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Spotlighting people and firms benefiting the community

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Vol. 46, Issue 1 • July 7-August 3, 2022 OPINION


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


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July Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Scene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Chow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Reel World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Arts DEVO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Brezsny’s Astrology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34


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, Addison Winslow Managing Art Director Tina Flynn Publications & Advertising Designers Cathy Arnold, Katelynn Mitrano, Jocelyn Parker Sales & Business Coordinator Jennifer Osa Advertising Consultant Ray Laager


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Easy way to alleviate local hunger can’t help but worry about the welfare of North CStateweresidents.

onsidering the financial burdens stemming from inflation,

In May alone, consumer prices shot up a full percentage point, marking an overall 8.6 increase compared with the prior year. That’s the largest year-over-year rise since 1981, one of many measures experts warn may indicate a looming recession. Everything from electronics to vehicles has increased—though, costing nearly double what it did this time last year, gasoline appears to be the most talkedabout category. In addition to fuel, everyday necessities of rent and food have risen sharply, at 5.5 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively. That’s a huge problem for a region whose chronically high poverty rate—17.3 percent in Butte County, according to the latest U.S. Census—is 6 percent higher than the national average. All of this is to say, we’re concerned about what lies ahead. Historically low-paying jobs, lack of affordable housing and natural disasters have created the perfect storm for economic turmoil. Food insecurity is one result. According to Feeding America, based on data compiled prior to the pandemic and current inflation woes, the county’s food insecurity rate, at 14.4 percent, was 31 percent higher than the national average. The rate for children was even higher,

by Evan Tuchinsky eva nt@ newsr ev iew.c o m

at nearly 19 percent. One of the saving graces for school-age children during the pandemic has been the federal school meal waiver program, which expanded free public school lunches to all children nationwide, regardless of household income. Shamefully, it goes away at the end of this month due to congressional antipathy. Fortunately, in response, California has created its own universal meals program, picking up at the start of the upcoming school year. Still, gaps remain. No doubt, local families will struggle to put food on the table. That’s why we are encouraging our readers with means to give to local organizations that help their neighbors, and there’s one that stands out in our minds because it makes it easy to make a difference. It’s the Chico Food Project (chicofoodproject.org), an organization that collects shelf-stable foods from local households. Participants simply place nonperishable foods in the nonprofit’s signature blue bags—one, two or however many is doable—and place them on their porches on the designated day. Volunteers pick them up every two months and deliver them to numerous helper organizations, including the Chico Community Food Locker, Chico Housing Action Team, Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry and Vectors for Veterans. It’s that simple, yet so crucial to locals in need. And, soon enough, perhaps moreso than ever. Ω

LETTERS Where water goes Re: “‘Everyone loses’” (Newslines, by Rachel Becker, June 9) I read with interest your article about the ongoing drought. Agriculture, however, is only 2 percent of California’s GDP. Finance makes up the lion’s share. Losing ag won’t hurt us. Hydrologists warned us a quarter century ago that California would be running out of water about this time, so why is everyone in panic mode? Also, California grows luxury crops like almonds, walnuts, avocados, dates, plums, etc. Nobody ever starved to death because they didn’t get enough almonds on their chocolate sundae. California used to grow a lot of 4


J U LY 7, 2 0 2 2

Reflecting ahead “It’s like deja vu all over again.” This gem from Yogi Berra keeps popping to mind lately, and not just because of regressive decisions issued by the Supreme Court. I spent the bulk of June pinch-hitting as CN&R editor, a role I last filled 13 years ago, as Jason Cassidy took a well-earned vacation— while continuing to do my main job, reporting on the Chico City Council. I’ve described covering the council as the best beat there is, because at any given meeting, anything can happen. Particularly with the current group at the dais. From my tenure as editor through three stints as contributing editor, plus time in other cities, I’ve observed various councils operate. None quite like this. The conservative majority—first 5-2, now 6-1, following last year’s pair of appointments—has a pattern of acting to prioritize immediate effects with seemingly little regard for long-term consequences. Most conspicuous is the council’s homeless “enforcement” push, forcibly removing campers from public spaces, that precipitated the Warren v. City of Chico lawsuit and ensuing settlement, whose ramifications the conservatives and their supporters lament. CN&R editorials referred to the sweeps as a “game of whack-a-mole”; I’ve called the activity “a game of pitch and catch without a catcher.” Either metaphor applies, because the plan, as it were, failed to consider where all those displaced campers would go. The tarmac “resting site”? Umm... Other such instances: · Conservatives jumped on a public speaker’s remark and voted to downgrade the Climate Action Commission to an ad hoc committee—only to reconsider the decision at the next meeting, in the wake of public outcry.

· That same meeting, last October, they reinstated the shelter crisis wheat until the railroad came through; then farmers found they could make more money by growing luxury crops and shipping them. It takes one gallon of water to grow one almond and five gallons of water to grow one walnut, then we ship the nuts off to China—so they are stealing our water by proxy. Saudi Arabia has drained its deep aquifers and now has to import food and build desalinization plants. China has drained some of its major aquifers. What little water we have left in California should be used for everyday citizens. I grew up in the middle of a 300-acre almond orchard. The agricultural heyday is over. Michael M. Peters Chico

declaration they let lapse four months earlier because the city needed the designation, and the benefits it accords, after all.

Gun control Re: “JC & the real WMDs” (Second and Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, June 9) I was raised around guns also, Melissa, and I can hardly call myself an advocate or enthusiast. When I had young children, I didn’t keep guns in the house because I believe in the statistics. But over the years, especially if you watch and read progressive ideology, I begin to realize that yes, they are coming for our guns (if they never get true and absolute power). Even your own column shows that in a very modest way: “Ban assault weapons and … buy back [the 20 million in circulation].” That is a rather passive way to LETTERS C O N T I N U E D

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· After the council parted ways with City Manager Mark Orme in March,

the majority appointed Police Chief Matt Madden interim city manager— without consulting Madden. Within days, the city was looking for a new interim city manager. Ironically, Madden just announced he’s retiring.

· The conservatives, including members who deride taxes, declined to

pump the brakes last month on a 1 percent sales tax measure for November, despite signs of a recession and disaffected Chicoans. Compounding the timing, they also upped the city budget by a third, to $211 million. There are more, but you can see the throughline. Yogi Berra also said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” We can take that as a call to action come November—vote carefully. But it’s also a call-out to the council members shaping Chico presently. Every move causes ripple effects down the road. Credit where it’s due, at the June 21 meeting, the conservatives paused a “Quality of Life Initiative” to give the city attorney a look before their next meeting, July 5 (after the CN&R published). That one of their own, Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds, brought forward such a broad proposal, unvetted, with a compressed timeframe … well, the pattern may not be wholly past. To quote Yogi again, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Evan Tuchinsky is Contributing Editor of the Chico News & Review.


Free help for small business since the Camp Fire in B2018.challenges These were exacerbated during the usinesses in Butte County have faced many

COVID-19 pandemic. While the economy remained mostly locked down, the Butte College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) assisted Butte County businesses in creating 166 jobs; saved 761 jobs; and developed 77 new business startups with total investment of $7.2 million. During that time, SBDC provided by Sophie Konuwa consulting services, trainings and webinars The author is the director of the Butte in all aspects of business College Small Business management while Development Center. guiding 433 businesses toward accessing over $30.7 million in loans and grants, including federal, state and local government COVIDrecovery assistance—all at no charge. The SBDC was created in 1987 to provide


free one-on-one business consulting and trainings to business owners and potential entrepreneurs in all areas of business startup, development, management, growth and accessing capital. The program is funded in part by the federal government through the Small Business Administration and the state through the governor’s Office of Economic Development (Go-Biz). The SBDC is your tax dollars at work. Given the record in the U.S. of newbusiness failure (about 50 percent close within the first five years), Butte College SBDC was established to help small businesses buck that trend. The SBDC operates against the backdrop that small business—constituting 90 percent of all businesses in the United States—is a vital engine of economic development and job creation. Small businesses bring growth and spark innovation; provide new employment opportunities, including self-employment; support and contribute to larger businesses; at times grow to become major corporations and stay in their communities where they were established; and are GUEST COMMENT C O N T I N U E D

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

Fat cat Man, was June 24 a dumpster fire day. I woke up that Friday morning to the news that the Extremist Court—aka Supreme Court—had repealed the 50-year precedent on legalized abortion. Next up, Butte County’s retiring right-winger clerk/recorder announced the final results of the primary election. Don’t come at me for that jab at Candace Grubbs. It’s well-documented that she stopped conducting marriages in Butte County at the exact time gay marriage was legalized. I’d say good riddance, but then her successor is the guy who didn’t have the ethical courage to turn in his sister, a Chico city councilwoman who moved out of the municipality she was elected to represent. Then there’s the election of Peter Durfee, the baseball umpire-turnedcop-turned-triple-dipping Butte County supervisor-elect. Considering his campaign website basically touts only his law enforcement and baseball cred, Durfee evidently thinks catching balls and bad guys is all voters should know about him. Like, did the guy go to college? Earn a degree? What a mystery man, but not really. See, Durfee has shown plenty of things that define his character. First off, his motivation is money. We know that because he led the efforts to strong-arm the city into police pay raises when the coffers were on the brink of bankruptcy during the Great Recession. Unsurprisingly, he plans to keep his full-time job as a sergeant ($112,000 last year, not including benefits) while working another full-time job as a supervisor ($61,000, not including bennies and other compensation). Oh, then there’s his teaching gig at Butte College’s cop school. Triple dipping, with two public employee pensions. Cha-ching. Secondly, he’s a thin blue liner to his core. He died on that hill a decade ago, when he went to bat for a cop who got outed for posting racist images online. One was a picture of Barack Obama, witch doctor style, with a bone through his nose. It was the visual equivalent of calling the 44th president a “spearchucker.” Another was Confederate flag related. Durfee held a press conference about the incident as though the cop was a victim. As I documented in my column, when asked directly by yours truly whether the images were racist, he brushed them off as “political satire.” I hadn’t given much thought to Durfee until years later, when he began passing along juvenile comments to me through my colleagues. One of them was a new reporter who was covering a City Council meeting. Durfee went out of his way to ask her to “say hello to my good friend Melissa for me.” I had to search my mind for who he was, but Durfee obviously couldn’t get me out of his. How flattering. The guy obviously had something to say but has never reached out to me. Instead, he’s trolled the paper’s website using his union email address. I mean, duh, those comments are anonymous to the public, but I can see who posts them. That was a few years ago, granted, so when I heard he was seeking office, I thought it was possible the guy had evolved. You know, maybe he’s no longer an immature, passive-aggressive misogynist who can’t identify racism. Then I learned that he didn’t participate in the CN&R’s election Q&A, which is hilariously chickenshit. He’s the only politician to duck that invitation during my time here. One thing is certain: Durfee would never have been elected without help from the three right-wing ideologues already on the Board of Supervisors who gerrymandered the hell out of the district. There is a big asterisk next to his win. Sadly, though, there is a ton at stake in this county, and I suspect Durfee will act as a tool of those who propelled him. If I’m wrong, I’ll happily eat my words.

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



What local business are you B proud to support? Asked in downtown Chico

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able to adapt quickly to changes in the business and economic climate. Although the pandemic was difficult for small businesses, it created and fostered new ideas and innovations from entrepreneurs and pushed small businesses to become competitive in the digital technology space. Butte College SBDC saw more new business startups and investments during the pandemic then the two years prior. As businesses continue to recover, Butte College SBDC remains open to provide business consulting assistance in Butte, Glenn, Tehama and Colusa counties. Businesses can access these free services by calling (530) 895-9017 or visiting buttecollegesbdc.com. Ω


Woodstock’s! It’s a great place for pizza and community. You never feel a sense of being alone when you’re at Woodstock’s.


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

look like it’s not really a ban but accomplish the same end and act like it’s common sense populism.

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Kaylie Cory clothing retail

I like Little Red Hen [Nursery]. I like their plants a lot. They always have really healthy plants. My plants from them don’t usually die … and they’re a nonprofit, and they have a whole bunch of different stuff that they sell.

Miguel Perez f ine dining

I’d say, Momona. I live in Los Angeles, and I visit here when I ever I can, and every time I do visit, we go [there].

Randy Wilkinson software engineer

I like to support all the local businesses. I think Fifth Street Steakhouse does a good job. A lot of the local restaurants—Grana and all of the restaurants Will Brady owns [B Street, Banshee and Bill’s Towne Lounge] are great.

“Everybody is talking about gun control … we need some bullet control. I think every bullet should cost $5,000. … You know why? ’Cause if a bullet cost $5,000, there would be no more innocent bystanders.”—Chris Rock Neither the NRA nor the GOP cares about the American public at all. Regular incidents of mass murder by pro-Trump misogynists and right-wing Republican racists have become commonplace in the United States, and the ridiculous Republican Party continues to insist that passing laws to protect the American people from weapons of war and domestic terrorism isn’t worth their time or effort. The GOP “leaders” don’t want gun control. They don’t even want bullet control. They want door control! Turning every single public building in America into a deadly firetrap with only one way in and out sounds like another brilliant “conservative” idea. Here’s my idea that’s actually sure to make America safer: fewer Republican officeholders. To borrow an often-used firearms-related phrase from gun-hugging hunters, isn’t it about time that we the people “thin the herd” of do-nothing, know-nothing, gun-nut NRA stooges? Make sure to send an unmistakable message Nov. 8 by defeating the Republicans who are awash in blood money from the NRA. Jake Pickering Arcata

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CITY BUDGET: $211 MILLION Ahead of a November ballot measure asking Chicoans to increase their local sales tax, the city of Chico began the 2022-23 fiscal year July 1 with a $211 million budget— a third higher than the $142.9 million budget the previous year. The budget increases operating expenses (reliant mainly on sales tax and property tax) to $113.6 million from $98.5 million. Meanwhile, spending on capital projects (such as road improvements, funded largely by grants and gas tax) increases to $97.4 million from $44.4 million. Police, at $31.3 million, and fire, $16.7 million, constitute 76.8 percent of the general fund expenditures. The City Council’s conservative majority approved the budget—which also earmarks funding for a downtown ice rink this winter—on a pair of 6-1 votes over the dissent of Alex Brown, the sole progressive member. Brown told the CN&R that the budget represents “an overall attitude that we’re not headed for an economic crisis or people aren’t struggling.” Mayor Andrew Coolidge said the plan takes inflation into account and “will be fine.”


Former Mayor Mark Sorensen will be Chico’s next city manager. The city announced the hire June 30—ahead of the regular meeting, where the City Council needed to approve the appointment officially, July 5 (after this issue published; check chico.newsreview.com). Selecting Sorensen (pictured) caps a national search to replace Mark Orme, with whom the council parted ways March 25. A two-term councilman (2010-18) who served a mayoral term (2014-16), Sorensen has worked the past 10 years as city administrator in Biggs, with his position encompassing the roles of finance director, utility director and risk manager. The day prior (June 29), Police Chief Matt Madden—who briefly filled the post of interim city manager, before the council hired Paul Hahn—announced his retirement effective September. He’s worked in law enforcement 30 years, the past 25 with Chico PD.


CN&R J U LY 7, 2 0 2 2


‘Care crisis waiting to happen’ In-home health workers pinched as their necessity grows

Swhoneeds. One, a double transplant survivor is almost blind, requires assistance for ydney O’Connor’s clients have disparate

most of the critical transactions in his life, including paying bills and staying current with by Mark Kreidler his finances. The other, a woman in the early stages of dementia, needs help with the basics: getting out of bed, making food, moving around her house, using the bathroom. The first is O’Connor’s partner, the second her neighbor. As an In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) provider, O’Connor is part of California’s answer to the number of its residents who need everyday assistance, lack financial resources and wish to age in place. That number continues to grow. As

of last December, more than 666,000 Californians were authorized recipients of IHSS care, according to the state Department of Social Services. In the coming decades, researchers say, that figure will skyrocket as the graying of California progresses. But the state is already lagging in its ability to provide IHSS services, which it created nearly half a century ago. In 2020, the state auditor found that more than 32 million hours of assessed IHSS need were going unmet across California, a gap almost certain to widen. One reason? Money. O’Connor, 27, is paid just $15 per hour for her services. It’s a minimum-wage figure driven by an oddly constructed system in which each of the state’s 58 counties sets its own rate for IHSS work. Kern County,

where O’Connor lives, has doggedly stuck to the lowest payment it can approve. (Butte County pays $15.50; San Francisco is tops at $18.00. See info box, page 11.) “It’s medical work a lot of the time, or at least paramedical,” O’Connor said. “I’ve operated dialysis machines, done IVs, adult diapers—I do a lot of the things that people in long-term care facilities do, and at a lot less cost to the county than someone being put in a hospital or a nursing home. But it’s not only minimum wage, it’s that it isn’t even full time.” Instead, hours are assigned to each inhome patient by a county social services worker, who tries to learn about the patient’s needs and then estimate how many hours per month it would take to meet them. Since the pandemic began in 2020, O’Connor said, no social worker has made

New PRINT edITIoN eveRy moNTh About the article: Left: Providers of in-home health services in California—666,000 at last count—receive compensation that differs by county, mostly at or just above minimum wage.

This story is produced by the award-winning journalism nonprofit Capital & Main and co-published here with permission.


an in-person visit to either of the people in her care. She is authorized to provide 94 hours a month for her partner and 72 for her neighbor; in reality, she often works through the day and far into the evening to care for both, hours well beyond the county’s estimates.

Biases at play?

that’s about half the average wages for the workforce as a whole. Women make up 88.6 percent of the home health care workforce, with 54.6 percent of the workers women of color and more than a quarter immigrants. (Though the term “home health care” often refers to professional medical assistance, the EPI’s use of the term includes many home care job descriptions, Sawo said.) “What would those wage levels look like if these factors—racism, sexism, xenophobia—were reduced in terms of the harm they cause? This is specialized labor, and it is tough to attract and maintain the necessary workforce,” Sawo said. Created in 1974, the IHSS system was designed to provide in-home care to blind, elderly and disabled residents in California who meet income eligibility requirements. Essentially, those who qualify for Medi-Cal are also able to request IHSS. More than half of the estimated $18.5 billion cost to run the program in fiscal year 2022-23 will be borne by the federal government, with the state picking up most of the rest. Counties are on the hook for only about 10 percent of the total cost, yet it is county supervisors who set the rates for IHSS workers in their areas. This has led to wide disparities in pay—as much as $3 per hour, depending upon geography. In general, the wages don’t reflect the importance of the work, especially considering that in-home care means other county and state health services are less strained. “People truly need to be compensated and acknowledged for the care they’re providing,” said Anthony Wafer, who commutes about 60 miles daily from his home in Encino to Lancaster, where his sister deals with debilitating knee and back injuries. After caring for her most of the day, he drives another 65 miles to his night job doing housekeeping at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His hourly IHSS wage from Los Angeles County is $16. His sister is authorized to receive 109 hours of care per month. Wafer is logging something closer to 200. “I was raised to take care of family, but we’re not just talking about a family member. We’re talking about a patient,” Wafer said. “These people need care. These are working jobs, period. It’s tough.” For decades, the jobs have come with low pay and no benefits. While the EPI’s report


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The low pay and stressful job requirements discourage people from considering IHSS, and a growing number of workers, including O’Connor, have joined the labor organizations that bargain for better wages for them. But this is also part of a longstanding trend in the care industry, and researchers suggest that decades-old biases—against women and minorities, who make up most of the workforce—are still at play. “My goodness, it lies at the heart of the issue,” said Marokey Sawo, a state economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. “What we see manifested here is part of a larger picture of systemic oppression, and it is tied to three things: who does the care work, what type of work it is and who receives it.” Last year, an EPI report co-authored by Sawo found that care work, including home care, was compensated nationally at a rate

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

Pay gap IHSS workers’ pay rates vary by as much a $3 an hour statewide. Some counties of note: Glenn .........................$15.00 Lassen .......................$15.00 Siskiyou ......................$15.00 Tehama .......................$15.00 Butte .......................$15.50 Colusa ........................$15.50 Orange .......................$15.50 San Diego ....................$15.50 Trinity ........................$15.50 Modoc ........................$15.85 Los Angeles .................$16.00 Sacramento .................$16.00 Shasta........................$16.10 San Luis Obispo ............$17.64 San Francisco ..............$18.00

Source: California Department of Social Services (June)

highlights the gender and ethnicity of home care workers as one reason why, others note that family members are often the ones providing the necessary care, leading to a devaluing of the service. “Some county boards of supervisors have expressed in the past that IHSS providers are lucky to get paid at all, as though caring for an elderly person or a person with disabilities full time isn’t work if you are related to them,” said Cherie Parker, public information officer for United Domestic Workers of America (UDW). “The low pay is leading to a longterm care crisis of alarming proportions.”

Relative care Although firm figures in California are hard to come by because people constantly move into and out of IHSS, officials estimate that 50 percent or more of such care is delivered by family members. (In another twist to the system, IHSS recipients select their own caregivers, while the county sets the rate and assigns the hours.) For many, choosing a family member is a matter of comfort and trust, caregivers say. Tracy Mills Jones has extended such care to several members of her family, going back to the 1990s when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Jones provided in-home care for her mother and later for her cancerstricken husband, and now cares for a brother who suffered a stroke and also requires transportation to a dialysis clinic. “It was when the pandemic hit that I really noticed the pay issue more clearly,” said Jones, who lives in Palmdale in northern L.A. County. “I always knew I was underpaid, but I’d made up the difference with a bunch of odd jobs, cleaning places at night, things like that. During the pandemic, those

jobs all went away and I could see that I simply could not make it on IHSS pay. That is a terrible feeling.” What should her pay be? In a just released report, the EPI researched what home care wages would look like once factors like “wage penalties” associated with the nature of care work and the demographics of the workers themselves were removed. While the estimates are for all kinds of home care, including medical, the results are startling: California’s suggested hourly rate becomes more than $25, or roughly $10 above the current average. Increasingly, home care providers in California have turned to labor organizations in an effort to move the wage question forward. The roughly 570,000 IHSS providers in the state are represented in contract negotiations either by SEIU 2015 or the UDW regardless of whether they choose to join the union. (Disclosure: Both organizations are financial supporters of Capital & Main.) SEIU 2015 has launched an effort to set a wage floor of $20 per hour for home care workers. “That’s a great starting point,” Wafer said, “because then this can become a more competitive job field and we might have more caregivers open to doing IHSS work.” But that effort is ultimately local, since the unions must negotiate separately with each county. Absent a state mandate to raise home care workers’ wages, this 58-piece puzzle will continue to exist. “It’s a necessary program that should be developed further,” O’Connor said. But with pay this low and work this undervalued, the massive gap in IHSS coverage in the state is certain to grow. It’s a care crisis waiting to happen. Ω

Fight The Bite!



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VOTING ENDS MONDAY, JULY 18, AT 11:59 P.M. Best Motorcycle Dealer Best New Business (non-food service, open in last year) Best Nursery Best Outdoor Living (patios, pergolas, pools, etc.) Best Pet Groomer Best Piercing Studio Best Place For A Mani/Pedi Best Place For Electronics/ Computer Repair Best Place To Buy Books Best Place To Buy Home Furnishings Best Place To Buy Outdoor Gear Best Plumber Best Professional Photographer Best Property Management Best Real Estate Agent Best Reptile Store Best Roofer Best RV Rentals Best Shoe Store Best Solar Company Best Sporting Goods Best Tattoo Parlor Best Thrift Store Best Tree Service Best Wedding/Event Planner Best Window Treatments Best Women’s Clothier


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B Community boosters CN&R spotlights local businesses with service as their ethos Times are tough. There’s no sugar-coating economic struggles in Chico, Butte County and elsewhere. Residents—and businesses— are feeling the pinch of high prices for gas, food and goods. The CN&R could devote our annual Business Issue to that side of the commercial world. Instead, we’re looking at the brighter side: businesses that value giving back to the community. Helping where and when they’re needed most. Not because they have to—but because it’s the right thing to do. We could have spotlighted any number of altruistic enterprises. We’re focusing on two: Azad’s Martial Arts Center and Sunseri Construction. Though many Chicoans recognize Grandmaster Farshad Azad, few know his life story. And while many have driven by—or live in—Sunseri developments, few know the contractors behind those buildings. Let these people serve as inspiration for the positivity that’s possible in even the most challenging circumstances.



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Enter the altruist Martial artist Grandmaster Azad leads with his heart by

Evan Tuchinsky eva nt @new srev i ew. c o m


n the top shelf of the bookcase above his office desk, Farshad Azad displays a soccer ball. It’s from the 2014 World Cup, now slightly deflated—seemingly out of place among mementos more apropos of the setting, Azad’s Martial Arts Center. Yet this ball, sent from Brazil by a former student, symbolizes the journey of the man known throughout Chico as Grandmaster Azad.

His accomplishments are numerous. Azad is a 10th degree black belt in both Hapkido and Tai Chi; he holds master rank in two other forms, Jung SuWon and Kali. He’s trained professionals—special forces, law enforcement, air marshals, flight crews, bodyguards—and created his own systems of martial arts and selfdefense. At the same time, he’s made an impact with philanthropy: notably, 30 years of distributing Thanksgiving meals, plus drives for shoes and school supplies, at Azad’s. Myriad accolades for his service include recognition as a Local Hero in the CN&R. “A lot of how he moves through life is trying to aid and support and bring different communities together,” said Sierra Grossman, vice president

of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., who’s worked with Azad on projects including the Butte Strong Fund supporting North State wildfire recovery. All this because of a soccer ball. The story traces to Tehran in the 1970s, the final years of the Shah’s reign in Iran. Azad, then 11, son of a judge and a principal, was playing soccer with friends when the ball went over the fence into a neighbor’s yard. “Somebody had to be a knucklehead to go [over] and get the ball,” he recalled, and that day, it was his turn. “As soon as I found it in the bushes, some dude came out of the house: ‘Hey, what are you doing in my yard?’” Azad took off running. “The next day,” he continued, “being the intelligent kid that I was, the house of wisdom that I was, I was wearing the

Azad’s Martial Arts Center

Left: Grandmaster Farshad Azad—displaying his cherished soccer ball, a gift from a from a former student—traces the turning point in his life to a childhood summer with a neighbor who’d become his first martial arts instructor. photo bY evan tUchinSkY

same thing, doing the exact same thing [playing soccer] in the same exact spot.” The man approached, lifted Azad by the shoulders and confronted him: “‘You are the one who broke into my house.’ He was telling me, ‘You’re a thief.’ I was turning around to my buddies to help me out; nobody’s around. The loyal friends I had, they ran away.” Faced with the prospect of going to the police or his parents, Azad negotiated to spend a month of summer break working at the man’s home. “Over there, going into someone’s yard is like going into someone’s bedroom over here,” he explained of Asian culture. “It’s that serious.” Azad anticipated days of chores. Turned out, the neighbor had a different intention. Unbeknownst to Azad, the man—who came from Korea—was a martial artist. The tasks actually were training. For instance, he told Azad to clear 10 feet by 10 feet of dirt, 1 foot deep, and jump out 100 times. Then dig another foot deep, jump another 100 times. Repeat. He gained much from this teacher, whom he knew only as Master Son. Azad continued coming back after his “punishment month”

and picked up skills from what he later realized were Hapkido and Tai Chi. Friends noticed new moves on the soccer field, but he kept the source a secret for fear his parents would disapprove. By the end of the summer, Azad became physically stronger, mentally tougher and rededicated to school, where he had become disengaged. He studied with Master Son the next two years. “So a soccer ball changed the course of my life,” he said. “I wasn’t interested in martial arts, and my parents for sure were against it, because a lot of rough kids would go to practice martial arts. It wasn’t just a sport—it was an identity that would go with the culture of being a street fighter. “Two months of torture, which was the best two months of my life, changed my perspective about what martial arts is in true form and who a martial artist can be.”

Lessons take root Azad’s passion for learning brought him to the U.S. as a 15-year-old. He lived with an uncle who was finishing graduate studies at Kansas University—then on his own, attending a residential Catholic prep school, once his uncle earned his PhD. Azad spoke little English when he arrived yet excelled academically, going on to earn admission to

313 Walnut St. #150 KU, where he received (530) 892-2923 bachelor’s degrees in azadsmartialarts.com economics, political science and international relations. “I came here because of higher education,” he said. “I wanted to study; I wanted to learn to become a better human being…. I had heard about democracy and what democracy is.” Two years after Azad emigrated, the Shah fell in the 1979 revolution that precipitated the Iran hostage crisis, in which militarized students held 52 Americans for 444 days. By then, his parents had moved his sister to England, maintaining residences in both the U.K. and Iran, and Master Son had returned to Korea. As part of the Iranian-American community, Azad experienced challenges—“people didn’t like us very much, and we had nothing to do with the stuff going on over there,” he reflected. “It was not a very happy time in terms of social aspects. “But it’s about the soccer ball: What you do with it, how you learn from life,” Azad added. “I was a martial artist; I’d go compete, [and] people didn’t particularly like me

Azad’s Thanksgiving Basket Brigade enters its 31st year this fall to serve families in need across the North State. photo coUrteSY of farShad azad

because of how I’d look at the time, but I didn’t care. I didn’t let anything stick. I understood where people were coming from. I felt their pain. I felt their fears. So I didn’t take it personally and I moved on.” He came to Chico for the university’s graduate program in public administration. Working on campus while completing his master’s, Azad honored the request of his boss to teach her daughter martial arts. He insisted on doing so for free. From the one, he gained other students. Soon, he forged a partnership with a dojo, Chico Kodenkan, and eventually spun off into Azad’s. He opened his standalone studio in 1985. “I didn’t know business; that wasn’t my thing at all,” Azad said. Studying in college, “I was interested in worldwide economics. I wanted to improve people’s lives at a far bigger level. I didn’t go get an MBA, it was an MPA—I wanted to help elevate everyone, not just the profit side of the game. “As a matter of fact, in martial arts, because of the way it came to me, I wasn’t interested in charging people at all. I made every single mistake you could possibly make in business to where my school is one of the most successful schools in the country right now.” Azad’s occupies a wide storefront on Walnut Street and employs nine instructors. As the grandmaster, he holds the highest rank achievable in martial arts. Together, they teach children, teens and adults Monday through Saturday. Azad estimates 15,000 students have come through his school. The curriculum involves more than developing skills and instilling discipline: Each youth must complete a service project that benefits the community. Many work the Basket Brigade holiday food drive and the Gimme-Some-Sole shoe drive; some create individual projects, such as yard sales and car washes for a sister dojo in the Ukraine. Azad does so because giving back drives him. “In the ’70s and ’80s, it wasn’t cool for businesses to be philanthropic—that was for nonprofits, that was for charities,” Azad recalled. “Businesses had nothing to do with just giving. That was not in the game at all. “But that was part of me; that was something I was just going to do. [I decided] I’m going to bring that to my martial arts school and I’m going to teach kids to be that way, I’m going to teach adults to be that way, I’m going to guide my community or whoever wants to listen to go that way and to be that way.” AZAD c o n t i n U e d

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345 WEST FIFTH STREET CHICO, CA 95928 (530) 891–6328 Open Fridays for Lunch 11:00am to 2:00pm


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Gift of giving

Azad started Basket Brigade in 1991. He and his students raise money to deliver full Thanksgiving dinners, enough to feed 15, to families in need across the North State. The program has fed over 60,000 people. Grossman participated last year. Inspired after working with Azad on the Butte Strong Fund at the North Valley Community Foundation, she came with her family to assemble baskets. “What a fun event,” Grossman said. “Well-organized, positive high energy; it’s people coming together for a common cause and contributing how they can.” Teenage students managed the operation, directing volunteers through the various lines and ensuring completion of tasks, with adult supervision. “It was a really neat experience,” she added, “welcoming.” Last year’s Basket Brigade represented a milestone apart from the 30th anniversary. Azad opted to move beyond the Chico area to other cities in Butte County, with an eye toward neighboring counties. He called Mary Sakuma,

superintendent of the Butte County Office of Education and a Basket Brigade participant, to find partners—school district officials in communities without such a program. “I remember thinking this was a huge undertaking to go from supporting one community to try to provide baskets and children to families throughout our whole county,” Sakuma said. “But I also know he’s not a philosopher who stands on the sidelines and says, ‘Somebody should do this.’ He gets in and makes it happen—and that’s exactly what he did.” Typically serving 200 families, the effort last year brought meals to 1,000. “That outreach from Grandmaster Azad is very illustrative of who he is as a person and who he is as a community supporter,” Sakuma added, “and really, in his own way, a community activist.” Gimme-Some-Sole stemmed from a 2016 meeting Azad had with local principals. After hearing that shoes and rain boots represented the most pressing need for low-income kids, he initiated a month-long collection that yielded 50 pairs donated on

Along with teaching martial arts, Azad instills the value of giving back by requiring community service projects from his youth students. photo coUrtesY of farshad azad

Make a Difference Day that year. The Points of Light Foundation recognized the endeavor with a $10,000 grant that he bestowed to the Torres Community Shelter. “He has a really amazing ability to bring people together in such a beautiful way,” Sakuma said, “and knows how to connect just the right people with the right people. He’s a remarkable man— he’s definitely had an impact on me.” On Grossman as well. She relayed a recent encounter with Azad at the Woofstock fundraiser for the Butte Humane Society, which he attended soon after shoulder surgery. Grossman, too, had a shoulder injury, not nearly as severe. Arm in a sling, Azad showed her some Tai Chi moves to help relax her shoulder. “His first thing is, ‘How can I help you?’” Grossman said. “Whatever it is that you’re doing, he gives of himself, just very purely.” Ω BUSINESS c o n t i n U e d

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Sunseri Construction’s Jerry Eaton (left), Donny Lieberman and Lydia Altman walk the site of Meriam Park’s North Creek Crossings, a 160-unit affordable housing development set to be completed in 2024. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA


Foundation of compassion Sunseri Construction dedicated to building affordable housing in Chico and beyond by

Ashiah Scharaga as hi ahs @ n ew sr ev i ew. com


He later discovered his passion for construction and was inspired by Sunseri’s work. When he took the reins in 1991, he “decided that our mission should be social justice.” (Phil Sunseri remains a co-owner, along with Lieberman, Lares, former vice president Greg Creighton, Vice President of Operations Heather Post and Chief Estimator Nyles Armstrong). On a recent afternoon, Sunseri had two large construction sites in Chico that were a flurry of activity. Subcontractors hand-formed curbs for the parking lot at CHIP’s Creekside Place at the corner of Notre Dame Boulevard and Humboldt Road. The complex will provide 101 units for very low income seniors 62 and older (15 units will be reserved for those with mental illness). Project Manager Brody Van Koten and Project Engineer Nayeli Cisneros took a walk around the site with Lieberman. Inside, some crews were painting and caulking, while others were installing mechanical, electric and plumbing infrastructure. “We’re in all of the phases right now,” Van Koten said. Just up the road, crews were similarly hard at work at North Creek Crossings. Between the two projects, Sunseri “We do a lot of projects where it’s Affordable Housing Development will have constructed 261 new the first safe housing people have had Corporation and the Housing affordable apartment units in Chico Authority of the County of Butte, will by 2024. in their lives, and they’re seniors,” house 160 low-income families once Lares said. That day, Lieberman smiled as completed. There, Lares was joined This impact has kept Lares, the he walked by another CHIP apartchief finance officer, and many others by another longtime employee of ment complex that Sunseri built, working for the company for decades. Sunseri: Donny Lieberman, the com- Murphy Commons, just next door pany’s president and CEO. “Who wouldn’t want to go to to Creekside Place. The 15-year-old In its early days, Sunseri, named work every day and know that you’re apartments, where outdoor plants and after founder Phil Sunseri, cultivated children’s bicycles rested on patios, making a difference for people that a reputation in the Chico community are well-maintained, he said. Many don’t have the same opportunities, for its efforts in affordable housfor people that are marginalized?” myths about affordable housing ing—first partnering with the nonshe said. persist, and Lieberman tries to dispel Last month, Lares attended anoth- profit Chico Housing Improvement them. Program (CHIP), then a young er type of ceremony: a groundbreak“Affordable housing is not about upstart, for its complex Turning Point warehousing people that have limited ing to celebrate Sunseri’s construcCommons. tion of North Creek incomes,” he said. “It’s about providLieberman, who was Crossings within the ing stability and homes for working raised in Chicago by a pro- families that need a chance to reside Meriam Park neighSunseri Construction gressive family, said giving in the community that they serve.” borhood in southeast 48 Comanche Ct. back to the community was Chico. The project, (530) 891-6444 one of their core values. by Clovis-based sunsericonstruction.com

ver the 40 years that Cindy Lares has been with Sunseri Construction, she’s hardpressed to recall a grand opening that she’s missed. Without a doubt, resident speeches are her favorite part. Since Sunseri was founded in Chico in the early 1970s, the general contracting company estimates it has built over 10,000 units for low-income seniors, families and homeless individuals throughout California and in Nevada.

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Members from the Affordable Housing Development Corporation, Housing Authority of the County of Butte, city of Chico, Sunseri Construction and Wells Fargo celebrate the groundbreaking of North Creek Crossings at a press event in June.



this project gets completed because you know there’s a need there.”

‘Equally invested’

Part of the team During his tenure with Sunseri, Lieberman said, he’s drawn inspiration from the partners that the company has worked with, whom he called “servants of the greater good.” Sunseri’s role in any project is always to “complement others’ missions.” Affordable housing projects often take many years to develop, and there’s never a guarantee they will be completed, Lieberman said, often due to financial hurdles. Sunseri provides some pro bono work on all of its projects with mission-based nonprofits— preconstruction budgeting, design and value engineering (analysis of building features, systems, equipment and materials to achieve essential functions at the lowest cost while also meeting safety, performance, quality and reliability standards). When the Camp Fire destroyed CHIP’s Paradise Community Village, the first affordable housing development within the town of Paradise, the nonprofit decided to rebuild. Sunseri, which had constructed the original apartment complex, was honored to join the efforts to resurrect such an important place for survivors in need, Lieberman said. “It was amazingly uplifting not only watching our staff so determined and full of purpose



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to bring these homes back to the people that’d lost them, but every subcontractor in a terrible labor market made sure Paradise Community Village was built first,” he said. Lieberman also pointed to Lavender Courtyard, an affordable LGBTQ senior housing project in midtown Sacramento by Mutual Housing California, as another example of the tenacity and dedication of the company’s nonprofit partners. The development was just completed but took about eight years due to challenges in securing funding. “[Our partners’] passion, their stick-to-it-iveness and their just absolute resilience against all odds to not let a project [fail] … is humbling,” Lieberman said. Just as Lieberman has been inspired by Sunseri’s social services partners, so have the company’s subcontractors drawn inspiration from Sunseri’s mission. Mark Cooper, owner of Sacramento-based H & D Electric, has been working with Sunseri for the past 30 years and said it’s a “model” general contractor for many reasons. Sunseri makes sure that subcontractors are truly part of the team for every project. Creekside Place, a 101-unit affordable apartment complex for seniors by Chico Housing Improvement Program, is set to be completed by Sunseri Construction by the end of 2022. PHOTO COURTESY OF SUNSERI CONSTRUCTION

“When problems come up, they work together with you to find solutions. There’s none of the finger pointing,” he said. “It’s not a motto or a mission statement that’s left written on the side of the wall and ignored.” Similarly, Sunseri’s team is driven to provide housing to people in need first and foremost, Cooper said, compared to those whose main motivation is to make a profit. “Donny’s passion is infectious, and you want to help the cause because you know how strongly he feels for it, and it’s a win-win for all of us,” he said. “You push yourself to find ways to do [a project] more economically—still quality—a way you can do it for less money so you can make sure

This dedication to a mission of social justice has made Sunseri a valuable partner for local nonprofits as well. When Anastacia Snyder, executive director of Catalyst Domestic Violence Services, began working with Sunseri over 12 years ago, their shared values were evident from the get-go, she said. Catalyst was preparing to build a new shelter for survivors of intimate partner violence. Its location at the time was old and in need of repairs and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades. She caught wind of Sunseri from another project partner that urged her to consider the company, she said, and Sunseri proved to be attentive to details and “part of the project every step of the way.” The 28-bed shelter (which can take in up to 35 people maximum when including toddlers and children) was finished in January 2010 “on time and under budget” despite changes requested during the construction process. Sunseri has continued to stay invested in Catalyst’s mission throughout the years, Snyder said. The company regularly partici-

pates in the nonprofit’s adopt-afamily gift drive during the holidays, for example. Most recently, Sunseri completed a project to increase ADA access at Catalyst’s drop-in center in downtown Chico, adding a ramp and ADA-accessible door. It was a project that Snyder wasn’t sure would come to fruition—local engineering company NorthStar made a donation to create the bid and work out a budget proposal for a grant, but when it came time to do the construction, Catalyst didn’t have enough funds. In passing, Snyder mentioned the situation to a friend, an employee of Sunseri—and the next thing she knew, “they said we’ll figure it out, we’ll get it done.” Sunseri joined the project and provided the pro bono work necessary to complete it, Snyder said. “It’s critical that there are companies like Sunseri that are committed to building affordable housing because of the housing crisis, the housing shortage,” she said. Snyder still tears up when she speaks about the shelter and the work that went into completing it all those years ago. “We were all so invested in this work because we were creating a space for people to heal, and Sunseri, they were equally invested,” she said. “They understand our language of wanting it to be welcoming, wanting it to be healing, wanting it to be efficient. To this day, we still speak of the spirit of Sunseri in the shelter.” Ω


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Building Houses—and Community Learn how Chico’s Community Housing Improvement Program gives people the opportunity to build their own home— from the ground up BY ANNE STOKES

Jennifer Palafox and Hector Rubio have built their home — and their family’s future — through CHIP’s Self Help Program. PHOTO BY MICHELLE CAMY


wning a home is the crown jewel in the American most of the people, they’ll tell you they’re happy they Dream. Particularly in California’s current housing built it and they’re proud they did it. Not that many market, however, home ownership is increasingly people now can say they’ve built their own house.” out of reach for many families. And it’s not just houses that get built. For new But for those willing to put in the work, CHIP’s Selfhomeowner David Gonzalez Jr., the most rewarding part Help Program can help make that dream a reality. of the program was building a new community. “We had always thought we were going to save “The whole process was building a really strong up, but there’s just nothing out in the market for foundation for a great community,” Gonzalez says. “I anything cheap nowadays. Every year, you think, have a great relationship with my ‘I’m going to save up,’ and the prices neighbors. Building together, just go up,” says homeowner Jennifer that’s what helped that.” Palafox. “Especially after the fires. … For Palafox, however, Before the fires happened, there the most important That’s going was plenty of real estate, but foundation they creafter, there was nothing.” ated was her family’s to be for my kids’ CHIP’s program offers qualifuture. future and they fied first-time homebuyers like “You want your Palafox and her husband, Hector house to stand for a know they’ll always Rubio, the opportunity and suphundred years and have a safe home to port to build their own home. In leave a legacy for lieu of a down payment, particiyour kids if you decide come to.” pants pay in “sweat equity,” buildto pass it down. It’s not Jennifer Palafox Homeowner ing not just their house, but helping a rental home, you want their new neighbors build their homes to make it a home, and too. In December 2021, Palafox, Rubio that’s what we were able to and their three children were able to move into do with this group,” she says. “I their new home after renting for 11 years. think that’s the end goal for everybody, “It’s really enjoyable when you start from the ground to be able to have a house they can come home to [up] and you build your own house. In the end you feel and know, ‘That’s mine. That’s going to be for my kids’ a lot of pride, all the work that’s gone in, and not just future and they know they’ll always have a safe home into your home, but everyone’s home that you helped to come to.’” build,” Rubio says. “When you’re all done, if you talk to PAID ADVERTISEMENT

For more information about CHIP, visit chiphousing.org or call 1-888-912-4663.

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WORD CHURCH: A spoken word poetry open mic. Sign up to perform from 6-6:30pm, then enjoy art, drinks and friends. A no-host bar will be available, serving beer, hard seltzer and nonalcoholic options. $3 suggested donation at the door. Mon, 7/11, 6:30pm. Free. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave. 1078gallery.org



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ALL MONTH Art & Museums 1078 GALLERY: Slumberspeak Technologies. An Interactive Art Show, an interactive exhibit that invites guests to visit the fictional Slumberspeak Technologies office and enjoy installations surrounding its satirical corporate universe. Special Reception with live performances Friday, July 8, 7-10pm. Through 7/31. 1710 Park Ave. 1078gallery.org

CHICO ART CENTER: Discovery Series. This year’s group exhibit features symbolic, mythic and observational artworks by Carolyn Arredondo, Lisa Freeman-Wood, Kevin Whalen and David Thomas Ruiz. Artist reception Saturday, July 16, 5-7pm. Through 7/31. 450 Orange St. chicoartcenter.com

MAIN EVENT GALLERY: Triple Exposure The Pandemic Edition Photography Exhibit. Photographic artists James Canter, Stephanie Luke and Harvey Spector share images taken throughout the pandemic. Artist reception Friday, June 17, 5:30-7:30pm. Through 7/9. Free. 710 Main St, Red Bluff. (530) 520-5984. tcacarts.org

Markets FARMERS MARKETS: Butte County’s markets are open and selling fresh produce and more. Chico: Downtown (Saturdays, 7:30am-1pm); North Valley Plaza (Wednesdays, 8am-1pm); Thursday Night Market downtown (Thursdays, 6pm); Chico State University Farm (Thursdays, noon-4 p.m.). Magalia: Magalia Community Center (Sundays, 10am). Paradise: Alliance Church (Tuesdays, 7:30am-2pm); “Farmers Market Mobile” in Paradise, 1397 South Park Drive (Thursdays, 2pm).

FLUME STREET FAIR: Arts, crafts, vintage clothes



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and more. Vendors and live musicians set up in the parking lot. Saturdays, 11am. The Magic Shop parking lot, 740 Flume St.

Open Mics & Karaoke CASINO COMEDY NIGHT: Live comedy every other Thursday at the Spirits Lounge in the casino. Thursdays, 8pm. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville. goldcountrycasino.com

COMEDY THURSDAY: Weekly comedy show and open mic hosted by Dillon Collins. Thursdays, 8pm. Free. Bellas Sports Pub, 231 Main St. (530) 520-0119.

GNARAOKE: Karaoke hosted by Donna & Mike. Thursdays, 7pm. Free. Gnarly Deli, 243 W. Second St.

OPEN MIC AT THE DOWNLO: Hosted by Jeff Pershing. Sign up to perform 2 songs. All ages until 10pm. Fridays, 6:30pm. Free. The DownLo, 319 Main St.

OPEN MIC COMEDY: Open mic comedy night hosted by Dillon Collins. Sign ups 8pm. Wednesdays, 9pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade. (530) 520-0119.

SECRET TRAIL OPEN MIC: Weekly open mic at the brewery. Wednesdays, 6pm. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

THU7 Music HIPPY HAPPY HOUR: Live music during happy hour by Doug Stein, Bryan Gravy, and a rotating cast of local musicians. Thu, 7/7,

4pm. Free. Om on the Range, 301 Main St. omontherangechico.com

IVY FLATS: Live music on the back patio. Thu, 7/7, 6pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

TYLER DEVOLL: Local singer/songwriter. Thu, 7/7, 6pm. Free. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E 20th St, Ste. 100. (530) 8095616. mulberrystationbrewery.com

motorcycles, live art demonstrations, local bands, food trucks, vendors, a beer garden and more. Car and Truck show Saturday, 7/9. Motorcycle show Sunday, 7/10. Sat, 7/9, 10am. Riverbend Park, 50 Montgomery St, Oroville. frrpd.com

Music AFTER-THOT: Live music during brunch. Sat, 7/9, 11am. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

BASSMINT: Dance to bass music every second Saturday night. Sat, 7/9, 9pm. Om on the Range, 301 Main St. omontherangechico.com


ROCK MONSTERZ: ‘80s rock cover band. Sat, 7/9, 10pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3



BROKEN COMPASS BLUEGRASS & KYLE LEDSON: Live music on the patio. Fri, 7/8, 5pm. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Live local music in the downtown plaza. Full performance schedule TBA. Fri, 7/8, 7pm. Chico City Plaza, 418 Main St. downtownchico.com

PAT HULL BENEFIT SHOW: A fundraiser for the beloved local singer/songwriter and his family as he recovers from a recent medical emergency. Performers TBA. Fri, 7/8, 8pm. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St. nakedloungechico.com

SOUL POSSE: Local cover band. Fri, 7/8, 7pm. Jen’s Place, 7126 Skyway, Paradise.

Theater THE SPITFIRE GRILL: A heartwarming local production of the musical based on the 1996 film of the same name. Best for ages 13 and older. Fri, 7/8, 7:30pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

Alverda Drive, Oroville. featherfallscasino.com

THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Sat, 7/9, 7:30pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

SUN10 Events FEATHER RIVER SHOW & SHINE: See Sat, 7/9. Sun, 7/10, 10am. Riverbend Park, 50 Montgomery St, Oroville. frrpd.com

Music JENN ROGAR: NorCal singer/songwriter. Sun, 7/10, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

Theater THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Sun, 7/10, 2pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166

Events TRIVIA AT THE STATION: Weekly trivia night. Wed, 7/13, 6pm. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E 20th St., Ste. 100. mulberrystationbrewery.com

THU14 Music BRASS CONNECTION: Live brass ensemble at the Station. Thu, 7/14, 6pm. Free. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E 20th St., Ste. 100. (530) 809-5616. mulberrystationbrewery.com

HIPPY HAPPY HOUR: Live music during happy hour by Doug Stein, Bryan Gravy, and a rotating cast of local musicians. Thu, 7/14, 4pm. Free. Om on the Range, 301 Main St. omontherangechico.com

MARTY O’REILLY AND THE OLD SOUL ORCHESTRA: Santa Cruz blues quartet along with local special guest Seth Prinz. Thu, 7/14, 8pm. $15-$20. Argus Bar + Patio, 212 W. Second St.

Theater THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Thu, 7/14, 7:30pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

FRI15 Music AMERICAN MILE: Country rock band. Fri, 7/15, 9pm. $5. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Live local music in the downtown plaza. Full performance schedule TBA. Fri, 7/15, 7pm. Chico City Plaza, 418 Main St. downtownchico.com

FURLOUGH FRIDAYS, LITTLE BLACK CLOUD, THE PRETTY PILLS: Three local rock bands. All ages. Fri, 7/15, 8pm. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St. nakedloungechico.com

HONEY RUN: Live local music. Fri, 7/15, 6pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com


Submit events for the online calendar as well as the monthly print edition at chico.newsreview.com/calendar


Riverbend Park

Theater THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Fri, 7/15, 7:30pm. $22$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

SAT16 Music BLUE OYSTER CULT: New York classic rock legends perform live at the casino. Sat, 7/16, 8pm. $35-$75. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville. (800) 334-9400. goldcountrycasino.com

DRIVER: Local cover band. Sat, 7/16, 8pm. Jen’s Place, 7126 Skyway, Paradise.

KISSED ALIVE: KISS tribute band. Sat, 7/16, 10pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville. featherfallscasino.com

WEBSTER MOORE & FRIENDS: Live music at the Station. Sat, 7/16, 8:30pm. $5. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E 20th St, Ste. 100. (530) 8095616. mulberrystationbrewery.com

Theater THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Sat, 7/16, 7:30pm. $22$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

SUN17 Events DAVID SPADE: Catch the actor, comedian, writer, and Saturday Night Live alum live on tour. Sun, 7/17, 8pm. $30-$75. The Obsidian Spirits Amphitheater at Rolling Hills Casino & Resort, 2655 Everett Freeman


Gnarly Deli

trucks. No pets, please. Tue, 7/26, 5:30pm. Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place.

Way, Corning. rollinghillscasino.com



BOBCAT ROB & THE NIGHTLY HOWL: Live music. Sun, 7/17, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company,

KIDS IMPROV CAMP SESSION TWO: See Mon, 7/25. Tue, 7/26. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave.

132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com




THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Sun, 7/17, 2pm. $22$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com


Events TRIVIA AT THE STATION: Weekly trivia night. Wed, 7/27, 6pm. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E 20th St., Ste. 100. mulberry stationbrewery.com

Events TRIVIA AT THE STATION: Weekly trivia night. Wed, 7/20, 6pm. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E

Theater KIDS IMPROV CAMP SESSION TWO: See Mon, 7/25. Wed, 7/27. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave.

20th St. Ste. 100. mulberrystationbrewery.com




Music EMMA AND WILL: Local singer/songwriter duo. Thu, 7/21, 6pm. Free. Mulberry Station Brewing

HIPPY HAPPY HOUR: Live music during happy hour

Company, 175 E 20th St., Ste. 100. (530) 809-5616. mulberrystationbrewery.com

by Doug Stein, Bryan Gravy and a rotating cast of local musicians. Thu, 7/28, 4pm. Free. Om on the Range, 301 Main St. omonthe rangechico.com

HIPPY HAPPY HOUR: Live music during happy hour by Doug Stein, Bryan Gravy and a rotating cast of local musicians. Thu, 7/21, 4pm. Free. Om on the Range, 301 Main St. omontherangechico.com

Theater AIRNESS: A local production of the musical comedy about a girl who enters an air guitar competition and finds herself. Written by Chelsea Marcantel and directed by Jerry Miller. Thu, 7/21, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Thu, 7/21, 7:30pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

FRI22 Music THE BROTHERS COMATOSE: NorCal bluegrass, country and rock. Tickets available without service charge at Pullins Cyclery and Music Connection. Fri, 7/22, 8:30pm. $22. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. (530) 894-1978. eventbrite.com

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Live local music in the downtown plaza. Full performance schedule TBA. Fri, 7/22, 7pm. Chico City Plaza, 418 Main St. down townchico.com

KEZIRAH: Live local music. Fri, 7/22, 6pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

Theater AIRNESS: See Thu, 7/21. Fri, 7/22, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Fri, 7/22, 7:30pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com



SAT23 Music FOUR ON THE FLOOR: Local cover band. Sat, 7/23, 8pm. Jen’s Place, 7126 Skyway, Paradise.

ILLEAGLES: Eagles tribute band. Sat, 7/23, 10pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville. feather fallscasino.com

SOUL POSSE: Local cover band. Sat, 7/23, 8:30pm. $5. Mulberry Station Brewing Company, 175 E 20th St, Ste. 100. (530) 809-5616. mulberrystationbrewery.com

THE SUN FOLLOWERS: Local singer/songwriter duo serenades the brunch crowd. Sat, 7/23, 11am. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

Theater AIRNESS: See Thu, 7/21. Sat, 7/23, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. tix6.centerstage ticketing.com

THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Sat, 7/23, 7:30pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

OLD DOMINION: Nashville country band on tour along with Jackson Michelson. Sun, 7/24, 8pm. $50-$150. The Obsidian Spirits Amphitheater at Rolling Hills Casino & Resort, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning. rollinghillscasino.com

Theater AIRNESS: See Thu, 7/21. Sun, 7/24, 2pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Sun, 7/24, 2pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstage ticketing.com

MON25 Theater KIDS IMPROV CAMP SESSION TWO: Slow Theatre invites youth ages 8-12 to participate in a two-week summer theater camp to learn skills in theater, create social connections and have fun. Culminating performance Saturday, Aug. 6. Mon, 7/25. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave. eventbrite.com





ROGER JAEGER: Live local music. Sun, 7/24, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing

FORK IN THE ROAD: Try food from local



Theater AIRNESS: See Thu, 7/21. Thu, 7/28, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. tix6.centerstageticketing.com


KIDS IMPROV CAMP SESSION TWO: Slow Theatre invites youth ages 8-12 to participate in a two-week Summer theater camp to learn skills in theater, create social connections, and have fun. Culminating performance Saturday, August 6. Thu, 7/28. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave. eventbrite.com

THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Thu, 7/28, 7:30pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

FRI29 Events JOHN MORRIS ROSS IV: Sacramento comic headlines Gnarly Comedy Night. Fri, 7/29, 8pm. $20. Gnarly Deli, 243 W 2nd St.

Music COTTONWOOD: Live local music. Fri, 7/29, 6pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Live local music in the downtown plaza. Full performance schedule TBA. Fri, 7/29, 7pm. Chico City Plaza, 418 Main St. downtownchico.com

Theater KIDS IMPROV CAMP SESSION TWO: See Mon, 7/25. Fri, 7/29. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave. eventbrite.com

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THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Fri, 7/29, 7:30pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com


tickets—they’ll be available when performers are announced. Shows at 1pm and 4pm. Brunch is served all day, and you don’t need to buy a ticket to eat. Sun, 7/31, 1pm. $20. Gnarly Deli, 243 West 2nd St., gnarlydeli.square.site

Theater AIRNESS: See Thu, 7/21. Sun, 7/31, 2pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. tix6.centerstage ticketing.com

Events JIMMY O. YANG: Stand-up comedy by the Hong Kong-born American actor, comedian and writer known for his roles on Love Hard, Silicon Valley, Space Force and Crazy Rich Asians. Sat, 7/30, 7pm. $29-$69. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville. (800) 334-9400. goldcountrycasino.com

Music FOREIGNER UNAUTHORIZED: Foreigner tribute band. Sat, 7/30, 10pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville. featherfallscasino.com

ROCKHOUNDS: Local cover band. Sat, 7/30, 8pm. Free. Jen’s Place, 7126 Skyway, Paradise.

Theater AIRNESS: See Thu, 7/21. Sat, 7/30, 7:30pm. $18. Theatre on the Ridge, 3735 Neal Road, Paradise. tix6.centerstage ticketing.com

THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Sat, 7/30, 7:30pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

THE SPITFIRE GRILL: See Fri, 7/8. Sun, 7/31, 2pm. $22-$25. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Rd, Ste. F. tix6.centerstageticketing.com

AUGUST MON1 Theater KIDS IMPROV CAMP SESSION TWO: See Mon, 7/25. Mon, 8/1. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave. eventbrite.com

TUE2 Theater KIDS IMPROV CAMP SESSION TWO: See Mon, 7/25. Tue, 8/2. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave. eventbrite.com





DRAG BRUNCH: Kings and Queens take over every last

KIDS IMPROV CAMP SESSION TWO: See Mon, 7/25. Wed, 8/3. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave. eventbrite.com

Sunday of the month. Check gnarlydeli.square.site for


BLUE OYSTER CULT On tour (yet again) ahead of its 50th anniversary, this classic rock band will make a pit stop in Oroville at Gold Country Casino on Saturday, July 16. Fans of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Godzilla” and “Burnin’ For 24


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You” absolutely should fear missing out on this opportunity to experience the hit songs live, because this show will likely sell out. Visit goldcountrycasino.com for more info.


String awakening Chico musician turns to handcraft of violins

Rrecent obsessively so, he admitted one morning as he stood behind his yan Davidson is in love. Perhaps

workbench surrounded by the objects of his affection: violins, in all states of construction and repair, from penciled sketches on slabs of wood to complete instruments ready for sale. “I don’t know if ‘obsessed’ is too strong a word,” he said, the gleam in his eye and his effusive words confirming it isn’t, “but I’m absolutely captivated and by compelled by Ken Smith them. They’ve had 600 years to evolve ken s@ newsrev iew.c om and just become these amazing things. … They are Davidson Strings perfect acoustic 269 Humboldt Ave. machines.” (530) 332-8222 davidsonstrings@ After flirtgmail.com ing with fiddles for more than a decade, Davidson—a staple of the local music scene whose original music is laden with country, rock and Celtic influences—recently took a plunge and committed to the instruments full time. In January, he opened Davidson Strings on Humboldt Avenue in Chico. Though he gladly accepts other stringed instruments in need of repair and servicing, the primary focus at the shop is selling, repairing and building violins (and their larger cousins, violas and cellos).



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Davidson explained that opening the store was a pandemic pivot, inspired by both necessity and some soul-searching. It’s also the latest chapter in a love story that began years ago, in a faraway land. In 2010, Davidson was living in

Ireland, earning his master’s degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Limerick. His primary focus of study was Irish music and instruments (organology); in the course of doing research, he discovered “an amazing little luthier shop” in Galway and was bit by a bug to begin building his own instruments. After graduating, Davidson apprenticed under the shop’s owner, Paul Doyle. In the following decade, Davidson built several guitars and Irish bouzoukis, but never attempted to build a violin. He is an accomplished multiinstrumentalist, however, who said his

Above: Ryan Davidson builds and repairs stringed instruments—with a focus on violins—in his new shop, Davidson Strings. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

Right: Davidson’s recently completed first violin (right), next to an instrument built by his violinmaking mentor, James Wimmer. PHOTO COURTESY OF RYAN DAVIDSON

love of playing the violin has come to eclipse that for other instruments. Before the pandemic, Davidson was busy recording, touring, playing regular shows and teaching various music and recording classes at Nord Country School and Butte College. He also had a smaller, out-of-the-publiceye workshop in north Chico where he repaired instruments. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on all of those endeavors. “I went from having 11 classes to having one in a single day,” he

said. “I figured it was time for the shop to start making money, and dove in. “Over the years I’d slowly gravitated towards violins,” Davidson continued, “and I realized nobody was really doing this work locally. There was one guy in Redding who retired after the [Carr] Fire up there. I started properly apprenticing violin work with a guy named James Wimmer [owner of Violin Wise] in Santa Barbara. “That was a great experience. He basically said, ‘Oh, you want to start doing violin work? Here’s everything you need.’ He’s been an amazing mentor.”

Poison, imperialism, sustainability Davidson explained his shift of focus to violins wasn’t entirely a matter of infatuation and survival, but that some deeper reasons also drove the change. “With the reevaluation of one’s life that came with the pandemic, I started really looking at the history of guitar making, and there are some things that really irked me,” he said. “One big problem is [guitars being mostly made] with African or South American tropical hardwoods. The world has been hyperfocused on these woods since the time of colonialism. “In Europe, they’d been making instruments out of native woods for hundreds of years. All of a sudden, they went other places and said, ‘Wow, look at this wood … let’s take all of it!’ That’s led to clear-cutting forests and all kinds of terrible things.” Moreover, many of these tropical species are downright dangerous to work with, Davidson said. As examples, he cited Indian rosewood (“The dust sticks in your lungs and never goes away”), ebony (“it’s extremely carcinogenic and like little razor blades that you breath in”) and snakewood (it’s actually venemous and will toxify your blood”). He said other common guitar woods have been driven nearly to extinction and only old samples are available, for steep prices. “I don’t want to be chasing the newest tropical hardwood, knowing that wood wants to kill me,” Davidson added. Violins, by contrast, are made primarily from maple and spruce. He noted that European builders—after 600 years of using the same “wood recipe” for violins—have curated and kept up forests to ensure the sustainability of these sources. That long history is part of what appeals so much to Davidson about violins. “They’ve had time to evolve; guitars are babies by comparison,” he said. “The history and evolution of these instruments, the base of knowledge we’ve built around them, it all

Davidson cuts the soon-to-be-scrolled headpiece for a new violin. Photo by Ken Smith

really speaks to the academic part, the musicologist, in me.”

The first build Occupying the spot of honor in the center of Davidson’s work bench during the CN&R’s visit was one particular violin, its antiqued finish making it look like an ancient instrument despite the fact it was brand new, yet to even be strung. This was Davidson’s first full-solo violin build, patterned after a 1702 Stradivar. He said he put about 100 hours into its construction, not including countless hours spent sanding and staining and reapplying the finish more than two dozen times to build up the agedlooking veneer. “Antiquing takes a lot longer [than normal varnish],” he said. “It’s like giving an infant a fake ID.” A week after the visit, Davidson’s debut violin was complete. To celebrate, he called his friend and fellow local fiddler, Phillip Harrold, to come hear it sing for the first time. Harrold joined him for a few songs on an instrument built by Davidson’s violin-making mentor, Wimmer, creating what Davidson called a special “master-apprentice moment.” “If you told me two years ago that this is what I’d be doing, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy,’” Davidson reflected on his journey into violin craft. “Life sometimes has its own way of working out, of getting better and more interesting.” Ω J u ly 7, 2 0 2 2



CHOW Tijuana street taco magic appears on Cherry Street

Tdifferent Mexico, is known for a lot of things. Those of us who’ve he border town of Tijuana,


spent significant amounts of time there might bicker about what story and photos by aspects of the Ken Smith city’s reputation are deserved and kens @ new srev i ew. c o m which are exaggerated, but there is little argument Review: on one point—the J’s Tacos and Beer street food is 900 Cherry St. (530) 717-6300 amazing. Tacos are, tacosandbeer.biz of course, the cornerstone of this cuisine, and in well-trafficked areas, the streets of TJ are lined with food stands where giant slabs of seasoned meats hang impaled and slow roasting on vertical spits. Meaty fillings are sliced straight from the slab into double-decked, J’s dishes, like these adobada street tacos, are prepared and served Baja California style.

handmade tortillas; garnished with fresh onions, cilantro and salsa; and served with a side of radishes and whole, grilled green onions. Tijuana-style street tacos are the foundation upon which J’s Tacos and Beer is built. The taqueria, which opened in a guacamole-green building at 900 Cherry St. last November, has as its particular specialty adobada, prepared traditionally on a spit in the kitchen. The delicious roast pork is flavored using a recipe developed in Tijuana decades ago by the family-owned business’ patriarch, Jovito Hernandez. J’s is a brick-and-mortar extension of Mi Taquito Grill, a taco truck that’s served delicious Mexican food in north Chico since 2017. The Hernandezes also own and once operated a truck in Paradise called Burritos El Caporal, which they now rent out to former long-time employees; it has served burritos at the same Clark Road location for nearly 15 years. The menu at J’s is simple and centered around just a handful of items: tacos, loaded french fries and mulitas—small quesadillas stuffed with cheese, meat and vegetables. Each of these items include a choice of adobada, ribeye steak or grilled mushrooms. They also serve these items in bowls (with rice and beans) or on top of nachos. Jose Hernandez, son of Jovito and the man often found behind the counter at J’s, said the restaurant’s tortillas are made in-house daily, that the produce is the freshest they can find and that all sauces are made completely fresh with no canned additives or bases. During a recent visit, I sampled the adobada tacos ($3 each, or—as I chose—four smaller, street-style tacos for $7), a ribeye mulita ($7) and a side of rice and beans ($4.50). The tacos were served with all the traditional fixings as well as a delicious avocado salsa. Biting into one, under the light of a neon Corona Jovito Hernandez (left), Enrique Olmos and Jose Hernandez show off the signature pork roasting in the kitchen at J’s. The Hernandez family also owns Mi Taquito Grill, a food truck in north Chico.



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J’s Tacos and Beer is adding menu items and events when it reopens July 11 from a 10-day break.

sign with banda music blaring from a large-screen TV, definitely conjured happy memories of time spent in taco shops off Avenida Revolucion. The mulita, with its remarkably tender meaty filling, was delicious as well. The beans were good, but the light, fluffy rice was subtly amazing; at first bite, I thought it might be a little bland, but by the third bite, it was sublime. If you’re thirsty for more than soda, J’s serves homemade micheladas (spicy, limey, bloody beer cocktails), craft and Mexican beers on tap and bottled beers served singly or—also per Baja California tradition—five or six to the bucket. Since opening, the bar also has offered occasional live music, payper-view boxing nights and DJ’s. The younger Hernandez said J’s plans to do this more regularly in the future. That’s just one of the changes in store. The restaurant closed July 1 and will reopen July 11 with a few new menu items, Jose said, including several breakfast dishes and some new lunch/dinner entrees. The restaurant has been open 3-10 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays; after the break, it will be opening earlier for breakfast service. “We appreciate the love and support we’ve gotten since we opened,” Jose said. “It feels like a good time to step back and look at everything, ramp it up and to give people reasons to keep giving us that love and support.” Ω

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Ghosts of the west Yellowstone prequel, 1883, a gratifying 10 hours of streaming

Ibelatedly—that surprising, to discover—somewhat 1883, the 10-episode t was gratifying, but not entirely

“prequel” to the Yellowstone series, is a richly engaging movie experience. by Its 10 one-hourJuan-Carlos long episodes folSelznick low the travails of a westward-bound wagon train whose leading characters include the pioneering ancestors of the Dutton family, the modernday ranchers of Yellowstone. As such, it churns up a mildly daring mixture of Wild West adventure and dynastic melodrama. It’s a flamboyant precursor to the Yellowstone brand of soap opera and, better yet, it’s also a vigorously entertaining western—part history lesson, part pulp fiction. A battered old Union soldier named Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott) leads the wagon train along with his right-hand man, Thomas (LaMonica Garrett), a black Civil War vet still wearing his uniform. James Dutton (Tim McGraw), a grim Civil War survivor on the Confederate side, is a de facto coleader, who refuses to commit to full partnership with Brennan but keeps making common cause with him as the dangers to his wife and



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two children begin to multiply. Faith Hill (as Margaret Dutton) and Isabel May (as Elsa, the Duttons’ recklessly adventurous daughter) have major roles, thus making mother-daughter and fatherdaughter dramas key parts of the tale. And, in many respects, Elsa becomes the central figure in 1883. She’s the voiceover narrator, from start to finish, and she is the active ingredient in the film’s frontier-style feminism as well as its cross-cultural romancing. The westward thrust of the story explicitly moves away from the carnage of the Civil War (Brennan and Dutton both experience horrific losses) and on toward a new start that includes an at least partially healing rapport with Native Americans. The multicultural episodes center in particular on Elsa’s romance with—and fleeting marriage to —an English-speaking Comanche who calls himself Sam (Martin Sensmeier). Thomas’ increasingly serious dalliance with Noemi (Gratiela Brancusi), a widowed gypsy and mother of two, furthers that aspect, as do Brennan’s encounters with Native American characters, including a calmly authoritative elder played by Graham Greene near journey’s end.

Isabel May as Elsa Dutton in 1883.

The large, friskily diverse cast includes brief appearances by Billy Bob Thornton (as a fearsome Texas marshal), Tom Hanks (as General George Meade), series writer/creator Taylor Sheridan (as legendary guntoting cattleman Charlie Goodnight) and Greene’s “Spotted Eagle.” Eric Nelsen and Noah Le Gros are good as young cowboys who take a liking to Elsa—flirtatious with the latter and flat-out besmitten with the former. Elliott, McGraw, Hill and Garrett deliver solid performances within Sheridan’s lively mixture of classic western tropes and edgy historical nuance. The characterization of Elsa and May’s mildly uneven performance seem to have drawn very mixed reactions from online reviewers. She does seem callow and a bit saccharine at times, but I think that’s partly a byproduct of the poetry and mysticism in the lines Sheridan has written for her. Overall, I’m inclined to welcome her placid readings of Sheridan’s almost-purple prose. It’s rather as if her voiceovers make her into a ghostly romantic spirit, hovering over glories that are both heavenly and hellish. Ω

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ARTS DEVO by JASON CASSIDY • jasonc@newsreview.com

Arts DEVO was on vacation during the production of this month’s CN&R. Enjoy this seasonally appropriate compilation of column snippets from the archives (originally published in the June 20, 2019 edition).

AT THE SPEED OF SUMMER “It’s another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.” —John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra Arts DEVO took a few days off from work last week for the express purpose of having time to sink into some of the “true freedom” of Chico’s long summer days, spending the hours with Mrs. D and the Honey dog, enjoying time outside and plenty of day beers. Anyone who knows me or reads this column knows I am pretty obsessed with summer, and I could go on for days waxing poetically about how much I love the season, but I may already have said all there is to say in these pages over the years: The view outside my office window is the entrance to Bidwell Park. The forecast for the next few days is 90-plus degrees. … I can smell the chicken fat blistering on the grill. And since I’m already in the habit of greeting the dawn and staying awake at least until midnight, the … long summer days offer many opportunities for leisure, romance, adventure, camaraderie, dog walks and playing music. Summer makes me feel younger, like I’m tapping into the cool well of those never-ending Redding summers of my youth, hopping from one body of water to the next— Whiskeytown Lake, Lake Shasta, Dave’s pool, the Sacramento River, “The Plunge” in Caldwell Park. It’s the time I feel the most free and the most in love. But these days, the real truth is that my personal default playlist for summer doings is the New good dog; same good summer. “Hip-Hop BBQ” station on Pandora. Even scrubbing a toilet is a party when “This Is How We Do It” comes on. Arts DEVO has said it before … I love the heat. Being raised in the hot crotch of the North Valley—aka Redding—I’ve been precalibrated to tolerate the 100-plus days. When a heat wave hits, I’m always taken back to those long summer days traipsing across Diestelhorst Bridge with my crew, and I am more than happy to give into being a little extra moist for a few days. I would love nothing more than to be out cruising around right now with the windows down in my Volvo with the busted A/C, stopping for lunch at a taco wagon in a parking lot and washing down a plate of carnitas and pickled jalapeños with an ice-chilled bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola. The sun is still setting late, so light up the barbecue and enjoy the many long, hot nights we have left.



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After the Camp Fire, hundreds of vehicles packed with debris wind their way into the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility.


Fire, rain and a whole lot of trash; how a Butte County landmark bounced back After dual catastrophes, Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility prepares for more challenges ahead



utte County’s longest active construction site, Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility (NRRWF) opened as a sanitary landfill in 1970, the same year as the first Earth Day and has buried more than seven million tons of Butte County’s solid waste. The 200-acre facility on the outskirts of Paradise has kept up with changing laws and growing demand. Operated by Butte County’s Department of Public Works, it also has come back from a catastrophic one-two blow. “Over its 51-year history, Neal Road Landfill operations has encountered many challenges,” says Eric Miller, Manager of the Waste Management Division of Butte County Public Works. “None compare to the impacts of the Camp Fire in November 2018 and subsequent floods later that month and winter.” The worst wildfire in California history, the Camp Fire killed 85 people and destroyed more than 18,800 structures, mostly in Paradise. The intense blaze ripped across the open space between the town and the landfill. NRRWF’s crew defended the landfill. With gigantic Caterpillar D8 bulldozers, they cut fire breaks. Water trucks irrigated grassland along the site’s closed landfill areas . The Camp Fire was so intense, it created its own weather; temperatures at NRRWF dropped 30 degrees as the massive black cloud obliterated the sky. “On the morning of Nov. 9, 2018, the closed landfill areas were consumed by fire,” Miller says. “Of NRRWF’s 75 landfill gas

few weeks after the Camp Fire; intense storm (methane) collection wells, at least 35 were events kept up into March 2019. destroyed. Nearly three miles of high density NRRWF’s rain gauge for that winter polyethylene plastic piping and culverts, which measured more than 37 inches of rain, 42% manage landfill gas collection and storm water above normal. The rain, on the heels of fire controls, were destroyed.” damage, created major issues and subsequent The Camp Fire also hit NRRWF’s staff hard; half the crew was forced to evacuate along challenges. “While the NRRWF is designed to with their families. Many lived in Paradise; a accommodate storm water management, third of them lost their homes. these intense storm events Despite the damage, delivered up to 2 inches an NRRWF managed to “Over hour, further damaging reopen four days after its 51-year the site after being the fire — with a crippled by the partial crew — history, Neal Road Camp Fire,” before electricity Landfill operations has Miller says. “The was restored. encountered many challenges. NRRWF spent NRRWF $2 million to reduced its None compare to the impacts of repair Camp hours for the Camp Fire in November 2018 Fire damage two weeks and another to address and subsequent floods later $1.84 million to immediate that month and winter.” repair damage from on-site damage ERIC MILLER subsequent floods.” and operated Manager, Waste Management Division, Butte County Public Much of what was without internet Works Paradise is now buried at for nearly a month. Neal Road. NRRWF’s average NRRWF managers intake jumped from 500 to 600 tons a communicated with regulatory day before the Camp Fire to a daily peak of agencies and engineering consultants using 12,000 tons a day in July 2019. During Camp only smartphones. Fire clean-up, an estimated 170,000 vehicles Then, it started raining. – including nearly 60,000 dump trucks – “The winter season of 2018-19 brought delivered debris. NRRWF was one of three unusually high rainfall, with the first of three Northern Sacramento Valley landfills that major storm events that occurred in late received Camp Fire debris; landfills located in November 2018,” Miller says. That was only a PAID ADVERTISEMENT

Yuba and Shasta counties buried the rest. Landfills have a definitive “lifespan”; there’s only so much room within a site’s limits. The Camp Fire’s massive infusion took up a lot of NRRWF’s “air space” – enough for almost three years of service to Butte County. How can NRRWF stretch its space and service as long as possible? The site has a projected capacity until about 2050. One step is a new approach to organic waste – anything that’s plant or animal based. Organic waste represents our state’s largest waste stream and is also a major source of methane gas when allowed to decompose in landfill. The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), in a 2018 study, reports that over a third (34%) of waste disposed in California municipal landfills includes organics. Nearly 10% of this material includes food waste. A new state law focuses on the diversion of organic waste (i.e. food waste and vegetative waste) to prolong landfill life. This organics waste stream will be directed to facilities to compost the material. NRRWF and Butte County Department of Public Works are tackling these challenges while continuing to serve the needs of local residents – no matter what nature has in store.

Learn more at www.buttecounty.net/ publicworks.

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FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 7, 2022 ARIES (March 21-April 19): My readers and

I have collaborated to provide insights and inspirations about the topic “How to Be an Aries.” Below is an amalgam of my thoughts and theirs—advice that will especially apply to your life in the coming days. 1) If it’s easy, it’s boring. —Beth Prouty. 2) If it isn’t challenging, do something else. —Jennifer Blackmon Guevara. 3) Be confident of your ability to gather the energy to get unstuck, to instigate, to rouse—for others as well as yourself. 4) You are a great initiator of ideas and you are also willing to let go of them in their pure and perfect forms so as to help them come to fruition. 5) When people don’t get things done fast enough for you, be ready and able to DO IT YOURSELF.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): I know three

people who have told me, “I don’t like needing anyone for anything.” They fancy themselves to be rugged individualists with impeccable self-sufficiency. They imagine they can live without the help or support of other humans. I don’t argue with them; it’s impossible to dissuade anyone with such a high level of delusion. Fact is, we are all needy beings who depend on a vast array of benefactors. Who built our houses, grew our food, sewed our clothes, built the roads, and create the art and entertainment we love? I bring this up, Taurus, because now is an excellent time for you to celebrate your own neediness. Be wildly grateful for all the things you need and all the people who provide them. Regard your vigorous interdependence as a strength, not a weakness.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Bounce up and

down when you walk. Express 11 different kinds of laughs. Be impossible to pin down or figure out. Relish the openings that your restlessness spawns. Keep changing the way you change. Be easily swayed and sway others easily. Let the words flowing out of your mouth reveal to you what you think. Live a dangerous life in your daydreams but not in real life. Don’t be everyone’s messenger, but be the messenger for as many people as is fun for you. If you have turned out to be the kind of Gemini who is both saintly and satanic, remember that God made you that way—so let God worry about it.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): As a child,

Cancerian author June Jordan said, “I used to laugh all the time. I used to laugh so much and so hard in church, in school, at the kitchen table, on the subway! I used to laugh so much my nose would run and my eyes would tear and I just couldn’t stop.” That’s an ideal I invite you to aspire to in the coming days. You probably can’t match Jordan’s plenitude, but do your best. Why? The astrological omens suggest three reasons: 1) The world will seem funnier to you than it has in a long time. 2) Laughing freely and easily is the most healing action you can take right now. 3) It’s in the interests of everyone you know to have routines interrupted and disrupted by amusement, delight, and hilarity.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In accordance with the

astrological omens, here’s your assignment for the next three weeks: Love yourself more and more each day. Unleash your imagination to come up with new reasons to adore and revere your unique genius. Have fun doing it. Laugh about how easy and how hard it is to love yourself so well. Make it into a game that brings you an endless stream of amusement. PS: Yes, you really are a genius—by which I mean you are an intriguing blend of talents and specialties that is unprecedented in the history of the human race.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Novelist Lydia

Peelle writes, “The trouble was, I knew exactly what I wasn’t. I just didn’t know who I was.” We all go through similar phases, in which we are highly aware of what we don’t want, don’t like and don’t seek to become. They are like negative grace periods that provide us with valuable knowledge. But it’s crucial for us to also enjoy periods of intensive self-revelation about what we do want, what we do like and

BY ROB BREZSNY what we do seek to become. In my astrological estimation, you Virgos are finished learning who you’re not, at least for now. You’re ready to begin an era of finding out much, much more about who you are.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You need the

following experiences at least once every other day during the next 15 days: a rapturous burst of unexpected grace; a gentle eruption of your strong willpower; an encounter with inspiration that propels you to make some practical improvement in your life; a brave adjustment in your understanding of how the world works; a sacrifice of an OK thing that gives you more time and energy to cultivate a really good thing.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): This might

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sound like an unusual assignment, but I swear it’s based on two unimpeachable sources: research by scientists and my many years of analyzing astrological data. Here’s my recommendation, Scorpio: In the coming weeks, spend extra time watching and listening to wild birds. Place yourself in locations where many birds fly and perch. Read stories about birds and talk about birds. Use your imagination to conjure up fantasies in which you soar alongside birds. Now read this story about how birds are linked to happiness levels: tinyurl.com/BirdBliss

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In

accordance with current astrological omens, I have four related suggestions for you. 1) Begin three new projects that are seemingly beyond your capacity and impossible to achieve with your current levels of intelligence, skill, and experience—and then, in the coming months, accomplish them anyway. 2) Embrace optimism for both its beauty and its tactical advantages. 3) Keep uppermost in mind that you are a teacher who loves to teach and you are a student who loves to learn. 4) Be amazingly wise, be surprisingly brave, be expansively visionary—and always forgive yourself for not remembering where you left your house keys.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): If you

ever wanted to use the Urdu language to advance your agendas for love and romance, here’s a list of endearments you could use: 1) jaan-e-man (heart’s beloved); 2) humraaz (secret-sharer; confidante); 3) pritam (beloved); 4) sona (golden one); 5) bulbul (nightingale); 6) yaar (friend/lover); 7) natkhat (mischievous one). Even if you’re not inclined to experiment with Urdu terms, I urge you to try innovations in the way you use language with your beloved allies. It’s a favorable time to be more imaginative in how you communicate your affections.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Author

John Berger described birch trees as “pliant” and “slender.” He said that “if they promise a kind of permanence, it has nothing to do with solidity or longevity—as with an oak or a linden—but only with the fact that they seed and spread quickly. They are ephemeral and recurring—like a conversation between earth and sky.” I propose we regard the birch tree as your personal power symbol in the coming months. When you are in closest alignment with cosmic rhythms, you will express its spirit. You will be adaptable, flexible, resourceful and highly communicative. You will serve as an intermediary, a broker and a go-between.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): People who

don’t know much about astrology sometimes say that Pisceans are wishy-washy. That’s a lie. Truth is, Pisceans are not habitually lukewarm about chaotic jumbles of possibilities. They are routinely in love with the world and its interwoven mysteries. On a regular basis, they feel tender fervor and poignant awe. They see and feel how all life’s apparent fragments knit together into a luminous bundle of amazement. I bring these thoughts to your attention because the coming weeks will be an excellent time to relish these superpowers of yours— and express them to the max.

www.RealAstrology.com for Rob Brezsny’s EXPANDED WEEKLY AUDIO HOROSCOPES and DAILY TEXT MESSAGE HOROSCOPES. The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at 1-877-873-4888. D AT E , 2 0 2 2



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