35 Great Things About Summer in Orange County
1. BALBOA BARS
The cousins are in town from Iowa. They've already done the Mouse, Knott's and the Boom Boom Room. You're on the spot to come up with another tourist trap. "Let's go to the beach," you say. After lathering up with sunscreen and dressing as a tourist lest any locals recognize you, you're off to the Pen—or what the maps refer to as the Balboa Peninsula. While you're zoning out in the Fun Zone, the blinding amalgam of sweat and sunscreen are about to wipe that fake smile off your grill when you spot a two-word sign that eases all your pain: "Balboa Bars." A Balboa Bar is a rectangular wedge of vanilla ice cream on a stick that's dipped into a vat of hot milk chocolate. Before the chocolate shell dries, the Balboa Barista rolls it in a bowl of your choice of chopped peanuts, chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, gummy thingamajigs or a kitchen sink-type mixture of all these confections. Or you can have it plain. But a real Balboa Bar has chopped peanuts—period! You can also get Balboa Bars on Balboa Island, and they don't taste better anywhere else. (Matt Coker) Dad's Donut Shop & Bakery, 318 Marine Ave., Balboa Island, (949) 673-8606.
2. BALBOA BARS
Chopped peanuts? Chocolate sprinkles? What is with Coker and his wussy vanity brews? Try knocking back a few real cold ones in the Balboa bars, which has long been a summer tradition in Newport Beach. Balboa has a wide selection, ranging from dank dives where the peak crowd rolls in around 10:30 a.m. to flashy, $20-cover, bayfront establishments. And some of them are even good. Cassidy's seems like it's always packed with locals and tourists alike, but it has a tough-guy reputation—hang out long enough, and you, too, can see an old-fashioned brawl spill out the back door. Baja Sharkeez is a sports bar not far from the Newport Pier; it's a small place adorned with a lot of hanging crap, like stuffed sharks and wooden parrots, and it's ringed with 22 television sets. There are worse ways to spend a Wednesday night than watching South Park on one of Sharkeez's big screens while downing a Newcastle and that night's two-for-one burger special. Of course, just across the parking lot is the ancient Blue Beet Caf, a Cheers-like bar that dates from 1912 and features nightly live music and an ocean-view, rooftop patio. For those wanting to hang with an exclusively local crowd, there's no better place than Class of '47—a cozy little bar adorned with pictures and memorabilia recalling John Wayne, its most famous customer. Most tourists skip this place and instead head to Studio Caf for an Adios Motherfucker (vodka, rum, tequila, gin, blue curacao, sour mix and 7UP). Watching cops go up to the rubes staggering out of Studio, asking them to open their mouths, and then hauling away those with blue tongues is a great way to waste a Saturday afternoon. (Anthony Pignataro) Cassidy's, 2603 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-8949; Baja Sharkeez, 114 McFadden Place, Newport Beach, (949) 673-0292; Blue Beet Caf, 107 21st St., Newport Beach, (949) 675-2338; Class of '47, 209 Palm St., Newport Beach, (949) 675-5774; Studio Caf, 100 Main St., Newport Beach, (949) 675-7760.
3. LOS ALAMITOS RACE COURSE
Los Alamitos Race Course Sure, it's not always what you would call spick-and-span, and, yeah, there always seems to come a point in the evening when someone throws up in a trash can. But, hey, it's a racetrack, not a, you know, enchanted, pixie-land-type place. Los Alamitos is horseracing at its egalitarian best. First, they race at night, so you can work a full day to earn the money that you will lose. Second, the races are short. At Los Al, they race quarter horses—the funny cars of the equine set. Quarter horses are built for terrific, short bursts of speed—none of this running around, taking valuable time away from your Coors Light or causing you to look up from your trash can for long periods of time. You find out if you won or you lost in, like, 20 seconds. This is a racetrack for the people, not one of them fancy, waistcoat-wearin' racetracks like Santa Anita. Los Alamitos has a real country feel to it: lots of cowboy hats, boots and wide-screen-sized silver belt buckles holding back tsunami-strength bellies—but enough about the ladies. Thank you! Thank you very much! But seriously, this is a great place to spend some time on a warm summer evening, drinking a beverage, betting some money, and watching some horses. It's cool. (Steve Lowery) 4961 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (714) 995-1234. 4. COLLEGE DORM DUMPSTER DIVINGCollege kids are stupid, and thank God for that! Without them, the world might never have discovered keg stands, Adam Sandler films or exchanging sexual favors for grades. Without them, our apartments wouldn't be nearly as plushly furnished. See, come the end of every school year, a college student's mind is abuzz with finals, graduation and (more often than not) low-grade trucker speed, and they're not putting too much thought into what they're going to do when the school kicks them out of that cozy dorm room for the summer. And thus do the trash bins at any respectable university brim aplenty, as habitual procrastinators discard their unwieldy earthly possessions so they can meet their parents' minivans in time to beat the rush-hour traffic home. That's where we come in. As people who goddamn well work for a living, we clean out our pickup trucks and get ready for some heavy lifting. Shoes, canned food, clumsily annotated textbooks and ramen enough to clog a panda are readily available. But don't think small, moochers. We've rescued couches (just vacuum up the Chee-tos residue!), stereos, shelving units, lamps and more. Our best score ever was a working five-disc CD changer! Brand name, even! Don't sweat the Man: campus cops are as impotent as mall security (but with a polysyllabic vocabulary), and we've never been hassled for dragging armoires across the lower quad in broad daylight. As an American, you have a God-given right to paw through other people's garbage. Remember that, and we'll see you at the housewarming party! (Chris Ziegler) 5. ADVENTURE PLAYGROUNDSThese are parks the way kids would design them if they weren't busy being tested by the state every week. Located in Irvine and Huntington Beach, the Adventure Playgrounds are dirty, messy, filthy, and—in these litigious days when park officials are nervous about every splinter—remarkably rustic and free-ranging. In Huntington Beach, a kid can push herself on a raft (poles provided) through a muddy, shallow pond. There's a slide that ends in a mud pool, a rope bridge, and a wooden city always in the process of being built. Kids can add to the city with the hammers, nails and saw provided, and if they get tired of that, they can always act out their dark, deep-seated feelings of resentment toward their siblings—kidding! In Irvine, there's more mud, an obstacle course, a few holes of miniature golf, skate ramps and classes (for a small fee) offered in mechanical gadgetry, pioneer cooking, and basic and advanced carpentry. Oh, shut up! Kids love this junk. (SL) 7111 Talbert, Huntington Beach, (714) 536-5486; 1 Beech Tree Lane, Irvine, (949) 786-0854. 6. SHAGGING GOLF BALLSThe swingin' chicks of summer are the grooviest. I'm talking about supernovas in short white skirts at the driving range. Golf is attracting more of your Cameron Diaz types than ever before. My favorite spot during the hottie season is the quaint range adjoining Newport Beach Golf Course. I love hitting balls there among a disarming number of catwalk-legged ingenues. The course is public, so you won't endure any country-club snobbery or bitchy 'tude around the practice tees. Best of all, it's refreshing to find women shagging balls who don't have thicker ankles or flatter asses than mine. I've even scored an iron-wielding maiden's digits on rare occasion—quite a challenge in broad daylight and sober. My fundamentals of driving-range courtship: •Never use an opening line like, "Ever tried a crotch hook, sweetheart?" •Replace your divots. She'll think you care about the environment. •Stand nearby and watch her hit a few until she makes eye contact—her look will instantly let you know whether you've made the cut. •Approach babes without visors first—they usually don't take themselves or the game too seriously, and you can make sure they have two eyebrows. •If your approach shot garners a cold shoulder, whip out your Big Bertha. That oughta impress her. (C.J. Bahnsen) Newport Beach Golf Course, 3100 Irvine Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 852-8681. 7. BIG BANG FRIDAYSNo, this is not some weekly tradition at Rodman's house. Big Bang Friday happens at Anaheim Stadium whenever the Angels are in town. Now, granted, the Angels' season is over. Some believe it ended when they fell 11 games behind the Seattle Mariners in the spring. Others, like me, believe it ended during the winter, when they failed to get a No. 1 starter. Regardless, you can go to an Angels game, sit anywhere you want—good seats are bound to become plentiful as the season wears on—watch the Angels pitching staff get shelled, and then, when the game is over, sit back and watch the most spectacular fireworks show I've ever seen. And I'm not one of those people who loves fireworks—you know, the kind who always want to talk about fireworks and pick your brain about fireworks and write poetry about fireworks and develop fireworks-inspired wire art. No, I'm not, and I never will be one of those people—never! But when I see 15 minutes of tremendously colored and choreographed explosions playing to corporate rock—well, I'm not made of stone. When the game ends, you can sit wherever you want to watch the show. If you leave immediately after the game and head out to the parking lot, you can watch the fireworks from there, ooh and aah, and then beat the crowd by getting to your car early. But why in such a hurry, my friend? You know, you could learn a thing or two from our friend the firework. Here—I've written a poem that might help: Fireworks, fireworks, fireworks I am so over you. You think you're so big. I swear to God someday someone's going to knock you down to size, someday. Maybe it will be me. Yeah. Me! Me and my big, honking, chrome-plated, firework-shooter gun. How's that taste? HUH? The waving of the leaves.It needs a little work, but you get the general idea. (SL) 2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, (714) 634-2000. 8. SWAP MEETThis is capitalism at its sweatiest: welcome to an Orange County swap meet. Everything you could ever want out of life and more is waiting for you in some vast, disused parking lot, peeking out from the back door of a primer-colored van or slowly baking on an old beach towel. Naturally, it's all negotiable. If you don't think that giant, plastic chicken head and matching egg are worth $20, turn on the charm and talk 'em down! Serious collectors' dreams of finding that copy of Action Comics No. 1 or a mint-condition, original-pressing Germs single are that much more plausible at the swap meet, where sellers sometimes really don't have any idea what they're trying to peddle. But be warned: with the advent of eBay, through which any idiot can rely on the machinations of the free market to make a quick buck, the swap meet may slowly be going the way of the drive-in theater—soon you'll need Netscape to browse through some old lady's Pinto full of junk. The best swap meets are free and last for whole sunny weekends, but there's occasionally an admission or parking fee. Dodge it if you can, and save your hard-earned dollars for a toilet seat covered with pennies or a human-skull ashtray. It's just purer that way. (CZ) Golden West Swap Meet, Golden West College, 15744 Golden West St., Huntington Beach, (714) 898-7927; Orange Coast Swap Meet, Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa, (714) 432-5072. 9. ATLANTIS PLAYCENTERAtlantis looks like something the Cat in the Hat might hack up—and I mean that in the good way. Because Atlantis is the very best kids' park in Orange County and probably in all of Southern California—seriously. The park's theme—yes, it has a theme—is the ocean, so you've got your sea serpent and whale slides. You've got your moored white-shark climbing toy, sea-horse swings, Viking ships and giant-clamshell picnic areas. (Editor's note: At this point, we ask that parents order any children who are reading this to leave the room.) ATLANTIS TOTALLY KICKS ASS! (Thank you for your cooperation. The children may return.) For the paranoid parent in all of us, Atlantis is ultrasafe. It has only one entrance and exit, so kids can't go wandering off, which means they can actually play. Remember play? That's when kids went off on their own to come up with their own games, meet their own friends and do their own thing without you hovering around to make everything just right? What's more, adults are not allowed in unless accompanied by a kid. Yeah, it costs a buck to get in, but, c'mon, a buck. (SL) 9301 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 892-6015. 10. HITTING A BUCKET O' BALLS AT COYOTE HILLSYears ago, this area used to be nothing but rambling open space and squeaky oil pumps. It was a great place to get high, get drunk and hang out with other lowlifes during the summer. It still is, but you might have to pay as much as $85. Today, a golf course designed by Cal Olson and Payne Stewart sits on the property. Although you can't wander through the brush or get your cherry popped without risking a golf ball in your privates, you can whack golf balls to your heart's content at one of the county's most scenic driving ranges. The elevated range is nestled at the base of the hills and offers a very cool view of native chaparral lined by very non-native eucalyptus, magnolia and pine trees. At dusk, when the sun sets behind your ass, it's positively lovely. At $6 per small bucket and $10 per large bucket, it's a bit pricey, but someone's got to pay for all the water and electricity used by the course (which actually boasts that it is the most environmentally conscious course in the county). The clubhouse is open until sunset, so you can grab a drink and gaze out through floor-to-ceiling windows on the waterfall-crowned 18th hole—which ranks among the most scenic in the county—and dream about the day you graduate into bourgeois pighood. (Joe E. Brewski) Coyote Hills Golf Course, 1440 E. Bastanchury Rd., Fullerton, (714) 672-6800. 11. PARKING ON THE BALBOA PENINSULAAnybody who wants to park their car on the Balboa Peninsula on a weekend afternoon during the summer is nuts. People, think about what you're doing! After driving a half-hour or so to get to the peninsula, you weave onto narrow Balboa Boulevard and begin creeping slowly, almost imperceptibly, toward the massive parking lot at the Balboa Pier. You pass crosswalk after crosswalk, stopping nearly every time to let some pale slob in sandals, his wife and their litter of kids who already parked their car across the street carrying their lawn chairs, old bath towels and coolers full of Mountain Dew. You sit there, thinking about all the parking spaces being filled as you wait for the Partridge Family to finish crossing, then you gun the engine back up to 30 mph until you have to slam on the brakes at the next crosswalk. Why do you keep subjecting yourself and your family to this madness? Assuming you finally locate a space, it's very likely going to have a hungry parking meter in front of it. Please, if you must come to Balboa during the summer, do the residents a favor and come as early as possible. Also, try to park immediately after you pass 20th Street. Sometimes free spaces stay open between 15th and 10th streets as late as 11 a.m. The beach there will be wide and sparsely populated. You'll feel like Lawrence crossing the desert when you head for the public restrooms at the pier, but that's a small price to pay for quick parking. (AP) 12. PRO BASKETBALLIn its 32nd year, the Summer Pro League (SPL) is one of the nation's top pro summer-basketball leagues, having featured the likes of Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant. I'm proud to say I saw Kobe's first game as a Laker there. I'm also proud to say that I was the first to notice he had a potentially lethal jump shot. I'm not so proud that I was kind of freaked out during the game because my therapist was sitting two rows behind me. I don't know. It just kind of freaked me out. Held in the Pyramid on the campus of Cal State Long Beach, the SPL will feature 10 NBA teams—Lakers, Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trailblazers, Seattle SuperSonics, Vancouver Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls—loaded with top draft picks, roster players looking to move into the rotation and free agents. There will also be national teams from the Ukraine and Canada, and Magic Johnson is expected to once again enter a traveling team for which he may play a few games. Still, the best thing about the SPL is the relaxed atmosphere generated by people who love and know the game. The score doesn't matter as much as who got fat, who got a jump shot, who still doesn't move his feet on defense and who was picked way too high. You can hear coaches coach, general managers kibitz, and therapists talk about cigars and your mom. Hoop rat heaven. (SL) The Pyramid at Cal State Long Beach, Atherton and Bellflower, Long Beach, (310) 445-4646. The SPL runs from July 7 to July 29, with five games per day at 10:30 a.m. and 12:45, 3, 5:15 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for reserved seats and $8 for general admission. 13. GO TO THE CORN FESTIVALLa Habra's 53rd-annual, three-day Corn Festival—with its abundance of corn, parades, carnival rides, and people who love corn, parades and carnival rides—is a little piece of Kansas right here in Orange County. I mean, it seems like it would be. Not that I've ever been to the Corn Festival. Which is weird because it's a huge event that has been going on for more than half a century and draws something like 50,000 to 60,000 people annually. ("But you don't know how many of those are just carnies," points out a sage friend.) If only I'd known about the Corn Festival in years past! Jerry Mathers, a.k.a. the Beav, was grand marshal of the parade in 1998! Byron Scott, a.k.a. the Guy Who Missed That Fucking Shot, was grand marshal in 1999! David Nelson, a.k.a. David Nelson, was grand marshal in 2000! Who is the grand marshal for 2001? I don't know because the Corn Festival guy won't return my call. But that's okay. I'm hoping it's Dave's nephew Gunnar Nelson—but not Gunnar's twin, Matthew, because he's lame, and lameness has no place at the Corn Festival, where, lest I forget to mention, whoever is crowned Miss La Habra becomes Corn Queen for the day. In 1999, the festival featured a reenactment of Civil War battles and a John Wayne look-alike who helped fight off the Mojave Muleskinners during a stagecoach robbery. Huh? And there's corn! (Alison M. Rosen) El Centro-Lions Park, 201 N. Cypress St., La Habra, (562) 690-8504. Aug. 3-5. 14. DRINKING 102 BEERS
Beer According to our calculations, 102 beers spread over the 93 days of summer works out to a sip less than 1.1 beers per day. But then, we've downed a few already, and summer is still about a month away, so . . . um . . . well . . . Do you mind if we have another beer while we try to work this out again? See, there are 102 beers on tap at Heroes in Fullerton, which in our experience is the most extensive selection in North Orange County. We are facing north, aren't we? We are faced, that much is certain. So much so that they probably wouldn't even serve us any more if we were writing this at a table at Heroes instead of on the floor of our living room. Of course, drinking 102 beers on the living-room floor eliminates the opportunity to savor the nuances of the microbrews and imports available at Heroes. We can't get any food either. Then again, we don't have to worry about driving home. Hey, where is our car, anyway? (Allen Kent) 305 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 738-4356. 15. ORANGE INTERNATIONAL STREET FAIRThis tribute to diversity has been held every Labor Day weekend since 1910 to celebrate the different cultures of Orange. The streets surrounding the Orange Circle in Old Town are blocked off and renamed—each dedicated to a different country or culture—making it possible to party around the world in a single, 72-hour weekend. A suggested itinerary: start Friday night by scoping out the different booths; spend Saturday impulse shopping and eating; Saturday night, head to Irish Street to drink Guinness, listen to the Fenians, drink Guinness, dance on the bus stop and drink Guinness; crash; reappear Sunday morning in dark sunglasses on Sweden Street for coffee and pastries with lingonberry sauce; spend the afternoon on Greek Street chowing on humongous, soft, warm, meaty gyros; after a little walking and window-shopping, hit Mexico Street or Germany Street; and as twilight sets in, head back to Irish Street for more Guinness and more dancing and singing with the Fenians. If you have to work on Monday, call in sick. (Stacey Fullwiler) Orange Circle, Glassell St. and Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 283-3766. Aug. 31-Sept. 2. 16. ADVENTURE CITYYou get the feeling that if Walt Disney had to do it all over again—you know, .re-create Middle America at scale—he would have created Adventure City. This two-acre Stanton gem is everything that makes you feel good about an amusement park and, damn it, America. It's small and navigable with a carousel in the middle, little roller coasters and whirly rides. The staff is far less regimented and far more—oh, what's the word?—human than you find at corporate parks. There's only one entrance and exit, so kids are safe to wander on their own, and the park's diminutive layout means they can never wander far. There are puppet shows, face painting and an area where kids can just go and play with trains. That's right, play. They can dress up like firefighters and cops and ride around a track in cop cars and fire engines. And there's a miniature train that circles the whole place. It's gloriously cornball, wonderfully goofy and brilliantly hokey. You might not understand, but Walt would. (SL) 10120 S. Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 827-7469. 17. BROWSING AT 21st CENTURY COMICSUnlike the haughty, pretentious comic-book-store clerk on The Simpsons, the friendly staffers at 21st Century actually like answering questions and making recommendations. The store's entire right wall is plastered with new titles—everything from Batman and Superman to the considerably cooler Transmetropolitan and Planetary—along with a wide range of ultraviolent Japanese comics and steamy "adult" comics. In addition, there is a wide range of cool toys to play with, including action figures from obscure comics and TV shows . . . and . . . and . . . I'm sounding like a real geek now, aren't I? (Victor D. Infante) 124 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 992-6649. 18. GOLFING AT NIGHTFew things are as contradictory as a relaxing round of golf in the middle of a scorching summer day. But in the evening, when the mercury dips and the breezes rise, conditions become bucolic on the handful of county courses that feature night golf. (It's anyone's guess how long these courses will be able to keep the juice running in our current environmental climate; in fact, that's the reason the Buena Park Golf Center isn't offering night golf this summer.) The best thing about golf under the lights—besides the fact that it's a great excuse to hang outdoors and get very drunk—is that it can be very affordable. The Newport Beach Golf Course is my favorite, combining low prices with the type of short golf course that makes you focus on the most important part of your game: smoking a joint without getting busted. No, just kidding: the short game. If you tee off between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. it costs $10 for the front nine and $12 on the water-lined back nine. Other night golfing spots are the 18 holes at David L. Baker in Fountain Valley ($8 after 7 p.m.) and the nine-hole Lake Forest Golf and Practice Center ($13 weekdays, $15 on weekends 'til 8 p.m.). (JEB) Newport Beach Golf Course, 3100 Irvine Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 852-8681; David L. Baker, 10410 Edinger Ave., Fountain Valley, (714) 418-2152; Lake Forest Golf and Practice Center, 23308 Cherry Ave., Lake Forest, (949) 859-1455. 19. THAT SIDEWALK THING THAT WINDS THROUGH LONG BEACH'S BEACH. YOU KNOW THE ONE, RIGHT?You know that sidewalk that winds through Long Beach's beach? I wouldn't call it a boardwalk because that kind of suggests traffic, movement and, oh, people. I've been hanging around Long Beach for years, and I can say without fear of exaggeration that I have never ever seen anyone on that sidewalk thing. Okay, I'm lying. I think I saw someone in July 1998, but I'm pretty sure he was either lost or blind. The point is that there is this perfectly fine, empty sidewalk thing that winds through Long Beach, and you can run, walk, bike, skate and skateboard on it without fear of getting slapped down by large crowds. There you are: a blue sky above, the ocean to your side and nothing but ribbons of white sand and cement in sight. Lovely. All in all, a lot better than doing the same thing on, say, Huntington Beach's boardwalk, which is just loaded with people and freaks, and you practically take your life in your hands just being on it—especially when those yahoos who suddenly decide one Saturday morning that this is the day they're going to start training for the Tour de France ride their bikes as fast as they can through the crowds. What's up with that? You listen to me: go to Long Beach. You'll be much happier. (SL) Ocean Blvd. to Naples, Long Beach. 20. CATCH UP ON YOUR READINGLaguna Canyon Road at rush hour, which is to say, Monday through Friday, all day long. (VDI) 21. LISTENING TO DELTA NOVE AT THE BACK ALLEY
Delta Nove Quickly becoming one of the best live-music venues in mostly barren North Orange County, the bar and grill features jazz on Tuesdays, roots/rockabilly on Wednesdays, reggae on Thursdays and local bands of every stripe on weekends. But the featured attraction pops in only once a month: Delta Nove, who perform on the first Saturday. This jazz/funk/psychedelic/tribal percussive ensemble always seems to swell in number. The crowds tend to get more enthusiastic and wilder, too, as well as progressively more unclothed. (JEB) Back Alley Bar and Grill, 116 1/2 W. Wilshire Ave., Ste. C, Fullerton, (714) 526-3032. 22. BIG DAMN POETRY SLAM FINALSTen of Orange County's (okay, and Los Angeles') most kick-ass performance poets duel it out at the Blue Caf with knives and bludgeons until everybody bleeds! Well, actually, they just kick poems that are judged by the audience, but that's fun, too. This year's battle to represent the LBC and OC (okay, and Los Angeles) at the National Competition in Seattle will pit surrealists like Daniel McGinn, Eitan Kadosh and Jaimes Palacio against such hip-hop-influenced Angelenos as Rachel Kann, Ben Porter Lewis and Besskepp as well as dark confessionalists like R-A-C and Lea Deschenes. All this, and it's free. Besides, the Blue Caf makes bitchen nachos. And don't worry: if you're bored, you can go downstairs and listen to Bourbon Jones. (VDI) Big Damn Poetry Slam Finals, Blue Cafe, 215 The Promenade, Long Beach, (562) 983-7111. June 3, 3 p.m. 23. THAT KER-PLUNK SOUNDKer-plunk! That's the sound a terrified human being makes upon hitting shallow water after being dropped over the side of an offshore patrol boat that has just rescued them from the deep blue sea. It's an amazing summer phenomenon, watching just how many naive inlanders and tourists are swept out to sea by strong undertows and insidious crosscurrents. And it's downright amusing to watch these distressed swimmers being plucked out of the water by a no-nonsense lifeguard, tossed into the patrol boat, sped toward shore, and then flipped back into the drink—disoriented and bug-eyed as a stunned fish, but safe. During heat waves, the ritual goes on all day between the Newport Pier and 15th Street on the Balboa Peninsula. Often, the boat is speeding off toward another victim almost before the previous one hits the water. But it's that moment, when swimmer meets water, that is worth watching. The fast ones can twist themselves into a feet-first position and slide into the ocean with nary a ripple. But most assume awkward, uncompromising positions: upside-down, arms flailing; sideways, poised for a crisp belly-smack; or curled in the fetal position. And then there's another distant, wonderful ker-plunk. (CJB) 24. THAT OTHER KER-PLUNK SOUNDA terrified human being isn't the only thing that goes ker-plunk upon hitting shallow water. Between the chili cook-offs, hamburger patties that have been left in the sun all day, accidental mouthfuls of contaminated beach water, warm beer, nights of too many cigarettes and margaritas, day trips to Mexico to get illegal pharmaceuticals, questionable tap water, and all those protein shakes you drink in order to run marathons, it's a friggin' miracle you don't just spend the whole damn summer in the bathroom. Or maybe you do! But chin up! If you turn your verano en el bano into a season-long multitask, you won't feel as if you're wasting your whole summer. So grab your cell phone and return some calls! Bring your radio into the bathroom and listen to some hot summer tunes! Pick up the latest copy of National Geographicand drop some science on your ass! Get one of those newfangled, slimline, notebook computers and do some day trading. Better yet, make a love connection with one of the Internet's many instant-messaging services. So you're cramping and farting and your pants are around your ankles. Who has to know? (AMR) 25. DOG DAYS OF SUMMERDon't forget: summer is for dogs, too. There's no better place to take your dog on the hot days named for him than the beach. In Orange County, however, there's only one place to do this legally: in Huntington Beach, on a stretch of waterfront sand located near the intersection of Golden West Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. There's no beach parking lot, but there's metered parking on PCH and free parking on nearby side streets. Remember, this beach tends to be overrun with highly sociable dogs, so expect to see your beast run around like a maniac once you let him or her loose. Dogs are supposed to stay on a leash while at the beach, but once you reach wet sand, it's okay to let your four-legged friend run wild. Just make sure you pick up after your doggie because there's a serious effort under way by locals to get the beach shut down for good. Make sure you've got plastic poop baggies; if you end up needing extras, they're available at the entrance to the beach. (Nick Schou) 26. MOURNING JOEY RAMONEThere are many ways to mourn Joey Ramone—most of which involve alcohol—but here's some recommended reading: UC Irvine graduate Michael Chabon's new, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. What does this have to do with Joey Ramone? Nothing! Except that when Ramone died, Chabon told us, "I loved the Ramones. . . . I was a very picked-on kid in high school, and then I went to see Rock 'N' Roll High School . . . and found the courage to be strange and objectionable." (VDI)The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Random House. Hardcover, $26.95. 27. FOURTH OF JULY PARADEHuntington Beach's official website proclaims that "the 97th-annual Independence Day parade is the largest and oldest of its kind west of the Mississippi." That's the kind of hyperbole we've come to expect from the promoters of Surf City, but hyperbole is kind of what Fourth of July celebrations are all about. There's no denying the parade is seriously big—and it's just one of several events that take place in Surf City each July 4. Before the parade kicks off at 10 a.m., you can compete in various 5K races or watch the fitness exposition. The parade starts in downtown Huntington Beach near Starbucks and travels north along Main Street. If you want a front-row seat, come early—as in the afternoon of July 3—and set up your lawn chairs for what city leaders term a "fun-filled morning of bands, floats, clowns, celebrities and more!" Don't forget that the police usually block car traffic from the entire downtown section of Huntington Beach and will happily arrest you for drinking a beer in public—even if it's on your own front lawn. (NS) For more information, call the Fourth of July hot line at (714) 374-1535. 28. EATING ORGANICALLY
South Coast Farms
Photo by Keith May
You usually catch a whiff of South Coast Farms before you catch a glimpse of it. That's understandable: Orange County's biggest example of community-supported organic agriculture isn't much to see. It's squeezed onto 28 acres in San Juan Capistrano, surrounded by a trailer park, a sports complex and housing tracts. But its fragrance of ripe vegetables, pungent herbs, sweet fruit and clean, sun-warmed dirt is intoxicating. It makes you hungry. It makes you want to be healthy. Fortunately, everything growing in the fields is for sale at the roadside stand. Stop in and sample its five different styles of tomatoes. Even better, South Coast Farms sells prepaid subscriptions for three months' worth of its naturally grown fruits and vegetables. For prices ranging from $140 to $351 (depending on the size and frequency of the orders), South Coast Farms will prepare and deliver personalized baskets of produce—and even flowers—either every week or every other week for three months. It's a healthy alternative to spending the summer at the burger stand. It's a happy place to visit, too. (Dave Wielenga) 32701 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano, (949) 661-9381; www.southcoastfarms.com. 29. CASA DE TORTUGACasa de Tortuga means House of Turtles—I think. I know casa is house. Tortuga, I'm assuming, is turtle. Or tortoise. Or maybe the dude who owns this Fountain Valley home is named Mr. Tortuga. The point is that there's a house in Fountain Valley that has more than 100 species of turtles and tortoises. Little ones, endangered ones, Russian ones and red-eared slider turtles who plod upon the earth but are as zippy as all get out once they get into Casa Tortuga's 5,000-gallon freshwater pond. They've got giant 600-pound Aldabras from the Seychelles as well as Galapagos tortoises from, well, Galapagos. The brainchild of Walter Allen, who gave over most of two homes and three city lots to the creation of Casa de Tortuga, this place is a treasure. It's clean, the staff could not be friendlier, and the work they do rescuing turtles and tortoises in need is wonderful. The place is open Monday through Saturday and offers one hourlong tour each morning at 10 a.m. Call ahead for reservations—they're easier to get on weekdays. Staff members recommend that kids who take the tour be at least six years old since they have a longer attention span. (Really? My kid is 10, and she can't focus long enough to brush her teeth.) Still, you're welcome to bring the real little ones along. Just know you'll have to stick by them at all times, and the Casa's pebbled walkways mean you should ditch the stroller. (SL) 10455 Circulo de Zapata, Fountain Valley, (714) 962-0612. 30. DEEP SEA FISHINGWhen you get right down to it, there are a few things in life more pleasurable than being shit-faced on the open sea and lurching around the slick deck of a fishing boat while trying to ram a tiny steel hook through the eye of an anchovy and feeling blood and other fishy fluids squirt all over your hands. All that—and maybe some yellowtail and barracuda—is yours when you take an afternoon or twilight fishing excursion at Davey's Locker. Beer is sold on board. Weed? Smoke it if you got it early. Laws get weird on the high and low seas. Reservations are recommended. Half-day boats leave at 12:30 p.m. and a twilight leaves at 7 p.m. Both last five hours. It's $20 for kids and $27 for adults. The anchovies are free. (Stan Lei) Davey's Locker, 400 Main St., Balboa Peninsula, (949) 673-1434. 31. THEATER UNDER THE STARSThere are other places to see outdoor theater in Orange County, but my favorite is the Grove Theater Center's commodious Festival Amphitheatre. While the plays at this oasis of North Orange County culture have tended toward the middle-of-the-road, the serene location and intimate atmosphere almost make up for it. This summer, however, two of the three plays take a sharp left from the mainstream, a credit to the aforementioned GTC, which also runs the summer season at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center. The first is Girly America,Denise Moses' risqu one-woman show, which runs June 15 to June 23. The second is Oscar Wilde's not-so-subtle paen to cross dressing and other things homoerotic, The Importance of Being Earnest,which runs July 5 to July 23. A typically tired Neil Simon play, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers,closes up shop from Aug. 9 to Aug. 25. The plays generally run Thursday through Sunday nights, and you can either bring your own grub or order a picnic basket, which increases the usual price of $18.50 to $24.50. (Joel Beers) The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern (714) 738-6595. 1201 W. Malvern Avenue, Fullerton. Call (714) 741-9555 for Muckenthaler information and (714) 741-9555 for Grove Theater Center information. 32. EATING THREE-MILK CAKEOne of the most enjoyable entres at one of Orange County's best Cuban restaurants—Felix Continental Caf in the Orange Circle—is tres leches, a sweet concoction of evaporated milk, half and half, and something else dairy poured over white cake. It's a mere $2.25 and worth every sweet-tastin', artery-hardenin', cholesterol-inflatin' bite. On those breezy summer afternoons when the wind picks up in the Orange Circle, it can almost make you forget the political obscenities that have afflicted the people of Cuba for so long—like a certain embargo by a certain milk-fed country that shows no signs of abating. (Jose Cerveza) Felix Continental Caf, 36 Plaza Square, Orange, (714) 633-5842. 33. PIMP & HO BALL, VEGAS-STYLE
The Pimp & Ho Ball
Photo by Johan Vogel
Are you a fan of boobies? Do you like them in halter tops? How about in gold lam? What about with pasties? Do you like them hugely inflated on skinny little ribs? Do you like them so big you could play water polo with them if one should accidentally become detached from the thin torso bravely bearing its weight? Promoters John Huntington and Damian Sanders serve up an uncountable number of breasts at their infamous Southland clubs. But this summer, there is only one place to satiate one's hunger for all the mammarian ecstasy dished up by the Newport Beach plastic-surgery community: at the Pimp & Ho Ball at the lavish Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas. The Pimp and Ho Ball has outgrown the Galaxy Concert Theater, where preposterously huge crowds of people mobbed the parking lot for hours, waiting with their sad, stiff nipples exposed to the elements for the chance to walk through the theater's hallowed door. Yes, Huntington and Sanders are still doing Club Rubber at the Santa Ana venue, but they've got size on the brain, and they're taking it to San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, and Phoenix. But the porn-star/stripper industrial complex is perfect for Sin City. Besides, Las Vegas is OC's personal weekend retreat, with all our disposable and not-so-disposable income flying out there regularly to have a taste of neon luxury, minus any kind of pesky, distracting "culture." Sadly, there is no place to snowboard. But the drinks are free! Mandalay Bay's 10,000-person capacity leads the boys to claim it will be the world's biggest nightclub. Could be. It's certainly the daddy—pimp daddy, that is—of all nightclubs. You'll see things you didn't think were legal and probably aren't. You might even get to join in on a few. But remember: slipping girls Roofies is bad manners. (Rebecca Schoenkopf) Pimp and Ho takes it off at the Mandalay Bay Arena, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, (877) 632-7000. Sept. 2. 34. EATING HAM AND FRUITThe camaraderie among the kitchen staff at El Ghiotto Italian Restaurant in Fullerton makes the place feel homey. Maybe it's Marcus the wisecracking musician, or Pat the wisecracking waiter, or Dave the wisecracking owner and his never-ending collection of one-liners and cornball jokes. But simply hanging out on the patio—located right next to the Fullerton Transportation Center—is an experience all its own. You can trip out on the motley collection of aspiring teen misfits at the Hub next door or the much older collection of misfits getting off Amtrak, Metrolink or an OCTA bus at the adjoining Fullerton Museum Center. While you're at it, you can order one of those summery dishes that Dave the owner touts: the chocolate gelato served in a big wineglass with a couple of biscotti for $3.50; or the vanilla-bean ice cream also served in a wineglass, with raspberries and Chambord liqueur, for $5.95; or, if you're feeling fruity or hammy some afternoon, the prosciutto—cured Italian ham—wrapped around fresh cantaloupe. It's $6.95, and if you've never thought of cured ham and cantaloupe in the same mouthful, where have you been? (JB) El Ghiotto Italian Restaurant, 136 Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 447-0775. 35. GOING UNDERGROUNDSometimes summer is a bit much, what with the sunshine and warm, balmy weather and beautiful people in good spirits. Sometimes? I never like that stuff! That's why I go to La Cave, where it's so dark people can't tell whether somebody is bronzed or ass white (or ass white and wearing bronzer) and plus, they can't even tell it's summer because the whole damn place is underground, which affords it a delightfully spooky and mysterious vibe. The same vibe, legend has it, that once attracted the Rat Pack. If only the walls could talk! "We're really old," they'd probably say. But don't go there to talk to the walls. Go there to talk to the bartenders! Some of them are halfway decent. Or go there for the stiff drinks. They're the stiffest! Or go there for dinner, which is both expensive and tastes like it. Or go there to see the La Cave Jazz All Stars, who are a phenomenal jazz band comprised of 18-and 19-year-olds who are far too young to be so talented. (AMR) 1695 Irvine Ave., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-7944.
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