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By Marcus Alan Goldberg
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Lit guitarist Jeremy Popoff has been playing in bands for most of his thirtysomething years; he started his first in 1990, while still a student at Anaheim's Savannah High. He has made a success of it too (see, for instance, the band's 1999 platinum-selling album A Place in the Sun),and though that's more than most musicians can hope for—to make an actual living in an industry famous for chewing up hope and producing profits alongside despair—Popoff is deploying his peculiar brand of confidence/ambition in unrelated fields: real estate, for example, and the restaurant business (he's part owner of the Slide Bar in downtown Fullerton).
Popoff has lived in Orange County all his life, but ask him and he'll tell you he's never surfed, doesn't hike at all, and basically takes his inspiration from the East—not the Orient, but Las Vegas, the City of Nights out there, five hours beyond the Santa Anas that curve like a lover's arm around his beloved Fullerton. His favorite things about Orange County? Almost everything comes back to Fullerton.
Renick Cadillac."They're a great bunch of people, and were a great source of inspiration to me in the '90s when I was broke. I used to drive by there every day, and I always said, 'One day, I'll buy one of those.' I'd see the new ones and I wanted to walk on the lot and get one. But the first time I walked onto the lot and asked to test-drive an Escalade, the old sales guy thought I was just some punk-ass kid." Popoff already owned three vintage Cadillacs by then—a 1961, '69 and '71; the big-finned '61 "was the main one; it appeared on Cribs." Popoff gave the aging salesman a lesson in the new economy: he went down the street, bought an Escalade, and brought it to Renick for oil changes. No hard feelings, though: "I've become friends with the Renick family, and I've bought two new Cadillacs [an STS and an STS-V]." 1100 S. Euclid St., Fullerton, (714) 871-9300; www.renickcadillac.com.
Howe Clothing. "Jade Howe is a killer designer from Santa Ana. His aesthetic is cowboy punk, very rock & roll, but very upscale too. Classy. Fits well. We were neighbors when I lived in Santa Ana in the lofts; now we're friends and I've got a closet full of his stuff, including four or five incredible jackets." Available in Nordstrom and Saks; www.hauseofhowe.com.
Kimmies Coffee Cup. "The best breakfast around. I feel like I'm in a diner in the middle of nowhere. I take my son because there's something for both of us: cute waitresses for me, Mickey Mouse pancakes for him. You've got to get up early to go there, though: they close at 2 p.m." 1605 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 449-1580.
Eichler Homes."I'm a lover of midcentury modern, and I really appreciate the homes of Joseph Eichler. He did most of his work in the Bay Area, but we've got a few Eichler communities [built in the 1950s and '60s] in OC. There's something timeless about them, about Eichler's use of open floor plans and redwood, concrete and glass. But they're also clearly products of their time; they're all about the inside and the back yard, not the front yard, like turning away from the world. Thanks to Eichler, OC will not just go down in history for the Irvine Co.'s autoclaved, beige Stepford Wife tract homes." www.eichlernetwork.com.
The Angels. "Like a lot of people in OC, I grew up a Dodger fan because my dad was. But we went to a lot of Angels games because the stadium was closer. I became an official Angels fan in the mid-'90s and was lucky to be there when we won the World Series in 2002." Special bonus: "Lit got to play what was then called Edison Field for the 2000 Weenie Roast. I get a little fuzzy when I drive the 57." (888) 796-HALO; angels.mlb.com.
The Continental. "My partner in the Slide Bar, Sean Francis, had a vision in 1999 for this historic but dilapidated watering hole in what was a seedy part of Fullerton. Now it's a happening cocktail lounge. The interior is a total throwback to a '60s cocktail lounge—very Rat Pack feel, like a lounge in a Vegas casino. They make a real cocktail; you know they're not back there blending mai tais. I drink Jack Daniels and Diet Coke. I think it's fair to say the Continental sparked the redevelopment of what people are calling 'SoCo' [south of Commonwealth]. It's an awesome part of town with cobblestone alleys, loft condos, restaurants and bars." 115 W. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-4529.
Aces High Tattoo. "Todd and Matt have permanently scarred the majority of my body. Fortunately, they're very talented artists. They're fast, which is good; I don't like sitting under the gun for five hours on a two-hour piece. In a lot of shops, the guys have attitude; they intimidate. Not this place." Among his favorites: "My memorial tattoo for my stepdad Kerry [upper left arm] and a skeleton with a broken heart, a guitar and a bottle of whiskey"—all under the legend TOOLS OF THE TRADE—on his lower left arm. 337 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 879-9401; www.aceshightattoos.com.
Tower Records. "It's a new world, and most kids will never know the thrill of riding their bike home from the record store with a couple of new albums under their arm. I still enjoy spending hours just browsing and zoning out while checking out new music—but I usually walk out with something from the '70s or '80s." On a recent trip, purchases included the new album from the Living End; the Eagles Greatest Hits ("for about the millionth time") and, in a gesture that bespeaks his most important current gig, Kidz Bop 10. 220 S. Brea Blvd., Brea, (714) 529-9996.
El Cholo. "My parents went there when they were young. Best margaritas and killer food, great $1 taco happy hour—and right next to J Star Motors, the place in OC to pimp your ride . . . or buy one already pimped." 840 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 691-4618.
Downtown Fullerton. "I chose to live in Fullerton nine years ago because of the downtown. I like the whole vibe—the old homes and buildings, and the feel that there's nothing too corporate. A lot of independent, locally owned businesses. Everywhere you go, you feel like you know the people and the people know you. I own two homes here now, and I think it's truly one of the last real communities around—great police department, great schools, restaurants and bars. (I said 'schools' and 'bars' in the same sentence.)"
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