Blame the Disney-derived impulse to re-create the past the way it should have been rather than the way it was. Or blame the Disney-derived policy of letting anyone in the gates unless they don't have the cash or look too funny. Whatever you do, blame Disney. We do, and plenty of low-on-the-totem-pole Anaheimers do as well, when they're stuck in traffic.
But there's hope yet: if you can worm your way through the sanitized veneer, the valley of the shadow of the mouse is alive with a messy but honest and fascinating variety, and you won't have to stand in line for hours for any of it. During any given week, you can see a world-famous salsa outfit, some grubby unknown punk group, top-selling hometown pop act No Doubt, or even a white-power skinhead band, all probably playing to sold-out crowds. Despite the best efforts of the fringe, there's plenty of true-life action on the not-so-sleepy streets of Anaheim. Maybe that's why residents of all colors, classes and creed tend to be so proud of their sprawling stucco puddle of a city. For better or worse, they've got it all.
AAA Electra 99 Art Gallery. As long as it lacks fire, live animals and an overpowering odor, it's art enough for AAA; the gallery's infamous exhibits include framed and shellacked rat corpses and the enigmatic Chicken Baby. This no-questions-asked, no-quarter-given gallery may have finally gotten its permits, but don't worry: it'll still scare the hell out of you. 2821 White Star Ave., Ste. D, (714) 666-1805. Anaheim Indoor Marketplace. It might look like your average everyday swap meet, but wait till the men in tights show up. Come Sunday afternoons, when the Marketplace transforms into a real-deal lucha libre wrestling arena, channeling centuries of simmering race and class tensions into sweaty sociopolitical soap opera. Here's a popular little cheer: "Vete a la madre, pinche pendejo!" 1440 S. Anaheim Blvd., (714) 999-0888.Linbrook Bowl. This swanky old behemoth of a bowling alley (karaoke every night and a 24-7 beer-frame-or-die-trying schedule) caters to the most dedicated keglers in Orange County. So when you strut in and grab your balls, look like you mean business. 201 S. Brookhurst, (714) 774-2253.
The Boogie. You know those hideously tacky and revealing outfits parents refuse to buy their 14-year-old daughters? This is where said 14-year-olds sneak out to wear them. That any sexual congress occurs between patrons of this country and western-ish club bodes naught but ill for generations yet to come. 1721 S. Manchester, (714) 956-1410.Chain Reaction. Venerable rock & roll roadhouse Linda's Doll Hut may have recently gone the way of the dodo, but punk lives on at this all-ages-all-the-time hole-in-the-mini mall. Live bands with names too risqu for a family-style guidebook perform most nights of the week, usually for cheap. 1652 W. Lincoln, (714) 635-6067. JC Fandango's. Very likely OC's premier Latin music venue, with a schedule whiplashing from orgiastic hump-until-dawn merengue to Mexico City's hottest metal bands. The poseurs have the run of the place for the canned dance club on Friday and Saturday, but the rest of the week belongs to the rockeros. 1086 N. State College, (714) 758-1057.
Ali Baba Restaurant. Last more than three years in hyperephemeral OC, and you have to be tough as nails; Ali Baba has been serving Arabic and Persian cuisine in "Little Gaza" for more than 25 years. You'll want a jujeh kebab for dinner and baklava for dessert. 100 S. Brookhurst, (714) 774-5632. Angelo's. Where else are you gonna find gum-popping teen carhops on roller skates serving up chili dogs with a side of sass to the local chapter of Burly Bikers for Christ? Does anyone else find that arousing? 511 S. State College, (714) 533-1401. Chris and Pitt's. Barbecue that'll blow your colon wide open and leave a smeary grin on your corpse. As a child, my ex-girlfriend once went on a hunger strike until her exasperated parents broke her resolve with Chris and Pitt's. Resistance, as they say, is futile. 601 N. Euclid, (714) 635-2601. Gilmore's Coffee Shop. Denny's wishes it had dcor as cloyingly wholesome as this. Gilmore's is the place to go for carbohydrate-saturated American-style Sunday-morning post-church nosh downs. The food might be a little uneven, but the matronly family atmosphere can't be beat. 1909 E. Lincoln, (714) 535-9715.La Palma Chicken Pie Shop. God, how we slobber over this place. The chicken pot pies are so sublime (and sublimely cheap) that we practically have our staff meetings in the comfy vinyl booths. Feel free to forget everything else we've ever told you, as long as you remember to eat here. 928 N. Euclid, (714) 533-2021. Luigi's D'Italia. Besides the tried-and-true Italian classics (hey, that's a spicy meatball sub!), this mom-and-pop restaurant boasts one of OC's better selections of seafood. 801 S. State College, (714) 490-0990. Original Pancake House. What you do is drink a lot of water for hours before you go, so you can get your stomach nice and stretched out. Then slather on the syrup, and don't stop when you feel the burn. These things take discipline. 1418 E. Lincoln, (714) 535-9815. Plaza Garibaldi. Authentic is hard to come by in Mousetown, but Plaza Garibaldi's Mexican dinner and a show is as deliciously uncontrived as it gets. And after dessert, we dance! 1490 S. Anaheim, (714) 758-9014.Win Thai. One hundred and sixteen ways to dive face-first into Anaheim's burgeoning Thai community. But beware: just because you grew up with Tapatio sauce doesn't mean your puny tongue is gonna be able to handle the spicy stuff served here. 1151 N. Euclid, (714) 778-0940. Gustav's Jagerhaus. The German breakfasts featuring noodle-based dishes and pork products are nearly overshadowed by the evening's choices of wild boar and elk. 2525 E. Ball Rd., (714) 520-9500.
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IT'S A DRUNK WORLD AFTER ALL
Cero's. It's dank, it's dark, and it's located just a convenient stagger down the street from Chain Reaction. Pop in here before the show starts to buy all your favorite anti-heroes a drink. 316 S. Euclid, (714) 956-2031.
Illustration by Bob Aul
ROSINE'S. I moved from Yorba Linda (hotter than the hinges of hell in summer and so uptight there's no bar within the city limits) three years ago, and I think about Rosine's Mediterranean Cafe no more than, oh, twice a day. Rotisserie chicken and garlic mashed potatoes to die for, plus Schneider Weisse (German beer brewed by the gods). A menu of delights and the Najarian family—the people you wish were your neighbors rather than the ones you've got. Bon appetit, and tell the delicious Isabel hi. Rosine's Mediterranean Cafe, 721 S. Weir Canyon Rd., (714) 283-5141. (Jack Grimshaw, Lake Forest)