TEA & TWO SLICES: On Defining Fun And Picketing Fancy Restaurants On The DTES

February 11, 2013 

by Sean Orr | Hey, maybe we should name the controversial Main Street poodle “Ted”? Why TED Is a Massive, Money-Soaked Orgy of Self-Congratulatory Futurism. Yup, and that’s exactly why TED is absolutely perfect for Vancouver.

What do you get when you there are massive cuts to Employment Insurance and the Canada Assistance Plan, massive cuts to welfare, de-institutionalization and cuts to mental health, a frozen minimum wage, a patchwork housing system of crumbling hotels, a failed Olympic housing legacy, decades of economic divestment, decades of institutionalized racism and mistreatment of First Nations, the removal of street car lines, the removal of the Japanese during the war, and a policy of social containment? You get the blame put on fancy restaurants. Behold: Gentrification Atrocity in the DTES.

The Tweet of the Day via Bob Mackin

Asylum of the times: Harper vows ‘high-risk’ law to keep criminally insane locked up. Yeah, I mean…imagine if they had locked me up for longer than a month? The world would be such a better place…

Sino the times: Vancouver residents sense rise in anti-Chinese sentiment in Canada. Perhaps it’s time for a Cultural Sensitivity Advisory Board for Chinatown.

News to nobody in the DTES: Woman claims Surrey Memorial mistreated her until tests proved she wasn’t on drugs.

Vancouver’s ‘No Fun City’ reputation a misnomer. “Yes, such iconic hangouts as the Waldorf Hotel and smaller theatres may be sadly closing their doors, but look beyond the neon signs downtown and you’ll find such gems as the Commodore Ballroom, the Vogue and Orpheum theatres, Celebrities and BC Place lit up and buzzing just a few blocks apart”. Yeah, you just have to look a little closer to find all of those hidden, super secret gems. “This month alone we’re spoilt for choice with Dine Out Vancouver, free ice-skating in Robson Square, the Chinese New Year parade, and B.C.’s first Family Day”. Who writes this stuff? Maybe it’s time we did a better job of defining fun. If only there was a website that made a weekly list of cool things to do

  • lindsay

    agreed, this story is bogus and the CCAP folks are a bit off on targeting individual restaurants, however CCAP’s political position is that they are against any development that will drive up land prices until the senior gov’t steps in and commits $$ for social housing. i really appreciate and understand their position. i’ve been at the table for a number of these LAPP discussions and so far it is looking like the city’s plan for the DTES, which includes my neighborhood of Strathcona, is to let the developers take over (with a token 20% of social/market rental housing) and it will end up completely polarized. high income earners and property owners vs those who are entrenched in poverty, have barriers to wellness and brand new immigrant families. the working poor, the working class and the lower end of moderate income earners are being pushed out. development/restaurants are not the evil but there is a lot at stake for a broad spectrum of residents in the dtes.

  • New Mexico

    Jesus fucking christ, Sean. Either stand up for what you believe in or don’t. Ted will come here and talk about some things that may or may not be relevant to you. But, at the very least, they might add a job or two (which you’re welcome to apply for instead of stealing beers from a cooler at a barely-thought-out art collective studio) and perhaps inspire one or two people. Or thirty. Or a thousand.

    Your commentary has become very tiring.

  • http://seanorr.tumblr.com/ Sean Orr

    Aw little buddy. Stealing beers from a poorly thought out art collective is way more fun than standing up for what you believe in. No but, I really liked that article and I actually DO think TED will be great for Vancouver. It will turn into another navel-gazing act of self-importance and boosterism and that is consistent to “what I stand for” and your little ad hominem will do little to change that.

  • Paulo

    Yes, the restaurant is not to blame, not directly. But taken in context of a whole bunch of pricy new restos the locals can’t afford and the crazy disparity right in the face of the most vulnerable people. One of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada and most of the new businesses are unaffordable to the majority of residents: $3 a single donut, $6 a pickle, $50 a haircut, etc. Also the fact 21 doors is itself a project that has displaced people, and developers are making no secret of the fact the want to take over the DTES and call it all Gastown. Look at this magazine. They’re already renaming the DTES into Gastown with each new hip foodie hotspot. Bitter is in “Gastown”. It’s neighbour the Portland Hotel, is DTES, Salient developper for the building proudly indicates that Pidgin is in Gastown, while Pigeon Park is in the DTES. Isn’t all this euphemistic doubletalk getting ridiculous? It’s like you’re trying to invent this story of two cities overlapping invisible to each other. Does no one at Scout find it uncomfortable, or unethical for to be eating foie gras while staring at people are often malnourished and desperately poor? Is it no longer a social norm to find such ostentatiousness displays demeaning or vulgar?
    I hear a lot of doubletalk, they’ll say they are improving the area, but what they consider as “improving” implicitly suggests displacement and they’ll characterize all the people they displaced as “only the bad people”, which is usually nonsense. The effect of gentrifying restaurants has been to increase development and convert low income housing stock into pricier market housing and almost none of the these places is attempting to offer something that could be affordable to the low income community? And what the hell is city hall doing? This is not Jim Green’s vision anymore.

  • http://seanorr.tumblr.com/ Sean Orr

    I think we can all recognize the many minute variables of late-capitalism and also that to judge the type of economic activity (eating foie gras at L’Abbatoir located next to a Vera’s burger chain) is just moral relativism. And remember, being afraid of rich people is just as ridiculous as being afraid of poor people.

  • Paulo

    Read the Missing Women Report.

  • Mr Paywall

    Look I can go to any realty website in Vancouver and find some half-truth about how they’re close to the water or having a peek-a-boo view. Anyone buying a condo on that block knows where it is and where it isn’t. And breaking news, Gastown is a district of the DTES (masterplan of the developers and ultra-rich)

    Problems with Pidgin identified so far by the Oppenheimer Business Improvement Association: The name, the open windows onto the street, their menu, their staff, their logo on the open window, their clientele. Beyond that, we welcome them to the community and be sure to send in your membership fee.

  • David Traleston

    Jobless, homeless, clueless. So let’s destroy other people’s dreams and livelihoods because we blew away ours (or are just too damn lazy to pursue them). These protesters have such a short attention span, that they do not realize how ill-conceived actions like these marginalize them even more, and for good reason. They seemed to have lost the concept of self-harm; go do it to yourself; not others. That’s why its called self. Be selfish as much as you want.

  • Cam_13

    Is Pidgin the only place that’s been picketed recently or is this a travelling mob?

  • Paulo

    Interesting how people aren’t even trying to hide their bigotry. Poverty and addiction in the DTES has nothing to do with residential school or institutional abuse, or disability or any number of reasons. It’s always because they’re “lazy” or “blew their dream”.
    They need to repeat that narrative that poor people and addicts are to be despised. Despicable.

  • Leslie

    Better off protesting the City or Province. It’s the developers and the City who call the shots. Those restaurants wouldn’t be there if it all wasn’t part of the City’s plan.
    Boo to the extremists on both sides!
    Most people know addiction is a disease and NOT a choice. It’s a issue with the drug war, and health issue, not a moral issue.
    What does this have to do with food though? When did food become political? Why can’t we have good restaurants and SRO’s on the same block?
    Or for that matter, why shouldn’t they build injection sites in Yaletown or the Point Grey? I like the idea of mixing it up but will it really happen?

  • Leigh

    When did food become political? Really? Anyone recall food counter sit-ins during the civil rights movement? Or was that ‘unfairly targeting’ a poor helpless restauranteur as well? The fact is there is a long and poignant history of both food-related and individual business protests throughout history; there is always a specific place that sparks and hosts action. Ghandi and salt, MLK and lunchcounters/bus stations, etc. Physical spaces serve as symbols for broader issues constantly, and I rarely hear this sort of ‘unfairness’ dialogue when embassies are the site of protest even though the diplomatic staff did not create the legislation or make the decisions which caused the anger. If you are sympathetic at all to the plight of the residents of the DTES, then you should understand the action at pidgin. If you don’t, perhaps it’s time to reflect on where exactly your loyalties lie, and stop pretending to be progressive only when it’s convenient and socially acceptable.

    TL:DR – its a SYMBOL people, this isnt a hard concept.

  • Nathan

    “When did food become political?” Seriously? One of the basic requirements for life has no political consequence?
    Certainly addiction is an issue with the drug war and a health issue, but is there no place for morality and individual responsibility at all? Addiction has eroded and undermined a person’s strength of choice. But to not leave room for those things robs them of even more and dehumanizes them further.

  • http://seanorr.tumblr.com/ Sean Orr

    I do understand it. I don’t think I’ve said I don’t. I just think it is misplaced. I think considering the history of the area, how it developed, the businesses that abandoned it (The Province, The Sun for example) are more to blame and that this is more nuanced than gentrification. As in, this isn’t the landed gentry- this is a group of people who have been slaving away in other parts of vancouver- working their way up from bussers and dishwashers- to start a well-thought and sensitive business in a place where the only previous business was selling fraudulent methadone scrips.