Monday, June 04, 2007

On Business

Greetings, Dearest Friends, from the deepest, darkest wilds of British Columbia. OK, perhaps I exaggerate. But I am currently nestled among the mountains a few hours north of Vancouver, attending a conference on things financial and banking. Ah, I can hear you all yawning in unison... Granted, some of the material is a bit, um, dry, but the setting is breathtakingly wonderful, even if the weather has turned from hot, sunny, and spectacularly clear to wet, rainy, and cloudy.

As those of you who have attended conferences know, much of their utility lies not so much in the actual presentations, but in the associated networking. And of course networking must take place in the context of wining, dining, and "events," all sponsored by various companies that hope to convince you to send money money money their way. Big business is very wise. Take, for instance, yesterday's cocktail reception, put on by A Very Big Investment Bank. There were oysters aplenty, hundredweights of calamari, and chunks of roast beef the size of Volkswagens to gorge on. But on top of that, the full-size bar was carved entirely out of ice. And the piece de resistance? A four-foot tall ice carving of A Very Big Investment Bank's logo with a tube snaking through it. A comely waitress lass would pour the martini of your choice into the top of the logo, and it would wend its way through the ice and into the glass you were holding at the other end of the tube. My goodness. I will admit to enjoying the nosh and the booze, as well as the company of some of the delegates, many of whom are in fact lovely people. And I think I'll be better able to assist the righteous co-operative for which I work as a result of my attending. But I'll also admit to an uneasy sense of it being all a bit too much, too extravagant, too wasteful. Feed the world...

And then there's golf. Seems that most attendees are spending vast amounts of time doing deals and making connections on the manicured greens. Indeed, it's not a sport, it's a religion whose adherents revel in its rituals, fetishize its accoutrements ("Goodness, is that a Tiger Woods Carbon Titanium X3CR Puttmaster?"), and revere those priests who have attained enlightenment through low handiaps. Me? Can't stand the game. Bores me to tears. I hate the clothes. I can't stand the clubbiness. And I outright reject the pressure to play that many folks who share my feelings have succumbed. With this as background, you will understand why I delighted in the stories I heard today from golfers whose games yesterday were marked by nonlethal, but unnerving encounters on the green with resident black bears freshly awake from hibernation...

Anyway, the music. There's not much rock 'n' roll in my immediate vicinity, but as a counterpoint to where I find myself right now, I thought I'd share with you some rips I did recently off of 1987's "Wake Up!" EP in support of the ill-fated UK miner's strike. This is a cracker of a record, the highlight of which for me is the live version of the Clash's "Garageland" sung by Billy Bragg, his bestest mate Wiggy, the wonderful Atilla the Stockbroker, and The Neurotics at a festival in East Germany. Howevr, I've screwed up the mp3 and can't fix it remotely. I promise promise promise to do so upon my return, but in the meantime here are The Redskins doing a version of Billy's "Levi Stubbs' Tears" and a Neurotics track as well. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

The Redskins - Levi Stubbs' Tears

The Neurotics - This Fragile Life

You can, in fact, buy the EP on CD. Where? Go here and scroll down.