On Imitating San Francisco and Life in the Age of People Who Film Their Soup

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran restaurant dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown. He is very aware of his privilege, so there’s really no need to remind him of it.

I smell a rat: Dead rat allegedly found in Canadian restaurant’s chowder. Seriously, who films their soup? “Is that supposed to be there?” It all sounds fishier than clam chowder to me. And have you seen a six ounce ladle? No way someone doesn’t notice that…

People might be divided on whether the rat was fake or real, but the more interesting takeaway is the semiotics at play. To me, the rat symbolizes the rapid gentrification of the DTES. The customer symbolizes everything wrong with social media and entitlement. If the Sun Yat Sen otter was a class war folk hero, then what of the rat?

Here’s a creature just trying to live his life on the DTES and he/she ends up dead in a $15 bread bowl that gets signal blasted on Instagram. Those who brusquely colonized this humble scavenger’s territory have no right to be shocked every time they’re confronted with a carcass. Much like the lowly bed bug was romanticized as a sarcastic emblem of our world class ambitions in the run-up to the 2010 Olympics, the rat too is an emblem of Silicon Valley-ization of Vancouver, of entitled tech types moving in and forcing others out while complaining about the conditions long endured by those they supplanted.

Thanks, but it’s already too late… Happy New Year! May Your City Never Become San Francisco, New York or Seattle.

San Francisco has come to stand for the most specific set of horrors. It is the place where extreme poverty and tech wealth occupy the same block, while the schoolteachers and firefighters all live two hours away.

But San Francisco-ization and the other -izations don’t refer to the processes of acquiring any of these good things. Rather, those terms capture the deepening suspicion of many communities that the costs of urban prosperity outweigh the benefits. The tech jobs and the high wages aren’t worth having if they come with worsening congestion, more crowded development or soaring housing costs.

Sadly, unlike San Francisco, we never got these so-called high wages. Instead, we are a port city with a moderate climate that takes in drugs on one side and the destitute on the other. I wrote this back in the summer:

Vancouver soundly snubbed in ‘best Canadian cities to live’ rankings. Wait, so living in a depressing, smoke-filled hellhole beholden to obscene wealth and speculation; rife with overdoses and NIMBYism; new drivers with Lambos and frozen welfare rates; where you need an income of $150,000 to live in a City-approved “affordable” rental in disposable cookie cutter boxes; where money laundering is normalized as “unintentional failures” and the solution is more supply doesn’t quite make the cut?

You mean where music venues are constantly shutting down and creatives are leaving en masse; where we can’t staff our restaurants; where rich assholes unironically protest property tax hikes as the start of a class war; where wages are stagnant; where we put Poor Doors on our social housing projects; where the VPD disproportionately target Indigenous people; where homeless people die in Tim Hortons…there aren’t the kinds of things that would make Vancouver the best city in the world Canada BC?

That’s not to mention the fact that in two days, Canada’s Top CEOs Have Already Earned Your 2018 Salary.

Meanwhile, the guy who lobbied to deny the working poor of Ontario a $15 minimum wage is laughing at us: ‘Let them eat cake’: Ont. Chamber of Commerce president apologizes after new year’s tweet draws ire. You might be able to delete a tweet, but you can’t delete the fact that this is how the 1% actually operate. Take the Queen giving a speech about poverty in front of a gold piano for example…

A hero emerges: Runaway barges cause more than $1M in property damage, Vancouver police say. Hey Barge! Meet Rat and Otter.

Google Street View comparisons show Vancouver’s growing homelessness. Too lazy to slum it? Now you can be a poverty tourist from the comfort of your own home!

Surrey RCMP leave ‘holiday bait packages’ in two local malls. This is disgusting. This is just the further criminalization of the poor at a time when they are particularly vulnerable.

As bad as the police are, the people who call them like it’s fucking customer service who are worse: ‘Ma’am, are you calling 911 because they’re not redeeming your coupon for you?’.

Austerity kills: Stanford professor: “The workplace is killing people and nobody cares”. If only we could pool all our resources together and form some sort of united organization of workers so this doesn’t keep happening… /sarcasm

Privatize the profit, socialize the risk, and individualize the solutions: Stop buying crap, and companies will stop making crap. “So advertising, marketing, and supply gluts don’t exist, apparently. Good to know”. – Nicole Joliet

Bonus: I’m Honestly Fed Up With All The Bad News So I Illustrated The Best News Of 2018 (And Recent Years).

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