The 12-step program for hipness
A minister from the Church of the Subgenius on cool things to do in Chico
Let’s put it this way: If you do not indulge in at least five of the following hip things to do in Chico, then you are a) too old for your own good, b) living in the wrong town or c) a straight-up dork (sorry). Besides, they’re fun.
1. Ride your bike. Chico was once voted the nation’s best bicycling town for a reason—because you can get everywhere on your bike. And though many of us often get lazy, particularly during the rainy winter season, summer evenings are meant for biking in Chico. And with the number of great bike shops and thrift stores and yard sales here in town, you can shop around and find a great deal. There is no excuse available (and if you get a DUI in this town, then you deserve to be slammed in the county lock-up).
2. Socialize and shop at our weekly farmers’ markets. The open farmers’ markets downtown on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings are not only great community events, but also perfect places to find fresh produce and other items to spruce up the household (everything from plants and soap to flowers and aromatherapy). You gotta love that we have two of these a week. “Come on people now, shine on your brother, everybody get to-na-na na try to blah-blah to na-na, right now.” How does it go?
3. Attend Blue Room plays and/or rock shows. The Blue Room gets much respect for bringing challenging artistic work to Chico in the form of cutting-edge theater and music. The cost per event is low, and the atmosphere is one only a small-town group of dedicated crazies could muster. It’s a Chico tradition that should be part of your regular schedule. Buy season tickets, even.
4. Find your own chill-out spot in Bidwell Park. It’s not that hard to do: Hike up past Bear Hole or Salmon Hole and find a spot where you can get away from it all. You know, that one rock shaped like a chair or a half-deflated Zima pool float (whatever triggers the imagination). Bidwell Park is arguably the greatest asset to living in Chico and a perfect place to go read, meditate, do the nasty, yodel, swim, whatever is clever. Silence is key. If you can hear a bird flapping its wings from a few hundred yards, you’re on the right track. And if you see any trash, take it out with you, even if it’s not yours. Mama Earth give you good karma longtime.
5. Patronize the Pageant for cheap-date night. The Pageant gets the best movies in town. Period. And on Monday nights it costs only $2.50 to get into the cozy little theater with the sofas down front. This one is pretty self-explanatory. This is a Chico institution that should never, ever … NEVER, evah, EVAH! struggle financially. Bless the Pageant—they even use real popcorn.
6. Go to Rock and Bowl night. Tired of the bar scene with its assorted lushes and meat markets full of homogenized jarheads? Of course, we’re not a city with tons of things to choose from, but anyone will tell you that bowling is a classic favorite. Check out Rock & Bowl at Orchard Lanes, where they break out the lasers, fog machine and loud rock music every Friday and Saturday night. And there are lots of other deals on the weeknights. Get a group of friends together and get into it (maybe even start a team). It’s fun, until you strain your wrist or a butt muscle or something.
7. Eat wine and cheese at local art openings. Chico has a fair amount of local art galleries that are always running listings for new openings. Do yourself and the artists a favor and go to these on a regular basis. Support the scene and enrich your life in the presence of art (or artistic inclinations). Maybe you’ll meet interesting people or be moved by something.
8. Have people over to party. Or some variation of this. If you are lucky enough to have a nice backyard, invite your friends over once in a while for a barbecue or champagne brunch. Chico is the perfect place for eating outdoors, since the weather is usually clear. Just watch out for the mosquitoes, etc. etc. (you know the drill). This category also includes the manly get-together known as “poker night,” or getting the fellas together for some old-fashioned male bonding, as the true playas in town are known to do. I don’t know exactly what the ladies out there do to bond; but some of my past experiences lead me to believe that it involves either 1) slumber parties and the movie Grease, 2) fruity drinks on the town or 3) straight-up shopping (you go, girls). (If I offended any witches or womyn’s groups, I apologize. Please write it off to “that guy is a hack.”)
9. Go skinny-dipping at midnight. It’s hot here a large portion of the year, and people like to take their clothes off. When the temperature gets up to over 85 degrees at night, skinny-dipping becomes a fairly logical thing to do. So go do it. It’s hip to be nude, like the Huey Lewis song goes. For the more comfortable, you can nude sunbathe in the remoter reaches of Upper Bidwell Park during the days. But I would suggest ladies not try this activity alone, as unfortunately we live in a world where certain nutbags can’t control themselves. Asking around, though, I’ve never heard about women or men being harassed for this in the park. So, don’t get me wrong—we have a good safety record here (unless you swim beneath a rock in the faster parts of the creek—that’s another story).
10. Go to a Chico Heat game. The Chico Heat pack ’em in over the summer days, bringing the time-honored tradition of the good old game of baseball to locals for several years now. Games are fun for the whole family as well as hardcore baseball lovers. You can get your grub on (jumbo doggies, pizza slices, pretza/pa-corn-crackaJack!!), heckle opposing players or (one of my favorite aggression releases) try to beat the speed-pitch machine, where a pimply-faced teenaged boy will smirk as you fail miserably to win a little Chico Heat washcloth. It’s all good, baby. Warning: it can get mind-numbingly hot in the stands during the peak afternoon hours, so bring your sunglasses, some sunblock and an ice-filled ass pad. When the sun sets, everything is tight.
11. Frisbee golf. If you hadn’t guessed already, this so-called “stoner sport” is basically like playing golf with Frisbees using marked (bell-like) targets as the hole. One of the biggest differences is that, unlike golf, it doesn’t destroy beautiful natural land with pesticides and other toxic substances. Personally, I’ve always thought of golf as more of a hobby than a sport, since overweight drunks can excel at it. Frisbee golf allows much more creativity, as you can design courses in the wild as you go along. Plus it takes more dexterity, agility and hipness. There is a course some locals play in the early mornings on the Chico State campus and a scenic course out Highway 32 where some pretty serious players get busy—with many more I’m probably unaware of (or more that are on the way). This should be an Olympic sport soon.
12. Don’t promote things that are hip. No hip list would be complete without saying that you should never attempt to pontificate or establish what is “hip.” Just like a “scene” does not become a “scene” because some self-righteous individuals proclaim it one (or, say, put out a publication aimed at dictating what is cool). Lists like this one are simply meant to help any individuals new to the area, not actually define the kingdom of hipdom, which by its very nature must remain fluid and unyielding. I believe it was Peter Sellers who once said, in the 1969 comedy film, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, “It is very unhip of you to tell me that I am unhip.” Amen.