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Nuts and Bolts

'Best of' everyday stuff--
these are a few of our favorite things

UNFORTUNATELY, life cannot be all romance and revelry. Sometimes you have to settle down and do your laundry, wash your dog, have your oil changed. As we make our way from one potentially mind-numbing task to the other, it has been proved that a small part of our brains remains alert, scanning the horizon for any little highlight to engage our intellects or assuage our beleaguered egos: a sunglass salesperson with a delightful professional manner, a gas station decorated with flair and whimsy, or a casually offered remark that the pathway you just walked down might be haunted by ghosts. The human animal lives for such things. Here are some people and places that have brightened our days, in hopes that they may brighten yours.

Best Place to Ponder a
Three-Piece Hemp Suit

George "I Guarantee It" Zimmer kicked in $100,000 for the Proposition 215 campaign to legalize medical marijuana last fall. Does that mean that his 332-store Men's Wearhouse chain will soon be carrying menswear cut from hemp-based cloth? "We're definitely investigating it," answers Kirk Warren, a senior VP at the company headquarters in Fremont, surrounded by hemp fabric swatches, garment samples, and even business partnership proposals. With Armani reportedly readying its first hemp suits for this spring, it appears the race is on. "Thus far, we're not carrying any of the [hemp-based] products," Warren says, "but we certainly are interested." And, he adds, the company is even thinking about hemp-based paper products, too, once they become economically viable. And that's no pipe dream. The Men's Wearhouse, 1001 Steele Lane, Santa Rosa. 525-1324.--B.R.

Best Door-to-Door Cigar Salesman

He comes to the door under the cover of darkness. He'll meet you in a parking lot, in a corporate office, or in a crowded restaurant. CIA? No, C-I-G-A-R. Meet Val Cordova, founder of Cigaramor, a one-man, after-hours, high-end cigar service. For a $30 minimum purchase he'll meet you just about anywhere with a fat suitcase of premium smoke and billows of good advice to select just the right stogies for you. When not working his day job as a bread baker, Cordova makes house calls to nearly 300 personal customers, offering 70 different varieties of hard-to-find cigars. 542-2667.--D.B.

Best Place to Sidestep a Ghost

According to certain so-called Spirit Detectives--those eerie folks who claim they can sense the presence of the ephemeral dead--Sonoma County is absolutely crawling with transient ghosts, thinly sliced leftovers of lives gone by and a fair number of spectral immigrants who've moved here for the climate. You can't see them, say the experts, but they are here. You may have just stepped in one. One particular local landmark ranks as the numero uno specter-infested region in the whole county: General Vallejo's former stomping grounds at the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park. The nasty old general, legend has it, enslaved numerous local Indians, many of whom died at or near the site of the historic mansion. Victoria Bullis, a ghost-busting psychic from San Francisco, has claimed that most of the Adobe ghosts keep clear of the house itself--"Bad energy," she says--but there are scores of spirits still congregating on the pathways that lead to the old complex, caught forever in a vast family reunion that will never end. So next time you visit the park, think of those who've passed that way before, and, hey!--be careful where you step. Petaluma Adobe Historic State Park, Old Adobe Road, Petaluma. 762-4871.--D.T.

Best Used Cars at Used-Car Prices

A road-ripping Datsun 280Z for $300? A Ford pickup for $400? Where do you go? J.J.'s Towing Service, of course. These guys tow the cars of all the tweeking deadbeats arrested on the highway. If the driver doesn't come back, then the car is sold "as is" on a lien sale. The J.J.'s crew prices 'em to sell. The best part is J.J.'s complete indifference to your purchasing decision: no pressure, no bull. The right car for you will have three interlocking traits: cheap, neglected, and mechanically virtuous enough to survive the abuse. "As is" means that their passing smog certification is up to you, but in this day and age consider that maze merely an opportunity for personal growth. J.J.'s Towing Service, 175 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa. 528-7445.--D.B.

Best Place to Reflect on Mortality

The constant ringing of the Bell Monument to Nicolas Green and the Children of the World provides an unceasing song of love and remembrance for a 7-year-old Bodega Bay boy who was killed two years ago by bandits in Italy. Nicolas' parents--Maggie and Reg Green--have faced their sorrowful loss with acts of love and forgiveness, not revenge and anger. By donating their son's organs, they ignited a surge of organ donation around the globe. The 130 bells, a gift of thanks from families throughout Italy, hang from a pyramid structure created by San Francisco sculptor Bruce Hasson. Of course, there's no right way to memorialize a tragedy, but the Greens have shown us a compelling option. Let the tuneful bells serve as a sounding board for your own inner thoughts. Near the Community Center in Bodega Bay, just north of town and to the west of Hwy 1.--S.P.

Best Place to Serve a Foot Fetish

This isn't the least expensive place to purchase a pair of clogs. Nor does it have the biggest selection of boots and pumps. But it boasts perhaps the best collection of comfy, sturdy, beautiful shoes in the county. Yes, they even have some Birkenstocks. But look here for terrific brands from Denmark and Germany and fashionable Canadian boots. With popular styles for men and women, their shoes sell out fast. The friendly staff is happy to put you on their call list and phone when new shoes arrive. Satisfy your soul desire at Sole Desire, 441 Coddingtown Center, Santa Rosa. 571-8643--S.P.

Best Place to Dress Like
a Million for 20 Bucks

Want the skinny on the best-kept bargain fashion secret in the county? Get to know the folks at CP Shades and they'll phone you about their next unadvertised sale. Women countywide have pounced on these loose-fitting, all-natural-fiber, wash-and-wear clothes (no ironing allowed). The holiday line, matching vests and pants made from shiny rayon in an array of gemlike colors, starred at many a winter party. And yes, that million-dollar look probably cost about 20 bucks (if it was on sale). This partial-outlet store carries new clothes at full price along with bargains. The late-spring line features brighter colors, short flared skirts, and a few slightly skinnier items. Check it out. 206 G St. at Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma. 773-3290--S.P.

Best Words to Rear End

We don't know that it originated locally, but the best non-PC carniverous bumper sticker we've seen is the one pasted on a beat-up pickup parked on Sonoma street. It asks, "If God didn't want us to eat animals, why are they made out of meat?" Second place is a tie between "Only Users Lose Drugs" and the smart-aleck down-the-tubes sass of "Windows '95/Apple '86." Runners-up, decidedly local in origin, are Deaf Dog Coffee's ubiquitous "Friends Don't Let Friends Go to [encroaching Oregon-based coffee chain]" and Dutton Radiator's delightfully tacky boast of its business as the "Best Place to Take a Leak."--D.T.

Best Place to Get a Ticket

Getting a ticket on Petaluma Boulevard right outside the police station near Payran Avenue at 8:10 a.m., just after shift change, is easy. No accomplishment at all: done it twice. Whether it's 27 in the 25 or those tags that are a mite past registration, the early birds, freshened up on a night's sleep and strong coffee, truly do get the worm--particularly at month's end when, we suspect, those "we don't have quotas" quotas are due for the officers. And being the worm scrambling through the glove box, past the extra (dried-out) pens, thick stacks of repair invoices--and, incredibly, the half bag of Fritos--to find registration and proof of insurance gets expensively old after the first time. You'd think that some people would learn. Yep, you sure would.--G.G.

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From the March 27-April 2, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent

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