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I have a bet with my wife that within our lifetime dogs will talk. She has cleverly stipulated that dogs’ speech must be of a somewhat coherent and erudite nature, as in, “Say friend, might you be kind enough to scratch me behind my ear again,” rather than “Dog eat balls lick.” I based this bet on an experiment in which a human larynx was transplanted into a pig and scientists predicted rudimentary vocal phrasing within several years. Now scientists (they’re so curious) have claimed to find a speech gene. My reasoning is thus: human larynx + speech gene + English setter = dog who says, “Why look, there goes a cat. I believe I’ll rip his throat out. Cheerio.”

Can you believe the summer is over and the students are back? Yup, our three months of sweltering heat in a quiet northstate town are rapidly transforming into sweltering heat with 30,000 yahoos and cops on horseback. Michael Parenti says that universities are no better than Enron, so perhaps the fix is already in. Not that I have anything against all you college kids individually, but when you pack up, with your alpha males and females, the sight is not unlike Woodstock 99 meets Groundhog Day. And if I might have two words with all of you it would be this: SLOW DOWN! I know you’re all giddy to be drinking far enough away from your parents so that you won’t be caught, but slow the hell down. You’re in Chico now. There’s no rush. Take it easy and remember the golden rule, “Look both ways; make sure it’s cool.”

I might be old, but I’m not so old that I don’t know how awkward it is to be in college. For those of you perfectly adjusted freaks, good for you, but for everyone else, it’s normal to be socially awkward. Usually those with the biggest bravado are those with the biggest problems. You are unique. Don’t try to be like everyone else. Try to be yourself; it will reward you all through your long life. I can’t vouch for your fellow students, but the locals here are friendly. Introduce yourself to cool shop owners, musicians, artists and writers, and you’ll find that Chico dominates not because of the college, but because of the community. The future’s here, and you are it!