Snow and antisnow: days 411 – 415

In which I look for opposites

I’ve played with reflections before, but I haven’t peeked down alleyways in a while. I do like them, because there’s always lots of texture, and they lend themselves to fun experimentation: shooting up, down, straight across… or in this case, from near the ground.

And I started imagining, maybe it’s a portal to a magical place where things are the opposite of current Vancouver, ie: bright and warm. But then again, maybe it leads to Earth 3, the one with all supervillains. Or is that still a thing? All I know about the DC multiverse dates from the 70s, so that’s no help. I think a lot of the multiverse was destroyed in Crisis on Infinite Earths in ’85, and then a couple more times in the 90’s. I could look it up, but ehh.

But if you can’t beat the cold, surround yourself with bright colours and celebrate the Lunar New Year! Do like little Donut at work… or don’t, because he was not happy at all about that lion costume, and either kept trying to shake it off, or just lay down all grumpy. On the bright side it was just for a few minutes and lots of photo ops for the office.

It snowed a little bit more on Saturday morning, so I booked a short vacay in Wakanda. I don’t usually see movies on opening weekends, but I just could not wait, and it was getting harder and harder to avoid online spoilers. Verdict: it’s amazing. Full of action, gorgeous visuals, and huge heap of social justice politics. One of the best Marvel movies so far. I will probably be seeing it again.

Sunday I walked down the Seawall in between volleyball sessions, looking for inspiration, and I found it by the Inukshuk. Not the thing itself, been there done that, but looking north towards the West-of-Denman West End, Stanley Park, and the mountains.

This photo is fucking gorgeous, and is definitely in the running for my 2018 retrospective. The scattered clouds in the sky perfectly mirror the scattered snow on the beach, everything is cool and bright and open and showcases yet again how beautiful this city is.

Monday, I took a picture of my street just as I headed for the salt mines. Just to psych myself up, I guess? Nobody really likes Mondays, and you need to appreciate beauty around you to get you through the week.

Game on: days 406 — 410

In which I watch and play

Friday the 10th was UBC Thunderbirds Pride Night, where the T-Birds (a) played a home game against the Trinity Western U Spartans, and (b) celebrated the budding friendship between UBC and the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association, of which I’ve been a proud member for over 15 years. There were both women’s and men’s matches, some fun drag games, and a 50/50 raffle with proceeds going to Qmunity. The gym was packed (I hear it was the best attendance ever for home vball games) and a great time was had by all.

Now let’s talk about the pride flags in the above photo.

From left to right, they are: genderqueer, trans, ace (asexual), the classic LGBT rainbow, bi, and pan. The rainbow flag’s been around for 40 years, but the other ones are much more recent: the bi flag dates from 1998, the trans flag from 2000, and all the other ones from 2010.

They’ve been popping up a lot lately, and I for one approve of this. I like that now we don’t have just one cool as hell flag but many, because the truth is we are many communities and identities. With overlap and common issues, sure, but the sooner we acknowledge and celebrate our diversity the happier we’ll all be. All these flags? That’s the the future, right there. LGBTQIA2S+, baby.

And hell, even the venerable rainbow flag has a future. Look at what Philadelphia did with their Pride flag, that’s got so many complacent white gays even as far as Vancouver all in a tizzy. Aside from the whole bullshit “Black Lives Matter is bad” or “the community isn’t about race” arguments, I’ve been told essentially that the rainbow flag is sacrosant and eternal and it’s sacrilege to modify it. But hasn’t the flag already been modified? The original design had eight stripes, and those have started appearing as well, in particular on the crosswalks at Bute & Davie. In the future I imagine different cities tweaking the basic flag template to suit the needs of their particular communities. And that’s okay. Waving a single flag will not unite us any more. Waving different flags will not split us any more than we already are.

Will these new flags last? Who knows? The trans and bi colours look like they’re here to stay. it’s too soon to say for the others, but either way that’s okay. The communities aren’t going away, and there will be other symbols.

Anyway, back to the game, and the many thirst traps working it on the court. The T-bird men’s team ended up losing to TWU, though it was super-close (13-15 in the 5th set). Women won after 4 sets, I believe. So that was kind of a disappointment, especially since our team flubbed a few plays and should have gotten more points, but c’est la vie.

On Sunday I left for volleyball extra early since I had a hankering to stop by Kits Beach on the way. And boy am I glad I did! The light was perfect, the view was perfect, and there were two couples of duckies enjoying the waves. Absolutely perfect.

Monday was Family Day in BC, and I was all ready to stay in and keep my lazy ass on the couch, but then I got called to terraform Mars. It’s a hella fun game, a bit tricky to learn at first, but I got in the swing of things easily enough, and it’s extremely replayable and full of possible strategies. Looking forward to my next session.

After a chilly couple days and a night of actual snow, Valentine’s Day turned out sunny and bright. One of these days I’m going to do a timelapse of those shadows falling on the Marine Building, maybe every hour on the hour. That would look awesome, I think.

Not photographed: a Valentine’s Day “speed-gaming” event at the Storm Crow. Not queer but open to all genders and orientations, just a bunch of people playing a bunch of quick games. I was nervous, kinda didn’t want to go, but I’m glad I came out of my cave. 10/10 would do again. Keplunk is a bitch of a game, though.

The mean streets of Vancouver: days 396 — 405

In which I walk the walk

People seem to like my pics of Vancouver streets. Good news, so do I! Sometimes heading somewhere, sometimes just randomly exploring wherever my feet take me, there are so many angles and perspectives and alleys and nooks and crannies to capture. I’m finding myself taking way more than just one picture a day—not all the time, but enough to make me go “huh”. This is way more photography than I ever dreamed possible a year ago, and I’m loving it. Also, it’s good exercise.

I started January 31st with a shot of Georgia Street, near the place where I took the bus to the North Shore every day. It wasn’t that long ago, either! I’ve only been with Gossamer Threads for six months and a bit.

That evening I had dinner with my grass vball team from last summer. The place was Cactus Club on Davie, so I ambled along Richards St, enjoying some more perspective, and of course got there unfashionably early so I capped off with a shot of the Davie / Hamilton instersection, from the covered patio because it was raining.

February 1st (already a month into the new year! Already 13 straight months of photography!) I decided to explore a bit after work: a little bit up Hastings, a little bit here and there, and finally I found a statue of Niké. Not that I was looking for it, of course. Has it really been there 8 years? Well, better late than never.

I noticed the days were getting longer, so on Friday I walked out a little ways on Granville Bridge and caught the last bit of light. The weather’s been bad for so long, it was nice to get even a partly clear sky.

Saturday, on the way back from Taichi, I again went off the beaten path—visiting the last place I lived in before moving into my condo, not far from Brentwood Mall. I walked around a little, reminiscing… I moved out of there over 15 years ago, so it wasn’t exactly fresh, and the bland suburban neighbourhood, under grey skies, didn’t exactly inspire me. But there was a a nice little vista so pretended it was, I dunno, a fairy path taking me away from mundanity.

Sunday was another walk around sunset, and I got some lovely shots of my street, Burrard (oddly popular, that one), the very end of Davie near Pacific (my planned destination, but not as photogenic as I’d hoped)… and one of my faves, which will definitely go into my 2018 retrospective post, a broken selfie. Thank whoever left this mirror in the alley across from my place, I swear it was like that when I found it.

Gayming (Carcassonne and Mysterium), then a bit of shooting around Harbour Centre, then a pretty nifty shot of laundry room steam. I had to squat way down in the wet grass to get this one, and I was afraid I’d slip and fall on my ass, but hey, you only live once! If Van Gogh cut off his ear, then I can risk a little mud on my jeans.

Wednesday: more walking over the bridge, this time to Skeptics Trivia Night at the Storm Crow. A shot of… whatever they’re building here—probably another condo—then watching a first-season Reboot episode (“The Medusa Bug”, in case you’re wondering) and drinking a drink celebrating Black Panther and Black History Month.

More Gastown! More downtown! More harbour! And more squatting to get that one shaft of sunlight on wet pavement.

So yeah, this whole “streets” thing is a lot of fun. My followers see Vancouver as I see it, and I learn to celebrate it and see it with fresh eyes. There’s still a little voice inside me that says (for the millionth time) I’ve exhausted the possibilities… but nah, I’ve only scratched the surface. Even with five, ten, photos a day. Even if it’s just streets. Which it won’t be, though there’s another voice inside that says, maybe it’d be nice to specialise? I don’t know. I still don’t quite feel up to themes and special challenges and all that jazz. Someday, maybe. But that day is not today, and for now I’m happy to keep wandering aimlessly.

burning bush / cardinal birds: days 391 — 395

In which I explore a bit, discover archaeology, and listen to what people see

I took my own lesson to heart this time, taking different routes to and from work. And I feel better about things; maybe all I needed was to get the rant off my chest.

Friday, a bunch of little graffiti on Robson Street. Simple little doodles? Maybe, but I found myself examining them as closely as the Lascaux paintings. Did a single person draw them? It’s possible… most of them have a biblical theme, but not all. The one on the left reminds me of an Eye of Horus, which also sorta-maybe fits into the Bible, what with the Israelites and ancient Egypt?

The three little flames / cardinal birds are odd, because they looked like flames that got turned into birds by someone else, but the flames and the “cardinal birds” label are in the same pink, suggesting they were done by the same person, and likewise for the feet, faces and “burning bush” label. So, one person, two colours, and a piece I’ve already spent way too much time overanalysing? Hey, if that’s not art, I don’t know what is.

On the way back from Taichi class in the burbs, I kept a lookout for interesting things to shoot. On an impulse I turned off Broadway near VCC, wandered around for a bit, drove west along Great Northern Way and stopped again. Here was a view of downtown I’ve never seen before. Not very different than from 1st Avenue, but still a different place, a different angle. Same big old sky, though.

Saturday night a house burned down in the West End. Just that one house, and it wasn’t close to me, but it was all over my social media feeds. When I got there Sunday afternoon the street was still partly cordoned off, and there were still firefighters and some equipment on the scene. Two people were injured. The house was over 100 years old.

But hey, I’ve got a bunch of old buildings within walking distance of work! On Monday I went wandering a bit during my lunch break, and stopped at the corner of Cordova and Water, where Gastown begins. I really need to explore Gastown more, those are beautiful buildings, with tons of… texture. Not like Amsterdam, but gorgeous in their own way.

Tuesday, I had no plans. I walked with a coworker towards the train station, and stopped at the pedestrian overpass. I’d shot this scene before, but never at that hour, when the light was soft and blue… I didn’t think much of it at the time, just another candidate, so I went on into Gastown for a little bit. Now that I’ve posted it, I’m looking at it with a bit of distance, and I like it more and more. The time of day does make a difference, and makes the colours pop—the warm brown of the station mirroring the dark grey of the parkade. I never saw that before.

And really, isn’t that part of the fun of this whole project? To look at things with fresh eyes, not just mine but those of my audience? Those who don’t live in Vancouver, or just don’t have the same perspective I do. It’s not just about me, sharing what I see. It’s also about getting back from my audience.