American Cancer Society
This charity describes itself as “a nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service.” Founded by 15 physicians and businessmen in 1913, this charity is a symbol of hope worldwide, and almost a century later nearly 11 million cancer survivors are alive today because of the American Cancer Society. (Jasen Davis)
American Cancer Society Inland Empire Area office, 6355 Riverside Ave., Riverside, (800) 227-2345; www.cancer.org.
Freddy Rieger, Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino
Chef Freddy Rieger knows how to run top-notch restaurants in a casino setting; he’s done it from Vegas to Atlantic City and back. Now the denizens of the I.E. are lucky enough to enjoy his talents at Fantasy Springs where he’s crafted the casual and creative POM, the delicious and upscale The Bistro and the Asian-inspired Joy. Each one is worthy of a drive out to the desert. (Bill Gerdes)
Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino, 84-245 Indio Springs Pkwy., Indio, (800) 827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.
It wasn’t too long ago when we could recall a Rancho Cucamonga that didn’t feature endless miles of gorgeous suburban homes, an expansive outdoor mall in its northeastern reaches nor a freeway running through most of its width. Ah, how much that city has grown since its days housing Frank Zappa in the ’60s. This gem nestled in the southwestern 210/15 interchange quadrant is an oft-superb spot to work, shop, play or live. (F.L. Archer)
The transition of Riverside’s downtown area has taken years, but it’s been worth every day of the wait. Ask anyone who hasn’t seen the city in a good decade, and they’ll quickly notice upgrades: dormant buildings brought back to glorious life (hello, Fox Performing Arts Center), sidewalks used by families and college kids instead of prostitutes, plus there’s a general appreciation for the arts. Hey, we even know people who’ll vacation here nowadays! (George Donovan)
BEST DRAG QUEEN
Forget RuPaul. This is NewPaul. Her name is Morgan McMichael and she’s the best the Inland Empire has to offer when it comes to drag queens. She’s the bell of the drag ball, and she could probably run faster than most of us in heels. Whether it’s on the street or in the club, McMichael always looks her best. Dressing down is not an option! (Kevin Longrie)
BEST LOCAL FACEBOOK FAN PAGE
Discount Hydroponics, located in Riverside, bills itself as one of the worlds largest hydroponic stores, and since its business headquarters is a respectable 23,000 square feet, I believe it. The Facebook fanpage reveals a lot of the cool this company has to offer the Inland Empire, including free classes open to the public and their enthusiastic support for community events like September’s Inland Empire Corset Run. (J.D.)
Discount Hydroponics, 4745 Hiers Ave., Riverside, (877) GROW IT-7; www.discount-hydro.com.
BEST LOCAL PERSON TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER
JM of The Lowkeys
Whatever charisma is, JM, aka Just Me, has it. This brilliant young lyricist, producer and writer is a member of local hip-hop and R&B group The Lowkeys. JM and the band came straight out of Rancho Cucamonga to end up at the forefront of the Inland Empire music scene and JM’s twitter is a constant feed of band updates and positive observations worth reading wherever you are in your day. (J.D.)
BEST LOCAL SCANDAL
Indictment of Upland’s Former Mayor
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard the jokes about politicians. They’re crooked. They lie. They’ll do and promise anything to get your vote.
Well, how’s this for a kernel of truth? Earlier this year it was revealed that former Upland Mayor John Pomierski collected bribes from local businesses as part of pay-to-play scheme, according to a federal indictment. Pomierski ended up resigning and his house and office ended up being searched by the FBI. Honesty and integrity from elected officials? Sorry, not here. (Matt Tapia)
BEST PLACE TO GET A PIERCING/BODY MODIFICATION
Laughing Buddha Body Piercing
Laughing Buddha Body Piercing is a friendly yet professional establishment that customers rave about. Originally named Puncture, this place offers knowledgeable and nice artists capable in everything from industrials and conches to sleeves and lower backs; and its jewelry selection is killer! Whether you are going for that first initial hole or trying to fix something that went awry, artists Airick and Sarah are happy to assist. (Janet Martin)
Laughing Buddha Body Piercing, 2176 Foothill Blvd., Upland, (909) 981-2877;www.laughingbuddhatattoo.com.
BEST POLITICAL GADFLY
Riverside County DA Paul Zellerbach
I’ve got a funny story about a political gadfly. A couple of years ago, Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco (a.k.a. douche bag) was making waves. Big ones. He was spending half a million on an “executive” staff committed to advancing his political career—at the same time that the DA was crying to the Board of Supervisors for more money. Then, when Pacheco was opposed by Riverside Superior Court Judge Paul Zellerbach, one of Pacheco’s campaign managers called Zellerbach a “political gadfly.” Oh, Pacheco lost the election. Badly. The moral of this story? Arrogant douche bags get their comeuppance. Good guys finish first. Who’s the gadfly now, Rod? (M.T.)
Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack
Mary Bono Mack has been serving the people of California since 1998 and is currently the U.S. Representative for California’s 45th congressional district, which includes Palm Springs and most of Riverside. She was chosen as the “Seventh Hottest Politician in the World” by Maxim. She’s gorgeous and green . . . Congresswoman Mack sponsored bills that rewarded companies for utilizing energy-saving technologies and established the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument near Palm Springs. (J.D.)
Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack of California’s 45th District, Palm Desert Office, 36953 Cook St., Ste. 104, Palm Desert, (760) 320-1076; www.bono.house.gov.
BEST RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD
Wood Streets in Riverside
With the IE hosting a sprawling mess of cookie-cutter tract homes and strip malls cluttering street corners, finding a ’hood that doesn’t feature the aforementioned isn’t an easy task. But the Wood Streets region is a beautifully preserved part of the vicinity’s past, with century-old homes largely in pristine condition, jotting memories of a simpler, slower-paced life that was likely surrounded by the area’s once-sprawling citrus industry. Take a near literal walk down memory lane here. (F.L.A.)
BEST TALK RADIO HOST/RADIO PERSONALITY
Lanny Swerdlow, Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense
If this name sounds familiar in our pages, it should be—Swerdlow’s been covering the Inland Empire’s medical marijuana community for years, including hosting his own radio show on San Bernardino-based KCAA 1050AM called Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense. If this type of talk sounds like your cup of tea, Swerdlow can be found on the air behind the mic every Monday at 6 p.m. (G.D.)
BEST TATTOO ARTIST
If you’ve caught yourself admiring good ink in the IE recently, there’s a good chance it came from Justin Brophy. This guy can do everything from basic text to intricate, shaded masterworks; and all for a reasonable price. Brophy was voted the best because so many of his customers, including returning customers, felt his skill with the needle couldn’t be beat. (K.L.)
Justin Brophy at Laughing Buddha Tattoo, 2176 Foothill Blvd, Upland, (909) 981-2877;www.laughingbuddhatattoo.com.
BEST TATTOO STUDIO
Upland is the place to go for good tattoo work, apparently. Not only does it have Brophy, but they’ve also got Empire Tattoo, voted best in all in the IE for getting good ink. Body modification is becoming increasingly popular, and Empire Tattoo meets the increasing demand with professionalism and with immense talent. From tramp-stamps to tribals, from butterflies on your ankle to something actually original, Empire Tattoo has you covered. (K.L.)
Empire Tattoo, 2176 W. Foothill Blvd., Upland, (909) 985-8889; www.empire-tattoo.com.
Jessica Smith from Mill Creek Cattle Company
We’ve all had it happen. Waiting 45 minutes for a refill on drinks; mismanaged checks; incorrect orders. The wait staff can completely shape your experience of a restaurant. Well, Jessica from Mill Creek in Corona knows that, and has made it her responsibility to give every guest the perfect experience. People rave about her excellent service, and let’s hope that means she could retire on tips alone! (K.L.)
Jessica at Mill Creek Cattle Company, 1874 Mentone Blvd., Mentone, (909) 389-0706;www.millcreekcattlecompany.com.