Some things that took place in 2005, but aren’t mentioned in the cover story we offer this week: The Chico City Council, over the objections of some affected businesses, voted to change the name of Whitman Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, after nearly two years of effort by a noble group of locals looking to honor the slain civil rights leader and greatest martyr in American history. There will also be a statue of some kind honoring MLK and placed on the grounds of the awkwardly named 20th Street Community Park (or is it Community Park on 20th Street? Or is it 20th Park on Community Street?). That is a good thing.
The community lost some very decent people with the deaths of historian Lois McDonald, dedicated peace promoter Helen Kinnee and the lilting—and very proper—voice of KCHO radio, Kay Grace. We are less without them and appreciate what they added to our social fabric. They made it brighter.
Local law enforcement tamed St. Patrick’s Day, Labor Day and Halloween, though the downtown Christmas Preview still seems a bit out of control. Where are the Tasers when you need them?
Also, the downtown public art scene was altered by a single man named Jim whose persistence in sitting on an artful bench led to its uprooting and transplant to another block. Speaking of guys with a lot of time on their hands, have you seen the downtown spare-change panderer who occasionally breaks into some sort of tai chi movements? His graceful (if unconventional for one who makes a living asking for small coins) movements can most often be seen at the intersection of First and Second streets, a location that by normal infrastructure layout should not even exist.
One other thing. This column reported, based on an impeccable source, that Chico Police Chief Bruce Hagerty would announce his retirement next year. In a highly unusual move, the local TV news people acted upon this news nugget (normally they take their cues from the daily paper) and asked the chief, who denied it and said I was off the deep end. Turned out the chief had filed disability claims (bad back and high blood pressure), both of which were denied. Since then, the chief and my relationship has been, uh, shaky. (I hear he maintains pretty much the same relationship with the rest of the department.)
Ah what a year. War, pestilence, natural disaster beyond anything we’d ever seen, political greed, violence, mayhem. And that was just in Chico on an otherwise quiet weekend. That’s a joke. This whole column, in fact, (with the exception of the first two entries) is a joke; so is its creator. Always has been, always will be. But I sense a change in the air. I could feel it last night in the wind that battered my windows with horizontal rain while the dog whimpered outside, looking for a little human companionship and comfort, but finding none. The cat was content and slept through it all. But like I say, things are going to change.
Remember, all things evolve as a means of survival in the universe of chaos prescribed by the Intelligent Designer’s plan.
The greatest thing about the last column of the year? You can write goofy stuff because nobody (fewer than usual) reads it. What freedom! In other words, I got nothing more to say here. It happens this time of year. As a columnist I’ve used all the words I know in nearly every possible arrangement that makes any sense—and sometimes even in those that don’t. The exercise of writing becomes nothing more than an effort to fill the empty space with these little symbols so that the unwritten contract with the reader is fulfilled and the writer can take the next few days off to comfort the dog and bug the cat. Happy New Year.