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Tu connais Jim Jarmusch?
Friday night I did volunteer work at UQAM for a conference called Montee des droites or something to do with the rise of right wing governments and the lectures were in French and after a long day in front of a computer, I had very little brain capacity to actually absorb a lecture on a complex topic in another tongue.

I had signed up to sell the books written speakers at the conference. Except there was only one book and a calendar for sale. And the book title, translated, was: "The Future of Quebec Sovereignty." And I , the one anglophone volunteer, had to sell a book about getting out from under the "axe of anglophone Canada." Fortunately, sovereignty is not such a hot topic these days, and people were kind to me, the Anglo oppressor.

One older publisher gent was chatting with me for a while in French about the difference between the Quebec sovereignty movement (a good movement, he said, with socialist roots) and nationalism/communalism (a root of war and intolerance that draws right-wing jingoists). Whew, glad we got that one straightened out. But my French is too weak to really sink my teeth into that topic. Instead, I asked him the meaning of some words on the dustjacket of the book. As he translated, I inscribed the words in the back of my notebook. He started laughing at me, telling me I was like the Umberto Benini character in Down By Law. We had a good laugh about that and I tried to do a Benini impression.

Then Svend Robinson showed up and everyone got serious. My publisher friend was positively beaming as Svend shook his hand. Keep your eyes peeled for the NPI. The Canadian left, I think is about to get a makeover.

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