Chico is offbeat. Yes, it is conventional on the surface. But, beneath the obvious is the decidedly offbeat… the unconventional inclination of much of the inhabitants is what gives this small, out-of-the-way city it’s quirky charm(s).
FIRST of all, consider this: Chico shares all of the geomantic alignments and history of much larger cities. It has a classic Axis Mundi design…a classic Masonic or occult layout. Called, frequently, the Bidwell Ley Line, it is an eight celled diamond, like a chess board. All emanates from the center. The City Plaza, the center of this design, is adjacent to a building designed by a Bohemian Club member and it is decorated with dragons and a tower like an Egyptian shem. The old BofA building has decorations of Ishtar and Hermes, also designed by a Bohemian Club member.
Apparently, John Bidwell was sent here to establish a colony in the Roman tradition. He established City Plaza using a similar ceremony to that Constantine the Great. Later, people venerated Bidwell’s Axis by placing talismans of meaning and intent in alignment with the geometry of the City Plaza.
Pretty offbeat. And, to think we did not know any of this despite having lived there for four years. It was an odd choice according to our friends from Berkeley. “Why leave Berkeley for Chico, of all places?” they often intoned. Well, that is another story, but it is a story with some esoteric significance as well. So, at this point we are inclined to believe there are no accidents! Now after so many years away, we appreciate this gem, far enough off the freeway (about 35 minutes from I- 5), that protects it from being burdened with tourism or growing too big for its britches.
AND, the original movie “Robin Hood” was filmed here. AND, it is home to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and a bunch of successful organic brands. Plus, it still has a small, sweet co-op that retains much of the 60’s vibe. Assorted characters, many of brilliance and subtle eccentricities, have moved here because of its affordable housing. BEWARE the summer, though, because it is brutally hot.
The college/university, Cal State Chico, looks for all the world like a campus on the East Coast. It has a stately quality and brick buildings that do not remind one of the typical state university. It feels grand. Of course the students get drunk and obnoxious on weekends and the bars downtown are to be avoided during their time of ruckus . Yet, the eclectic shops downtown and the various cafe venues (be sure to check out Naked Lounge too) give Chico a relaxed and inviting feel. THEN, there is that ineffable quality that envelops you, whether you know it or not. It is surprisingly easy to find yourself liking this offbeat town .
This offbeat hair salon, Ultra Beautician, is on an off street, near the iconic Pageant Theater (where you may still see independent films), a vibrant, kooky, place run by Sir Deryl Northcoat. His personality has a flair and his wit will keep you smiling all the way to San Francisco (two hours down the freeway). The chairs outside are especially welcomed after walking around and having a few bags full from the thrift shop down the street. He welcomes all and gives a mean hair styling (cut) as well! Be sure to tell him we sent you!
So it is that Chico has an easy way about it. The tall oak trees and wide streets have an old world feeling to them, the homes a reminder of the egalitarian foundation of this country.