Moondog and Severance Package

<br> Moondog rocks!

Moondog rocks!

Photo By dain sandoval

Living in the moment Moondog is 60! On Tuesday, July 21, one of my all-time favorite humans, Jim “The Rev. Junkyard Moondog” Dwyer closes out his sixth decade. The Chico State librarian, who described himself in an interview with me for a 2004 article in this paper as “a peaceful warrior … a poet, a percussionist, a peace and environmental activist, a dancer and a singer/songwriter who can’t sing and doesn’t play the guitar,” has been one of the most consistent and passionate forces in Chico since first arriving in the mid-’80s.

I’ve known him for nearly 20 years, and have been comforted as often as I’ve been confused by his offbeat, singular personality. In addition to seeing him in countless live performances, and being one of many who have been on the receiving end of regular e-mail picture/video snacks (“Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene”), poetry tidbits and off-the-wall discoveries (like the glorious Codex Seraphinianus, “the world’s weirdest book”), I was fortunate to travel with Moondog to Chicago for a poetry-slam competition in 1999. In Chicago, he was his usual unabashed self on stage, melting away the uptight sensibilities of the assembled poets with his “Poetry Meets Godzilla” rant. And off the stage, he was a kind, generous friend, giving his broke fellow poet money for food when he saw I was eating from a package of cold hot dogs.

My absolute favorite thing about Moondog, though, is his complete devotion to being open to absolutely everything creative that our town offers. Sure, when it comes to the jam-band groove in which Chico is stuck, Moondog is the first one on the dance floor, frolicking in the autumn mist. But to his credit, he’s also the first one on the dance floor at the indie-rock show; the first one in line for the play; the first one to sign up for the open mic; the first one to put money in the hat at the benefit; the first one to make a sign for the protest; the first one to learn a song for the cover night; the first one to read at the poetry slam; the first one to send an encouraging e-mail to another artist; the first one to write a letter to the editor (see page 5); the first one to sing the praises of a punk band after its first show; the first one to buy his season tickets and the first one to hit the free food table at the art opening. Moondog might just be Chico’s No. 1 arts lover (do your worst with that double entendre—Moondog would), and he is certainly one of my personal heroes.

Knowing the answer before I even asked, I checked to see if Moondog might have a birthday poem or message he wished to share. He e-mailed a most apropos haiku:

the first day you say
“back in the day” is the day
you’re over the hill

<br /> Severance Package

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Skate and destroy Arts DEVO loves new bands that don’t suck, and summertime has flushed out one of Chico’s more surefire rad crews. Severance Package, featuring punk-rock ma and pa Robin and Josh Indar and Chico’s favorite limey drummer Steve Bragg (Vomit Launch, Sleazy Earl Ray and the Two-Drink Minimum) is cooling off with a couple of shows in Portland, Ore., this week, and will be knocking Chico down with its sneering garage punk on July 24 at Studio 46 (2961 Highway 32).

The package recently had one of its tunes, “Invisible Hand,” show up on a skate video. Check it at (search “Bowl Bash XIV”).