Best of OC 2004: Part 1

8. The Beachball shopping center. Like the Linbrook Bowl, it’s named for the location: the southwest corner of Beach Boulevard and Ball Road in Garden Grove. With atomic-looking signage and some avant-garde ’50s architectural touches still left, this is a classic—albeit gritty—example of what urban architecture once was.

9. Boysen Park, Brookhurst Park and Oeste Park. You’re a winner just for reading this ’cause you get the addresses for three of the last remaining OC parks with those wicked-bad metal rocket ship slides that used to be everywhere. Remember? Climb up the spiral staircase and you’re actually inside the rocket, then go down the slide to get out—just like they did on Apollo 13. Well, not really. Boysen Park, 951 S. State College Blvd., Anaheim; Brookhurst Park, 2271 W. Crescent Ave., Anaheim; Oeste Park, 2300 W. Lambert Rd., La Habra.

ESPRESSO SHOT

1. Kaffa. Justin Wong’s search for the perfect espresso shot began at Long Beach State. "Being in college, you drink a lot of coffee," he says, "but you don’t really know what’s bad or good." Until the stomach pain begins, and then you either surrender to the dark side and get used to the idea of life with a colostomy bag or you spend a little more for quality. Wong, a bio-chem major and, sure, maybe a little obsessive about his coffee, went farther: he read books and traveled to Italy. In Florence, he learned to roast the bean with respect for its delicate oil—too long and you get a nice dark roast that produces something like rainwater gathered at the bottom of a Hibachi; too short and you get a vapid, anemic little stream. He traveled to Hawaii, where he discovered that marketing may account for much of the success of Kona’s contribution to the hot-beverage industry. And he traveled to Central America to follow the bean from planting to harvest. Today, he buys his beans—five varietals—and prepares them in a Probat roaster he shares with a buddy in Culver City. And he trains his baristas rigorously; it may take months before he judges a staffer ready to approach the store’s espresso machine with a load of the rare stuff. The result is an espresso with gentle, berry-like overtones, a foamy top and—let’s be honest about our real intentions in drinking the stuff—nice caffeine content. "You do what you love, and I love coffee," he says. We love him for it. 424 S. Main St., Ste. K, Orange, (714) 978-1992.

BEST LINES FROM THE O.C., THE SECOND-BEST TV SHOW ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY, (SEASON ONE)

11. Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) to dad Sandy (Peter Gallagher): "Life’s gritty enough? We live in Newport Beach."

10. Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson), after running her finger across a filthy comforter in a fleabag motel room in Tijuana: "Sweet! Do we have to pay extra for the pubes?"

9. Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie), on his alcoholic mom’s contemplated move from Chino to Newport Beach: "She talks about moving someplace small nearby, in the numbered streets."

8. Seth, after Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) reveals Ryan played Snoopy in a hometown school musical: "I didn’t know they had musicals in Chino. I didn’t even know they had dancing. Or laughter."

7. Luke Ward (Chris Carmack), offering to thump a foe for Ryan: "Just give me the word, and I will drop the Great Gatsby."

6. Sandy, walking in on a threesome in his bedroom: "I should really learn to knock . . . in case there’s a threesome going on in my bedroom."

5. Unnamed hot Newport mommy: "It’s been a relaxing weekend, ladies. I’m off to fire my cleaning lady. See you at spinning."

4. Unnamed skinny teen guy, in tortured white-boy-rapper voice: "That freak from Chino; he was all up in Luke’s grill. . . . Run him out of Newport fo’ sho’."

3. Nana Cohen (Linda Lavin): "Oh, God, what am I doing here?! I hate this state, I hate the sunshine, I hate the ocean, I hate Schwarzenegger."

2. Seth, to Sandy, finally addressing a subject that’s long perplexed America: "Dad, your eyebrows have a life of their own."

1. Luke’s ever-immortal introduction to the just-pummeled Ryan: "Welcome to the OC, bitch. This is how it’s done in Orange County."

FIVE SURF SPOTS WHERE POSEIDON WILL KICK YOUR ASS IF THE LOCAL SURF NAZIS DON’T DO IT FIRST

1. The Wedge. If you want to commit suicide by water, you might consider the Wedge, located at the end of the Newport peninsula. On a big south swell, combined with the energy off the long rock jetty, set waves combine together in an unholy fusion to create a heaving, pitching monstrosity. Surfers are the outcasts at this spot due to the horde of protective body-boarders and unstable stand-up conditions. It involves a quick stand, mammoth drop, and nine times out of 10, it ends in a destructo water wall weighing the equivalent of the entire population of Guam. Surf at your own risk—people have been crippled here.

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