Sunday, October 30, 2011

First-hand account of a haunted Chico apartment

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"I moved to 125 Parmac Road in Chico, California, in the year 2000," writes Jodi Foster (not the actress). "Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the terror and confusion I was about the experience: lights flashing, the hands of a clock turning, and my three-year-old daughter's toy--a 'Sing and Snore Ernie' doll--mysteriously relocated in the center of my living room, screaming, 'I feel great! I feel great! I feel great!' ... And this was just the first night I moved in."

The story links to the case of Cameron Hooker of Red Bluff, who, with the complicity of his wife, Janice, abducted Colleen Stan for use as a sex slave for seven years. As a friend of Foster's told her, "I believe there was another young woman living in Chico who went missing and was never found or heard from again." Janice eventually told Red Bluff police that in 1976, before Stan's abduction, the couple had visited Chico and Cameron had tortured and murdered 19-year-old Marie Elizabeth Spannhake after she returned to her apartment--at 125 Parmac Road.

Foster's account is given in "Forgotten Burial: A Restless Spirit's Plea For Justice" ($17.95 in paperback from iUniverse; also available in e-reader formats for Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and from Google ebookstore). Learning about the Hookers on Halloween, 2000, she began putting the pieces together, attempting to make sense of her psychic experiences (which she reports having since childhood).

Foster will be signing copies of her book at Lyon Books in Chico on Thursday, November 10 at 7:00 p.m.

The story she tells is also about her own spiritual journey. Fearful, given to panic attacks, plagued by nightmares which seemed to fit what she later learned of the Hookers, Foster years later writes of a new perspective. "I had been tortured by the mystery for years and, at one point in my life, having paranormal experiences and clairvoyant abilities had been scary. Now it was intriguing--an adventure full of possibilities."

Her story is one of odd coincidences and visitations from the spirit world, all within the context of ordinary life in Chico. Foster seems convinced that Spannhake wants to be found, but so far the case has not been resolved.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chico visitor on the treatment of native remains

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"In the summer of 2006," Tony Platt writes, "my forty-year-old son died. Daniel left a clear written message that he wanted a funeral at Big Lagoon, the northwestern California village on the coast where we have a vacation cabin. We honored his request, sending his ashy remains off into the lagoon. Some eighteen months later I discovered that the Yurok who lived in this area 'since time immemorial' had been buried a few hundred yards away from my cabin."

Only in the last few years has Platt, a CSU Sacramento emeritus professor, come to realize that that area in Humboldt County, called O-py├║weg by the Yurok, was the scene not only of bloody violence but of plundered native remains. His scholarly research--and passion--are on display in "Grave Matters: Excavating California's Buried Past" ($18.95 in paperback from Heyday Books).

"Many local 'Indian relics' preserved in university labs, museum display cases, private collections, and tourist attractions," he writes, "were taken from inside graves; and that often collectors also removed skulls and bones to show off to their friends or ship off to anthropologists in Berkeley." Those acts are illegal now in California, "but until the 1970s digging up native burial sites for pleasure, science, or profit was for the most part authorized and popular, despite longstanding and persistent native protests."

Platt will be speaking in Chico Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. at Barnes and Noble; and Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at Lyon Books (which will also feature Heyday Books founder Malcolm Margolin).

"'We bury our individuals with the trappings of their life,' says the Yurok tribal historic preservation officer, 'in order to show their status in the afterlife. To separate the dead from their artifacts is to separate them from their identity.'" The story of desecration and repatriation is a complex one, involving anthropologist Alfred Kroeber (associated with Ishi) and a host of others.

For Platt, what happened to native populations in California amounts to genocide, making us "pay attention to the magnitude of a decade of butchery, and invites us to consider 'family resemblances' between California in the 1850s and 1860s, Turkey in 1915, Germany in the 1930s, and Rwanda in 1994." It is a horrendous story, one told with nuance and compassion.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Finding love in all the wrong places

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Recent Chico visitor Ethlie Ann Vare, screenwriter, humorist, and a woman with a past, is now, thankfully, a woman with a future. The Hollywood resident spoke last month at Lyon Books about what she calls "affection deficit disorder." Her cravings almost got the best of her. She graduated with high honors from UC Santa Barbara and was busted and jailed for drug possession. But that was not the half of it.

"By twenty-two," she writes, "I was twice married, once divorced, once annulled, and had a felony record. I had slept with seventy-five men (yes, I counted), a remarkable feat considering I didn't start until I was eighteen and had been locked away for a year." She tells her story, with clarity, wit and unblushing language, in "Love Addict: Sex, Romance and Other Dangerous Drugs" ($14.95 in paperback from Health Communications, Inc.; also available in e-book formats for Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook).

Love addicts come in three overlapping categories. "The infatuation addict flits from one romance to the next, rarely getting into a long-term relationship because ... novelty is the great aphrodisiac." "A relationship junkie is the gal with the black eye who insists it was her fault for making him jealous." "The sexaholic's life revolves around--you guessed it--sex; ... being thought of as a bombshell or a stud is paramount." The bottom line? "Love addiction is a chronic, relapsing, and potentially fatal condition. Left untreated, it can kill you."

So "Love Addict" also offers a treatment, but a realistic one. Vare has done her research on the part neurotransmitters might play in the seduction-withdrawal downward spiral, the compulsive craving for dangerous relationships followed by the intense need to escape. But, she says, one can't blame one's situation on chemicals, nor can one think one's way out of love addiction (rationalizations, anyone?). "Addiction," she writes, "is a disease of loneliness. Recovery is a process of community."

The author present several case studies of men and women who faced their "love addiction" and brings in insights from a number of therapists. She commends a 12-step approach, though while it's clear one must say no to alcohol, how does one say no to love?

Vare's answers are a journey toward hope, not hype.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Urban homesteader to speak in Chico

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"Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living" ($16.95 in paperback from Skyhorse Publishing; digital editions for Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and from Google ebookstore) is a spirited manifesto by Rachel Kaplan with K. Ruby Blume. In 2008 Blume founded the Institute for Urban Homesteading in Oakland; Kaplan "works as a somatic psychotherapist and teaches homesteading skills."

Together, they write, "our work reflects a commitment toward a regenerative, living culture, rather than the consumptive consumerism our country has refined to a sick art. We opt out by digging in."

Kaplan will be speaking at Lyon Books in Chico this Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7:00 p.m.

Chapters in the profusely-illustrated book cover such practical matters as creating community gardens, making cheese, butchering chickens, using a composting toilet, growing herbal medicines and building structures with cob ("just soil dug from the backyard and mixed with water, sand, clay and straw"). This is radical stuff: "The front lawn must go the way of the dodo. No longer will we spend our time in submission to the manicured lawn, wasting water and energy. Our rallying cry is: Turn Your Lawn into Your Lunch! Sheet mulching reclaims the lawn with an organic 'lasagna' of cardboard, compost, and mulch."

The goal is "permaculture," not a back-to-the-land movement or a self-sufficiency movement. It's about permanent culture, which means creating community sufficiency and resilience through collaboration." It involves neighborhoods, not just households.

This is not a call to sacrifice. "We love our lives as homesteaders," the authors write. "Don't confuse this lifestyle with a fear-driven mentality of scarcity and lack. This kind of living is about the richness of the present moment and the joy in living a simpler, uncluttered life."

"And so we find ourselves in our backyards fighting gophers, pulling carrots, harvesting rabbits and eggs, tending bees, and gathering raspberries, grapes, broccoli, and kale. We save our seeds. We pee in a bucket and dump it on the compost bin. We harvest our rainwater and drain our bathtubs into the garden. On hot summer afternoons you'll find us preserving jars of peaches, plums, and nectarines that have fallen from the trees. We bring people together to learn how to can, make yogurt, hold a meeting, or turn a lawn into a garden."

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Chico writer teaches kids about law enforcement

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Linda Mobilio-Keeling teaches in the School of Education at Chico State University. She has a passion for educating young people about the work of law enforcement professionals; to that end she's written "Feeling Safe With Officer Frank" ($14.95 in hardcover from Mascot Books). For kids 3-8 or so, the tale, illustrated by Silvia Faschi, follows young Luke who gets lost walking to the park.

Luke is befriended by Officer Frank, who lets him ride in his patrol car and watch as the officer helps direct traffic after a fender bender, responds to an elderly man in need of assistance, fixes a broken bicycle chain for a little girl, and more. Luke gets to help take safety workbooks to the school where Officer Frank will be teaching. It turns out that the officer and his family live near Luke and his mom. "Luke knew he would be safe with Officer Frank nearby."

The book is dedicated to the late David Mobilio. "In the spring of 2003," the author writes in an email, "my husband’s name was added to long list of names already engraved on the police officer memorial wall in Washington D.C. While filling in on a shift for a fellow officer, he was ambushed and fatally shot while refueling his patrol car in the middle of the night. David was not only a patrol officer for the City of Red Bluff, but acted as the DARE officer, dedicating time and energy to teaching hundreds of kids how to say no to drugs and violence. His tragic death devastated our entire community – young and old alike."

Linda Mobilio-Keeling, married since 2005 to a Butte County Sheriff's Office Patrol Sergeant, will be reading from and signing copies of her book this coming Saturday, October 8, from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. at Barnes and Noble in Chico. The public is invited, especially kids with questions about law enforcement.

For Mobilio-Keeling, her book "gives a face and a voice to an officer who wears the uniform to serve and protect, and carries on the mission of positively connecting law enforcement and youth. My goal is to provide a resource for officers to use when visiting classrooms, while promoting respect and honor for our fallen and active uniformed personnel."