Vancouver Was Awesome: William S Burroughs endorses Mr Peanut for mayor, 1974


A Vancouver time travelogue brought to you by Past Tense.

Vincent Trasov as Mr Peanut and William S Burroughs

Performance artist Vincent Trasov ran for mayor in 1974 as Planter’s Peanuts’ upper class anthropomorphic legume, Mr Peanut. He ran on an art-centric platform, spelled out in an acronym: P for Performance, E for Elegance, A for Art, N for Nonsense, U for Uniqueness, and T for Talent. Mr Peanut didn’t win the election but captured a lot of media attention and even an endorsement from beat writer William S Burroughs, who happened to be in town:

I would like to take this opportunity to endorse the candidacy of Mr. Peanut for mayor of Vancouver. Mr. Peanut is running on the art platform, and art is the creation of illusion. Since the inexorable logic of reality has created nothing but insolvable problems, it is now time for illusion to take over. And there can only be one illogical candidate-Mr. Peanut.

Mr Peanut got 2685 votes, or 3.4% of total votes cast, and incumbent Art Phillips won the day. According to Trasov, the NDP and NPA candidates took Mr Peanut seriously, while “only Art Phillips saw the humorous side of it – that got him re-elected.”

William S Burroughs died in 1997. He would have turned 100 today.


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