Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Museum (Non-Art)

    Pretend City Children's Museum

    Tired of the kids making a mess as they play fort in the living room? Take them to this miniature city, all within the confines of an industrial park building, and let them make a mess there. Kids from infants to 8-year-olds will go wild as they debate Obamacare in the mini-doctors' offices sponsored by Kaiser Permanente; perform an avant-garde… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery

    BC Space

    Last time we visited BC Space in Laguna Beach, we got a personal tour after the closing of the "Capital Crime$" group exhibition. Several pieces had been removed already, leaving sad, empty holes, but photographer/political activist/gallery owner Mark Chamberlain filled us in on what was missing, walking us through what was left. Art is everywhere once you climb the stairs—in… More >>
  • Best Art Museum

    Orange County Museum of Art

    While the Laguna Art Museum continues to give it a run for its money each year, the Orange County Museum of Art's first exhibition of 2013—"Richard Jackson: Ain't Painting a Pain," curated by Dennis Szakacs—was so amazing it nailed the honor this year in mid-February. Exhilarating, thoughtful, angry and subversive, it's a travesty Jackson's fantastic body of work didn't get… More >>
  • Best Public Art That's Dirtier Than Anybody's Letting On

    Oiseau

    Did you know there's a Joan Miro-cast bronze statue in the lobby of a Costa Mesa office building? Yeah, neither did we. But now that we do, we can't take our eyes off it. It's described as a "bird" by various websites, but we know Miro's work. The Spanish Surrealist was as obsessed with sex as we are. Take a… More >>
  • Best Visual Artist

    Kebe Fox

    Fox's mixed-media, socially conscious painting is heavy on black outlines separating figures from their backgrounds, his people often caught in a colorful nature scene at odds with the technology: umbrellas don't work, businessmen swirl down into whirlpools while still talking on cell phones, butterflies sniff at lost electronics, obese birds sit at the top of collapsing staircases. His 3D figures… More >>
  • Best Actor

    Matthew Arkin

    While up-and-coming playwright Samuel D. Hunter's new play, The Whale, lacked a little meat on its bones, Matthew Arkin devoured the titular role as a 600-pound man consumed by guilt, Moby Dick and eating himself into the grave. The physicality was impressive (playing a good drunk takes more skill than you think, as does playing a morbidly obese man quavering… More >>
  • Best Actress

    Anna Kate Mohler

    Cast as Mary Bland, the sexually repressed, anal-retentive female half of a far-less-than-powerful power couple in Eating Raoul: The Musical, Anna Kate Mohler imbued her character with a complexity that was remarkable for such an intentionally campy show. Her transformation from Donna Reed to Bonnie Parker was completely believable in that she didn't overplay it. There wasn't some sinister psychic… More >>
  • Best New Play

    Smokefall by Noah Haidle

    LA Bitter Lemons, the best aggregator (if not best website devoted to Southern California theater) of local theater reviews, gave powerhouse playwright Noah Haidle's latest work, produced by South Coast Repertory, a 54 percent on its Lemon Meter. Only three of the nine reviews of Smokefall came in as sweet, with six either bittersweet or bitter. What's that mean? Most… More >>
  • Best Musical Production

    Triassic Parq: The Musical

    You name it, and director (and co-creator) Marshall Pailet nailed it in this Chance Theater production: outstanding production values, a blistering pace, visceral choreography, ample T&A, and terrific performances. The gleefully over-the-top parody of a certain movie is also a deceptively sincere homage to not only the female dinosaurs who populated the island, but also to the even-more-dimwitted, barbaric humans… More >>
  • Best Theater We Never Write About

    UC Irvine Drama Department

    You could choose OC's newest theater company, the Alchemy Theater Co., but it has only done one show to date, so give us time. Instead, what about the UC Irvine Drama Department? Its shows usually last only a couple of weekends, so getting a review in these space-constrained times is problematic at best. But the arsenal of undergrad and graduate… More >>
  • Best Theatrical Ensemble

    How to Write a New Book for the Bible

    Usually, large ensembles who throw themselves with frenetic abandon into a fast-paced, no-holds-barred comic romp get all the praise. They're all on the same energized track and sustain that momentum through an entire performance. But the four actors in Bill Cain's crisis-of-religious-and-familial-faith play at South Coast Repertory worked as a razor-tight ensemble fused through masterful performances that worked like different… More >>
  • Best Author

    Peggy Hesketh

    A writing and rhetoric teacher at UC Irvine, Hesketh's first novel, Telling the Bees (G.P. Putnam) was inspired by the notorious 1983 Bee Lady murders in Anaheim. More than 15 years in the making, it's an intriguing, well-researched page turner about a lonely beekeeper, working as both a mournful eulogy for a solitary life and an Orange County that has… More >>
  • Best Protesting Organization You Wouldn't Want to Meet If You're in a Dark Alley

    Art With An Agenda

    Whatever you may think of Stephan "Bax" Baxter's skills as a curator—and we've had very mixed feelings—he's a damn-fine organizer for politically conscious art. A guy with the biggest fucking heart on the planet, his volatile love for his fellow man and punk-rock embrace of the underrepresented has raised (according to his website) more than $30,000 for local charities. Homelessness,… More >>
  • Best Political Protest

    The Orange County May Day Coalition

    Every May 1, the streets of downtown SanTana are seized by demonstrations, and this year was no different, with immigration being the battleground it has been since 2006. The Orange County May Day Coalition (OCMDC) saw to it that the city was flooded with the marching voices of tens of thousands. Beyond empty sloganeering, this past International Worker's Day protest… More >>
  • Best New Band

    Nilu

    If not for a change in majors, singing sensation Nilu Madadi might have been concocting chemistry experiments in a lab instead of arranging music in a studio. When "Sing for You" went viral on YouTube last year, revealing her multifaceted talents, Orange County and beyond were thankful for the risk she took. The rush of attention was new, and the… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Act

    Innate & EP

    In this day and age, there seems to be a dearth of good times and positive hip-hop. San Clemente's Innate & EP stepped outside of the group Rock Bottom for a quick moment to offer much-needed uplifting rhymes. Live instrumentation, smooth deliveries, smart lyricism and golden-age-inspired rap beats frame the resulting album, Such As I, throughout its expertly crafted offerings.… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Danny Romero

    When work is all finished and weekend weather is on the mind, ABC7 weathercaster Danny Romero has it covered. Whether it's heat waves or rainy days, the three-time Emmy Award winner delivers the news so people can plan their activities accordingly. Romero's a product of East Los Angeles, having lived in nearly every raza city there is. In his teenage… More >>
  • Best Drag Show

    VLVT Lounge

    We've long-documented how great VLVT Lounge's drag-show scene is. No matter where you're sitting, you'll always have a good view, thanks to both the monitor screens and the queens (and sometimes drag kings) walking around the room and performing right in your face their superb, choreographed moves or telling their dark jokes. Everybody here is a star, especially the reality… More >>
  • Best Strip Joint

    Venetian Gentlemen's Club

    This is the third year in a row this august institution has won this category, and for good reason: Its gals are gorgeous, its food is legendarily good (although its awesome sushi chef just left to become executive chef at Ten Asian Bistro), and the crowd is a wonderful cross section of horny OC males at their most polite. Not… More >>
  • Best Venue for Live Music

    The Observatory

    The Galaxy Concert Theater was an infamously run-down venue; remember that brief moment when it was supposed to be a club that changed themes every couple of months? We don't, either. Then Jon Reiser, former co-owner and talent booker at the Detroit Bar (where Foster the People had a residency during his tenure), bought it and made it amazing with… More >>
  • Best Alternative Venue for Live Music

    The Santora Building

    The Santa Ana art walk has a vibrant scene every first Saturday night of the month, boasting an eclectic range of art next to an even-livelier nightclub and music scene. But wander down the stairs of the Santora Building and check out what sorts of music/art happenings are going on there. While you peruse the artist studios and art showcases,… More >>
  • Best Radio Personality

    DJ Filthy Rotten Wes

    As soon as the intro music plays—a bloodcurdling scream—you know you're in for something different. For more than 10 years, Wesley Tanenbaum, a.k.a. Filthy Rotten Wes, has played "raw, wild and outrageous tunes for finks and goons" on his Sunday-night KUCI-FM 88.9 show Trash-O-Matic Garbage A-Go-Go. You can tell he lives and breathes obscure music and radio oddities, from monster-music… More >>
  • Best Radio Show

    The Tom Leykis Show

    More than a year ago, Tom Leykis—a longtime Southern California radio presence on the old KLSX-FM 97.1 all-talk format—shocked the radio world by doing a five-days-a-week stream from his own studio in Burbank. Critics said he'd have no audience, no ads, no nothing; critics were wrong. What made Leykis so much of a must-listen in his terrestrial days—the astute analysis,… More >>
  • Best Indie Band

    Canyons

    This Fullerton five-piece is not messing around, producing hypnotic, epic indie-rock jams for your mind, body and soul. A welcome respite from the lo-fi garage sound that has been creeping up airwaves as of late, Canyons' sound doesn't quite fit in the realm of psychedelic music, but it's equally trippy, sending you away to some far-off majestic landscape of the… More >>
  • Best Folk Act

    Moonsville Collective

    Nowadays, we're accosted by bearded hipsters playing backwoods music on banjos and singing about working on the farm (do they know how HARD that actually is?!), but one band pulls that off like no other. Moonsville Collective—Corey Adams, Ryan Welch, Bill Bell, Drew Martin, Seth Richardson and "Hot Hands Dan" Richardson—combine country, dixie, New Orleans rag and other pre-World War… More >>
  • Best Rock Band

    Robert Jon and the Wreck

    There's no shortage of bands who can impress you with how many notes they can play, how many solos they can pull off, how many times the keyboardist can bang his afro against the ivories. To a certain degree, Robert Jon and the Wreck have all of those qualities. But what separates them from the rest of the pack is… More >>
  • Best Punk Band

    Manic Hispanic

    It's not just because the members of Manic Hispanic are punk royalty, having played in some of our most influential bands. It's not just because they're celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. It's not even because lead singer Gabby Gaborno is OC's ultimate musical survivor, or because of their hilarious lyrics, or because their stage show is the funniest happening… More >>
  • Best Live Band

    Dahga Bloom

    Feel like leaving a show with a few scrambled brain cells, the stench of sweat and cigarettes on your clothes, and an enormous smile on your face? Pay a visit to Dahga Bloom's next gig. Cultivated in the dankest corners of OC's warehouse-show scene, Fullerton's favorite psychedelic quintet live to throttle your senses with undulating rhythms, spacey reverb, acid trip… More >>
  • Best Record Label

    Revelation Records

    Just more than 25 years after its inception, the headquarters of Revelation Records gives the impression of a Reagan-era, DIY time warp. A flotsam of vinyl crowds the Huntington Beach office space, alongside hand-packed merch and rickety silkscreen-T-shirt presses. The screams and breakneck drum beats of Minor Threat hemorrhage from a set of backroom speakers. Though small and tucked away,… More >>
  • Best Club DJ

    Norin and Rad

    These days, just about any douche with a laptop can have some sort of DJ career. But creating a sound that generates a true fan frenzy in a crowd is a feat not every Serato jockey can achieve. But that kind of je ne sais quoi is aptly woven into the music of Bruce Karlsson and Nick Sember—a.k.a. DJ duo… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    DiPiazza's

    With its low lighting, red booths, lowbrow band artwork, tiny dance floor, smoking patio squished onto the front sidewalk and tiny stage, this battle axe doesn't seem the kind of place that would have a good sound—but given its size and C-shaped layout, it's pretty great. Chris the Sound Guy is there most nights and knows when to keep the… More >>
  • Best Karaoke Spot

    The Prospector

    To some people, the idea of good karaoke is being able to hop onto a stage, loom over a crowd and live out your American Idol fantasy (which can actually feel real after a few shots of Jameson). Karaoke regulars at the Prospector follow a different philosophy. These people don't give a shit about a stage. Sure, they have one… More >>
  • Best Blog

    Santa Ana Problems

    This Facebook page is hyper-hyper local, with stuff only a SanTana resident can truly appreciate, what with its shout-outs to middle schools, intersections and nightclubs. Yet even a Newporter can appreciate Santa Ana Problems' fierce love for its hometown, which inevitably means mocking it in a way only a fan can.… More >>
  • Best YouTube Stars

    Huntington Beach Rioters

    Perhaps a tone-deaf sophomore girl in the bedroom of her parents' upper-middle-class home behind gates in Ladera Ranch droned something catchy (in the worst way) that brought her millions of YouTube views, international fame and a recording contract this year. But for sheer volume of online videos, no one can top the vandals who tore the shit (literally, when it… More >>
  • Best Indie Film Theater

    Edwards University Town Center 6

    We are in a golden age of television—well, cable television—in which the DVR-less often finds themselves anxiously sitting in the movie theater because being there means they are missing the latest Homeland, Mad Men or Breaking Bad. The only Orange County theater that can consistently quell those fears is this member of the Regal Cinemas chain, which always screens something… More >>
  • Best Venue for Live Comedy

    Irvine and Brea Improvs

    About a decade ago, comedy clubs were on the way out, relegated to the trash heap of suburbia alongside Hot Topic and frozen-yogurt shops. But our two Improvs, located in perhaps the unfunniest cities in OC, nevertheless stayed strong, hosting not only big names, but also up-and-comers. Nowadays? America is in the middle of a comedy renaissance, and the Improvs… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    KUSC-FM 91.5

    In this era of radio instability, nothing is more reassuring than hearing the strains of classical music 24 hours a day, programmed by a team that has been doing it for decades. And that's the story behind Classical KUSC, ostensibly the radio station of the University of Southern California, but in reality a bulwark against the EDM tide. Most of… More >>
  • Best Gadfly

    Duane Roberts

    The city of Anaheim has become the flavor of the month in political OC, with leftist activists trying to make it into the latest Selma while their conservative opponents swallow what Disney makes them gobble with all the gusto of a Brazzers starlet. Only one person has been able to stay above the ruckus and call out both sides on… More >>
  • Best Local Celebrity

    Justin Chon

    Orange County has enjoyed the likes of Will Ferrell, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, John Wayne, Robert Englund and Steve Martin as famous, movie-industry residents. But there's a fresh celebrity on the block: Justin Chon. The Garden Grove native, who grew up in Irvine and graduated from University High School, stars in the 2013 film 21 & Over, which was created… More >>
  • Best Political Coup

    Larry Agran

    In 2012, for the first time in a dozen years, Larry Agran's shady Democrat machine lost control of Irvine and the city's Great Park to a 3-2 Republican majority. But after initially screaming and squealing about its minority plight, Agran is smiling a year into the new scenario. The maestro of corrupt politics knows he is on the verge of… More >>
  • Best Television Station

    KTLA

    Consider cultural powder kegs The Jerry Springer Show, The Maury Show and The Bill Cunningham Show. Add Sam Rubin, Vera Jimenez, Mark Kriski, Cher Calvin and Chris Schauble. Toss into the mix Two and a Half Men, Family Guy, America's Next Top Model and The Arsenio Hall Show. Ponder repeats of Bewitched and breaking news content from the Los Angeles… More >>
  • Best Politician

    Shawn Nelson

    Thirty-five years ago, Orange County served as ground zero in homophobic madness when Fullerton state Senator John Briggs sponsored an ultimately losing proposition that banned from public schools not only gay and lesbian teachers, but also any teacher who believed in equality. Eleven years after the Briggs embarrassment, Fullerton Congressman William E. Dannemeyer threw decorum out the window and, as… More >>
  • Best Newscaster

    Chuck Henry

    Southern California enjoys the most competitive TV news market in the country, but that fact—sorry, New York City—doesn't mean all of the anchors here are excellent. We've seen certain ones habitually look into the wrong camera, mispronounce easy words and display maddening, fake sincerity about stories. More than a handful seem to live for police car chases so they can… More >>
  • Best Quote

    Dana Rohrabacher

    At an August meeting of Tea Party activists in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher lambasted President Barack Obama for maintaining friendly relations with China. Said Orange County's senior, career politician, "It's the hug-a-Nazi, make-a-liberal theory! That's what I call it, and it has not worked!" The hypocrisy of the applause-winning line was lost on the crowd. It… More >>
  • Best Mom

    Donna Acevedo

    Donna Acevedo's son Joel was the second young man killed in a weekend of back-to-back officer-involved shootings in Anaheim last July that rocked the city. She is entitled to seek solace in the refuge of loved ones far away from the public sphere, but Acevedo processed her loss by transforming into a fierce social crusader. Since her son's death, Acevedo… More >>
  • Best Lingering Kiss

    Bob Tucker and Quan Nguyen

    Three years ago, Bob Tucker and his longtime partner, Quan Nguyen, kissed at Little Saigon's annual Tet Festival New Year's parade on Bolsa Avenue in Westminster. Yet, despite the passage of time, some vocal Vietnamese-American bigots continue to use that display of love—one that happens a trillion times a day in public among straight couples—as the reason to block gays… More >>
  • Best Community Organizer

    Coyotl Tezcatlipoca

    Whether it's harassed jornaleros in Orange, undocumented immigrants under attack in Costa Mesa or Anaheim's brown barrios in need, Coyotl Tezcatlipoca has been in the thick of things ever since his days fronting the legendary Chicano punk band Cuauhtémoc. The co-founder of Colectivo Tonantzin may seem "impulsive" to those who only know him for calling then-Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor… More >>
  • Best Community Space

    El Centro Cultural de México

    After years of wandering the proverbial desert, looking for a landlord who wouldn't kick them out by police or gentrifiers' request, El Centro Cultural de México has found a temporary space as they gather funds to finally buy a building. But despite finding resistance all these years . . . actually, it's because of this resistance El Centro has become… More >>
  • Best Character on The Real Housewives of Orange County

    Judy Stirling

    Though in a relatively minor role as the daughter of one of the stars (Lydia McLaughlin) on the scandalous, reality-TV show, Judy Stirling gives Orange County its most irrepressible character since the Weekly's Rebecca "Commie Girl" Schoenkopf relocated to Los Angeles and took over Wonkette.com. While The Real Housewives of Orange County chronicles the intense bickering of wealthy, thin-skinned ladies… More >>
  • Best KUCI Radio Show

    Weekly Signals

    By far, the two most interesting, insightful voices on Southern California commercial-free radio belong to Mike Kaspar and Nathan Callahan on Weekly Signals, broadcast on KUCI-FM 88.9 every Tuesday from 8 to 9 a.m. The show, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, features Kaspar and Callahan discussing current events with a witty flair. But don't think it's lightweight babble. No… More >>
  • Best Inadvertent TV Comedy

    KTLA-TV Channel 5

    Viewers message Henry DiCarlo with requests that their names be read on-air on their birthdays, and the veteran weatherman obliges. In March, DiCarlo congratulated "Hugh Janus" on live TV, stopped and looked horrified because Channel 5 morning-news anchor Chris Schauble began laughing. "Uh, I think it's one of those trick names, and you fell for it," Schauble said. Victimized, DiCarlo… More >>
  • Best Funnyman to Go Big

    Ben Aaron

    In September, if you were watching Ryan Seacrest's game show Million-Second Quiz, you may have been startled by a familiar face, that of Seacrest-sidekick Ben Aaron, a former funnyman on KDOC-TV Channel 56's DayBreak OC morning-news show. That broadcast collapsed several years ago in ineptitude, but Aaron didn't fade away. Nowadays, in addition to the game-show gig, he writes, produces… More >>
  • Best OC-Based National Affairs Journalist

    Kevin Drum

    Sorry, ex-Tricky-Dick-Nixon-disciple Hugh Hewitt. Irvine's Kevin Drum routinely earns national attention without resorting to half-truths and shameless, partisan propaganda. The Mother Jones columnist is a fine writer with a gift for cutting through political BS to give his readers original, no-nonsense insights (See, Hugh? It can be done!) in current affairs, as well as point them to some of the… More >>
  • Best Freelance Journalist

    John Hrabe

    Rising superstar/freelance journalist John Hrabe—a product of Cal State Long Beach, the London School of Economics, and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy—has become a reporting powerhouse in Orange County and throughout California during the past several years. We first noticed this world traveler after he penned an excellent exposé on how public-employee labor unions funneled money… More >>
  • Best Gallery You May Have Missed if You Didn't Walk Through the Gift Shop

    Foyer Gallery at Fullerton Museum Center

    A broom closet has more room, but it doesn't have art in it as interesting as this.… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch Movies the Rest of the World Has Forgotten

    The Projection Room at Hibbleton Gallery

    Hidden near the back door of the Magoski Arts Colony is filmmaker Steve Elkins' projector. Once a week, he shows films: the esoterica of Stan Brakhage, Werner Herzog's luminous documentaries, the political provocations of Jean-Luc Godard. So why travel to Fullerton to sit on old furniture, drink a beer and watch the films with a bunch of hip types when… More >>
  • Best Moveable Theater Space Where You Can Get Your Bard On

    New Swan Theater

    When we think of "constructed from recycled material," we think "beige." Sitting in one of the 125 seats in this circular, mini-Shakespearean "wooden O," all we see is beauty. Not knowing what to expect, UC Irvine drama professor Eli Simon's al fresco architectural marvel made us cry like little babies when we first entered it. Taken apart when inclement weather… More >>
  • Best Local YouTuber

    Evelina Barry

    It's hard to make a living on YouTube if you don't live in a major city, so most local YouTubers long left for LA. But don't tell any of that to Evelina Barry. At almost half a million subscribers, Barry's fashion channel is a great resource for everything from hair care and makeup tips to finding the best style resources… More >>
  • Best Lame Pickup Line

    Carlos Bustamante

    According to a 2013 lawsuit, Carlos Bustamante—the former Santa Ana councilmember, the Latino OC Republicans hoped would help them to make electoral inroads, and a bigwig in local government—asked his female secretary what size bra she wore. His explanation to the shocked woman? He appreciated her boobs and wanted his wife's breasts to be as plump and enticing after enhancement… More >>
  • Best Blog That Shuttered in 2013

    New Media Rockstars

    New Media Rockstars was founded in 2011 to cover the burgeoning YouTube scene, and it was great at it. Between the profiles and listicles that are the bread and butter of digital media today, the Irvine-based blog made actual waves, most notably as a platform for then-most-popular-YouTuber-in-the-world Ray William Johnson, as he took on his former YouTube network/production company Maker… More >>
  • Best Corporate-Sponsored Viral-Video Producer

    Column Five Media

    The Newport Beach office of Column Five Media might be the hippest in Orange County. Smelling of wood and dotted with bright-red Eames-style office chairs, there are no walls or cubes, and there's free beer on Fridays. On nice days, the company opens the two garage doors that make up its fourth wall. But as fanciful as Column Five sounds,… More >>
  • Best Kickstarter-Funded Replacement for Real Life

    Oculus Rift by Oculus VR Inc.

    Let's not mince words: The sun is scary. It's a giant ball of fire that hangs out in the sky and is only kept stable by its own sheer size. It dehydrates you, it blinds you, and it can give you cancer. Obviously, the safest thing you can do is stay inside, and Irvine-based Oculus VR Inc. is trying its… More >>
  • Best Place to Dance to Mexican Music

    Festival Hall

    For decades now, this downtown Santa Ana venue has hosted the best and brightest of Mexican regional music in its cavernous building, which used to be a bus depot. But even Festival Hall isn't immune to the gentrification that has afflicted the area—and in this case, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Its in-house bar has upped the ante with… More >>
  • Best Art Collective

    Konsept

    If you've been to downtown Santa Ana's artwalk at least once in the past few months, you've most likely seen the influence of this locally grown art group. Led by Tyson Pruong, Konsept began as a hip-hop duo and grew to include musicians, artists, graphic designers and, most recently, fashion designers, all occupying different corners of the Promenade and traipsing… More >>
  • Best DJ Collective

    GRN+GLD

    Proactive about staying afloat in the underground DJ scene, GRN+GLD have been throwing down explosive beats mixed with experimental hip-hop, ambient music and even live instruments for three years. Its nine members include DJs, sound producers and musicians, plus artists working the visual aspects, from graphic design to zines. Keep an eye out for this crew, who have crafted the… More >>
  • Best Live Residency

    Detroit Bar - CLOSED

    Whoever has been booking the bands lately at Detroit Bar is way ahead of the music scene than even Pitchfork's collection of idiots. Each month, Detroit Bar welcomes a new residency on Mondays, bringing in buzz bands from LA and Orange County to start a ruckus within its walls. Bands in the key of punk rock, psych and garage such… More >>
  • Best DJ

    Rhettmatic

    Wait, seriously? How have we done Best Of for so long without honoring this guy? As a founding member of the World Famous Beat Junkies, Rhettmatic is still pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a DJ. While technically growing up in Cerritos puts you in Los Angeles County, by the time you finish your uprock, you're in… More >>
  • Best Street Art

    Cheech and Chong Up In Smoke

    The title of this street-art piece is only a guess because the origins of this piece are unknown, making it mysterious as well as brilliant. Pasted on the sidewall of Rags newsstand in downtown SanTana is an image of legendary comedic duo Cheech and Chong wafting in a big ball of smoke emerging from a genie bottle, surrounded by drunken… More >>
  • Best Rally

    May Day March in Santa Ana

    Back in 2006, millions of activists took to the streets on May Day to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants, shocking a country that figured Mexicans only lived in California, Texas and Mexico. The message sent was clear—both parties are now working toward some sort of comprehensive immigration reform—but whereas the country has largely relegated May Day rallies to the days… More >>
  • Best Civic Activists

    SACReD

    In 2011, a coalition of Santa Ana groups and community leaders joined together to create Santa Ana Collaborative for Responsible Development (SACReD), with the intent of having the City Council sign off on a community-benefits agreement that would guarantee development in the neighborhoods near Santa Ana's train station. That effort failed, but rather than disband and give up, SACReD buckled… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn Traditional Mexican Music

    El Centro Cultural de México

    Ever wonder what those tiny guitars you see in Mexican folk bands are? They look like they're sized for children, but they're played by adults. They're called jaranas, and the place to learn to play them is at El Centro Cultural de México, where the harp-heavy, Veracruz-style folk music son jarocho (think "La Bamba," but so much more) is taught… More >>
  • Best Latin Alternative Band

    ¡Aparato!

    Since debuting in 2010, ¡Aparato!'s blend of traditional Mexican folk instrumentation and experimental post-punk-rock riffs has mesmerized music-lovers. With her rich vocals, Anaheim's Nancy "Cat" Mendez shares righteous musings of a better world to a progressive, futuristic sound. As they prepare their IndieGoGo-funded debut album, the band have gained accolades and airplay from NPR's alt.Latino podcast as well as KPFK's… More >>
  • Best Future Superstar Singer

    Sean Oliu

    The Anaheim native and Price Elementary School dual-immersion student's deep voice took him all the way to the finals of La Voz Kids on Telemundo this summer. Sean Oliu wowed celebrity judges with his renditions of Marco Antonio Solis' "Si No Te Hubieras Ido" and "La Adelita," the famous corrido of the Mexican Revolution hailing the country's female rebels. A… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn to Dance Like a Soap-Opera Character

    Naranjita Flamenco

    A guitar strums; a female voice starts to wail in a melody that hearkens back to the Moors. A woman in heels and a close-fitting dress with a flared skirt steps onto a board and begins a sensual, powerful dance. You know you've always wanted to learn how to dance flamenco, how to make your eyes smolder, how to strike… More >>
  • Best Reporter

    Scott M. Reid

    While we blast The Orange County Register at every opportunity (because they're so weak sauce), the sole department we continually praise is its sports team, which produces one of the best sections in the country. From its beat reporters to columnists (especially with the recent addition of longtime Los Angeles Times crank T.J. Simers) to editors, it's a Murderer's Row… More >>
  • Best Unintentional Fashion Show

    Downtown Huntington Beach

    If you ever want to get a sense of what people in this country wear, sit at the corner of Main and PCH in Huntington Beach and watch the crowds. While the Affliction-shirted, flip-flop-sporting bro and the no-fucks-given, shirtless, leather-skinned old surfers are the most common fashion statements, you'll get a buffet of Americans: pasty Kansas dads in scrunched-down socks… More >>
  • Best Festival

    Noche de Altares

    The gargantuan Día de los Muertos celebration that happens every November in downtown SanTana is already such an institution that most people don't realize it has only been around for 11 years and has a formal name—Noche de Altares (Night of Altars, for those of you who don't habla)—and is run by the amazing nonprofit El Centro Cultural de México… More >>
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