Love Stories


I decided I better get this out before it languishes here forever, in “Pages”.  For the record, I wrote most of this in mid-November, and now it’s Christmas Day, 2013:   

Before I can write about the cafe, I must apologize for these photos. The color is not good.  It is a little distressing to me to post them here as is because the popping of the yellow lines, which doesn’t happen here, is a pretty important part of these drawings.


The yellow is supposed to pop as the ink is fluorescent and the gray paper is much darker and richer than appears here; the contrast of the two colors is needed.  The photos here look as though they were in a cloud.  I took them with my little, quite serviceable in most situations, digital camera, but obviously not made for art photography, at least not in the light I had available.  When I have good ones I will post them.  So, one must use a little imagination when looking at these!  (ah, but what do you imagine if you haven’t seen the real thing?).  I’ve learned lately when having some postcards made how ephemeral the color is of the original.  There is something to the notion that only the original is the original, color and otherwise, like bearing the imprint of the place and time in which it was made.   

To quote Walter Benjamin, in his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”: 

“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element:  its presence in time and space, it’s unique existence at the place where it happens to be.  This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence...One might subsume the eliminated element in the term ‘aura’ and go on to say: that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art.” 

Having said that, the print is just an entirely different thing, and can be beautiful if one looks at it in it’s own uniqueness. 

I’ve wandered.  So where was I?  Oh yes, the cafe.  The Bergamot Cafe is a beautiful place, and one of the most restful, serene cafe’s I’ve been to.  It doesn’t just feel like an oasis, it looks like one with it’s neat rows of Sycamore trees, arranged in a grid, and the thick hedge border, in the middle of a parking lot of what was once a train station.  (I won’t bore you with how much I love trains and all the accompanying lore).  I asked the owner how long the cafe has been there, 19 years! 

Understanding what sorts of people in what sorts of situations have lunch or hang out at this cafe proved more elusive than at Peet’s or the Mart.  For most of them, their lunch seemed to have a purpose, bearing some relationship to Bergamot Station.  It’s not, after all, a place one just happens upon while wandering around Santa Monica looking for a place to eat.  But I did notice some who probably met an old friend here and chose it, hazarding a guess, because it’s so lovely and the food so good.   

The first thing I had to do at the Cafe was to figure out, as usual, where to sit.  After trying out different tables and it’s unique view, a certain vantage point stands out.  Composition really is everything, so it has to be right and once it’s right that’s where I need to sit for that drawing.   

After that, the tricky thing about working here was procuring my table. I always chose a table at one of the edges so as to get a wide angle view, but also to be out of the way.  It was uncanny sometimes how I thought I was sitting at an unpopular table, but of course as soon as I wanted it, so did everyone else.  And then, when I began a new drawing at a different table, suddenly that one was popular and the previous one was empty.  And they were right next to each other!   

Anyway, because of the lunch-hour-type-lunches of most of the people here, they tended, after they were brought their food, to last no more than 20 minutes, sometimes 15.  This was okay because I brought my lunch and ate while they ate, then grabbed their table gracefully as soon as they were comfortably gone, that is, as soon as they took their plates, got up and walked away!   

There were a few choice times though, I have to say one in particular where I waited ‘next door’ for TWO HOURS to sit at my usual table.  But ah well, good cause I told myself, they were on a date, an internet date, their first I think, and had a lot to talk about, two hours worth(sigh).  I actually tried not to listen but couldn’t help it sometimes as several times it seemed at though this might be the moment I had been waiting for!  

And speaking of dates, twice I noticed a couple who met here for lunch, both times sitting at a table in the corner near me.  Being the eavesdropper than I am I tried really hard to hear what they were saying until I finally gave up and made up my own story about them, which was possibly wrong but a good story nonetheless. It was very convenient that I had my drawing in front of me so I wasn’t so obviously watching them so curiously out of the corner of my eye. It was actually very romantic, and wonderful I thought that there they were making out, somewhat no holds bar, during the week, in a corner table at the Bergamot Cafe.  


Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment