3. Sun, 12/12, 2pm. $18-$35. California Regional Theatre at CUSD Center for the Arts, 1475 East Ave. crtshows.com

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR.: See Dec. 10. Sun, 12/12, 2pm. $8. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. totr.org

JIM WILLIAMSON AND ASHIAH: Live music on the patio by two local singer-songwriters on the patio. Sun, 12/12, 2pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

FRI17 3RD FRIDAYS AT MONCA: Art, wine and a holiday sale as part of a collaborative event with New Clairvaux Vineyard. Fri, 12/17, 6pm. Museum of Northern California Art, 900 Esplanade. monca.org

PUB SCOUTS HAPPY HOUR: See Dec. 3. Fri, 12/17, 5pm. Duffy’s

TERRI CLARK: Acoustic show by the Canadian country singer. Sun, 12/12, 7pm. $35. The Event Center at Rolling Hills Casino and Resort, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning. (530) 528-3500. rollinghillscasino.com


Tavern, 337 Main St.

SAT18 LED ZEPAGAIN: A Zeppelin experience. Sat, 12/18, 10:30pm. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville. featherfallscasino.com

THE CALIFORNIA HONEYDROPS: Bay Area R&B and blues band that has toured across the country and throughout Europe. Wed, 12/15, 8:30pm. $25. Senator Theatre, 517 Main St. jmaxproductions.net

OPEN MIC COMEDY: See Dec. 8. Wed, 12/15, 9pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade.

SUN19 ALEX DRAPER AND FRIENDS: Local singer-songwriter performing alternative and country music. Sun, 12/19, 2pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.



& 29

OPEN MIC COMEDY: See Dec. 8. Wed, 12/22 & 29, 9pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade.


& 30

COMEDY THURSDAY: See Dec. 2. Thu, 12/23 & 30, 8pm. Free. Bella’s Sports Pub, 231 Main St.

JAZZ NIGHT: See Dec. 2. Thu, 12/23 & 30, 8pm. Free. Down Lo, 319 Main St.


SUPERPOWER POP Don’t let this one sneak by. Supercrush is everything you want in a power-pop band—catchy-as-hell riffs, huge and lush vocals, handclaps! The dudes in this Seattle trio learned their chops in punk and metal bands, so the guitars are not wimpy and Duffy’s Tavern will surely overflow with a glorious noise when they hit the stage Dec. 9. Local rockers LDF and Change It open.

DEAD AWAKE AND BLÜ EGYPTIAN N.Y.E. PARTY: Two monster sets of Dead covers from Dead Awake, and a Pulp Fiction/ Napolean Dynamite mashup with high-energy jam band Blu Egyptian. Fri, 12/31, 8pm. $20-$25. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. eventbrite.com

NEW YEAR’S EVE WITH HOT FLASH: A dance party with local female-fronted rock cover crew. Fri, 12/31, 9pm. $20. Unwined, 980 Mangrove Ave. eventbrite.com

SAT1 POLAR BEAR PLUNGE: A loosely organized local ritual. Show up before 1pm at the One-Mile pool and have a pal waiting with a towel on the other side. Sat, 1/1, 1pm. Sycamore Pool, Bidwell Park.

DECEMBER 2, 2021



t e e r t s h t 5 s u o h

k a e t S


d r a Gift C

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DECEMBER 2, 2021



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DECEMBER 2, 2021



Entertain ment,

charity& cheer

The CN&R’s annual holiday-season Festivities Guide Oroville’s Parade of Lights

COMMUNITY EVENTS Toys-for-Tots Toy Drive Dec. 2-3, Drop off a new unwrapped toy to one of this year’s locations: Concours Elite, Deer Creek Broadcasting, Two Men & a Truck, Wittmeier Auto Center, Chico Marketplace, or Express Employment Professionals. Call (530) 966-7184 for info or visit v9eubnoh.paperform.co to make an online donation.

The Winter Wonderettes Dec. 2-19, Thurs.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. A family-friendly holiday musical featuring classics like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Winter Wonderland” and more. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F., (530) 894-3282, chicotheater.com

Santa at the Marketplace Dec. 2-24, St. Nick will be in his chair waiting for your Christmas wishes and photo ops throughout the holidays. Special pet pic nights and Sensory Santa sessions available for children within every spectrum of special needs (registration required). Chico Marketplace, 1950 E. 20th St. shopchicomarketplace. com

Butte County Toy Run Paradise Ice Rink Dec. 2-Jan. 17, Mon.-Thurs., 2:30pm8:30 p.m.; Fri., noon-8 p.m. (teen skate 9-11 p.m.); Sat., noon-10 p.m.; Sun., noon8 p.m. (adult skate 10-11:30 a.m.). An outdoor ice rink for the holiday season. $12 day pass; $5 for teen skate nights. Terry Ashe Recreation Center, 6626 Skyway. (530) 872-6393.

Community Christmas Tree Lighting Dec. 3, 6 p.m. Festive music, an appearance by Santa and a countdown to light the 2,000-plus LED tree in the plaza. Chico City Plaza, downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

Oroville Tree Lighting Dec. 3, 4 p.m. Tree-lighting and smallbusiness holiday event featuring caroling, carriage rides, and treats. Downtown Oroville. explorebuttecounty.com

Winter Showcase Dec. 3-4, Fri., 6 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m. Uptown Dance Arts holiday showcase. Call (530) 399-0436 for ticket information. Paradise Performing Arts Center, 777 Nunneley Road, Paradise. paradiseperformingarts.com

Chico Ice Rink in the Plaza

Stansbury Home Victorian Christmas

Dec. 2-Jan. 9, Mon.-Thurs., 3-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., noon- 10 p.m. (hours fluctuate on holidays). Ice skating in downtown Chico. Lessons and private party events also offered. $12. Chico City Plaza, downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

Dec. 3-5, Fri., 6-9 p.m.; Sat., noon-6 p.m.; Sun., 1-4 p.m. Santa, entertainment, spiced cider, homemade cookies, holiday raffle and a Victorian decorations. Donations: $2-$6. Stansbury Home, 207 W. Fifth St. (530) 895-3848.



DECEMBER 2, 2021

Dec. 4, 9:30 a.m-2:30 p.m. All motorcyclists welcome for annual toy drive/ run. Call for info. Start location: 2357 Fair St., Chico. (530) 893-1918.

Bizarre Bazaar Dec. 4-5, Sat, 10 a.m.-5 p.m; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Chikoko design/artist collective hosts its annual alternative holiday craft faire, featuring the hand-

made clothing, jewelry and utilitarian art of local artists. This year at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, 2357 Fair St.

Paradise Performing Arts Center, 777 Nunneley Road, Paradise. paradise symphony.org

Holiday in Paradise


Dec. 5, 3 p.m. A holiday music and performance fest with Paradise Community Chorus, Paradise Symphony Orchestra, Big Mo, the Oroville Community Chorus, Northern California Ballet and various local artists. $15. Call (530) 588-4959 for info.

Dec. 10-12, Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 1 p.m. & 6 p.m.; Sun., 1 p.m. An original production inspired by the children’s classic book The Polar Express. Created, produced and directed by Chico brother-and-sister musicianand-dancer team Jeff Schneeweis and Sarah Blakley. A family-friendly journey to the North Pole with performances by local community members. $17-$30. Laxson Auditorium, Chico State. (530) 898-6333. chicoperformances.com

Merry Standish Comedy Christmas Dec. 11, 8 p.m. Christmas spoofery and topical, local and political satire wrapped up in a seasonal holiday package by North State comedy duo Aaron “Snowflake” Standish and Liz “Virgin” Merry. The show will also feature longtime players John “Jingle Balls” Bertoli, Stevie “Chestnuts” Cook and piano man/ brewmaster Roland “Angel of God” Allen. $10 advance tickets, $15 at the door. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E. 20th Street. (530) 228-7347. merrystandish.com

Parade of Lights - Oroville Dec. 11, 6 p.m. A hometown Christmas in historic downtown Oroville with floats, vehicles, horses, music and Santa riding a fire truck. Free. Downtown Oroville.

Santa Shuffle Dec. 11, 8:30 a.m. Five kilometer, one

A Very Chico Nutcracker Dec. 3-5, Fri. 7:30 p.m., Sat. 1 p.m. & 6 p.m., Sun. 1:00 p.m. Traditional Nutcracker ballet with an infusion of rich Chico history presented by the Chico Community Ballet. $17-$30. Laxson Auditorium, Chico State. (530) 898-6333, chicoperformances.com

North State Symphony: Holiday Concert Dec. 10-12, Fri., 7:30 p.m. (Chico), Sat., 7:30 p.m. (Red Bluff), Sun., 2 p.m. (Redding). Celebrate the season with a festive performance of a variety of sacred and popular holiday music. $15$30. First Baptist Church, 850 Palmetto Ave.; Red Bluff State Theatre, 333 Oak St. 898-5984; All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 2150 Benton Dr., Redding. The Yule Logs

mile fun run/walk, or virtual 5K, with proceeds benefiting Chico’s Salvation Army. Lower Bidwell Park. Register online at runsignup.com.

ring Will Ferrell as Buddy the elf. Sponsored by Chico County Day School. Chico Marketplace (near Dick’s Sporting Goods), 1950 E. 20th St. shopchicomarketplace.com

A Very Kiry Christmas Comedy Showcase

Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl

Dec. 16, 6:30 p.m. A holiday stand-up party headlined by Kiry Shabazz (who has appeared on the The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central’s Standup Comedians, and more). Also featuring Josh Means, Logan Farr and Tina San Lucas. $15. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com

Dec. 18, 4:30-9 p.m. A downtown pub crawl with drink and food specials and contests, games and prizes. $12-$20 and available at dothecrawl.com/Chico/Ugly-Sweater.

Gingerbread House Decorating Dec. 22, 3-5:30 p.m. Build your own gingerbread house for the holidays. Registration $15. Chico Marketplace, 1950 E. 20th St. shopchicomarketplace.com

Nochebuena: Christmas Eve in Mexico Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m. Two Los Angeles dance and music ensembles—Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuélla—celebrate the holiday traditions of Mexico. $24$42. Laxson Auditorium, Chico State. (530) 898-6333, chicoerformances.com

The Nutcracker – Paradise Dec. 17-19, Fri. & Sat., 7:15 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 2 p.m. Northern California Ballet’s production of the traditional holiday ballet that follows Clara through the Land of Sweets to the tune of Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. $12-$20.

Paradise Performing Arts Center, 777 Nunneley Road, Paradise. northern californiaballet.com

A Rockin’ Christmas Dec. 18, 7 p.m. A spirited seasonal showcase featuring locals Hot Flash, the Chuck Epperson Band and singersongwriter Kyle Williams. $10. El Rey Theater, 230 W. Second St. elrey chico.com

Dyrk & Laurel Holiday Show Dec. 18, 1 p.m. Local singer-songwriter duo. The Allies Pub, 426 Broadway Ste. 130.

CHARITY Chico Housing Action Team needs donations and volunteers for the community group’s efforts at meeting the needs of the unhoused. Donation checks can be made out to CHAT and mailed to PO Box 4868, Chico, 95927. Visit chicohousingactionteam.net or call (530) 399-3965 for more info. Far Northern Regional Center is accepting donations for its efforts in providing services and support for persons with developmental disabilities. Also, contributions can be made to the Holidays Are For Caring Fund to provide gifts for those who may not otherwise receive any during the holiday season. (530) 222-4791, farnorthernrc.org Jesus Center needs food and cloth-

ing donations along with volunteers. Call (530) 345-2640 or visit jesuscen ter.org for info. North Valley Community Foundation is accepting donations for various wildfire and COVID relief efforts. Visit nvcf.org or call (530) 891-1150 to donate and for more information. Safe Space facilitates shelter and provides outreach to the homeless community. Visit the group online at safespacechico.org and follow on Facebook for donation needs and updates on volunteer signups. Salvation Army’s red donation kettles are popping up for the holidays. Donate to support programs online at chico. salvationarmy.org. Salvation Army community center, 567 E. 16th Street. Info: 800-SAL-ARMY. 6th Street Center for Youth needs donations of personal-care items, firstaid supplies, undergarments, coats, backpacks, sleeping bags, blankets and more. Donations accepted MondayFriday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. 130 W. Sixth St. (530) 894-8008. 6thstreetcenter.org Torres Shelter needs donations and volunteers. Torres Community Shelter, 101 Silver Dollar Way. Info: (530) 8919048, torresshelter.org. Youth for Change is accepting donations and volunteers for its community collaborations supporting the healing of children and families (including those displaced by the Camp Fire). (530) 8771965, youth4change.org Ω

ELF Screening Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m. Family movie night featuring the classic holiday comedy star-



The Yule Logs Dec. 2-18. The hardest working band in snow biz is back for another run of rockin’ holiday parties. Local shows include: Chico Women’s Club (Dec. 2, 4 p.m.); Duffy’s Tavern (Dec. 4, 9 p.m.); Argus Bar + Patio (Dec. 8, 8:30 p.m.); and Paradise Ice Rink (two shows: Dec. 11 and 18, 6:30 p.m.). Go to yulelogsmusic.com for info.

DECEMBER 2, 2021




g n o s y b d e Deliver

Bodies – AFI The pandemic has been a nonstop conundrum for the music industry, with politics, supplychain disruption and a decimated live-music scene making the past year-plus very unpredictable. From that chaos, however, the bands and songwriters of the world have drawn inspiration to record and now release music befitting the era. My favorite of the 2021 COVID crop has been Bodies by AFI. Frontman Davey Havok’s timeless musicianship—via thoughtful vocals and melodies— carries the listener on an emotional dark-rock journey, with traditional guitar/drum post-punk backing complemented by gothy synth/ electronic touches. All 11 tracks stand out, but contenders for repeat listens include “Dulcería,” “Escape From Los Angeles,” “Looking Tragic,” “Far Too Near” and “No Eyes.” AFI’s tour in support of Bodies kicks of in February. riserecords.lnk.to/AFI

Six music fanatics share the new releases getting them through the pandemic

—NATE DALY drummer (Royal Oaks, Tite Nauts, Knifes, etc.)

Future Times – Plankton Wat Last year, while many people were locked down wondering what the future held, Dewey Mahood locked himself in his Southeast Portland basement and created Future Times under his solo moniker, Plankton Wat. After my first listen back in February this record was high on my 2021 favorites list, and nothing’s changed. It’s the right music at the right time—delicate, ominous and full of unexpected turns. On Future Times, the former Chicoan (recall bands Norman and Good Time Charlie) and current Portland psych phenom, brings in more analog synth and noise, particularly on “The Burning World” and the title track. It’s a long, strange trip; one I hope outlasts our current state of affairs. thrilljockey.com/artists/plankton-wat

—KATIE PERRY agent for Crawlspace Booking

SAULT (multiple releases) SAULT is an elusive UKbased collective that eschew videos and photos in favor of pure musical content. Since 2019 they’ve released five full LPs (!) that act as a musical road map of forms and genres, jumping around stylistically but unified by undeniable funkiness. Gospel, funk, soul, hip-hop, Afrobeat, step, doo-wop—it’s all in there, filtered through the modern Black experience. Also, main producer Inflo has produced full lengths for (assumed SAULT-members) Lil Simz, Cleo Sol and Michael Kiwanuka. This puzzle of a “band” makes for one of the more musically rich listening experiences I’ve had in a long while. sault.global —AYE JAY illustrator, DJ, infrequent MC



DECEMBER 2, 2021

Need That Kind of Lovin’” calls back to Cartwright’s earlier material; and “You Ain’t Me” vibrates with jangling guitars, electric piano, “oohs” and “aahs,” and a multitude of other musicals touches—a minimasterpiece in just over three minutes. mergerecords.com

—MARK LORE freelance music writer/DJ Mark in the Dark

GLOW ON – Turnstile “John L” – Black Midi This song is almost too much to handle. “John L,” the lead single from Black Midi’s sophomore album, Cavalcade, comes on like a panic attack. The relentless main riff is made up of many parts—with a piano, guitars, bass, drums and a mess of brass all lining up for the rushed hook and then going off the rails in variety of unexpected dynamic shifts. Laws of inertia don’t apply as the whole mess stops on a dime, pauses and restarts at the previous

level, or at a louder/faster level, or just into chaos. It only lasts a little more than five minutes, but it feels four times as long. “John L” is the most dynamic track from the follow up to the mathy experimental English rock crew’s much-celebrated 2019 debut, Schlagenheim, and it is a most appropriate anxious and cathartic response to life in pandemic times. A gloriously overwhelming experience. bmblackmidi.com —JASON CASSIDY CN&R editor, local music dude

What happens when your favorite hardcore punk band goes pop? You get the most dizzying rush of a rock album in years, full of huge hooks to One of our greatest living songyell along with. I do like to dance and writers, Greg Cartwright, has a knack for fitting the right songs into have a good time, and with GLOW the right project. Reigning Sound is ON, its third full-length release, Baltimore quintet Turnstile has had his canvas for crisp, 1960s-tinged me skanking and thrashing around rock songs—a counterpoint to his the house, yelling along and singing raucous, jet-propelled outfits (e.g., about feeling alive on the exhilarating the Oblivians). A Little More Time “Holiday”: “Now it’s a holiday! ... with reunites the band’s original Memphis lineup for an ace record of I wanna celebrate!” smokey melodies and rhythms. The turnstile.lnk.to/GLOWON title track strikes a perfect blend of —KIRT LIND Astronaut Ice Cream guitarist, Yule Logs bassist garage, soul and country; “I Don’t

A Little More Time with – Reigning Sound

DECEMBER 2, 2021



REEL WORLD Left: Passing

Still streaming-in-place CN&R film critic’s latest rundown of at-home cinema

W streching on, here are some of the most recent film highlights. ith the streaming season

Passing (Netflix) A deft and at times brilliant adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing is remarkable in that respect alone. by But it’s also excepJuan-Carlos tional in a small mulSelznick titude of ways—as a multifaceted character study, as a richly evocative period piece, as actress Rebecca Hall’s very impressive directorial debut, as an uncommonly perceptive meditation on race and personal identity in modern America. The story revolves around two light-skinned women of color who were friends as kids in Harlem. But when they meet again as adults in a posh New York City tearoom, they both have taken on identities which include “passing” for white—Irene (Tessa Thompson) occasionally,

Clare (Ruth Negga) full time. Clare has married a wealthy white man (Alexander Skarsgaard) while Irene is married to a black physician (André Holland) with whom she has two sons. After their chance reunion, Clare and Irene get entangled in each other’s lives in increasingly discordant—and revelatory ways. Old Henry (Amazon Prime) Tim Blake Nelson ferociously inhabits the title role in a brusquely intense western which is set in 1906 but with a story that links up with events and Wild West legends from earlier decades. Nelson is superb as a crusty middle-aged galoot who’s trying to make a go of the farming life even as increasingly dark reminders of Henry’s apparent outlaw past keep catching up to him. In some ways it’s similar to Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven and in other ways to Blackthorn, which had Sam Shepard playing an aging but still

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DECEMBER 2, 2021

active Butch Cassidy. Scott Haze is good as the somewhat mysterious wounded man whom Henry rescues, and Trace Adkins and Stephen Dorff are both sharp in key supporting roles that enhance the interplay of ambiguous identities within the drama’s violent action. With the exception of the flimsy characterization of Henry’s understandably confused son (Gavin Lewis), writer-director Potsy Ponciroli’s work is very good throughout. About Endlessness (Hulu, Amazon Prime) This film is another of Swedish auteur Roy Andersson’s featurelength gatherings of brief sketches and vignettes that prove both mundane and exhilarating. Here, as in A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Contemplating Existence, the calm, deadpan mixtures of the ordinary and the dramatic generate an uncanny blend of earthy realism and ethe-

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real blessing. Droll absurdist humor mingles with the occasional bit of Bergman-like metaphysical anguish, but the overall effect is intriguingly similar to the lyrical, meditative calm found in the films of the great Japanese auteur Yasujiro Ozu. East of the Mountains (Amazon Prime) Adapted from the novel of the same name by David Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars), East of the Mountains stars Tom Skerritt as an aging, cancer-stricken cardiologist who sets off on a trek into the eastern wilds of Washington state, ostensibly on a hunting trip in his old stomping grounds but actually to end his life on his own curmudgeonly terms. Misadventures ensue—his Range Rover breaks down; his beloved dog, Rex, is attacked by the dog of a hostile loner; he has nasty confrontations with that man and his dog; etc. But he also gets friendly assistance from an adventurous young couple in a minivan, has an uneasy reunion with his estranged brother (Wally Dalton), bonds more than once with an empathetic rural veterinarian (Annie Gonzalez) whose help he enlists in treating Rex’s wounds.

There’s also a touching reunion with his adult daughter (Mira Sorvino), but director S. J. Chiro and writer Thane Swigart keep things free of easy sentiment. And the effulgent landscapes east of the Cascades (via Sebastian Scandiuzzi’s fine cinematography) are, implicitly, healing forces as well. Shooting Stars (Amazon Prime) In this restoration of a British silent film from 1928, a romantic triangle among movie actors spirals toward ironic—and fatal—consequences on a studio set. As it happens, I watched this film just a few days before news broke of a shooting death on the set of an Alec Baldwin movie in New Mexico. But even without that eerie coincidence, Shooting Stars has enough style, beauty and emotional complexity to remain a fresh and exhilarating experience nearly a century later. Annette Benson (star of the movie within the movie), Brian Aherne (as her husband and leading man) and Donald Calthrop (as her unlikely seeming lover) all give sharp performances under the smartly stylized direction of Anthony Asquith, a future master of British cinema in his filmmaking debut. Ω

Below: About Endlessness

With your recurring or one-time contribution, the CN&R’s team of dedicated journalists can continue our award-winning coverage on topics that impact the residents of Butte County, including COVID-19, the arts, homelessness, the fight for equality, and wildfire recovery and prevention.

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Thank you from your local, alternative newsroom

SCENE Kelly Meagher outside his regular haunt, Duffy’s Tavern in downtown Chico.

Hooked on the cause


In April 1980 Meagher came to

In memory of Kelly Meagher, a reprint of a classic feature on the local icon On Nov. 25, local icon Kelly Meagher died in his Butte Creek Canyon home. In memory of our longtime friend, the CN&R offers this condensed (and lightly edited) version of a story that ran in the Dec. 15, 2011, edition of the CN&R. Read the full interview online at newsreview.com/chico/content/ hooked-on-the-cause.

Tyearson this community over the is undeniable. He organized

hat Kelly Meagher had a big impact

and funded numerous political campaigns, most in the name of environmental protection. More than anyone, he used his own money to support the causes he favors. He had by wealth—though not as Tom Gascoyne much as many other people in Chico—and he spread it around. His generosity and financial ability to back it up helped launch a community radio station, kept the heart of the Butte Environmental Council beating during tough times, and funded numerous political causes—many successful, some not. His once-red locks and beard turned silver, his once-fit frame a bit expanded, he was often found at his favorite perch on the west end of the bar at Duffy’s Tavern in downtown Chico, downing Pacifico beer and shots of Hornitos tequila. Meagher was a community character, a fixture who loved to talk and drink; he was a pain to some, a savior to others. Upon graduating from high school in

1970, and while in the process of trying to gain conscientious-objector status (he’d been drafted), Meagher

went to work for César Chávez’s United Farm Workers union. He worked as a union organizer for 2 1/2 years, before taking a job at a hospital in Fullerton for two years. He completed his government-required community-service work, and then moved to Berkeley, where he became a self-employed house painter. “It was good living,” he said. “I was really a good little capitalist—I made a lot of money painting.” He painted houses—inside and out—for the next 5 1/2 years. Then, on July 19, 1979—what Meagher referred to as his “rebirthday”—his life changed in a split second. He was working on a four-story building in downtown Berkeley. Running parallel to the building was a thick black wire that emitted a pulsing buzz. “I had learned enough in my painting time there to know that’s a dangerous wire,” he said. “It’s kind of close, too. So you could pay funds to this major utility and they would shut it off. I asked them to

turn it off for two weeks while we finished the job.” When the job was finished, he and another fellow removed the scaffolding. As they were taking it down, a cross-rod broke loose. “It was going to fall four stories down like a javelin and probably going to harm someone,” Meagher said. “It was on Shattuck Avenue right downtown. The hospital was right there. I could see it was going to hit the dead wire. And I thought, I can just hold it. Well, the wire was on.” He joked darkly about what happened next: “It was a shocking experience, and I got a real charge out of it.” He stayed conscious through the ordeal. “I remember going up in the elevator at Alta Bates hospital and the doctor telling me, ‘I don’t think we can save your hands.’ And I looked at my hands and saw charcoal. I couldn’t feel them, I couldn’t move them. They were

clinched. They were burnt black, black as night.” He said he was in shock and felt no pain. He remained in the hospital about four months. “I had a brilliant surgeon, but the nurses saved my life,” he said in typical Meagher style. “God bless the nurses.” Before he left he was fitted with prostheses, “my hooks, as I like to call them.” By flexing muscles in his shoulders and back he could make them open, which enabled him to grasp objects such as glasses and eating utensils. He filed a lawsuit against the power company, which he eventually won. He was limited by the structure of the settlement regarding how much he could say about it. “I wasn’t defeated by the accident, but I was scared,” Meagher said. “Once I went on this river trip I knew that I could beat it. My goal was to be the same old asshole I always was. Well, guess what? I am.” The river trip, he said, was a life-changer.

Chico “just to check it out.” He was hired by the Butte Environmental Council as an intern, and he later served on the board of directors and twice as general manager. “That’s because we were broke and nobody else wanted to do it,” he said. “I ran the recycling center, but as [former BEC office manager] Carol Mueller will tell you, I spent most of my time at LaSalles and she ran the place.” Meagher’s first foray into local politics was close to home—the plan to build 75 condos just below the house he owned in Butte Creek Canyon. This was the summer of 1980. “I stopped by one night at a meeting the citizens’ committee was having, which was a bunch of housewives at the covered bridge. My roommates had told me, ‘Kelly, they’re going to build these houses down there and ruin the canyon. You know, these guys are the most powerful people in six counties.’ And I remember thinking, that doesn’t sound right.” So he went to the meeting. He said at that time in his life he looked like Charles Manson. “They were scared of me. … They were very suspicious of me and kind of uptight thinking I was going to do something evil. But I had a nice dog with kind eyes.” He offered his help, and they handed him the draft environmentalimpact report on the project and asked him to come back with his analysis. “I went to the Chico State library and asked the head librarian for the law books on the California Environmental Quality Act,” he recalled. “I read the stuff, I read the report, I came back the next week. I gave them 20 pages that I wrote out in hook, and they went, ‘You’re hired.’ Although they didn’t pay me.” He ended up as their spokesperson. “They made me cut my hair, shave my beard, and they took me to J.C. Penney, where they bought me ‘good clothes,’ as they said. They made me take my earrings out. But it worked, you know? We did it.” Ω DECEMBER 2, 2021



ARTS DEVO by JASON CASSIDY • jasonc@newsreview.com

2021 DEVO AWARDS: After a year off, the tradition continues! This is the 14th edition of Art DEVO’s annual local arts and culture awards ceremony. The envelopes, please ... BEST AT MAKING THE BEST OF THINGS: The virtual presenters. Until COVID-19 vaccines arrived and venues started cautiously opening doors in the spring/summer, local performances were mostly happening online-only. With its advantage in resources, Chico State was able to make the transition more elegantly than most local outlets—especially via North State Symphony with its impressive full slate of fully virtual ’20-’21 productions for Rediscover, its 20th season program; and Chico Performances with Chico Voices Virtual, a wellproduced and engaging series of locals-only streaming concerts by the likes of The Yule Logs and Smokey the Groove. In the next tier down, it was mostly local art galleries and a few inspired individuals keeping the fires burning virtually. Chico Art Center, 1078 Gallery and the Museum of Northern California Art all had robust online offerings, and busy makers like electro-disco-pop duo Astronaut Ice Cream (plus many friends) kept their momentum from 2020 and continued to organize and host livestreamed concerts and variety programs (the Summer’s Eve Show, the Equinox Eve Show, etc).

BEST NEW BAND: Blü Egyptian. Personally, I’m no jam fan. Chico sure is, though, and there’s no denying frontman Don Jules and crew are a young, energetic breath of fresh air for the local scene. BEST ART SHOW: No Word for Art at Museum of Northen California Art (July 29-Sept. 26). MONCA handed the curatorial reins for this group show over to those whom the incredible exhibition represented—the Hmong community of Northern California—and the result was a very rich, authentic, interactive experience. BEST ARTIST: Max Infeld. When a Chicoan has work auctioned off at both Christie’s and Sotheby’s, that artist is the winner. There is no doubt that 2021 was Infeld’s year. Under the moniker of his alter ego Marisol Vengas, three of his contributions to “Curio Cards”—a series of digital non-fungible token (NFT) cards—were sold by others for ridiculous sums (up to half-a-million bucks). And at those auctions, the entire 30-card collection went for $1.2 million and $625,000, respectively.

BEST LIVE THEATER: Theatre on the Ridge. Not only has the long-running Paradise community theater overcome wildfire, a pandemic and even flooding, but the company has been killing it with a rich and varied schedule of fun/interesting productions (Annapurna, Wild Women of Winedale, etc.) featuring some of the best players in the county. Bravo!

BEST LIVE MUSIC: Cracks in the Concrete vinyl release parties (Nov. 5-6.) I have been very shy about joining any crowds in the intimate confines of local venues during a pandemic, so I’ve seen exactly zero local indoor concerts this year. However, the consensus from the musicians and revelers who did brave Duffy’s Tavern, Naked Lounge and Argus Bar + Patio for the 12-band, threeshow mini-fest celebrating the release of the all-local Cracks In The Concrete compilation album is that the experience was cathartic . BEST LOCAL ALBUM: Cracks in the Concrete compilation. (See above.) BEST LOCAL SONGS: “Tequila on the Tennis Court” – Surrogate; “Real Love” – Scout; “Wizard in the Park” – Tite Nauts; “Protest Song” – Severance Package; “Apocalyptico” – West by Swan; “Hurry” – Lagrima.

REST IN PEACE Since there was no year-end wrap-up last year, my traditional remembrance for those in the local arts/music/social scene includes a few who passed away in 2020. Jenise Coon (9/15/20), singer, actress, Chico High choral/drama teacher Nicole Seredszun (11/29/20), Weekly Synthesis columnist John McCall (12/20/20), IMPs frontman John Fuller (1/2/21), Chico Theater Company actor/singer Gary Kupp (1/18/21), Theatre on the Ridge lighting/sound designer and board member Burt Levy (1/28/21), percussionist (Eastwind Bellydance, Ancient Echo) David Sisk, aka Sisko (3/21/21), artist, billboard activist, Chico icon Jeff “Hobie” Givens (6/9/21), rock ’n’ roll M.F. Steve Schuman (9/12/21), North Valley Productions owner/concert promoter Mike Williams (10/10/21), rock/blues guitarist singer (Second Hand Smoke, Bawl ’n’ Chain) Judy LaRocca (10/18/21), matriarch of LaRocca Vineyards Dave Mettler (11/23/21), “The Wine Guy” at Safeway Kelly Meagher (11/25/21), environmental activist, philanthropist, Chico icon, beloved local human of the highest order 32


DECEMBER 2, 2021

DECEMBER 2, 2021




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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY FOR THE WEEK OF DECEMBER 2, 2021 ARIES (March 21-April 19): It’s a favorable time to get excited about your long-range future—and to entertain possibilities that have previously been on the edges of your awareness. I’d love to see you open your heart to the sweet dark feelings you’ve been sensing and open your mind to the disruptive but nourishing ideas you need, and open your gut to the rumbling hunches that are available. Be brave, Aries! Strike up conversations with the unexpected, the unknown and the undiscovered.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): A Tumblr blogger named Evan (lotad.tumblr.com) addressed a potential love interest: “Do you like sleeping, because so do I,” he wrote. “We should do it together sometime.” You might want to extend a similar invitation, Taurus. Now is a ripe time for you to interweave your subconscious mind with the subconscious mind of an ally you trust. The two of you could generate extraordinary healing energy for each other as you lie together, dozing in the darkness. Other recommended activities: meditating together; fantasizing together; singing together; making spiritual love together. (PS: If you have no such human ally, sleep and meditate with a beloved animal or imaginary friend.)

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Gemini author Chuck Klosterman wrote, “It’s far easier to write why something is terrible than why it’s good.” That seems to be true for many writers. However, my life’s work is in part a rebellion against doing what’s easy. I don’t want to chronically focus on what’s bad and sick and desolate. Instead, I aspire to devote more of my energy to doing what Klosterman implies is hard, which is to write sincerely (but not naively) about the many things that are good and redemptive and uplifting. In light of your current astrological omens, Gemini, I urge you to adopt my perspective for your own use in the next three weeks. Keep in mind what philosopher Robert Anton Wilson said: “An optimistic mindset finds dozens of possible solutions for every problem that the pessimist regards as incurable.”

CANCER (June 21-July 22): An organiza-

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Broder wrote a preposterous essay in which she ruminated, “Is fake love better than real love? Real love is responsibility, compromise, selflessness, being present, and all that shit. Fake love is magic, excitement, false hope, infatuation, and getting high off the potential that another person is going to save you from yourself.” I will propose, Leo, that you bypass such ridiculous thinking about love in the coming weeks and months. Here’s why: There’s a strong chance that the real love at play in your life will feature magic and excitement, even as it requires responsibility, compromise, selflessness, and being present.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Virgo author Andre Dubus III describes times when “I feel stupid, insensitive, mediocre, talentless and vulnerable—like I’m about to cry any second—and wrong.” That sounds dreadful, right? But it’s not dreadful for him. Just the opposite: “I’ve found that when that happens,” he concludes, “it usually means I’m writing pretty well, pretty deeply, pretty rawly.” I trust you will entertain a comparable state sometime soon, Virgo. Even if you’re not a writer, the bounty and fertility that emerge from this immersion in

BY ROB BREZSNY vulnerability will invigorate you beyond what you can imagine.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get 22.” Author Dashiell Hammett said that, and now I’m passing it on to you—just in time for a phase of your cycle when putting two and two together will probably not bring four, but rather 22 or some other irregularity. I’m hoping that since I’ve given you a heads-up, it won’t be a problem. On the contrary: You will be prepared and will adjust faster than anyone else—thereby generating a dose of exotic good fortune.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In her poem “Is/Not,” Scorpio poet Margaret Atwood tells a lover, “You are not my doctor, you are not my cure, nobody has that power, you are merely a fellow traveler.” I applaud her for stating an axiom I’m fond of, which is that no one, not even the person who loves you best, can ever be totally responsible for fixing everything wrong in your life. However, I do think Atwood goes too far. On some occasions, certain people can indeed provide us with a measure of healing. And we must be receptive to that possibility. We shouldn’t be so pathologically self-sufficient that we close ourselves off from tender help. One more thing: Just because that help may be imperfect doesn’t mean it’s useless and should be rejected.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “All my days I have longed equally to travel the right road and to take my own errant path,” wrote Norwegian-Danish novelist Sigrid Undset. I think she succeeded in doing both. She won a Nobel Prize for Literature. Her trilogy about a 14th-century Norwegian woman was translated into 80 languages. I conclude that for her—as well as for you in the coming weeks and months—traveling the right road and taking your own errant path will be the same thing.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Capricorn author Susan Sontag unleashed a bizarre boast, writing, “One of the healthiest things about me—my capacity to survive, to bounce back, to prosper—is intimately connected with my biggest neurotic liability: my facility in disconnecting from my feelings.” Everything about her statement makes me scream NO! I mean, I believe this coping mechanism worked for her; I don’t begrudge her that. But as a student of psychology and spirituality, I know that disconnecting from feelings is, for most of us, the worst possible strategy if we want to be healthy and sane. And I will advise you to do the opposite of Sontag in the coming weeks. December is Stay Intimately Connected with Your Feelings Month.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In some small towns in the Philippines, people can be punished and fined for gossiping. Some locals have become reluctant to exchange tales about the sneaky, sexy, highly entertaining things their neighbors are doing. They complain that their freedom of speech has been curtailed. If you lived in one of those towns, I’d advise you to break the law in the coming weeks. In my astrological opinion, dynamic gossip should be one of your assets. Staying well-informed about the human comedy will be key for your ability to thrive.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): “Originality consists in thinking for yourself, and not in thinking unlike other people,” wrote Piscean author James Fitzjames Stephen (1829–1894). Another way to say it: Being rebellious is not inherently creative. If you primarily define yourself by rejecting and reacting against someone’s ideas, you are being controlled by those ideas. Please keep this in mind, dear Pisces. I want you to take full advantage of your astrological potential during the next 12 months, which is to be absolutely original. Your perceptions and insights will be unusually lucid if you protect yourself from both groupthink and a compulsive repudiation of groupthink.

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