Friday, April 29, 2011

The Blog Where I Say Nice Things About Gore Vidal and Bad Things About Quebec

I'm going to be blunt and brief.  Montreal is the only significant city in the Godforsaken, blue-neck, ass-backwards province of Quebec and it always will be.

That being said, Montreal can fuck up too.

Never was this more evident than this evening's Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival event at McGill featuring Gore Vidal.

I haven't seen an intelligent, charming man take so much bullshit from idiots at face value since Obama had to reveal his long form birth certificate. Okay, so it's been less than a week.

The event was the epitome of lazy.  Montreal is known as a party city, a laid back place most of the time (post-70s, I suppose).  The drunk kids on the street from Boston seem to think so, anyway (oh, and fuck Boston, too).  But it's also a city renowned for its festivals, events, bands, films.

The moderator asked approximately three questions, most quotes were taken directly from Vidal's wikipedia page, and then turned it over to the audience.  The pitch:  "Let's get Gore Vidal, one of the most respected intellectuals still living, to just hang out and talk."

Here's where it fell apart.  A friend of mine recently told me about interviewing a Francophone comedian.  He asked him what the difference was between English and French-canadian audiences.  "He said, 'You can't talk about anything outside of Quebec culture.  Otherwise, they just start talking to each other.'"

The questions asked by the audience were largely related to Canada, particularly Quebec.  The ones that weren't, again, were wikipedia'd on an iPhone before being asked.  It was an event derailed largely by that same, cancerous self-interest of which this province seems so bloody proud.  One lady asked about how he felt about Quebec's quiet revolution - which Vidal didn't bother to address (probably because even a man of his wealth of knowledge - a man who has met Pierre Trudeau and liked him - doesn't really know about because no one gives a fuck but you, lady).

I've been to many lectures, Q&As, debates, etc.  Nothing prepared me for how thrown together everything felt.  It was an affront to the man they were supposed to be honouring, and it seemed like he knew it.

Vidal never actually seemed to answer anyone's question.  So many were self-interested local questions, how could he?  If he wasn't such an engaging figure, it would have been torturous.

The highlight came when an audience member asked Vidal about his support for Kucinich three years ago and his later statement that his was "100 per cent behind Obama."

"DO YOU KNOW YOUR ARITHMATIC!?!" The man shouted.  At an 85-year-old man in a wheel chair.

"Consistency," Vidal quipped, "is the bane of a weak mind."

Weak minds organized Blue Metropolis.  Weak minds can't think past their own territories.

But Gore Vidal is still Goddamn engaging.  And charming.  And bitter.  And by the end, all I really learned is that I wanted to give Gore Vidal a great big hug.

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