Best Politics, Art, and Outdoor Sports

BEST PLACE EVER

We write about the Atlantis Playcenter every year, and we will not stop. In the past, we've called it the "coolest park in Orange County," but that probably didn't do it justice since it's probably the coolest place in Orange County. Built in the '60s, it's strange play equipment built around an underwater theme and with a Seussian flair is so utterly different and, yes, dash you, magical that kids—raised on antiseptic, plastic, litigation-safe play equipment—immediately run to the dragon slide or seahorse swings. Then there's the many green nooks and crannies created by shrubs and bushes that kids can use for hiding places and forts. And there's the fact that there is only one entrance/exit, so a parent can let his kids run free—what a concept. 9301 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 892-6015.

ARTISTIC NUDITY WHAT GOT NO CLOTHES ON

The burlesque shows at the Grand Central Art Center feature the women of Velvet Hammer, who periodically bring their pasties down from LA to bump and grind for you, the satisfied retro hipster. Some strippers, some artists, all Real Women do it like the days of Gypsy Rose Lee, but ironically. No one doesn't love a bump-and-grind! 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 567-7233; www.grandcentralartcenter.com.

ARTISTIC NUDITY WHAT GOT NO CLOTHES ON AND IS BEING MOLESTED BY COLLEGE STUDENTS OUTDOORS

After the Northridge quake, when the replica of Michelangelo's David toppled from its pedestal at Forest Lawn and broke, Cal State Fullerton offered the hunky marble a home, and arranged his several pieces on the ground the way they'd fallen. But since nasty hormonal college kids were molesting the titan's wee penis, the school had to turn David onto his belly. Now that's comedy! 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton.

OBSCENE, THOUGH, SADLY, NOT NAKED LUNCHES

I was at Tangata at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, and I get the salmon thinking I'll go healthy, right? And it's floating, all pretty and pink, in what must be four sticks of melted butter. It was obscene, and it was perfect. Go ahead and get a chocolate martini, too. You only get lunch once a day, right? 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 550-0906.

BEST PLACE TO FIND SECRET POT FARMS OR DEAD BODIES

Orange County Sheriff's deputies performed an annual, late-summer ritual this year when they scoured scrubby Cleveland National Forest terrain near the Riverside County border and discovered secret—and, in this Just-Say-No world, illegal—farms where more than 2,000 six- to seven-foot-tall marijuana plants were rising toward the sun. Where exactly were these mellowing fields? As deputies put it at the time—as they have countless times before—"just off Ortega Highway." If that phrase has a familiar ring to it, that's because "just off Ortega Highway" has been used by deputies from Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties to describe the location where corpses have been discovered over the years. The most infamous dead-body discovery "just off Ortega Highway" in the recent past was that of five-year-old Stanton girl Samantha Runnion in July 2002. The body count climbs: this past January, a passing motorist noticed a corpse "just off Ortega Highway." Upon closer inspection, the former soul's head and hands were missing. It's small wonder that in the Weekly's 1999 Best of OC issue, we ranked as Guilty Pleasure No. 83 Ortega Highway, "the best place to dump a body without anybody noticing."

HEISLER PARK

When pale friends fly in from snow-covered Minnesota, desperate to catch California fever, take them to Heisler Park—perhaps the most photographed spot in coastal Orange County. The palm-tree-lined oceanfront park—which old Hollywood used to shoot tropical-island scenes—offers unforgettably spectacular views, beautiful beach coves, flora-covered cliffs, picnic areas and a gazebo. Cliff Dr. near Main Beach, Laguna Beach.

BEST "CHURCH" POISED TO CATCH A RIDE ON THE NEXT PASSING COMET

Members of Holy Splendor Ministries in Long Beach believe evil extraterrestrials may attempt to destroy Earth to save their souls. Sounds like those evil extraterrestrials are stealing a page from the Pat Robertson playbook. But the Holy Splendorers have a plan to stop the aliens in their three-toed tracks: followers hold weekly prayer sessions meant to send the E.T.s good vibes. Hopefully, that won't encourage the visitors from outer space to gift us with a copy of How to Serve Man.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MUSEUM IN THE FIELD OF ART

This one changes up year to year—and not because we're trying to be "fair." Fair is not particularly part of our vocabulary. But the Orange County Museum of Art gave us stunning shows this year, from the in-house curators offering up bitchen class-war (and post-feminist) photography by an international cadre of artists ("Girls Night Out") to the amazing collection (showing now!) dating back to photography's inception ("Woman") to Bay Area Abstract Expressionist guy Nathan Oliveira to a stunning "Biennial." Next year, surely, they'll get back to boring suck. 855 San Clemente, Newport Beach, (949) 759-1122.

STRENGTH OF CONVICTIONS

District Attorney Media Director Michelle Emard risked her well-paying government job by whistle-blowing on DA office corruption. Not surprisingly, she was fired by DA Tony Rackauckas, who insists his taxpayer-funded employees serve his political ambitions rather than the public interest.

HOLY HIKE
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