Best Of :: Shopping & Services
All eyes have rightfully fixed on Anaheim this past year, between the City Council's subsidizing ways, its trigger-happy police department and the issue of district elections. But in the shadow of the Mouse ears, Garden Grove has been on a redevelopment rampage over the years, giving away free land and displacing residents while putting up more hotel projects than rich Uncle Pennybags. The city is desperate to be known for more than being the hometown of actor Steve Martin, and it knows its Harbor Boulevard corridor is close enough to steal some swag from the Disneyland Resort in a race to the bottom. Enter the branding nightmare known as "The International West." In April, the Garden Grove City Council unanimously voted on funding schemes for two major hotel projects to add to the half-baked-named tourist district. One three-hotel developer will be the beneficiary of a 50 to 60 percent sales-and-bed-tax-revenue giveaway totaling $17.6 million over a 20-year period. In the same meeting, the city also pledged to kick down $42 million of $51 million total in bonds upfront to another developer for the much-touted Great Wolf Lodge indoor-outdoor water-park resort and a parking structure for it. There's a fuss about it all, but it's still so quiet that a mayor in one city can pretend to be against subsidies in principle while profiting off them privately in Garden Grove!
Getting laser hair removal can be several things: painful, embarrassing, uncertain. But Esthetic RX makes sure a visit to its salon for a zap session is none of these. Knowledgeable and friendly receptionists greet all prospective clients, and they'll explain what to expect during the procedure, typical results and the different services offered—all before you make your first appointment. The professionalism doesn't end on the phone. Registered Nurse Carolyn O'Connell walks you through everything before starting treatment. She makes sure you are as comfortable as possible by gently numbing the area before beginning, stopping periodically to ask how you are feeling. And she's a great conversationalist. Oh, and it's walking distance from the beach, so when you're all done, you can show off your furless bikini body with pride.
I walked the road by the sea. I walked past posters of oversized humans glued to windows and glowing surf ads that sold me happiness. I was lost in half-naked girls, surfers, kooks and tourists that belied my path to truth. Why was I so lost? I could have any surf product I wanted. Any type of board, hat, shirt, watch, towel, sandal, bottle opener, sticker—but none of this made me feel good. Nothing seemed real. There was no struggle. No reflection of the paddle through 10-foot beach break for that one big drop. No two-wave hold downs that reminded me I wanted to live—to surf.
Just press a button. I am a surfer like you. This was not real. So I got up. Leaving behind the bright lights and mouths to kiss but never found love. And as I walked further down the road by the sea, the night became quiet, and I soon fell to slumber. When I awoke, it seemed as though I were in a dream. It was a frog and a house? It was cozy inside—filled with the smell of sand and wax. There were things from the sea stuck to the wall and surf stuff crowded the room as though a group of good friends. The guy behind the counter talked of surfing Pipeline yesterday. This was it. This was real. Real surfers who didn't have everything I wanted, but the one thing I needed: truth.
Don't be fazed by the tightness of the space in this hole-in-the-wall (tucked behind a barbershop and adjacent to Wild Goose Tavern and an all-Hawaiian-shirt store) or the mountains of vinyl LPs that cascade to your feet because there's gold in them thar hills; while the standard A-to-Z rock albums and new releases abound, a hefty collection of rare and obscure punk, hip-hop, world and funk music await your discovery, so even the snobbiest audiophile would find something here to covet. Prices are fair, since many of the records are new presses, but if you're collecting on a budget, there's always the sale section, where records go for $3 and up. And if you're of the digital persuasion, the wall of CDs is fit for your perusal, as is the section of DVDs and old-school cassettes.
In an age when seemingly everyone buys games online, this independently owned shop is an oasis for gamers. Tucked next to an outpost of L&L Hawaiian BBQ, owner Lawrence MacSelwiney and his knowledgeable staff take customers through purchasing decisions, making sure they get the game they'll enjoy most, not just what's clogging the shelves. Looking for retro gems? Childhood faves to play on your classic system? Come on down; they're probably here. Your vintage Sega acting up? Bring it in for a speedy repair! These geeks won't lead you down the wrong path.
Black barbershops in Orange County are a rare find, and that's part of the reason why A-Unique Barbershop in Anaheim is so aptly named. The business has been going strong for 15 years, providing fades, lineups, tapers, texturizers and skilled specialty cuts. Owner Pierre Dotson, whose love for the craft is illustrated by the clipper tattoos on his forearm, and his wise-cracking barbers will have you feeling like a whole new person by the time they apply the finishing touches to your head of hair. All the while, sports, life, ladies and music are fair game for lively discussion whether you're in the barber chair or waiting your turn. A-Unique is more than just haircuts and conversations, though. It's about community and making everybody feel at home. Become a regular, and check in with the barbers about the next in-house domino tournament or hone your rhymes as the mic gets passed around. Better yet, show your love for this infernal rag by getting the Weekly's logo etched into your hair? A-Unique can do that, too, because they got it like that!
The head barber at Eagle & Pig in Costa Mesa might be the best-read barber you'll ever go to. Dane Hesse's barbershop—full of boards of the surf and skate variety, vintage mirrors and dentist's chairs, beer, dogs, and other miscellany—oozes cool. He specializes in interesting men's cuts, from the short, prim and proper to the pomade-heavy asymmetrical styles of late, and he shaves like no one else. But the prime reason to visit him isn't quality (though if he wanted to, he could rest on that alone). After graduating from Vanguard University with a bachelors' degree in history and political science, Hesse decided to learn a trade instead of working in an office. He's a great barber, yeah, but he might be one of the brightest, most erudite barbers in the United States. And really, who goes to a barber for just a haircut? Make sure you call ahead.
A visit to Salon Gabriel Anthony in Orange can solve two problems for the average Orange Countian: bad hair and political apathy. An appointment with Gabriel himself will ensure you walk out of there with a glossy head of tresses, after a good deep-conditioning treatment and an earful of political talk. Probably more than you care to hear. But not enough of what you need to hear: Pulido politics, Boehner babble, Rubio rant, Syria soliloquies—he could very well have his own show on C-Span or even his own column in this infernal rag. And given that most Orange County residents live under a huge orange rock, his crusade to inform the masses, one precision haircut at a time, may make him the most socially progressive man to preach alongside the scissors since Reuben Martinez himself.
Need a tattoo with deep, symbolic meaning or want to get inked on impulse? Whatever the case, naranjeros need look no further than Pachuco Tattoo in Orange. The parlor has been around for only two years, but word has quickly spread about the quality of its services. Herchell Carrasco, the young pompadour-styled rockabilly owner of the shop, oversees daily operations in his second-story studio. Recline in the chair while the parlor's talented artists meticulously etch the detailed designs of everything from rich-colored calaveras to characters from The Simpsons. Pachuco Tattoo stays grounded in the community, too, whether tatting up local underground rappers such as Orange's own EndzGotOddRoots or hustling a meet-and-greet with Chicana rap queen Ms Krazie. Though his business is in Orange, Carrasco grew up in Anaheim as evidenced by the lowrider mouse-ears hat inked onto his arm by fellow artist Danny Alfaro. When Genevieve Huizar lost her son Manuel Diaz to a controversial police shooting last summer in the city, Carrasco was there with his trusty needle to inscribe a mother's pain and memory forever onto her forearm.
Don't let the name fool you: Edgar Hoill is one down-ass chingón (His nickname? "OSOK," for "One Shot, One Kill"). The Houston transplant is legendary in the lowrider circuit for his stunning photographs of ranflas and rucas, and he's a hit in Chicano circles for images of Mexican life that seem pulled from Gabriel Figueroa's cinematography. But Hoill is also making his presence known in the world of cigars with his namesake line. With tobacco pulled from Nicaragua and flavors straight from God's humidor, Hoill's cigars come in gorgeous wooden boxes and have the DNA of his previous cigar efforts, which got a score of 93 points out of 100 from Cigar Aficionado. If you want some, you'd better hurry: They sell faster than ice in the Mojave.
Its location tells you absolutely nothing about what goes on inside or how much it will cost you. The front of the house is flooded by natural light from windows all around, including in the area holding lots of frames. If you wear glasses, you know how important this is—how many times have you had to select frames when you can't even see yourself? Dr. Susan M. Hartley's husband, Paul Horiuchi, presides out here with efficiency and charm. He'll help pick frames that look good and go well with your Rx. They use a trusted lab—none of this LensCrafters crap. The back of the house is Dr. Hartley's dark domain, where she is the absolute master of the diagnostic machines. Once you're in the monster chair, her intense focus is all on you and how you use your eyes, your exact needs, your concerns and dilemmas. Any question you ask is answered thoroughly, as if you were an intelligent person, plus she has stellar patience when you can't tell which is clearer, 8 or 9, 9 or 1, again, 9, pause, 1.
If Bookman is the megalopolis of books, then Village Book Exchange is, you know, a village. And sometimes that's all it takes. This 31-year-old San Clemente shop is ideal for a short burst of in-depth browsing, with an organized and eclectic stock. And as is mandatory for any village shop, there's a handwritten sign on the screen door that asks you to not let the cat out.