Saturday 14 May 2011
Dylan Jones: 'The Canyon Country Store in LA is still the place to go for an espresso after partying all night in the Valley'
The Sixties are still very much alive and kicking in Los Angeles. If you know where to look, that is. Laurel Canyon is often written about as the place that gave the world Crosby, Stills and Nash – which is obviously why a lot of people hate it – the place that inspired Joni Mitchell's "Ladies of the Canyon", Danny Sugerman's Wonderland Avenue and the neighbourhood of benign bad behaviour. Everyone from Clara Bow and Christina Applegate to Frank Zappa and Marilyn Manson has lived there, and it retains a genuine local feel – an almost implausible ambition in LA. The area has also had its fair share of dark moments, not least the Wonderland murders in 1981, when four people were bludgeoned to death.
Despite being the subject of standard-issue gentrification, the Canyon has kept the funky, rainbow-coloured charm of the Love Generation, something that is most apparent when visiting the Canyon Country Store, the neighbourhood social hub. Wedged along the twisting Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the Santa Monica Mountains, this is the place mentioned in Jim Morrison's "Love Street" ("I see you live on Love Street/ There's this store where the creatures meet..."), the wooden-floored grocery shop/deli/liquor store/café that is still the place to go for Canyon dwellers with the munchies, or for those after an espresso having spent all night partying in the Valley. Here they'll find Dandy Don's ice-cream, Dave's Kombucha (fermented tea), bespoke sandwiches, hearts of palm salads, and the almost-but-not-quite-legendary decaf almond milk latte.
The Country Store is also the site of the annual Photo Day each October, where the residents of the Canyon all come together to have a group picture taken. The tradition dates back to the late Eighties, a celebration of the sort of community spirit you don't find anywhere else in LA.
Over the hill, the temporal nature of Hollywood is in full effect. Here, in the village of bougainvillea and watery melodies, time stands still. And if you want to wear your bell-bottoms and feathers, don't think twice, it's all right.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
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