Forfind the truth

This column used an odd word last week: “forfind.” Apparently a lot of people have never heard the word, which describes a cruel mental condition that denies a person the ability to hit a stranger up for 35 cents while standing within 15 feet of an automatic-teller machine. Its symptoms were first described, I think, by famed psychoanalyst Carl Jung in 1934, while he was studying capuchin monkeys, which are commonly employed as organ-grinder assistants and are thus known for their bold panhandling tendencies. At least I’m pretty sure that’s the case. Maybe I should apply for a job with The New York Times.

The Chico City Council took a first step at its most recent meeting to remodel the Downtown Plaza Park. And the park does have its problems—the gazebo is falling apart, the big trees need to come down, the grassy areas get muddy with pedestrian use. But the real problem that people don’t like to talk about in polite company is the park regulars—those folks you see sitting on the steps of the gazebo, hogging the benches or lying in the grass. At the meeting Councilmember Steve Bertagna was fishing around for the right word to describe these folks when Councilmember Dan Nguyen-Tan stepped in and offered, “You mean the citizens of Chico?” He’s correct. All people, no matter how they are dressed, have a right to use the park as long as they are breaking no laws. I mean, you can’t loiter in a park, can you? Anyway, the $1.6 million to $1.9 million facelift will begin by tearing down the gazebo and building an open stage on either the Fourth or Fifth Street side of the park. Then the city will purchase a “restroom trailer” to haul to the park for special events. Finally, it will “bulb” the intersections at Fourth and Fifth streets to match those just to the north. Eventually, plans call for an “interactive fountain,” whatever that means, diagonal rather than parallel parking along Main and Broadway, trees, low shrubs, short walls, an expanded plaza, an exhibit area and a baby’s arm holding an apple.

Former Iowa State Cyclone basketball Coach Larry Eustachy, recently fired by the university for partying with college students in Columbia, Mo. (fraternizing with the enemy?), told Sports Illustrated he learned to blow off steam while he was a student at Chico State University a quarter of a century ago. “The No. 1 party school in the country,” he said in the story, which goes on to explain that while attending the university, Eustachy would “regularly swill beer, then vomit and drink some more.”

A story in the same SI issue about Oakland A’s super scout Billy Beane has this exchange concerning a left-handed pitching prospect: “‘The guy’s got no grades,’ says a scout. ‘You mean bad grades?’ asks another. ‘No, I mean no grades,’ says the first. ‘How can a guy have no grades at Chico State?’ asks the other. ‘He really has no desire at all to be in college,’ says the first scout, almost admiringly. ‘This guy was designed to play ball.’” Ouch.

While it won’t be exactly a parade of flags and yellow ribbons, and don’t expect any games played with a deck of former-Iraqi-officials cards, a celebration will be held this Saturday, May 17, to celebrate 30 years of “progressive politics” in Chico. The date is close to the 30th anniversary of the famed 1973 April Committee sweep—well, two of out of four candidates got elected—into the Chico City Council, which came a year after the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. And since voting was something new—and the Vietnam War still much on minds—the students apparently turned out in Chico and voted in significant numbers. Anyway, join such liberal luminaries (true liberals don’t mind being branded “liberal”) as Karl Ory, Scott Gruendl, Mike McGinnis and David Reade, I mean Guzzetti. For more information call 342-2717. Before going to the party, you might want to warm up by partaking in the spring Bidwell Park clean-up, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon the same day. Meet at the Hooker Oak Recreation Area in Bidwell Park. For more info call 891-6424.