True story: on a stormy night not too long ago, a man—we'll call him Jake—met up with friends for a few rounds at 2 J's Cocktail Lounge. Upon arriving, he learned he had just missed an incredible bar fight between the bar staff and a well-sauced jerk. The bouncers had thrown the drunk out in the rain. Ten minutes into Jake's first beer, a rain-soaked patron ran inside the bar, shouting for everyone to go outside. The tires on every car in the parking lot were slashed, not to mention a few smashed windows. Every car had been vandalized except Jake's—he had parked across the street. Next thing he knew, he was behind the wheel of his car, with an enormous—and wasted—man by his side, who demanded they hunt down the culprit. As they ran through red lights and ignored stop signs—the passenger's orders—Jake grew worried. But then the man pulled out a gun and said, "If shots are fired, just take off, man." There was now an enormous, pissed-off drunk man next to him, and he had a gun. As they headed south on Harbor, just past Orangethorpe, they spotted the tire-slasher ordering a cheeseburger at an In-N-Out. They illegally zoomed across an empty intersection, and the man rushed in, gun in the air, and forced the burger bandit to the ground. Soon after, the cops arrived, and Jake learned that the drunk goon who forced him to break about a dozen moving violations at gunpoint in the pouring rain was an off-duty cop. 120 W. Houston Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-9665.


If you can snag a seat on their outdoor patio where the bands play, then this is perhaps the sweetest OC spot to just kick back and savor live music. The outdoor thing is a big lure, but the Hub is also eclectic enough to book everything from punk rock to coffeehouse folkies to bands who do that "emo" stuff. A major player in downtown Fullerton's recent club explosion and conveniently located behind the Reagan Years, OC's coolest video arcade, which is also the perfect way to wait out band set changes. 124 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-2233.


One of the best Latino bookstores en los Estados Unidos is now going national. Librería Martínez, the downtown Santa Ana intellectual inn run by the gregarious-to-a-fault bookkeeper/barber/cultural ambassador Rueben Martínez, is expanding to Latino suburbs across the nation. The first branch opened in Lynwood this month; the two-story building is the country's largest Spanish-language bookstore. The original Santa Ana location will remain open, but Sr. Martínez (please, call him Rueben) probably won't be in every day now that he's running his mini-empire—plans are to expand to at least 10 locations. While happy that Martínez will finally find the financial success he deserves, we cannot also help but feel a little bit blue: Orange County will no longer be privy to Martínez engaging in conversation like a long-lost uncle with customers, partly trying to make a sale but mostly intent on instilling in them and everyone within a one-mile radius a passion for knowledge. Buena suerte, Sr. Martínez, and here's hoping that other cities will appreciate you with the same love we always will. 1110 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 973-7900.


Downtown Huntington is a teeming petri dish of idiocy and boardshorts, but buried in the middle is the Electric Chair, seemingly a teenage wasteland designed to equip chests with studded bras and butt pomaded heads with Hot Topic. Still, whoever buys the records there has some finely tuned taste: enough to know what's good, but not quite enough to catch every bargain that leaks through. Pick up something lacey and something spiky on the way out. 410 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-0784.


The Little Knight, a.k.a. "The Little Fight," in Costa Mesa features a possessive clientele—"This is my bar, buddy! Go on back to the 909!" is always a crowd-pleaser. The Little Knight is home to OC's toughest testosterone mofos. Still, that shouldn't prevent you from pulling up a chair and letting Tony—one of OC's most prominent bartenders gone wild, known for jumping on the bar and screaming indecipherable proclamations—serve you Jack and Cokes that put other bars' Cokes with a drip of Jack to shame. And if you still haven't seen enough of the macho, ex-jock, dude-my-car-is-bigger-than-yours brotherhood, then head over to Cassidy's in Newport, better known as "Smashiddy's" or "Catch a Disease" and glimpse tattoos of the finest flames, sparrows, spider webs and Gothic lettering in the county. 436 E. 17th, Costa Mesa, (949) 646-6650.


Isn't vinyl just the best petrochemical? Take vinyl records, for instance: not only do they often sound better and warmer than their CD counterparts and come in large colorful jackets, the artwork of which is actually large enough to appreciate, but vinyl is also an insulator against atomic radiation, which could be good news in the event of nuclear attack for Tom Harris, the owner of Goat Hill Records. He's surrounded by so much vinyl in his packed shop that you can barely find him most days. And we're not talking thrift-shop vinyl here, but prime stuff—cool jazz, obscure rock, gritty country, sultry soundtracks and so much more—in eat-off-it clean shape and for remarkably fair prices. For those who aren't turntable-enabled, Tom also stocks stacks of quality used CDs. Goat Hill Records, 1920 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-8551.

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