Days of Lore

The Mighty Hetfield?

The Mighty Hetfield?

Finding utopia
The scenery, I expected: Green hills to the east, rolling waves to the west. But in a small Northern California coastal town of about 300 people, I would never have expected to spend an afternoon with a black man who calls himself Utopia.

Trinidad, Calif., just north of Arcata, is where yuppies rent weekend homes and the more adventurous camp and hike the numerous trails near the beaches.

My friend and I ran into Arthur James McFadden III at a beach just south of Trinidad … if I told you which one, I’d have to kill you. He walked up dressed all in black—from his ’do-rag down to his boots—with a huge pack on his back. Arthur told us that he had just tried to hitchhike down from Trinidad, but had no luck. Not many people willing to pick up a black man along 101, he said with a laugh.

Arthur is a veteran of the first Gulf War. He talked about his recent open-heart surgery, and pulled the neck of his T-shirt down to proudly display an 8-inch scar down the middle of his chest. We gave him a cold beer, and he said he was going to try and find some Lemon Diesel.

We parted ways, but ran into Arthur again later that afternoon. He told us he’s been hiking up and down the northern coast for almost a decade, and that people know him as Utopia, or Utope. Over the course of what seemed like hours, Utopia gave us the ins and outs of the area and proclaimed himself to be “California’s only black peace-walker.”

If you’re ever in the area, you’ll probably find Utopia. You might even find him in a film called Rubber Tramps. You’ll definitely see him wearing a Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. hat. And if you’re lucky, he’ll share his Lemon Diesel with you.

Friday night live
Let’s see … what goes well with making art? Rock ’n’ roll, of course. So say those down at the Crux Artist Collective who are starting up a new event to coincide with the CN&R’s Art 1st Saturday. On the Friday night before each event, The Crux will host its Art Rock for Art Walk, where live music will come together with live art-making. The event is open to the public, who can get their hands dirty in some paint, or kick back and watch artists and musicians do their thang. Ah, rock and art … it’s like peanut butter and jam—strawberry jam. For more info, go to

Now, that’s something
Garage rockers Nothing People, featured in the CN&R’s Local Band Issue in November 2006, scored a few sweet dates last month with seminal Aussie punk band Radio Birdman. The Orland trio opened three shows—in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego—on the Birdman’s West Coast tour, after being approached by the band on MySpace. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving group of nothing people.

This is only a tribute
Those who love taking long walks down memory lane must be loving the fact that LaSalles has become the one-stop shop for tribute bands in Northern California. This month, Chico is getting treated to no fewer than three bands hell bent on bringing the classic tunes of old-school rockers to life. It kicks off Fri., July 13, with Izzy Osbourne and Damage Inc.—tributes to Ozzy and Metallica, respectively. Then we have High Voltage, which gives a nod to AC/DC, July 27. Let’s see … that’s three … wait! I’m sorry, there are four if you include the Jimmy Buffet tribute band playing July 6. And look for the debut of my tribute band the New 79’s later this year. Anybody?

I am pond scum
It’s that time of year again! I just saw a sign for this year’s pond tour taking place July 21. I was thinking Daniel Taylor and I could grab a couple o’ 40-dawgs, and he could show me the ins and outs of our local pools of serenity. I would actually quite enjoy that.