These are a few of my favorite things



The same three things I always talk about

1. Local music

One of Arts DEVO’s favorite animals on the Chico artist-freak farm is FERA, née Michael Strishak.

Most Chico acoustic performers operate within recognizable niches. This is sometimes gratifying (those moody, sad bastards and the rustic Americana throwbacks both get ’er done), and often annoying (the funky Dave Matthews strum has now replaced slap bass as the worst development in popular music). FERA is his own beast, however, and he’s refreshingly hard to pin down. He sometimes sings breathy little bedroom poems, sometimes delivers emotive, aggressively strummed numbers, and he’s always … well, kind of weird. And he seems pretty shy, which lends itself to a stage presence that exudes the same kind of obtuse mystery that draws me to artists like Smog or The Cure’s Robert Smith. He’s a kook and I dig his stuff.

FERA celebrates the release of his latest album, Vicissitudes, at Café Flo Saturday, July 10, 7 p.m., with a bunch of local friends, including Blanket Party, the return of Comfy Chairs, and FERA’s other crew The Great Good.

2. Fun stuff local artists are up to.

• Dead Month at the Blue Room: Plan 9 From Outer Space live! (July 16-17, 23-25, 7:30 p.m.); Geoff Kanick’s Delightfully Dangerous—magic and illusions (July 30-31, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 1, 2:30 p.m.); Zombie Bikini Car Wash/Bake Sale (corner of Sixth & Pine streets—July 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.); zombie movie nights (9 p.m., every Friday & Saturday in July).

• Muir’s animals: If you didn’t get over to the opening of Muir Hughes’ 1,000 Animals and Me show at RAYRAY Gallery (or if you were, like me, a little awestruck and overwhelmed), you still have a chance to view and purchase the animals—Thursdays, 6-9 p.m.; Fridays, 4-8 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., through July 17. Also, see Hughes’ brand-new personal art site (designed by friends Erin Lizardo and Willow Sharkey) at

• Wild Ink Press: I thought my Photoshopped Christmas cards with me and the wife and pets pasted into a scene from A Christmas Story were pretty clever, but after dropping in on the website of Chico’s only letterpress studio, I see the limits of my design skills.

Rebekah and Matt Tennis are rice farmers who are also into using 100-year-old presses to make you one-of-a-kind pieces of art—gorgeous handmade stationery, wedding invites that your guests will frame and business cards that might send your friends on a Patrick Bateman-like jealous rampage (“Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark!”) Visit for a look at their stunning handmade goods and a find ’em on Facebook to get a tour of their charming studio.

Are you ready for the summer … camp!?

3. Beer

We all like beer. We all like Sierra Nevada beer. We all like Willie Wonka. We all liked going to summer camp! So, it stands to reason that we would all like to be given a golden ticket to make our own beer inside the hallowed grounds of Chico’s own magical “Chocolate Factory” during a two-day Beer Camp in early September.

Go to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s latest creation—the Rube Goldbergian site at—and find out how to enter a video for a chance to be part of one of two crews that will actually craft an original brew with Mr. Wonka, the Great Oz, the Mad Hatter and Santa Claus.