November 17, 2018

“Lobal Orning” Becomes Eclectic at Pine Tree Circle

 

Behind a large sheet of butcher paper covering a storefront window on the north side of Pine Tree Circle, a fantasy-in-retail is coming to fruition. The eclectic new book and music store “Lobal Orning” (the name will be explained presently) is the dreamchild of Topangans Shelee Dykman and Justin Chancellor. They will be unveiling their shop to a hopefully receptive Canyon at the end of this month.

In the meantime, its shelves, bins and walls are rapidly filling with literature, CD’s, vinyl records and artwork that reflect Shelee and Justin’s tastes and influences.

Collectible vintage vinyl—“records” as we used to call them—is one of the shop’s specialties. The literature selection is wide-ranging, emphasizing, but not limited to, books on music and rock’n’roll. There are also guitar accessories available for the Canyon’s considerable population of musicians.

PHOTO BY KATIE DALSEMER

“Lobal Orning” Becomes Eclectic at Pine Tree Circle

Justin Chancellor and Shelee Dykman in their new store for books and music, expected to open on September 26.



Equally important to the couple as the merchandise, is creating an inviting ambience.

“It reflects how we feel about books and music,” says Justin of the shop. “The experience of finding and buying books and CD’s should be as enjoyable as taking them home and listening.”

Shelee is a Los Angeles native who spent much of her youth in Tokyo, where her father oversaw development of Disney’s Japanese theme park. Justin, a transplant from Kent, England, is a successful rock musician, and the two met when she worked in road production for his band.

Settling in Topanga, they decided to take some time off of touring, and were looking around for their next endeavor. They considered resurrecting the Corral, Topanga’s legendary rock club, on its old site north of Santa Maria Road, but soon decided that their musical nostalgia didn’t extend to getting into the saloon business.

“We realized we didn’t want to run a bar,” says Shelee. “We just wanted Jimi back.”

Their store was conceived just down the street from its present location.

“We were sitting in Mimosa Café one day having coffee,” recalls Shelee, “and we asked each other, ‘What’s your dream, what would you want to do?’ I wanted a bookstore, and he wanted a record store.”

Their visions quickly took shape and merged into a single shop, an even split, with Justin in charge of music and Shelee in charge of the books. They realized—as many of us have over the years—that this fantasy store could fill a real need in Topanga.

“There’s nothing like this for miles in either direction,” Shelee observes, “where you can get a guitar string or a record or a book.”

Neither Shelee nor Justin had any retail experience whatsoever—other than shopping, Shelee points out. But when a space opened unexpectedly in Pine Tree Circle, they had to make a quick decision, and their answer was “yes.”

Since then, they’ve been hustling to get the space ready for an autumn opening, ordering from book and music catalogues like a couple of kids about to open their own candy store.

They’ve also been hurriedly collecting old record albums, and attending vinyl conventions. Like many of its enthusiasts Justin appreciates the audio qualities of the once-dominant medium.

“It really does sound good still, no matter what they’ve done with other formats,” he says.

But he grows more passionate about the visceral appeal of record albums as objects in themselves.

“It’s the smell, the feel, the look, the cover art—it’s tactile,” he says. “It gives you a wider vision of the ideas of the artist.”

“It’s not some pre-packaged piece of plastic you can get on a rack at Best Buy,” adds Shelee.

The first shelves one comes across upon entering the store is Shelee’s “rock wall,” devoted to an extensive collection of rock 'n' roll books, from biographies to rock criticism to album cover art. In the rear of the store, the rest of the books are shelved alphabetically by author, with no categorization.

“I wanted everything by author, so it makes people stumble on something they never would have read,” she says.

“It’s really my taste in there. A lot of Japanese authors, a lot of serial murder books…Mishima meets Manson. With cooking books, gardening books, and a children’s section.”

The book selection will offer something for many different tastes: there are classics like Dickens, Conrad and Dostoevsky, alongside contemporary authors such as T.C. Boyle and Irvine Welsh, cult figures like Philip K. Dick and Hunter Thompson and straight bestsellers like Tom Clancy. There are also collections of R. Crumb comics, graphic novels like “Barefoot Gen,” as well as “Movie Posters of the ‘70s” and “Racy Pinups of World War Two.”

“Pretty much everything I’ve ever read I’ve ordered,” says Shelee, “And everything I’ve ever wanted to read.”

Realizing that many people today don’t even own a turntable, Justin decided to stock CDs as well as vinyl. His musical selections are also shelved without regard to category, and are almost as eclectic as the books: Miles Davis, Neil Diamond, Fripp & Eno, Lil’ Kim and Jane’s Addiction. The more familiar names are perhaps outnumbered by large sections of artists like the West Coast grunge band the Melvins, or Japanese avant-garde pop team Cornelius.

“This is stuff that’s harder to find,” says Justin, who hopes to introduce customers to some of the less familiar, alternative music he’s into.

“Because it’s individually selected and ordered, there’s stuff you can’t find at Tower and Virgin. At those stores they do centralized buying, their system tells them what to reorder and they do it.”

He also plans to have a local selection, for musicians who’ve made their own recordings but don’t have distribution deals.

Justin admits that it’s a little “against the grain” to open a CD store in today’s world of file-sharing, music downloading and disc-burning, but for both he and Shelee, the non-virtual reality of music and book buying is too important to relegate to the past.

“I’m trying to appeal to people who feel the same as I do,” he says, “which is to walk into a store full of nice things and pick them up and look at them and have a physical contact with the music itself.

“It’s a different approach. Some people are happy to download an album and never see a picture or artwork. I’m not happy with that.”

Justin’s attitude is consistent with his earliest experience of music buying. When he was six years old he was given a gift certificate for a record store. He had no idea what to buy, and ended up choosing the soundtrack albums for “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Paint Your Wagon.” He’d never seen or heard the shows, he says, he just chose the albums by their covers.

While the music accessories take up the least space in the store, their demand has already been demonstrated.

“We’ve sold a couple strings already, before we’ve even opened,” says Shelee. “Someone’ll be playing at Abuelitas and they run over and bang on the door.”

The walls of the store feature original paintings by artist friends of the couple’s (you can see the psychedelic album cover sensibility in the selections), and there will be lithographs and postcards of the works available.

“If you see it on the wall we’ve got it for you to buy,” says Shelee.

Beyond retail, readings and “the odd acoustic set” may be held in the space as well, but Shelee and Justin say they aren’t ambitious to expand their enterprise.

“We’d love this to be a mom and pop store forever,” says Shelee.

Justin agrees, “We want it to last and be part of Topanga. It’s a labor of love.”

In keeping with the shop’s idiosyncratic nature, its name, “Lobal Orning,” is comprised of two made-up words.

“It means decorating your mind,” Justin translates. “’Lobal,’ like the lobes of the brain, and ‘orning’ as in ornaments.”

The store’s receipts will tell customers: “You’ve been orned.”

The current plan is to open for business on September 26, with a “grand opening” to be held a few weeks later.

“We have to figure out what we’re doing first,” says