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YOU’RE NEW TO CHICO? HERE ARE A FEW OF THE PEOPLE YOU SHOULD MEET:

, o l l He name my . . . s i

Goin’ Chico 2012 Jaypinderpal “Jay” Virdee, A.S. president, Chico State

by Vic Cantu

6 VOLUNTEERING

Taylor Herren, director of CAVE’s Community Connections Program

by Vic Cantu

8 PICNICKING

Ken Smith, brainstorming a Chico-style picnic

by Ken Smith

10 BIDWELL PARK

Courtney Farrell, executive director of Chico Creek Nature Center

by Claire Hutkins Seda

12 FOOD

Henri Bourride, food writer

by Steve Metzger

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by Howard Hardee

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he best way to get to know about a new town is through its people. Each year, we at the Chico News & Review bring together our resources and experience to put together this Goin’ Chico guide as an introduction for new college students to this city that we love so much, and this year we’re doing so through the eyes of a handful of active locals. We are introducing nine people (through 12 different stories) whose interests and involvement in the different facets of Chico—the university, the arts, the environment, etc.—offer several snapshots of what it means to be a Chicoan. We have everyone from a relative newbie talking about his involvement in student politics at Chico State, to an artistic free spirit who calls herself Sea Monster, to a veteran newspaper reporter sharing insights into the nature of politics in the city of Chico. As your school year unfolds, remember to pick up the free CN&R every Thursday to find out more about Chico people and what they’re up to around town. The CN&R is your most comprehensive community resource, committed to sharing Chico’s story, and we welcome you and look forward to your unfolding stories as well.

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Rodney Cox, bicycling advocate and race organizer

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22 LOCAL CELEBRITY Rob Blair, weatherman extaordinaire

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A view of the quad and Free Speech Area at Chico State.

It’s your sc hool BE LIKE THE NEW A.S. PRESIDENT—TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE

N

EWLY ELECTED CHICO STATE ASSOCIATED

Students President Jaypinderpal “Jay” Virdee is not the kind of guy who wanted to be president for glory or to feed his own ego. “I’m not that conby cerned about how being Vic Cantu president looks on my vscantu@ résumé; I just really love sbcg lobal.net enriching the lives of students,” he said. The 20-year-old senior organizational communications major is also confident his fellow A.S. officers will serve students well. “Every officer on our A.S. team is a game-changer and can make a better life for our students,” he said. Virdee is proud to say he’s been involved in the A.S. since his first day on campus, when he joined the Freshman Leadership Opportunity program. Since then Virdee, a Phi Delta Theta fraternity member, has been a group leader in the Community

PHOTO BY TINA FLYNN

irdeboeut who you ow Jay V all a ely kn l es it’s def init a

p Sometim d you should e, Jaypinder . an know, n on the insid tate’s new A.S a S your m irdee, Chico V “Jay” t. n U preside P H OTO

BY V IC

Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE) program and spent the last two years as A.S. commissioner of community affairs. “I have a huge passion for helping students,” said Virdee. “The A.S. has taught me leadership and student involvement and now I want to ensure a quality education for others.” Virdee’s zeal for helping students is matched by his love of Chico in general. Born and raised in London until the age of 6, he spent his formative years in San Ramon. He was apprehensive upon moving to Chico and felt a culture shock transitioning from the Bay Area. However, he quickly became enamored with Chico’s small-town atmosphere. “Everyone here is super nice,” Virdee said. “Even when you wave ‘hi’ to strangers

2011 Occupy Chico State rally outside the university’s Kendall Hall. PHOTO BY TOM GASCOYNE

4 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

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Happy Hour - Daily 4-7pm you can see the genuine sincerity when they return the greeting.” In his spare time Virdee said he likes to play basketball and hike the Paradise flumes, and he loves to cook. He’s also committed to staying connected to his family, and said he talks with at least one of his two sisters or his parents every day. Virdee’s biggest goals as president are to improve the financial state of the A.S. and conduct student outreach. He wants to learn all he can about the university and the legislative process and then transfer that knowledge to the students. As he does, he says he will gather feedback to try to meet their most pressing needs. Despite recession-era budget woes Virdee feels very positive about A.S. finances. Still, he values every dollar and says a priority is to get the most bang for the buck. “[We] don’t want to spend more than we bring in,” he said. Virdee says he is proud to be a part of an organization that oversees such important school-business entities as the bookstore and food services. He also looks forward to working with university President Paul Zingg. “Every interaction I’ve had with him has been great,” Virdee said. “We’re blessed to have him.” Regarding last fall’s Occupy movement, during which students camped out in the middle of campus, protesting budget cuts and increased fees, Virdee says he’s sympathetic to the issues. As an A.S. officer he can’t take a political position but admits he attended the rallies with outgoing President London Long, and says that to do the best job he has to remain open to all feedback, especially if it involves criticism. “I want students to know my door is always open to them,” Virdee said. “Don’t feel intimidated. I’m a student, too.” ●

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• GOIN’ CHICO 2012 5


A helping hand CHICO STATE JUNIOR CONNECTS WITH COMMUNITY THROUGH VOLUNTEERING

E

VERY YEAR, MANY STUDENTS MAKE THEIR WAY

through college just going through the motions—filling their time spent earning a degree with varying amounts of energy devoted mostly to schoolwork and socializing. by Vic Cantu But Chico State junior Taylor Herren wanted a vscantu@ much more fulfilling colsbcg lobal.net lege experience and decided to do more with her time in school than just study (which she does, to the tune of a 3.5 GPA) and party. The 21-year-old animal-science major has filled her time in Chico with everything from feeding the homeless to offering comfort to senior citizens and stray animals, and helping keep Bidwell Park clean. Herren got involved with volunteering through Chico State’s Community Action Volunteers in Education program, for which she is the current director of Community Connections Program. CAVE is a nonprofit volunteer organization featuring 15 different programs that students can sign up for: everything from tutoring and classroom aides for elementary and high schools to helping seniors and the homeless, and cleaning and maintaining municipal parks— from Bidwell to Golden Gate. “I like teaching and empowering people to enrich the lives of others,” Herren said during an interview at Bidwell Park’s OneMile Recreation Area, which she helps keep clean and maintain through the Adopt-aPark program that she oversees. Altogether, Herren supervises CAVE’s five Community Connections programs: Chico Homeless Ambassadors, Adopted Grandparent, Animal Connection, Senior Circle as well as Adopt-a-Park. She manages a staff of 25 volunteers and helps with chores, scheduling, legal forms and community outreach. CAVE also offers volunteer opportunities in the areas of kids’ programs and weekendimmersion programs. Herren says all these programs can offer a life-changing experience for Chico State students. “You can’t change students simply by stopping parties,” Herren said. “If you connect students to the community, then they can contribute and get involved.” And along the way they can gain job skills and make new friends, both young and old. Herren moved from the rural Southern California town of Pine Mountain Club to Chico because she liked the campus and 6 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

small community. It also proved an ideal place to bring her 8-year-old horse, Emma. “Bringing my horse to other campuses would have been far more expensive,” Herren said. “I love riding her through Bidwell Park.” She loves animals and plans to continue with post-graduate studies to become a veterinarian. Herren’s love of critters is a good fit with her directorship of Animal Connection, which utilizes 60 student volunteers to help the Butte Humane Society shelter take care of stray or abandoned dogs and cats. They care for the unfortunate animals by feeding them, cleaning their living areas and socializing them. Herren says students are always eager to volunteer for these duties. “Animal Connection is the CAVE program that fills up the fastest every semester,” she said. With the Chico Homeless Ambassadors Program, volunteers coordinate with the Jesus Center and the Torres Community Shelter. The Jesus Center provides meals, showers and clothing to the homeless, and Herren says people are attracted to the haven because of its openness, especially toward those who are dealing with substance abuse. The Torres Shelter is a 120-bed homeless facility that provides overnight shelter and showers in addition to helping the

er ren H r o l Tay et Taylor? nd

um ol a Have yo horses, scho e director s th e k s li a e t t h u S a jor b ity Connection m g in k n u kic ’s Comm e. of CAVE at Chico Stat m a r Prog TU N P H OTO

BY V IC

CA

In the kitchen with CAVE volunteers at the Torres Community Shelter. PHOTO COURTESY OF CAVE

Volunteers clearing a trail at Lake Tahoe. PHOTO COURTESY OF CAVE

down and out get back on their feet with assistance in finding jobs, permanent housing and getting help with drug and alcohol addiction. “I especially like the Torres Shelter because you can see the success of people rising out of homelessness and addiction,” Herren said. The Senior Circle program helps those suffering from debilitating ailments in local care facilities by bringing students in to lead group activities such as artand craft-making, storytelling and bingo, while the Adopted Grandparent program pairs students with

senior “grandparents” for one-on-one visits to help meet the seniors’ needs for connection and stability. “I really like my job,” Herren said, adding that overall she couldn’t be happier with her CAVE experience. And she hopes new students will likewise choose the gratifying work of giving back, and becoming ● connected, to the Chico community.

MEET A NEED:

There are three basic types of CAVE volunteer opportunities: Community-connection programs, kids programs and weekend-immersion programs. Go to www.aschico.com/cave for info and to download an application. Community Action Volunteers in Education BMU 309, Chico State campus 898-5817


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• GoiN’ ChiCo 2012 7


Doin’ it outside AL FRESCO DONE RIGHT, WITH THE PICNIC BOSS

Ken S

mith

T

for some, others might need more stimulation. Here are some tips to throwing a perfect picnic.

HOUGH THE WORD “PICNIC” DIDN’T

PHOTO BY ALEX LANG (VIA FLICKR)

appear until the 17th century, the appeal of sharing a simple meal outdoors has captured humanity’s by interest for far Ken Smith longer. “A book kens@ of verse beneath newsreview.com the bough, a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou, beside me singing in the Wilderness,” wrote one 12th century Persian poet, and picnics continue to figure prominently in everything from Impressionist paintings to Yogi Bear cartoons. Technology and other diversions have largely diminished the appeal of picnicking today, but it’s a pastime worth preserving. Chico and the surrounding areas— blessed with scenic locales and sunny weather—abound with fan-

tastic picnicking opportunities providing an excellent way to spend a few hours or a whole day. Wanna impress a date? Save the money you’d spend at a swanky restaurant, pack some snacks and a blanket, and head for the great outdoors. Bidwell Park, Honey Run Bridge and the Chico Cemetery are all good choices, and any patch of grass—even your own back yard—can work in a pinch. While sitting on a lawn flicking ants off a cheese sandwich might be enough

Think outside the basket While classic picnic baskets are quaint and convenient, they are hardly essential. Assuming your food is properly wrapped, even a backpack or any sort of

container can suffice. A small ice chest also works and will ensure your beverages of choice stay cold in the summer heat. If you plan to make pic-

other essentials, like the utensils necessary to enjoy the food. Stick to the old Boy Scout motto: be prepared. It sucks to hike to a perfect spot only to find you forgot a bottle opener. nicking a regular thing, invest in some sort of receptacle devoted to the task. Thrift or discount stores are great places to find baskets and more. If you really want to class it up, invest in a briefcasestyle portable bar, sometimes available in antique shops and easily found, new or vintage, online. Stay open-minded about food options as well. There’s no rulebook saying sandwiches need be involved. Pick up a pizza or bring the makings for banana splits. Better yet, if picnicking with a group, make it a potluck. Choose beverages accordingly, and be mindful of liquor laws in parks and other areas. (Bring an inconspicuous cup if you want to rebel.) The menu will also determine Chico founders Annie and John Bidwell knew how to picnic.

8 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

Well, he llo for the C there. I’m Ken , h enthusia ico News & Re staff writer view, uk st a n d b P H O TO B o n a fide picn ulele Y K YL E EM ic boss. ER Y

Keep the people entertained While the main draws of picnicking are food, company and scenery, it’s a good idea to ensure these things stay interesting. Bring a deck of cards, or a frisbee, anything that will help enhance the experience and keep people from running home to their Xboxes and cable TV. Better yet, theme your picnic. Make it formal, pretend you’re Chico founders John and Annie Bidwell, or have a hobo party and eat cold stew out of cans. Even with exceptional food, a picnic might soon be forgotten, but no one will forget the time everyone dressed like Pilgrims and ate a full Thanksgiving dinner in July. Other suggestions for diversions include sporting equipment, board


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Scoring a summer day Music makes everything better, picnics included. Portable music devices are handy, but so are oldschool boomboxes easily found in thrift stores. If it has a tape deck, take the time to make a mixtape to match the occasion and location. At the very least, bring some headphones to share with a date if you have a fancy music-playing phone. Match the music to fit your surroundings. Anything sweet and harmony heavy, from the Beach Boys to Best Coast, will make a meal on the water more memorable. Reggae is always a good option, but why not give your copy of Bob Marley’s Legend a rest and pick up some Toots and the Maytals or Desmond Dekker. If pitching your picnic blanket in a graveyard, try some classical music, or listen to The Cure. The 5th Dimension’s “Stoned Soul Picnic” can take picnicking to a whole different level, especially if dining, as the song suggests, on red honey, sassafras and moonshine. Of course, if you can play one, bring an instrument. Grab a ukulele, harmonica or blow the dust out of your old elementary ● school flute-a-phone.

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• GOIN’ CHICO 2012 9


The wild side PARK ADVOCATE SHOWS OFF CHICO’S TRUE NATURE

C

OURTNEY FARRELL LOVES TO ARRIVE AT WORK.

“If I’m having a bad day and I get to work, it always gets better, because I’m right in the park” said the new executive director of Bidwell Park’s Chico Creek Nature Center. by “We’re in the heart of Claire Bidwell Park,” Farrell Hutkins Seda explained. Her office wincmh.seda@ dow opens up to the sigyahoo.com nature valley oaks, hiking trails as well as wildlife like turkeys, deer and acorn woodpeckers (“the tapping sound echoes through the whole property”)—sights that she wishes to share with all Chicoans. The environmental education and interpretive nature center is a great resource for those interested in seeing just what makes the state’s third-largest municipal park so unique. “It’s the jewel of our community,” said Farrell, about the 3,670-acre park made up of varied ecosystems, miles of hiking and biking trails, loads of history (including its initial founding from land bequeathed by Annie Bidwell, wife of Chico founder John Bidwell, in 1905), and diverse points of interest. And yet, she said, a large portion of Chicoans—particularly students—never visit, despite the park’s accessibility, running straight through the center of town. “We have that downtown vibe … and just a half-mile from there, you’re back in nature, that natural environment” of Lower Bidwell Park. “That’s what we’re fortunate about. “Of course, Sycamore Pool, that’s kind of the given” for a must-experience spot in the park, said Farrell, referring to the portion of 10 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

Big Chico Creek dammed up for swimming (known to locals as “One Mile,” due to its location within the One-Mile Recreation Area). Parents are also well aware of Caper Acres, Chico’s favorite playground for the under-10 set, which has retained its popularity since its opening in 1970. But fewer visitors bike or walk up the main Lower Park paths that follow Big Chico Creek toward the Nature Center, with its park information, nature exhibits, hands-on science lab for kids, and rehabilitated animals

offering an up-close look at the park’s residents—including a rattlesnake. “For us, the park is our lab,” said Farrell. Cedar Grove—which includes a large meadow for events and the trail around the World of Trees, a tree farm r relulrtney a featuring trees F y ne ? Co from around the Courthte forest for thuetitrveeedsirector of for e c e e e s c x r e ’t u e n world—is right o h a s T C g r is your an help. Farrell c ek Nature Cente w about enjoyin next to the cene no Chico Cr g you need to k ter. in th ery ev Pa r k . Bidwell IR E H U TK IN S SE DA P H OTO B

Y C LA

Austen Urry (above left) flips into Sycamore Pool, one of the key features of the One-Mile Recreation Area (above) in Lower Bidwell Park. Upper Park, by contrast, is a wilder landscape with rugged features like the famous Monkey Face (below). PHOTOS BY KYLE DELMAR

CONTINUE THROUGH LOWER PARK TO THE OTHER side of Manzanita Avenue, and just past the Five-Mile Recreation Area you’re in Upper Bidwell Park. “Upper Park is so different than Lower Park—the canyons, the water. … You can really see the changes in the landscape,” including the rock outcrop-


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BREAKFAST • LUNCH • DINNER CHAMPAGNE SUNDAY BRUNCH pings like Monkey Face. “That’s one of my favorite places to run,” said Farrell, who enjoys “being able to look over the whole valley, getting up there and just [sitting]. It’s so quiet.” Upper Park is chock-full of interesting and uncrowded nature finds—starting with Horseshoe Lake and continuing out along the many miles of trails branching out into the foothills. And just before the tiny Horseshoe Lake is the Chico Community Observatory, which is free and open to the public. “It’s so awesome—they have a whole amphitheater. … The roof of the building, they can pull it back, they have a huge telescope, it’s amazing!” said Farrell excitedly. Farrell hopes that visitors will “be conscious of the environment” when visiting, to ensure that the fragile ecosystems stay intact, but she strongly encourages locals to take advantage of the park that, despite being a challenge for the cash-strapped city to maintain, remains the jewel of Chico. “The more people utilize it and see it,” she said, “I think it makes them ● appreciate it, too.”

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• GOIN’ CHICO 2012 11

FILE NAME NORTHERN STAR MILLS


A taste of Henri THE CN&R’S LEAD FOOD WRITER WILL TALK ABOUT CHICO’S CULINARY SCENE, BUT HE WON’T COME OUT FOR AN INTERVIEW

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A

MONG THE MANY THINGS YOU NEW STUDENTS

will come to love about Chico is the great food. We have excellent restaurants, taco trucks, farmers’ markets and neighborhood produce stores and butcher shops. by We also have Henri. Steve Metzger A bona fide expert, Henri Bourride has been smetzger@ csuchico.edu writing food columns and restaurant reviews for the Chico News & Review since 2003, and I am his biggest fan. He’s quite a mystery, though, not a single rumor of an Henri sighting ever having been substantiated. In fact, what little we know about him is through his columns: He moved to the states from France as a young boy when his father took a job teaching film at a small college somewhere in the Mid12 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

The Red Tavern’s cozy bar. PHOTO BY KYLE EMERY

west. Clashing with the provincial attitudes, he relocated to what he calls the “Big Pomme” shortly after turning 18, then spent many years dining and cooking in cities around the world—and dating flight attendants from several international airlines. He returned to New York’s East Village in the late 1980s. After a painful parting of ways with someone he refers to only as “L,” Henri arrived in Chico in 2003 with his French poodle, Miss Marilyn, and his collection of movies, including his favorite, Some Like it Hot, the title of which he used for his book of selected food columns. In 2006, Henri’s sister, Colette—rebounding from divorce number five—arrived in Chico with her

Bichon Frise, Mr. Theo. The four of them now live together somewhere close enough to downtown that they walk to the farmers’ markets. An expert on all things culinary, as well as a brilliant prose stylist—despite his odd habit of randomly referring to himself in the third person—Henri also seems a bit, well, slow in other areas. Once, writing about his days living in New York, he described how excited he was to go to a Yankees make-up game but was then disappointed to learn what “make-up” means in baseball. Additionally, he has a proclivity for getting lost, so Colette, who often accompanies him to

Tacos El Paisa, parked at the corner of Walnut and Second streets. CN&R FILE PHOTO

restaurants he reviews, usually drives Pierre, his little Peugeot. Once, concerned about his health and pointing out that he was built like a foodpyramid, Colette bought Henri a treadmill— which he promptly returned when he found that its cup holder did not suitably hold a wine glass. To placate her, he joined a health club but, doing so over the phone, neglected to determine the club’s location. Naturally, I was thrilled at the opportuni-


ty to interview the man, hoping I would get to meet him in person. Alas, while he consented to the story, he refused to meet, insisting that instead we conduct our correspondence through email. CN&R: What’s the best food-related thing about living in Chico? Henri Bourride: Sacrebleu, Mr. Steve, there are so many! I cannot say just one thing. Henri loves the fresh produce— strawberries, peppers, tomatoes—from the farmers’ markets. Grass-fed beef from Chico State’s University Farm. The fish and meat counters at S & S Organic Produce and Natural Foods. The locally grown and pressed olive oil. GRUB and the other Community Supported Agriculture clubs. And there are several excellent restaurants that are as good as some of the best I’ve been to. And of course, Henri also loves shopping at “Collier Kitchen Supply.” What are the best restaurants in Chico? Again, Mr. Steve, there are too many to name! But, for a nice, quiet evening, Henri does love the Red Tavern. Excellent local meats and produce and excellent wine list. And the outdoor patio is lovely. Other favorites are Leon Bistro, Monks Wine Lounge and Bistro, Spice Creek Café, Angelo’s Cucina Trinacria and Crush for Italian, and Turandot for Chinese. For out-of-town guests? Quoi? Henri has never had an out-oftown guest. I’m sorry. Perhaps some day. And then, I would take them to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. The pub menu is wonderful, and Colette claims the beer is delicious. Thankfully, they also serve wine. Best burger in Chico? Henri loves the bacon-and-bleu-cheese burger at The Banshee and the bar-menu burger at 5th Street Steakhouse. The burgers at the Oasis Bar and Grill are delicious, too, despite the rather barbaric ambiance and décor—at least a dozen televisions

Rainbow of KitchenAids at Collier Hardware (aka “Collier Kitchen Supply”). PHOTO BY KYLE EMERY

showing only sports, of all things! Where do you shop? Henri shops as much as possible at the farmers’ markets, especially the one Saturday morning. He also shops at S & S Organic Produce and Natural Foods for produce as well as meat and fish. I also like to buy meat from the University Farm, high quality and very affordable. And finally, what do you recommend for a new student’s first “bite of Chico”? That’s an easy one, Mr. Steve: Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy Co., for their delicious handmade ice cream. And what better flavor to start with than their classic Chico mint—which was, after all, Henri’s “first bite of Chico” too. Any last suggestions? Only that students get out and experience the town and the lifestyle here. There’s much more to education than school. Also that they remember—after a night at the bars or a college party, or a couple of glasses of Sauvignon blanc with that salad made with fresh local greens—a cab ride home is fairly inexpensive. Merci beaucoup, Mr. Bourride. It’s been an honor. ● De rien, Mr. Steve. Mon plaisir.

/LHS[O

EATING CHICO

For an organized listing of all of Chico’s dining options pick up a copy of the Chico News & Review’s All You Can Eat dining guide around town or visit www.newsreview.com/chico and click on the “guides” tab and peruse the dining-guide flipbook. Chico News & Review

Grayscale

• GOIN’ CHICO 2012 13


P l ay b a l l FORMER CHICO STATE STUDENT’S ADVICE TO FRUSTRATED JOCKS: JOIN A TEAM

W

HEN I FIRST ARRIVED IN CHICO ALMOST

three years ago, I moved in with my buddy Zack, with whom I had grown up in Fairbanks, Alaska. Back home, for every season from tee ball by through high school, we Howard crammed in as much baseHardee ball as a painfully brief howardh@ summer allowed. Our high newsreview.com school season was anywhere from nine to 12 games long. It began to get too wet to play in early August, followed by eight months of snow and ice. I began to feel cheated; I knew people were living in places where you could conceivably play a baseball game every day of they year. Zack felt the same way. We were looking for baseball— a lot of baseball,

dee Howard Hldaforrthe Dir ty

fie Now playing center Butte County Five-Thir tyz and the ico News & Ch 21, Sabres, number tor, Howard Hardee! Review calendar edi RY PHOTO BY KYL E EME

14 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

to make up for lost innings. In Chico, we found it. As luck would have it, an early fall bike ride through Bidwell Park led onto the dam overlooking Hooker Oak Park, where we saw Doryland Field for the first time. The sprinklers were on, and there was a man raking the dark brown dirt on the mound. We approached him and asked him if there was an over-18 league in Chico. He told us, yes, there is, and this is where they play, gesturing to the beautifully maintained ballfield. It turned out, the Chico Area Recreation District hosted a healthy league of eight to 10 teams in the spring, summer and fall at Doryland. One of the squads, Riley’s Jerks, had a game that night and needed players. We showed up a few hours later, game-ready. But it turned out the opposing team, the Dirty FiveThirtyz, were the team in need. So we switched dugouts and immediately hit it off (pun intended). The Dirties were, and are, a rag-tag collection of players if there ever was one. But the interactions in the dugout are what baseball is all about—all the cussing, spitting and dick jokes you could ever want. Needless to say, we still play for them, and we’re still not very good. But luck was to strike again. In our second game, the Dirties were playing the Butte County Sabres, a team that schedules away games outside of CARD, as far away as Reno and southern Oregon. That day we happened to be on. Zack hit two home runs, and I hit two triples—in the same inning. The Sabres coach, Chico State political science professor Craig Scarpelli, is of the attitude, “if you can’t beat them, recruit them.” And so he invited us to play road games with the

The pitcher for Eel River Eels lets one fly against the Butte County Sabres during a spring matchup. PHOTO BY KYLE EMERY

Sabres, which led to some fantastic memories. Like the the one-eyed umpire who called our game in the little mountain town Weaverville—after a particularly horrendous called strike on a curveball in the dirt, he responded to our bench’s cries of disgust by ripping off his mask to reveal an eye patch, yelling, “I’m doing the best I can!” I’ve found since that many college students new to Chico are entirely unaware of the baseball and various other sports leagues offered by CARD. If you have any experience playing baseball, softball, basketball, soccer or any of the other sports offered, joining CARD is something I highly recommend. The leagues are a great way to expand your social circle. You’ll meet other college students, of course, but more important you’ll meet locals from all walks of

Co-ed basketball. PHOTO BY HECTOR ALEJANDRO

life—professors, construction workers, firefighters, cops, ex-professional baseball players, full-time pot smokers and so on. I’ve seen dozens of prospective ballplayers in Zack’s and my position since we joined the baseball league, guys hanging around the bleachers or outside the dugout, asking to join a team. And I haven’t seen ● anyone turned away yet.

JOIN A TEAM:

CARD men’s, women’s and co-ed sports leagues operate year-round. Visit the website at www.chicorec.com or call 895-4711 for information on leagues, schedules, fees and deadlines.


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• Goin’ ChiCo 2012 17


There’s a show tonight VENUE-HOPPING THROUGH A NIGHT OF LIVE MUSIC WITH CN&R’S ARTS EDITOR

LASALLES, 229 BROADWAY The popular downtown college bar kicks things off early with a free classic-rock dance party on the outdoor patio with cover band The Retrotones. As the older crowd dissipates, the second shift at LaSalles welcomes the younger late-night partiers with DJ party music taking over the patio. Inside, the main stage alternates between DJ music and live rock.

W

MONSTROS PIZZA, 628 W. SACRAMENTO AVE. Oakland’s Thee Hobo Gobbelins are said to “weave a wickedly catchy mixture of ancient pirate curses, orcish vaudeville and eldritch hobo semaphore.” Whatever that all means, the punks at Monstros Pizza enjoy the raucous acoustic party. The calendar of all-ages punk, metal and other left-ofcenter fun is handled by good folks in the energetic Chico Area Pyrate Punx collective, who keep the sawdust on the pizza parlor’s floor flying with a steady stream of touring and local bands.

HEN MOST PEOPLE THINK OF CHICO’S NIGHT LIFE, THEY THINK OF

drinking. And that’s a lot of it. But it’s not the best part. Those of us who’ve been in town for more than a semester know that the real fun on a hot Chico night comes from having a live soundtrack accompanying you and that frosty cold companion by around which your sweaty paw is wrapped. Jason Cassidy And truth be told, while I do enjoy a jasonc@ tasty brew, I’ve never been a fan of drinknewsreview.com ing myself stupid. I did not come here for the “Cheeko Party!” Instead, I moved to photos by Kyle Delmar Chico 23 years ago specifically to immerse myself in the music scene. And, though the names of the venues and the bands change every few years, there has always been a variety of clubs, bars, art spaces and

cafés providing something for fans of live music to do. I no longer get out to shows the two to three nights per week that I did in my 20s, but for those who are inclined to rock nightly, Chico is still willing and able to oblige. On any weekend night during the school year there are too many live shows—featuring both local and touring bands—from which to choose. Pick up the Chico News & Review on Thursdays, turn to the Nightlife section and see for yourself. And since this is Chico, you’ll see that the weekend and its livemusic choices begin on Thursday. So with that it mind, on a warm Thursday night last spring semester I ventured out with photographer Kyle Delmar to get a glimpse of the sights and sounds of a typical evening in Chico’s music ● scene.

HAS BEANS CAFÉ, 501 MAIN ST. Long-time Chico musician and open-mic regular Jim Brobeck and his Hawaiian guitar get some fresh air outside the café after their turn at the mic. Brobeck is a mainstay at the long-running Open Mikefull series, which has been offering local performers, both experienced (like Brobeck) and amateur, a place to perform live every week for more than 12 years.

18 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

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pg18 GC 2012


SENATOR THEATRE, 517 MAIN ST. The young and the beautiful are transfixed on the dance floor as New Zealand Dub-steppers Mt. Eden wobble the bass on the stage of the Senator. The historic downtown theater hosts mostly touring acts—from the big electronic parties like this one by Epic Productions to the mid-to-big rock, metal and rap shows (e.g. Snoop Dogg, Flogging Molly, Queensryche) put on by J-Max Productions.

CAFÉ CODA, 265 HUMBOLDT AVE. Longtime Chico noisy/melodic/progressive indie duo The Americas fill up the popular live-music café with their big sound on a night that also included the impressive sounds of heavy-hitting locals Cold Blue Mountain and Oakland mathy instrumental duo Silian Rail. It was a typically diverse evening for the eclectic hot spot known for crafting balanced bills of up-and-coming folk, indie, metal, rock and jazz touring artists with the best local openers.

CAFÉ FLO, 365 E. SIXTH ST. Portland, Ore., Zydeco crew The New Iberians squeeze into the tiny Café Flo with a big, danceable Cajun/blues sound. The intimate neighborhood café features an eclectic schedule of music, with something acoustic or electric happening most every afternoon/evening of the week.

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Life after dark: Pick up the Chico News & Review every Thursday and follow along as we cover the entire local music scene. Turn to the Nightlife section for all the beats, jams, mosh pits and disco parties in town.

Chico News & Review

• GOIN’ CHICO 2012 19


‘It’s a great day for a ride’ LOCAL CYCLING FANATIC WANTS YOU TO HIT THE ROAD

I

T’S HARD TO IMAGINE RODNEY COX ANY HAPPIER

than he was when we met at a highly informal bike race late one recent afternoon, surrounded as he was by bicycles and bicyclists. He’s the type of guy whose lifelong love of by something has imbued Ken Smith him with a beatific glow kens@ and infectious enthusinewsreview.com asm. He’s almost always smiling, extremely friendly and uses phrases like “That’s soooo cool!” and “Wow! Awesome!” liberally. “Just look at this weather, this view, this whole environment,” he gushed. “It’s just phenomenal.” Cox is the ride coordinator for Chico Velo Cycling Club,

he writes a local cycling blog called Chico Cyclist and he also runs R.A.C.E. Chico, a cycling club that holds almost daily events for riders of all levels. He’s a Chico native, and biking has been one of his primary passions for as long as he can remember. “It’s kind of weird, but I remember being fascinated by bicycles when I was 3 or 4 years old,” he said. “Growing up here I always watched people riding bikes and just remember thinking, ‘Wow,’ and watching [bikes] work. I got one as soon as I could, started riding seriously when I was 12, and never stopped.” Cox offered advice for all levels of cyclists, from those who’ve yet to mount up to those looking for Butte County’s bigger challenges. “Visit one of our local bicycle shops, there are so many great ones, and get some tips and learn about different kinds of bikes and what you need,” he offered for beginners. “When I first began I’d just ride in Bidwell Park, then from there got into longer and harder rides. The local bike shops and Chico Velo were invaluable for learning more about the sport when I started out. And of course, come out [to the races] and I can help you out. “For riders with a little more experience, I’d recommend joining one of the local clubs,” he said.

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PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

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20 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

h hi or T h i s i n a t o r f A . C . E . C n g b i ke s i . d c R r a o f r c ra d c o i ze r o g an dy is n orga een ridin nd nobo o. a b ic h a s t i r e l i fe g i n C h n n i e k i his bout b a zier

“You can meet a ton of cyclists out here of all different levels. The clubs can introduce you to some of the longer and better rides in the area, and some group rides, then you can really take off from there.” Cox said some of his favorite local rides are to destinations in the surrounding foothills, such as Centerville, Table Mountain, Cohasset and up Honey Run Road. “I love climbing,” he said with a chuckle, “even though I’m not very good at it.” For mountain biking, Cox said Upper Bidwell Park and the area around Oroville can’t be beat. Cox touted the advantages of riding in packs, or at least with a partner: “There’s safety in numbers; you can look out for each other if you have mechanical or even health problems. “Plus it makes it a lot more fun. It makes the miles go by a lot quicker. You’re just hanging out, chitchatting with a few buddies and having fun. Then, the next thing you know, it’s five or six hours later and you’re done.” As for what makes Chico such a bike town, Cox said, “We’ve got ideal terrain, perfect weather and a ton of people who love bicycling.” As he talked about Chico’s bike people, Cox became momentarily somber. “Unfortunately we lost Ed recently,” he shared, referring to longtime Chico bicycling advocate Ed McLaughlin, who died May 24. “He was a driving force behind cycling and cyclists’ rights here. He really led the way in making bicycling a priority in Chico and Butte County. He helped make it a bicyclefriendly area, with a lot of bike lanes and ‘Share the Road’ signs. We have some great

Above left: Riders in a 2011 Mesilla Valley Circuit Race, one of the many events sponsored by R.A.C.E. Chico. PHOTO BY RODNEY COX

Above: A pack of music fans rides along with the Chico Bicycle Music Fest. PHOTO BY KYLE DELMAR

people carrying on that tradition, but it’s tough to lose an Ed.” Cox’s smile returns as he greets more riders and soaks in the surroundings. Even though he was officiating the race, not riding, he’s just as happy for others’ enjoyment as if he was participating himself. “It’s a great day for a ride,” he said, beaming. “It’s ● always a great day for a ride.”

JOIN A PACK:

There are many roads to travel around Chico, and plenty of groups with which to ride. The following are some links to local biking resources: Chico Velo: Chico’s cycling club www.chicovelo.org R.A.C.E. Chico: Huge schedule of road- and mountain-bike races. www.racechico.com Chico Cyclist: “All things cycling” blog www.chicocyclist.blogspot.com Chico State Cycling Club www.csuchico.edu/cycling Chico Mountain Bikers http://chico-mountain-bikers.blogspot.com Chico Bicycle Music Fest (every June) www.cbmf.wordpress.com


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Face of the town CHICO’S BELOVED MEDIA PERSONALITY IS ALL ABOUT COMMUNITY Blair goofs off with an Action News guest, artist Christine Fulton. PHOTO BY KYLE DELMAR

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R

OB BLAIR IS A HUGGER.

He has to be, because when people see him out in public, that’s often their reaction. “I love it,” Blair said of having strangers throw by their arms around him. Melissa “That means people are Daugherty watching TV and apprecimelissad@ ating what I’m doing.” newsreview.com For the uninitiated, Blair is a weatherman for local television stations KHSL and KNVN. He’s a co-host/weatherperson on the two stations’ morning show, Wake Up!, and does the weather on CBS 12 Action News at Noon. He’s also an afternoon deejay for Now, 107.5 FM. And until recently, year in and year out CN&R readers voted him Chico’s favorite local celebrity. A certain NFL player named Aaron Rodgers usurped that title in 2011, but Green Bay’s star quarterback doesn’t live around these parts, so Blair is still easily the city’s most recognizable face. That certainly makes life interesting. When he’s not being hugged, Blair’s often on the receiving end of knowing looks. Mostly smiles. He said he’s humbled by the reactions, and looks at them as a blessing. Blair’s chipper on-air personality is what makes him so approachable. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a smart dresser, stands 6 feet 4 inches tall, and has a smile to die for. During a recent interview at a local restaurant, despite Blair’s casual off-camera attire, several passersby took a second glance in his direction. Had they come to the table and said hello, they would have found the same likeable guy seen weekday mornings on channels 12 and 24. “What you see is what you get,” he said. And what viewers get is an effortlesslooking delivery from the 37-year-old Kentucky native, whose roots go back to radio at

THE BLAIR BEAT:

Wake Up!, with Rob Blair and Megan McMann, weekdays, 5:30-7:00 a.m., on channels 12 and 24. Action News at Noon, with Linda WatkinsBennett, weekdays, noon-12:30 p.m., on channel 12.

22 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

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vo r dm G o o yo u r f a i t y a n d s b ’ e t l r , Ro b I l ce n loca therma we a ! MAR DEL r B l a i O BY K Y L E PHO

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the tender age of 14 in Indiana. He made the switch to television during his college years in Southern California, first doing weekend weather forecasts in Palm Springs. Later, he tried his hand as a newsman. He was one of the main anchors at a Monterey station, but he quickly found that didn’t suit him. “It wasn’t me. I didn’t fit the mold of being a newsperson delivering bad news,” he said. “I like to be the person you can take a break with and have fun with.” Part of Blair’s job is conducting inter-

views, thousands of them over the years. They’re done live, of course, which has put Blair in some pretty exciting situations. Like the time he stood in a cage with a white tiger during a fundraiser at the Kirshner Wildlife Foundation, a nearby exotic-wildlife rescue organization, or the time a fire-eating magician put him on the spot to partake in the trick (he did it!). Indeed, despite what’s going on around him, he is the picture of the consummate professional. “It would have been out of character for me not to have done it,” he said, referring to eating fire. (He wasn’t hurt during the trick.) He’s also had a couple of Jay Leno-like experiences with animals, including being pulled off the green screen by a 150-pound bull mastiff from a local shelter, during a “pet of the week” segment. (Blair was named Butte Humane Society’s “Humaneatarian of the Year” for his efforts helping the

shelter.) He once used a turtle as a pointer during a weather segment … and let’s just say he had to have his suit dry cleaned. Blair’s definitely carved a niche for himself, making him a true Chico personality, one of a kind. His advice for newbies, especially students, is to make the most of their time here. “The great thing about Chico, and this sounds so cliché, but it’s that you get what you put into the university or Butte [College],” he said. “We have a lot at our fingertips for anything and everything: diversity, religious organizations, clubs. “You have to put yourself out there, with events, service projects, just fun,” he continued, “it’s going to be like Velcro; something’s ● going to stick.”


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Chi co News & Revi ew

• GoiN’ ChiCo 2012 23


Green man says … CHICO ENVIRONMENTALIST BREAKS DOWN THE ISSUES

B

IDWELL PARK AND PLAYGROUND COMMIS-

sioner Mark Herrera was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor in the early part of 2011 after famously chaining himself to a large sycamore tree in downby Christine G.K. town Chico in an (unsucLaPado cessful) attempt to save it from being cut down. It’s christinel@ that sort of obvious pasnewsreview.com sion and devotion that emanate from Herrera when he speaks about the issues he sees as pressing when it comes to the environment. “We live on a finite planet with finite resources,” said Herrera. “With that understanding, it’s important to look at how we’re living our lives, and what really holds

them together. What I see—what makes the fabric of our culture happen—is oil.” Oil—which is needed for transportation, to truck food from one place to another and to conduct commerce in general—is a limited resource, Herrera said. “If we are able to understand oil as a limited resource, then we’re at a crossroads and we have a big decision to make: Do we want to continue our lifestyle based on infinite growth, or do we want to take the initiative and provide a healthy planet for the future?” Besides the need to come up with ways to move sustainably beyond “peak oil,” Herrera named three other, related environmental issues that concern him: the massive and growing human waste stream, food security and water security. As for how to reduce landfill-clogging waste, Herrera—who served as a composteducation coordinator at Chico State in 2007—highly recommends that everyone compost their garden and kitchen waste. Also, “avoid buying things you can’t recycle,” such as products that come in plastic packaging. “Basically, don’t buy anything that you can’t compost, recycle or reuse.” On food security: “With the understanding that oil is a limited resource, we need to figure out how to provide for ourselves in a realistic way food-wise—locally.” Herrera, an avid gardener, recommends that everyone “grow a garden, plant fruit trees, have chickens and don’t buy [food] from chain

Mark Herrarhaes rtwa o whole

Herre Green thumb? Mark nd ll Park and Playgrou we Bid e Th s. nd ha green r compost-education me for a is er on ssi commi State, a one-time coordinator at Chico uncil candidate and, Co y Cit ed eco-mind rdener. ga d avi of course, an G.K . LAPADO PHOTO BY CHR ISTI NE

24 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

Check off after proofing:

A snake puppet makes the rounds at the Butte Environmental Council’s annual Endangered Species Faire in Bidwell Park. PHOTO BY MELISSA DAUGHERTY

Left: Chico Garden Share’s Leslie Corsbie (left) and Julie Butler in the garden. PHOTO BY CLAIRE HUTKINS SEDA

stores—support someone locally.” He also recommends that people learn to preserve their own food. “We are blessed with an amazing aquifer [the Tuscan Aquifer] and water system in Northern California,” Herrera continued. “As our state continues to grow, the demand for water increases dramatically. It’s important to know that there are quite a few organizations—such as Crystal Geyser and the Delta Stewardship Council—aiming to ‘put a straw’ in our aquifer. … As individuals, we use little water compared to agriculture and industry. This is the time to take a stand and protect the aquifer.” Local organizations such as the Butte Environmental Council (BEC) are excellent ones to become involved in to learn about water-security issues, he noted. Also, “grow your grocery list, instead of your lawn.” In other words, use water wisely and get rid of your lawn. Herrera—who rides a bicycle as his primary means of transportation (he has never owned a car)—stressed that change will not come just from a few people making lifestyle

changes. “I ride a bike, and because I do that, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to pump that many fewer gallons of oil out of the ground,” he said. “It’s not going to take just me to make the necessary changes—it’s going to take the next person and the next and everybody else. “It’s going to take everybody. In order to really make a difference, we need to work on our education [about the issues] and how our actions affect the environment. If we’re not willing to accept a change in our lives—and a drastic change at that—then we can never expect to leave a ● healthy planet for the future.”

GREEN GROUPS:

Join up with local sustainability-minded organizations: Butte Environmental Council (BEC) www.becnet.org GRUB (Growing Resourcefully Uniting Bellies) www.grubchico.org E-ARC, the Environmental Action and Resource Center (Chico State) BMU 301, Chico State 898-5676 www.aschico.com A.S. Recycling (Chico State) BMU 301, Chico State 898-5033 www.aschico.com A.S. Sustainability (Chico State) BMU 301, Chico State 898-6677 www.aschico.com


Chi co News & Revi ew

• GoiN’ ChiCo 2012 25


Art everywhere

W

SEA MONSTER CREATES AN ARTS SCENE AS SHE GOES

HEN YOU ASK SOMEONE NAMED SEA MON-

ster to give you a tour of the Chico art scene from her point of view, it’s best to throw expectations out the window. So, when I found myself Jason Cassidy during our art walk wearjasonc@ ing a skin-tight vintage newsreview.com T-shirt and tickling complete strangers with a Photos by feather at the downtown Kyle Delmar Thursday Night Market, I wasn’t entirely surprised. Christine “Sea Monster” Fulton has been making and showing her art in Chico since moving from Sacramento in 2000 to go to Chico State. Though her most recognizable works are probably her intricate paintings—many featuring her fantastical, contorted “girls” with sleepy eyes—her artistic energy and sense of humor are put to use on far more than painting. As one of the driving organizers/participants behind some of Chico’s Clockwise from top: Sea Monster teaches the author the art of ticklingfor-art at Chico’s Thursday Night Market. Art at the Naked Lounge by Nik Burman. Several pieces from Chico artist Mabrie Ormes’ Faces of Chico series are bolted to the wall inside The Banshee pub in downtown Chico.

26 GOIN’ CHICO 2012 • Chico News & Review

Sea nsteornMos is a SeapaMints most active grassroots arts organizations— from the now-defunct CRUX art space to the more recent RayRay Gallery—Fulton has been involved in staging and participating in nearly every kind of exhibition. And whether she’s doing visual or performance art, no creative stone is left unturned, even in the promotion. In fact, the tickling we were offering to market-goers was a goofy and fun bit of street art that created the opportunity to promote an art show she had coming up that weekend. “Marketing can be so much fun,” Fulton explained. “I really consider it a perform-

ance for the coming event.” The preparation for the tickling performance, and our art tour, started with a stop at the downtown post office, where inside Fulton’s P.O. box was—surprise!—a letter to me and handful of feathers presaging our upcoming activities. Fulton had no intention of introducing the major local galleries and art spots (see sidebar). We would be making a deeper cut, to get a tiny

Thi r. She ts new s te i n v e n h i c h and ds in w wo r l e v to l i a n t s to u r w a n d v i s i t yo . e c o m i o n s , to o t crea


Sea Monster in her art loft in south Chico.

peek at the soul of Chico’s art scene. From the post office we walked a couple of blocks to the Garden Walk Mall and the tiny Boho used-clothing store inside. This is where Fulton bought our costumes for the market performance—hers a pink half-apron and a John Deere cap worn askance; mine a faded red corduroy Las Vegas hat and little-boy-sized Chico State tee—and, as she pointed out, it’s also home to an intimate gallery of rotating artworks. This month featured some colorful mystical-looking paintings by local musician/artist Johnny Dutro. Hunting for and finding used threads and local art at Boho clothing store in the Garden Walk Mall. On the walls: paintings by Johnny Dutro.

This brings me to the first point: Art is everywhere in Chico—cafés, restaurants, bars and clothing stores— not just the galleries and spaces at the forefront. And stumbling upon it, or better yet going on a treasure hunt for it, is both fun and a good way to be introduced to the undercurrent of active artists involved in the scene— many of whom were given their first chance at a show on the walls of a local business. We repeated the Boho art experience both before and after our market excursion—first at the back room of the Naked Lounge café with a showing of dark fantasy works by Nik Burman and Alex Light, then after the market at The Banshee pub, where pieces by local artists—

Mabrie Ormes, Sea Monster, etc.— are permanently bolted to walls. My favorite art of the tour, though, was Sea Monster in her natural environment. Fulton thrives on interacting with strangers by bringing her art outside, and her energetic curiosity mixed with courage and sense of humor created some fun and engaging scenes on the street. “Bums are always happy when I set up next to them,” she pointed out. And, so were most of the people she approached with a feather at the market—young, old, male, female, even one dog. I asked her how many of the people she interacts with make it to the shows, and she guessed not many, but she said that they invariably remember her and their interaction. And that brings me to the other point: Art is where you make it. That’s one of the most fun things about living in Chico. It’s a small enough town that most anyone with a lot of energy has a shot at showing art, or performing music, or just enjoying some good clean public tickling. And we arts-loving locals look forward to the energy that new students bring to the arts of Chico, and hopefully this year there are another few brave Sea Monsters among you. OK, maybe just one new Sea Monster. We can handle only so ● much fun.

ON THE BOARDS:

ON THE WALLS:

Sea Monster insists that you scour the cafés, shops and other hidden spots in a continual search for arts treasures, in addition to taking in the rotating offerings at our established galleries and museums. Chico galleries: 1078 Gallery 820 Broadway www.1078gallery.org

The art of theater is also alive and well in Chico, from community theaters to the theater department at Chico State. Blue Room Theatre 139 W. First St. www.blueroomtheatre.com Butte College Dramatic Arts www.butte.edu/drama Chico State Department of Theatre www.schoolofthearts-csu chico.com

All Fired Up Ceramic Studio 830 Broadway www.allfiredupchico.org Art, Etc. 122 W. Third St.

Chico Theater Co. 166-F Eaton Road www.chicotheatercompany.com

Avenue 9 Gallery 180 E. Ninth Ave. www.avenue9gallery.com

Rogue Theatre 820 Broadway (inside 1078 Gallery) www.chicorogue.com

Chico Art Center 450 Orange St. www.chicoartcenter.com

Birdcage Theatre 1740 Bird St.,Oroville www.birdcagetheatre.net

Chico Museum 141 Salem St. www.chicomuseum.org

Theatre on the Ridge 3735 Neal Rd. www.totr.org

Chico Paper Co. 345 Broadway www.chicopapercompany.com

by

James Snidle Fine Arts 254 E. Fourth St. www.jamessnidlefinearts.com Sally Dimas Art Gallery 493 East Ave., #1 Vagabond Rose Gallery & Framing 236 Main St. Chico State & Butte College galleries: 3rd Floor Gallery Upstairs in the BMU, Chico State www.aschico/com/3rdfloorgallery B-SO Space Ayres Hall, Chico State www.csuchico.edu/art Butte College Art Gallery Arts Building www.butte.edu Humanities Center Gallery Trinity 100 and hallway, Chico State www.csuchico.edu/hfa/hc Turner Print Museum Meriam Library, first floor, Chico State www.janetturner.org University Art Gallery Taylor 111, Chico State www.csuchico.edu/art

Chico News & Review

• GOIN’ CHICO 2012 27


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ELCOME TO CHICO, KIDS. I’VE

been asked to give you a tour of the local political scene. I know, I know, sounds pretty boring. But it’s not. by Tom Gascoyne Trust me. The Chico City tomg@ Council meetnewsreview.com ings make for great theater. How do I know this? Because I have attended more Chico City Council meetings over the past 15 years than anyone in this town, including city staff and the council members themselves. This is for a few reasons: There is turnover on the city staff because the employees retire or

move away to take similar jobs in other cities. The council members get burned out and choose not to run for re-election or else get voted out of office by the citizens. And, for the last 15 years I’ve had absolutely nothing to do on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, which coincidently are the very days these council meetings are held. Voila! Meetings can be heated, with council members taking flak from the public or trading angry barbs among themselves. They also can be humorous or steeped in heavy drama. (OK, there are times that the meetings are tediously boring, but for the most part, those occasions are the minority.) Beyond the theatrics, there’s another reason you should pay attention to these public meetings: Often the decisions made there can have a direct affect on Thanks to the work of activists like Jessica Allen, a campaign to move local elections to June (when university students are of town for summer break) was defeated in 2011. PHOTO BY TOM GASCOYNE

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you. Just recently, for example, the council was asked to reconsider the city’s noise ordinance. As of the end of the spring semester the ordinance said a citation can be issued only after police receive a second complaint within a 72-hour period. But by the beginning of fall semester it may allow that ticket to be written on the initial contact. Let’s face it—sometimes you students have social get-togethers that may involve beer drinking and high-volume behavior. You see where I’m headed with this? You have a right, in fact a duty, to tell the council how you feel about an issue like this because you may well be affected. You may be the person complaining about noisy neighbors and want to see that ordinance beefed up to shut those hooligans down. On the other hand, you might be one of the hooligans about to get ticketed for your hooliganism. Either way, you’re affected. There are some among us locals who would like to keep you out of the political scene altogether. Last year there was an effort to move the council elections from November, when students are here, to June, when many are gone. Supporters of the measure said it was simply to help the voters focus on the council race and not be distracted by the many issues that crowd the general election ballot

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in the fall. But opponents of the measure said the real reason was to keep those pesky students from voting. Some in the community view students as little more than visitors who stay for nine months, spend money to support the town and then go back to their real homes, where they stay for three months. Guess what? The measure went down to defeat by a big margin. And it was held in

June, when the students were out of here. Here’s how the system works: As I mentioned, the council, which is made up of seven members, meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The council members serve four-year terms. The mayor and POLITICS continued on page 30

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vice mayor are selected by the council itself. This is known as a weak-mayor system, which means the mayor’s vote carries no more weight than the other members’. The mayor’s duties include running the meetings and banging the wooden gavel on the council dais. Citizens are given three minutes to speak on an item during a meeting. There is even a miniature traffic light that glows green (for twoand-a-half minutes), then yellow

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(30 seconds) and then red, which tells the speaker to stop. Sometimes the speaker doesn’t stop, and that is when the mayor’s gavel comes in handy. The meetings follow an agenda that must be publicly posted at least 72 hours in advance (go to www.chico.ca.us and click on “city government” to view agendas online). This gives citizens like you time to prepare your (threeminute) address to the council telling its members why the proposal before them is either a legitimate step in the direction of freedom, or totally bogus, dude. In other words, get involved; this is your town for the next four, six, eight years, or like many of us who came here to go to school decades ago, the rest of ● your life.

LET’S ALL MEET: Chico City Council meetings happen every first and third Tuesday, at 6:30 p.m., in the City Council chambers at 421 Main St. Agendas can be viewed online at www.chico.ca.us at least 72 hours before meetings.

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