I stayed up really, really late last night. Stupid. I wanted to watch "Saturday Night Live," and besides, I was rather antsy -- too antsy to sleep. Did some writing, did some reading, watched SNL. You know, boring stuff. Stuff old people do -- like me. I am an old person.
I used to be a young person, back in the '80s. I was a college student at Chico State; we earned the dubious honor of being Playboy's number one party school in 1987, based on data compiled in 1986.
(Image stolen from these guys)
I was at CSUC in 1986; I can attest to the drunken revelry, although I, of course, was a perfect angel. In 1987 in was living in Maui, watching with fascination as MTV VJ Alan Hunter broadcast directions -- complete with a crude map, as I remember it -- to Chico, coming from San Francisco, probably.
(Photo stolen from this guy)
Chico State's spring festival was approaching; the Pioneer Days festival was the single biggest reason Playboy paid any attention to the school's party rep, and for good reason: it was an annual week of parties, parades, shows, drunken debauchery, and did I say it was FUN? MTV was gonna make sure that hoards of out-of-towners descended upon the town with insane amounts of alcohol and nowhere to sleep.
And what you think could happen, did happen. From my home across the sea in Hawaii I heard the morning deejays in Honolulu, Perry and Price in the Morning, mention the big riots happening in a sleepy little town called Chico.
Phone calls to my Chico friends were alarming. My old roommate J.P. was in her apartment about two blocks from 5th and Ivy, which was Ground Zero for the riot. She was awake all night the first night from helicopters circling overhead, and she couldn't leave her house. Another friend, Nina, had been at a party in a bar in the hot zone, and when things got ugly outside the bar abruptly closed, which sounds smart, except that they shoved all of their customers out into the street, right into the heart of the riot. Nina was suddenly part of the rowdy crowd, through no fault of her own, and she was maced by law enforcement in the melee. The mob scene went on for two days, with people clambering on nearby buildings and cars being flipped in the streets.
The president of Chico State at the time, Robin Wilson, ended the festival's 70-year tradition (after yet another all-night riot in 1990), announcing that he had taken Pioneer Days out back and "shot it in the head." Wilson's choice of words created almost as big a firestorm as the riot itself.
Check out this link to see a memorable entry from Tau Gamma Theta from 1986, the last Pioneer Week I ever attended. I remember this project very well, as the guys created a miniature fish hatchery in the quad, complete with trout in elaborate miniature hatchery troughs, in a few days.
So why am I bringing all of this up now? Because last night, while I was staying up late doing old people stuff, the current crop of young people of my alma mater were apparently digging up a ghost from "out back." Several parties grew and morphed and spread, getting out of control until couches were burning in the streets. (That's what "we" do here in Chico: "we" burn couches. Take a couch off of someone's porch -- yes, I said porch -- and burn it. It's great fun, and it really increases the value of that degree you're supposed to be here for.)
(Photo stolen from this site)
Robin Wilson is gone, Pioneer Days is gone, but the bad behavior is back, and there's nothing left to shoot in the head. I have a feeling this will not end well.
Here's some video someone shot in the dark, from Chico's Enterprise-Record:
This post was never supposed to happen, as for once in my life I had actually prepared a different post AHEAD of time, when this story landed in my lap. They both have to run today; it's a matter of timeliness. Please make sure to catch a spicy new Mormor Story for Columbus Day, if you haven't seen it already.