Not full of hot air

The idea of putting together a Best of OC issue that would present separate guides to each city came to us five months ago. Since that time, we have compiled lists of cities, pored over those lists, discussed those lists, and assigned cities to writers from that list. When it came time to take pictures, we made another list. Then we made copies of all the lists, passed them out, checked them over, and checked off cities. Discussions grew from the lists: "Are we doing enough on Stanton?" "Aren't we laying it a bit too heavy on Santa Ana?" "Where can you get great falafel in Brea?" Every city was considered and reconsidered on photo run lists, story lists, and deadline lists that were gone over I can't tell you how many times in how many staff and private meetings.

I don't tell you this to pump up our staff or to make you feel sorry for us, even though the labor was intense and sustained. I tell you this now, here, in this space—NOW—because after five months of staring at lists, on the day of the issue's deadline, OC Weekly staffer Anthony Pignataro said this word at 4:16 p.m.:


And there was a great silence and much staring, followed by a great bugging of eyes and tortured giggles and wrenching of guts and that thing that happens to your pooper when you're going down a roller coaster. Because, at that moment, we all realized we'd forgotten Tustin.

Scurrying ensued, which produced the result you are now reading. As to the question of why we forgot Tustin, we apologize profusely, but in our defense, we believe this is the way the people of Tustin would have wanted it.

Tustin is a really nice place to live—folks from bordering Santa Ana and Orange have been known to lie and say they live in Tustin—where middle class is an entry-level position. It's the kind of place where nice people with nice jobs get nice homes, albeit homes very close to their neighbors' nice homes—locals joke that you can't look into your neighbors' back yard without kissing them. There is one big shopping center—the Tustin Marketplace —and lots of nice little places to eat. But Tustin folk aren't that interested in becoming a destination. It's enough that people gawk at the blimp hangars. Which explains why, in this prototypical bedroom community, you can find numerous signs protesting growth. Tustin doesn't want growth. Growth has not always been good to Tustin.

In the 1870s, Columbus Tustin, a northern California carriage maker, and his partner Nelson Stafford purchased 1,300 acres of land and created Tustin City. But sales of home sites were so slow that Columbus ended up giving free lots to anyone who would build a home.

By 1912, the town had grown to the point that the local elementary school could boast an eighth-grade graduating class of 20 students. All 20 flunked the county math exam but were allowed to graduate anyway. How far standards have fallen.

Just a few years later in 1969, the first recorded murder took place within the city limits. And just 12 years after that, Tustin had the second highest crime rate in the county, with one in 10 Tustinians victimized. Is it any wonder that the city would be wary of growth?

Tustin is just fine being Tustin. They don't want you to forget about that. Just about them.


Old Town Tustin. The terminally quaint, faintly beating heart of Columbus Tustin's carriage-making metropolis, now packed back-to-back with sweet little boutiques like the Ruffled Tulip Flower Shop, Flying Geese Fabrics and quality vegetarian eatery Rutabegorz. The Tustin Marketplace might offer style, but Old Town is all substance, if by substance you mean antiques and dried poinsettias. Main Street and El Camino Real.


Chavante Jewelers. Hidden behind a Spoons in a standard strip mall is this gem. Mary Swingle's original designs are breathtaking yet simple and classic—just like the lady herself. 13681 Newport Ave., Ste. 12, (714) 832-5770.

House of Lamps. Mission style? Art Deco? Deconstructionist? If it's a lamp you're looking for, you need to be looking here. 2842 El Camino Real, (714) 505-4048.


Salon Gallery. Almost five years ago, Thomas Penna and his wife opened a modern-looking salon, with art on the walls and art walking out every day on the heads of their clients. The usual trappings are here: manicurists, aestheticians, hair stylists (including the Weekly's favorite troika of Rosana, Melanie and Hein). But the real ace up its sleeve is Thomas himself, offering honesty and hospitality. 220 El Camino Real, Ste. 1, (714) 505-9367.


Caffe Piemonte. Luigi Ravetto makes all of his ravioli by hand. His hard work is evident in the ravioli d'aragosta: pasta pillows plump with lobster and crab meat in a light tomato-cream sauce, topped with jumbo shrimp. If you've ever been to Ravetto's native Piemonte, welcome back. 498 E. First St., (714) 544-8072.

Koki's Japanese Teppan House. You'll enjoy the granite-and-neon splendor of this teppan house, and I don't remember shrimp ever being as succulent or steak as tender. These dinners come with soup, salad and a shrimp appetizer. 1061 E. Main St., (714) 505-6738.

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