People & Places

  • Best Charity

    Someone Cares Soup Kitchen

    Founded in 1986, the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen serves meals to more than 300 people, seven days a week. The Costa Mesa-based nonprofit's mission is to feed a daily nutritious meal to the homeless, the unemployed, the working poor, the mentally challenged, the physically challenged, senior citizens and, most important of all, children. 'Cause it's all about the children. They… More >>
  • Best Festival

    May Day Festival at the Phoenix Club

    If you're one of those people who thinks every month should have its own Oktoberfest, then fret not because there is room for your beer-swilling self over at the Phoenix Club, home to the largest outdoor festhalle in the country. Every May 1, the club opens its doors to the public for a daylong celebration of all things Germanic: sauerkraut,… More >>
  • KPCC-FM 89.3

    Best Radio Station

    KPCC-FM 89.3

    How could a public radio station be better than KPCC? Okay, we know what you're going to say: by not playing public-radio programming. But that's wrong; KPPC's lineup is consistently fascinating and varied enough that it's worth tuning into at most times of the day. The personalities are who make it, from the nebbishy-but-bold Larry Mantle to the affably anti-jargon… More >>
  • Best Radio Personality

    Jim Svejda

    If you ever listen to classical music on the radio, chances are you've heard the host who sounds how a classical-music host would sound if he were a character on The Simpsons. Get beyond the funny voice, and you quickly realize that KUSC's Jim Svejda is probably the most knowledgeable (and opinionated) radio host in the country when it comes… More >>
  • Best Magazine Editor

    Martin J. Smith

    In Marty Smith's capable hands, Orange Coast magazine continues to improve over the days when the publication was largely content-free. Smith loves a good story and has been sharing them with his readers. Sure, there are all the "best" lists (like, uh, this one), but nowadays, those are leavened with interesting profiles and local crime mysteries. The story of James… More >>
  • Best Reporter

    Teri Sforza

    The Teri Sforza reporting tsunami continued this year with The Orange County Register's OC Watchdog reporter nailing lazy and dishonest government officials for abusing tax dollars, hiding public documents, ignoring budding crises, causing budding crises and the like. One of our favorite Sforza stories was her relentless showcasing of corruption and incompetence at the county executive level and Orange County… More >>
  • Best News Lede

    Robert Faturechi

    From "Donald Bren's Intensely Private Life Becomes Public As Child-Support Trial Begins" in the Los Angeles Times, Aug. 20, 2010: "Billionaire Donald L. Bren walked into a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday wearing a suit and sneakers. His footwear may have been comfortable, but the occasion certainly wasn't: A lawyer representing two of his children peppered the intensely private Irvine Co.… More >>
  • Best Student Publication


    Orange County's colleges have some of the better coed reporters in the country, between the literary-journalism department at UC Irvine run by Pulitzer Prize winner Barry Siegel, Chapman University's bachelor's program and the student-run The Hornet of Fullerton College, which dominates community-college newspaper awards like USC used to win Heismans. But it was Cal State Fullerton's Tusk that won the… More >>
  • Best Spanish-Language Publications

    Miniondas and Farándula USA

    Who says journalism is dead? La naranja has at least a dozen weekly Spanish-language newspapers, multiple monthly revistas and an increasing number of blogs. Unfortunately, most of them seem to only print soccer scores from the local leagues or crib articles from other, more-established publications. The exception to that rule is Miniondas, now in its fourth decade. The broadsheet does… More >>
  • Best TV Station

    Cox 3

    The muzak soundtracks, penny-pinching production values and endless live streams from local government hearings that make local-access television so unbearable—and hilarious if you're sleepy, stoned or both—are all here at the network of this South County cable provider. But Cox 3's original programming nails its demographic. One lifestyle show's recent episode was anchored by a platinum-blond middle-ager from the rooftop… More >>
  • Vikki Vargas

    Best Newscaster

    Vikki Vargas

    With a never-ending stream of salacious events unfolding each minute in Southern California—all competing for the insatiable appetites of network producers and newspaper editors—it's comforting to know Orange County has Vikki Vargas in its corner. Whether some sociopath has allegedly scattered the remains of a friend in a local park or the Newport Wedge is just going off, rest assured… More >>
  • Best Sportscaster

    Rory Markas

    This year's best sports broadcaster is a man who only lived four days in 2010. With his signature call "Just another Halo victory," Rory Markas, the Angels' radio and television play-by-play announcer had brought the games home to audiences since 2002. In January, Markas was found dead of an apparent heart attack in his Palmdale home. He was 54. The… More >>
  • Best Cave Filled With Sheet Music

    Mo's Music

    Dorothy and the Tin Man had a helluva time getting to the Emerald City, but at Mo's Music in Downtown Fullerton, you'll find it much easier traveling down the store's very own Yellow Brick Road. No flying monkeys here! At the end of this road (which is laminated and inexplicably leads you through a giant, papier-mâché rock tunnel), you might… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Kaj Goldberg

    Kaj Goldberg seems like the ultimate boob-tube phony: stylish first name (pronounced "Kye"), ambiguous ethnicity, good looks and a smile that stretches from here to Barstow. But the half-African-American, half-Swedish native of Los Angeles quickly wins over any skeptics with his weather forecasts—not too goofy, not too pedantic, always conversational. Goldberg has been covering the weather for only a few… More >>
  • Best Selection of 45s

    Mr. C's Rare Records

    As anyone who has ever bought vinyl 45s through a site such as eBay can attest, the experience doesn't always deliver on the promise of convenience. Descriptions of goods as "mint" or "near-mint" become highly subjective behind the cloak of anonymity. Luckily for us, there's Mr. C's Rare Records, which boasts an impressive collection of 45 rpm records numbering in… More >>
  • Best Politician

    KimOanh Nguyen-Lam

    Too often the moniker of "politician" carries a well-deserved negative connotation, regardless of political party. So being named Best Politician could be a backhanded slam, but not in the case of KimOanh Nguyen-Lam. In a county stocked with more than its fair share of moronic elected officials, Nguyen-Lam stands unsurpassed in character, accomplishments and idealism. A member of the Garden… More >>
  • Best Political Coup

    Sandra Hutchens

    Until June, the rap on appointed Sheriff Sandra Hutchens was that her lack of political savvy and boneheaded policies on concealed weapons would block her from winning voter approval as the replacement for convicted felon Mike Carona. But during an often verbally heated campaign against challengers Bill Hunt and Craig Hunter, Hutchens remained herself: calm (if bland) and prone to… More >>
  • Orly Taitz\'s Secretary of State candidacy

    Best Incentive to Vote

    Orly Taitz's Secretary of State candidacy

    As solidly unbiased and professional journalists, many of us decline to register with any political party—and given the statistics, that's probably the case for you, too. But in California, the decline-to-states and the independents get the option to vote in whichever primary they choose. This past June, we hope you all chose Republican, and we hope it was because of… More >>
  • Best Political Player

    Melahat Rafiei

    It's takes a powerful person to silence big-mouth local GOP hack Jon Fleischman, but during political debates on Rick Reiff's KOCE-TV show, Inside OC, Melahat Rafiei pulls it off. The unapologetically progressive, always-energetic Rafiei, who has served as the director of the Orange County Democratic Party, nowadays runs her own campaign firm. She seems to be mastering the art of… More >>
  • Best Political Exchange

    Craig Hunter and Bill Hunt

    The unsuccessful sheriff's candidates at a Los Alamitos forum in April:Craig Hunter: “Hunt belongs to the Oath Keepers. They think we’re on the verge of the end of the world with Obama. These people, military and police, say that if they believe the feds try to violate our rights, they will stand down, refuse to follow orders. Not following orders,… More >>
  • Best Quote

    Michael J. Schroeder

    Mike Schroeder during the GOP primary at the California Republican Assembly convention in Buena Park: "Meg Whitman is going to be Arnold Schwarzenegger with a skirt!"… More >>
  • Second-Best Quote

    Larry Agran

    "I don't know where the idea materialized out there that somehow we would have the great metropolitan park developed full-scale within a matter of a few years," Irvine City Councilman and Great Park Chairman Larry Agran told The Orange County Register in May, explaining why there is no park at the Great Park after $220 million has been spent. "Nobody… More >>
  • Best Quote That Gets It Bassackwards

    Judge Marc Kelly

    Explaining in March that defendant Stephen Robert Deck's status as a lieutenant in the California Highway Patrol should lead to a lighter sentence, Judge Marc Kelly said, "That ought to count for something."Deck's crime? Trying to molest a little girl in Laguna Beach during a police-decoy operation. Kelly refused to send Deck to prison.… More >>
  • Best Proposition 8 Pundit

    Erwin Chemerinsky

    The UC Irvine law-school dean is the go-to source for the media whenever a new legal development occurs in the Proposition 8 debate. When a federal judge in San Francisco deemed the same-sex-marriage-denying voter initiative unconstitutional, Chemerinsky was among the first talking heads to note that Prop. 8 backers likely have no standing to argue an appeal because the original… More >>
  • Best Collective Pipe Dream

    The Know Your Rights Expo

    Marijuana may still be just as illegal under federal law as are heroin and hunting bald eagles, but you wouldn't know that if you happened to drop by the Anaheim Convention Center on Aug. 28. There, several dozen exhibitors hawked everything from hemp T-shirts and Proto Pipes to decidedly less-retro demonstrations of the latest hydroponic growing equipment, some of which… More >>
  • Best Cannabis-War Casualty

    Malinda Traudt

    The San Clemente woman was already dealing with epilepsy, blindness and cerebral palsy, which she has suffered since birth 29 years ago, when she came down with osteoporosis in 2008. Traditional medications did not relieve her pain. Medical marijuana did. However, when Traudt's mother, Shelly White, went to fill a prescription at Beach Cities Collective in Capistrano Beach one day,… More >>
  • Best Cannabis Warrior

    James Gray

    Judge James Gray is no hippie pot smoker. Before becoming the presiding judge of Orange County Superior Court, Gray practiced law with the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy in Guam and California. His book Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War On Drugs (Temple University Press) was… More >>
  • Best Political Protester

    Sandy Genis

    While political insiders negotiated in relative secrecy about the proposed forced sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, Sandy Genis—the city's former mayor—has been a one-woman show, delving into the finer points of the deal and revealing the anti-public terms. At City Council meetings and in quotes to inquiring reporters, Genis has claimed the deal allows a future… More >>
  • Best Unintended Comedic Performance

    Fullerton City Councilman Dick Jones

    During a Fullerton City Council meeting related to present-day tattoo parlors, Dick Jones gave a rambling, five-minute history lesson on syphilis outbreaks in the 1920s "in every major American city," noting the STD sent many folks to the "insane asylum." He concluded by wondering if city officials nowadays should insist tattoo needles be cleaned with "soap and water" before each… More >>
  • Best Ownership of a City Council

    Michael Harrah and the Santa Ana City Council

    For half a decade, Newport Beach real-estate developer Michael Harrah has been given the green light to build OC's largest building, a proposed 37-story office tower in Santa Ana. He wasn't able to pull it off, and this year, he returned to the city asking for five additional public concessions. Without an iota of debate from the Santa Ana City… More >>
  • Best City In Which to Live

    Costa Mesa

    First of all, every Weekly reader who lives in Costa Mesa is another vote (right?) against the fake patriots who pass pointless resolutions about "Rule of Law" and push to ban soccer games played by people with skin pigmentation. But kooky politics aside, Costa Mesa is one of the few places in the county where you can pay a not-unreasonable… More >>
  • Best Reason to Live In Orange County

    The 949 and 714

    Because they are not the 909 and 951.… More >>
  • Best Downtown


    Blending historical roots (Fullerton has been partyin' it up since 1887) with a flair for the modern, a moderate-sized chunk of the city is packed with as many bars as there are colors in the rainbow (wine bars, dives, upscale lounges, music venues), shops galore (including an astonishing array of vintage stores) and more restaurants than you can shake a… More >>
  • Best Residential Neighborhood

    Sunset Beach

    There's a reason this unincorporated community north of Huntington Beach fought to remain unincorporated: Who would want to change a damn thing about Sunset Beach? First of all, it's walkable, which is good because its thousand or so residents have to walk to the Post Office to get their mail; direct delivery is one of those modern conveniences that, charmingly,… More >>
  • Best Hotel

    Crystal Cove Beach Cottages

    Room service, hotel pools and chocolates on your pillow: overrated. How about renting a Crystal Cove Beach Cottage and waking up in the morning to the sound of crashing waves? The once-private cottages, built in the 1930s and '40s, have been restored to their original state and are now protected as part of Crystal Cove State Park. Starting in 2006,… More >>
  • Best Historic Neighborhood

    Old Towne Orange

    Go ahead and lament that the famed antique shops of the Orange Circle have slowly but surely been moving out; find their treasures while you still can. But we still hold affection for the old-timey district—featuring, for example, the oldest operating bank in the county. It's not just the architecture, though, that's neat. It's not just the walkability, though that… More >>
  • Best Cemetery

    Yorba Cemetery

    Jose Antonio Yorba was a member of the Gaspar de Portolà expedition—the first Europeans to enter what's now Orange County—and earned a Spanish land grant for his efforts. Eventually, his descendants ended up owning a huge swath of the area, from the Santa Ana Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, with beautiful haciendas throughout—but their holdings disappeared once the gabachos took… More >>
  • Best Place for People Watching

    Main Street, Huntington Beach

    The now-three-month-long May-June-July Gloom notwithstanding, the consistently mild temperatures and ocean breezes make Huntington Beach's main drag a prime people-watching perch. Even well into the fall, Main Street teems with all kinds of people: families, 909-ers, punks, surfers, hippies, and tourists from all over wanting to see the beach and the pier. Though scoping out hunky surfers and bikini babes… More >>
  • Best Bus Route if You Have Time

    Orange County Transit Authority Route 1

    Driving down Pacific Coast Highway is an iconic California experience . . . that's also overrated. After all, you're supposed to be watching the road, right? A bus ride is a more-leisurely way of taking in this most picturesque, vibrant stretch of road, seaside and shopping in the county. Route 1 stretches from San Clemente to Long Beach, and while… More >>
  • Best Toll Road When Someone Else is Paying

    State Route 73

    In terms of distance, the amount of effort saved by ditching the Costa Mesa-to-Mission Viejo portion of Interstates 405 and 5 doesn't appear to be much, and it isn't. But during rush hour, the 73 is a true time-saver. More than that, it's a lovely drive through the wild green coastal-close hills that most of Orange County doesn't even realize… More >>
  • Best Alternative to the Perennially Jammed 91

    Santa Ana River Trail

    The crown jewel in the county's burgeoning network of bikeways, the Santa Ana River Trail is a 32-mile, almost-completely grade-separated route for bikes, hikes and horses. The trail has water fountains every few miles and good access from either side of every major street that crosses it. On a good day, with a tailwind coming up from the beach, it's… More >>
  • Corner of Main Street and Buffalo Avenue, Santa Ana

    Best Place to Watch Weekend Warriors

    Corner of Main Street and Buffalo Avenue, Santa Ana

    Original Mike's seems to get more attention for its almost-weekly hot-rod-and-hog shows than its food, but that's okay—the cars beat the grub any day. If you don't want to deal with the crowds or the brutal sun shining off chrome and asphalt, a better spot to watch the classic cars and motorcycles is at this intersection, across the street from… More >>
  • Best Prosecutor

    Matt Murphy

    Tall and charming, sharp-witted and tireless, veteran homicide prosecutor Matt Murphy has successfully handled so many of OC's most high-profile murder cases that he's probably worthy of his own television mini-series. In recent years, he has sent to Death Row Power Rangers actor Skylar Deleon (and co-conspirators) for tying a retired couple to their boat anchor and tossing them overboard… More >>
  • Best Defense Lawyer

    Brian N. Gurwitz

    As an Orange County prosecutor, Brian Gurwitz rose through the ranks by constantly displaying a razor-sharp intellect and a tireless work habit. Going against the county's top, high-priced defense lawyers on occasion, Gurwitz more than held his own in the contentious courtroom dramas we witnessed. A few years back, he decided to leave government service and become a defense lawyer.… More >>
  • Best Police Department

    Irvine Police Department

    Let's face it: You don't get more Mayberry RFD than Irvine, Orange County's safest city. Some days, the worst crime that occurs is a bunch of kids exploding water bottles at a local outdoor mall. But lurking in those fabulously tranquil neighborhoods are the occasional crazy sensational crimes—a samurai-sword-wielding killer in a grocery store, Egyptian child slavery, an evil-twin murder… More >>
  • Best Valedictorian

    Flavia de la Fuente

    Our own Gustavo Arellano gave the commencement speech at this year's UCLA graduation, but it was student speaker Flavia de la Fuente who earned the standing ovation. The Woodbridge High School graduate and Irvine resident nabbed the spot due to her tireless activism on various issues, most prominent of which is her efforts on behalf of undocumented college students (de… More >>
  • Best Illegal Immigrant

    Antonia Rivera

    Antonia Rivera is just one of dozens of Orange County college students who have come out as illegal immigrants in the hope that such attention leads to passage of amnesty for them. But the Anaheim High School and UC Irvine graduate pushed the envelope further by getting arrested this summer on Capitol Hill for refusing to disperse while participating in… More >>
  • Best Answer to Bigotry

    The OCEC Storytellers

    Many of the people who show up to Orange County Equality Coalition (OCEC) events have had some hard times. After all, nothing motivates someone to start working for gay rights like being discriminated against, harassed, made fun of, or simply struggling with the reality of one's own or a family member's sexuality. But OCEC's Cas Gregory helps people turn the… More >>
  • Best Celebrity

    Jesse James

    Whether one hates Jesse James or really hates Jesse James, there is no denying he is the Orange County celebrity drawing the most paparazzi attention these days. Shutterbugs already followed James when he was locking arms with America's Sweetheart Sandra Bullock around their Sunset Beach home. But candid shots of America's most-famous grease monkey became even hotter after the power… More >>
  • Best Red-Carpet Facilitator

    Eddie Delbridge

    No one in Orange County kicks it with as many mega-huge names in the entertainment world—and gets paid for it—as Eddie Delbridge. The Tustin Ranch resident's Eddie Delbridge Productions Inc. is an independent company that produces the biggest red-carpet broadcasts for the E! Network. Basically, if you see Ryan Seacrest or Joan Rivers hosting a red-carpet event before the Academy… More >>
  • Best Film Location

    The Old Orange County Courthouse

    Those who have recently gone through the criminal-court system know firsthand that shows such as Law & Order and CSI get it all wrong in the production design of their courtrooms. Walk into most justice centers these days, and you won't find mood-enhancing sunlight filtering through venetian blinds coupled with the constant twirling of ceiling fans and rows of pew-like… More >>
  • Best College Archives

    Southeast Asian Archive at UC Irvine

    The world knows that the largest concentration of Vietnamese outside Vietnam resides in Orange County, but few know the history of this and other Vietnamese archives resides in the ever-expanding Southeast Asian Archive, kept at UC Irvine. Holding tens of thousands of documents ranging from personal letters and newspaper clippings to photographs and even Little Saigon restaurant menus, this collection… More >>
  • Best Blog

    Friends for Fullerton's Future

    It's rare to see conservatives take on the Orange County Republican power structure, but that's exactly what this Fullerton-based blog does. Combining juvenile name-calling, actual investigative chops, and a disdain for nearly everything and everyone, Friends for Fullerton's Future's collection of writers generates an arresting, laugh-out-loud read that never bores. Among its gets this year: derailing the Assembly campaign of… More >>