Category Archives: alley

Getting the pulse of a foreign city

A 13 hr flight away, on another continent, speaking another language, colonized by another people. Macau, a small city a ferry ride away from Hong Kong, populated with hotels and casinos to rival those of Las Vegas. An imitation of an imitation but a good one nonetheless. A city of a vibrant but sometimes highly cynical people, dependent on tourists from mainland China, and yet distrustful and uncomfortable with this relationship. There are so many things I can comment on about this city, a place where I have many memories of since I was a small child. Many of the things I’ve observed here during my recent trip almost made me lose faith in humanity, and yet, there may still be hope.

The symbol at the top of the angel’s head is a tag found in many areas of Macau, as far-flung as the regions of Cotai and Taipa.

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Memories of happier times


It was your 21st birthday. It was dark, drizzling a bit, and you had just finished a sumptuous dinner with your closest friends at Six Acres, a cozy restaurant whose storefront faces the rear of Gassy Jack’s statue, the founder of the part of town that continues to bear his name. Leaving the restaurant, a sweet accordion music assails you, and you recognize it as being part of the Valse of Amélie, a leitmotif from a classic French movie about a girl so altruistic she almost abandons her own happiness for the happiness of others.

This was the kind of atmosphere around you as you walk down the road with your friends to get home. Happy, thoughtful, but carefree, with alcohol buzzing through your veins. Perhaps you were a little more out of it than usual, but when you saw it, you stopped, you took a picture. Two pictures, actually.

And those were the only two pictures you took that night.

Not being from East Van or even hanging around the Gastown area much, this was the first incidence of the famous “Shark” tag that I’ve encountered in the flesh. I have been around a few times right after they have been buffed though, with the outline clearly showing due to the poor paint job.

 I love it when artists work around existing elements in the environment. It makes everything seem more cohesive and natural, like they belong there. Personally, I consider this art and not graffiti. The window looks way better with it there!

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Local flavour, chronic tagging

Straight from my bus trip which traversed Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington State, here is some of the local flavour sampled from the North Beach-Chinatown area of San Francisco.

*Aside: I was confused about why all the North Beach signs have the geographic silhouette of Italy on them until I realized we were in the Little Italy district of SF.

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At the Next Stop…

Walking around Dunlevy Ave. close to Waterfront on a chilly October morning…

Spontaneous tags on private property are not uncommon in the Downtown Eastside.

Entering yet another alley…

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The Light at the End of the Alley

Going in, or coming out? More tags and a view of the litter on the ground.

This is the last post I have planned for this particular alley in the popular tourist district of Gastown. Is it surprising that graffiti would run rampant in such a place, only about 5 minutes walk from the downtown core where stores like Tiffany & Co. and five star hotels become regular sights? And 5 minutes in the other direction would bring you much closer to the notorious Downtown Eastside…

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