Reflecting Vancouver

Urbanism and Life on the West Coast

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Vancouver Pillow Shots: Summer Sunset at Kitsilano Pool

Kitsilano Pool Pillow Shot

Kitsilano Pool at closing is a world-class panorama. What has always inspired me most about the place is not the unrivaled view, but the tremendous ambition of constructing a public pool along one of the most scenic plots of shoreline in the city.

Sometimes I wonder: is real estate freakishly expensive in Vancouver in part because the world has realized how rare and spectacular a place this is?

See previous Vancouver Pillow Shots here.


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Vancouver Pillow Shots: Chinatown

Vancouver Chinatown mural

It takes knowledge to understand others,
but it needs a clear mind to know oneself.

It takes strength to surpass others,
but it requires a strong will to surpass oneself.

– Lao Tsu

See previous Vancouver Pillow Shots.

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Vancouver Pillow Shots: Kitsilano Pool in Autumn

Birds in Kitsilano Pool
The birds have returned to Kitsilano Pool, taking station until next spring. In autumn, more than any other season, low clouds cling to the North Shore mountains like veils. The mush of decaying leaves, the increasingly sodden earth, and the dim light of afternoon seem far removed from the seaside frolic of summer.

Some leaves have not yet turned, yet I am already dreaming of cherry blossoms. On an especially wet ride down 7th Avenue, between Cypress and Maple, I found solace in the clear memory of pedaled hanami. This alone is enough to lighten my spirits in January, but the buds seem impossibly far away in November.

Previous Vancouver Pillow Shots here

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Vancouver Pillow Shots: English Bay Sunset

English Bay Sunset
A gentle measure of happiness derives from the return of evening sunsets in February, a reminder of winter’s end. Settled between the workday and dinner hour, the glow over English Bay is best enjoyed during a brisk seaside run. Crocuses have emerged, and the very first Accolade cherry blossoms have sprung opposite the Vancouver Aquatic Centre on Beach Avenue.

The sky has not yet achieved the lustre of spring, but March will slowly reveal it from our memories. Soon the extra layer will seem too heavy.

Previous Vancouver pillow shots:
The Naam (pillow shots explained)

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Vancouver Pillow Shots: The Naam

Kitsilano Naam 4th

The films of Yasujiro Ozu are sometimes noted for their long, spacious takes of landscapes or domestic scenes, without discernible relationship to plot. These cinematic rests are referred to as pillow shots, and have been employed by later filmmakers such as Tarkovsky to impart a meditative or reflective quality to the visual narrative.

Vancouver is an eminently photogenic city, when weather permits, and a great wealth of pillow shots. In a sense, this is my greatest enjoyment of riding a bicycle here, more than any motivation of health, thrift, or ecological guilt. It really is so easy to stop on a bicycle and admire the view, finding an aesthetic intermediate before resuming the day.

For the first of many, I offer a modest picture of The Naam at sunset. Framed by an arterial condo and dingbat apartments, the facade resembles a former era, what Douglas Coupland referred to as Beads and Granola. Inside, it continues to fill a specific social and culinary niche without competition, almost timelessly.