Best of OC 2004: Part 1

2. 56th Street, Newport Beach. If Darwin surfed, he might have come up with his "survival of the fittest" theory by watching the bitter monkey chain out in the 56th Street lineup. Fast, steep waves; limited resources; and angry wavemongers make this spot only for the advanced or familiar. We once witnessed a burly local manhandle a pasty white kid off a wave, only to continue pumping down the line. There is no leeway shown for the weak or inexperienced. If you’re in the way, your ass gets run over or chewed out of the water.

3. Trestles. Trestles is like that perfect pretty girl we all had a crush on in high school who made straight A’s and played three sports—it was only later we heard she did speed and was in therapy. Trestles is OC’s premium wave, boasting perfection and consistency. It’s a long walk to get to this spot, but the experience includes trees, grass and deer, as opposed to parking meters and guard towers. Wax and chalk messages line the asphalt, ranging from the direct ("If you don’t live here, don’t surf here") to the cryptic ("Gothic dolphin"). That aside, the waters are crowded; locals and pros scoop the cream while the rest vie for the pickings.

4. Huntington Pier. If you keep to yourself and don’t cut anyone off, odds are you’ll be fine at Huntington Pier. It’s bigger, slower and a little more crowded than Newport (so zoo-like, in fact, that we once ran over a kid who couldn’t have been more than age 10 at this spot). Between the deep-seated locals and the pack of arrogant young blood, there’s little room for newcomers. Waves closet to the pier on either the north or south side are the most fiercely guarded.

5. Salt Creek. Don’t be fooled by Salt Creek’s tame exterior nestled beneath the shadow of the Ritz Carlton. Home to shallow breaks and aloof crowds, Salt Creek is more akin to a 405 traffic jam than an "endless summer" experience. Expect to run into a morass of local Dana Point high school and junior high kids. It offers wave variety; however, it’s the clogged artery of OC surfing’s heart—and desperately in need of bypass surgery. Prepare for frustration as you bicker and fight over waves with 12-year-olds.

VINTAGE EYEWEAR

1. Allyn Scura of San Clemente. Formerly of Santa Ana, this is the company that stunned the vintage world two years ago by purchasing 30,000 pairs of never-worn frames for men, women and kids. Resale prices hover around $85 for these and around $125 for the firm’s own vintage-inspired designs, which ain’t cheap. They’re nice glasses, though. (800) 393-7482, (949) 429-5116; www.allynscura.com.

DELICIOUSLY ICKY BAR BATHROOM

1. Los Vacitos. Okay, so you can’t expect too much if you’re willingly using the loo in a place where people exchange money for what essentially is, when you get right to it, poison. And yeah, most times you’re too drunk to care that much about the pile of puke in the sink/toilet paper wads on the toilet seat/overflowed filth on the floor. At Los Vacitos, though, there’s hope—the bar’s new owners are planning a remodel and will soon reopen it as the District Lounge—but let’s hope the remodel includes the women’s restroom. Aside from the scary, sweaty, skinny hallway that leads into it—which we actually kinda dig ’cause standing in line with 15 shit-faced ladies is fun!—the single-stall bathroom becomes a useless cesspool of toilet stuff when it clogs. And it does. Often. Whatever you do, don’t wear sandals. 223 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 771-0170.

FIVE ESSENTIAL OC GUITAR PLAYERS

1. Junior Watson. If there is any reason for people to still be playing blues, it is in the hope that someone as stunningly original as Watson will come along. The Stanton-based wonder is a master of every shade of blues and a number of other styles, but in the jazz-infused West Coast jump style, he’s carved his own unique niche—with a buzz saw. A Watson solo is the equivalent of Albert Einstein throwing up on a roller coaster as it plunges through wormholes in the space-time continuum of musical logic, and we’re talking Einstein after eating a hot pastrami sandwich.

2. Dick Dale. Though the King of the Surf Guitar has pretty much abandoned us for the desert—we hear he’s got a boat in Newport now—he remains the keeper of the definitive OC guitar sound: the reverb-drenched throb that replicates the sensation of a big-ass wave curl enveloping you. Though he’s now older than rope, Dale is still a monster on guitar, playing with an elemental ferocity and unfettered spirit.

3. Danny Ott. In his many years with Chris Gaffney and the Cold Hard Facts, Ott established himself as OC’s best utility player: not just excelling at Bakersfield twang, blistering rock, low-riding R&B, Norteno two-step, and everything else Gaffney threw at him, but also making it all his own with a drive and lyricism unmatched by most stadium-filling guitarists.

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