Best Shopping and Porn

When they answer the phone at Betz Speed & Color, the man says, "Sherwin-Williams," but don't let it fool you. The original Merry Paint Prankster himself, Stan Betz is still on hand—though more than likely he's out back mixing up a few shades by hand, peg leg outstretched as he crams his lanky frame onto a beat-up school chair. Betz, for those of you just joining us, is a vintage '50s hot rodder himself and someone with two of the keenest eyes around for mixing and matching car paint. So if you need a good enamel for that '40 Chevy, trundle on over; he has books of vintage paint chips. And if you want some way-out shade of custom green, he's your man for that, too. Talk nice, and maybe he'll let you admire some of the antique automobilia he has accumulated upstairs—among his parts, a new-old-stock turtledeck (the trunk part) for a 1924-'25 Ford roadster. Maybe, too, he'll tell you about his long association with legendary pinstriper and miscreant Von Dutch. With Betz, you never know. 1470 W. Katella Ave., Orange, (714) 997-3113.

DRUG FLASHBACK THAT WON'T GET YOU A THIRD STRIKE

Finally, a drug experience you can share with your grandparents. With its thin taffy strips, candy counter, lunch counter and drug counter, Watson's has been it since the town masher thought your grandma was the bee's knees—1899. Good times are virtually guaranteed. Grab a grilled cheese and a root beer for lunch, and get high on something besides crank: old folks. 116 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 633-1050.

HEH HEH, POKER

Poker'll kill ya, what with the drinking and the clouds of smoke over the table and getting knifed in the parking lot when you stop to adjust the winnings down in your front pocket. But at least you'll look like a winner to all the playah-haters, even if you're a loser, after you grab a fist fulla professional-grade poker chips, racks and some extra decks of cards to mark. The Poker Store can't make you inscrutable, or give you the savoir faire you need to face down the Amarillo Slims of Laguna Niguel—or wherever wildcat poker is played in these parts—but add on a copy of Hoyle's gamebook, and you'll at least know how the game's supposed to turn out. Play on, playah. 11460 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 895-3783.

BEST ETHNIC MARKET

There are many reasons for the lines and crowded parking lot at the Mitsua Marketplace, formerly known as Yaohan. The buzz includes some of the best mass-produced sushi and raw fish you're liable to find in the Southland, plus every other wild Asian delicacy from the tiny whole crab snack food to every miso soup mix made to the melt-in-your-mouth rice candy to . . . Ultraman. Yes, Ultraman action-figure sightings are getting scarce, but you can still find him here occasionally, usually sold on the candy aisle with a mess of hard candy. Saving the world from Baltan . . . mmm, sweet. 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-6699.

PLACE TO FIND OUT WHERE YOUR HOMIES ARE AT

So here's the deal: those maps you get at the Auto Club are free—but then you gotta fold 'em back up. And they're NOT 18 different colors, they don't have freeway foldouts, they don't have a separate page for downtown—oh, wait, most of Orange County doesn't have downtowns. But they're still not Thomas Brothers, which for more than 90 years has been doing those glossy, heavy, $30-or-so map books that have revolutionized the way we look at maps. Where else, after all, can you find a map with enough color and definition to make Laguna Niguel look like Luxembourg, enough detail to make a trip through the Orange Crush feel like you're figuring out the alarm system at the San Onofre nuclear power plant. They've got most of California covered, whether in map books that'll put most of a city on a page or wall maps for the Realtors among us. Now you know where it's at. 17731 Cowan, Irvine, (949) 863-1984.

BEST USED BOOKSTORE

Need late-'80s-vintage clothing-design books that'll tell you exactly what separates a mod from a punk from . . . Russell Simmons? Run!!! Book Baron pretty much has it all. Vintage Sports Illustrated, a few issues of '50s Hot Rod magazine, a few ancient Good Housekeeping, and shelves of actual books by authors you should read. Check it out. This place is like Acres of Books for Orange County. 1236 S. Magnolia Ave., Anaheim, (714) 527-7022.

TOY STORE

We like Toy Boat Toy Boat Toy Boat not just because of the impossible name, but also because of the fact they don't fixate on toy boats. Instead, this small chain is simply a classic-toy store. The anti-Toys R Us, if you will. No Britney Spears-brand skates here, no million GameBoy accessories, no Furbies. Just the classics, like those old horses on the rockers that you could ride when you were little, until you fell off and hit your head; wagons for kids to pull around; teddy bears—and, of course, the Erector Set. Just saying it makes us feel good. Good for America. Get a few million more Erector sets in circulation, and just watch the carjackings decline. 3331 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, (949) 673-3791; 21111 Newport Coast Dr., Newport Coast, (949) 759-8697; 1827 W. Cliff Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 642-4212.

ANTIQUE SWAPMEET
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