Smash that heart
Barbara Manning and friends lead a night of anti-Valentine’s debauchery
A quick trip to an encyclopedia should dispel any illusions one has about the gravitas of the modern era. Take, for instance, the observance of our various holiday celebrations. It’s always the same story, more or less: Someone is murdered, tortured, martyred, repressed or publicly humiliated in a bizarre and memorable fashion; two thousand years later, candy or a like oral palliative invariably figures prominently in commemoration of that person’s misery.
The zenith of near-orgiastic sentimentality and insipid whimsy arrives each year, of course, on Feb. 14—the mother of all conspicuously meaningless holidays with a major screwing-over at its genesis centuries ago. In recognition of this, the citizens of Chico are hereby called upon to put down the bag of foil-wrapped chocolate, leave the chalky “I Wuv U” hearts for the boobs with matching pastel sweaters draped over their shoulders, and scorch all clingy, needy compulsions from the consciousness at the Mr. Lucky Club on the night before.
Come on, gladiator, the warm embrace of your pagan roots is not going to sit through another round of your 11th-hour credit card romance at the tulip stand. For crying out loud, you can kiss each other between bites of marzipan when you’re dead!
Now, to make sure no one gets distracted by all the shiny objects—and there will be many, and yes, they will be alluring, hypnotic even (don’t doubt that for a second)—some of the locals are putting together The Carnival of Hearts, a kind of anti-Valentine’s Day circus exalting sordid heartbreak and cynicism. Woe can be fun.
San Francisco’s Favorite Singer, Mad V. Dog of legendary Bay Area neo-vaudevillian skronk troupe The Merchants of the New Bizarre, will serve as your master of ceremonies, providing puns and other forms of groan-worthy humor. And the man will give you a workout there.
Internationally acclaimed musician and former member of Chico’s legendary 28th Day Barbara Manning will make a rare solo appearance, singing songs inspired firsthand from the sort of distress that’d snap anyone else’s spine like a breadstick.
In 1992, Rolling Stone picked Barbara as one of the year’s most important new artists; Spin magazine declared her 1995 album with the SF Seals, Truth Walks in Sleepy Shadows, the eighth-best album of the year; in 1996, Germany’s Spex magazine’s readers’ poll voted her among the 10 best female musicians; and the French music industry magazine, Les Inrockupibles, gave an entire page to a review of her 1998 album solo album 1212. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore proclaimed her one of San Francisco’s finest poets. Barbara also won a coveted Bay Area Music Award (BAMMY) in 1995 for the best independent rock album.
For a little more enticement: Barbara has played worldwide with such rock notables as Yo La Tengo, Giant Sand, Pavement, Calexico, the Replacements, Richie Havens, Donovan, Television Personalities, Stuart Moxham (Young Marble Giants), Jon Langford (Mekons), Faust, Urge Overkill, Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart) and Sonic Youth. New Zealand’s most admired musicians, the Clean, the Tall Dwarfs, the Verlaines and the 3D’s, collaborated with her as band mates while touring and recording 1999’s In New Zealand. Come check her out, fresh off a winter European tour, in her first big show since returning to Chico and the world of academia.
As a warm-up, the theterminalwasteband (featuring escapees from Monoshock, the Drags, Primordial Undermind and the Butte County public schools, along with Ms. Manning herself) will drench your inner Vesuvius with their own heavy, interstellar magma. You are cordially ordered to dance, wring your hands, curl up in the fetal position, hit on your co-workers, or permanently raise the bar for regrettable behavior however you see fit. This is a night for making the most of your personal worst.
As of press time, we can only add that “treats and surprises are guaranteed,” although rumor has it the behind-the-scenes toil budget includes allotments for the following: DJs, a Sucker Tree; jugglers; lasso tricksters; booths that dispense fortune-telling, a good ass-whipping, melon balls, balloons, and CDs (respectively); and the pièce de résistance, the annihilation of a heart-shaped piñata. Man, it’s gonna be sweet when that rotten hunk of crap goes down.
Cover charge is $5, and admission is limited to ages 21 and over. Festivities begin at 9:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13. Mr. Lucky is at 319 Main St. in downtown Chico.