Guilty Pleasures


401 Balboa Barstopped with just those little chocolate sprinkles-none of that butter brickle or peanuts or that other stuff they use to top Balboa Bars. Dad's Donut Shop & Bakery, 318 Marine Ave., Balboa Island, (949) 673-8686.

402 Aw, no, for a real Balboa Bar, you gotta go with the peanuts. That other shit's for inlanders and German civil planners on holiday.

403 That musty, warm, basement feel you get when you walk in the Little Depot model-train store in Hobby City. 1238 S. Beach Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 527-2323.

404 The drive-through toll booth-ish, I-want-a-croissant-but-I-don't-want-to-leave-my-Lexus Auto Bistro. 3100 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 515-9060.

405 The stretch of Laguna Canyon Road where Harrison Ford spun out and got his famous chin scar. This allows us to say truthfully, "Harrison Ford slipped here."

406 The South County cities' hopes of making a 400-acre urban park out of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Their planners, unlike the county's, understand that true urban parks are beautiful and restful places for people to visit. The idea is an old but simple one, sharpened by New York Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted: "Rural pursuits tend to elevate and enlarge . . . ideas." The key word is "rural"-open, natural and as free of modern intrusions as possible. That means wide-open meadows, thick clumps of trees, ponds, shrubs, birds, footpaths and flowers-all of which appear in the South County cities' Millennium Plan. But rural also implies quiet, the whole reason 19th-century cities built big urban parks. The spaces deep inside New York's Central Park and San Francisco's Golden Gate Park are quiet and peaceful because the designers saw the parks as places for residents to escape the misery and grime of work. By removing the proposed airport from their El Toro reuse plan, the Millennium Plan allows the central urban park to function as it should.

407 The garlic bread sold for just 1 buck at Sid's. 445 Old Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 650-7437.

408 The video camera above the bar at Sid'sthat allows Sid to monitor his place-and alert waitresses to empty drink orders-from his Las Vegas home.

409 The golden, warm-as-sunshine buttermilk pancakesat Haute Cakes Caffe. 1807 Westcliff Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 642-4114.

410 Anyone with the courage to get up and sing at Sing Sing. Irvine Spectrum, 71 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 453-8999.

411 Laughing at them.

412 And making fun of what they're wearing and how much they weigh.

413 And realizing you have never taken a chance, never really lived as they have.

414 You suck.

415 That the best, most popular Saturday-morning cartoon is on kid-mind-melding Nickelodeon is to be expected. That SpongeBob SquarePants, the animated adventures of a, well, sponge, is the creation of a guy from Anaheim who always felt more at home in or at the ocean and who just a few years ago was working at Laguna Beach's Marine Mammal Center is a bit more of a stretch. In a perfect world, Stephen Hillenburg ... wait a minute. Stephen Hillenburg does live in a perfect world. A world where he has been able to pursue his two great passions-the ocean and cartoons-and get paid (pretty well, these days) to do it. It was just about 10 years ago that Hillenburg began to think his creative powers weren't being properly used creating exhibits and sea shantys for the school groups that came to the Mammal Center. He began making his own animated films, which eventually led to a gig as creative director on Rocko's Modern Life-for our money, the best animated show this side of The Simpsons.That led to a chance to pitch his own show. What he came up with was SpongeBob, which is about a terminally enthusiastic, eminently likeable, well, sponge who lives in a pineapple, works in fast food, pines for a squirrel in an oxygen suit and often breaks into dance -including a noodly moonwalk-accompanied by ukulele music. As you would expect, kids' reactions to such classic story lines were immediate. Inside of a month, SpongeBob was the most popular Saturday-morning cartoon and Nickelodeon had already ordered a second season of shows. Hillenburg, a sort of quiet, unassuming guy, seems to take everything-including wild success-in stride. "Yeah, it's been great so far," he says while sitting in his Burbank office rife with tiki gods, ukuleles, pirate paintings, pirate hats, animation cels, plastic leis and the Ashley Book of Knots. A perfect world.

416 County Treasurer John Moorlach's sanity.

417 The view from the top of the Irvine Co.'s headquarters, where legend has it Don Bren met Jesusand offered him almost everything he could see-from the Newport Coast to the majestic, craggy Santa Ana Mountains-if he would only stop whining about the environment. Jesus declined. Each moved on to create their own religions. 550 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 720-2000.

418 Pauly Shore doesn't live here.

419 A significant portion of the porn-star population does.

420 Getting married among the gravestones in Fairhaven Memorial Park. 1702 Fairhaven Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 633-1442.

421 Harshing the mellow.

422 The Ricky Burrito at La Cocina: it has yummy mashed potatoes in it. I know you're thinking, "Yeech!!" but it's really goooood! 401 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 498-7808.

423 Tuning in to the Nerdman Show, watching a normal guy go about his normal day-feeding his cats, sitting at his desk, fixing supper-and slowly realizing that the only thing more boring than your day-to-day life is watching someone else's.

Next Page »