Archive for October, 2004

Blue Streets

That was some rain last night. There are puddles on the patio and the backyard drain was stopped up, which means it was coming down pretty hard for a while. I was on my way home from Costa Mesa when it started; fortunately I was off the freeway before the torrent really started. It was odd, though, driving towards home on Rose Drive and seeing the sprinklers on the median spraying away in the rain.

Right now, when I look out my window, the streets look blue. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed before in this neighborhood on rare occassions, those fleeting moments when a blue California sky shines over still-wet streets.

Hello Kitty Boardfest

Since it is her 30th Birthday and what not, it’s only fitting that she get her own…uh… surf competition? Today through Sunday, Huntington Beach is hosting the Hello Kitty Boardfest.

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I gotta say, most of the big surf festivals they have here in HB aren’t very family oriented. It seemed like every booth has stripper-eque women in 4 inch heels walking in the sand. This surf comp should be a refreshing change. And even if you don’t like Hello Kitty, surfing, or you just need to see bikini clad women, you could always get drunk at downtown HB and tool around the cool booths. More info here. Lisa Loeb is “invited” to perform, but we all know what that means.

Pervy little kid

You can never start them off too young right? I thought I’d just share this picture of a little kid checking out tennis star Anna Kournikova at the World Team Tennis Smash event.

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What does this have to do with OC? I’m not really sure. Oh yeah, it took place at UCI Bren Events Center. That’s about it. (picture from AP)

Illadelph Halflife

Living in Orange County I’ve always assumed that most cheese steaks were nothing more than roast beef smothered in undercooked onions and peppers and covered with whatever cheese the cook had lying around. After paying a visit to John’s Philly Grille in Anaheim, my opinion has been forever shattered.

The thicker than deli cut [but thinner than skirt] steak is tender, juicy and full of flavor. The peppers snap nicely while the grilled onions almost melt when they hit your tongue. Now I’m beginning to see what the folks in Philly are all retarded over. The tastes blend together nicely and each sandwich is prepared with loving care.

They also manage to keep a nice selection of bottled sodas in the cooler and a decent sized Tasty Kakes display on hand. The televisions throughout the resturant play sports and only sports. It should be noted that if Philadelphia has a game that day, all TVs will be dedicated to it. If you’re easily irritated by vocal but otherwise harmless sports fans, get your order “to go”. An average lunch for two should set you back around $14 with beverages and sides. 1784 S. Euclid Ave, Anaheim, 714.491.2733

Dana Point

It’s a matter of political correctness to gush over Dana Point. I’ve never been politically correct when it comes to Orange County community standards and I will say that if you want to know what is wrong with Orange County, go to Dana Point.

Oh, but you say, the Harbor!

Yes, let’s talk about the Harbor. Or rather, let’s talk about the precious natural and historic landmark that was lost when they dammed the cove with a a spiny back breakwater no self-respecting reptile would wear. I am one who remembers how wonderful Dana Point was before the yacht harbor: the tidepools, the broad open meadows, the cliffs which rose unimpeded, and the waves which brought surfers from all over the world. Dana Point was isolated, apart from the Los Angeles/Anaheim sprawl that slopped into the northwest corner of the Orange and across to San Bernardino. It was silent, free of strip malls. A small town that could have been a second Laguna Beach as Laguna Beach was before the yuppies drove the artists into the hinterlands, the deep canyons around the Saddleback.

You have probably seen the bumper stickers which say KILLER DANA. That is a reference to what was and what the Orange County Supervisors and the developers killed, largely without oversight from the state or the people who loved her beaches. Killer Dana refers to the legendary surfing waves that the breakwater slices. It stands for the memory and the revolution that followed. After the Dana Point Marina fiasco, people across the state stood up and voted the Coastal Commission into existence so that no one would seize a thing of beauty and destroy it ever again.

That is Dana Point’s one good legacy.

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Halloween?

It’s mid-October. Fall’s just tipped her hand. There’s a nip that wasn’t there a week ago, a quiet chill to an evening that’s shorter everyday. And it all leaves (Oh gawd, the pun!) me with one burning question:

What the hell am I gonna do for Halloween?

That’s the question for the ages. Like the preeminent quest of my life– the perfect Halloween celebration.

I’m not much one for the Yuletide cheer. Likewise, I don’t get all gooey over Valentine’s or The Fourth or [insert other holiday affair here]. No, for me, there’s really only one holiday that matters. The one where I can dress like a ballerina and no one questions my sexuality– well, mostly.

Anyway, after a couple years in the area, I’ve come to the conclusion that The Great OC don’t really know how to get down for Halloween. I’ve been forced to take part in the debauchery of West Hollywood for my Halloween kicks. Of course, that’s a bit like forcing an alcoholic to take a sponge bath in Wild Turkey, but there are some draw backs.

Like the drive. Lord the drive. Unless you’re lucky enough to have some friends to crash with in West Hollywood or you’ve put up for a hotel room. We’re talking the Dread Pirate Roberts of all drives– the 4:35 AM, LA – OC, DD commute. If there is a hell. Look no further.

Then there’s the parking. Christ the parking. You’ll be lucky to find a spot in Torrance.

So, maybe I’m relatively new to Orange County. Maybe there’s some killer-underground-Halloween-scene that I’m missing. I’m open to the possibility. My hopes lie with you– The OC Metroblogging Community. (Hope you booked your hotel already. –ed. Shutup, you.)

So, what the hell are you doing for Halloween?

Thanks for a Great Season, Halos

After fighting back hard at the end of the season to take the American League West from the Athletics, the Angels couldn’t muster enough monkey magic to continue on their quest, losing today to the Boston Red Sox, 8-6 after a thrilling comeback tie it up and send it into extra innings.

Even with the loss, congratulations to the Mike Scioscia, the coaching staff, the front office, and all the players for an awesome season, including their first division championship in 18 years. Your Orange County fans thank you.

Classic Orange County

Despite the strip malls and tract housing, Orange County has a pretty vibrant past. You just have to know where to look…

  • Justin Mason pointed to a whole bunch of exceptional photos and post cards from the early days of Orange County. I don’t want to believe that South Coast Plaza didn’t always have loads of crap around it, but this picture tells a different story.
  • For those of you who happen to be geeks of the Disney persuasion, this photo tour of classic Disneyland [see: 50’s and 60’s] is worth going over. It’s assembled from a whole plethora of classic tourist photos that really manage to capture the era.
  • Those of you who are hep to the dying artform of Googie architecture know that Anaheim was a hotbed for it from the 50’s thru the 80’s. An archive of Anaheim’s way out [but now mostly demolished] buildings can be found here. The Anaheim Central Library has a great physical archive that you can spend an afternoon losing yourself in.

I’m well aware that I’m only scratching the surface – but I’m a lazy sod who loves audience participation. What’re your favorite virtual and physical manifestations of classic Orange County? Inquiring minds want to know.

Accountants against Terrorism

Last night I went to a Continued Professional Education class put on by the California CPA society of Orange County over at the Irvine Marriott. Basically, it’s a ball-room filled with old accountants and tax guys who are taking these classes in order to keep their CPA license active. One of the topics of that evening was “CPAs and Homeland Security” given by Orange County Sheriff, Michael Carona. Essentially, his speech was something along the lines that Orange County is a hot target for the terrorists however with proper foresight and planning we’re all much safer. Sheriff Carona also mentioned that as CPAs, we’re supposed to do our part and look for terrorist threats to our financial institutions. No word on what we’re supposed to look for, or what precautions we can take. Just an ambiguous and ominous caveat.

All this sounded like he was just regurgitation conservatisms republican rhetoric. “They hate freedom.” “We’re much safer than we were.” “Of course, the U.N. was invited.” Sadly, in this Orange County ball-room filled with old white accountants, the audience was eating it up. At some point, I thought someone was going to stand up and say “mission accomplished”. Anyways, at least there are good snacks at those classes.

The Sign of the Cat

Last January, my community on a hilltop became internationally famous after an ignorant trail biker presented himself as the main course for a mountain lion. Immediately following the attack, a pair of born-agains came down the trail and were attacked by the same beast. The survivors went from church to church afterwards, drumming up the name of Saddleback Church in their testimonies about the attack. Their faith community had saved them instead of the biker, they implied, because they had gone to that church and met each other there.

Thank you, Jesus, put your money in the plate so we can save more people from wild beasts and liberals.

Other than this brief steambath of free publicity for the local church-which-doesn’t-follow-Matthew-6-very-closely, the attacks had little effect on matters in my neighborhood. The number of trail bikers diminished for a few months. Then they returned. Housing prices continued to rise in adjacent Portola Hills. No one called for the hunting of lions: the visits of a mother lion and her cub to the large property held by Saddleback Church have been treated with at worst, disinterest by local residents.

“It’s their country, too,” said the wife of a night watchman at Saddleback Church who met the she-puma face to face and lived to tell about it. That’s the attitude up here on the hilltop, too. Most parents don’t let their children go down into Whiting Ranch, though one Whiting volunteer told me of seeing a couple pushing a double-stroller around the loop, through meadows and woods infested by deer and rabbits, the mountain lions’ principal prey. Either of those tots would have made a tasty meal for the two cats now roaming the territory.

Photo by Joel Sax, Copyright 2004I have seen tracks in the mud near the waterfall in my condominium complex. You can tell that they don’t belong to dogs or coyotes because they lack the toe-claw marks that canine imprints display so prominently. They often appear on the dirt road just beneath the rim of Concourse Park. Few residents have seen the cats. I am one of the few who has. Pumas do not like the company of humans. When they do walk among us, it is under cover of darkness. A few are caught on camera or by night watchmen. The hikers and bikers who frequent Whiting’s steep slopes and deep arroyos seldom report the beast. Volunteers and rangers who have worked the park for many years know the track, but not the sight and the scent of the cougar.

Every time I enter Whiting, however, I feel the risk. I know that I would not make myself an opportunity. It’s the bikers and the hikers who have not familiarized themselves with the ways of the mountain lion who worry me. The guy who was killed last January made himself attractive to the cat by stooping to fix his bicycle. The woman who the cat mauled subsequent to this slaughter blundered into the area. It is these with whom I identify. If I had decided to go for a walk that afternoon, if I had chosen the Cactus Trail, that might have been me on national television talking about fighting off the predator. If it hadn’t killed me outright.

Nevertheless, I still hoof about the trails of Whiting. It remains one of the best places in the county for easy access to the chaparral. When I go there, I watch the trail and the bushes for signs. Often at the junction of Whiting Road and the Serrano Cow Trail, I see deer. Sleepy Hollow is another fine place, one that is especially attractive to me because it is bike-free.

Most of the hikers I know do not strike me as future mountain lion meals simply because they know the land intimately. If or when there is another attack, it will not surprise me if it is a trail biker. In their chase for the thrill of plummetting down the Sage Scrub and rocketing along the Serrano Cow Trail, they remain unaware of the dangers around them. When they stop, they do not take the time to investigate their surroundings. They don’t know the land as anything but a ride of grooves and bumps.

Today, when I re-entered Whiting for the first time since being grounded by my cardiologist, I saw puma tracks on the Line Shack Trail. They led down the hill, through the intersection with the Serrano Cow Trail, and up the Whiting Road. I followed them as far as I could, noting when they crossed the tracks of the deer, photographing them when they were most clear. As I stood viewing one specimen, a trail biker zoomed by. “How’s it going?” he shouted without waiting for an answer. “There’s a mountain lion track here,” I said. But by the time I said it, he was gone.

That’s the attitude which may get him or another like him killed some day. You can’t afford not to take time to know the sign of the cat.

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