Copycats and weeds whacked

Two local publications bite the CN&R’s style; plus, councilman cuts creepers

Working at an alternative newsweekly is many things: rewarding, grueling, fun, depressing. For me, the descriptor varies depending on the issue or story I’m tinkering with prior to publication. This week, at least as far as the cover feature goes, we’re keeping things light. It’s our Pet Issue, the fourth iteration of that annual package of stories centered around life with pets.

The project is a respite from the serious stuff, if only for a week. For me, that meant getting out into the field to meet a 150-pound miniature horse named Pumpkin (see page 22) and her kind owners, Laura and Graham Skinner. Pumpkin is a therapy animal—indeed, I can vouch for her skills. My visit with the tiny equine brightened my day on a really rough week, both professionally and personally.

But Pumpkin isn’t the only cute creature you’ll find in the popular Pet Issue (flip around the sections to see what I mean).

Speaking of popularity, I recently learned that some of the CN&R’s biggest fans are the folks over at the local lifestyle/real estate monthly—you know, that glossy advertising magazine in which journalistic things like grammar, punctuation and originality are superfluous. Turns out they liked our Pet Issue so much that they started putting out one of their own last year—like ours, they call theirs the Pet Issue.

And, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, color the daily paper smitten with the CN&R. That publication is also biting our style, but in the form of a contest in which readers vote on things like best coffee place and burrito. Sounds familiar. Or, as E-R reader Brian put it on that paper’s Facebook page: “The Chico News & Review has had this well-handled for numerous years, no need to try and steal their annual Best Of!”

Brian’s right, of course. Our Best of Chico contest is headed into its 33rd year (voting begins Aug. 10). It’s an institution and there’s no substitution. In fact, if there were a contest for best contest …

I’d be miffed at the copycats if A) their efforts were anything other than ham-fisted, and B) I weren’t so flattered.

In other news: When I got back to the office after the Memorial Day weekend, a little birdie directed my attention to, as one letter writer referred to it this week, the “Weed Patch” in front of US Bank. I’d written about it a few weeks back, and the person who phoned me said that City Councilman Andrew Coolidge was responsible for chopping down the jungle that had formed there.

I contacted Coolidge, who confirmed he spent about two hours over the holiday weekend weed-whacking the area. He’d heard from a handful of people about the eyesore at this prominent entrance to downtown and, in addition to informing them that the city has beautification plans in the works for those areas, decided to take care of the weeds himself.

“They looked terrible,” he said. “I figured it was a good community service project.”

Coolidge also gave me an update regarding the potential for art on Second Street in the dirt area adjacent to city-owned Parking Lot No. 1 (aka the farmers’ market lot). The latest plan, which eventually will wind up on a city Arts Commission agenda, is to build some sort of pedestal upon which to display artwork on a rotating basis. Sounds promising.