Is San Diego a Literary / Artistic Wasteland?

Thursday, March 8, 2007, 19:33 —by JeSais

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8 Responses to “Is San Diego a Literary / Artistic Wasteland?”

  1. Barclay said on Friday, March 9, 2007, 12:12

    Christ … I used to hear this “no culture” shit all the time from my ex (who was an artist living in the arts mecca of San Francisco/Oakland). It’s simply not true. Myles just isn’t looking, and certainly won’t find the gritty street art of NYC at UCSD. (I should know, it’s my alma mater.) And Baiocco is correct, to a degree, although he seems to intimate that the scene is and “audience without a performer” as opposed to already happening.

    How about starting off with any of these:

    How about checking out Ray at Night, or Kettner Nights? What about the Fashion Whore fashion shows, and spoken word and poetry readings down at SDVAG or SDAI? What about all the local music as the Ken Club, Casbah, Blind Melons (now Club 710), Dream Street, Honey Beehive, and Belly Up? Go to any one of those events, and you’ll find a dozen flyers for more similar events. Visit any coffee house in North Park and you could wallpaper your apartment with local event flyers of just about every genre, from spoken word to fashion to improv to visual arts to lit readings to freestyle rapping and breakdancing.

    And regarding the conservatism — yeah, overall SD’s a pretty convservative town. But so what? I’m socially liberal, but I’d rather not live in a homogeny of thought. There’s all sorts down here. That’s good. Dissonance helps an arts community. If you want you art to make have and impact and make a difference, do you honestly want to display it only to those who already agree with you? Do you have to be in the majority? I remember experiencing this attitude when hanging out with the ex in SF: yes, there was plenty of discourse and disagreements, but it was still all on the left end of the spectrum. Anything else was derided and automatically dismissed. This absence of criticality continually grated on me, even though I’m on the left myself!

    And is she honestly trying to tell me that LA has a less superficial arts community? Really? Aren’t the artists generally in LA because they’re looking to “make it big”? Doesn’t that speak well of the SD artists, who are have been and continue to make art — who do it because they have a passion for their chosen form, despite the minimal chances of “making it big” down here?

    Yeah, SD is not NYC. Nor is the reverse true. Our art may not be NYC art, but nor do they have what we have. And yes, we have it. In spades.

  2. Barclay said on Friday, March 9, 2007, 12:54

    Whoops, sorry about the “sh!t”. Forgot this is a family blog. Feel free to change that word.

  3. Geoff Young said on Friday, March 9, 2007, 12:57

    We make our own culture, community, whatever. You don’t like something, change it. You can’t (or won’t) change it, try again somewhere else.

    As for whether SD isn’t “enough” for her, I think it’s more that it isn’t “right” for her. Sounds to me like she’s looking for something that doesn’t exist here. And by “something,” I don’t mean culture, but rather her conception of what culture should be.

  4. interior designer san diego said on Saturday, March 10, 2007, 9:46

    Every city has its artisitic quality- sometimes you just have to look harder for it. Check out Ray at Night in North Park or Kettner Nights in Downtown. Craigslist San Diego has postings of art openings in San Diego.

  5. Scott Barbour said on Saturday, March 10, 2007, 9:54

    I didn’t read Myles’ article because I was too busy shopping for sunscreen and volleyball shorts, But I ‘m sure I’d be mad if I’d read it.

    San Diego has lots of art. We have those funny tree-like scuptures by the Star of India and that mural of the whales downtown and other culturally signifacant stuff I can’t think of right now because I’m too busy checking the beach and surf report.

    Do we have an art scene? Of course we do. I’ve seen guys down by the beach who paint watercolors of the beach and they look just like the beach. Totally cutting edge.

  6. Stack said on Saturday, March 10, 2007, 23:24

    Hmm…so San Diego is devoid of an arts scene and that makes hip, edgy lesbian Eileen Myles feel isolated. OK, got it. I won’t make the obvious comment about how passé it is for a woman to wear a man’s shirt (especially a lesbian, for God’s sake) but I will say that she sounds like a stereotype: the provincial, transplanted Manhattanite who thinks that all things not New York are simply, well, not New York. And if someplace is not New York, then it just is, well, not. Period.

    Perhaps if Miss Myles put down the New York Times (I suspect its coverage of the San Diego arts scene is somewhat thin) and picked up a local newspaper (like the one in which her interview appeared) she would find that there are poetry readings, open-mic nights, concerts, galleries, theatres, museums, street performers, poets, painters, musicians, and on and on and on right here in sunny little San Diego. Heck, she doesn’t even need to pick up a newspaper. All she has to do is stop yelling out the windows of her oh-so-hip truck (yawn) and take a little walk. She’ll see all kinds of art. The powerful hands jabbing toward the sky on the Martin Luther King Junior Promenade. The always-changing public sculpture on the Embarcadero. The tall ship-inspired architecture of the Convention Center. The Third & Penn and Diversionary theatres. Artwalk. Organ concerts. Music at Lestat’s. Prose and poetry readings at Claire de Lune. This doesn’t constitute a thriving arts community?

    Then again, I find it odd that Miss Myles was shocked when her students challenged her reading selections. Since edgy hipsters challenge the mainstream, isn’t it fair that the mainstream challenge them back? For that matter, perhaps the students aren’t the mainstream and Miss Myles isn’t so edgy and hip. Face it: swimming out of a small pond like Greenwich Village into a big sea like the rest of the world does wonders to shrink a fish’s size. Maybe Miss Myles is just too oblivious to make it in San Diego.

  7. Waren said on Wednesday, March 14, 2007, 11:33

    One thing to mention is that outside of the East Village area, NYC is really no more liberal than SD. She was part of a very small bohemian community that does not represent the majority of New Yorkers. I also question her truthfulness in saying that her job at UCSD is the first time she ever encountered students less liberal than her. Again, NYC is not the hubbub liberalism that she makes it out to be. Yes SD’s art scene does lack but it does exist to some degree. I wonder if she ever took the time to look for it. She just did her first SD performance this past Monday after living here for four years.

  8. Hey Look Kids, it’s Art! said on Friday, May 25, 2007, 14:54

    [...] not sure if this is the myspace page for the kite flying collective– this gig is not listed there — no other online references that I can find.  eileen myles’ website does not include this gig The whistle Stop website lists a “SPOKEN PERFORMANCE AND WORD PLAY” for May 30. I received info via email. that’s all I know.  if you don’t remember who eileen myles is, check out the last post about here on San Diego blog. [...]

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