Arts Devo

Chico is still Chico

Pssst … Buck up, Willie. Chico is just fine.

Pssst … Buck up, Willie. Chico is just fine.

Chill, rage, twirl, repeat. Hey, new college students, welcome to Chico! Before you venture out to explore the possibilities of your new home, let Arts DEVO, your friendly local arts-and-culture columnist and Chicoan since 1989, give you an important piece of advice: Don’t pay attention to cranky old-timers.

You likely will hear a lot of noise from those who’ve come before you—the upperclassmen who’ve been around for a few years, the locals who’ve been molding on the vine for decades—about how Chico isn’t as great as it used to be. Don’t bite. Of course, like every other place on the planet, Chico has gone through changes. Old haunts have faded away, new venues have arrived, and the city’s population has swelled, and more people means more problems we have to deal with.

But the foundation of what makes Chico Chico—the core of its split Mayberry/Partytown personality—remains unchanged, and I can prove it with a short quiz:

• Is Bidwell Park still here? Yes.

• Is Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. still in town? Yes!

• We know that we still have Chico State. Naturally.

• Are the Mother Hips still rocking? Actually, yes.

• Does summer heat still linger for five months? Hell yes!

• Can I still get stupid (like, really dangerously, brain-damaged stupid) drunk on $1 beer and 50-cent cocktail specials? Sigh, yes.

• Are the dirt-twirlers still kicking up dust to the jam that’s been going since the 1960s? God dammit, yes!

You see, things don’t really change here. You can float along in the same North Valley-bubble-fantasy-world-of-leisure that your local forebears did—chillin’ with your crew, raging with your bros and blissfully twirling along with your fellow freaks. It’s still pretty perfect, herpes and all.

Here are 10 more pieces of advice to help nudge you into the Chico groove:

1. Taco is a food group: Tacos are Chico’s signature dish. And eating them from one of the taco trucks within a few blocks of wherever you are right now is cheaper than cooking for yourself—between $1 and $2 each (never pay more).

2. Thursday is for nightswimming: During the warm months Sycamore Pool, the swimming pool that is a dammed up portion of Big Chico Creek in lower Bidwell Park, is very popular with Chico’s kids and their tiny bladders. Thursdays its emptied and cleaned and by nightfall it’s fresh and refilled and ready for a (sober) dip under the stars.

3. Buy a beater bike: Your No. 1 Chico tool is an everyday cruiser that’ll get you from class, to downtown, to the farmers’ market and to the backyard barbecue, something you can throw on the pile of bikes on the lawn and won’t be too pissed about if/when it’s ripped off.

4. $3 burritos: This is a real thing in Chico, and they are beautiful, and they are waiting for you at Tacos El Tapatio (East First and Longfellow avenues).

5. Stay off the railroad tracks: Please, don’t die.

6. Wear a condom: Like all the time, even when you’re just walking around.

7. One-stop shop for Chico cred points: The Butcher Shop, the annual avant-garde theater festival, brings the bulk of Chico’s creative community together on the outskirts of town for a Labor Day Weekend of original one-act plays, live music, food and more. And it’s free. Sept. 3 & 4, 6 p.m., 2500 Estes Road.

8. Don’t be a dick.

9. Try something new.

10. Buy me a beer: Something good. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale’s are only $1 on Wednesdays at the U-Bar.