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.
Vibe check! How’s everyone doing with Phase II so far? How’s Return Anxiety treating you? Did you get as stressed as I did looking at this week’s forecast? Did it strike a pang of nausea to see crowds of mostly white Covidiots at Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park who think the rules don’t apply to them? How about CTV airing that viral video of a stranger kissing sexually assaulting a stranger?
While there’s no shortage of fodder down south, from Maryland to the Ozarks, we seem to be (mostly) insulated from the death of expertise, post-fact, patriotic Christian exceptionalism that has permeated the American culture war and are trending more towards the caring communalism of Jacinda Ardern’s Stay Home, Stay Safe, Be Kind approach — statue-licking Torontonians aside.
There are outliers, of course (Westworld anyone?), those who deign to import that American brand of anti-intellectual conservatism with its “mash-up of elite bashing and performative victimhood”. But it certainly helps that our governments have (mostly) risen to this challenge with social programs that are lacking in the USA, not to mention the rage-triggering effects of mask-wearing seem to be at least mitigated here because of its normalization via our large and considerate Asian population (to whom we owe our thanks not our scorn).
This week will test our patience when we inevitably see packed parks and beaches again. We know that herd immunity is a dangerous misconception and people saying “if you’re scared about busy restaurants don’t go” are tacitly admitting that they don’t view service workers as actual human beings.
Meanwhile, I still see a lot of mixed messages with our (mostly) excellent health officials. For example, “Looking ahead to the summer, Henry said that if B.C. continues to hold its line on new cases, current restrictions on non-essential travel within the province could ease. “If things continue to go well, then yes, I will be encouraging people to vacation at home in B.C., to experience what we have here,” she said.” Ok, so then why did BC Parks open up camping reservations? BC Parks website opens for camping reservations, promptly crashes due to demand.
I know camping is low risk, but hey, just so long as Alberta doesn’t get to camp here, amirite? No outsiders, including Albertans, allowed to camp at provincial parks in B.C. or Sask.. Oh, the irony of their outrage is so sweet. Remember when they pretty much had a full on Boycott B.C. movement, like, last year? Glorious.
Then there’s this: Alberta minister says it’s a ‘great time’ to build a pipeline because COVID-19 restrictions limit protests against them. Holy shit, you’re not supposed to say the quiet part out loud!
Give the BC government some credit, however, for they did do this: Prime minister agrees to Premier John Horgan’s push for national sick-pay program. This is what I’m talking about. This is why we need more government to rebuild the economy, not less.
Here’s another idea: ‘Everybody will love it’: A four-day work week could help rebuild Canada’s economy post-COVID-19, experts say. The arguments against this are hilarious. ‘I demand to have my labour exploited! I demand to have less free time!’
It’s such a weird strain of Stockholm Syndrome. You don’t need to be even slightly versed in theory to see how naked the aggression is. From a White House advisor referring to workers as “human capital stock” to the army of Twitter bots calling for the economy to reopen, we are being duped: As Millions Lose Jobs, the Billionaire Class Sees Wealth Soar by $434 Billion During Pandemic.
It’s because we’re all just “temporarily embarrassed millionaires”…:
Make no mistake, they’re going to use the threat of economic Depression to claw back every conceivable gain we’ve fought tooth and nail for: Ottawa lacks financial capacity to withstand another economic lockdown, must look to rein in spending. As John Clarke says, “the coronavirus doesn’t care about the well being of Canadian capitalism any more than the capitalists care about the lives of working class people.”
Case in point: Over 90% of Corporate Directors at Canada’s Biggest For-Profit Nursing Homes Have No Medical Qualifications. Now what industry in Canada could possibly be that good at profit-driven vampiric bloodlust? “Corporate boards of directors at Canada’s four biggest for-profit nursing home chains are dominated by real estate developers.” Uh-huh. Say no more.
Related: Military alleges horrific conditions, abuse in pandemic-hit Ontario nursing homes. Private, care, home — three words that should never be used in the same sentence.
Trust Douglas Todd to take what should be an article on short term rentals and turn into a dogwhistle about foreign students: Douglas Todd: Three reasons why rents suddenly dropped in Metro Vancouver. It’s not demand that is making rental prices high, it’s landlords capitalizing on that demand.
It’s like The Wire meets Ozark: ‘Vancouver model’ marries dirty money and Chinese capital flight, inquiry hears. I know this seems so distant now, but remember a couple things: The BC Liberals knew and did nothing; the real estate industry took bags of laundered cash as down payments and did nothing; and as bodies started piling up people just blamed addicts.
Because that’s what we’ve always done. The Province in particular has made a model out of it. You simply ignore the bigger picture of income inequality, austerity, frozen welfare rates, stagnant wages, a collapsed heartland/hinterland resource industry, decades of trauma vis-a-vis settler colonialism and blame a tiny swath of land instead: John Mackie: The Downtown Eastside is a war zone disaster — stop ghettoizing it. No, John. Vancouverism is a disaster. Neo-liberalism is a disaster. The DTES is just a visible manifestation of the failures of the system and a convenient foil for those wishing to push for further gentrification and social mix. If the DTES is a warzone, it’s from the war on the poor, and it’s been raging for decades.
On the flip side: Coronavirus is not fuel for urbanist fantasies.
The sidewalks have been converted into bustling restaurants, with families on bikes roaming the open streets, inhaling the cleanest air they’ve breathed in decades—through properly fitted masks, of course. Is this what your city will look like in post-pandemic America? For many, COVID-19 is a life-or-death crisis where your ZIP code determines if you physically and financially survive. For others, it’s the dawn of an urban utopia.
And in Vancouver, we love our urban utopia bereft of any whiff of intersectionalism that tackles the pre-existing inequities built-in to its core: Vancouver to convert road space for post-pandemic patios, pedestrians. “Vancouver will introduce 50 kilometres of ‘slow streets’ to help the city’s businesses and residents adapt to a post-pandemic life”. Ok, sorry…that’s actually kind of cool. So which streets are gonna be slow streets? I’m thinking Denman, definitely Davie Village, maybe a bit of Robson, Commercial Drive for sure, maybe Water Street, parts of West 4th, Cambie Village probably… *checks CoV website: “We started installing 12 km of Slow Streets signs and barriers on May 22 on Wall Street continuing to Lakewood and along Gladstone St. to 37th E Ave”. Oh, weird…it’s totally not like Vancouver to only half-ass everything in the name of optics.
Speaking of half-assing things, Montecristo ran an article helping Earls inspire confidence in local diners that they are following the guidelines using this photo of an employee with his exposed nostrils billowing moist exhalations over a burger and fries. Good grief.
Meanwhile. Shops are reopening after COVID-19, and some are adding a new line to your bill to pay for it. From my former co-worker, Mya Brown:
Let’s start by re-framing what a Covid surcharge is. You are not paying ‘extra’. The service or item you are paying for costs more than it used to. Your haircut/cocktail/steak dinner always included some overhead costs. Those costs have gone up and now they have passed on to you as a consumer. Asking a business already struggling due to decreased capacity and the debt of several months without income to absorb the additional expense will ultimately lead to more closures.
Airlines do it, so why not restaurants? One of Vancouver’s best restaurants is re-opening for dine-in, but you’ll have to pre-pay for your meal.
Wow, who knew treating people with dignity and respect would have such drastic results! ‘My life has changed a thousand-fold’: Victoria campers move into hotel.
Stop calling the police on people for this kind of bullshit: Neighbours call police on woman who sings nightly to honour frontline workers. WTF, Atira.
Go Figure: We sketch a picture of B.C.’s private fine art world. In 2019, British Columbians imported $29,328,878 worth of original paintings, drawings and pastels from 47 countries. And like most wealth accumulation based on speculation, most of that goes untaxed.
Bonus: Where Do Eels Come From?