Watts up?

So legendary Chico weatherman Anthony Watts has made his last forecast for the KHSL Channel 12 Northstate News (now known as Northern California News and broadcast on two out of three Chico stations). He bid his adieu on Monday to his many fans and sent us a letter to the editor thanking those same fans for their undying support over the years. It closes: “I will continue to remain active in the community, doing public service as I have in the past. And for the first time, I’ll have enough time to say yes to all those speaking engagements I had to turn down before. Please contact KHSL-TV if you need me to speak.” (We didn’t have time to get the letter in this week’s paper.) I think what hit me the hardest and made me finally accept the cold reality of Anthony’s absence was when I saw that the weatherman’s smiley-face photograph was finally gone from the Enterprise-Record’s weather feature.

Watts’ departure from a regular gig as a weather guy—he promised he’d still be around for special projects—didn’t surprise us in the end. We saw it coming and had even reported such rumors a few times during the last year. So when I got an email from Anthony a week or so back giving us a “heads up” so we could “plan our next issue,” I was ready. The portly prognosticator even offered us color photos of him in the studio and said he would make himself available should we want to take our own photos. Among his many accomplishments, a list of which he also sent our way, was this: “Anthony has made significant contributions to the community via donations of computer equipment and talent through the years.” We gotta wonder, are politics in Anthony’s future? Stay tuned.

This week Dan Ostrander, Butte College history teacher, property-owning hater of bureaucratic red tape, hydroelectric project developer and candidate for state Assembly, made a whopping $500,000 donation to the Boys and Girls Club of Chico. Could the timing have been political? Ostrander told the Enterprise-Record it could appear so but was not. (This paper didn’t get notice of the generous donation—we had to read about it in the E-R—so it’s not like Ostrander was publicizing it himself.) What we do know is that Dan Ostrander has a lot of money. He’s lent himself more than $400,000 for his Assembly campaign. Where’s he get that kind of loot? One source is a book he’s written called Read My Lips, No New Taxes, about President George H.W. Bush‘s 1990 budget agreement. The $26 book is required reading for anyone who takes either Dan’s or his wife Dawn‘s history or government classes at Butte College. The cynic would call that nepotism. I call it romantic devotion.

I ran into a friend mine recently whom I hadn’t seen since, oh, about Sept. 11. This friend is from Jordan and is Palestinian. I was afraid he was languishing in some detention camp in Arizona, so it was a great relief to see him. He told me that a few days after Sept. 11 he was contacted by the FBI and asked to come visit a Chico agent in his office in Philadelphia Square. “It’s unmarked,” the agent said of the office. “No kidding,” said my friend. The agent, he said, was a pretty decent fellow and admitted right off the bat, “I don’t know what I’m looking for here. I usually investigate bank robberies.” Mainly, he told my friend, the agency just wanted an accounting of who of Arab descent was living in the area. Most are students at Chico State and many went home soon after the terrorist attack. Why, the agent asked my friend, did these students leave behind possessions like a rooftop satellite dish? Because they have a lot of money, my friend said. Especially those from Kuwait.

Chris Baldwin, arts coordinator here at the News & Review, was selected recently by rock critics Robert Christgau and Chuck Eddy as a judge for the 2002 Pazz & Jop Poll in New York’s revered weekly Village Voice. Baldwin’s top-10 album and single picks will be featured in the Voice this month and posted on its Web site for the remainder of the year. I don’t know the Web address; just punch in Village Voice as a keyword. I keep pushing for Chris to pick the album by that girl named Pink, but he just kind of ignores me and walks away. Elitist.