Irvine

Irvine's official website says God raised the curtain on homo erectus irvinus about 12,000 years ago, but that it took 10,000 years—100 centuries—for that group to do anything; Irvine's done more today in the time it took me to write this sentence. I don't want to impugn the integrity of our forebears—I'm not making an ontological argument here (I'll leave that to UC Irvine's world-famous philosophy department, a faculty that included, until his death last year, Jacques Derrida). I'm talking about doing. Irvine is a city of activity—of relentless AYSO games in the park; ambitious companies with a global reach (did you know that Irvine-based Broadcom is the No. 2 fabless semiconductor company in the world? Do you know what a fab is? If so, please e-mail wswaim@ocweekly.com); of a City Council sophisticated enough to brew up its own Chicago-style scandals; a city of homes that are remodeled and then remodeled again, so that they become more like the folding tents of the Fezzan Bedouin; a city of Chinese, Iranians, Koreans and Indians eager to fit in, but not so much so that they're willing to forgo great food and the occasional cricket match in the park.

It wasn't always this way. The first homes went up about 2,000 years ago, and though the city website tells you the builders "enjoyed an abundant food supply of shellfish, waterfowl and land animals"—pretty much what we're eating now—it also tells you their homes were "huts," round, woven huts. Consider that for a moment, and now consider that the city has okayed for takeoff the construction of 30,000-square-foot castles in the San Joaquin Foothills, the city's last line of natural defense before it abuts voracious Newport Beach. Nowadays, the WASPs' nests have given over to a rich and diverse Asian population supported by the most nourishing environment outside New Delhi. Didn't the Native Americans come over from Siberia on some land bridge? In a way, this somehow returns Irvine to its original owners, thousands of years after the fact.



Photo by Heather X

Best Place for an Intimate Exchange in Irvine Excluding those creaking, creepy Ferris Wheels run by reformed meth addicts at your Annual Guano Fest, OC has two remarkable Wheels o' Cheese—one at the Balboa Peninsula Fun Zone and this one at the Irvine Spectrum. It's just $2, but at its apex (over 100 feet in the air) is just the right place for that heart-to-heart talk with someone you love, like Matt Dillon with Sean Young in 1991's A Kiss Before Dying. Those kids in the picture? They belong on the Spectrum's merry-go-round ($1). 71 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 753-5180.

Best Synagogue on Ice University Synagogue. Irvine scored its first ice hockey rink in the late 1990s—a big red barn-looking thing, like something a tornado lifted out of Salina, Kansas, and dropped at the corner of Michelson and Harvard, across the street from Boomers! The rink flourished briefly, and then for reasons unclear was sold in 2000—to University Synagogue. With 440 families, we'd say it has a strong bench and good coaching, but may be a little weak on skates—but, then, much the same could be said about "hockey" at this point. The new owners repainted the brick-red building a vapid gray, and we miss the "hockey." But there's something really beautiful about looking at the building, if only from your car, and considering Moses or Isaac Bashevis Singer on Bauer Vapor XX skates: zooming over the blue line, driving the puck down into the corner, feeding it to Sandy Koufax or Maimonides, who blazes into the slot and knocks it in top shelf: past Jesus. 3400 Michelson Dr., Irvine, (949) 553-3535.

Best Intersection for Asian Cuisine The corner of Walnut Avenue and Jeffrey Road, where a wonderful array of different Asian restaurants specialize in Japanese, regional Chinese and Vietnamese food. There are enough good places here to eat at a new one every night for a week (or more). Bin Bin Konjac (translation: icy konjac) offers Taiwan's answer to the smoothie, based around the flavorful, fiber-heavy glucomannan. (5406 Walnut Ave., Ste. C, 949-651-6465); O'Shine Café offers up authentically delicious Chinese sundries like, of all things, beef stew. (14805 Jeffrey, Ste. H, 949-559-5888); Taiko proffers amazing shrimp tempura and a bellyful of delicate Japanese niblets. (14775 Jeffrey Rd., Ste. K, 949-559-7190).

Best Chance to Tune In, Turn On KUCI. Welcome to the revamped and revved-up KUCI—cooler (if maybe less consistent than Indie 103), with a competitive roster of live sets by local-but-we-don't-mean-local-as-in-suck bands like Rilo Kiley and Matt Costa and an engaging schedule that combines rookie enthusiasm with serious cultural chops from classic county radio shows like Howdylicious!, Closed Caskets For The Living Impaired and Riders of the Plastic Groove. An OC institution that deserves as much broadcast power and as much respect as KXLU. KUCI 88.9 FM or listen on the web at www.kuci.org.

Best Haircut Metro for Men. "Men need to be educated," Master Stylist Krista Martin says, which is kinda hard to hear and comprehend in a posh men's salon like this, where every station is hardwood in manly tones, where your shoes are off getting a mirror shine, where flatscreen TVs blast news/sports/program of your choosing. But education—on things like the new men's Redken line and why she's cutting your hair this way—is very necessary. Men don't take care of ourselves the way we should, which is part of the reason we—you—are going bald. 15382 Alton Pkwy., Irvine, (949) 450-0150.

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