Thursday, July 27, 2006
A comprehensive guide to everything Chico
By DAN BARNETT
Chico State University graduate Eric Norlie has had a varied career.
According to a press kit, "following college life, Eric remodeled the old downtown Masonic lodge into the Arroyo Room, managed the deactivated missile base north of Chico ... and scouted locations for the Butte County Film Commission. His connection to Chico also includes working in local news production for KNVR-24 and the Paradise Post newspaper." The 39-year-old Norlie is a "fourth generation Chico native. Eric's great grandparents worked at the Chico Hotel, Diamond Match Lumber and Richardson Springs Resort. His grandfather was a local building contractor and his parents own and operate Norfield Industries, a Chico manufacturing company."
Now he's published the essential guide to everything Chico. "The Chico User's Guide" ($24.95 in paperback from Cognitive Think Inc.) is available, he writes, at the Chico Museum, Lyon Books, Made in Chico, Tower Records, Bird in Hand, Tom Foolery, Zucchini & Vine, Magna Carta, the Associated Students bookstore, Vino100, Barnes & Noble and the new Scrubbs car wash on the Skyway, as well as at www.chicousersguide.com. It's an extraordinary accomplishment.
A little more than 4 inches wide and 51}2 inches tall, and three quarters of an inch thick, its 356 pages contain more than 800 color photographs and an abundance of microscopic print. But the shiny pages (printed in environmentally friendly soy-based ink) are surprisingly readable. The book feels good in the hand.
"The Chico User's Guide" is divided into nine sections: Features (including Chico history, landmarks and Bidwell Park), Activities, Entertainment, Student Guide, At Your Service (transportation, emergency care, recycling, healthy living and party planning), Organizations, Traveling, Reference and Calendar. Dozens of subsections (and a handy subject index) keep the book organized.
There wasn't room for everything. Norlie writes me that he favored "locally-owned and operated businesses and organizations." Some pages (like those devoted to religious life) give only a sampling of the diversity in Chico.
There are two kinds of entries. "Contacts" (such as the Chico Outlaws) provide the address, phone number and Web site address and "events" (such as the Chico Science Fair), which include the recurring date if available. I was struck by a nice little innovation. If a Web address is too long, Norlie saves space by printing keywords instead, optimized for the Google search engine.
Delights abound. There are four pages with full-color thumbnails of Chico wildflowers. Four pages are devoted to science, pointing to Chico State's forensics lab, the Rice Experiment Station along Highway 162 and the Snow Goose Festival each January. Carolyn Spellman Shoemaker is spotlighted. A university alum, she was the co-discoverer of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994.
Another four pages detail Chico film history, listing some 21 pictures shot in and around Chico (including 1955's "Friendly Persuasion" with Gary Cooper and "Stolen Innocence," the 1995 made-for-TV flick starring Chico's own Amanda Detmer).
Two pages are devoted to the area book scene, with local bookstores, libraries and three local publishers listed (a separate section is devoted to locally published periodicals). The Buzz is recognized for its Thursday best-seller lists, though this column is not mentioned (maybe in the next edition?). More comprehensive is the guide to music, dancing and bars and nightclubs. A dozen pages list 40 local groups, karaoke venues and a place to learn belly dancing. There are many pages on sports and recreation, too.
Norlie has done an outstanding job putting Chico between covers. Here's to many future editions.
Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2006 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.