Arts Devo

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Send me your masterpiece!

Dear Arts DEVO Arts DEVO has said it before, but given that we’re plucking our nostalgia strings as we look back at the CN&R’s history in this 40th anniversary issue, it bears repeating that I owe a lot to Bitter Betty. The arts/music/culture columnist—the invention of one Elizabeth Kieszkowski—was the first thing I turned to in the CN&R during the 1990s, and her energized and passionate interaction with the local scene remains an inspiration for me when I don the Energy Dome.

A lot of the energy for her column came from the fact that it was so interactive. Check out this outtake from the oral history in this week’s cover story, an excerpt from one-time CN&R calendar editor and Kieszkowski co-worker Charles Mohnike:

Something that really brought unexpected attention to the paper was the addition of Bitter Betty’s column, secretly written by Elizabeth Kieszkowski. In those pre-Internet days there were no forums where people could speak their minds publicly, so when Betty invited the freaks and misfits of Chico to contribute, they rose to the occasion. We had an old tape-style answering machine we ran as “Bitter Betty’s Nightline” and instantly it was filled to capacity every night with everything from conspiracy theories about the Chico PD, to savage attacks on Betty for some band or other she’d failed to mention, or most often, rambling stream-of-consciousness rants about nothing in general. And a death threat or two.

We can skip the death threats, but I would love for this column to have a lot more of a dialogue with the community of artists, musicians, freaks and misfits. Hit me up. Get your band, play, art, secret thoughts in the paper. Getting a hold of me shouldn’t be a mystery. In the Internet era, there aren’t many people who are more stalkable than an arts columnist. But if you can’t figure it out, send emails to or look up Arts DEVO on Facebook and send him a message.

Rhymes with ‘lordy’! Speaking of the CN&R turning 40. This weekend, the streets surrounding the water towers, right behind the newspaper’s offices, will be closed to traffic to accommodate a block party celebration. In addition to food trucks, vendors and a Sierra Nevada beer garden, there will be live music! And all the acts feature CN&R employees, past and present.

The old-timers—and I mean back to the paper’s stone ages when the men were astonishingly hairy—are one-time music/arts writer Peter Berkow and one of the CN&R’s co-founders, writer/editor Mark McKinnon. Each is pulling out all the stops, assembling crews of ringers for what they promise will be special sets. And current staff members Ken Smith and yours truly will also making some noise, joining our respective crews Hallelujah Junction and Viking Skate Country. The event is free, so come raise a plastic cup with us!

Stop the presses! Just got word from a little bird that a duet of epic proportions has been added to the Chico Performances schedule at Chico State. On Nov. 1, Stephen Stills and Judy Collins will be playing together on the stage at Laxson Auditorium. The legendary folk/rock singer/songwriter of Crosby, Stills, Nash (and sometimes Young) fame has teamed up with his long-ago girlfriend/muse and legendary voice in her own right, for an album of covers, Everybody Knows (dropping Sept. 22). Visit for more info.