If you’re looking for a patch of deep red in the ocean of blue that is California, the town of Atascadero is your place. Texas without the twang. Cowboy boots, Trump regalia, utilitarian architecture, and churches as ubiquitous as Starbucks. Diversity comes by way of “Larry Elder for Governor” signage on front lawns and car bumpers.
If you’re a digger, the thrift shops offer no relief; unless your meat is tacky, white gospel albums on vanity press, bad country western and (up trending) Bill Cosby vinyl.
However, there is a cultural oasis in the center of town; Traffic Records, on Traffic Way; conveniently accessible by taking the “Traffic Way” offramp on US 101. And yes, Traffic albums are available. Look hard though, their neon open sign is barely visible, and their storefront signage is curiously located a couple doors down from the actual shop.
Traffic is a neat and clean, open space run by an affable owner who eschews the aloof, superior vibe given off by too many record store personnel. He seemed to appreciate our company as much as our patronage. A comfy couch offers safe haven for long suffering spouses and girlfriends of vinyl junkies. Traffic offers reasonably priced new vinyl, a gem strewn five dollar used section and a ‘worth your effort’ budget vinyl area where I found a near mint dollar copy of “The Unforgiven”. We also picked up a DVD copy of Leonard Cohen (Under Review) for a fiver. Me and the missus were so happy, we gladly parted with a hefty chunk of petrol money for a Traffic Records tee shirt.
Safe to say there is no other locale in Atascadero that proudly displays the painted visage of Ziggy Stardust front and center in their brick and mortar. Also available are strings, books, some electronics; as well as a couple of Frankenstein guitars languishing on the wall in consignment purgatory. I rescued a nice one for two bills that had a Music Man Albert Lee body, and a viable replacement neck with locking tuners; a birthday gift from the missus – I married well.
Apologies to The Chamber of Commerce; but Atascadero is a culturally barren patch of civilization I’ll likely never visit again. However, if you’re on your way to somewhere else, Traffic Records on Traffic Way, off US Highway 101 is well worth the detour.