Thursday, July 15, 2010

waiting at the naam

I’ve made the trek across the sea a day early for the fun-filled weekend that is the Vancouver Folk Festival. I travelled a day earlier than necessary because I can, because it’s so much more pleasant travelling when everyone else in the world isn’t, and because any visit to Vancouver is also an opportunity to catch up with a friend I met in a previous lifetime, 28 years ago. We were both youngsters, she a bit younger than I, employed at a small start up computer software company. I like to believe we were two of many who contributed to the company’s inimitable success and we sometimes, over the years, have reflected on what might have happened if we’been better capitalistas. We might have hit the big time like so many of our work colleagues. But we didn’t, and perhaps we’re better for it. At least we can say we’re still friends, and that’s worth an awful lot..

So I’m sitting at the Naam, which has become a regular tradition with us over these many years, waiting for her to finish with a business appointment, sipping on an organic stout that I’m not 100% certain is vegan (but it was on tap and it sure tastes delightful and they don’t have wifi so I can’t check and I am indeed feeling slightly guilty and hoping that I’m not ingesting some ground up shellfish which is so commonly added to wine and beer to “clarify” it. It’s stout, how clear does it need to be?!) My friend’s business appointment is keeping her late not because she’s still a workaholic, (luckily or unluckily two car crashes and various subsequent health concerns later she’s simply unable to work those crazy high tech hours), but because she works on contract and there was some client schmooze fest that it was necessary to attend. I suggested she just start talking about all her various health issues and sooner than not they’d be nudging her towards the door. She ought to be here any time now.

I was reading the Georgia Straight newspaper, which has increasingly surrendered to various corporate and local advertising over the years, when I happened upon an article about the Folk Festival and the “artists who use songs as tools for social change.” There are four showcased – emma’s revolution, Brett Dennen, Sarah Harmer, and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger.

(As I write this the distinct smell of skunk is wafting over the outdoor patio, I’m hoping that the city dwelling clientele will choose to move inside so I don’t have to feel so guilty occupying this patio table for so long on a rare sunny Vancouver evening … but at least I’m drinking a beer and plan to tip nicely. Who knew skunks could survive in such a city?!)

Reading the article, wherein the author (Alexander Varty) queries these selected artists about their decision to publicize their political, environmental, and social views through their music, I wonder when an article will be written asking musicians and other artists why they AREN’T expressing their concern for our unhappy earthly plight, seeking some escape from the increasingly militaristic and totalitarian machine that we who are awake find ourselves unable to escape.

The infamous Nine Eleven is, of course, mentioned and queried. I’m reminded of last night’s conversation with a different friend, on the other side of the pond, about how we’re going to insist, whenever we hear the dreaded Nine Eleven mentioned that, in fact, referencing The Day That Changed Everything is commonly known as “Seven Eleven.” We figure that memories are short, and we know that if you tell a lie often enough people will start to believe it.

The Naam is a vegetarian restaurant (with vegan options) and it’s open 24 hours a day. They’ve managed to keep the prices reasonable, comparatively, and the portions huge. Their menu states “The Naam Café was founded back in 1968 when 4th Avenue was still called Rainbow Road. It began as a gathering for people who were seeking “the good life.” Naam means “name” – the original name.”