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3-HOUR TOUR

Superior From Foot to Head

March 09, 1995|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who contributes frequently to the Times Orange County Edition

One section of Costa Mesa is clearly Superior.

Noon to 12:35 p.m.: Superior Avenue offers several unusual enterprises. You can watch inverts, 360s, twists, spins, flips and other skating tricks on the half-pipe ramps at Inline Rollerworks most evenings and weekends. In-liners range from age 8 on up, and professional ramp dogs--a.k.a. sponsored, aggressive skaters--often stop in.

Staff member Danny Brizard noted that in-line skating and skateboarding share tricks, and he compared the two activities. "In-lines go higher; they're faster, sometimes they're easier to control," Brizard said. "Falling, I'd be for skateboards--you've got a more controlled landing; they're a little more graceful."

The shop sells in-line skates as well as hockey skates and snow skates. (According to Brizard, snow skates, basically ski boots with boot-length skis permanently attached, are easier to use than regular skis.) Accessories include big ol' baggy pants by Big Tool and 100 styles of wheels: Kryptonics makes children's wheels called Tantrum; from Senate come Bribes and C-Notes, extreme skaters use Hiper Dwarfs.

If you own skates, bring 'em. Rollerpark admission for non-members is $12 per day, and the staff figures beginners can last 90 minutes, with lots of breaks, before their legs turn to jelly. Watching is free. Members pay a $40 annual fee plus $7.50 for adults or $6.50 for students per day of use; the sign also reads, "B average, $5 per day."

12:35 to 1:20: Let's call Chez Nous Deli "continental." It has French prints on the walls, serves Danish pastries (93 cents) in the mornings and Greek salad ($4.45) and lots of Italian dishes (lasagna and fettuccine al pesto, for example, both around $5) at lunch. Most sandwiches range from $4.25 to $6.95, but I ordered Spanish prosciutto on half a baguette, with Russian potato salad, for $7.50; that modest sounding half a baguette was a foot and a half long. Desserts ($1.69 to $2.50) recently included chocolate cake, chocolate mousse cake, German chocolate cake and a Haagen-Dazs chocolate bar.

1:20 to 1:40: The closest legal sites for paintball activities are in Gardena, Azusa and Corona, but when it comes time to reload, local aficionados head for Skan-Line Paintball Game Supplies.

You can rent the guns for $15 a day or buy direct ball feed pistols such as Trracer, Piranha and Thunder Pig Tusker for $80 to $260. Semiautomatics such as Patriot and Puma sell for $180 to $300, a Mini Mag with Streamline and Turbo Boost, but "no tank," is $530. "In paintball you get what you pay for," said counterman James Berkebile. "The higher-end guns have faster shots per second. But they're also high maintenance."

The store carries all components for the war games, including sights, "Nasty Boys" feeder tubes, interchangeable barrels, goggles and camouflage clothing. A bag of 100 .68 caliber paint balls is $5. "We get a lot of business executives in here," Berkebile said. "They rent everything, and (the employees) can get back at the boss. Women are just starting to get into it. It's a fun hobby. Better than real guns."

1:40 to 2:15: Timbuktu Folk and Tribal Art offers everything from mirrored Rajasthan pens ($3) to the latest in talismanic attire ($800 to $1,200).

There are also New World religious art works, a Nuristani wedding hat and books for browsing, including "Three Tickets to Timbuktu."

Hot right now are hand-painted hairdresser signs from Ghana and Senegal, advertising such styles as "students do," "gentle cut," "simple down," "Boeing 707" and "houseparty." One sign boasts "expensive!"--that should pack them in!

A Mekonde helmet ($495) is worn over the head during initiation ceremonies in which young boys are circumcised. "A very serious event," noted owner Joanne Baker. "The hair of the elders is worked into the wood of the helmet, the feeling being that the wisdom of the elders is passed on to the young boy as he wears it."

Tonight the store offers an artists' reception and slide presentation on "Costa Rica: Legends, Lifestyles and Dreams," featuring works from a Costa Rican women's folk art cooperative. Through Sunday, items from Timbuktu hang in the gallery of the Irvine Barclay Theatre for performances by the National Ballet of Senegal.

2:15 to 3: Book King, a 2,200-square-foot used-book store, specializes in collectible fiction.

In the collectible room recently were first editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Jungle Tales of Tarzan" for $300 and Tony Hillerman's "Dance Hall of the Dead" for $700. There were also lots of signed books by contemporary authors including Stephen King and Isabelle Allende. But, admitted partner Roy Robbins, "it's a good thing we didn't try to open a specialty store only--a lot less sells in the collectible room compared to the general stock."

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