The Vine: Once a Synner…

by Max Sidman

I got an IM from Fishkin a couple weeks ago.

“I wanted to let you know we’re shutting down the weekly at the end of the month.”

I stared at the words on the screen for a minute before I could reply, a thousand thoughts and memories rushing through my mind during that hesitation. Slightly dumbfounded by the surprise, the best response I could muster was, “whoa dude.” Sheer eloquence.

It doesn’t take much contemplation to understand the move. Times change, media—especially print media—sure ain’t what it used to be. And Bill’s always been one to look ahead toward the next horizon, which is exactly what he’s been doing, pretty much nonstop since the beginning.

That rush of thoughts and memories has hung over me since I got his message, and now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I realize that I subconsciously assumed the Synthesis would always just be there. It never once occurred to me that it would go away.

But nothing lasts forever, so here I am, bidding farewell to a publication that was always more than a periodical collection of words and images on tabloid newspaper. Love it or hate it—and there were always plenty of folks out there on either side of that fence—the Synthesis was an integral part of the Chico fabric, the de facto voice of local artists and musicians, talented young writers and vocal community members, as well as cantankerous commentators, gadflies, and media mongers. (For the record, the latter three types were always my personal favorite variety of Syn writer.)

I first walked into the Synthesis’ second story offices—two tiny adjoining single room spaces above what’s now Rawbar—almost 20 years ago. It was a bustling confine, a maze of tightly packed desks and computers teeming with a gang of nicotine and caffeine fueled kids, working practically on top of each other on a never ending six day cycle, making something happen week after week. It was exciting, and I wanted to be a part of it from the moment I laid eyes on it.

I could fill countless pages with stories from my time at the Synthesis—surprisingly, I remember a lot of it quite vividly, all the way back to the early days when Bill and I drove to Red Bluff, then later to Paradise, at sunrise on Mondays to pick up tens of thousands of copies of the paper from the printers—but the organization and recollection of those experiences and the people who made them memorable is a herculean mental task that I have neither the time nor the acuity to undertake at this point.

I can say this: It requires very little reflection to recognize the eight years I spent at the Synthesis as deeply formative.

In that time I honed my chops as a writer, editor, and manager. I learned how to get maximum impact from minimal resources. I made lifelong friends and a few enemies, gained plenty of fans and my fair share of haters (two groups that were always of equal importance). I learned how, and how not, to manage people and projects and plans and puzzle pieces and bar tabs and Bear Bucks and free music and email and phone calls and calendars and late nights and early mornings and loud noises and fevered egos and young voices and rock stars and lost causes. Invaluable experience, every last bit of it.

Fishkin, Matt Hogan, Karen Potter, Daniel Taylor, James Barone, Brian Brophy, DNA, EJ Perez, Corey Bloom, Laney Erokan Footman, Matt Meyer, Rachel Ericsen, Lania Cortez, Gerardo Wackenhut, Mike Kuker, Omar Nabulsi, Maurice Spencer, Kozmic Kev, Jess Bibbo and tons more I’m forgetting here… We—and I mean everyone who had a hand on the Synthesis from its inception to its demise—made some pretty fucking great stuff happen, didn’t we?

Thanks for everything.