Be an original

You don’t have to buy into campus stereotypes to have a blast in college. Three CN&R staffers explain how and why

Take roads less traveled and create your own fun
New to Chico? Welcome. Now let me break down how your new home rules the Earth and how, if you’re willing to branch out, you can have the time of your life while you’re here.

The first thing to do is put the expression, “Cheeko! Party!” out of your head. Yeah, partying can be fun, but it’s not very original. The problem in laid-back Chico is that, between school and “the college life,” it’s easy to get stuck on that limited track and just roll right through, all the way back to Martinez or Monrovia, never having actually lived here at all.

A year ago at this same time, when the new, young, fresh faces were roaming around the Chico State campus for the first time, I overheard an excited young woman telling her friend, “Can you believe our parents are gone?!”

Yes. Believe it. Believe anything you want. It’s your turn to define the world and add your voice to the noise. If that’s not why you’re here, that’s why you should be here. And for those seeking to make their own mark, Chico is a great place to test out your dreams.

Most of the cool things to do in town were birthed by Chico State students who acted on some small or big crazy idea: The Blue Room Theatre, Crux Arts Collective, Pageant Theatre, Sierra Nevada Brewery, Chico News & Review and hundreds—maybe thousands—of local bands. It’s easier than you think. In fact, there are only three steps:

Say an idea aloud to your friends: “Shadow-puppet theater!”

Go to a local café, bar or record store and say, “I want to present the Flaming Jesus Monkeyship Shadow Puppet Nightmare at your hole-in-the-wall establishment.”

Tell the local media about your special event. Take it from a guy at a local paper: All the local papers want to write about the cool, fun, new, wacky stuff y’all are up to, so take advantage of that.

Also take advantage of the fact that there are likely at least a few dozen of the thousands of Butte College and Chico State students in town who might want to pay two bucks to see you get your artistic expression on.

If you are more active than artistic, hop on your bike or take a hike; Bidwell Park is just one of the area’s natural wonders. If you are more politically active than physically active, join a club on campus or in the community (CAVE, Chico Peace and Justice Center, etc.)—or start one of your own. Check MySpace or Facebook for like-minded souls.

It’s pretty simple. You can have plenty of fun just sticking with the party that goes down in every college town, or you can also pour your own concoction, drink in something new and find out what Chico really has to offer. Turn to the pages of the CN&R each week and see what your town is up to, and head out to experience it.

by Jason Cassidy

Now that you’re in Chico … get outta here!
College is and will be the best time of your life—being led around by the invisible hand of higher education; living off brainless part-time jobs, the parentals and school loans (which, apparently, you really do have to pay back), and catting around until the wee hours and waking up at noon just in time to catch the student lunch special at Celestino’s.

Seriously. It’s fun. Take full advantage.

Now, I know the whole point of our annual Goin’ Chico issue is to inform students of all of the nifty, gnarly and nasty things to do in this town, but I have a bit of a different take: Leave your friends, your family, your cozy little apartment and your Jetta behind, and get some real education by studying in another country for a semester—or, if you’re feeling really saucy, a full year.

The reality is that international travel is not very high on many Americans’ to-do lists. In fact, only about 20 percent of Americans actually have a passport. Sad.

Almost 10 percent of graduating seniors at Chico State study abroad for a semester or a year, said Tasha Dev, coordinator for the university’s Study Abroad program. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering the national campus average is an abysmal 2 percent, Chico State is way ahead of the game.

I headed across the pond to the rainy weather of San Sebastián, Spain, for a year in 2003. The coastal city of 190,000, located in the Basque Country, has some of the most beautiful beaches and architecture I’ve ever seen. Spaniards know how to enjoy life, too, and the adage “work to live, not live to work” definitely holds true.

It was an interesting time to be in another country with the United States having entered Iraq in March. But despite the political tension, everyone was friendly and welcoming. I was able to meet some great people who were more than willing to show me all the little off-the-beaten-path spots. I met people from all over the world—Sweden, Belgium, Germany, New Zealand, France, Japan, Ireland—and was able to see the world through their eyes.

As cheesy as it sounds, you really are an ambassador for our country—take advantage of the fact that you can help shape opinions and change perceptions. Get out there and meet people. Break away from the pack of American students. Be respectful. Learn the language. Learn the culture. Travel.

Your time abroad will fly, so don’t sit around and let it pass you by. And when you return, take what you’ve learned and apply it to your life back in Chico. You’ll be a better person for it. And you can wow all of your friends with cool phrases like: “Begetala bat nahi dut.” If you want to know what that means, get outta here.

by Mark Lore

Make your own kind of music—start a band
I owe it all to Maynard G. Krebs and Ringo Starr. From ages 5 to 9 (1959-1963), I watched the bongo-tapping beatnik every week on a TV show called The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Dobie was a dork, but his best pal Maynard was a drop-out who spent his time avoiding work, playing bongos, listening to jazz and reciting bad poetry. That was the kind of guy I wanted to grow up to be!

By the time I was 10, I’d talked my mom into buying me a set of bongos with some of the Green Stamps that they handed out at grocery stores back then as an inducement to shoppers. I liked the bongos, but as soon as I saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and saw how cool Ringo was, playing an entire drum set and looking like Krebs sans the goatee, I was no longer content with squeezing the bongos between my knees and tapping them with my fingers. I tied the bongos to the back of a kitchen chair and began whacking them with a pair of chopsticks. Experiments with using pie pans for cymbals proved unsatisfactory, so for years I just played the hell out of those bongos, trying, as time went on, to copy the tom-tom rolls of Ginger Baker (Cream) and Keith Moon (The Who) by turning up the stereo and playing along.

By the time I was in my senior year of high school (1972), I’d scraped together enough to buy my first drum set—a tiny pink-and-magenta-striped Rogers kit with real cymbals—purchased right here in Chico at the now defunct Turner Music Shop.

At this point, it would be impossible to list the names of all the Chico bands I’ve performed with, few of which ever achieved wide popularity but all of which were exactly what I wanted to be doing at the time. And aside from the satisfaction of playing, the Chico music scene has provided me with nearly all of my best and most lasting friendships in the 25 years I’ve been playing here.

So, if you’re new to town and want to be in a band: Practice as often as possible. Go to shows and meet other musicians. Check out and/or run your own “musicians wanted” classified ad. Tell eveybody you know, especially the musicians, that you’re looking for people to play with. Never turn down an offer to jam, and never hesitate to admit that something isn’t your cup of tea once you see what’s up. Before you know it you’ll be in two or three bands with names as cool as Mummified Mice, Bone Gruel, Secret Service, Sin Twister, the Verves, Stickmen or, my latest, Bloon.

Oh, yeah, and never shy away from self-promotion.

by Carey Wilson