Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Liquor Store Proprietor

Tommy Bina is owner of the legendary Canyon Country Store.  Located halfway up Laurel Canyon, the store was immortalized by Jim Morrison in the song Love Street as the "store where the creatures meet." Originally built in 1908 as a lodge for local hunters, the Country Store was the center of the Los Angeles counter-culture hippie movement in the 1960's.

Tommy bought the store in 1982 and quickly became a staple of Laurel Canyon life.  He loves to tell the story about the time a stylishly-dressed man came in asking for "Flakes," a British candy bar. When Tommy realized the man was David Bowie he began stocking the chocolate.  He added "English Kit Kats" for Mick Jagger and specialty French wines for actress Christina Applegate.  Before being accused of murdering his wife, Robert Blake, in an effort to quit smoking, kept an open pack of cigarettes behind the front counter.  He asked the staff to dole them out to him, one per visit.  Though overpriced, the store is a place where music & film celebrities do their local shopping.  I once inquired of Tommy, "Why is your milk is so expensive?"  He responded, "Don't ask me, I don't shop here."

Every year, Tommy gathers locals in front of the store for the annual "Canyon Photo day."  Tommy can also be seen on Sunday mornings with a garbage bag in hand cleaning trash from the Canyon streets.  The store remains much like it was in the 60's and Tommy is the eclectic steward of Laurel Canyon history. (6" x 6", black ink print)

1 comment :

  1. fantastic likeness, charming print, and great story. thanks for sharing!