Discount Records. True audiophiles love the indies, and this small store stocks used vinyl alongside previously owned CDs and cassettes. Most of it leans toward alternative. 2750 Harbor Blvd., (714) 662-1983.Doctor Freecloud's Mixing Lab. A dance-music lover's paradise of turntablism, vinyl and expert assistance. Well, that's what it said in the last "Best of." And Alison M. Rosen lives across the street. And she thinks the lights are still on. 145 E. 19th St., (949) 650-0909.Goat Hill Records. With apologies to the next entrant (which is pretty bitchen in its own right), Tom Harris' store is the best of the best. They don't take all—heck, nearly none—of your trade-ins. Why? Because your trade-ins suck. That's why you're trading them in, dumbass. The stock here is 75 percent vinyl, and the eclectic range of titles makes this worth your afternoon . . . and into early evening . . . and must you make that dinner date? Oh, be sure to pick up Chris Gaffney's latest. 1920 Harbor Blvd., (949) 646-8551.Noise Noise Noise. David James is an amazing fellow, and he's put together an amazing little shop stocked with an impressive mix of new and used CDs and vinyl (yes, new vinyl). He has all the punked-up classics, an impressive used jazz collection and probably a swell electronica/acid jazz section, if I cared enough to check. 1505 Mesa Verde Dr. E., (714) 556-6473.
Illustration by Bob Aul RANDY'S AUTOMOTIVE. Randy's came highly recommended by a brother-in-law who had entrusted his '72 Mustang to the shop for years. "Randy's a good guy," he told me. "He'll take care of you." So I sputtered out to the nondescript, two-lift garage (a stone's throw down the Harbor Boulevard auto row from the higher-profile racket that failed to fix my car after two weeks and more money than I want to admit) to find Randy cooking up corned beef and cabbage on a small stove for his crew. Cheeks full, he heard out my plight and guessed it could just be the spark plugs, which he confirmed to my dismay and relief shortly after. For less than half of the other shop's "diagnostic fee," I was accelerating beautifully on my way. Randy's no miracle worker, just an honest mechanic whose straightforward, small-town approach takes the sting out of taking the car in. 2089 Harbor Blvd., (949) 631-6555. (Adam Connolly, Corona del Mar)