PANORAMIC There's a bench at Top of the World in Laguna Beach that allows you to sit in one direction and face the entire Laguna coastline, sit in another direction and lose yourself in the green haze of Aliso Canyon, or look still another direction and see a crater just off the main trail formed by a World War II Marine Corps fighter that slammed into the ridge 50 years ago. Park at the end of Nyes Place, which becomes Balboa Avenue, at Moulton Meadows Park in Laguna Beach.
PAPA JOE'S Papa Joe's Pizza does beachfront pizza the way nature intended, leaving pricey "gourmet" perversions to the foofy nouveau riche down Newport way and concentrating on delicious simplicity. Stop in for an early dinner: there are few things finer than nibbling on a hefty slice of cheese (or pepperoni, or pepperoni and pineapple, or anchovy/mushroom/basil/chicken/olive, or any permutation of the 19 available toppings) and watching through the front windows as the sky goes rosy pink over Catalina. And, please, unless you just utterly loathe yourself, get a milkshake, too: they're made with fresh, real ice cream and any combination of a rainbow of flavors—peanut butter, banana, raspberry, boysenberry and more, all straight off the vine. They're so good they're hypnotic. You'll get that same contented glaze over your eyes that you see on your veteran hookah smokers, and you'll let the warm Pacific sunlight play over your suddenly sleepy body, and you will be happy. Just don't think about the future. 508 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 969-2553. PEKING RESTAURANTInspired dishes are legion: boneless sole so tender and mild it's like eating piscine manna. A crispy cuke salad dressed in a sassy chile-and-sesame-oil concoction is cool and slightly sweet, a perfect accompaniment to the pan-fried dumplings. Called kuo-tieh, these potstickers yield their soft skins to reveal a steaming leek, pork and cabbage filling that needs nothing but a dab of chile sauce or a sprinkling of vinegar. The pork short ribs are miraculously textured: coated with crackling spun honey on the outside, juicy marbleized porcine morsels on the inside. It will be hard to move past the shrimp dumplings, their cumbersome golf-ball-sized looks defied by their ethereal texture and delicate flavor, but move on you must to the roast beef and green onion pancake. IHOP fare it ain't. Far from a flapjack, this thin, multilayered bread is at once chewy and delicate. Its golden-crisp, sesame-flecked surface is rolled together with a thin layer of beef brisket fragrant with star anise. Don't miss the supersoft tofu in a spicy black bean sauce. The straight beans with pork are blistered in oil and fragrant with garlic—a study in freshness and simplicity. I can't do without the tender baby bamboo shoots, an authentic Chinese dish that is done so well here. And that's just for starters. 8566 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, (714) 893-3020. PEPPERLANDRecord store specializing in all things Beatle. Ringo bobble-head dolls! Yesterday & Today butcher-block covers! Vinyl albums, whatever those are! So overwhelming is their Beatle swag that you'd swear they're keeping George Harrison's cryogenically preserved head down behind the counter and renting it out for parties. 850 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (714) 639-0909. PLACENTIA Once, Placentia was on the cutting edge. That would have been about 100 years ago, when a group of vegans living in town practiced an unusual type of composting, a kind of organic farming that would have given the neighbors a case of the fantods—if the neighbors had known. The Grasseaters, as they were called, moved into a house on the corner of Palm and Placentia Avenues to launch a commune. Each room in the house was remodeled and rounded in accord with the group's belief that spirits linger in corners. Locals accepted the Grasseaters because—weird or not—they grew some of the best vegetables around. Maybe it was because they tended to bury their dead in the back yard—a fact that emerged only many years later, when a developer discovered human remains while grading the land for another set of tract homes. The Grasseaters' home is long gone, along with the skeletons, but there are other special places that make Placentia something to see. It may not have the E-ticket feel of Fullerton's downtown or Yorba Linda's Nixon Library, but Placentia has its own charm. PLAZA, THE The city of Orange's original downtown fans out a couple of blocks in every direction from the traffic circle (see Circle, The) to create the largest area ever recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. Some modern merchants operate within the old-town shopping district, but there are also businesses that strive to maintain the area's quaint charm, including antique dealers who hawk dusty or rusty relics from another age. Cluster of businesses within two blocks of the Glassell Street and Chapman Avenue intersection in Orange. PORN Speaking of which, forget the censorious Blockbuster, the not-better-by-much Hollywood Video and the pricey Spanky's (though kudos on the great selection and the jazz/swing they pipe in while you browse). Those of the hairy-palmed or pocket-rocket persuasion must pilgrimage to Videoland and take a tiny wad to blow on an extensive variety of smut that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg to rent. It's true that before a fairly recent remodeling, they had an even wider selection, and sadly, many personal favorites have been sold off or have vanished. But still on the racks is the charming Shane's Slumber Party series, most of the fun and prolific Dirty Debutantes, hard-to-find '80s video classics, and a wide variety of European flicks including the often muy creative Sadomaniaseries. Ouch. 712 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 838-1441. PORN STARS Often found at Black Flys parties, Club Rubber, and getting tattoos in Huntington Beach or on the Balboa Peninsula. Looking for porn stars? Try Daimon's sushi, where you can make all the tuna jokes you like. See also: Candy Apple; Lance Goodthrust; James Bondage; Long Dong Scheinberg; Sandy Beach; Stuart Anythingbutlittle PO TAK SOUPFeeling a cold coming on, I consult my Physicians' Desk Reference. Course of treatment? Phone Royal Thai and place an order to go. The waitresses and waiters on call tonight are professionals. "Po tak," I say. "Doctor's orders." They administer a yummy clear chicken/seafood broth with New Zealand green mussels, scallops, calamari, shrimp and fresh green chiles. As my condition might be serious, I've ordered it "hot," making my eyes tear up and clearing my head better than any over-the-counter sinus meds. And so far, all I've done is smell the stuff. 1750 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-8424. PROMOTERS Initially fun people who inevitably grow jaded at the hassle of throwing parties at nightclubs and wallowing in sin for a living. Can be your best friend or your most excruciating pain in the ass. Is the promoter in question friendly and warm and helpful, or is he (it's always a he) refusing even to glare in your direction because you clearly are not a person standing right there? Sometimes have drink tickets. Usually won't give them to you. PRO-ROCK Located in the same dilapidated shopping mall as JC Fandango (though not affiliated), the smaller-than-a-conference-room store is stocked with imports, T-shirts and the largest collection of metal records (in both English and Spanish) outside KNAC's archive. 1064 N. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 774-3443. PROSPECTOR, THE Swank western-y bar in Long Beach where the drinks are hearteningly cheap, the patrons are hearteningly classy and the karaoke is apocalyptically awesome. Oh, God, take me now, shirtless Charlie! 2400 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 438-3839. PROVACATEURS Young, usually white and usually male artists who seek to piss people off with ugly Finish Fetish exhibitions that manage to be both pointless and dull. When that doesn't work, they like to spread really good gossip. Days, they work as preparators for OCMA. We approve of all those things, except the Finish Fetish. See also: Ed Giardina; Matt Driggs; Brian Boyer PUNK (CHICANO) After the end of Los Crudos, the Latino punk scene faltered for a couple of years. The logical successor would have emerged from the already-rich-in-punk barrios of Chicago or Los Angeles, definitely not the suburbia paradise of Orange County. Yet with virtually no knowledge of their predecessors and with only their firsthand experience of societal abuse, Orange County's Chicano punks have combined the anti-anti-immigrant ethos of Martn Sorrondeguy's generation with the anti-globalization credo of a post-Seattle world to create one of the greatest DIY activist scenes in our apocalyptic era. Groups such as Cuauhtmoc, Over the Counter Intelligence, Yaoh, and Tazumal go around the county playing benefit shows, protesting Loretta Sanchez for her staunch support of the INS, and evading police arrests every day for their outspoken activism. And the music kicks ass. PUNK AS A DOORNAIL Smart drunks make the best music. First, they'll talk about 43-tone octaves, just intonation and Harry Partch, and then they'll make a Union 76 ball into a stringed instrument. And then they'll smash it with a baseball bat, also modified into a stringed instrument. Noted for trademark "skatar," a skateboard/guitar that they play and sometimes ride around. PUPPETS Who's that huge, scary man, with the many, many tattoos and piercings (you don't even want to know about his schlong)? The one with the bald head and the facial hair? The one who wants to put on a puppet show for your children? Why, that's Ricki Vincent, the gentlest, tenderest, scariest man we know. He and his puppets, most notably "The Id," can be found employing a funny accent outside the Santora's first-Saturday art openings.