It’s an island out there

Did somebody say dinner at the Black Crow?!

Did somebody say dinner at the Black Crow?!

Life’s a beach
It’s an interesting phenomenon, one I’ve never been able to figure out. Although we live about three hours from the nearest beach, the inhabitants of Chico have a bizarre fascination with a sort of Jimmy Buffet “island escapism” lifestyle.

Maybe to some, Chico is indeed an island … surrounded by ocean waves of grain (and orchards). Maybe it goes back to beloved shows like Hawaii 5-0 and Magnum P.I. (maybe Tom Cruise in Cocktail) that captured our imaginations, and made those tropical locales seem so damned breezy and sexy.

It’s everywhere you look here in Chico. Hawaiian shirts are the official uniform of the cool and casual 50-something—they say, “The weekend is finally here and I’m letting my ponytail down … but I’m still dressed up.”

Of course, being this stylish doesn’t come cheap—the ever-popular Tommy Bahama variety will run you in the neighborhood of $140, making these middle-age status symbols as acceptable in the office as they are on the beach.

For those who want to play the part of successful-casual, minus the successful, the Salvation Army actually has an entire rack dedicated to the silken, foliage-covered blouses. I saw a guy walk out of there with three new shirts the other day—dressed to impress for less.

This summer, even I have become a victim of beach fashion, sporting almost daily what I lovingly refer to as the “Jack Johnson,” which calls for sporting a trusty pair of flip-flops with trousers.

Even at a nice restaurant in Chico, a man can easily get away with sporting a Hawaiian shirt with a pair of nice jeans and flip-flops. There are even more than a few restaurants here that encourage the good-time tropical apparel—downtown, Kona’s has an abundance of bamboo and palm trees, as does Five and Eye on Fifth Street. The Beach Hut Deli takes it a step further, serving its sandwiches on Frisbees, and actually has a small sand-swept room with a window view of Second Street called “the beach.”

Chico also has a soundtrack for the whole party, provided by local Trop Rockers like the Chuck Epperson Jr. Band and the Jeff Pershing Band. And this Friday, Aug. 1, the Parrot Heads will pay tribute to Jimmy Buffet at LaSalles. The Parrot Heads are among the tribute bands to pay homage to the party-hearty island escapist, including Adventures In Parrotdise, B2B and The Landsharks.

I can’t believe we don’t have a local tribute band called The Cheeseburgers in Paradise. Well, it’s mine now! Patent pending.

Prairie escapism?
Chico has a bizarro universe, where things aren’t beachy at all, but country and western. But these people are neither country, nor western, and have probably never seen the teets of an udder in their life.

You’ll see this crowd next Thursday, Aug. 7, at Nick’s Night Club when Wayne “The Train” Hancock (Bloodshot Records) performs with Three Fingers Whiskey and The Shankers. Instead of beach attire, there will be vintage western shirts with elaborate tubing and pearl snaps. It’s the Hawaiian shirt for the 20-30 set. And instead of mullets, they have beards. And instead of Mai Tais, they drink Budweiser.

Umm … yeah.

This beard’s for you