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The Lab Antimall is a pleasant break from the homogeneity of Orange County malls, but it's also hilariously self- conscious. If you're in the neighborhood, it's definitely worth a visit, if only to see the zenith of pre-canned counterculture.
The Lab is to typical malls what "alternative music" is to popular music.
Remember when alternative music became popular in the 1990s, and fans felt they were part of something hip and underground? No one wanted to recognize that "alternative music" was just the new marketing catch-phrase for "Top 40 music for the masses."
The Lab is the physical embodiment of this principle.
The Lab tries hard to be unique and edgy in a way everyone can conform to. Lab shoppers are looking for that Street Urchin / Thrift Shop look so popular with the MTV crowd. They decorate their expensive apartments with inflatable furniture and leopard-print curtains.
Billy Joel's lyrics describe it perfectly: "You can't dress trashy 'til you spend a lot of money."
That said, don't let the silliness keep you away. This is a fun and interesting place to shop.
The complex itself looks like a post-apocalyptic warehouse district. The highly industrial landscape includes broken concrete slab, rusted iron beams, stacked metal drums and designs of broken tile. All of this has been decorated with thrift-shop ephemera and retro kitsch.
Tennants in the Antimall include Urban Outfitters, Empire Sports, Crew Salon, Music X, Decor Delux, Na*Na, DWP, Stateside, Shine and Habit. The Lab also includes Habana, a Cuban restaurant, and the Gypsy Den coffeehouse. I have yet to eat at Habana, but the Gypsy Den has some excellent off-beat sandwiches.
On the fringes of The Lab are the Trilogy Playhouse and Memphis Cafe. Memphis has a casual atmosphere and serves Southern and Creole food with an artistic twist.
Decor Delux offers an interesting assortment of recycled mid-century furniture and decor at somewhat advanced prices. Did you know that your grandmother's kidney-shaped coffee table was back in style?
Na*Na is by far my favorite store in The Lab. It bills itself as the shoestore from hell, but that's really selling it short. Where else could one find finger-puppets based on the various incarnations of Vishnu? Where else could one find a carved tiki god that looks like Elvis? Where else could one find shirts designed by retro-cool artist Josh "Shag" Agle?
Be warned that most of the shops in this counterculture mecca close at 10 pm. Eleven pm would be past the counterculture's bedtime.
I strongly recommend a visit to The Lab Antimall if you have even the least interest in pop-culture, marketing principles, commercial architecture or dressing like a street crazy.
Go. Hang out. Be full of post-modern angst. Bring a credit card.
Guest Columnist Douglas Seabury can be contacted at DougSeabury@SpaceAgeCity.com
Knott's Berry Farm
This is the nation's oldest theme park. It includes 165 attractions in multiple themed areas such as Calico Ghost Town, Mexican Village, Indian Trails, The Boardwalk and Camp Snoopy. (714) 220-5200
Hard Rock Cafe
One in a chain of 104 Hard Rock Cafes around the world. You are paying for the honor of sitting under the autographs of rock stars. The highlight of the decor is the garish suit worn by Prince in the film "Purple Rain." (714) 640-8844
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
Watch "knights" engage in jousting and other forms of mortal combat while you eat dinner. Paper crowns (a la Burger King) included. (714) 521-4740
Movieland Wax Museum
An elaborate collection of movie and TV memorabilia, including authentic costumes and sets and more than 200 lifelike replicas of famous stars. Open Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission $6.95-$12.95. (949) 522-1154 or visitMovieland Wax Museum online.
A themed restaurant with a jungle motif. Includes animatronic creatures, indoor thundershowers, live parrots, talking trees and a large saltwater aquarium. (714) 424-9200
Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum
"The odd, the unusual and bizarre from nature and man." Open Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission $5.25-$8.95. (714) 522-7045 or visitRipley's online.
Wild Bill's Wild West Dinner Extravaganza
Watch dancing Indians, lariat-twirling "cowboys" and singing cowgirls while you eat dinner. (714) 522-6414
Wild Rivers Water Park
A water theme park with over 40 water rides and attractions, on the site of the late lamented Lion Country Safari. (949) 768-9453
Intrigued by this abbreviated list? Click here to visit Douglas's more complete list of significant locations in Anaheim, including including HISTORICAL SITES, MUSEUMS, SEASIDE ATTRACTIONS, GARDENS, SHOPPING, JUST FOR KIDS, and MISCELLANEOUS FUN categories.
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