GRADY’S RECORD REFUGE is a new & used record store located at 2546 E. Main St. in Ventura, CA. We buy, sell & trade LP’s, CD’s, cassettes, 78’s, 45’s, DVD’s, vhs, reel-to-reels, 8-tracks, laserdiscs, and more……we also sell needles, cartridges & belts for turntables, and do PHONOGRAPH REPAIR………we also sell used stereo equipment….. especially RECORD PLAYERS!”

The Grady of Grady’s Record Refuge is Grady Runyan, membor of late great California psychedelic transcendent trashheads MONOSHOCK and current member of mighty LIQUORBALL. Follow each link to see what Julian Cope says about the bands. He knows more than we do.

Here’s a short film about what Grady’s up to in his store…

And now, exclusively for Arthur readers… Grady has been working on a collection of short stories regarding Refuge customers. Here’s a hot one:

I found myself in downtown Ojai with the day off work and some time to kill. I decided to take a walk by our first house in Ojai- the small casita we lived in our first six months here. I hadn’t been by in a while; the house looked the same. I remembered our second daughter Abby being born in this house, just a few months after we moved in. I remembered our first dog Falstaff spending his final days in the backyard here. I remembered soundproofing the garage into a studio, only to be evicted a few months after it’s completion. Overall, the memories were mostly good. After a brief pause I decided to move on.

As I continued down the street, I heard a voice. “Hey, c’meer, I want to show you something ridiculous”. Definitely one of the better pickup lines, and one I felt I couldn’t resist. As I turned I saw an older, bedraggled hippie burner dude siting in a lawn chair at the edge his driveway, rustling a newspaper. “Yeah you”, he reiterated. As I walked over, I noted his bag of Bali Shag, his old man’s pipe, an empty coffee cup with a brown stain on the bottom, and a round tin with four small buds in it, all residing on a makeshift table next to his chair. “Let me show you some weird bureaucratic shit right here” he said with a friendly smile, as if he were far more amused than outraged. He proceeded to quote something from the front page, but I didn’t hear a word he was saying……my attention was instead focused on the large scab on the inside of his left arm, which looked like it might not be healing right. From there my eyes traveled to his peace sign bracelet, wispy unkempt beard, crooked teeth, and frazzled mass of hair that was exploding from behind a dirty blue bandana. A jet-black Bauhaus T-shirt completed the picture. “And then they’re giving us these pills that make our dicks hard ALL THE TIME!!!” he finished, making me very sorry that I tuned out for the first part.

To his left was a motor home with a pirate’s flag flying from the antennae– I quickly sussed this to be his actual residence, as opposed to the house whose driveway he was in. Next to the motor home was an enormous 1950’s Magnavox stereo console, the most extensive collection of motorcycle helmets I’d ever seen in one place, and various other detritus and piles thereof.

It was then that I noticed the wooden plaque, affixed to the side of the console: “There Are More Old Drunkards Thank Old Doctors” it read in a kind of blocky, “wild west” font reminiscent of the days of handlebar mustaches and Knott’s Berry Farm.


“Where did you get that plaque” I asked with the same good-natured amusement that he greeted me with. “I dunno, you’ll have to ask Daniel.” “Daniel?” “Daniel Ash, you know, he guy from Bauhaus, he lives over there,” he said pointing to the main house.

I recognized the plaque as the exact same one that adorned Giggles for many years, given to me by Bruce “Sir Earl” Bowell. It was then moved to my first Ojai garage — a mere four houses down the street from where I was now standing (briefly dubbed “Gigglitos”, but it never quite took), and then finally relocated to the Refuge on opening day. It was positioned just beneath the giant Tiny Tim poster, and remained unmoved for a good seven years, until…… day a short, leather-clad man with an English accent came in and offered me $25 for it. Normally I don’t sell personal stuff off the walls, but it was a reeeaally slow day, and I am there to sell things, am I not? Though it was with a tinge of regret that I accepted his offer, on the other hand I felt like after 10-plus years of prominent display, my dedication to the piece could hardly be questioned. It was time for someone else to fly the flag for a while, I reasoned………and that someone turned out to be Daniel Ash……or rather the man who lives in Daniel Ash’s driveway.

As I was explaining this strange coincidence, my host – named Leroy by the way– became very excited and motioned me towards the stereo. “Let’s check out some tunes, brother” he called. Given the shabby appearance of the console and the torn and water-damaged copy of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” leaning up nearby, I could only wonder what was next.

My eyes then turned back to the plaque, and I briefly contemplated the stories it could tell. From all those bizarre and unbelievable nights of “music” in West Oakland, to the surreal clientele that populate the ‘Fuge everyday, to the antics of this post-apocalyptic gremlin in Daniel Ash’s driveway, I had to wonder: had this plaque ever seen a sane day in its life? Was it some kind of portal, through which only the most sublime human behavior could be observed? Or was it in fact the cause of such behavior, afflicting it’s owner with some nefarious power all its own?

My train of thought was broken as Leroy popped the trunk to Daniel’s Jaguar and began mumbling about “the good stuff.” What emerged was a radio broadcast record on the history of the Beatles, part 1 of 12. Surprisingly, the Magnovox dropped the record without a hitch, and the sound was clear and full…..and quite loud. As the narration detailing the pre-Fab Four’s humble beginnings boomed down this previously idyllic Ojai street, I felt as though this magical interlude was now complete. “I see your feet wanna move, so let’s see your form” my host uttered confusingly. I shook Leroy’s hand, thanked him for the experience, and exited the driveway. “Don’t be a stranger” he called, resuming his position in the lawn chair, the plaque gleaming in the sun behind him, the stereo still set on stun. I smiled but I didn’t look back.


Grady’s Record Refuge: facebook page

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

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