Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
If the name Jeff Pearlman doesn't ring a bell, it should. A New York Times best-selling author who relocated to Orange County, Pearlman is one of the nation's top sports biographers. Last year, the former Sports Illustrated reporter published Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre. But Pearlman isn't just a superb writer. His weekly podcast interviews, Two Writers Slinging Yang, available on iTunes, give listeners welcomed insights into journalism, sports, writing, politics and, well, life. We'd be lying if we didn't admit we also love how he routinely skewers Dana Rohrabacher, OC's senior career politician, on his website CrazyDana.com.
Curator Torrey Cook's love for the whimsies of lowbrow art and her embrace of community makes her gallery the place to be. There's always plenty going on here—bands, pins and patches, pop-ups, live art classes—with nary a stuffy piece of "fine art" in the five mini galleries or the larger exhibition space. The move to Anaheim from Laguna has been easier on Cook's pocketbook and gives her room to do more. A maverick in the best sense of the word, and if you need proof, just walk around the second story of the Anaheim GardenWalk and check out Cook's curation and organization of the Artists Republic Mural Garden on the top floor (see Best Public Art).
400 W. Disney Way, Ste. 137, Anaheim, (949) 988-0603; artists-republic.com.
Readers' Choice: Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center
Irvine Fine Arts Center's Mikhailik likes difficult, expressionistic, abstract work. Her exhibitions and choices in artists are never easy or safe; in fact, sometimes it's just downright puzzling. But her steadfast good taste, trust in an audience she refuses to talk down to, and her championing of female artists equals a class act.
There are too many murals here to count. Okay, there's 17. We counted. (Okay, actually, we took the number off the Artists Republic website.) We did see them all, however, and they're the best, most consistent grouping of public murals in OC, turning the mundanities of mall life—Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., P.F. Chang's, Sunglass Hut, etc.—into something transcendent, Pop-y and cool.
400 W. Disney Way, Anaheim, (714) 635-7410; anaheimgardenwalk.com.
Say you had a guest list with Frida Kahlo, the Virgin of Guadalupe, Edward Weston, Ernest Shackleton, Frank Lloyd Wright, Helena Modjeska, Imogen Cunningham and Empress Dowager Cixi. If you did, wouldn't you make sure you went to that party? That's a list of just some of the exhibitions this year. (We left out the Ghana movie posters because, as cool as they are, they aren't people. Duh.)
2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 567-3600; www.bowers.org.
Readers' Choice: Heritage Museum of Orange County
Endow's picture-perfect paintings give the punk-rock side-eye to everything we hold precious: lambs, children, Twinkies, nuclear blasts, jungle gyms, tater tots, backpacks, those scary monkey toys with the little cymbals and Diane Arbus. The finest details of her pictures reveal the dazzling Lynchian ugly behind the normal AF façade. She sees into our souls. And she does commissions.
West Coast hip-hop gave Southern California a genre that's now part of our DNA, and 93.5 KDAY is the only station you can rely on to actually mix things up a bit rather than simply play what's trending on the charts. It's the only station to regularly play G-Funk or Chicano hip-hop. Sure, it doesn't play much new music, but old-school hip-hop is timeless. And ever since Hot 92.3 became a second Power 106, KDAY has become OC's source for its Sunday-night dose of The Art Laboe Connection, helping keep alive another era of radio central to the heart of us all. Now if it would just acknowledge our fair county is a large part of its listeners and give one of our DJs a spot on the 1's & 2's (cough, inDJnous, cough).
Readers' Choice: DFZ Radio
Though the onetime home of San Clemente founder Ole Hanson has dedicated gallery space and an outdoor amphitheater, the most thrilling work at 1927 Spanish Revival Casa Romantica is created specifically for its every nook and cranny. Enter through the old mansion's keyhole-shaped door for dance and theater performances anywhere from a beehive hearth or green-tiled bathroom to its ocean-view terrace and octagonal room, usually timed to take advantage of the changing light of sunset. Casa Romantica's site-specific commissioned pieces are the treasures of its ever-growing cultural programming, which seems to double every season.
415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, (949) 498-2139; www.casaromantica.org.
Have you even heard Jonwayne's Rap Album Two? Go listen to it front to back before you start crying about our choice because no OC rapper comes even close to delivering the piece of art carefully painted by the La Habra MC. Using the delivery of a battle rapper, the swagger of a homie and the vocabulary of a poet, he carefully crafts flows syllable by syllable, showing you he means it when he says "these words are everything." Jonwayne possesses an old-school MC style that allows him to mesmerize the crowd as he rocks the mic with confidence and endlessly finesses anyone who doubts him.
Our local daredevil Anthony "8Booth" Armer might've shattered his feet at the end of last year during a stunt at Table Rock Beach in Laguna, but you'd be a fool to think it was the last we've heard of him. With his newfound infamy, the head of 8booth Productions began focusing on highlighting other daredevils in OC while still releasing stunt videos he made prior to his injuries. But the true heart of the channel is Armer's unvarnished dedication to what he's passionate about, documenting his recovery, including regaining his ability to walk. Remember to "support.your.local.savage" by checking out the latest stunts by his friends, who keep the channel as exciting as ever with plenty of death-defying jumps.https://www.youtube.com/xo8booth
It was bad enough March brought us the Saint Marc Pub-Café incident in which a young Latina, her sister and friends were asked to show proof of residency before being served. But then came the March 25 Huntington Beach #MAGAmarch, which turned into a lovely day of racist slurs, a Kaiser flag, a "Da Goyim Know" sign, Pinochet chants, Hammerskins coming out to play, white nationalists beating up counterprotesters and OC Weekly reporters, and a Nazi openly showing off his swastika tattoo. What was the reaction of locals? Throwing away stacks of OC Weeklys because we dared reveal white supremacists seemed to feel right at home in Surf City, with no action or even condemnation being taken against the white power losers. Is it any coincidence the local alt-right felt HB was the perfect place to hold a book burning, that anti-immigrant loon Raymond Herrera feels it's the best place to spew his xenophobia, or that white nationalist group American Vanguard chose it as the HQ for its OC chapter? Stay classy, Surf Shitty!