Personal Bests

July 2012

Perhaps, like me, you keep a list. Maybe not a written list, but at least a mental catalog of stuff you consider life’s best things.

Some I don’t talk about much—the antique oak bed my wife and I have shared for 30 years; the framed photograph of our now-grown daughter as a teen dancer, leading a parade of twinkle-toed toddler fairies across a stage; the special trophy our son’s high school soccer coaches awarded him even though he missed his entire senior season with a broken collarbone. While these represent some of the best things in my life, they don’t mean anything to you.

But some of my favorite things I talk about incessantly because they’re just flat-out wonderful, and I make it my holy quest to convince others of their wonderfulness. Those include my well-designed and impossibly durable mountain bike, Adele’s voice, my tireless and faithful Hyundai, the trumpet solo on Bruce Springsteen’s “Meeting Across the River,” Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved,” and Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove,” whole scenes of which I can recite from memory despite having last seen it in 1985. These things never disappoint and constantly reaffirm my faith in humanity.

“If our civilization is capable of producing that,” my thinking goes, “we can do anything.”

Orange Coast has been chronicling eclectic Orange County for nearly four decades now, and we’re convinced this place offers the best of everything, from fine dining to Vietnamese dumplings; from tiki bars to preconcert Champagne; from luxe retail to bikini-body workouts. We consider our annual “Best of” cover story an authoritative guide to local excellence, and a chance to honor the hard work of the county’s visionaries, vendors, and those who simply do what they do better than anyone else.

“Best of 2012,” gives us the chance to spotlight some long-standing greats and many recent discoveries. But as always, we invite you to quibble. Think your favorite onion rings are better than our chosen ones? Just let us know about it here.

Why? Because we’ve already started research for next year. 

Martin J. Smith

Illustration by John Ueland

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