20 years with Mrs. DEVO and some other stuff

Boxcar DEVO.

Boxcar DEVO.

Marry me? That picture there. The one of that goof in his backward baseball cap with lips attached to a bottle of Mad Dog or Night Train or Thunderbird (one of the holy trinity of bum wines). That right there is a young Arts DEVO expertly demonstrating the sharp decision-making skills of a 22-year-old Chico male during the early ’90s. As unbelievable as it might seem to those who know me today, the photo is nowhere near as unfathomable as the fact that it was that very night, at that long-ago housewarming party, that I first met Mrs. DEVO.

This week Connie DEVO and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Skimming through old photos for something to accompany this column on the subject, it was this forgotten photo—more than any of the more flattering shots of the young happy couple—that initially struck a chord with me: How in the hell did she choose that guy?!

Before you get the wrong idea, I have never been in the habit of guzzling fortified wines. I have always been a lightweight who only drank more than a few beers in a given evening to his great peril. Regardless, that was the first impression I was making that night. And looking at the photo, I see the guy I was then—living in that apartment, a couple semesters removed from dropping out of Chico State, working part time, with no money, no car, no prospects, and no goals beyond the front porches of my friends and scrounging change for the night’s indie-rock show. It doesn’t seem possible that I would’ve been seen as a candidate for lifetime commitment. I mean, I like that guy and his boyish energy for all things music and friends, but in no way was he thinking about marriage.


Nonetheless, 12 months later I was married. And 20 years later I still am, still as happily, and miraculously enough, I am still burning most of my energy on friends and talking about music (and making a living doing the latter!). The other photo I’ve included here is probably the last one Connie would pick for me to put in the paper. But I’ve chosen to put this kinda-blurry shot, taken at a campground during our honeymoon, here because it’s the image that goes with my first memory of how my wife’s face looks when she notices me noticing her. That bright smile and the smiling eyes that go with it have been a powerful source of energy in my life. And the fact that the expression has continued to happen over the years in response to this guy—from that clueless pup to this less-awkward but only marginally less clueless grown-up—is pretty rad. I’m a lucky guy.

Empty stage As the school year at Chico State goes dark so, too, does the stage at Laxson Auditorium. Soon enough, though, Chico Performances will give us something to talk about when they announce the upcoming 2013-14 season this week (June 10). What is hip about living in Chico is due in large part to world-class performers the public-events arm of the university brings to town. I mean, you can get anything you want at Laxson, just walk right in (it’s around the back), or stomp over to the box office when tickets go on sale (July 1 for series; Aug. 5 for individual tix).

Don’t call ’em Yellow Cockspur Wall Front man Thomas Fogg and the rest of the Star Thistle Wall crew are releasing their debut EP, I’ll Never Call this House a Home, at a CD-release party at Café Coda, Friday, June 7, with pals Zach Zeller (making his first local appearance in forever), Bran Crown and Redding’s Monk Warrior. The disc, recorded at Origami Lounge, is about as eclectic as a collection of only seven songs could be—a colorful patchwork of trippy, jangly, sometimes-psychedelic and mostly groovy indie rock.