Spring is in the air: the fresh produce, the wilting theater scene, and the rotting heart of social media



A loaded spring My desk is trembling and I can feel the rumble of a storm approaching. It’s as if a pneumonic tamper is pounding a water pipe into place under East Second Street as a huge backhoe repeatedly slams its teeth into the blacktop, bluntly carving another ditch into the road. The whole building is starting to move to the unholy vibrations as Chico’s tumultuous transition of seasons continues to shake out.

Cloudy forecast I could’ve sworn there was a theater scene in Chico. Wasn’t I just raving about the expert productions of celebrated contemporary works August: Osage County and God of Carnage by Rogue Theatre and the Blue Room, respectively? And despite losing Chico Cabaret last year, wasn’t the forecast looking rosy for the Blue Room with the arrival of new artistic director Fred Stuart and the emergence of California Regional Theater and its flashy musicals at CUSD’s Center for the Arts?

Now, over the course of two months, I’ve learned that Stuart and Blue Room board member Denver Latimer have left the theater and that the planned spring production of Lord of the Flies has been canceled; Rogue is scaling back and probably won’t hit the boards again until next fall; and the Ensemble Theatre of Chico’s long-running Shakespeare summer-theater fest is done. Whose legs do we have to break to turn this tragedy around?

Tastes like sunshine On the bright side, the clouds are supposed to part in time for the opening of the Thursday Night Market’s season tonight (April 4), which for Arts DEVO marks the true beginning of spring. I’ll meet you at the tamale table.

Muddy waters I really (really, really) wanted to spend a little time giving the Synthesis some grief for publishing the CN&R’s phone number at the end of the magazine’s April Fool’s Day article about giving iPads to the homeless, but then I started reading the comments to the article on the Facebook page of Life in Chico—the quantifiable marketing platform for the Synthesis brand—and I lost my spark for snark. What I found there actually left me numb. A quick read of just the first paragraph of the story reveals it as a prank, but the shit-storm of knee-jerk comments by those who obviously only read the headline, and obviously hate homeless people and the city government that’s taking away their plastic bags was unsettling. It’s pretty scary to realize how, in these emotionally heightened times, people can be evoked by just a few words. It makes any kind of meaningful communication impossible. And if a harmless bit of satire can instantly rile people up, it’s no surprise that the propagandists can so easily get the hive buzzing.

Robin Indar working on her three-story Gecko.


• Monster Gecko: A high-rise-sized shout out to local artist Robin Indar for her latest commission, a giant, three-story-high tile gecko climbing the side of a five-story building in Sacramento. The tile lizard has been installed and is lying in wait under its blue tarp until the building is officially unveiled. Badass!

• April 26 is almost here: The Chico Arts Commission is accepting nominations for the Mayor’s arts awards. Teachers, mentors, parents and relatives of kids are invited to sponsor artists grades seven to 12 in any discipline. Deadline is April 26. Visit the City of Chico at for the nomination application. And, if you want to read a poem at the 1078 Gallery/The Bookstore-sponsored Off the Shelf reading on April 26, you need to: 1) Buy a book of poetry and register at The Bookstore. 2) Read your book and write a poem in response. 3) Go to the reading at 1078 Gallery and share your three-to-five-minute poem.