Things We Love About Summer

TAKING THE IOWANS TO HEISLER PARK

Taking folks from out of town to the beach can sometimes be as disappointing as taking them to Hollywood where they expect to see stars on every corner and are instead greeted with palpable doses of fear, misery and urine. Same thing happens when you take someone down to, say, Huntington and they see this one long unremarkable stretch of sand, rather unremarkable waves crashing against rather unremarkable yokels such as themselves. If you want the Ooooh Aaaaah, take them to Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. Walk that rocky coastline with it's blue waves crashing themselves into spectacular white spray. Walk them up to the gazebo above the park and point to points north and south. Your Iowa cousins are used to long, flat stretches, show them the undulations and curvatures and other features having to do with varying topography. Then walk them down to Las Brisas restaurant bordering Heisler, buy them a margarita and let them look some more. This will have to last a long time. Sure, you may have seen it innumerable times, but the ocean has amazing powers. Don't Bogart it.

YET MORE THINGS WE'VE HEARD IN BARS, NEAR BARS, OR ON THE BEACH

"Fuck that! So they can call me back in a week and tell me I have AIDS?!"

—A girl to another girl outside the beer booth at Costa Mesa Speedway

THE PLACE TO PLAY HOOPS

The courts are on the beach right next to Newport Beach Elementary School. Play here only if you don't mind getting distracted by the beautiful bikini girls who tend to sun themselves just yards from the blacktop. Also watch out for spectacular sunsets blazing over the water in the early evening hours.

STILL MORE THINGS WE'VE HEARD IN BARS, NEAR BARS, OR ON THE BEACH

"Dad, can we leave now?"

—Little kid to his shirtless dad, who'd just ordered another pitcher at HB bar.

COOL (LITERALLY AND POP-CULTURALLY) SUMMER SHIRT

God bless Hawaiian shirts, but floral prints and surfing chicks can only get a dude so far with the ladies. A guayabera, meanwhile, transforms even the slimiest beach bum into a regal Latin gentleman. Originally from Cuba and the Mexican tropical state of Veracruz, guayaberas are single-color cotton shirts featuring four pockets, an open collar and two intricately embroidered lines going down the front that look like high-class racing stripes. The standard summer shirt of Latino males from Castro to cabana boys keeps its wearer cool, costs cheap ($15 at your local swap meet), and comes in colors ranging from blinding white to mint. Best of all: a tank top is required as an undershirt. Time to work out your pecs, wimpy gents!

WINE, CHEESE.AND CULTCHA, YA SLOB

We like Carl St. Clair and his superb Pacific Symphony Orchestra, but it's kinda intimidating entering the Orange County Performing Arts Center where they perform, what with its Argyros-rich audience and suit-and-tie dress code (it's not mandatory, but come on—when was the last time you saw someone basking in Beethoven wearing Chuck Taylors?). St. Clair knows this, so he proletariatizes his orchestra every summer and takes it to the outdoor wonder of Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre with the Pacific Symphony's Summer Festival. Now in its 15th year, the PSO spends its summer evenings at the 18,000-seat former Irvine Meadows, where the polis can enjoy the orchestra in a relaxed atmosphere free of classical music snobbery. St. Clair made sure to stock this summer's festival with lumpen favorites like Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and Ravel's Bolero. Phone (714) 755-5788 or visit the PSO website at www.pacificsymphony.org.

LOWER-INCOME KIDS ON THE BEACH

Orange County's beaches are open year-round, but summer is when the beaches get crowded with children. An obvious observation, to be sure. But examine who the majority of these kiddies are: low-income youth participating in summer programs that can afford only one day of the year to take their wards to the surf. Many of these boys and girls know only their immediate block as the world, and seeing the reactions on their faces when they touch the cool ocean water for the first time—usually the first time in their life—is a reminder not only to count one's blessings but also to bless those less fortunate than you.

EVEN MORE THINGS WE'VE HEARD IN BARS, NEAR BARS, OR ON THE BEACH

"You got two choices: you get in the car or you get the back of my hand. Make up your mind right fucking now."

—Guy to his girlfriend, outside a Newport Beach bar

BEST PLACE TO PARK IF YOU GO TO NEWPORT

Huntington.

TAKING THE IOWANS TO ASIAN GARDEN MALL

It's not an American mall! It's not merely Asian! It's Little Saigon in a box behind three statues of Chinese patriarchs. Peruse the fine imported goods, let your brain become unhinged in the Viet pop, drink in the now wildly popular tea with tapioca—that's a beverage with balls—at the refreshment stand. Sixty minutes in the Asian Garden Mall is like a day in Ho Chi Minh City without the moped wrecks, frenetic police-state snoops, and beggars.

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