On Hurling Insults at Nurses and the Rich Wanting the Poor to Risk Their Lives For Profit

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.

Someone asked me on Facebook what I’ve come out of this pandemic with. I think it’s simultaneously a greater respect for society and a deeper loathing of it. There’s a growing sense of community and an emerging solidarity for those underpaid frontline workers. There’s an amazing chorus of people who realize our current system is just not working for all of us. Even Americans are astonishingly united.

Then you see the pictures of packed beaches and protesters blocking ambulances and hurling insults at nurses. You see an uptick in disgusting racist incidents. Or Payday lenders charging up to 780% interest. You read about convicted felon and millionaire Conrad Black calling Fear of COVID-19 overblown. It’s a tight-rope walk and I don’t know which way we’re going to fall…

Crowds flock to Vancouver beaches and parks as weather warms up. Look, I want to believe that most ordinary people are serious about keeping themselves and their communities safe. I want to believe Dr. Henry when she says the risk of outdoor transmission is infinitesimal. I want to be proven wrong. I want to go to the beach too!

I’m not shaming these people as much as I am admonishing Dr. Henry for hinting at expanding our social circles. People only hear what they want to hear. I don’t blame them. So now she has to remind everyone that we are still in Phase One. So why, when you know the weather forecast, would you even announce it? Some sort of herd immunity experiment?

I still believe British Columbians have the common interest at heart. I hear people saying “we are each going to need to assess our own personal risk, our own situations, and make our own daily decisions based on that.” But that’s never what this has been about. It’s been about overwhelming hospitals. Unfortunately, people hear “old people in long term care” or “brown people working in meat packing plants” and they think, “It’s not my problem.”

pHoTos caN bE deCepTIve: Just how crowded are B.C. beaches? Pictures highlight how perspectives can mislead. So this guy grabs his drone and goes to the beach on a cloudy Sunday during dinner time on Mother’s Day to prove that pictures taken on a blazing Friday or Saturday were deceptive? Great job. The only trouble is that people – especially the media – will run with it and paint all such pictures with a doubtful brush.

Sure, cameras can deceive, but don’t forget that park rangers gave out a whopping 1880 warnings to groups over the weekend, which means people were grouped too closely together. Just one of the groups who received a warning could have resulted in a ‘super spreader’ event.

And although I think Dr. Henry’s message has been pretty clear, you also have to remember that late-capitalism’s hyper-normalization has taught members of every living generation to be selfish, entitled monsters whose brains can’t conceptualize the common good. Take it from an epidemiologist: “If I am outside, and I walk past someone, remember it is ‘dose and time’ needed for infection. You would have to be in their airstream for 5+ minutes for a chance of infection.” Great, so what if you’re sitting with a group of 10 people for two hours?

Shout outs to the guy who brought a stereo to English Bay and cranked the fitting Semisonic song, Closing Time.

Meanwhile Anti-Lockdown Protesters Block Ambulance Bay at Vancouver Hospital, Lead Chants Against Healthcare Workers. Someone tell the VPD they’re actually pipeline protesters. That’ll get ’em arrested!

Indeed, Vancouver is a tale of two cities. So while all of the above was going on, and while Dr. Henry declares “we’re not taking a punitive approach to those not physically distancing”, the City bulldozes peoples personal belongings into a pile: DTES business owner hopeful for future after Oppenheimer Park cleared. Now I’m not suggesting that we, um, bulldoze Kits Beach or anything. But you gotta understand that this is 100% about optics and not public health. There are 3,000 homeless people in Vancouver. Kennedy Stewart is using the pandemic as a smokescreen to relocate a fraction of those people.

I get that the park should be for everyone, but so should housing. If the latter is missing, the former is used. As long as you’re constantly reacting to tent cities and not tackling the big-picture systemic conditions that lead to them, they’re just going to keep popping up like a game of perpetual cat-and-mouse. Witness: New tent city emerges hours after campers cleared from Vancouver park.

Here’s a great example of how we know the Oppenheimer Park eviction wasn’t about public health. It took a massive charitable effort and grassroots organizing just to get some much needed masks to people: Vancouver advocate raises $10,000 for Mother’s Day mask handout. May 10th! That’s two full months after the WHO declared a pandemic. Unreal.

As if this community hasn’t suffered enough, one of the last few affordable stores is gone: Army and Navy, 101-year-old Canadian discount retailer, to close permanently under COVID-19. I’m not saying it’ll be replaced by condos but it will totally be replaced by condos.

Bryan Adams blames ‘bat eating,’ ‘virus making greedy bastards’ in COVID-19 rant. Canada, I want to run from you. Jokes aside, 291,875 292,394 293,453 people have died and this guy makes it about his cancelled gig that only a handful of boomers care about? But then again, are we really shocked that someone represented by Bruce Allen turns out to be a bit of a scumbag?

Take a lesson from Dave Grohl, Bryan. This is how you do it: The Day the Live Concert Returns.

Meanwhile, there’s Barry Neufeld, ‘Pretty disgusting’: Chilliwack school board trustee posts coronavirus conspiracy theory. My god. No words. Sign here.

And it just keeps going: Suspect sought in violent attack on bus in Vancouver. I’m proud of this bystander for stepping up, but please be careful, everyone! I’m not sure if it’s included in these bystander tips, but if you’re going to knock this guy the fuck out, be sure to wear gloves.

‘I’m not going to hide’: Richmond woman describes how she stood tall against alleged racist taunts. Also shameful: the cops framed it as a “he said, she said” incident.

Meanwhile in hockey: Bad week exposes a crack in the NHL’s wholesome image. I know I probably say this a lot as a rhetorical device but I 100% thought this was satire. I mean, this is a league that had Don Cherry as its de facto figurehead for 40 years!

This however, is definitely satire: Quebec suddenly fine with people covering their faces.

Oh hey, look! It’s Mayor Kennedy! Looks like he just popped up to…um…strip renter protections? Update: thanks to the public this motion was rescinded.

Elsewhere on City Council, Christine Boyle bizarrely proposes to legalize responsible alcohol consumption in Vancouver parks and beaches, despite that being the park board’s purview. Way to read the room, Christine.

Well, it’s May and there still hasn’t been a provincial rent freeze, despite the duplicitous wording of Horgan’s “freeze on rental rate increases.” But sure, corporate media, by all means do a hit piece on tenants: Some tenants taking advantage of eviction ban. Yeah, and some people put pineapple on pizza. What’s your point?

Choppity chop: Burnaby landlord tries sneaky ‘parking fee’ to skirt ban on rent hikes. Maybe instead of paying rent we could just bang some pots and pans every night at 7pm instead?

Get a real job! 2 Mortgages, No Income: Sell The House Or Rent It Out, An Airbnb Host Wonders. Maybe you shouldn’t have quit your job to take a crazy gamble on an app that starves locals of housing supply. But hey, maybe that’s just me.

‘They’d rather stay home’: Farmer struggling to hire workers who are collecting CERB. Um, yeah…no fucking shit. Maybe a better headline would be “Workers are becoming less inclined to die for your profit now that the government is actually looking after them…”

Remember, when they say they want to re-open the economy, it’s not so they can go back to work. Job Loss Disaster Slams Low-Wage, Young Workers.

Small restaurants say they won’t survive reopening without government help. Sorry, but opening up patio space in the streets isn’t going to cut it.

Vancouver’s Dressew one of many small businesses thrust into 21st century by COVID-19. God, I am such a dirtbag for bringing this up because I love Dressew and this is an adorable story but…they own their building. That’s not to take away from Dressew, just that most small businesses should be able to own their own building!

I don’t know what this means for Vancouver’s cruise ship industry, but…Carnival swamped with cruise bookings after announcing August return. “If you see this and think, ‘Oh, Darwin in action’ instead of ‘This is a cruel death sentence for workers,’ you haven’t quite caught on to what is going on”. – Geoff Berner

Because: The Plan Is to Save Capital and Let the People Die.

I told you we should’ve checked in on the influencers! Suspects of Canada Cell Tower Fires Are a Model and Failed Rapper.

Please don’t tell my fiancee I shared this: Why are conspiracy theories rampant in the ‘wellness’ industry? Welcome to conspirituality.

Bonus part 1: Robert Pattinson: A Dispatch From Isolation. This story has to win some sort of award:

What he hasn’t figured out yet is how to do anything else, like go outside. “I went for a run around the park today,” he says. “I’m so terrified of being, like, arrested. You’re allowed to run around here. But the terror I feel from it is quite extreme.” He’s nervous that way. Just going back into the world, whenever the world finally comes back? That might be the hard part.

Bonus Part 2: The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months. Mutual aid will save us all.

There are 11 comments

  1. “You see dead babies being found in porta-potties.” You have taken what is no doubt a deeply traumatizing event, mischaracterized it terribly, and used it as a throw-away line without context. It is utterly monstrous on your part. Last I checked, there was ONE incident of this, and I have yet to hear confirmation that the child was definitively born alive. Regardless, if this incident produces a disgust with humanity, I strongly suggest you direct those feelings towards the multitude of systems that so failed a vulnerable person that they found themself giving birth alone, at night, in a fucking porta-potty.

  2. Frances: I want to assure you that I am in no way blaming the victim of this incident and it was meant to highlight the structural inadequacy and true double standard in this city vis a vis deeply entrenched systemic inequality of Canada’s settler colonial program. It was a deeply upsetting thing for me to read and last week I’m pretty sure I actually said “I have no words”. I think when taken in context of a running news roundup that explores these topics the line might make more sense- but that’s on me. I need to flush that out and make sure people realize this is a failure of policy on all levels.

    I’ve been writing about the DTES twice weekly for 15 years and I often condemn people for this very thing- this cheap moralization of romantic poverty tourism. I often forget they these articles are stand alone and don’t represent a body of work. In this context it was totally insensitive- a cheap and easy exploitation of someone else’s misery. I will be more careful.

  3. Oh fucking please, rich yuppies who can afford to stay home are shaming people who are angry because they can’t, you can’t twist this into a class issue that suits you narrative, this is a horrible article that adds to the culture war of the last couple of years.

  4. Aaron: I’ve argued repeatedly that this will be the case. Disaster capitalism loves its crises and the more I hear people say things like “our society will never be the same” the more I’m convinced it will in fact, stay exactly the same. Lifting the lockdown and going back to “normal” or status quo, would be predicable, but it’s not something that I am “wishing for”. I wishing for a complete overthrow of the capitalist system. An unprecedented transfer of wealth and nationalization of most industries. A massive build out of public housing and an even more radical program than the Green New Deal. We have to tackle spiralling global inequality in order to confront the greatest crisis humanity will likely ever face- climate change.

  5. The schadenfreude here is so typical of many Vancouverites:

    “Get a real job! 2 Mortgages, No Income: Sell The House Or Rent It Out, An Airbnb Host Wonders. Maybe you shouldn’t have quit your job to take a crazy gamble on an app that starves locals of housing supply.”

    Let’s see – he decided to go back to school and start a small business in a city with a chronically high vacancy rate (South Philadelphia). What an a**hole!

    “But hey, maybe that’s just me.”

    No, that’s not you – you have been sitting around complaining about things “twice weekly” for the past 15 years.

    And I will hazard to guess you will be doing the same thing 15 years from now.

  6. Sean – I have to be honest, I find your response to my criticism entirely inadequate. Your intent here is irrelevant, as is you long dtes writing history and your response to the story at the time, when the result is a note in a comment section that virtually none of your audience will read while the article itself remains unchanged with that glaring sentence sitting untouched. I imagine most people will read your article, skip opening the comment section at the bottom, and be left with an uncritical understanding of the incident.

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