Eclectic Café is Headquarters for Non-Delegate Democratic Groups

Earlier this evening, I decided to take a break from the Stonewall Convention to go meet up with a Maine delegate that I’ve been chatting with over the past two months. I hitched a cab downtown to her hotel, picked her up, and went off to a nearby restaurant/community gathering place called Mercury Cafe, http://www.mercurycafe.com/home.html, recommended to us by a Denver local who had been also been corresponding with us.

Mercury Cafe

My cab driver, Cuong entertained me on the way over to the hotel with stories about his beloved Vietnam. He went on to tell me how much he loves Barack Obama, and how his whole family was hopeful that a new administration would help Vietnamese Americans to be able to bring family member’s here to visit more easily. He talked at length about how some of his relatives continued to struggle in his homeland and how we wished they could come here.  Cuong expressed great sadness that in the current economy, his family was struggling here too and couldn’t afford to help relatives back home, let alone bring them here.

Just as Cuong was telling me where I could find the best Pho in Denver, we had arrived at the Maine delegation’s hotel, directly across from the convention center. Rita, the Maine delegate piled into the cab, we shared our hellos and we were off to our destination.

When we first pulled up, I thought, “oh no, this can’t be the right place.” The exterior appeared to be overgrown with weeds or, at the very least, looked as if the landscaping had been severely neglected. Several people were milling around outside, including several women all dressed in pink.

We bravely got out of the cab and Rita took a picture of Cuong and I holding the Vietnamese flag (I’ll post the picture as soon as I get the pictures back from the local Walgreens). Cuong wished us good luck for the week and we were on our own.

Code Pink Using Café for Headquarters

We quickly figured out that Code Pink was using the Mercury Café as their headquarters for the duration of the Convention. Several folks with cameras and reporters’ notepads were also milling about, chatting on cell phones or in discussion with each other. Most of them had DNC credentials, so I asked who they were representing. Apparently, the Indy Media is also using this restaurant/entertainment space as their base of operations.

After introducing ourselves as convention delegates to a few people we had set out to connect with, we found ourselves a table and started browsing over the menu. Our waiter had long blond dreds and sported a bright red clown nose with elastic band around his head to hold it on. What a hoot.

As a matter of fact, everyone working there appeared to be Burning Man participants or “tribal” folk. If you don’t know about Burning Man, or tribe, I suggest a quick tour of Tribe.net, and you’ll see what I mean. I also met a few women calling themselves the Raging Grannies. I’m not sure what their focus is, but they sound like fun.

Mercury Café Serves Outstanding Sustainable Meals

The menu was filled with inventive, creative organic and sustainable menu items such as Colorado-caught fish, Colorado-grown Quinoa, elk, buffalo, free range chicken as well as equally imaginative vegetarian fare. For those who desire or appreciate gluten-free breads, this is one place that knows how to bake terrific, tasty rolls and desserts.

I ordered a cup of Medicinal Elk soup and Spicy Chicken with vegetables and quinoa. Rita ordered nacho-style chips and salsa. The meal was outstanding and would please any foodie.  Mercury Café also has a nice bar if you prefer to enjoy a few drinks.

Afterwards, we strolled outside and saw lots of activity in the parking lot. A young woman was busy painting a van bright pink, presumably for the Code Pink crew. Another minivan stated “Gardening for Peace.” We met several folks of every age and background hanging out in the parking lot.

Model of a Green Energy Business

One man told me how he had been arrested in 60’s only a block from the café. Another woman pointed out the roof’s array of solar panels, a windmill, the nearby  compost pile and other features that enables the restaurant to be a mostly green model of sustainability.  Even the bathrooms efficiently save water by spurting clean water into a hand-washing basin before it drains to fill the water tank after flushing. Yes, it’s clean, and brilliant in conserving water in a drought stricken state.

I also chatted briefly with a Huffington Post writer before it was time to go. He was more chatty in his enthusiasm for Obama than he seemed interested in asking questions. But then again, I didn’t introduce myself as a delegate…only sharing the fact as I was leaving.

One couple we met offered to give us a ride back to Rita’s hotel where I could hitch a cab back the Renaissance hotel where the Maine and Kentucky delegates will be staying this week.

Denver’s Redevelopment Serves Poorer Neighborhoods

My cab ride home took us through what used to be one of the worst neighborhoods in Denver, Five Points. The area has been cleaned up and restored, and is now served by light rail. I marvel at how Denver has transformed its neediest neighborhoods into wonderful little boroughs.

This time my cabbie and I chatted about my believed Broncos (NFL) and their chances for this season. We talked about how Denver has worked hard to improve its inner city neighborhoods and some of its issues with relocating poorer residents whose homes were bulldozed to make way for the Pepsi Center to newer developments. Knowing Denver at least a little, I thanked him for taking me the most direct way back to the Renaissance instead of taking the highway route, which would have cost more.

Yes, here in Colorado, it’s called the highway. They have no toll roads, so they don’t need to call the highway a “freeway”.  I found it hard to switch to the latter word when I moved to Southern California and will probably go through it all over again when I come home…

We got so involved in our conversation that Gaylon took a wrong turn, about two blocks short of my hotel and cheerfully turned off his meter to save me from having to pay for his mistake. He even gave me his cell phone number so that if I want to have him pick me up, he’ll be happy to come to where ever I’m at.

People here are so friendly and engaging. Every where I’ve gone so far, people are willing to chat and go out of their way to be helpful. It’s a delight to be here.

After catching the last half of the Stonewall Awards dinner and sharing drinks with some of our newest friends from Louisiana, Nevada, and New York, it was off to the room to write this installment…more tomorrow!