On the one hand, the nuclear power generator on the campus of UC Irvine can't go China Syndrome. On the other hand, it can't power anything bigger than a robot governor. UC Irvine, Campus Dr. & University, Irvine.


The much-maligned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) has finally gotten some recognition—but probably not the kind it wants: it now ranks among the U.S. facilities most likely to suffer a meltdown, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that monitors nuclear safety. The risk at SONGS stems from a design defect that could jam the nuclear plant's emergency-cooling system in the event of a leak from the reactor vessel or cooling-water pipes. A serious meltdown at SONGS would result in a massive release of radioactivity that could immediately kill more than 100,000 people in South County and northern San Diego County and ultimately cause hundreds of thousands of cases of cancer and genetic defects, thus returning California to the glory days state Senator Tom McClintock recalled in his recent, failed attempt at the governor's office—a time when California was hotter but the traffic wasn't so bad.


Oh, hell. Let's give it to Shag this year. The retro Brea hipster is coming on Paul Frank levels of fame—okay, not quite Paul Frank levels—with his swinging canvases depicting martinis and tiki and loungaliciousness, but not in an annoying way. Still, some people freak out way too much whenever Shag is going to appear, considering he's just a mild-mannered Clark Kent kind of guy, if Clark Kent were into luau culture and the occasional depiction of party vampires drinking piña coladas made of blooood! Like, fans come from Japan and stuff to see him. And the vampires. And the blood.


Since shopping inside more than 352 million retail outlets is the only other entertainment in Fountain Valley, residents and visitors spend a great deal of time outdoors. And one such outdoor place is this 640-acre park, an oasis of green grass in an otherwise cement suburban jungle. Mile Square Park is one of the county's regional parks, but the city also has recreational facilities there. Whatever turf you're on, you'll find softball, baseball, soccer, golf (even night golf!), fishing, in-line skating, biking, archery and picnicking facilities. Parking is $2 to $5 on the county side and free on the city side. 16801 Euclid, Fountain Valley, (714) 973-6600.


The Gypsy Den at OCMA is only open for lunch, and you have to sit with matrons of varying facial tautness (some of whom keep their own linens on hand so as not to be burdened with the linens of the common man!). But the Gypsy Den's tuna melt is a thing of cheesy beauty: tuna fondue with little chunks of apple in it for sweetness. It is delicious. Hey, don't touch that statue, even if it is outside in the elements! Where do you think you are, a barn? Jesus, we can't take you anywhere. 850 San Clemente, Newport Beach, (949) 759-1122.


There's something about retirement that makes people look back at their lives and wonder if they did everything they could, if they really mattered. Some take the F-U, what's-mine-is-mine-and-screw-the-rest-of-you attitude. Others get so depressed they spend their final days wallowing in their own mopiness. Fortunately for mankind, there are the Doug Korthofs of the world who refuse to get sentimental and instead simply take action. Whether it involves saving wetlands, electric cars, Trabuco Canyon, sacred Indian grounds or our sewage-receptacle of an ocean, the retired Seal Beach engineer has conceived, created and run websites dedicated to those causes and countless others. He appears at public meetings all over Southern California (usually arriving in his electric car) and fires off stinging e-mails to politicians, the media and fellow advocates. Korthof seeks no glory, and you'll find hi m in picket lines whether he's surrounded by hundreds or all by himself. And the eco-activism runs in the family: his wife, Lisa Rosen, a county probation officer who also drives electric, often protests at his side, and his son, Will, owns the Regen V co-op in Pomona that the FBI recently raided as part of its groundless eco-terrorism case against former Brea resident Josh Connole.


Not only does the Santa Ana-based Isaiah House, run by Dwight Smith, feed, clothe and shelter nearly 150 homeless women, men and children, but it also now hosts a county-sponsored Homeless Court, saving poor people lacking cars, jobs and money a trip downtown to be hassled by the Man. Instead, a kindly judge arrives at the shelter, a bit of civic poetry perhaps all elected and appointed officials might indulge in one in a while. Unlike self-serving libertarians who rant about the evil sticky tentacles of big government but say not a thing about Bush's war machine, Isaiah House volunteers and its supporting Catholic anarchists not only hit the streets in protests and civil disobedience for peace and justice, but also eschew the tax-exempt religious charity status, refusing to compromise with the state's putative restrictions on lobbying. Isaiah House is frequent host to every kind of anti-war, peace-and-justice, grassroots community group in the county. Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, founders of the 70-year-old radical anarchist Catholic Worker network would be proud. Of course, they'd be in jail right about now. 316 S. Cypress Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 558-7478.

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