On Keeping It Up and Big Chains Determining Vancouver’s Restaurant Recovery

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.

We Are in a New Danger Zone. “We have now entered the most dangerous phase of this pandemic. We are all tired of physical isolation. We are worried about an economic depression in a global economy already undermined by gross inequalities. We fear for the future, and yearn for something normal even though our exhausted civilization no longer behaves normally…”

It’s like that part of the dinner service when you’re whited out with bills and you’re almost there and you want to give up but you push yourself a little harder and you can finally see the end. Ending the lockdown now would be like saying “We’re in the middle of the rush, I’m going for a smoke.”

Reopening parts of our country while the rest is still in full pandemic mode is like designating a corner of the hot tub for people to piss in. We don’t want a repeat of San Francisco in 1918. There’s no evidence that herd immunity is even a thing and that there maybe consecutive waves, so let’s maybe cool our jets, yeah?

It’s great that BC is doing so well, don’t get me wrong. Adrian Dix is a dreamboat. But like I said last week, we don’t want to give ourselves a false sense of security. We don’t want to underestimate this virus. We don’t want any more spikes which may or may not have been because of all those Easter Weekend travellers.

And then there are these antisocial narcissists: Protesters march against COVID-19 prevention measures in Vancouver. I get it though. These people have replaced rational thought with blind distrust of government institutions precisely because these institutions have consistently betrayed our interests over and over again. Conservatives and corporations alike have exploited this mistrust, and convinced people that even science isn’t in their own best interest. It’s the fog of war phase of things. People are trapped in the mental coordinates of a world that no longer exists, and that’s probably really fucking scary.

It doesn’t help that the professional managerial classes, scoffing from their moral high horses, are shaming people for going outside or calling in to snitch lines, but don’t take it out on the rest of us.

And while some heroes threw eggs from their West End apartments (seriously, I will buy you all the beers when this is over) we need to understand that this exquisite madness is capitalism in decay; the culmination of the long march of anti-social hyper-individualism. John Clarke expands:

The present gaggle of coronavirus denying rightists, business lackeys and haircut seekers who are pressing for the end of the pandemic lockdown are a very nasty crowd, indeed. However, people are getting hungry and desperate and their landlords are banging on their doors. Moreover, this may very well be only first wave of the pandemic. Let’s keep a close eye on developments and understand that we can’t possibly accept physical distancing without the means to survive. Ensuring people have food and other necessities and that their housing is secure is the only healthy response to the crisis and we have to build the community solidarity to ensure that happens.

It’s going to be a tough battle. The right’s message has been singular in purpose. They “prefer mass death to adopting the social welfare policies of a civilized nation.” They exploit our fears and spread misinformation. They are a public health menace, and yet the VPD keep giving them escorts. And now these pro-infection types, including Brian Ruhe (who hilariously doxxed himself on Twitter), want to use local children to do it on May 3rd.

It’s why the more I hear people say “things won’t be the same after this” the more I’m convinced that they will in fact, stay exactly the same. Oligarchs have been waiting for a crisis like this to exploit, and people only seem all the more happy to oblige. If the period after the First World War, the Great Depression and the Second World War accidentally gave rise to a middle class where, as Pickety explains (with some lessons for Vancouver), wage earners got a decent share of productivity gains, we seem all the more eager to return to the status quo. It’s just weird when they say it out loud: Antivirus fight takes a dreadful toll on jobs:

The Black Death is often credited with transforming labour relations in Europe. Peasants, now scarce, could bargain for better terms and conditions; wages started to rise as feudal lords competed for workers. Thankfully, a much lower mortality rate means such a transformation is unlikely to follow coronavirus.

Wow. Not thankful that human life will be spared, but rather that the virus won’t lead to an economic transformation. Still with me? Here’s a visual:

I look at that image and then I read the following, posted ever so gleefully by our mayor: B.C.’s road to recovery: Restaurant reopenings could start in May. Like lambs to the slaughter. I know Talia touched on a lot of this stuff already, but with an industry that is already so far behind in labour standards (day wage anyone?) this sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen:

Tostenson sprang into action when he learned that Henry wanted to work with industry to come up with guidelines for how to open dining rooms. He put together an “A Team” of hospitality-sector leaders to come up with a plan for how to operate safely and profitably.

He then organized an April 22 conference call with several dozen industry insiders from companies such as the Glowbal Group, Earls, Cactus Club and Starbucks

Because nothing says we have the best interest of our workforce in mind like Starbucks, Glowbal, Earls, and Cactus Club. It’s totally not like they would want to strong arm an already marginalized workforce for the benefit of their own coffers.

Look, I’m totally fine with lifting restrictions at the advice of professionals; just not at the behest of terrified conspiracy peddlers who want a fucking haircut: Hair, nail, beauty salons want mandatory safety training to reopen post-COVID-19. We’re not going to die because some Karens are embarrassed by the colour of their roots.

No no, it’s cool. We’Re aLl iN tHiS toGeThEr: Inspiring: Celebrities Spell Out ‘We’re All In This Together’ With Their Yachts.

Other than cheering on the opening of the economy, what long-term plans does Kennedy Stewart have for the future of our city? Is he going to cancel the Broadway Skytrain extension and build housing? Coronavirus shows how ‘inequitable’ big cities are, Canadian professor says.

He suggests a solution some might consider radical: spending less on megaprojects such as transit, new roads, bridges and other big ticket infrastructure projects, and instead investing in affordable housing close to downtowns where the jobs are.

Those front-line workers most impacted by COVID-19 have been typically low-income earners and people of colour — specifically African American and Latinos, studies in the U.S. have found. Although no similar data exists in Canada, Condon says he is “hypothesizing” that the same trend, in particular the low-income aspect, is happening in big Canadian cities such as Vancouver and Toronto.

‘Never seen anything as catastrophic’: Malls in Canada face massive hit as unpaid rent surges. Weren’t y’all just blaming millennials for this, like a year ago? Seems like you’ll blame anything but the internal contradictions of capitalism.

The Vancouver Park Board: VanDusen Garden, two Vancouver golf courses to re-open with distancing protocols. ‘If only we had enough green space for everyone to safely enjoy the outdoors…oh well, fore!’

Meanwhile, Province secures safe shelter, supports for people living in major encampments. Oh, great! I mean a little late but… sorry, what’s that? You’re using a public health emergency to break up tent cities in parks? You’ve had six fucking weeks to figure out basics like COVID-prevention measures for the street community, and this is what you come up with? What about the thousands of others that aren’t at Oppenheimer?

Their way of making sure everyone had access to adequate drinking water, food, bathrooms, showers, laundry? Just dump a few unmonitored portapotties at Main and Hastings: Indigenous leaders call for monitored washrooms in Downtown Eastside after baby’s death. This city, province, and nation has been breaking my heart for a long time, but this…this is just…ugh.

John Ivison: Trudeau’s lavish handouts risk turning workers into welfare slackers. This is an opinion in the year 2020. Never mind the fact that oil and gas companies are being bailed out. Never mind the fact that this is literally what stock market dividends are. This is literally keeping people alive right now and conservatives are mad about it. Let that sink in.

Speaking of Trudeau: Trudeau refuses calls to exclude tax haven companies from COVID-19 bailout. “We do not want to punish workers based on the company they work for. They have families and communities that depend on them,” Trudeau said. “We are focusing on the workers and not the company.” So why don’t you just give the money to the workers then? Because you’re a toadie and we’re a nation of toadies.

But you might say, Sean, at least he’s not telling us to inject bleach or, um, sunlight. At least he’s doing things like this: Trudeau announces rent relief of 75% for small businesses affected by coronavirus. I mean, yeah…I guess, although maybe actual human tenants should get rent relief, but ok. Also, Jagmeet Singh should get most of the credit for things like improving CERB and the wage subsidy anyway, but it’s not like the media will tell you that.

Then there’s this guy: Conservatives blast MP who asked whether top pandemic doctor ‘works for China’ as Scheer steers clear. Please sign this petition. This kind of dogwhistling fuels increasingly violent and racist behaviour against all ethnically Asian Canadians.

Like this: Vancouver police investigate alleged racially motivated attack against elderly Asian man with dementia.

And this: Vancouver mother shares ‘terrifying’ ordeal as city’s hate crimes rise. “What is scary is that this pandemic is bringing forward the underlying racism that some folks have felt toward some groups for some time, and this moment in time is giving them a sense of validation that they can justify that hate.” When this is over I want to give this person a huge hug.

Meanwhile: One in 5 Canadians think it’s not safe to sit beside an Asian person on the bus, according to recent poll. Now where in the hell would people get this idea?

This is why I shed no tears for this company. Postmedia announces employee cuts, shutters 5 Windsor-Essex weeklies permanently. Looks like Ivison might soon be one of those slackers on CERB.

At every turn we see the failures of the system. Austerity kills. Capitalism kills: Canada’s for-profit model of long-term care has failed the elderly, says leading expert.

Also: How Food Banks Prop up a Broken System.

University students demand lower tuition, fees as classes move online. I’ve chosen a very strange time to go back to University.

This is great: Vancouver’s Clampdown Records Pressing Plant Launches “Tinder for Bands” to Make Split Vinyl Releases. I’m swiping right on this.

Cute, or just more tokenism? London Drugs creates special aisle for local businesses to sell product.

Take note: Coronavirus ‘currently eliminated’ in New Zealand.

Bonus: The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from? Because it was never about personal choice.

Extra: Pentagon officially releases UFO videos. I love how this is barely even news right now.

There are 3 comments

  1. So you wan’t be to stop using Karen because it’s appropriation? I’m not using it as a replacement for “bitch” I’m using it in the original sense of entitled white women flexing their power

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