The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

The Palo Alto Artists’ Clique

Jodi and I finished dinner tonight and the suggestion arose that we shouldgo to a local cafe for cake, coffee, and a little atmosphere. She had some work to do on a research project, something she could do with her Powerbook, and I had a paper to edit and some of my own research to do. We hit the road and got to the cafe while the sun was setting and the line was short. Cappucinos in hand, balanced carefully against the plates of cake and stapled packets of paper in the other, we found a small table in the back of the cafe.

It became clear, over the next few minutes, that the group sitting beside us were a rather spoiled group of local “artists” – at least, that’s what they branded themselves in their mutual introductions. Jodi and I, sitting quietly at our table, she with her Mac opened and her fingers dancing out ballets of Matlab, me with my Jetstream pen putting copious marks across a journal paper, slowly determined that this was some kind of artists’ or writers’ group. In fact, one of the men introduced himself as a writer, then went on to say that he can only write two pages a day, and then he throws it out, because he’s so self critical. He joined another local writing group, but found himself writing in spite of, rather than because of, that group. One woman complained that when her father asked what he should get his granddaughter as a gift, he instead got her some kind of Elmo toy. She lamented that the “American Girl” doll she had suggested, a mere few hundred dollars, was passed over for the less expensive Elmo doll.

As Jodi and I discussed this group, the only loud mark on an otherwise peaceful night of coffee, white cafe noise, and physics research, we came to a singular question: why can’t artists just be starving anymore? What ever happened to the downtrodden of the world putting pen to paper and decrying this kind of pompous prickishness masquerading as true, gritty artistry?

Well, who cares about my opinion, anyway. God, the last three paragraphs are crap. I should just throw them out.