Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today marks the third week of my European vacation. Last time I was away this long was in the late-90s, when Judy was doing her MFA at Bard and we were dividing our time between Tivoli and Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

While I have heard little news from Vancouver during my time away (apart from the heat that arrived the day I left), I awoke this morning to a link from Lindsay Brown announcing that the City of Vancouver had hired a new planner, Brian Jackson, who arrived from Los Angeles via the Greater Vancouver suburb of Richmond.

I read the link then did some searching of my own. Here is what I gleaned from the Globe:

"But some critics say the Vision council is clearly signalling that it wants an administrator rather than a visionary, with its change of title and choice of someone who has been more of an implementer of plans in Richmond.

'That [title] tells you everything you need to know -- it's about development, it's not about planning. It certainly suggests to me that council wants someone who is an effective administrator,' said the former Non-Partisan Association city councillor Gordon Price."

The idea of an administrator, not a planner, reminded me of a trend in the visual arts from about ten years ago, when museum directors were suddenly declaring themselves "Artistic Directors" and, rather than hire curators, where writing job notices for "Exhibition Coordinators". (Indeed, you could say the same of this year's dOCUMENTA, where the Artistic Director activated not curators to work with her but "Agents".)

As much as I like Mayor Robertson, I do see this trend as unsettling, particularly when his predecessor, Sam "Dr. Strangelove" Sullivan, asserted himself in a similar, if not more narcissistic, fashion.

Of course all this is just a ruse, because the person we really have to keep our eyes on, particularly with talk of replacing the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts with an inter-city "super road" (Who is telling us to not call it a freeway?), is councillor Geoff Meggs -- "Colonel 'Bat' Guano" to Sullivan's "Dr. Strangelove".

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