Palo Alto was, without question, at the eye of the hurricane. And downtown Palo Alto was the center of centers, the peak of crazy self-indulgent auto-hype, where everyone either was an entrepreneur, or played their lives against and around them. Technically, downtown was where everyone preferred to meet for business, and a bit of pleasure. Oh, things were more bacchanal in San Francisco, but, in an undeniable way, they were far crazier in Palo Alto, where millionaires and paper billionaires bumped up against visionary engineers, con men from around the country, workers who could ill afford to live there, and diverse people simply caught in the maelstrom.
The exemplar gathering place in this center of centers was, for me, without a doubt, the University Coffee Cafe. Yes, more high-power lunches were held at Il Fornaio. True, the fashion show was more complete at Cafe Borrone, where it was continental and teen, or at The Blue Chalk, where it was older and preppy. Certainly, the food was better at Janta's or the Empire Tap Room. But ... the University Coffee Cafe was where you could see and feel the life of the valley pumping, the old players and the start-upstarts, rising in the morning from the dead to a level of ethereal techno-optimistic hyperkinesis, with latte and paper and cell-phone; flirting and frizzy with energy after work in the late evenings. And, during the day, the endless parade of planned and spontaneous meetings and conferences, side-by-side with students either strutting or writing their latest business plan.
For some reason, I was in this vigorous cafe several times a day, and there, to keep myself sane, I tried to teach myself to draw people and places, from about August of 1998 to about April of 2000. In the heart of the .com boom, I of course had to make a website of my progress. And, in a remainder of this attitude, I leave it here as a kind of memorial to an era.
I launched this site, as you can see, on March 30, 1999. By September 23, 1999, 'Internet time' was so feverishly accelerated, and things so crazily busy at my own startup, Workspot, two blocks away, that I could not take the time to post the few sketches I drew.
There's more, soon.
(My current sketches can be found at sketchcam.com)