Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blood Alley Graffiti Art

I've been finding lots of great images walking through Gastown lately.  This temporary graffiti wall can be found in Blood Alley, which is just next to Gaelor's Mews.  As graffiti artists go, I hope that Banksy will come here one day and do something really cool for our city (unless he already has?), but something more permanent. But I guess that's the beauty and tragedy of graffiti art.......

Telephone Pole Poster Art:Pt 2

My most viewed blog entry is my Telephone Pole Poster Art that I posted last summer.  I don't know if it's the same person looking at it over and over again, or if I found the right combination of words to get lots of Google search hits.  Either way, I enjoy the look of these things.  It truly does add colour and flavour to something really bland.  I found these while walking along West Broadway, from Arbutus to Oak Street. 

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @bigheadtaco

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gastown, Gaoler's Mews, Après-Midi and Bicycles

Last week I posted this orange bike parked in front of Après-Midi tea shop in Gastown.  I said it looked like it was parked there on purpose, like it was their sandwich board, like they do in Japan.

On Friday I was out and about with my Fuji/Megadestroyer track bike and decided to drop by again, and no orange bike this time. I did realize that it was the perfect place to lock up a bike as I went in for a quick tea before hitting the road again.

I was there again today with my wife and my buddy Jeremy, and again, no bike.  This time I took a picture of the entire building, found in the middle of  Gaoler's Mews. It's a little pedestrian walk-way just off Blood Alley.  Doesn't it look like an old prison though? There's 3 or 4 little coffee shops and restaurants in this corner alone.  Check it out when you have time for tea. And no, they don't have a sandwich board or a bike parked out front as a business beacon.  Just look for their Open Sign on their front door like a normal person!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Super Champion Bike Shop

One of the coolest bike shops I've been to on either side of the ocean is Super Champion on Main St. in Vancouver.  It's located in one of the worst parts of town, the Downtown East Side, the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. Why do cool shops exist in the worst neighbourhoods?  

John Cusack said it best in the movie High Fidelity, explaining why his record shop was purposely located in the bad part of town: "It's located in a neighbourhood that attracts the bare minimum of window shoppers.  I get by because people make a special effort to shop here"

So true. Notice the guy laying down in front of the shop writing his Please Help Me sign right in front of their sandwich board? This is normal for this area. As discrete as the store is, I think their name and logo is very hipster and pop-culture worthy.  So cool, that Lifetime Collective makes clothing in collaboration with them.  I've bought a couple of jackets and t-shirts, all very awesome indeed!

In fact, I bought a bike magazine in Tokyo and look at what I found in it!  Yes, a Super Champion and Lifetime collaboration ad.... in a magazine in Tokyo!!   However, as connected as they are, their on-line presence is almost zero!!  Check out their Facebook Page.  That's pretty much all they have. It's pretty sad.  But maybe it's self-inflicted? Either way, their bikes are cool, and so is their clothing!!  Check them out.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ride On Vancouver: Wooden Bike Accessories!

I admit that wood accessories look cool on a bike, although I think other materials make more sense, like carbon-fiber, leather, titanium, etc.  But as a fashion item, practicality is not as important as the visual cue; and visually, it looks pretty sweet!! Wooden hand-bar grips (does it really grip though?), wooden fenders (both front and back) and wooden pedals.  Ride-on wooden accessorized bike!!  Ride-on!!

Remember to follow me on Twitter @bigheadtaco

Hipster + Cyclist= The Future of Vancouver

He was waiting for his friend Lou to arrive when I approached to take his picture. His demeanor was nonchalant and his pose, casual and natural. I told him I just had to take a picture for my blog, and he generously obliged.  A few years back, hipster + cyclist combo was a rare sight in Vancouver.  I had to go to Japan to find them in droves.  But now I'm seeing them everywhere in my city, but they're hard to shoot as they are usually in motion, and it's hard to get them to stop and pose for you, unless you're the Sartorialist!! In fact, Scott complained about this very problem on his blog!! So lucky for me that my friend here was unknowingly waiting and posing serendipitously for me and my blog! 

I'm sorry my friend, but I forgot your name.  I was so excited getting my picture that I forgot, although I remember your buddy Lou and his bright orange t-shirt!! E-mail me and I'll put your name in here. Thanks!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Don't Park under a Japanese Cherry Blossom!

Vancouver is famous for its Japanese cherry blossoms.  Vancouver's 37,000 cherry blossoms all originated as a gift from Japan many years ago and we now have a festival to celebrate them as well.  Other famous N.American cities with these beautiful trees also received them as gifts from Japan at one time, such as Washington DC, New York, Newark, Seattle. 

Although very beautiful, it's not fun parking under them as you can see by this picture.  It literally snows under these trees!!   You'll need a blower to get them off, since wiping it with your hands or a brush doesn't work so well.

*Don't forget to follow my posts on Twitter @bigheadtaco!

Japanese 'Closed' Sign

I noticed in Japan, it is very common to have 'Closed' signs when a business is closed for the day.  It's like putting out a sandwich board announcing that you aren't open for business, which seems backwards here in N.America.  But for the Japanese, it makes sense.  In fact, many stores give you the hours they are closed instead of the hours they are open, especially convenience stores that are often only closed for 4-5 hours a day (for instance closed M-F 2am-6am).  But this picture isn't from Japan, but in Vancouver!  The restaurant? Suika on W.Broadway. Suika means watermelon in Japanese. Try it.  I hear it's good.  Make sure you don't see the closed sign though........

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ride on Vancouver: A Bike Sandwich Board

I was hanging out in Gastown and found this really cool pedestrian alley called Gaolers Mews (what does that mean?) and I noticed a bike that looked strategically placed.  What I mean is that it looked like it was part of their advertising strategy of this tea shop called Apres Midi. I noticed this in Tokyo as well, where stores will use bikes like we use sandwich boards, as a way to attract people to their businesses.  It's a functional piece of advertising, and more effective than sandwich boards.  The bike looks cool against the old brick wall doesn't it?  And the advertising worked because my wife and I gave their tea a chance. Thanks Pio for good tea! You make a mean Gastown Fog (a London Fog)!!

Ride on Vancouver: Art or Transportation?

Walking through Gastown I noticed a store that didn't look like a store. What are they selling?  Maybe there's some salon chairs hidden in the back?  Perhaps a rack of clothes to sell inside the wardrobe? A weird one table restaurant?  A super small bookstore?  I seriously couldn't figure out what kind of business it was.  Even more art-gallery/show-home-like was the all-white super awesome track bike hidden in the  far left corner, behind the table and chairs. Was it ride-able? If so, has anyone ridden it? It's wrong to build a real bike and then only use it as a show piece isn't it?  It's like building a supercar and then just putting it on display. Or cooking an awesome meal, take a picture of it for a magazine and then throw away the dish!!  I want to ride that bike!! If only I can find a clean, dry, white sidewalk to ride on.  I wouldn't want to dirty those nice white tires........

*Don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @bigheadtaco

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ride on Vancouver: Pink Helmet on Grown Man

Took this picture from a vehicle (as the passenger). The title is self-explanatory. 'Nuff said.

Ride on Vancouver: It's All About Colours!

As mentioned on my previous post concerning bikes and accessories, I think the handlebars have become the "it" modification for hipster cyclists.  The handlebar colour is the equivalent to a flashy pair of gloves, or scarf, or even a cool hat. I'm not a fan of pink, although I've recently bought a pink tie and I'm starting to like it.  But pink handlebar tape? Where do they sell pink tape? Next to the pink tires and pink chain?

It was hard to miss this orange recumbent tricycle parked outside the Acme Cafe in Gastown.  It rides so low in traffic, I guess it needs to be loud to be seen, which explains the need for the flag as well.  These type of recumbent human-powered vehicles are actually very fast, as they tend to hold most of the world speed/distance records. The fastest recumbent bicycle was clocked at 132.5km/hr (82.33 mph).  That's faster than many cars!! Notice the little note on the hood of the bike? It basically says please don't touch but come inside the cafe and talk to the owner and he'll answer any questions you have. I couldn't tell who owned it though.  No obvious looking recumbent cyclist in the house.  Maybe I should have looked for matching coloured shoes or gloves or something!

*Remember you can find me on Twitter @bigheadtaco

Saturday, April 7, 2012

iPhone Gucci Fashion Shoot at the Mall

Ok, this wasn't really a fashion shoot, but those are Gucci's, we were in the mall, and I did use my iPhone to take this image. My point is how powerful a tool the iPhone can be when it comes to its ability to take decent pictures and post them online in a matter of minutes. My wife bought a new pair of shades and I wanted to take a snapshot for her to see how she looked in them (because we all know that an image is different than looking into a mirror).  I quickly found a white wall with decent lighting and took this shot.  You can tell we're at the mall by looking at the reflection in her shades (I'm the blob on the far right). Of course I could have brought my huge D-SLR and my 85mm F1.4 lens, but how much attention would that have drawn to me and my wife? And what are the chances of me carrying that thing everywhere I go? This was convenient, quick and discrete. Thank you Mr Steve Jobs.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Tin Woodman Whole Heartedly Selling Mufflers

I love it when businesses get creative with their storefront advertising.  Aren't we all bored with sandwich boards?  Functional, yes, but somewhat boring. Most auto-body shops have a minimalist view towards storefront advertising; but I saw a tin man in front of A1 Unity Auto near the Granville Street Bridge and thought that was very clever. It put a smile on my face.  I hope he gets oiled once in a while as it rains a lot in Vancouver, but I'm happy to report that he still has his heart!!  Thank you Mr.Oz!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

1978 Toyota Celica

I saw this great condition (considering it's over 30 years old) 2nd generation Toyota Celica this morning while I was out and about in my neighbourhood.  It reminds of my childhood, as I remember seeing these babies rolling around new on the street.  My grade 1 teacher Ms. Kitagawa had a white one, and I remember how cool it looked compared to the other ugly, utilitarian vehicles in the staff parking lot.  Everyone else had 4 doors, and station wagons with wood paneling, but not Ms. K. She had a two door sports car!!  All those memories came rushing into my head as I took this shot.  I colour isolated this image and sepia toned the rest to give it a 70's feel.  The pinstripes down the side look factory (notice the c-shapes just behind the front fender?), so this car must have been garaged stored for years!! Nice........

Purple and Copper Iridescent Beetle

As I was walking along today I noticed the most amazingly coloured beetle crossing my path.  The back half looked like it was made of copper, while the front half was purple iridescent.  My buddy tried stepping on it for no apparent reason (what is he, 12?!?!?) but I quickly blocked his chance by taking out my iPhone and started stalking the little bug.  It was hard to get the shot because it moved quickly and randomly, and the iPhone ain't great for that, but I think I got a reasonably sharp image.  Zoom in and check it out.  I must have looked insane to drivers passing by, as this incident took place just off a busy road. I safely helped it along into the grass while keeping my insect killing buddy far away........if anyone knows  the name of this little guy, let me know by leaving a comment.  Any amateur entomologists (aka Bug Scientist)?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Wife and My Favourite Tree

Not much to say except this is my favourite tree and it exists right next to my home. And of course my favourite and only wife!  This is my 200th blog post.  Thanks for visiting.  Big changes planned for my blog soon.  Stay tuned.....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ride On Vancouver: Handle Bars

I love accessories in fashion: shoes, belts, gloves, bags.  It's all in the small details that makes the over-all look and feel of an outfit.  The same applies to bike accessories.  People focus so much on wheels and tires and pedals and seats, that they often overlook something as simple as handlebar wraps.  Look at this really cool brown Brooks handlebar wrap.  I think it makes the entire bike!

 I also noticed this odd shaped handlebar on this bike.  It looks pretty cool, and it gives a more upright riding position, better for looking up at traffic.  The grips are pretty nice too, notice the stitching on the ends.  I don't think you'll win too many races with cars or other cyclists with this style of handbar, but you will look good riding it.



A Guy and his Bike

I first noticed the bike and asked the guy who was standing 4-5 feet away from it if it was his or not.  He said yes and I asked if I could take a picture of it.  He nonchalantly said to go ahead, but I could tell he was pretty proud of his ride and happy I noticed it.  Then I asked if he wouldn't mind if I took a picture of both him and his bike, and again he complied, a little more hesitant this time.  I was in a hurry, as the rest of my party continued to walk ahead of me, so I took the shot quickly, with little time to compose.  I decided to put the focus on the bike by grey scaling the entire image except the bike. The reason? The rest of the image was too loud: his pants were a camo-red and yellow, shoes bright blue, busy-coloured brick wall, and I accidently composed a big, bright red $6 sticker behind his head!

Taken with iPhone, Hipstamatic, John S lens, Blanko Film, edited on my computer using Photoscape.