Collected Wisdom

August 2011

For this month’s “Insider’s Guide” cover story, we focused on a simple idea: Everybody in Orange County knows a secret, and certain people know incredibly useful secrets.

The guy who oversees the gas pumps at Costco may not possess the key to personal bliss, but surely he knows when the lines are shortest. The head of golf course maintenance at The Resort at Pelican Hill may not understand the meaning of life, but who better to ask about the care and feeding of a lawn? Want to avoid a painful sting from the rays that congregate in the warm water off Seal Beach? Ask the marathon swimmer who has trained there for decades.

We dispatched writer Kelly von Hemert to find Orange County’s hidden experts and learn the secrets that might help make your life here more enjoyable, or at least a little easier. She tapped the expertise of an astounding cross-section of locals, including an Anaheim doughnut maker, and a host at ocean-view Splashes restaurant in Laguna Beach; a maternity unit insider at Hoag, and a charter boat captain who conducts burials at sea; an Angel Stadium regular, and the folks who make planting soil for Disneyland.

The result of her efforts, which begins here, is a collection of tips, insights, and advice from the people who know Orange County best. We hope you find it as valuable as we did.

Also this month, we tell the improbable story of Rebecca Black, the Anaheim Hills teenager who less than six months ago was not much different than any other reasonably talented eighth-grader. Then, in late February, the music video of her earnest, maddeningly pop-perfect “Friday” hit YouTube. Within weeks, Black was lifted from obscurity to international fame—and infamy. A wave of sometimes mean-spirited video parodies followed, and even those have become YouTube sensations.

As of this writing, Black’s video has been viewed more than 162 million times, up more than 4 million since Orange Coast writer Patrick J. Kiger, whose story begins here, checked it just a week earlier. That’s nearly 600,000 people a day seeking out “Friday,” making it one of the most-watched Internet videos of all time.

Lost in the ongoing discussion about the song’s merits, Black’s future, and the risk of early fame is the story of how one Orange County teen inadvertently pioneered what may be the most direct route to pop superstardom. Lost, that is, until now.

Martin J. Smith

Illustration by John Ueland

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