On Understanding Souped-Up Trucks and Painting Chinatown as a Wasteland

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.

Here we go again: ‘It’s like a war zone’: Chinatown businesses say crisis on the ground needs urgent fix. War zone is right, and it’s a class war being waged by developers and a sycophantic, entirely corporate media. I’m so sick of local news constantly punching down and ignoring the root causes of poverty. The system isn’t broken. It’s working as intended, but it needs cheerleaders like Global to constantly make us angry that poor people exist. They don’t ever present why they exist. By painting Chinatown as a wasteland it simultaneously absolves its stakeholders of responsibility while paving the way for wholesale gentrification and even MORE displacement.

It’s lazy, shock-jock sensationalist distraction politics that ignores the fact crime isn’t even up. It ignores decades of austerity and displacement. It ignores decades of neglect and a criminal lack of supports for mental health, disabilities, and drug users during a poisoning epidemic. It ignores all the amazing legal street art in the community and, of course, it ignores a bloated and ineffectual VPD who criminalize poverty and put up billboards to make us all scared of one another.

Chinatown is on life support because of landlords gouging tenants with ridiculous triple net leases and high commercial property taxes (because homeowners have hissy fits every time we try and shift it onto them). The media will do anything to protect the status quo. To wit:

Meanwhile: Vancouver police’s billboard on distraction theft already vandalized. I swear the VPD put this billboard here knowing it would be vandalized to say, “We need more money because vandalism”. Besides, I’d rather make my own version. Update: It’s been replaced by a Tagalog version, to which I say “Lahat ng Mga Pulis Ay Mga Bastard”.

The Port of Dubai Vancouver has way too much power. Makes this project seem ever more precarious: Will an Indigenous Healing Centre Finally Find a Home on Vancouver’s Waterfront? The number of people that don’t know that CRAB park only exists because of a protest encampment could fill a tower of empty condos.

You can literally see inequality in Vancouver from space:

Of course, when your political culture is infected with the rhetoric of personal responsibility (which ignores the very real structural limitations imposed by neoliberalism) every so-called crisis becomes an exercise in PR and partisanship: If the opioids crisis is a public health emergency, B.C. should treat it as one. But then how can the VPD continue to harass poor people?

…And musicians. This guy was arrested for putting on a free show. Hate preachers advocating for the torture of gays? No problem. Hundreds of anti-maskers gathering in violation of health laws? No problem. Anti-trans bigots marching through Vancouver? Here’s an escort. Playing music without a permit? Throw that fucking kid in jail.

Trying to do your job and report on the destruction of old growth forests? Nope: Victory! Media coalition wins court fight with RCMP. Good news, but the RCMP will just keep doing this, tying up our courts, and arresting land defenders.

Maybe it’s time we stopped using the term ‘old growth’. It just sounds like a bunion you’ve been neglecting for a decade: UBCIC Advances Protect Our Elder Trees Declaration.

Employers are having trouble hiring — and some blame CERB and other government programs for spoiling workers. Ah yes, let’s blame a program that ended 10 months ago and not the fact that you pay starvation wages.

Meanwhile, many of these employers took government subsidies and lined their own pockets: FP Investigation: As CEWS flowed in, dividends flowed out.

But what do you expect from the death cult known as late capitalism? Lifting of Eviction Moratoriums Resulted in Over 10,000 COVID Deaths.

Or you know, you could not go on a cruise: Mixed vaccines could keep British Columbians from cruise travel. Who says boomers are self-entitled? Oh right, me. Every single week.

Speaking of entitlement: COVID-19 in B.C.: Less than 5 per cent of cases are among fully vaccinated people, officials say. You know, I’d love to be all like, “Fuck these selfish assholes. Let them suffer”, but that would be ignoring the fact that almost nobody under 12 has been fully vaccinated.

Hope y’all liked that cheap pandemic rent: Rent increases predicted for Metro Vancouver as Canada prepares to reopen its borders. And who will bear the brunt of this ire? Immigrants and international students, instead of greedy landlords and a lack of vacancy control.

Of which we just voted to loosen: This Affordability Vote Says Much about Vancouver Politics. Being held hostage by developers to get projects into the pipeline on one end, and being blocked by NIMBYs at every angle on the other. This election is gonna be spicy, especially if Hardwick is running…you know, the person who didn’t know that her 3,471 abstentions were actually votes in favour.

As we approach the next election, voters will need to examine platforms closely. The choice will be between candidates who think relying on the market to add more and more housing supply is the path to salvation versus those skeptical of that approach.

And if that’s not enough, our buildings are trying to kill us: Curved windows magnifying sunlight spark high-rise fire in Vancouver, fire department says.

I take back everything bad I’ve ever said about the media: Pickup trucks are a plague on Canadian streets. My god, the reactions were priceless. Like, bro, if you use your truck for your job this article isn’t talking about you. It’s talking about all the posers who compensate for their tiny dicks and mid-life crises by buying 7 foot tall pristine behemoths that fetishize the working class. You know, the guys who watch Ice Road Truckers, have 23 AirBnb units, and think it’s funny to buy Lucky Lager when they can afford Louis XIII.

Good news of the day: Vancouver company gets approval to study effects of MDMA to treat PTSD.

I think we can all relate: Penniless: why a Victoria man has gone two decades without money.

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