Once Moore

I’d like to voice my appreciation for the invite extended my way for the Esplanade League’s Oct. 28 fund-raiser featuring writer, rabble-rouser, documentary filmmaker and, to some, America-hater Michael Moore. (I don’t believe Moore hates this country; where else could a guy make a bundle of dough criticizing his government and the corporations that run it?) It was good to see Chico’s liberals—all 174 of them—gathered together on that bright morning in the field next to Guzzetti’s Catering. The guest of honor was supposed to arrive at 10:30, but that time passed. Still, all who came (and paid $35 to $50 each) waited patiently. Councilmember Coleen Jarvis did her best to fill the time, fielding questions about the Patriot Act and the one-man (Councilmember Steve Bertagna) attempt to ban nudity in Chico and a host of other conservative-related topics that make the liberals cringe or laugh or shake their heads in disgust.

At about 11:27, after some of the liberals had exited because of commitments like work, a caravan led and trailed by two shiny new SUVs protecting a black Lincoln Town Car with tinted windows and a license plate that read “Carey 12” pulled into the parking lot. Someone told me to “check out those SUVs,” suggesting the FBI was tracking Moore. I turned and said, “I’ll bet that’s Moore.” The caravan rolled to a dusty stop, and four or five gentlemen in dark suits and with coiled wires dangling from their ears emerged from the vehicles and surveyed the scene. Everyone was quiet, not sure what to expect. Then Moore, wearing a red Chico State baseball cap, green T-shirt and baggy Levis, climbed from the back seat of the Lincoln, much to the relief of the vehicle’s suspension. I realize that Moore’s infamy has forced him to take on some serious security, but the caravan was a bit disconcerting, as were the security agents who did indeed look like G-men.

I worked my way into the crowd and kneeled down to take some photos. I tried to be aware of getting in the way of others, But suddenly I was whacked from behind on the shoulder by a woman named “Trudie” (at least that was on her nametag) who admonished me to “sit down!” I turned to look at her and she scowled back—I have a photo. Based on her aggressive behavior, I began to doubt her liberal credentials. Moore was tired and started slow, but by the end he was hitting his stride, working up some indignant anger and lashing out at the Bush administration. He talked a long time, which is a Moore trademark. That is probably why he was late—he might have started talking with some guest or even a maid at the Oxford Suites where he stayed and lost track of time. I saw him do that in Grass Valley last year, much to his sister Ann’s consternation, entertaining questions from a three-person press crew while an auditorium full of fans waited. For what it’s worth, I like Moore’s message and his ability to get a crowd going. Sure, he may exaggerate facts and make tenuous connections, but I like having a counter to the Rush Limbaughs of the country. Like Moore, I’d like to see retired Gen. Wesley Clark debate President Bush on military matters, especially with Bush wearing that green flight suit he made so famous when he declared the war was over.

Thank god the city finally cut down those big old elms in the Downtown Plaza Park. Now we have a clear view of the cool new roofline taking shape on top of the restored Diamond Hotel and a better shot at muralist Scott Teeple’s Language Houses rendition brushed onto the side of Mid-Valley Title. Another plus: I heard that one Chico cop said removing the trees also got rid of the park’s drug dealers. Hey, before that tree ordinance comes back from the city staff, maybe we should reconsider: Is the value of trees over-inflated in this town? Just wondering.