Guilty Pleasures


1201-1261 Each of the 61 great local hikes, especially Trabuco Creek Trail and the Crystal Cove beaches, found in the best guide to Orange County hiking, Jerry Schad's Afoot and Afield in Orange County from Wilderness Press.

1262The sinus-clearing effects of George's Thai Bistro. 3732 Bristol, Santa Ana, (714) 979-8366.

1263 Our favorite man-made Freudiansymbols: the hard, throbbing Crystal Cathedral bell tower and the plump, perky nipples of the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

1264 The free popcorn you can scoop out your own damn self at Club Mesa. 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-8448.

1265 The chicken sandwich at Mai Hu'o'ng. Teriyaki chicken and chopped carrots, onions, cilantro and jalapeños are stuffed into a French roll. It's only $1.50, and it'll clear your sinuses for a week. 1113 Baker St., Ste. E, Costa Mesa, (714) 957-0451.

1266 The end of that furry bear hat. Apparently, Save Ferris bass player Bill Uechi woke up one morning on the scorchingly hot Warped Tour and announced, "I ain't wearing no damn bear on my head!" Thank God! (And he didn't even get it turned into a backpack or anything!)

1267 The terrifyingly steep southwestern face of Santiago Peak, the highest point in the county (5,700 feet), perched precariously atop a rough path along which even a few experienced climbers have become lost and, for a moment, faced the possibility that they might vanish into thin air. Dense sycamores give way to sage and barren-looking scrub oak. Beware not of witches but of the far nastier poison oak. Once at the top-which bristles with futuristic-looking antennae-look east and thank God you don't live in Riverside County. To have your own adventure, park at Holy Jim Falls Fire Station and walk to the trailhead. Or talk to experts at REI, 1411 Village Way, McFadden Place Center, Santa Ana, (714) 543-4142; or Adventure 16: 1959 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-3301.

1268 The Royal Hawaiian, known the world over for their Lupa Lupas served in a snifter, one of the meanest drinks in the county. They also serve up some tasty ribs. 331 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-8001.

1269 The decent parking, easy rises, and kick-ass downhill runs for mountain bikers at Aliso and Wood Canyons Park.

1270 The best place to hear new OC bands online is Some are good, some are hideous, but they're Orange County, baby! Check out As Far As Larry and the Stingrays.

1271 "The Minnesota chapter of Make-A-Wish has a moral duty to grant this boy's wish to hunt a Kodiak bear." Letter to the Register, May 24, 1996.

1272 The Reggae Showcase hosted by Dr. Jim Otto, who spins the best of roots, dancehall and world-beat tunes, the best commercial-free reggae program on the dial. He's white as a ghost but dreader than most. KSBR (Am 88.5), Sun., 3-6 p.m.

1273 Kidsguidemagazine, the biannual that regularly gives voluminous suggestions and information on what to do with your kids.

1274 I know what I'd like to do with my kids.

1275 Of course, I'm kidding, ladies and gentlemen. Kidsare our future. Thank you. Thank you very much.

1276 My eighth-grade flame, who works at Cal State Fullerton and whom I tracked down for a wrenching confessional story, complete with thoughts on my mother's death. "I laughed so hard," she wrote to me after the story's publication, and then signed off with, "Have a nice life."

1277 That little patch of farmlandhemmed in by Harbor Boulevard, Fairview Road and the San Diego Freeway. Driving past it during rush hour day after day, year after year-watching it tilled, planted and harvested-provides a rare opportunity to connect the change of seasons with something besides the pages of a calendar. This sliver can make you feel simultaneously happy and sad. On the one hand, it's an inspiration, a sweet little metaphor about survival. On the other, it's probably doomed.

1278 The Mesa Theaterin Costa Mesa . . . oh, yeah, it's not there anymore.

1279 The taming of the Santa Ana River, once a killer 70-mile dagger aimed at the heart of OC, "the most dangerous river west of the Mississippi," whose floods in the 1860s and 1930s were devastating. Now a convenient poop chute.

1280 Disciplined skaters practicing for hours in a parking lot at night.

1281 San Clemente poet Stephanie Brown's "The Neighborhood of the Successful Marriage."

1282 Particularly this part: "In the neighborhood where I grew up, the men/Shone like the shields of warriors and did everything./ The womenhid/As they grew older they became smaller, creating/ Gargantuan and antiquely gorgeous bedrooms,/Sometimes they left their bodies totally." Allegory of the Supermarket: Poems by Stephanie Brown, University of Georgia Press, 1999.

1283 Orange County lost a restaurant when chef Ramelwalked away from the path-breaking Gooseberries two years ago, but it gained a pasta sauce, a Dr. Pepper-based marinade and other products of Ramel's postmodern cookery. Find his sauces at your cooler supermarkets-including the Irvine Ranch Market, Farmer's Market and Wild Oats.

1284 During a visit to the Antique Market, I once found the only extant chair designed by a famous Dutch architect whose name I did not recognize. The first Sunday of every month at Irvine Valley College, 5500 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine, (949) 451-5100.

1285 But his biography was tragic and his artistry was manifest in this simple seat.

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