Kitchen View

The view from my kitchen, Jing’an, Shanghai

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Sai Yee Street, Mongkok, Kowloon

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YMCA, Park Avenue at St. Viateur Street YMHA, Mount Royal Avenue at Jeanne-Mance Street In 1936, when these photos were taken, Montreal was just beginning to climb out of the Great Depression, which had hit this industrial city with particularly brute force. Unemployment remained high and thousands of the city’s inhabitants lived in squalour — […]

Modern Madrid

Madrid’s iconography is strictly prewar. Between the gratuitous ornamentation dripping from the buildings lining Gran Via and the interiors of crowded tapas, the city centre appears decked out in full late-19th century regalia, fit for admirers of coattails and opera gloves. Tread out along the boulevards bursting from the city’s heart, however, and Madrid’s palette […]

Ding Ding

Double-decker trams have crossed Hong Kong Island for more than a century. In Cantonese, people playfully refer to them as ding-ding, which is of course the sound they make as they rattle down the middle of congested streets.

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Dans la ruelle

After awhile, even the largest city can shrink to the size of a village. On a good day, this creates a comfortable intimacy; on a bad day, it can impose a banal, oppressive familiarity. Passing through the same streets day after day, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that so charmed you about […]

Mongkok People

One of the best places for people-watching in Hong Kong is in Mongkok, in the evening, especially in the artificial daylight of Sai Yeung Choi Street.

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A City’s Former Self

Pierre Burton, the journalist, author and historian, once remarked of Calgary, “The two blocks between the Palliser Hotel and The Bay is the only part of the city that resembles its former self.” While that’s not altogether true (there are parts of town, like Inglewood and Ramsay, that retain the feel of a small prairie […]

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Apartment Building Names

Maplecourt, McGill Ghetto On a cold, grey day last December, stir-crazy after more than a week of snow, I took a walk down Decarie Boulevard in Montreal. It’s not the most obvious place for a stroll—a six-lane, sunken expressway runs down the middle of it—but it’s a pretty interesting street nonetheless, taking you through a […]

Hong Kong Doorways: Cacaphony

Whenever I’m walking down the street in Hong Kong I think about all of the information I’m missing because I can’t read Chinese: menus, advertisements, election signs, protest banners. (I’m particularly regretful I can’t read the menus.) Sometimes, though, I wonder if I’m actually being given a break, considering how many thousands of words compete […]

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Lisboa: Up, Down, Around

The geography of Lisbon bends pespectives – up, down, and around its seven hills. Beyond the occasional slow-swooping streetcar, the dramatic undulations of the city’s streets are broken only by its graffiti, which boldly explodes against pastel-painted houses, or grafts messages – somehow both timely and timeless – deep into centuries-solid walls.

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3am at the Casse-Croûte

It’s a bit past 3am and I’m sitting with a few friends in the Nouveau Palais, a 24-hour diner just around the corner from my apartment. It’s a classic Quebec casse-croûte with plastic booths and wood-panelled walls, a décor so timeless that, when the restaurant was damaged by fire a few years ago, its interior […]

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Strip Club Signs

Of all the kitsch that pervades Montreal’s commercial signage, little is more gaudy and outlandish than its strip club signs. In other cities, they’re discreet and euphemistic; here, they employ neon and cartoon illustrations to demonstrate what goes on inside. Nowhere is this more obvious than at Ste. Catherine and the Main, a corner that […]

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Street Light

[youtube][/youtube] One of the things I love about Hong Kong is the city’s captivation with light. There’s the neon for which Hong Kong is famous, of course, but in recent years it has really taken to dressing up its buildings in LED displays. Here are two examples I came across while wandering around town. Below, […]

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