Best of OC 2004: Part 1

5. El-Centro Cultural de Mexico. Located in Santa Ana, this eclectic bunch is always looking for new volunteers to join in the fun. Their volunteers teach musical classes to children, Aztec-dancing classes, English-as-a-second-language classes to children and adults, and do musical performances around Orange County. To El-Centro, it’s a very thin line between community service and a party.

6. Orangewood PALS. Working in conjunction with the Orangewood Children’s Home and Foundation, the PALS are a group of young-adult volunteers who fund-raise and provide activities for the abused and neglected children sheltered at the Orangewood Children’s home. Most volunteers can guarantee that while the first time you volunteer there will be because it was mandated, the next 50 times will be because you wanted to.

7. The Volunteer Center of Orange County. They have volunteer opportunities for everyone, and we mean everyone: old people (55 and older); young people (children of all ages); lazy people (done-in-a-day volunteer work); ambitious people (board-leadership opportunities); unlawful people (court-mandated services); and for the guilty, shameful Christmas crowd (holiday opportunities).

8. Orange County Peace Coalition and Code Pink. Like peace and girl power? You? Of course you do, and so do these folks. It’s a tough job waging peace in OC all by yourself. But with a little help from one or both of these groups, you can do it. There’s no better way to serve your community than by stopping the war, protesting corporate greed and being an activist against social injustice.,

9. The Boat People SOS. Really, Boat People, that’s the P.C. term. This organization was formed to help Vietnamese refuges and immigrants in their search for freedom and a dignified life. And maybe somewhere along the way, they can help you find one, too.

10. When in doubt, they’ve got what you’re looking for. Just hop on this website, type in your ZIP code, and brace yourself for list after list of volunteer opportunities.


1. St. Peregrine: patron saint of cancer victims.

2. Our Lady of Czestochowa: patron saint of Poland.

3. St. Agatha: patron saint against breast diseases.

4. St. Paraskevia: patron saint of weavers.

5. St. Philomena: patron saint of working people.

6. St. Toribio Romo: patron saint of Mexican immigrants.

7. St. Maximilian Kolbe: patron saint of journalists.

8. Anima Sola: patron saint of purgatory.

9. Most Powerful Hand: God’s limb.


1. West Coast Classic Restorations. For 18 years, Lenny Copp’s West Coast Classic Restorations have put together some of the finest vintage Volkswagens since they originally rolled off factory lines. Gracing automotive-magazine covers all over the world, WCCR’s show-stopping work also includes their own line of in-house-made interior products. The work isn’t cheap, but it’s damned near perfection. 1002 E. Walnut Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-1322.


1. Jim Silva. The county’s most—how can we put this delicately?—mentally challenged supervisor recently announced that Ronald Reagan hadn’t been glorified enough by the nation. Silva, who relies on note cards to speak and is nonetheless often incoherent, offered what he thought was a unique idea: change the name of historic Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley to Ronald Reagan Park. Several airports, freeways, toll roads, an aircraft carrier, hospitals, schools, community centers, college clubs, post offices, private buildings, government office structures (including our own federal courthouse) and an East Coast mountain range already have been named after the dead 40th prez.


1. Miniondas. Circulation of 55,000. The standard-bearer for Orange County’s sensationalistic Spanish-language press, Miniondas has expanded since its 1975 founding from a four-page monthly into a broadsheet twice-weekly. Owner/editor/publisher Sergio Velasquez recently won the top national prize for journalists from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Many pictures, but actual articles usually consist of captions for said pictures and are always sans byline. BEST FEATURE: a column devoted to famous mass murderers throughout history, from Peter Kurten, "The Monster of Dusseldorf," to Mexico’s own paranormal Manson, the chupacabra!

2. Farandula USA. Circulation of 55,000. Also published by Velasquez, Farandula USA concentrates on Spanish-language entertainment, with stories on singers and actors from across the Western Hemisphere. Photos are notoriously blurry and off-color, and copy is more gushing than the fountains of Tivoli. BEST FEATURE: when they run an article on a grocery store—and the article is next to an ad for the grocery store. The Velasquez empire never met a conflict of ethics they didn’t like.

3. Excelsior. Circulation of 55,000. The Orange County Register’s Spanish-language weekly, Excelsior is currently undergoing a low cycle after the early-year defection of pitbull reporter Sylvia Carlock to the Los Angeles Times’ Spanish-language daily, Hoy. By far the best-funded of Orange County’s Spanish-language weeklies, although most of their resources go toward translating Register articles into Spanish. BEST FEATURE: Miguel Suarez Orozco, entertainment reporter. The gentlemanly 50-ish Orozco always wears the same grey-flannel suit, whether attending a movie-screening or a Mexican metal show or interviewing Shakira.

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