Here in Chico, we pride ourselves on being an old-fashioned sort of place, a picture-book college town where there’s an honest-to-god city center with stores run by local merchants and people still promenading the streets rather than strolling the impersonal aisles of the big box stores. Sure, more and more of those downtown stores are shutting down each year, and it’s probably not a particularly good idea to stroll those dim streets on Friday or Saturday nights, but that doesn’t change the fact that Chico is the sort of place that respects the past, attracting newcomers who want to return to simpler times.
It’s Mayberry RFD, but with a college, a few real intellectuals, a bunch of organic food obsessives, and cops with more than one bullet in their pockets. Yeah, we’ve got our rubes, rednecks, and yahoos, but unlike the days when Chico was the butt of jokes like the one so often repeated by San Francisco columnist, Herb Caen, you no longer find Velveeta in the gourmet section of most of our markets. We’ve got a nice blend of sophistication mixed in with our rustic charm, much like Davis, our role model. We’re open to people of other cultures and colors, so long as we don’t get too many, and we take justified pride in how few college students we lose each year to binge drinking.
Best of all, however, is our return to more traditional forms of mayhem and murder. Unlike the urban areas where people mow each other down with assault rifles, glocks, and other 21st century methods of menace, Chico is just one of many rural towns turning away from gun violence and toward more traditional ways of hurting one another; a kinder, gentler America where knives are the local weapon of choice. Our young people have taken to arming themselves with shivs before venturing out for a night of heavy partying. Unlike those hip city kids who wouldn’t be caught dead without a nine millimeter in their pockets on a Saturday night, our young people know that when it comes to death-dealing fashion statements, knives are the really au courant way to go – a return to those thrilling days of yesteryear when our progenitors slaughtered one another without waking up the neighbors with loud reports from large caliber handguns. Trendsetters in towns like Chico are reminding us all of how much more civilized it is to kill people who piss us off one at a time, with a blade, and a bit of that old-fashioned personal touch.