Saturday, 10 November 2012


A meeting was held in the West End the night before last. I  stayed home, read Saul Bellows novel, Herzog, and followed the meeting in real time on Twitter. Each tweet said that the meeting was awesome. And each speaker was awesomer than the next. After a while I drifted off.  I dreamed that, Saul Bellow had constructed a novel from the precise words people tweeted at a community meeting. Here is our brave new world of social network participation:

Chapter 1  Awesome

A gust of wind made the windows of the Church tremble. The grass outside was dense and soft. ‏@TrevorLoke whispered:  SGreat night at the #visiontownhall really proud to share the stage with aaron_jasper @cheriepayne @andreareimder @mayorgregor

Chapter 2-  The Mayor Trending

The Mayor surveyed the crowd. He felt he had to display bold leadership.  He was about to say something. Then he paused.  His was a world of ideas. Concepts were the marble halls in which he sveltly dwellt. Theology? He believed there was no God and Mary was his mother. He intoned:  "Great to share #visiontownhall stage w team: @CheriePayne Aaron_Jasper @andreareime"r Trevor Loke + Tim Stevenson.

Another thought took hold of him as he  observed, “Big engaged crowd  +  wide-ranging discussion at West End #visiontownhall tonight! Thanks @VIAwesome  for live-tweets

 On hearing these remarks, MarkDee ‏@MarkDee sat straighter in his chair, and chose his words with bilious portentousness. Mark believed that Nietzche had a Christian view of history seeing into the present moment always as some crises. He swallowed and said,  Interested to hear more on this MT @ryansdds: Renters getting lots of support from @VisionVancouver with new Rent Bank and.. #visiontownhall

By degrees, and I don't quite know how it happened, Andrea became the principal figure in the event. She dominated it as she dominated her colleagues and the universe itself. When she typed I was touched and you will see why she fascinated me and continues to do so. Her words were short and clipped - severe and full of caprice.  @andreareimer x2 RT @JenU2: Love. MT @cwistal Vancouver, tonight we take top spot for being engaged cmnity. chatter on #visiontownhall #bcwine...

CHAPTER 3 - Febrile Masturbatory Zeal
 Ravel in his Bolero added  texture to his theme by the device of relentless almost mad repetition --- layer upon layer of erotic sound expressed always in a Helvetica  font. So it was that Vancouver Is Awesome ‏@VIAwesome MT @cwistal: retweeted himself off: "tonight we take top spot for being an engaged cmnity. Saw chatter on #visiontownhall #bcwine #publicsalon @SMNVAN n #nobullies

Paul's words, like Dido, floated across the screen.  They were my last memories of the meeting. Paul was a King. An emotional King. He might have held a scepter. The depth of his heart was his Kingdom. He appropriated all the emotions about him as if by divine and spiritual right,    ‏@paultolnai cautioned, Overarching message from #visiontownhall DON'T CLOSE DOWN ROBSON STREET. Now let's see if they will listen!!!

But in his heart he thought he knew the answer. The Sun shines. The people tweet with a febrile, masturbatory zeal. The world  listens but the words are lost. There are few remembrances of things past.

Epilogue - Remembrance Day

The next day a single youth recalled the meeting. His sentence was well formed. The meeting had been one of the great moments of his life. He would never let it go.  Stepan Vdovine  typed, "lets do it again sometime! RT @VIAwesome: Remember when #visiontownhall trended in Canada last night? That was  awesome."


  1. That was absolutely the BEST OF JONATHAN!
    Excellent analysis of a "Vision Vancouver" manufactured and promoted meeting. The "Febrile Masturbatory Zeal" and Stepan's infantile tweet observation... pure genius! Loved it! :-)

  2. Thanks GR. This is what participatory democracy has become: They involve the community in the same way as Pontius Pilate. They feed off their own strained stool.

  3. That's what Vancouver Mayor's Engagement Task Force is all about!
    I have a Vision of sterile, prefabricated meetings, with hall monitors, dissenting language punishers, and enforcers at the doors. Plus there's going to be some $green$ cover to get you in...

  4. The awesomest analysis JB!

    I can't decide whether Vancouver Vision really believes in their own toiletwater they constantly get together to drink, or if it's all just cynical, social-media shallow manoeuvering on behalf of the development puppet meisters.

    Oh, hang on, always remember to follow the money. It's the latter.

  5. Which ever it is, remember --- never accept a drink from one of them. They know that they can do whatever they want for the next two years. They think it is "bold leadership." It is not. It is simply exercising the power granted by the Vancouver Charter without caring whether they bring the public along with them. By the time they are done we will be a lot more like Houston, Texas (it has no zoning) but with bike lanes. JB