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Our Mission: To publish great newspapers that are successful and enduring. To create a quality work environment that encourages employees to grow professionally while respecting personal welfare. To have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live.

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CN&R INSIDE Vol. 47, Issue 2 • August 3–Sept. 6, 2023
printed at Western Web on recycled newsprint. CN&R is a member of Chico Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Chico Business Association, AAN and AWN. OPINION 4 Editorial 4 Editor’s Note 4 Letters 4 Guest Comment 5 This Modern World 5 Second & Flume 6 Streetalk 7 NEWSLINES 8 Briefed 8 Safe spaces for trans kids 8 California’s battle with fentanyl 10 FEATURE 14 CN&R’s live music guide ARTS & CULTURE 20 August events 20 Music 23 Chow 24 Reel World 25 Arts DEVO 26 Brezsny’s Astrology 27 ON THE COVER: PHOTO OF SMOKEY THE GROOVE BY KEN PORDES PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY TINA FLYNN 10 MORE ONLINE Find content available only at chico.newsreview.com 22 Bruce Jenkins Insurance & Financial Services CA License #0B86680 • Medicare Supplement Plans • Medicare Advantage Plans • Social Security Maximization • Retirement Income Planning • Life Insurance 530-781-3592 We will do the research for you! www.brucejenkinsinsurance.com $10 OFF HEEL & SOLE SHOES Back to School HEEL & SOLE SHOES Back to School

Reality check for higher education

This guest editorial comes from Dan Walters at CalMatters, an independent public journalism venture covering California state politics and government. For more info, visit calmatters.org.

As California’s population exploded in the 1950s and 1960s— surpassing New York to become the nation’s most populous state in 1962—its political leaders responded with sweeping plans to satisfy burgeoning demands for public services.

New freeway routes were plotted to carry millions of additional cars. State and local bond issues were drafted to build schools for the baby boom. New dams and canals were designed to increase water supplies. And, a master plan was written to unify California’s colleges and universities.

Six decades later, California’s population is nearly three times larger, but stalled at just under 40 million and has been declining slowly.

The much-vaunted Master Plan for Higher Education remains on the books but never achieved the seamless pathway to low-cost, universal student access it envisioned.

While the demand for higher education is huge, and while the state’s economy rests on having a highly trained and educated workforce, the state’s three collegiate systems—the University of California, California State University and more than 100 locally managed community colleges—remain more competitive than cooperative. If anything, friction among the systems has been increasing as they squabble over academic turf and compete for financing in a state budget that struggles to pay for all of its spending.

The 1960-vintage master plan, whose two political fathers were UC’s legendary president, Clark Kerr, and then-Gov. Pat Brown, delineated the roles that all three would play. UC would be the state’s premier research institution while providing highintensity undergraduate and graduate educations, with degrees up to doctorates. CSU would educate teachers, engineers and other professionals and offer both baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Community colleges would provide two-year associate


Meter woes persist

Re: Cover Story: “What’s up with downtown?” (by Jason Cassidy)

Let me get this straight. I must enter my license plate number and estimated time just to park downtown. Way to data mine your own citizens, Chico!

In the July 6-August 2 issue, the cover story quotes Tom Van Overbeek, a prominent member of the Chico Silly Council, as saying that, in

degrees, prepare students for transfer to four-year schools and also offer job-oriented, sub-professional training.

Demands from students that outstripped supply and budgetary pressures have eroded the demarcation lines. Community colleges have begun offering some limited baccalaureate degrees, encountering stiff opposition from the state university system, while state universities have sought, with some success, to award doctorates, thereby encroaching on UC’s jealously guarded turf.

Virtually every legislative session is marked by at least one conflict over competing ambitions of the three levels. One current measure, Assembly Bill 656, which has passed the Assembly and is pending in the Senate, would give CSU broad new authority to award doctorates.

Meanwhile, there has been constant friction over the transfer of credits from one level to another, with community college graduates often frustrated about gaining admission to four-year schools, despite the master plan’s promise.

Although there’s an official goal of boosting the number of community college students transferring to four-year schools from 89,000 to more than 120,000 by 2022, a year later fewer than 100,000 were making the transition.

“Of the students enrolled in a community college in California who said they wanted to transfer to a four-year university, an average of 9.9 percent went on to enroll at a four-year institution in 2021, the most recent data available,” CalMatters reporters Adam Echelman and Erica Yee found.

UC is opposing a measure, Assembly Bill 1749, that would make transfers easier.

These two situations—competition for degree authority and the difficulty community college students face in transferring—indicate once again that the Master Plan for Higher Education is broken. If it’s worthwhile having such a plan, it should be worthwhile to make it relevant to 21st-century realities, not 1960s theories.

regard to the goofy parking situation downtown that, “At this point the city is committed to it and we’re not going back.” Uncle Tom seems to think (if that’s the correct term) that the silly council is the city. No.

I have been following the controversy over the parking kiosks and as a downtown business owner for 40 years I think it is clear they are having a significant negative impact.

Since they were installed our business has been down every month from 2022. We are dealing with frequent complaints from customers and a few have said they won’t be back. We are on Fourth street between Main and Wall and there is often only a few cars parked on the entire block, whereas before I estimate the occupancy to be generally 40-80 percent. Since it’s unlikely the city will ever bring back the meters, I wonder if

A kick-ass goodbye note

Before COVID-19, I never thought twice when a co-worker asked to meet up for coffee or lunch. Now … I get a little nervous.

It’s no secret that the pandemic dealt a serious blow to newspapers, the Chico News & Review included. We are adapting and surviving, which is good for us and good for the community, but as as we’ve soldiered on continuing over the past three years to publish monthly—with no immediate plan to return to our former weekly schedule— our resilient editorial staff has gradually thinned.

Folks have moved on, and the latest to embark on other adventures is longtime CN&R Staff Writer, and my good friend, Ashiah Scharaga, who very sweetly over coffee recently gave notice for the very-part-time writing position at the CN&R. This will free her up to commit fully to her main gig, as Marketing and Communications Director for True North Housing Alliance, as well have time to continue teaching theater to children.

In January, we celebrated Ashiah’s fifth anniversary at this paper. She’d interned with the CN&R while in the journalism program at Chico State. After graduation she moved on to an internship at the Sacramento Bee then a job at the Chico Enterprise-Record, where she worked until 2018, when then-CN&R Editor Melissa Daugherty poached her from the daily’s news department.

It’s very appropriate that Ashiah’s last story on staff (we hope that she will contribute as a freelancer when the time and the story is right!) is one focused a social-justice issue. For all her great writing and her commitment to the mission of community journalism, what will likely stand as Ashiah’s legacy at the CN&R is her passion for trying to give voice to those who have none—from telling many stories of the often forgotten refugees of the 2018 Camp Fire to illuminating the plight of trans kids looking for support as divisive politics drive policies hostile to their existence (see “Crisis Care,” page 8).

To me, and to many in Butte County who’ve told her their stories, Ashiah has been the voice for our marginalized and underserved neighbors. I respect her immensely for her work at the CN&R, and I look forward to seeing the great things she will do as she continues in other roles devoted to this community.

As I’ve said many times, Ashiah, thank you for kicking so much ass.

4 CN&R AUGUST 3, 2023
Send guest comments, 300 words maximum, to gc@newsreview.com or to P.O. Box 56, Chico, CA 95927. Please include photo & short bio. OPINION
Jason Cassidy is editor of the Chico News & Review

Identity support

Iam white, heterosexual, neurotypical, cisgendered and able-bodied. Though I grew up below the poverty line and endured several ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), I was a first-generation college student and have an advanced degree, a professional license and financial security. In short, I have privilege tempered by adversity. For the past 20-plus years, I have honored my privilege by serving others. I have worked with thousands of children and hundreds of families as a counselor, psychotherapist and consultant in schools and community-based nonprofits. I am an accomplished,

innovative and well-respected leader, advocate and mentor in my field and, until January, had received only positive recognition for my work.

On Jan. 13, 2023, Chico Unified School District (CUSD) received notice of a lawsuit, Regino vs. Staley, et. al. While I was not named as a defendant, my name was included in the filing with allegations focused on my work with a student questioning their gender identity. This is a politically fueled suit that comes at time when 562 anti-trans bills have been introduced in the U.S. so far this year. Stirring the outrage around the lawsuit was the fact that numerous news outlets chose to include my full name in their stories, as did the plaintiff and attorney in locally and nationally televised interviews. These were allegations, yet they were interpreted by many as fact. The ensuing plethora of ill-will and hatred directed at me by members

AUGUST 3, 2023 CN&R 5
The author is a licensed marriage and family therapist, the school counselor and wellness center coordinator at Sierra View Elementary School, and a mother of two CUSD students.




judgment. I encourage all families to develop and nurture similar environments and relationships; every person deserves to be loved and accepted as they are.

of our community and from across the nation has been astounding. This has been an unexpected and undeserved journey; I have been libeled, slandered, defamed and silenced. I have feared for the safety and well-being of my own children, our students and staff, and for myself.

It is new to me to live with such fear, yet another way in which I am privileged. Fear is nothing new to LGBTQ+ community. For those who are transgender, especially those living in homes where being transgender is considered a choice, shameful, and a sin, fear and its consequences are ever-present. The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2020 found the following:

• One in three LGBTQ youth have been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

• Over 60 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth reported engaging in self-harm in the previous 12 months.

• More than half of transgender and nonbinary youth have seriously considered suicide.

• Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all or most people in their lives attempted suicide at half

the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected.

Additionally, The Trevor Project’s May 2023 Research Brief: The Relationship Between Caring Teachers and the Mental Health of LGBTQ Students found that feeling that teachers or professors cared a lot or very much about them was associated with 34 percent lower odds of attempting suicide in the previous year for LGBTQ youth, aligning with previous research that has found that the presence of supportive school staff is associated with lower rates of depression and seriously considering suicide in the past year.

One of my guiding principles in working with students is to treat each one as I would wish my own child to be treated in similar circumstances. I treated this child with dignity, respected their wishes, and honored their privacy while building empathy for their mother.

When a child divulges information about their identity, I offer support in sharing this with their family. If they are not ready to disclose, I work with them to progress toward this sharing if they feel safe doing so. As a counselor and a humanist, I offer acceptance and unconditional positive regard, a safe space, and containment without

Every allegation in the lawsuit is false except one: It is true that I did not inform the mother of this child of their decision to use a chosen name and pronouns at school. Professional ethics prohibit me from outing any person against their will unless safety requires it. In addition, the California Department of Education’s antidiscrimination policy, which CUSD observes, protects students from such violations of privacy. It is imperative that individuals lead and fully control the process of sharing their identity with others. I did not transition or encourage a transition for this student; I did support this child as they shared their requests with others.

On July 11, 2023, Senior U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez dismissed the case against CUSD.

I begin each weekly social-emotional classroom lesson with gratitude, and I’d like to practice that here: I am thankful to live in California and work for CUSD where LGBTQ+ youth continue to be seen and protected. I am forever grateful for those who supported me over the past six months—a special shoutout to Matt, Savvy and River who walked through the darkest of days beside me. And a tremendous thank you to all the advocates and allies among us who lead with love and empathy and engage their privilege to advance the lives of others.

To all LGBTQ+ youth: You are worthy, you are loved, there is hope. For those needing support during a crisis, text “START” to 678-678 to reach a counselor. Ω

A futurist I am not.

I was in middle school when Back to the Future Part 2 came out in 1989, and I specifically remember a scene in which Marty McFly, who’d transported to the year 2015, sees his future self talk in real time to the person on the other end of a call on what I’d then have described as a television phone.

“That’s so cool, but it won’t happen in my lifetime.”

I said those words with utter confidence.

Little did I know that “video telephony” had been in the works for nearly the previous half-century. This was a few years before everyone and their sister had an AOL account or had even heard the term World Wide Web.

While I had a pretty vivid imagination as a kid, I was always a skeptic. Scoping out situations and especially people and their motives is something that has protected me countless times and no doubt aided me as a reporter.

While I was dead wrong about the aforementioned advance in communications, and I’ve certainly learned my lesson, I largely remain and encourage others to be skeptical. In fact, based on today’s emerging technologies, I’d say having a questioning mind is more important than ever.

Of utmost concern to this journalist is non-human intelligence—one of the many existential issues facing humanity—which is being used at a much faster pace than I’d anticipated.

First it was the deep fakes. Now it’s ChatGPT and other AI apps designed to seemingly write like a human. These technologies are more than a bit terrifying, considering how some people will believe anything.

Take, for example, the attempted coup on Jan. 6, 2021. The thousands of brainwashed, impressionable Americans who stormed the Capitol that day were convinced to do so by a small cadre of radicals, including the then-president, who spread the lie about the election being stolen.

Let’s also not forget Pizzagate back in 2016: That’s the conspiracy theory accusing certain high-ranking Democrats of being sex-trafficking Satanists who drank the blood of children in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor. Then, of course, hitting closer to home, back in 2018, was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s claim that Jewish space lasers burned down the town of Paradise.

To the average person, those ridiculous—and in MTG’s case antiSemitic—conspiracy theories are immediately dismissable. But to the QAnon crew and other folks who tend to place stock in such whackadoodle scenarios, they are often a call to arms.

My point? What happens when AI is co-opted by better organized nefarious forces in an effort to deceive the masses? It might be a lot easier than one would think in a Republic that at times feels like it’s held together by a bare thread.

In the near term, humans using AI to get people to turn on each other seems like a much more plausible danger to society than—bear with me on this one—the tech going completely off the rails and attempting to exterminate humans a la Skynet in Terminator II. Although, I’m not sure I’d blame the robots when they realize the biggest threat to Earth—climate change anyone?—and therefore their own existence is mankind.

In all seriousness, I do realize that AI can also be used for good. It can quickly analyze data for improved medical treatments, for example. But it needs to be regulated and everyone should be extremely cautious using it.

Indeed, be skeptical of everything online—whether you read it, hear it or see it—and learn how to property fact-check. Because AI can be used to do a lot of harm, and it’s not going away.

continued from page 5 6 CN&R augu S t 3, 2023
I offer acceptance and unconditional positive regard, a safe space, and containment without judgment. I encourage all families to develop and nurture similar environments and relationships; every person deserves to be loved and accepted as they are.
the age of AI, we can’t even believe our own eyes.
Melissa Daugherty is editor-at-large for the Chico News & Review

Local suggestions for new students?

there’s a way to make downtown parking free until it fills up enough so the overflow goes to the paid parking lots (like some other cities). I have read a couple letters in support of the kiosks but not from any business owners.

Know your America

I’d say, get out to some swimming holes like Bear Hole, Salmon Hole. That’s where I have the most fun.

I like floating down the Sacramento River. And there’s a lot of little live bands.

Chico State students put on shows, and I like going to those with friends. A lot of times they’re just at people’s houses. People post about them on social media.

Americans need deep background on how things work. It ain’t what they think. Charles Mackay, in 1841, published Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, which describes many instances of whole populations departing reality for some bizarre mirage. In 1951, Eric Hoffer published The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. This should be required reading for all Americans. With that background, you will be ready for volume two of The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens. He was a “muckraker” who proved connections between the money people and pretty much all elected officials in the U.S. This is not mere sophomoric cynicism; corruption is an American tradition going back to our Revolution. Of course, these works are subject to the ancient wisdom: Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see. If we want to keep our country and our nice lives, pay attention or pay the price.

Definitely get outside to some of the parks. One-Mile is a fun spot to kick it a little bit. Get out and walk. You get to see a lot of the city.

If it’s summer, there are lots of [swimming spots] where you can cool off, and there’s lots of areas where you can go biking. [And] Coin-Op, I like it; it’s an arcade right there.

It’s a sign

Long awaited, the bicycle path from east Eaton Road up Cohasset Road to the Chico airport is a notable improvement, one that will doubtless get better with age as the trees planted along the way mature. And the benches are a thoughtful touch, as are the distance signs in both directions. But all the signs indicating the distances from the airport south to downtown Chico are misspelled. Instead of “Downtown” they all say “Downtownt”. Surely these can be replaced with signs spelled correctly?

Asked in downtown Chico
Write a letter Tell us what you think in a letter to the editor. Send submissions of 200 or fewer words to cnrletters@newsreview.com. Deadline for Sept. 7 print publication is August 24. LETTERS



CHICO PEACE ENDEAVOR VIGIL: Join peace and social-justice advocates a the corner of Third and Main streets every Saturday, 12:30-1:30pm. facebook.com/ChicoPeaceVigil

COMMUNITY COOLING CENTER: Safe Space cooling center is now open daily, 2-8pm

Through Aug. 5 at Faith Lutheran Church (667 E. First Ave.); Aug. 6-19 at Bidwell Presbyterian Church (208 W. First St.). Sign up to volunteer at safespacechico.org/volunteer.


TICE FORUM: Speakers and educational workshops on local climateaction projects. Fri, 8/4, 5pm. Butte County Library Chico Branch, 1108 Sherman Ave. becnet.org


TION: The SCCAC holds free food distributions every second and fourth Saturday. Sat, 8/12 & 8/26, 2pm. South Chico Community Assistance Center, 1805 Park Ave. southchicocac.org

MAGALIA RESOURCE CENTER: Food, clothes, and household items distributed Thursdays and Saturdays. Donations of non-perishable food and small household items accepted. Magalia Community Church, 13700 & 13734 Old Skyway. 530-877-7963.

ZEN IN THE PARK: Hot Yoga Club and Farmers Insurance host a community clean-up and yoga event. Sat, 8/19, 8am. One-Mile Recreation Area, Bidwell Park.


BUTTE COUNTY SUPERVISORS: Meetings are normally held the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Visit site for posted agenda as well as current meeting calendar. Tue, 8/8 & 8/22, 9am. Butte County Board of Supervisors Chamber, 25 County Center Drive, Oroville. buttecounty.net

CHICO PLANNING COMMISSION: The commission normally meets first and third Thursdays. Agendas are posted to the web the previous Friday. Thu, 8/3 & 8/17. City Council Chambers, 421 Main St. chico.ca.us

CHICO CITY COUNCIL MEETING: The City Council meets on every first and third Tuesday of the month. Agendas, minutes and video archives are available at chico.ca.us/ agendas-minutes. Tue, 8/1 & 8/15, 6pm. City Council Chambers, 421 Main St. chico.ca.us

CLIMATE ACTION COMMISSION: Commission normally meets second Thursdays. Agendas are posted to the web the previous Friday. Thu, 8/10, 6pm. City Council Chambers, 421 Main St. chico.ca.us

Crisis care

Resources for teens

Christian Lucero grabbed a zebrapatterned tie and slung it around his shoulders. With an encouraging smile, he faced the teenager in front of him at Stonewall Alliance Center in Chico and began teaching them how to tie a tie. Though it was their first time, the teen nailed it. Nearby, Sir Vix taught another teenager how to apply makeup. The teen beamed when they saw their reflection in a mirror.

For more information about Stonewall Alliance Center’s teen groups and services, go to stonewallchico.com or email center@ stonewallchico.org

During Chico Pride this June, Lucero, a queer trans man and drag king, partnered with the LGBTQ+ advocacy nonprofit and Vix, a trans nonbinary drag king, to provide a gender euphoria workshop for teenagers. At the workshop, the pair also talked with the teens about gender identity and expression.

Gender euphoria is “about us coming to terms and accepting and loving who we are,” Lucero said, “being able to find peace, love and joy in whatever clothing, makeup, and level of expression you are in.”

This year, gender identity debate has been

at the forefront of local politics. It began with a lawsuit filed against Chico Unified School District in January, in which a local mother claimed that the district transitioned her child without her consent and violated her parental rights. Then, in May, students at Pleasant Valley High School protested trans students using bathrooms that align with their gender identity, and in June, others gathered to protest outside a Stonewall Drag Storybook Hour for children.

Though the case—Regino v. Staley, et al.—was dismissed by a federal judge in July, local debate has continued, and local U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa and State Assemblyman James Gallagher have since proposed laws that would restrict access to gender-affirming health care and protections for trans students at schools.

Research from The Trevor Project shows that such anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation are harmful to youth mental health. Victimization and discrimination contribute to higher rates of suicide, and trans and nonbinary youth in particular report much higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide ideation and attempts than cisgender teens. Conversely, when LGBTQ+ youth are supported by parents and teachers, and have access to affirming spaces and people in their lives who respect their pronouns and gender identity, their mental health improves and

they are less likely to commit suicide.

Though Stonewall Alliance Center is operated by a small staff still dealing with the impacts of the pandemic, its team continues to provide an affirming safe space with resources, referrals, counseling, events, workshops and support groups for LGBTQ+ youth. In response to local events, Stonewall also is developing new programming.

“We’re making ourselves known as clear allies and supporters, and because of that we are facing backlash,” said Justina Sotelo, Stonewall’s events coordinator. “That backlash is emotionally hard to see, but at the same time, we know the community we support and the community we advocate for is one that is disenfranchised and needs that.”

Fighting for trans youth

Emma Schutz Fort dumped a bin of colorful stuffed animals onto a table at Stonewall Alliance Center. On that hot day in July, trans and nonbinary teens gathered to assemble their own “Frankenstuffies” by cutting, gluing and sewing together stuffed animals, doll parts, ribbons and toys. Some scooped up their preferred animals right away, while others slowly sifted through the pile, envisioning what they wanted to create. By the end of the workshop, a motley crew of creatures was born, including a chimera

8 CN&R AUGUST 3, 2023
Stonewall offers support during record year of anti-trans laws, local anti-trans debate

with the heads of a koala and an owl, and another with the head of a frog, body of a seahorse and bird legs.

Schutz Fort began facilitating Stonewall’s Trans & Nonbinary Teens group in 2013 to help teenagers find a way to connect. At the time, she also was providing counseling services through Stonewall, and many of them were seeking support.

Since then, she has witnessed the group provide a safe, fun space for LGBTQ+ teens to find support from peers. When someone shares that a teacher or parent refuses to use their pronouns or accept their identity, their peers provide advice to help them cope.

“There’s solidarity and really supportive responses and people who get it,” she said.

That has been the experience of Alessia, a gender-fluid 16-year-old. They attended the gender euphoria workshop with their father, Lucero, and have been to other Stonewall events.

“These events are critical for us to be able to communicate with each other … come together as a community, and see the support that we have,” they said.

Stonewall’s LGBTQ+ Teens Group Facilitator and Board Chairman Conner Wenzel added that the groups also help teens build confidence, find their voice and access additional services.

“We want them to feel like we see them 100 percent, and we’re going to see them the next time they walk in,” he said, “even if what they need is different, or if they are working on finding a name, or they change their pronouns. That happens. We evolve. We find out.”

In rural Northern California, access to resources and support is a significant barrier for the LGBTQ+ community, Stonewall staff said. People make the trek from surround-

ing towns such as Red Bluff, Colusa and Susanville to seek Stonewall’s services.

Stonewall is operating with a staff of four, seeking an executive director and a counseling supervisor, and trying to assemble more volunteers and facilitators who can relaunch support groups that have been on hiatus since the pandemic, such as those in Oroville and Red Bluff.

Sotelo said that despite these challenges, the center is still motivated in its advocacy and pursuing new programming for the community. Post-pandemic, Stonewall added a virtual component to its groups for those who need to tune in remotely. In response to calls from youth, parents and teachers seeking support, Stonewall created new training workshops for educators to understand their rights and the rights of LGBTQ+ students, she said. Additionally, Stonewall’s Advocacy and Education Coordinator Marin Hambley has been working with local schools to set up on-campus support groups, such as Gay-Straight Alliances, to expand the local network of support.

“There’s a lot of barriers for folks, and sometimes it’s literally finding a school counselor who will support them if their parents won’t,” Wenzel said.

Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ youth said their mental health was poor most of the time or always due to anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation, according to The Trevor Project’s 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People.

Over 560 anti-trans bills have been introduced this year. LaMalfa’s End Taxpayer Funding of Gender Experimentation Act would prohibit federal funding for “gender reassignment surgeries and treatments” and his Protecting Children from Experimentation Act would “prohibit doctors from performing experimental gender reassignment treatments on children,” according to a press release on his website.

In that press release, he alleges that “vulnerable children are being exposed to radical gender transition ideology,” and “unethical medical interventions,” and that they should

“wait until adulthood to make a choice they likely wish they hadn’t as a child.”

Another bill he drafted in response to the CUSD lawsuit would prohibit school employees from “conducting certain social gender transition interventions.” One introduced introduced at the state level by Gallagher seeking to require school staff to notify parents when students identify with a gender they were not assigned at birth died in committee.

Wenzel said that all of this has been “stressing folks out for sure” and that these elected officials are “not understanding what kids are going through and they’re not prioritizing kids’ mental health.”

Schutz Fort added: “With all the laws and legislation, something needed is an assurance from adults that we’ll continue to do what’s needed to support them and will stand up for their rights.”

Hope for the future

The silver lining is that the school board chose not to change its current policies that protect LGBTQ+ students who confide in staff or teachers, Wenzel said. And on July 11, Senior Judge John A. Mendez dismissed Regino’s lawsuit against CUSD in federal court, ruling that CUSD “demonstrated a legitimate state interest in creating a zone of protection for transgender students and those questioning their gender identity from adverse hostile reactions, including, but not limited to, domestic abuse and bullying...” and that district staff are not directed to force students to adopt transgender identities or keep them secret from their parents, but rather “directed to affirm a student’s expressed identity and pronouns and

disclose that only to those a student wishes, with exception for the student’s health.”

Schutz Fort said that when she’s looking for hope—for herself, as a queer person, her trans partner, and others in the LGBTQ+ community—she reminds herself that sometimes things get way worse before they get better.

“I try to take the long view that when there’s progress, there’s big push-back.”

When LGBTQ+ youth have access to affirming homes, schools, events and online spaces, they are less likely to attempt suicide. Accessing resources like those Stonewall provides—including undergarments such as chest binders that help youth align their appearance with their gender identity—also results in lower rates of attempted suicide and improved mental health, according to The Trevor Project’s survey. Suicide attempts drop by 9 percent when all of the people trans and nonbinary youth live with respect their pronouns, compared to when none do.

Though a record number of anti-trans bills have been introduced in the past several years, an overwhelming majority have failed to advance or become law—and historical progress for LGBTQ+ representation was made when a record number of LGBTQ+ candidates were elected during the “rainbow wave” of the 2022 midterm elections.

“A lot of trans and nonbinary youth have a lack of information and only access to trauma, shame and oppression. We’re trying to share knowledge, acceptance and support,” Vix said. “They’re allowed to grow old and have happy lives and die of old age. … They can have a future being exactly who they are, and that future is happy.”

AUGUST 3, 2023 CN&R 9
Stonewall’s Trans & Nonbinary Teens Group creates “Frankenstuffies” by cutting, gluing and sewing together stuffed animals and toys. PHOTO BY ASHIAH BIRD Left: Conner Wenzel and Emma Schutz Fort are longtime group facilitators for LGBTQ+ youth groups at Stonewall Alliance Center. PHOTO BY ASHIAH BIRD Drag king Sir Vix reads a story to children at Drag Storybook Hour during this year’s Chico Pride. PHOTO COURTESY OF STONEWALL ALLIANCE CENTER

supply. And while some states ban these test strips—based on the argument that this instigates drug use— California promotes and distributes them for free.

Tallying deaths and hospitalizations

Deaths related to fentanyl began to rise exponentially around 2019. Between September 2021 and September 2022, the timeframe for the most recent state data, 5,942 people died after ingesting the synthetic opioid. That accounts for about 86 percent of all opioid-related deaths. And of the 21,000 emergency room visits related to opioids in this same time period, about a third were linked to fentanyl.

Another opioid crisis in California

It is nearly impossible to escape reminders of today’s boiling opioid epidemic—the billboard advertising Narcan on your commute, a local news story of a teen’s accidental overdose, or the evergrowing public debate over how to best address it.

In just three years, between 2019 and 2021, California’s opioid-related deaths spiked 121 percent, according to the state’s health department. The vast majority of these deaths were linked to fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid.

While phar-

maceutical fentanyl has long been used to treat severe pain, say, after surgery, cheaply manufactured illicit fentanyl has become a growing threat in large cities, rural communities and suburban neighborhoods. Oftentimes the harm lies in counterfeit prescription pills and party drugs that, unbeknownst to the user, are laced with fentanyl. And drug trends are ever-changing. What in the 1990s was an epidemic driven largely by people abusing prescription opioids, today is one where fentanyl can be mixed with other substances like xylazine, commonly known as “tranq,” a powerful sedative approved for veterinary use.

Citing the rise in overdose deaths and feeling the pressure to act, lawmakers introduced about three dozen proposals this legislative session and held special hearings. They want

to answer the question: How can California prevent more overdose deaths?

Why is fentanyl

so dangerous?

Dubbed the “killer opioid,” fentanyl can come in liquid or powder form, or be made to look like a prescription pill. It is known to be extremely potent: 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. That means even a very small amount can be lethal. During an overdose, people’s breathing may slow or stop altogether.

It is impossible to know just by looking at a drug if it has been tainted with fentanyl. That is why health experts and harm reduction advocates have been pushing for the wider distribution of fentanyl test strips, which can help users detect whether fentanyl is present in their

from 1999, according to the FDA.

2009: Opioids widely prescribed, deaths peak Prescription drug overdoses peak in California, with 1,483 people dying. Approximately 56 opioid prescriptions were dispensed for every 100 California residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2010: Second wave begins

People addicted to prescription opioids and other drugs are increasingly turning to heroin. As the number of heroin overdoses rise, the CDC marks this year as the start of the second wave of the opioid crisis.

2013: Third wave begins

For some context: In 2021, more Californians died from fentanyl overdoses than from car accidents. Males, Black and Native American Californians, and those 30 to 34 years old are disproportionately dying from fentanyl overdoses.

How did we get here? From OxyContin to fentanyl, an opiod crisis timeline:

Prior to the 1990s, opiods were mostly for cancer and acute pain. Some medical research, however, suggested that pain in general was undertreated and that people were unnecessarily suffering. This helped lead the way for more aggressive pain management by way of more opioid prescribing.

1995: OxyContin approved for medical use

The Food and Drug Administration approves OxyContin, a painkiller by Purdue Pharma, which eventually became known as a main culprit in the opioid epidemic.

1999: First wave begins

The U.S. begins to see an uptick in the number of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids, signaling the start of what we know as the first wave of the modern opioid epidemic

2003: Non-medical OxyContin use more widespread

A big jump in misuse: About 2.8 million people report using OxyContin for non-medical purposes. That’s a 600 percent increase

As deaths involving prescription drugs plateau, the country begins to see an uptick in deaths related to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, known to be about 50 times stronger than heroin.

2016: Overdose drug distribution project California establishes its Naloxone Distribution Project. Through this program, organizations such as police departments, schools and colleges can apply to receive free kits of overdose reversal medication.

2017: Federal public health emergency declared

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department declares the opioid crisis a public health emergency, which allows flexibility in its response.

2019: OxyContin maker sued by California California sues Purdue Pharma, accusing the drug company of deliberately misleading providers and patients about the addictive nature of OxyContin.

2021: Fentanyl becomes No. 1

Fentanyl deaths surpass deaths from all other drugs in California. This year 230 teenagers died from a fentanyl overdose in the state.

2021: California receives $2 billion from settlement

A landmark opioid settlement: States reach a $26 billion deal with drug manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals (owned by Johnson & Johnson) and three wholesale distributors, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health to settle more than 3,000 lawsuits brought by cities and coun-

About this story: It was produced by CalMatters, an independent public journalism venture covering California state politics and government. For more info, visit calmatters.org. by Anna B. Ibarra, Erica Yee and Nigel Duara
Fueled by fentanyl, deaths in the state increased by 121 percent in three years

ties nationwide. California is receiving about $2 billion of that money.

2023: overdose crisis persists

By several accounts, California counties are on track to set another record for overdose deaths. In San Francisco, which has been hit hard by the fentanyl crisis, 406 people died of an accidental overdose in the first half of the year, according to the city’s medical examiner. At the current pace, this year is set to be the deadliest yet.

$1 billion against the opioid crisis

Since taking office, Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration have spent more than $1 billion in an attempt to reign in the opioid and fentanyl epidemic. About half of that money has come from the federal government, which provides money for prevention, treatment and recovery services. The state has allocated $416 million from its own general fund, which has been primarily used for medicationassisted treatments for people with opioid use disorders and to purchase naloxone, according to the Department of Finance.

The remaining money—$133 million— comes from opioid manufacturers, distributors and their partnering consulting firms as part of settlements for their participation in fueling the prescription opioid crisis. Perhaps most notably, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, owned by Johnson & Johnson, and three wholesale distributors agreed to pay $26 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits brought by cities and counties nationwide. California will receive just over $2 billion of that through 2028, with the majority of the money going directly to cities and counties.

California has also received millions from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company for its role in advising opioid companies, and from generic opioid maker Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. The state is awaiting settlement payouts from multiple other drug manufacturers and big box pharmacies.

Funds from opioid settlements are allocated to departments through the budget process and are meant to be used for specific purposes, including: fentanyl education programs for youth, substance use disorder training for clinicians, naloxone purchase and distribution, and

overdose data collection.

Overdose rates by county

Opioid overdoses and deaths have reached almost every corner of California. Disproportionately affected are the rural north coast counties of Del Norte, Lake, Humboldt and Mendocino, which are seeing the highest rates of opioid-related mortality, according to preliminary state data. In Butte County, in the past 12 months, there have been 70 opiod-related deaths (53 caused by fentanyl). That’s 30.8 per 100,000, compared to 44.1 (Mendocino), 50.7 (Humboldt), 51.5 (Lake) and 63.4 (Del Norte), the opioid mortality rates of the only four counties with higher numbers than Butte.

But by and large, the most populous counties are burdened with the largest overall number of deaths from fentanyl and other opioids. These counties are also receiving the largest share of the more than $200 million in opioid settlement funds distributed directly to local governments. (That money is separate from the millions received and spent by the state.) Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County and Riverside have recorded half of the state’s opioid deaths and have received 42 percent of the opioid settlement money that has been distributed so far among counties and cities.

Manufacturing naloxone

Naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, is perhaps the most agreed-upon tool in aiding the opioid crisis. It is available most commonly in the form of a nasal spray, but also in injectable form. It’s largely effective and safe, and California is pushing for its broader availability in common public spaces. However, for it to be widely used, naloxone also has to be affordable and easily accessible.

In May the FDA approved Narcan, a brand name of naloxone, for sale over the counter— meaning it can be sold in other places, like gas stations and convenience stores, in addition to pharmacies. The date of availability is still pending.

Without insurance, the retail price for a brand name supply of two nasal sprays is currently about $150, even though it costs about


AUGUST 3, 2023 CN&R 11
A lethal dose of fentanyl relative to the tip of a pencil. PHOTO COURTESY OF DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION

$32 to make, according to Remedy Alliance, a Berkeley-based nonprofit that advocates for low-cost naloxone. GoodRx lists discounted prices for generic naloxone at big box pharmacies that range from $30 to $79.

Still, any cost can be a barrier for people seeking life-saving medication. In California, various public agencies and community-based groups distribute naloxone for free.

The state dedicates millions of dollars to secure and distribute naloxone. To sustain those efforts, Newsom has proposed that the state manufacture its own naloxone under its CalRx initiative. The cost and how soon it could be available is still unknown. In his most recently approved budget, Newsom allocated $30 million to this effort.


Nationally, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the seizure of more than 22,000 pounds of fentanyl between Oct. 1, 2022 and June 30. In the same period from October 2021 to June 2022, federal authorities seized 8,300 pounds.

Neither the California Department of Justice nor the U.S. Department of Justice publish data on their fentanyl seizures, though they occasionally publicize big busts. The federal government announced a stepped-up enforcement program for Southern California called Operation Blue Lotus that resulted in the seizure of more than 4,700 pounds of fentanyl and more than 200 arrests in September 2022.

In the Central Valley, a couple of California Highway Patrol traffic stops led the Department of Justice’s Merced Area Gang and Narcotic Enforcement Team to more than 40 pounds of fentanyl and seven arrests in May.

Homicide charges after overdoses

Two counties hard-hit by fentanyl deaths, especially among people younger than 25, have prosecuted harsher punishments of fentanyl dealers in an effort to combat overdose deaths.

The Placer County District Attorney’s Office has begun charging people associated with fentanyl overdoses with murder. In one case, the district attorney amended the complaint against a man accused of fentanyl dealing, adding a murder charge. In July, the man was convicted of second-degree murder, which the county says is the first conviction of its kind in the state.

It was no coincidence that Newsom chose San Diego as the site of his announcement of a “master plan” for addressing opiate addiction and dealing. The county and city of San Diego have made fentanyl a focus of their enforcement efforts.

People have died of overdoses in their fast food restaurants, in their juvenile detention halls, on their streets. City officials have variously referred to it as a “nightmare” an “epi-

demic” and a “tidal wave.”

The city’s mayor, Todd Gloria, issued an executive order in November that mandates that the San Diego Police Department prioritize both enforcement of fentanyl dealing and booking those accused of fentanyl dealing into jail. The county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved $5 million over three years to hire public health workers that will watch fentanyl use trends and offer outreach services to people suffering from addiction.

What lawmakers want to do

Republicans, some Democrats and law enforcement leaders have been pushing for harsher penalties for fentanyl possession and dealing, although those measures generally have not moved forward in the Legislature.

In the meantime, the state GOP is attempting to keep the issue front-and-center. The Assembly Republican Caucus maintains a running counter of the number of deaths in California attributed to fentanyl.

People lined up for more than an hour to get into an April special hearing on the issue, which ended with four bills passed. But two of the most sweeping bills—ones that would have increased penalties for possessing large amounts of fentanyl and longer sentences for people associated with a fentanyl overdose death—failed to advance. In a tweet, the state GOP called the bills’ failure “a victory for our state’s fentanyl dealers.”

The bills that are moving forward are one that would create a task force to address fentanyl overdoses and another that would increase fines for dealers by putting fentanyl in the same category as heroin and cocaine.

Opponents of harsher penalties pointed to the failed enforcement policies of the crack cocaine epidemic as a reason to reject harsher sentences. Locking up users, opponents said, was a policy choice that led to overcrowded prisons and overpoliced communities.

A dose of the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan, or naloxone hydrochloride. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAUPHIN COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, STATE HEALTH CENTER
AUGUST 3, 2023 CN&R 13

Sounds like a scene

With the new school year upon us in Chico, live local music is back in session

Book ’ em, Chico!

Getting to know the scene from the people who bring the

It’s a golden age of sorts in our little burg, with many stages— Naked Lounge, Argus Bar + Patio, Duffy’s Tavern, The Tackle Box, Senator Theatre, Secret Trail Brewing Co., Mulberry Station, Sierra Nevada Big Room, The Winchester Goose, Chico Women’s Club, Gnarly Deli and (soon) Lost on Main—consistently hosting local and touring performers for the live-music loving masses.

For this special back-toschool live-music guide, the CN&R approached the scene from a few different vantage points: We spoke to four of the many bookers who help keep Chico’s music scene lively and thriving; we talked to the owners of Lost on Main, downtown’s biggest nightclub, about remodeling and reopening after COVID-19 closed them down; and in the Music feature, we got tips from local music heads about the new local bands worth checking out.

It takes a village to build a music scene. Venues, performers and fans are the most obvious essential elements, but just as important are the linchpins that bring all three of these things together to create successful spectacles—the booking agents.

As these folks work mostly behind the scenes, their importance is often overlooked by crowd-goers, but anyone who’s set foot on stage knows that a booker’s efforts (or lack thereof) can make or break a show. In addition to the main duty, talent buying for a venue, a booker might be in charge of promotion, babysitting artists, managing the production crew or sweeping up at the end of the night. They need to establish and maintain relationships with bands and agents, have a good sense of what acts will work well together and adjust to the ever-changing whims of audiences. It’s a nuanced calling that requires tireless effort, as well as a very specialized skill set and sensibilities.

The four we talked to bring touring acts to downtown venues and often book them with local bands. Each shared how they got into the game, offered some tips on how others can get into booking shows and how new bands can get seen. They also all agreed that communication and cooperation can help build a better scene. After all, the battle isn’t venue versus venue, it’s about getting people off the couch and to the shows.

Dive-bar fever

Jake Sprecher got into booking the way many people do: by being in a band. He came to Chico from the Bay Area in

2001, and the connections he’s fostered as a writer (for the defunct Synthesis), musician, KZFR DJ and all-around rock’n’-roll renaissance dude over the past two decades have enabled him to present some of the most exciting local indie, punk and garage-rock shows in recent years.

Sprecher’s primary booking duties are at Duffy’s Tavern; he also oversees many shows at Naked Lounge and occasionally other venues. In 2018 and 2019 he organized Valley Fever, multi-day festivals with national and local acts held at various downtown locations, but that effort was halted by COVID. He still uses the Valley Fever moniker for some of his productions and maintains a Facebook page under that name to promote his endeavors.

“I started out by trying to set up shows for my own band around 2011,” he said. “Then you randomly hook someone else up and slowly but surely acquire a knack for it. Then, if you keep at it, it’s possible to start bringing in some income.”

Sprecher said it’s an exciting time to be a musician in Chico. “With so many venues going strong, everyone who wants to gets to play all the time. It’s awesome. … There are more options now than in my whole Chico existence.” He particularly noted the health of the all-ages punk and hardcore scenes— buoyed by frequent and well-attended shows at Naked Lounge—is especially strong.

Playing Duffy’s is both a rite of passage and a career pinnacle for many

14 CN&R AUGUST 3, 2023
Jake Sprecher of Valley Fever inside one of his main venues, Duffy’s Tavern. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

music to the stage

local bands, and Sprecher acknowledged the venue’s legendary je ne sais quoi. “To quote [local musician from the bands Severance Package and Tite Nauts] Josh Indar, ‘It’s the biggest little stage in Chico.’ There’s something magical about the living room/dive bar thing, you almost can’t explain it. I love it, the touring bands love it, and obviously our local friends love it.”

Sprecher said the Chico scene is accessible for new and established bands alike. “It’s definitely cozier than in other places. It’s not hard to get a hold of anyone ... you can either find them on social media or bump into them downtown.”

Upcoming Valley Fever shows: Jonathan Richman (five shows): Aug. 20-22, 7 p.m., at Duffy’s & Aug. 23-24, 8 p.m., at the Blue Room Theatre (all-ages), $10/show, no pre-sale (facebook.com/valleyfeverchico).

From pop-ups to patio

In addition to working as a DJ and organizing annual record swap pop-ups for the last decade under the Outpatient Records label, Matt Garcia is the man primarily responsible for booking shows at Argus Bar+Patio.

Garcia said he got some booking experience while attending Fresno State—where he worked at the school’s radio station and helped organize on-campus concerts—but didn’t keep up with it in his post-collegiate years. Then, a few years ago, he started DJ-ing between bands at the once-empty space now occupied by Tender Loving Coffee, and gradually assumed booking duties.

After throwing some more shows at The Maltese and Duffy’s, he approached Argus owner Scott Baldwin and proposed using the bar’s back patio as a live music venue. “Scott’s been a wonderful partner. He basically said, ‘You can have the door money and it’s your space for the evening.’”

In the years since, thanks largely to Garcia, Argus has become a regular stop for local, national and even international touring acts. His calendar might be the most eclectic in town. He’s brought everyone from Ethan Miller’s psych-rock crew Howlin’ Rain to Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar to the welcoming patio at Argus.

“The shows I do are completely curated,” Garcia said. “I pick the acts I want to play and then pair then with the locals that I love, and it’s worked out great.”

Garcia said part of his success as a booker and promoter is based on how he treats artists, specifically those on tour.

“What we have going for us with Outpatient Records is hospitality,” he said. “We put people up, buy them dinner at a good local restaurant, and make sure they enjoy the experi-

ence. I try to get the word out that [performers] will be treated well in Chico, with a good solid crowd and a place they can feel safe. That’s invaluable to musicians on tour.”

Garcia’s main piece of advice for locals wanting to play is to get out and about. “We can’t know you’re out there unless you let us know. Come out to shows, talk to promoters, introduce yourselves. I might love the opportunity to present your band and your music, but I can’t do that if I don’t know who you are.”

Upcoming Outpatient shows: Bobby Oroza (Finland) and Gabriel Da Rosa (L.A.-via-Brazil), Aug. 12, 8 p.m., at Duffy’s, $20; Ghost Funk Orchestra (NYC) and Lorna Such, Aug. 30, 8 p.m., at Argus, $15 (eventbrite.com).

The renewed big stage

The stage inside the Winchester Goose has been the site of much Chico musical history. Long before its remodel and reopening as a bar last year, it was the home to popular clubs with names like The Blue Max and Cabo’s. One main feature of owner Rob Rasner’s remodel is the restoration of the big stage, which is now playing host to a wide range of touring and local underground rock, indie, punk, pop, etc. acts.

Like Sprecher, Aubrey DeLane (aka singer/songwriter Aubrey Debauchery)—who currently handles most of the music booking for the Goose—got involved with scheduling shows as a musician.

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Winchester Goose bartender and booker Aubrey DeLane. PHOTO COURTESY OF AUBREY DELANE Outpatient Records’ Matt Garcia on the patio at Argus Bar + Patio. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH
16 CN&R AUGUST 3, 2023

She’s been a fixture in the Chico music scene, as a solo artist and bandleader, since the early 2000s.

“I’ve played around here since I was 13 years old and I’ve always booked most of my own shows and my own tours,” she said. When the Goose started booking shows last year, DeLane—who also tends bar at the club—said, “Hey, let me do it.”

She said one of the biggest challenges is getting people out to shows. “Chico has a great music scene, there’s a lot of people who are involved. So it’s not that we don’t have enough people, but that only a pinch of those people regularly go out to see live music.”

For this reason, she said communication between venue bookers is essential, and could be a little stronger. She noted Sprecher recently gave her a heads up about Duffy’s annual Halloween show and that Garcia has reached out, and that it’s important to try not to step on each others toes with a limited available audience.

As she is first and foremost a performer herself, DeLane said respect and good treatment for the talent are key to running a successful venue, and advocates for this. “There needs to be a lot of importance placed on the artist,” she said.

For performers and bands just getting started, DeLane—and all of the bookers interviewed—said it’s essential to have a social media presence, complete with audio and/ or video recordings.

“Have good social media that people are able to check out. Something that shows what you sound like and even just clips of videos are all good things to be able

to send someone instead of just saying, ‘Hey, book my band!’” she said. “Be prepared to show what you’re trying to offer, and have an idea of how to talk about your band and what you sound like.

“I get a lot of emails and I don’t know if they expect me to go searching for that information or what, but if you don’t describe yourself or let people know what’s going on, you’re not going to get good results.”

Upcoming Winchester Goose shows: Caleb Caudle (Nashville), Aug. 11, 8 p.m., $15; Gold Souls and Lo & Behold, Aug. 12, 8 p.m., $10; Blair Crimmins & The Hookers (Atlanta), Aug. 18, 8 p.m., $15; Alext Draper & The Trainwrecks and The Golden Travelers, Aug. 19, 8 p.m., $10. (facebook.com/winchestergoose; eventbrite.com).

Chico’s good-time roots

Rick Anderson, the man behind Chico Concerts, primarily books shows at the Chico Women’s Club. It’s been

his main pursuit since leaving the position of General Manager at KZFR in Spring 2021—where he was the main organizer for the station’s shows (which KZFR still hosts at the rental hall as well)—and expressed his joy at being able to share his love for music with the community.

“It’s fun!” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t fun. It’s just nice to be able to bring good music to people who really enjoy it, and I’ve really enjoyed doing it the last few years.

“It’s pretty simple in the long run,” he continued. “You just have to find music that people will enjoy and then get the word out. And I just love the local music scene … it’s really diverse and vibrant.”

One of Anderson’s strengths, he said, is having long-established friendships and working relationships with touring acts that consistently prove to be good draws

when they pass through town, such as the homegrown Mother Hips and Sacramento guitar virtuoso Jackie Greene. He also expressed appreciation for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (whose beers are poured at this shows) and the quality of the Women’s Club as a venue. “It’s intimate, friendly and has good karma,” he said.

Anderson is carrying on a muchloved approach to live shows, as the acts he brings to local stages follow the same roots-rock/Americana/ blues/good-time vibe that has informed a long line of popular local bookers—from the late Don DiBono (Cabo’s, Feather Falls Casino) and the late Steve Schuman (North Valley Productions) to Bob Littell (formerly of the Big Room).

Anderson shared an ongoing dilemma he has with booking shows at the venue, which is illustrative of the sometimes strange challenges he and his ilk have to navigate:

“One thing I have to deal with is the people who want to dance and the people who want to sit down,” he said. “Trust me, when you’re doing this, you can’t please everyone. But I’ve found the music will make everything okay.”

Regarding advice for newer band shows, Anderson stressed the importance of an electronic press kit with all the attendant audio and video links.

“You also want to include some other information, like where you’ve played and how many tickets were sold, something like that,” he said. “Just like a nice little resume of where you’ve been and how you’ve done. Agents appreciate some feedback from your shows, both on the business side and to show that people dug it and had a good time.”

Upcoming Chico Concerts show: Chris Cain Band, Aug. 17, 7 p.m., at Chico Women’s Club, $35 (chicoconcerts.net).

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Live music calendar: Check out the CN&R’s Arts & Culture calendar on page 20 and online at chico.newsreview. com/calendar
Chico Concerts founder Rick Anderson outside the Chico Women’s Club hall. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH
18 CN&R AUGUST 3, 2023

Shut down by the pandemic, downtown nightclub makes a grand return

Found on Main

One of the most enduring images of nightlife in downtown Chico has been the section of Main street framed by Third and Fourth streets. To walk the busy block of nightclubs, bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night is to be thrown into the middle of the weekend party.

It’s sometimes chaotic, but it works as a strange symbiosis of intermingling tempos, plus four bars’ worth of booze and three late-night eateries serving boozeabsorbing grub.

The scene above is actually a memory of pre-pandemic times, before COVID19 turned out the lights on this and every other fun block. Over the past year or so, much of the area has returned to business, but the loudly beating heart at the center of it all—the Lost on Main nightclub and its party-centric calendar of live music by local and touring rock, funk, jam and other dance-friendly bands—has remained quiet for nearly three-and-ahalf years.

But if you put your ears to the wall out front there is a pulse, the beat of power tools and hammers inside updating the large club as Lost on Main’s owners prepare for its first in-person show since March of 2020.

“I’m very excited to show it to you,” said Karin Williams as she guided this reporter through the new entrance to the club, a pair of black doors beyond the giant metal ones (that spell out “Lost on Main” if you look close) out front. First stop is a new coat check, then completely remodeled bathrooms, then the familiar wide-open dance floor and

huge stage.

The former giant speakers have been removed, and Williams and her partner and Lost co-owner, Kyle Ullrich, have hung curtains and wall panels to improve the sound while they await the arrival of a new state-of-the-art sound system to be installed by local pro Bob Tolar of North State AV.

In addition to a fresh coat of paint, the main aesthetic change

to the nightclub has come courtesy of a new obsession of Ullrich’s: creating multicolored resin surfaces. “He’s doing some amazing things,” Williams said proudly as she showed off the table tops and the brand new long bar covered with trippy designs.

While the pandemic was crippling for their business, the couple said the break has given them

renewed energy for putting on shows as it allowed them to take a breathe and spend some quality time together and with their dogs.

“We went skiing!” said Ullrich, before Williams chimed in: “We both were skiers growing up, and we had never skied together in the 16 years we’ve been together,” she said. “We took our dog. He goes in the backback.”

The plan is to present a more manageable schedule this time around, said Williams—who handles the bookings— with less-frequent, high-quality shows and a greater emphasis on promotion. Also new will be a more rigorous promotion of food offerings from the kitchen of the DownLo (which they also own) by way of cocktail servers—not just bar service— during shows.

“There’s that whole tribe of students or the younger people who don’t know what Lost is,” said Williams, and she is eager to get the word out. “I want people to know that it’s constant—it’s 8 p.m., whether it’s weekend or weekday—and weekdays we won’t have openers, it’ll just be the headliner; weekends we’ll have two, three bands.”

First up is Portland’s Scott Pemberton, plus local multi-instrumentalist/producer Cameron Scott, aka Modern Methods, on Saturday, Sept. 16—at 8 p.m., of course. Ω

AUGUST 3, 2023 CN&R 19
Live at Lost: Sept. 16, 8 p.m.: Lost on Main grand reopening, with Scott Pemberton O Theory, plus Modern Methods. $20/advance (eventbrite.com); $25/door. Kyle Ullrich and Karin Williams in front of Lost on Main and its current display of all-local band posters. PHOTO BY JASON CASSIDY Smokey the Groove perform a no-liveaudience pandemic livestream show on the Lost on Main stage May 23, 2020. PHOTO BY KEN PORDES

Arts & Culture


Fridays Chico City Plaza


Galleries & Museums

CHICO ART CENTER: New Work, pieces from Nor Cal artists Reta Rickmers and Jamie Albertie. Through 8/13. Next: Groundwork, the Painting Process Revealed with Cris Guenter and Rick Vertolli. Opens Aug. 20; reception: Aug. 25, 5-7pm. 450 Orange St. chicoartcenter.com.

IDEA FAB LABS CHICO: Rose & Buds, featuring works by Rosebud Wildman and friends. 8/12, 1-5pm. 603 Orange St. chico.ideafablabs.com

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ART: Fantastic Scenes in the Galaxy, a solo exhibit featuring the poster art of Carolyn Ferris. Shows through 8/27. Next: Jack Windsor & Students Opens Aug. 31. 900 Esplanade. monca.org

THE TURNER: Northern California Horizons, prints from the collection of Reed Applegate, including works by Wayne Thiebaud, Nathan Oliveira, Robert Arneson, David Gilhooly and more. 8/22-10/14. Chico State. www.csuchico.edu/turner



CARVIN JONES: The “King of Strings” returns to Paradise. Thu, 8/3, 8pm. $30. Paradise

Performing Arts Center, 777 Nunneley Road, Paradise. paradiseperformingarts.com

KEITH ANDERSON: Country star known for his own hits (“I Still Miss You”) as well as those he’s cowritten for others (Big & Rich’s “Lost in This Moment”). Thu, 8/3, 8pm. $35. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com

PAUL MOZZINI: Live music at the pub. Thu, 8/3, 6pm. The Allies Pub, 426 Broadway St., Ste. 130. thealliespub.com


Special Events

BOB’S COMEDY SHOW: Another Bob Backstrom stand-up special, with headliner Todd Basil (Portland), plus Tyler Cantu, Drew McGillicuddy and Eve Hamilton-Stiles. Fri, 8/4, 7:30pm. $13 - $20. Gnarly Deli, 243 W. Second St. gnarlydeli. square.site


HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: A jukebox musical about a “boot-scootin’” laundromat, featuring songs by Carrie Underwood, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and more. Runs through Aug.

27. Fri, 8/4, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


ACHILLES WHEEL & BLU EGYPTIAN: Achilles Wheel mashes up genres, from roots rock to psychedelia. Local jammers Blu Egyptian open. Fri, 8/4, 7pm. $18 - $25. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. (530) 399-0753. meriam park.com

BASSMINT CHICO: Longstanding bass-party producers bring the fun to the Goose. Fri, 8/4, 9pm. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

DUFFY’S HAPPY HOUR: The Pub Scouts bring traditional Irish music weekly to Duffy’s. Fri, 8/4, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Live music, beer garden, and activities for kids. On stage this week: Velvet Starlings. Fri, 8/4, 7pm. Free. Chico City Plaza, downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

RUNNING IN THE SHADOWS: Local Fleetwood Mac tribute band. Fri, 8/4, 8pm. $10. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com


Special Events

CHURCH, A VARIETY SHOW: Orchid Faire Entertainment has brought together a wide range of acts for “one hell of a variety show.” Performances include wicked fiddling, belly

dancers, drag kings, burlesque, martial arts, contortionists and live music. Sat, 8/5, 8:30pm. $25. Gnarly Deli, 243 W. Second St. gnarlydeli.square.site

COHASSET BAZAAR & MUSIC FESTIVAL: The 53rd iteration of the annual all-day party, with vendors, food, beer, wine, horseshoe tournament, silent auction and live music by Whiskey River Band, Jim Brobeck, The Stump Jumperz, Second Hand Smoke, Red Dirt Bullies, TEK Band and more. Sat, 8/5, 9am. $10. Cohasset Community Association, 11 Maple Creek Ranch Drive, Cohasset.

VENOM COMEDY: Danielle Acre and Nick Larson co-headline this “School Daze”-themed night of stand-up. Sat, 8/5, 7pm. $10. Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade.


HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Sat., 8/5, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


AMERICA: “Horse With No Name,” “Ventura Highway,” “Sister Golden Hair” -- all the hits from the FM-radio legends. Sat, 8/5, 7pm. $48 - $75. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville. goldcountrycasino.com

MUSIC ON THE GREEN: Free live music. This week: Emma & Will. Sat, 8/5, 6pm. Free. Magalia Community Park, 13917 South Park Drive, Magalia. (530) 877-9356. business.paradise chamber.com

NOCHE LATINA: Latin music night. Sat, 8/5, 9pm. $25. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com

THE ROCK HOUNDS: Live music. Sat, 8/5, 5:30pm. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com


Special Events

BLOOM VENDOR MARKET: Craft vendor market featuring 25-plus artists, designers, crafters. Sun, 8/6, 10am. The Barn at Meriam

Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

SIDEWALK POP-UP MARKET: Local vendors at the pub. Sun, 8/6, 11am. The Allies Pub, 426 Broadway St., Ste. 130.


HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Sun., 8/6, 2pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


MAX MINARDI - FREE EVENT: Local singersongwriter. Sun, 8/6, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com


Special Events

DOG SOCIAL AT THE BARN: Trailblazer Pet Supply and The Barn present a social for well-behaved dogs and humans. Tue, 8/8, 5pm. Free. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com


EEK-A-MOUSE: The Jamaican reggae legend visits Chico on his first tour in more than a decade! Tue, 8/8, 9pm. $20. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com



HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Thu, 8/10, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


20 CN&R AUGUST 3, 2023
BASSMINT CHICO: Bass-party producers throw a Burning Man fundraiser. Thu, 8/10, 9pm. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave. NIGHT CONCERTS
Velvet Starlings (left), Aug. 4; Tite Nauts (above), Aug. 18. Chico City Plaza.


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



HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Fri., 8/11, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


BEAU ASKEW DUET: Live indie folk. Fri, 8/11, 5:30pm. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

CALEB CAUDLE: The Nashville-based singer/ songwriter has been celebrated by everyone from NPR to Rolling Stone (“10 New Country Artists You Need To Know”). His latest album, Forsythia, was recorded at the (Johnny) Cash Cabin. Fri, 8/11, 8pm. $15 (eventbrite.com). Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

COLT FORD: Georgia-born country-rapper (and former professional golfer) live at The Box. Fri, 8/11, 9pm. $40. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com

DUFFY’S HAPPY HOUR: See Aug. 4. Fri, 8/11, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Live music, beer garden, and more. On stage this week: Broken Compass. Fri, 8/11, 7pm. Free. Chico City Plaza.

MEIGS MEIER: Live music. Fri, 8/11, 5:30pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Co., 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com


Special Events

COMEDY ON TAP: Stand-up with S.F. comedian Paul Conyers. Sat, 8/12, 7pm. $25. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

HOT AUGUST DAY SHOW & SHINE: Annual car show and barbecue. Car registration at 7am; show at 9am. Picnic, raffles, ice cram and more. $20/pre-register; $25 at the door. Sat, 8/12, 9am. Manzanita Place, 1705 Manzanita Ave.

PRPD ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: For its 75th birthday, the Paradise Recreation & Parks District is barbecuing free burgers and hosting a party with community booths, kids activities, games and more. Sat, 8/12, 12pm. Bille Park, 501 Bille Road, Paradise.


HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Sat., 8/12, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


BOBBY OROZA: Soul singer Bobby Oroza (Big Crown Records) is in from Finland to play some of the best live R&B you could hope to hear. Sat, 8/12, 8pm. $20. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718. eventbrite.com

DEBAJITO: Multilingual, borderless, Latin music from local band. Sat, 8/12, 8pm. $10. Argus Bar + Patio, 212 W. Second St.


SHOW: Booked by Mistake, Spacey Acie, Know Escapes, Zuki Bomb, Not the Same and more perform at this birthday/anniversary party. Sat, 8/12, 7pm. $10. Naked Lounge, 118

W. Second St.

GOLD SOULS, LO & BEHOLD: Soulful locals Lo & Behold are joined by Sac’s Gold Souls. Sat, 8/12, 8pm. $10. Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.


Aug. 12

Duffy’s Tavern

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

SOUL POSSE: Live local rock/pop band. Fri, 8/18, 8pm. Free. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave.


Special Events

COMEDIAN PETER ANTONIOU: A night of “Psychic Comedy” with former America’s Got Talent contestant. Sat, 8/19, 6:30pm. $15 - $25. El Rey Theater, 230 W. Second St. elreychico.com

NATURE CENTER ICE CREAM SOCIAL: Visit the center’s animals and enjoy bounce houses, food trucks, face painters, crafts, games and more. Sat, 8/19, 12pm. Free. Chico Creek Nature Center, 1968 E. Eighth St. 530-895-4711. chicorec.com

Q&A WITH OUTLAST CAST MEMBERS: Meetand-Greet with the winners of the Netflix survivalist reality show Outlast: Nick Radner & Seth Lueker. Sat, 8/19, 6pm. $25-$75. Oroville State Theater, 1489 Myers Street, Oroville. 408-813-8608.


HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Sat., 8/19, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


ALEX DRAPER & THE TRAINWRECKS, THE GOLDEN TRAVELERS: Powerhouse all-local double bill! Sat, 8/19, 8pm. $10. Winchester Goose,


JOSH TURNER: The chart-topping country/ gospel singer-songwriter performs in Oroville. Sat, 8/12, 8pm. $59-$99. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville. goldcountrycasino.com

MUSIC ON THE GREEN: Free live music. This week: DaHotPots. Sat, 8/12, 6pm. Free. Magalia Community Park, 13917 South Park Drive, Magalia. (530) 877-9356.

PINK HOUSE: Live alternative rock. Sat, 8/12, 6pm. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

SUNNY SWEENEY: Texas country star (“From a Table Away,” “Drink Myself Single”) live at The Box. Sat, 8/12, 9pm. $20. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com



HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Sun., 8/13, 2pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


STEVEN SCHULTZ: Live music. Sun, 8/13, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Suite 120.



HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Thu., 8/17, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico

Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


CHRIS CAIN BAND: Chico Concerts brings the legendary Alligator Records blues guitarist back to town. Thu, 8/17, 7pm. $35. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. chicoconcerts.net

SKY’S OUT THIGHS OUT: A five-man Chico superband fighting the California heat by singing all your favorite songs about the summer in shorts. Thu, 8/17, 7:30pm. $10. Argus Bar + Patio, 212 W. Second St.

FRI18 Theater

HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Fri., 8/18, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


BLAIR CRIMMINS & THE HOOKERS: Ragtime jazzmeets-rock-’n’-roll—from Atlanta! Fri, 8/18, 8pm. $15 (eventbrite.com). Winchester Goose, 824 Oroville Ave.

DUFFY’S HAPPY HOUR: See Aug. 4. Fri, 8/18, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Live music, beer garden, and activities for kids. On stage this week: Tite Naughts & The Chemicals . Fri, 8/18, 7pm. Free. Chico City Plaza, downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

GABE JOHNSON: Live music. Fri, 8/18, 5:30pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing

824 Oroville Ave.

BRAD PETERSON & MONTANES: Local country crew live. Sat, 8/19, 9pm. $5. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com

KYLIANA SEGURA: Live music at the pub. Sat, 8/19, 1pm. The Allies Pub, 426 Broadway St., Ste. 130. thealliespub.com

MJB: Live music. Sat, 8/19, 5:30pm The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

THE MONDEGREENS ALBUM RELEASE: Chico-bred, Seattle-based harmonizing rockers, The Mondegreens, are back with their first new music in over four years. Local friend Pat Hull opens. Sat, 8/19, 8:30pm. $12 - $15. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. kzfr.org

MUSIC ON THE GREEN: Free live music. This week: Soul Posse. Sat, 8/19, 6pm. Free. Magalia Community Park, 13917 South Park Drive, Magalia. (530) 877-9356. business.paradisechamber.com

SUN20 Theater

HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Sun., 8/20, 2pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


JONATHAN RICHMAN: The original Modern Lover is back on Chico stages, with five shows in five nights! Three at Duffy’s (Aug. 20-22)


We’re not sure what “wicked fiddling” is, but color us intrigued. Orchid Faire Entertainment has rounded up 10 different acts—the fiddler, belly dancers, drag kings, burlesque performers, contortionists, martial artists, musicians and more—for Church, “one Hell of a variety show.” The sideshow goes off Aug. 5, way down in the basement confines of Gnarly Deli in downtown Chico.

AUGUST 3, 2023 CN&R 21


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and two at the Blue Room (Aug. 23-24, all-ages). Sun, 8/20, 7pm. $10 at the door. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718. MARK 3: Live music. Sun, 8/20, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

RONI JEAN, TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT, MELLI FARIAS, INFINITE KAMIKAZE: Live local music. Sun, 8/20, 7pm. $10. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St.

MON21 Music

JONATHAN RICHMAN: See Aug. 20. Mon, 8/21, 7pm. $10 at the door. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

TUE22 Music

JONATHAN RICHMAN: See Aug. 20. Tue, 8/22, 7pm. $10 at the door. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

WED23 Music

JONATHAN RICHMAN: See Aug. 20. Wed, 8/23, 8pm. $10 at the door. Blue Room Theatre, 1005 W. First St. 530-343-7718.

THU24 Theater

HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Thu, 8/24, 7:30pm. $25$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


JONATHAN RICHMAN: See Aug. 20. Thu, 8/24, 8pm. $10 at the door. Blue Room Theatre, 1005 W. First St. 530-343-7718.


Special Events

COMEDIAN AMY MILLER: Nationally touring stand-up who has headlined all the big comedy stages, produced a Comedy Central


HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Fri., 8/25, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


DAVID BILINSKI: Live music. Fri, 8/25, 5:30pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Co., 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

DUFFY’S HAPPY HOUR: See Aug. 4. Fri, 8/25, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Live music, beer garden, and activities for kids. On stage this week: Michael Russell Band. Fri, 8/25, 7pm. Free. Chico City Plaza, downtown Chico.

RADIO RELAPSE: Three hours of rad music of the 1990s! Fri, 8/25, 8pm. Unwined Kitchen & Bar, 980 Mangrove Ave.

SMO & GOOD OL’ BOYZ: Country-rap star SMO, with openers the Good Ol’ Boyz. Fri, 8/25, 9pm. $25. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com

TERRY HANCK BAND: Chicago blues/soul saxman and three-time Blues Music Award winner at the pub. Fri, 8/25, 8pm. $20. Mulberry Station Brewing Co., 175 E. 20th St. eventbrite.com

WHISKEY RIVER BAND: Live country rock. Fri, 8/25, 5:30pm. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com


Special Events

CHICO PRINT PARTY: Two-day (Aug. 26-27) print show and open-air market featuring makers from Nor-Cal and beyond. Sat, 8/26, 11am. Free. Cafe Coda, 265 Humboldt Ave. chicoprintparty.com

MOVIES IN THE PARK: Top Gun: Maverick at shows after dark in the park. Local duo Emma & Will warm up the crowd. Bring blankets, low-back chairs, bug spray, flashlight. Sat, 8/26, 6pm. Free. Wildwood Park


HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Sat., 8/26, 7:30pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F.


MUMBLEFINGER: The blues/funk/soul brainchild of frontman Brian Birkes visits the barn. Sat, 8/26, 5:30pm. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place.

MUSIC ON THE GREEN: Free live music. This week: Reece Thompson. Sat, 8/26, 6pm. Free.

music night. 9pm. 379 E. Park Ave.

NOR CAL METAL SHOW: Hella brutal metal crews downtown: GoreSkinCoffin, Decayed Existence, Dev1ous and Cement Sarcophagus. Sat, 8/26, 6pm. $10. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St. REGGAE FUNKADELIC FUNDRAISER: A fundraiser for Chico Music Events with live music by Black Fong and Dylan’s Dharma. Sat, 8/26, 4pm. $25. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. eventbrite.com


Special Events

CHICO PRINT PARTY: See Aug. 26. Sun, 8/27, 11am. Free. Cafe Coda, 265 Humboldt Ave. chicoprintparty.com


HONKY TONK LAUNDRY: See Aug. 4. Runs through Aug. 27. Sun, 8/27, 2pm. $25-$28. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheater.com


ANOTHER MELLOW JUNE: Live music with Katie Barrett and Karen Lindenberg. Sun, 8/27, 3pm. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120. secrettrailbrewing.com

BUSH: British heavy rockers are still at it. Sun, 8/27, 8pm. $35 - $125. Rolling Hills Casino, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Orland.

TUE29 Music

EFEMAR, RAWHEADS, DIE SECT, KNIFES: Swedish bands Efemar and Rawheads with Oregon and Chico punks. Tue, 8/29, 7pm. $10. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St.

WED30 Music

GHOST FUNK ORCHESTRA & LORNA SUCH: NYC crew joins local crooner. Wed, 8/30, 8pm. $15. Argus Bar + Patio, 212 W. Second St. eventbrite.com

SEPT. FRI 1 Music

ANGEL REYES BAND: Sacramento blues crew featuring Tim Barns on slide guitar. Fri, 9/1, 9pm. $5. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. tackleboxchico.com

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Live music, beer garden, and activities for kids. On stage this week: Chuck Epperson Band. Fri, 9/1, 7pm. Free. Chico City Plaza, downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

DUFFY’S HAPPY HOUR: See Aug. 4. Fri, 9/1, 5pm. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St. 530-343-7718.

SAT2 Music

AARON GEE: Singer/songwriter, pop/rock covers. Sat, 9/2, 6pm. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

LO & BEHOLD ALBUM-RELEASE: Local soulful jazzy crew celebrates its latest release. Sat, 9/2, 7pm. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. chicoconcerts.net

21 22 CN&R AUGUST 3, 2023
AMY MILLER Aug. 25 Sierra
Stars. Chico ex-pat DNA hosts; Aurora Singh $35. Sierra Nevada Big Room, 1075 E. 20th St.
Nevada Big
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You go a hear this band

Chico music heads give recs for new local bands to check out

What’s on? What’s good? Anything new in the scene?

Why, yes. We asked some locals who pay attention to these sorts of things, and it turns out there are a lot of sparkling, dirty, beautiful, brutal, fun, gnarly sounds coming from local stages.

Here’s what they recommend:

“Lorna Such The last album she put out was to me the best thing to come out of Chico. It’s like a neosoul-jazz record

Jared Salsi’s band LEVEL. In my opinion, they’re probably the coolest thing happening right now as far as punk. They’re like our age and still doing it.”

—Matt Garcia, DJ, promoter with Outpatient Records

“Right now I have my eyes on a band called Debajito. They are a Latin-style rhythm band performing both originals and covers—[according to their bio] ‘a California-based band that makes multilingual, borderless, Latin music.’

Another band worth watching is Heirloom, a group of young talented players covering everything from rock, country and various covers with a bluegrass feel. Featuring a great violin player in Caroline Fairchild.”

—Ken Pordes, live music photographer

“The Fed-Ups are such a solid rock band. They know how to engage the audience, put on a solid show, and sound so good. [Connor Finnigan] is a phenomenal frontman. They’re one of those bands that you just feel really good after you see them play.

Infinite Kamikaze: They make the

silliest, oddest commercials to promote their shows. They’re so funny and really wonderful.

Melli Farius: She’s like an up-andcoming pop star. She has a voice, her lyrics are solid, and her band is really good. They’re like funky and dancey and so good. She posts a lot of things on Instagram with her playing a ukulele. But when they played the Winchester Goose she didn’t play an instrument at all and had a full band, and they were awesome to see.”

—Aubrey DeLane, musician, booker at Winchester Goose

“Knifes is awesome, a beautiful cacophony. It’s amazing how much noise just two people can make. I also like Wiffle Hammer. I saw them at an orchard show and was really impressed with the way they got people dancing, and their sense of humor. They play

some originals and a really fun selection of covers.”

—Ken Smith, musician (The Family Band, Ken the Revelator), CN&R staff writer

“Yesssss!!!!! [I] highly suggest Similar Alien, The Wind-Ups, Thin Air, Purity, Exposure Therapy.”

—Acie Schiff (aka The Human Twitch), musician, Far From Normal Productions promoter

“The kids in Phantom Falls are really sweet people and I love that they play kinda slacker rock. It’s fun to see someone who’s like 22 do something like you listened to a long time ago.

Madde is cool; she’s gigging a lot after taking a long break.”

—Jake Sprecher, musician (The Wind-Ups), promoter with Valley Fever

“Blu Egyptian and Smokey the Groove. They’re both doing really well outside of Chico—in Nevada City, Redding and at festivals. Those two, I think they’re bound for glory, destined for stardom.”

—Rick Anderson, promoter with Chico Concerts

“There are a bunch of super-fun fresh sounds on the scene—Phantom Falls, Infinite Kamikaze, Purity, Seven Mills are all rad.

Even though they aren’t new any more, both Scout (my favorite local songwriter) and Tite Nauts (my favorite local band to see live) continue to make a ton of great new music!”

—Jason Cassidy, CN&R editor, musician (Viking Skate Country, The Family Band)

“Voyuer is my answer. They don’t play local often, but it’s all the dudes I grew up playing with—old-school death metal that no one else does around here. Seeing those guys play is always a spectacle, and a reminder I need to practice more.

Theres a bunch of new punk bands I haven’t been able to catch this year, but it’s rad seeing kids get back into music.”

—Jake Hollingsworth, shredder (Aberrance)

AUGUST 3, 2023 CN&R 23
Debajito Wiffle Hammer PHOTO BY KEN PORDES Melli Farias Lorna Such


Cheese toast time machine


Every time I pass through Yuba City on Highway 99, I am struck by two sights that never fail to excite and bewilder me. The first is the wild chickens roaming and roosting along the roadside. The second is the Sizzler.

Free-range poultry living next to a fast-moving suburban thoroughfare is strange for obvious reasons. Urban legends abound about their origin, but there seems to be no consensus regarding where they came from, why they stay there and how they (mostly) manage to avoid becoming roadkill, considering a chicken’s legendary compulsion to cross roads.

Though more mundane, the presence of an open and operating Sizzler has been no less baffling to me. Growing up in the 1980s and ’90s, the chain was ubiquitous, as were its commercials. (The way “Sizzzzler” was whispered Ying Yang Twins-style at the end of many of these ads is burned into the collective Gen X psyche.)

But the chain started declining in the mid’90s, and mostly disappeared. It has lingered on with its share of ups and downs the last two decades, and filed for bankruptcy in 2020 as another casualty of the COVID-19 era. Still, some Sizzlers soldier on.

Until recently, I hadn’t stepped inside a Sizzler in more than 15 years, and that was a sad last tango at a run-down restaurant in the desert that left me with haunting memories of threadbare Sizzler-green carpeting, defeatedlooking employees and a gnarly case of taco bar poisoning. That’s unfortunate because I have mostly happy memories of the place. Steaks and seafood weren’t the norm in my household and Sizzler’s dedication to delivering these delicacies to the masses at affordable prices was admirable and appreciated by this meat-loving little chubster. For this, Sizzler founders Del and Helen Johnson are culinary saints, like the late Momofuku Ando,

was like a Thursday night in 1986 and I’m out on the town with my grandparents, who are rearing to get down with a couple of senior specials and some all-you-can-eat shrimp.

One of the managers rang me up, and I have to say he was one of the warmest, friendliest food service folks I’ve met in awhile. He laughed at my jokes about Sizzler still being a thing, and was very accommodating. He stopped by our table later, asked where my companion and I came from and talked about his own Sizzler memories.

who invented instant ramen.

So, on my way home from a recent visit to Sacramento, nostalgia conspired with curiosity and hunger, compelling me to stop in. And, oh boy, am I glad I did.

The décor has been updated, with the Yuba City location being brighter and airier than the Sizzlers of my childhood.

Pictures of smiling people, white water rafters, cowboys, American flags, etc., are scattered about in clusters, creating an atmosphere something like an Applebee’s, but less obnoxious. A blown-up menu, with pictures, hangs on one side of the entryway, depicting tasty plates of steak and shrimp and shrimp and steak in different arrangements. The prices are also still fairly reasonable, falling safely somewhere between Denny’s and Black Bear Diner.

Some scientists say smell is the sense most strongly tied to memory, and this was proven the second I stepped inside. No place on Earth smells quite like like Sizzler, an aromatic blend of meat, A.1. Sauce, freedom and something completely fantastic … Sizzler’s secret weapon, the grilled cheese toast. I was immediately transported to another time. Suddenly, it

I passed on all the stock meals, tempting as they were, to hit the buffet. Deep into the pandemic, I remember lamenting all the things that were gone and contemplating how some might never return. I feared that buffet-style dining would certainly go the way of the dodo in our strange new world, but luckily that apocalyptic prophecy never came to pass. This visit was my triumphant return to a buffet, and I meant to make the most of it.

As we sat down, a friendly waiter greeted us to take our drink orders and asked, “Will you and the lady be having our grilled cheese toast tonight, sir?”

“Yessir. Hell yes. We will definitely be having the cheese toast.” Two plates were waiting for us by the time we returned with our salads. The first bite was next-level-nostalgically delicious. This stuff is legendary. There are many recipes and how-to videos online for people trying to make DIY Sizzler toast.

The Yuba City Sizzler has a clean and exemplary smorgasbord-style spread. I started with the salad, piling my plate with mixed greens and topping that from bottomless dishes of black olives and three types of grated cheese. The main course was a couple of custom-built tacos smothered in nacho cheese sauce and sour cream alongside some spaghetti with lots of meatballs. Then the sweet plate, with a foundation made of equal parts peach cobbler and bread pudding with little dollops of chocolate and key lime cheesecake puddings. And, of course, I had a small side bowl of vanilla soft-serve topped with a little bit of chocolate and strawberry sauces. And sprinkles. And tiny chocolate chips.

All-in-all, I went in expecting either something like my last visit, or a little blast from the past and some laughs. I was surprised to find a seriously tasty meal with some exceptional service. I couldn’t stop smiling and regaling my dining companion with Sizzler stories and memories through the whole meal. The restaurant has something for everyone, but I feel like it’s an especially worthwhile adventure for people of a certain age looking for a momentary escape from this particular timeline.

24 CN&R AUGUST 3, 2023
story and photos by Ken Smith kens@ newsreview.com
Sizzler 872 W. Onstott Frontage Road Yuba City
the highway, an iconic American buffet is still sizzlin’
Is that really…? Cheese toast!
(mostly) manage to avoid Though more mundane, the presence of an
Tacos and spaghetti and meatballs, like God intended. Sizzler is open in Yuba City.

Armchair time and space travel

anything, but I do take it to be a good example of the film’s richly allusive textures.

CN&R critic reports on streaming film, TV and touring cyclists

As I was watching live coverage of the Tour de France in mid-July, something reminded me of the phrase “armchair traveler.” I’ve previously said a thing or two in this space about the streaming of classic films and early cinema as a kind of time travel, and now, comfortably seated in my Stream & Dream Lounge, I was feeling immersed in several kinds of armchair travel. The broadcast’s cameras move right along with the Tour’s cyclists, putting us virtually inside the race at the same time that we’re outside as well, tourists getting great views of marvelous landscapes and ancient hillside towns. Five-plus hours of marathon racing puts us both inside and outside the passage of time, in the daylight of places that are both intimate and literally very far away.

black and white views of the sunny semi-rural locations of the 1920s make silent but sometimes vivid commentary on even the most splendidly maintained of their 21st century counterparts. At times, wired fences, barred windows, steel gates, and acres of pavement seem dominant among the present-day signs of prosperity and “progress.”

Even with some routinely pretty color photography, the present day sunlight seems harsher, and the air, even on “clear” days, a little harder to breathe. The cinematic archeology of the videos (credited to “chrisbungostudios”) is rewarding both for the glimpses we get of Our Gang, Laurel & Hardy and others at work, and for its open-handed way of letting us contemplate pieces of a much bigger picture.

been experiencing inside the movie house. Tarkovsky may have had that in mind, but he was also referring to something like what indigenous cultures call “dreamtime”—a kind of mystical experience generated through song, ritual, story, meditation, etc.

The closest I’ve come to that kind of feeling recently is with Wes Anderson’s new film, Asteroid City. It’s nearly two hours of deceptively casual, multilayered entertainment, playfully mysterious about almost everything, but stylishly engaging and accessible every step of the way. It announces no great themes, never insists on being taken seriously, but carries us along, pleasurably and thoughtfully, even as the curiosities, oddball puzzles and unan-

swered questions accumulate. At the outset, Asteroid City proclaims itself to be a documentary about the making of an unusual stage play. It is that, at the same that it’s also plainly fictional and unmistakably a Wes Anderson creation. We’re told the action takes place in 1955, but Anderson’s brilliant pastiche of period imagery is pretty clearly a 21st Century act of memory and imagination. And some passing allusions and details yield an intriguing ripple effect. Lead actor Jason Schwartzman, for example, wears a costume that recalls famous images of his illustrious uncle, Francis Ford Coppola. And the actor’s cousin, Roman Coppola, has producing and co-writing credits on the film. That “Coppola motif” doesn’t explain

Early on in Paradox, a 2018 feature-length “tone poem” from Neil Young’s Shakey Pictures, the first bit of dialogue we hear is the declaration that “Time is fluid.” Which partly reiterates what we’ve already heard from the voiceover narration in the film’s opening seconds: “Many moons ago, in the future, when the womenfolk had rightfully given up on us, a mangy group of outlaws hid out by a precious water source, while the real bad guys quietly stole the seeds of life… . Thankfully, music still helped their spirits fly.” That may set us up, at least partly, for a poetic fantasy of some sort, but that fluid time scheme is also looping through a scramble of genres. This “Paradox” skitters beyond any simple classification—it’s a comical western, a 73-minute music video, a DIY mystical adventure, a rambunctious allegory for male feminists, a scrappy philosophical tale peppered with rowdy wisecracks and earthy bits of wisdom, a documentary of musical performances and of the musicians doing a kind of comic improv, with bits of story, in between numbers.

In a way, I’ve had some of the same feelings about a series of YouTube videos that juxtapose scenes from two-reel comedies from the 1920s and ’30s with closely matched shots of the present-day Los Angeles-area locations in which the originals were filmed. What results is a kind of magical history tour in which the casually lyrical

Andrei Tarkovsky, the great Russian filmmaker, once declared that the cinematic arts take us outside of clock time, in ways that can seem to increase the amount of lived time in our lives. Many of us movie buffs have had the experience of exiting a theater and feeling oddly surprised to discover that the time of day on the street is quite different from the one you’d

The film’s featured players, musicians and outlaws alike, are Young and his youthful collaborators from the band Promise of the Real (headed by Willie Nelson’s sons, Lukas and Micah), And in a kind of cameo, Willie himself plays “Red,” an outlaw who has a bloodless Main Street showdown with Young’s “Man in Black,” before the two of them hold up a bank for something other than money. The credits tell us that Darryl Hannah (who appears briefly but crucially in the later stages) is the film’s “Auteur”—both writer and director. Paradox has the raggedy, freewheeling qualities of previous Shakey Productions directed by Young, but with Hannah as auteur, it makes a more coherent impression, emotionally and aesthetically, than I can remember with any of its predecessors. It’s also the only film I’ve enjoyed watching repeatedly over the last five years. Ω

AUGUST 3, 2023 CN&R 25
Neil Young in Paradox. 2023 Tour de France.




It is very unusual for Butte County to get a huge influx of cash to spend on just the arts and culture of this community. So, when Arts DEVO received a press release announcing that nearly a third of a million bucks had been awarded for just this purpose, he had to reread: “$326,850.00 will flow to Butte County in fiscal year 2023-2024, all [of] which will be used to create a healthier community, raise environmental awareness, promote civic engagement and social justice through the arts.”

Wow! That unbelievable news came from localman-of-ridiculous-amount-of-hats Ray Laager, director of the Upstate Community Enhancement Foundation (and advertising consultant for the CN&R; and underwriting director for KZFR 90.FM; and selfproclaimed Deadhead who hosts the “Playing Dead” show at the station—Fridays, 1-3 p.m.).

The money was part of the big $60 million dollar pot of California Arts Council dough given out for the California Creative Corps program to boost arts in the state by funding works and projects with one (or more) of four areas of focus: public health/COVID-19; water/climate/ environment; civic engagement; and social justice/community engagement.

Laager and the foundation collaborated with the Nevada Arts Council—which was charged with implementing the program in the 19-county “upstate” region—to spread the word and educate local artists, organizations and culture bearers. The fruit of those labors was a total of $3.38 million in funding for the region. The eight Butte-specific grantees were chosen from 57 applicants, and include projects that range from a mobile creative reuse center featuring “upcycled materials, interactive activities and opportunities for art and makers resource exchange,” to a sculpture collaboration between Zeke Lunder and Jeb Sisk, who will once again forge wild Chinook salmon from wrought iron salvaged from the former Honey Run Covered Bridge (the pair previously created one salmon which was auctioned off for $15,000 to benefit the rebuilding effort).

Our region’s portion of the state project is the Upstate Creative Corps, and you can read more about all of the grantees at its website: upstatecreativecorps.org/grantees.

NEW SEASON; FIRST LOOK Chico Performances has just dropped the schedule for the 20232024 season, and as expected, the university will once again connect Laxson Auditorium to the greater world with a wide range of cultural offerings throughout the school year. After a quick survey, my early picks are: Margaret Cho (Sept. 17); An Evening with David Sedaris (Nov. 5); a reunion of Austin, Texas, blueswomen Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton (Feb. 3); and the bolero stylings of Tres Souls (March 1).

To see the whole schedule and purchase ticket subscriptions (starting Aug. 14) or single tickets (starting Aug. 21), visit chicoperformances.com.

CARTONERÍA Next to “Fireworks, Candy and Puppy Dog Store,” is there anything that sounds as fun (or is as fun to say) as “Pints and Piñatas”? Find out if it the event’s name lives up to its promise at The Allies Pub on Aug. 13, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., when local artist Eunice Lopez, of Whole Lotta Piñatas (also ridiculously fun to say), hosts a piñata-making workshop. Sign up on the Allies site (thealliespub.com); the $50 fee includes all materials, and one complimentary pint!

26 CN&R AUGUST 3, 2023
Whole Lotta Piñatas’ Eunice Lopez. Chinook salmon by Zeke Lunder and Jeb Sisk. PHOTO BY ERNESTO BONETTI David Sedaris



ARIES (March 21-April 19): Emotions are not inconvenient distractions from reason and logic. They are key to the rigorous functioning of our rational minds. Neurologist Antonio Damasio proved this conclusively in his book Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. The French philosopher’s famous formula—”I think, therefore I am”— offers an inadequate suggestion about how our intelligence works best. This is always true, but it will be especially crucial for you to keep in mind during the coming weeks. Here’s your mantra, courtesy of another French philosopher, Blaise Pascal: “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.”

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The famous Taurus TV star Jay Leno once did a good deed for me. I was driving my Honda Accord on a freeway in Los Angeles when he drove up beside me in his classic Lamborghini. Using hand signals, he conveyed to me the fact that my trunk was open, and stuff was flying out. I waved in a gesture of thanks and pulled over onto the shoulder. I found that two books and a sweater were missing, but my laptop and briefcase remained. Hooray for Jay! In that spirit, Taurus, and in accordance with current astrological omens, I invite you to go out of your way to help and support strangers and friends alike. I believe it will lead to unexpected benefits.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “Did you learn how to think or how to believe?” When my friend Amelie was nine years old, her father teased her with this query upon her return home from a day at school. It was a pivotal moment in her life. She began to develop an eagerness to question all she was told and taught. She cultivated a rebellious curiosity that kept her in a chronic state of delighted fascination. Being bored became virtually impossible. The whole world was her classroom. Can you guess her sign? Gemini! I invite you to make her your role model in the coming weeks.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): In the coming weeks, I advise you not to wear garments like a transparent Gianfranco Ferre black mesh shirt with a faux-tiger fur vest and a coral-snake jacket that shimmers with bright harlequin hues. Why? Because you will have most success by being down-toearth, straightforward, and in service to the fundamentals. I’m not implying you should be demure and reserved, however. On the contrary: I hope you will be bold and vivid as you present yourself with simple grace and lucid authenticity.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In 1811, Leo scientist Amedeo Avogadro (1776–1856) formulated a previously unknown principle about the properties of molecules. Unfortunately, his revolutionary idea wasn’t acknowledged and implemented until 1911, 100 years later. Today his well-proven theory is called Avogadro’s law. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, Leo, you will experience your equivalent of his 1911 event in the coming months. You will receive your proper due. Your potential contributions will no longer be mere potential. Congratulations in advance!

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Israeli poet Yona Wallach mourned the fact that her soul felt far too big for her, as if she were always wearing the clothes of a giant on her small body. I suspect you may be experiencing a comparable feeling right now, Virgo. If so, what can you do about it? The solution is NOT to shrink your soul. Instead, I hope you will expand your sense of who you are so your soul fits better. How might you do that? Here’s a suggestion to get you started: Spend time summoning memories from throughout your past. Watch the story of your life unfurl like a movie.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Nineteenth-century Libran physician James Salisbury had strong ideas about the proper ingredients of a healthy diet. Vegetables were toxic, he believed. He created Salisbury steak, a dish made of ground beef and onions, and advised

everyone to eat it three times a day. Best to wash it down with copious amounts of hot water and coffee, he said. I bring his kooky ideas to your attention in hopes of inspiring you to purge all bunkum and nonsense from your life—not just in relation to health issues, but everything. It’s a favorable time to find out what’s genuinely good and true for you. Do the necessary research and investigation.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “I’m amazed that anyone gets along!” marvels self-help author Sark. She says it’s astonishing that love ever works at all, given our “idiosyncrasies, unconscious projections, re-stimulations from the past, and the relationship history of our partners.” I share her wonderment. On the other hand, I am optimistic about your chances to cultivate interesting intimacy during the coming months. From an astrological perspective, you are primed to be extra wise and lucky about togetherness. If you send out a big welcome for the lessons of affection, collaboration, and synergy, those lessons will come in abundance.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Please don’t make any of the following statements in the next three weeks: 1. “I took a shower with my clothes on.” 2. “I prefer to work on solving a trivial little problem rather than an interesting dilemma that means a lot to me.”

3. “I regard melancholy as a noble emotion that inspires my best work.” On the other hand, Sagittarius, I invite you to make declarations like the following: 1. “I will not run away from the prospect of greater intimacy—even if it’s scary to get closer to a person I care for.”

2. “I will have fun exploring the possibilities of achieving more liberty and justice for myself.” 3. “I will seek to learn interesting new truths about life from people who are unlike me.”

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Champions of the capitalist faith celebrate the fact that we consumers have over 100,000 brand names we can purchase. They say it’s proof of our marvelous freedom of choice. Here’s how I respond to their cheerleading: Yeah, I guess we should be glad we have the privilege of deciding which of 50 kinds of shampoo is best for us. But I also want to suggest that the profusion of these relatively inconsequential options may distract us from the fact that certain of our other choices are more limited. In the coming weeks, Capricorn, I invite you to ruminate about how you can expand your array of more important choices.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): My best friend in college was an Aquarius, as is my favorite cousin. Two ex-girlfriends are Aquarians, and so was my dad. The talented singer with whom I sang duets for years was an Aquarius. So I have intimate knowledge of the Aquarian nature. And in honor of your unbirthday—the time halfway between your last birthday and your next—I will tell you what I love most about you. No human is totally comfortable with change, but you are more so than others. To my delight, you are inclined to ignore the rule books and think differently. Is anyone better than you at coordinating your energies with a group’s?

I don’t think so. And you’re eager to see the big picture, which means you’re less likely to get distracted by minor imperfections and transitory frustrations. Finally, you have a knack for seeing patterns that others find hard to discern. I adore you!

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Is the first sip always the best? Do you inevitably draw the most vivid enjoyment from the initial swig of coffee or beer? Similarly, are the first few bites of food the most delectable, and after that your taste buds get diminishing returns? Maybe these descriptions are often accurate, but I believe they will be less so for you in the coming weeks. There’s a good chance that flavors will be best later in the drink or the meal. And that is a good metaphor for other activities, as well. The further you go into every experience, the greater the pleasure and satisfaction will be—and the more interesting the learning.

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.

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