Although I am/was an editor here at Synthesis, I was pretty much the last person in Chico to find out that we were folding. That’s because I’ve been on a trip to Cuba (for journalistic purposes) for the past month and I didn’t have internet access. It was a shocking and sucky homecoming surprise to say the least.
Cuba is pretty much the coolest country I’ve ever been to—and I’ve been a traveler all my life—but the shittiest thing about the little Communist isle has got to be its state-controlled, hilariously propagandistic media. The main paper, which is thinner than the Synthesis, is made up, essentially, of stories about how much the left-leaning countries of Latin America are livin’ the dream, along with stories about all the nefarious machinations the imperialist oppressors are up to. And, because Cubans don’t have access to a free and open Internet, there isn’t a place, besides the streets, where dissenting views can be expressed and discussed.
We do have the Internet. And so the demise of Synthesis isn’t an existential blow to free speech in Chico. We weren’t essential (Although sometimes it’s the unessential that’s most essential, if you know what I’m saying.). A lot of the humor writing and opinionating and personal storytelling of the sort that we did can and is being done on Facebook and on ihaveanopiniontoo.blogspot. That wasn’t the case when Bill bravely started this paper 21 years ago, but it’s the case now. That said, I think the best and most interesting local writing (and design) often happened in these pages, right up to the end.
Along with some weak writing, too. Sometimes from me. Sorry. I wish I could have given more. Been better. Ultimately, Synthesis was a venue as much as it was a vision, and we were only as good as what we all gave. Sometimes all we had to give were the vapors left over from busy lives. Sometimes we gave our hearts and souls. I watched it happen; watched writers struggle to tell the deepest truths, to find just the right words, to be just the right sort of asshole.
Thanks to everyone for everything you gave. I’m particularly grateful to Amy for the incredible support and latitude she gave every writer, myself included. And to Tanner for making every cover story look like a frameable piece of art. Arielle, you’re awesome. And Julie Garza-Withers: highest honors to you for your piece about your friend, Marc Thompson. (Cue Oscar-speech-get-the-fuck-off-stage-music, I know.)
My appreciation, too, to the many people who shared their stories with me for all these Exotic Adventures, from the homeless human beings I snored side by side with at the Torres Shelter, to the Strippers at Centerfolds who grinned and bared it all, to the Festival Hippies and the Tanning Specialists and the Mall Security Personnel and Cat Assassins and Psychic Ghost Hunters and Cos-Playing Nerds and Storage Unit Treasure Hunters and Thieves and Undertakers and MMA fighters and Solid Waste Engineers and Gamblers and Carnies and Gun Nuts and Knights of the Barony of Rivenoak and all the rest. Fuck. I’m really thankful.
If we don’t appreciate this totally fantastic human diversity, these strange unexplored corners, they don’t exist for us, our worlds are smaller, and we are less for it. And then, one day, they’re gone.