Hanoi Slam enjoyed its second outing last month, this time hosted by CAMA ATK. A packed-out audience, whose VND100,000 entrance went to Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam (hscv.org), was entertained by 10 storytellers who were only given a theme — ‘lost in translation’. With this they had six minutes to wow judges without a script or notes to help them.
It's an oft-told story, one of heroism, perseverence and overcoming insurmountable obstacles. In 1980, with one leg removed, the athlete and humanitarian Terry Fox embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Hoping to collect one dollar for each of the 24 million people in Canada, he ran the equivalent of a marathon a day, a feat that eventually cost him his life.
“I want to be the new Tarantino,” teen directing prodigy Elijah McKeogh optimistically boasts. Although he’s just turned 16, he’s deadly serious. This mature young man knows what he wants and it seems nothing is going to stop him from getting it, well maybe apart from finances.
The discussion has moved onto the forthcoming entry of McDonald’s into Vietnam and — with the red wine and late summer evening air — it’s gotten heated. An article by the BBC is mentioned. Henry Nguyen, the man bringing in the fast food giant, is discussed, worries about obesity are tossed about in the West Lake breeze and the idea that Vietnam will soon no longer be one of the last bastions of the non-McDonald’s world is lamented by one person and described as inevitable by another.
A man cycles past as I sit on my mini plastic stool to eat banh mi trung. He is topless with a flopping gut, but his calves are the size of tree trunks. He’s on a Pinarello, VND50 million worth of kit, and it’s the second time I’ve seen him in as many days, out for his early morning exercise.
“We didn’t even really know each other that well,” says Bryon Ramsey-Leonard Rudd. “We met at the last Melting Pot. Joy Oi! [which Bryon drums for] was playing, Brian Wilson’s Brain [which David Moses Haimovich, the other half of Space Panther, tweaked electronic signals for] was playing. And then we randomly went out one night” —“At the nurse bar,” David laughs.
Hafid from Dubai is a Tumblr internet sensation. Not because he is a celebrity or has done anything of note, but because he resorted to that most dastardly of dastardly deeds — he stole an iPhone.
Cargo Bar is opened twice as deep as I’ve ever seen it, more packed than I’d ever seen it, and only one-quarter of it is dense with people — the most I’ve seen at a Saigon indie show. There’s ice on the floor. Down our collars. Barricades. Vietnamese girls with the sides of their heads shaved. “The best drum solo Vietnam’s even seen.”
In May, Chris Slappendel started his six-month, 31-country trip around Asia. His purpose was to raise awareness about the plight of tigers. With only an estimated 2,500 to 3,200 wild tigers left on the planet, the Dutchman’s concern was that within 10 years, the creatures would be extinct.