Twitter fight like a scene from Chandler

Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel invokes 1930s detective fiction writer Raymond Chandler in this piece about a Twitter cat fight. It’s a great read and a good tutorial on the burgeoning Hamilton mayoral campaign. (Image: Spectator Archives)

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Perhaps it was the muggy weather that provoked it.

Or maybe it’s just the overall political climate in this city.

Regardless, the cat fight that erupted on Twitter over Ward 1 Councillor and mayoral candidate Brian McHattie’s campaign vow to visit all the city’s neighbourhoods in 100 days was both hilarious and despairing.

It put me in mind of writer Raymond Chandler’s description of how a hot desert wind can make nerves jump, skin itch and booze parties end in fights.

“Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ neck,” Chandler wrote. “Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

In this case, McHattie’s photo-op brought out the kind of political shivs and blades that lend validity to the notion that perhaps social media might more accurately be called anti-social media.

It may not be the “dark place” that Mayor Bob Bratina famously complained about, but it’s amply dappled and oftentimes poisonously dank.

For those who have ignored the siren’s song of Twitter, Wikipedia neatly sums it up as an online social networking service that lets users send and read short 140-character text-based messages called “tweets.”

Introduced in 2006, the service has something like 645 million registered users worldwide, including some 11 million in Canada.

As with other online networking services, Twitter at its best connects people through shared information and experiences; at its worst, it’s a platform for humble bragging, self-promotion, snarkiness, sarcasm, and shameless partisanship.

I can’t pretend to have followed all the threads linked to McHattie’s city tour, but I got the smelly drift. A lot of the mockery and groin kicks took place between McHattie’s and mayoral candidate Fred Eisenberger’s devotees. Computer warriors charged, factional acolytes chided.

By my reckoning, the first sneer came from Chris Cutler, Eisenberger’s campaign manager, who tweeted: “Welcome to the campaign Brian. We were wondering where you were. Campaigning for mayor means leaving your ward.”

That set off a burst of finger-wagging from tweeters offended by Cutler’s tone, including this one from Graham Crawford, McHattie’s media co-ordinator: “Chris – really? I’m honestly surprised at this comment. Were you hacked or is this really yours?”

Community activist and former mayoral and council candidate Matt Jelly jumped in to defend McHattie with this jab: “Where has Fred been for the last 4 years? Is his interest in Hamilton limited to being Mayor?”

And this one: “Where was Fred when we were fighting off a casino in the core? He was silent on the issue.”

Greg Crone, an Eisenberger policy adviser during his tenure as mayor, unleashed a blistering string of tweets poking fun at McHattie’s tour. Suggesting McHattie is a tourist in his own town, Crone likened him to Indiana Jones emerging from his ward to discover the “lost city” of Hamilton.

Former mayor Larry Di Ianni, who endorses Eisenberger for mayor, observed that McHattie’s tour creates a “just visiting” image. That led to escalating harsh exchanges with Jelly, with other users defending one or the other or just scoffing at the silliness of it all.

I somehow got dragged into the fray when a McHattie partisan inaccurately tweeted that I once “accused” the councillor of being a “ward heeler.”

I tweeted a response then tuned out, the Twitter equivalent of hanging up. That felt good. It also brought to mind another line from Chandler: “It was a step in the right direction, but it didn’t go far enough. I ought to have locked the door and hid under the desk.”

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears in The Spectator and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel

2 Responses to “Twitter fight like a scene from Chandler”
  1. Bonjour and hello to all city of Hamilton members, citizens, residences and visitors. My name is Ricky Tavares and I will be your mayor of Hamilton Ontario Canada in the near future. I was born here in city of Hamilton at St.Josephs hospital. I am here to announce now and to make this statement very public now that I will be the first mayor in Canada willing and proud to work for a minimum wage salary. I love Hamilton and I must protect our city. My colleagues, financial advisors and I have a 5 year plan to implement and generate 1 trillion dollars into the Hamilton city hall building within the next 5 years. I am sorry to announce now that I will only be your mayor for 1 term because this city is too small for me to lead and guide into a productive population. I will be moving to Ottawa to be your Prime Minister of Canada after 1 term here in the city of Hamilton as your mayor. Thank you for voting me Ricky Tavares as mayor of Hamilton on Oct 27.

    The reason why I am avoiding verbal physical communication with you and the other media outlets is because I do not want to give away my secret “5 year plan” on how I will and am very capable of generating 1 trillion dollars into Hamilton cityhall building. If I am not elected this year then all the idiots, unproductive, dumbasses that did not vote for me will have to wait another 4 years for next election before I start turning Hamilton into NEW YORK city. I want to make Hamilton the richest city in the world but these stupid, selfish, whitehaired, dinosaur, cavemen mayor candidates and the media are trying to stop me and getting in my way. Why will you wait until next election to vote me as mayor of Hamilton when you can vote me as mayor of Hamilton NOW so that Hamilton gives me the platform and exposure to be able to spread my wings and aggressively generate 1 trillion dollars of foreign currency into cityhall as fast as I can before other cities start to notice and copy my 5 year business plan.

    Right now my hands are tied because I am not mayor of Hamilton. I am not able to make Hamilton the richest city in the world and if I am not mayor then I will not share my secret plan with you or my competitors. Nicole, can you please ask all my mayoral candidate competitors to pullout of this election so that I am guaranteed to win ? If so, then I will appoint and hire some of my current mayoral competitors to work in my office right beside me because I can use their experience and their protection.

    I am serious. This is an emergency for city of Hamilton. You must vote Ricky Tavares for mayor of Hamilton because I will “put Hamilton on the world map” and “run with the big boys”.

    BTW, I do not smoke cigarettes, I do not drink alcohol and I do not smoke marijuana.
    Nicole, are you single ?

    Ricky Tavares

  2. Elizabeth says:

    This prompted me to peruse about half of The Drowning Pool – 133 pages or so – to see how many similes I could count. (I’m using the Vintage Crime Black Lizard edition from May 1996). I counted thirty four and no doubt missed a few. (REVISION, 11/21/14 – It is a much higher number. In my initial reading I was in a super noisy Starbucks on 39th and 8th and apparently this affected my concentration.) I haven’t done the legwork, but I think some of the later books might have a slightly higher ratio. That’s a lot, but in any case I would argue that many of Macdonald’s similes are so strong that they infinitely enrich the work. Not only that – they are so strong that they put many “serious” writers of fiction to shame.

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