the best (and worst) of 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I don’t know about you but I am SO excited that 2011 is here! 2010 was such a crappy year for me that I couldn’t wait for it to be over. And when I say crappy, I MEAN crappy! Lest we forget those two months I spent at home in bed with a left eye that suddenly stopped moving. Becoming extremely unhappy with work forced me to make changes. Then just as I was getting all excited for my first trip to California, the plans tanked because of passport issues. It was supposed to happen later this month, and would have saw me visiting places like San Jose, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and LA. To end my year on an even crappier note, my parents were in a car accident 2 days before Christmas and our car was totaled (damn that b!tch for running a red). But I probably took the greatest hit when I lost two very important friendships that left me distraught for a while. In hindsight it did make me realize who my true friends are.

To be fair though, there were some pretty great times too. A quick look back at the highlights of 2010 for me:

Being invited to my first basketball game ever by Pacers’ head coach, Jim O’Brien, was probably a sign that I would meet a series of interesting and inspiring people in 2010.

I had only met him once when he came into my store. We’d had a great conversation about China and exchanged a few emails after that. What a pleasant surprise it was when Nicholas Cords (violist of Brooklyn Rider & member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble) emailed me a year later to invite me to a Brooklyn Rider show at the Glenn Gould studio. I was surprised that he remembered me at all and was thankful that he gave me the chance to attend my first classical music event.

After two months of being forced to stay home to deal with my eye crisis, I managed to plan and pull off an awesome baby shower for my dearest Anasha. That’s with the help of the greatest hostess on earth, Kat, of course ;)

Then on June 5th, 2010, my god daughter Kalani was born!! :D

In that same week, I also saw the birth of Mr. McGuinty’s book, Trashed.

While Toronto witnessed the smashing of store windows and the burning of cop cars during the G20, I experienced something totally different inside Fortress Toronto. In the most calm and contained environment, I saw the Presidents of China & South Korea, as well as the Prime Minister of Britain.

Despite all the riots and chaos caused by the G20, my home boy Danny and I made it out to see Far East Movement at their first show ever in Toronto. It was a HUGE day for me because I’ve been a fan of theirs for so long and had waited years for them to do a show in my city. I don’t think I’ve ever been or ever will be THAT excited about seeing a musical act again.

It was the absolute perfect night because it was just before their hit “Like a G6″ blew up on the radio, so it was a small intimate show that wasn’t overcrowded with people. It felt unreal being able to stand inches away from the stage where my favourite group was bouncin’ to my favourite songs with super high energy. I had watched many Youtube videos on FM and had loved them for not only their music but also their humbleness and sincerity to give back to the community. Meeting them in person proved that they were genuinely nice people.

The single best moment of 2010 for me happened that night when I got to meet and talk to my long-time idol, Kev Nish. I have always really liked his rhymes and tone of voice in their songs, as well as his use of words and sense of humour during interviews. To be able to meet and converse with the person I admired was a total dream come true. If there was only thing I could be happy about in 2010, that would have been it.

A nice late summer dinner at Glow with the lovely Charmaine whom I hadn’t seen since she moved to Vancouver. And of course, the god brother Edison.

Victoria’s Secret opened in Toronto!!! That was HUGE to me…HUGE!! lol I heart VS :)

Leaving Chapters Bayview and transferring to John & Richmond was the biggest change for me this year (and perhaps the best decision I’d made all year). It took a lot for me to take that step to leave the place I’d been working at for the past 8 years. Not being able to see my friends everyday at work felt odd at first, but the new people I met made the transition extremely easily and I am thankful for that. Not only do I still make plans to see my old co-workers regularly, I’ve made new friends at the new store and I’m learning a lot from them.

Aside from Far East Movement, I got to see another California-reppin’ musician this year – David Choi. Seeing DC live was fulfilling. He is such a talented musician (he’s up there with Bruno Mars on my charts). Got to meet him after the show and he was very nice.

October 12th, 2010 was a big day. It was the day that Far East Movement’s debut album was released. I remember running down the street to HMV during my break at work just to get my hands on copies of Free Wired at 10am when the store opened. Knowing that the guys I’ve been listening to and have believed in over the past years is finally getting their start at where they want to go, it’s a lot like witnessing a dream come true. Their hard work and perseverance has become such a big inspiration to me.

Literally 3 days later, FM was in town opening for Mike Posner’s “Up in the Air Tour”.

Met them after the show and was surprised that Kev Nish recognized me; he remembered I had picked up 10 copies of their album, as well as my blogging about them. Unexpected and impressive!

Totally unplanned, it was definitely quite the experience meeting Russell Peters. He came to our store for a book signing and my boss managed to get me into the green room to meet the comedian. His last words to me? Stay Brown. LOL

Just 3 years late but I made sure to go see Wicked the Musical when it came back to Toronto (I didn’t get to see it on Broadway 3 years ago due to the screen writers’ strike).

Now that I’m done recapping 2010, I can get my new year started! :)

>> Next post: My New Year’s Resolutions for 2011

i met russell peters!!!

It’s that time of the year again, when the leaves turn red and start falling to the ground. It’s inevitable. Thus, I’ve been keeping myself busy to fend off what will likely become the winter blues. The past two weeks can be summed up by this simple equation: Russell Peters + Wicked + food + music = JOY!

I’ve got quite a bit to get through, so let’s start with the recap:

[ Tuesday, October 26, 2010 ] My co-worker, Shila, invited me over for dinner and she made me this Mediterranean dish called Dajaj Salona. Her husband didn’t like it because it was spicy, but I thought it was great. Her little pomeranian was SO CUTE! While we were working on the computer, he kept putting his paw on my arm to get my attention. So cute! Makes me want a puppy too.

[ Wednesday, October 27, 2010 ] I had been craving wings for a while and my co-worker had recommended this place called Puck ‘N Wings, so I met up with Aaron before the Russell Peters event to try it out. I got a pound of their Creamy Parm Wings and it was absolutely DELISH! The wings were big and the flavour was extremely rich. I felt sinful after devouring them all. Will definitely want to go back to try out some of their other flavours.

After a very satisfying meal, Aaron and I went over to Chapters to check out the book signing. I had only wanted to go catch a glimpse of Russell Peters and had no intentions of actually meeting him. But when I ran into my manager, Geoffrey, outside the store and he asked if I wanted to meet the man, I thought…why not! The awesome G man pulled a few strings and next thing I knew, I was in the tiny “green room”.

Geoffrey walked through the gathering of people (which included managers, 2 cops, a cameraman, some bodyguards, PR reps and a family of 4) and said with a smile on his face, “Russell, I’d like you to meet this wonderful young lady. She works with us at this store.” Russell Peters then walked over to me, shook my hand, and said…”What are you?” lol Half shocked and half star-struck, I kind of stared blankly at him as he said, “That guy’s Korean. This guy’s Chinese but looks Japanese. So what are you?” At that point I giggled a little and responded with “Why don’t you tell me what I am.”

I had no doubt that the infamous comedian would instantly guess that I’m Chinese. What I didn’t expect was when I asked him why, he said it was because I’m pale. haha Jokes aside, Russell Peters was a wonderful guy. I thought he was going to be a dick, but he turned out to be quite nice. He took the time to exchange a few words with me and then he offered to sign his book to my name (which Geoffrey spelled for him). And before I left the room, he told me to “stay brown”. lol Yup, that’s Russell Peters for you!

[ Sunday, October 31, 2010 ] I didn’t really do much for Halloween. After work, I went over to Kat’s place for a small get together with some old old old co-workers. While we waited for people to arrive, I helped Kat in the kitchen. The cutting and chopping is my favourite part of cooking, so I dealt with that while Kat made the meatballs. MY GOD…those meatballs were SO GOOD! It was a lovely evening spent chatting about old times and as usual, Kat was a great hostess.

[ Wednesday, November 3, 2010 ] It’s not often that I do things on a whim, but I’ve waited so long for Wicked the Musical to come back to Toronto that I decided to go by myself to see a matinee show. Given the short notice, I figured it would be easier to find a single seat AND I wouldn’t have to deal with working out schedules or anything. I bought my ticket on Monday and went all out by getting a premium seat (Orchestra A Seat #31). It came up to $135, but I figured it would’ve cost me more if I had seen the show on Broadway 3 years ago, so I was able to justify it. (I had tickets to see Wicked on Broadway right after my cruise 3 years ago, but the screenwriters went on strike that very morning so our tickets were refunded.) I was quite happy with my seat. I was about the 9th row from the stage and just barely off center, so I was the perfect distance away from the orchestra but close enough to see the expressions on the actors/actresses faces.

The show was amazing. I LOVED IT! The story, the costumes, the music…it was just great. Even though one of the main characters (Elphaba) was substituted by an understudy, I think she did a fantastic job (maybe even better than the actress who played the other main character). I would’ve really liked to have seen the show with the original cast, because I think Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth were so perfect for their roles. But obviously that could never happen again so I tried not to compare it too much. I would highly recommend this musical AND I would recommend getting tickets soon. It seems the prices have gone up. I don’t know if it’s due to demand. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Last but not least, Far East Movement was on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night. These guys were fly! I totally loved the colour coordination of their outfits. Notice how Kev is completely decked out in my colours? And by MY colours, I mean…well, look at the colours of the font on this page. lol Do you see it now? :)

far east movement touch down in tdot

The later half of my crazy week wasn’t quite as eventful as the first half – I didn’t exactly have to bail anyone out of jail again or anything. BUT there was ONE exciting event that tops everything else, and that was seeing FAR EAST MOVEMENT!!!

I think I was just as excited about seeing them live this time as I was the first time they came to Toronto. It’s just too bad that I was in the midst of crazy busy weeks both times I went to see them perform. First it was having to work through the G20, and this time it’s just a long restless week that spans 14 days. Although my memory of that night is a bit hazy, I do remember having an amazing time. FM killed it on stage (like always) and had everyone screaming. I took close to 300 pictures, but the majority of them turned out blurry. One of these days I will learn to enjoy the show instead of focusing on taking pictures. …Nah, that’s never going to happen lol

Late into Posner’s set, the home boy Danny and I went over to meet FM hoping to get our cds signed. I hadn’t been feeling well that day, and with everything that had gone on all week I just had a bad feeling that things weren’t going to work out. I guess that’s why I was extremely surprised when Kev Nish spotted me and recognized me while I was standing ’round waiting for everyone else to be done with them. I assume he recognized me from Facebook? lol

Funny thing is my intention on tagging the FM guys in pictures on Facebook had always been to let the people looking at the pictures know who these awesome guys were by linking to them. They’re busy people and, with thousands of fans, I just didn’t expect them to ever remember me. Thus, you can imagine how completely surprised I was when Kev Nish not only recognized me but also brought up the fact that I had picked up 10 cds and thanked me for it. By the time he mentioned my blogging about them, I was thoroughly impressed.

The fact that it was Kev who remembered me made it even more special because he has always been my favourite; for years I have always thought he had a natural talent for writing rhymes (he’s got the creative hands). I also think he has a unique voice that suits the stereo well. And from the many videos of FM I have watched on YouTube, he seems extremely passionate about his music which is something I really admire.

To my surprise he autographed my cd to my alias “Franny”, when not once had I mentioned my name in our brief exchange of words. It was nice that he actually remembered me…well, maybe the online me. But anyway, all 4 of them are cool. They took the time to sign a couple cds for me, which I was very thankful for. It was one of those moments in life where you can catch yourself smiling inside and just think WOW, this can’t be for real! That was definitely the highlight of my long and tiring week.

Things are finally starting to slow down a bit so I can catch my breath. I’ll be running on low battery until my day off on Thursday, which will be used entirely to recharge. And when I say low battery, I mean “with the red light flashing” type of low battery. I know I’m coming down with something, but I must say my body’s pretty good at suppressing colds until I actually have the time to be sick. Here’s hoping I make it through the next two days at work.

mid way through an epic week

This has been a crazy EPIC week. Let’s see…in the past 5 days I’ve been to 2 live music shows, helped bail someone out of jail for domestic assault, loaded up on the newly released Far East Movement album, and enjoyed two lunches with two of my friends. That’s all mixed among work. But we’re not done yet. I’ve still got Mike Posner’s gig tomorrow night (with Far East Movement opening for Posner), as well as my friend’s birthday dinner on Saturday. Eventful week indeed.

On Monday night, my homie Danny and I went to see David Choi at the El Mocambo. We’d been waiting for this show for months so we were pretty stoked about it. We didn’t get there super early to line up like some of the other kids did, but I wasn’t going to sweat it. Usually I like to be early in order to get a good spot at the front near the stage. This time though, it wasn’t about the pictures. I just wanted to enjoy David Choi’s live performance because he is such a great musician. There was a lot of tip-toeing involved where random Asians in the crowd who were particularly tall would get in the way of my view. But aside from that, I had a really good time just letting my soul drift away with David’s voice and guitar for a full 2 hours. I LOVE his music and his sense of humour.

He ended his set with my two favourite songs. The whole crowd was singing along with him to “That Girl”. Then he got a bit emotional mid way into singing “By My Side” and couldn’t finish the song, so the crowd sang it to him. It was one of those moments where you just want to run up to him and give him a big hug. But like he said, “Men don’t cry…unless you’re alone…or your dog dies.”

After the show, we waited in line for close to an hour and were one of the last ones to meet David Choi. I shook his hand, told him he was awesome, asked him to sign my cd to my name, and then took a picture with him. The woman who took the picture for us snapped it super close. Even David said, “WOW, that was REALLY close!” haha But we were only allowed one picture each so I couldn’t re-take it. Oh well. It was good times nonetheless, and he seems happy in the picture :)

Tuesday was a VERY BIG day. It was the day of Far East Movements “Free Wired” album release. I popped over to HMV during my break in the morning to grab myself two copies. Even though I had heard most of the songs before and had already been playing them for a while, I had to show some physical support by picking up a few copies of the disc. I’ve already picked up 10 copies as of this afternoon. The tracks on the album are pretty [damn] good. I’ll do a review next week when I have more time.

the most humble people i’ve ever met

Before anything else, I hope everyone can show some support by voting tomorrow (Friday) for Far East Movement’s “Like a G6″ on Z103.5 Head 2 Head at 7pm. (Call 416-798-1035 and/or email monaco@z1035.com) FM defeated Lil Jon ft. 3OH!3, winning with 70% of the votes. Let’s do it again tomorrow!

I’ve always strongly believed that music is subjective. Like all forms of art, it’s based on personal preferences. People have different tastes in music as they do in many other aspects of life; there is not ONE voice, one artist, or one genre that absolutely everyone likes. Obviously, I have my own preferences too. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of my recent posts have been about Far East Movement (aka. FM). As much as I don’t want to bombard you all with FM talk, I thought I should at least explain why I support FM as much as I do.

I first heard of them a few years ago when they collaborated with Jin Tha MC on a song called “Food Fight”. Later heard that their song “Round Round” was featured in the Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift soundtrack and it was a song that I was bopping my head to, but again they fell off my radar. When I heard the song “You’ve Got a Friend” and the rest of their “Animal” album, it was then that I started to really fall in love with their music. Growing up as a dancer, the beat in a piece of music is very important to me. Like I mentioned before, music is subjective. I guess FM’s music happens to have those beats that I look for.

For the past two years, I’ve listened to their music repeatedly and perhaps watched a few videos of them. For a long time though, I didn’t know very much about their background. It was during the time when I was stuck at home dealing with my vision problem that I started to learn more about FM through YouTube videos and reading their online interviews. It was the first time in years that I actually had time to myself, and of course when I’m passionate about something, I like to do a lot of research and get to know everything there is to know about the subject. With a patch on one eye, I would read about how they started writing music, the difficulties they encountered being Asian American rappers, and I would watch them speak in videos where they talk about their journey into the music industry. It was then that I realized they are very humble people and extremely hardworking. When I got the chance to meet and talk to them, they were one of the most humble people I’d ever met. They have a clear vision of what they need to do, which is why they are now signed to a major record label and is becoming more known. They often support good causes and they are helping in building a ground for Asians in the music industry (they’re probably the only Asian music group on the scene right now). I find them and their work to be very inspiring.

So yes, music is subjective. You may or may not like their music. But I hope that you all can show them some support and help them grow here in Canada, if not for simply the fact that they are great people.

Here is a short documentary about how they started:

“if it is meant to happen, it will.”

Those who have followed me and my blogs through the years will know that I enjoy writing about things that inspire me. Sometimes my stories are about interesting situations that I happen upon. Other times, they’re about the people I meet who make an impact in my life. They are always true stories. In my last post, I wrote about meeting Far*East Movement. Meeting them was one was thing. How it happened is actually a story on its own.

After the show on Sunday, Danny asked me if I wanted to go meet the guys. Without even needing to think, I said “no”. Danny looked at me funny and asked “Are you sure? It’s a rare opportunity. You really don’t want to meet Kev Nish? He’s your favourite.” Again I told him “no”. The guys were hanging out in their own area networking with people. I didn’t feel like it was the time and place for me to be there; I felt like I already got more than I wanted. I was walking away with the experience of seeing Far*East Movement perform live, an FM t-shirt that J-Splif gave me from the stage, and a “Girls On the Dance Floor” Remixtape. That’s on top of what Danny got me on Saturday – the CD signed by the members of the group to my name AND a shout out video. It was a very eventful weekend and I was going away with a lot of FM goodies. I honestly felt content. I told Danny…”If it’s meant to happen, it will. If it doesn’t, then it wasn’t meant for me. I don’t want to ask for more than I’m supposed to have. I already got enough.”

With that said, Danny asked me to go outside with him so he could have a smoke. We went outside and stood opposite the “patio” doors. As Danny was lighting up, I remember looking up into the night sky thinking what a crazy weekend it had been and how happy I was being able to see FM live. Then the doors opened and out walked Kev Nish! I think Danny said hey to him and he recognized Danny from the day before, so he stopped to say hey. Danny introduced me to him and as he shook my hand, I thought to myself…“OMG! This really can’t be for real!” lol

Kev ended up chatting with us for almost half an hour. We talked about a bunch of random things, but in all honesty I wasn’t even focused on the conversation itself. I was in shock! I just kept thinking it had to be a dream. Just minutes ago, I was telling Danny I didn’t need to meet him. Then minutes later, the guy whose talent I’ve admired for the longest time pretty much placed himself next to me! How does something like that even come to happen? lol What if he never came out? What if he came out and walked right by us? He could have quickly wandered off but he didn’t. What if I had told Danny I wanted to meet them? Would things have turned out the way it did? I suppose I could spend the rest of my life wondering how I got to be so lucky, but even then I don’t think I’ll get an answer.

This experience made me realize that if something is meant to happen, it will. If something isn’t meant to be yours, it won’t be no matter what you do. Life really is full of surprises, and sometimes they happen when you least expect it.

*Side note: did I mention they used my pictures from the show on their blog? hehehe

cops. world leaders. G20. far*east movement. (p2)

Things were very different on my side of the fence. There was no protesting, no vandalism, no people on the street (other than all the officers). After spending 8 hours inside what was a rather peaceful environment, it was really hard for me to believe that so much damage was done merely 3-4 blocks away. So continuing on with my story, it was time for me to leave the safety zone and go home.

I ended up leaving the hotel at around 8:30pm with one of the bellmen who had just finished his shift. Figured it was safer to have some company. We walked all the way down to Lake Shore to exit the security zone and shared a taxi home from there. By the time I got home I was fairly exhausted, but I went online to read more about what had happened on the other side of the fence earlier in the day. What I saw and read was mind-boggling. Having been at the heart of the G20 all day and not having seen any of the riot, I couldn’t find a way to comprehend what had happened. While I was struggling to find some understanding, my homie Danny called me out to show me his videos of the riot on Queen St. He told me he wasn’t able to get to the New Era store for FM’s meet & greet because the cops had blocked off the street. I figured we were out of luck.

There we were sitting at a Timmies and it was close to midnight. The “Animal” album was sitting on the table as we talked about some of the songs on it. Then he was going to show me the riot videos. Before he hands me his camera, he warns me about the gory image I’m about to see. I say “whatever” and turn my attention to the screen. THIS was the “gory image” I saw:

My initial reaction was “WHAT THE HELL?!?!” (Where’s all the crazy people on the street that I’m supposed to see?!) THEN I clued in…he tricked me!! lol Turns out he did make it to the store just in time when the riot had died down. AND he got my CD signed! :D

After a pretty crazy Saturday, I was on very little sleep going into Sunday. I just hoped that the protests wouldn’t extend far on Queen St. to affect Far*East Movement’s gig @ Tattoo. Danny and I met up with Adrienne and Robin for dinner before heading over to the venue. Not knowing when show time was, we got there pretty early, and Adri & Robin stuck around until about 12:30p when they had to get going.

Danny and I spent the remainder of the time securing my spot at the far left side of the stage. Through experience I’ve found that to be the best spot when I’m at the front because I can get most of the stage into the frame. When you’re front and center, there’s no way of getting everyone on stage with a basic digi-cam. Anyway, I totally wasn’t feeling the music that was being played while we waited and can say I was actually BORED listening to it. But given how long I’ve waited for FM to come to Toronto, I wasn’t going to miss it for the world!

It was crazy when FM finally hit the stage. Their music alone gets you hyped and they know how to work the crowd. It was exactly the way I imagined it to be. My only complaint is that their set was TOO SHORT! Even though I spent the majority of my time watching the performance through my camera, it was still worth it. Like most shows I go to, I have a very vague memory of the performance itself since I’m so focused on taking pictures. I’m always about the photos because to me it helps bring back memories of what I felt at that moment in time. FM was so full of energy that catching them at the right time with the right lighting was difficult. Out of the 140 pix I took, barely half of them were decent.

By the time it was over, I was pretty hyped but exhausted. It had been a crazy weekend of seeing world leaders and seeing my favourite music group perform live. That’s pretty damn cool. There was really nothing more I could ask for. Danny asked me to go with him for a smoke break, so we stepped outside. Then SURPRISE! Kev Nish from FM comes outside, asks Danny for a smoke, and we end up chatting with him! Could my weekend get any crazier?! We hung around chatting and took some pics before Danny and I left. The guys were super cool and totally down-to-earth. Their response to hearing my CD being short-shipped shows how great they are at taking care of their fans.

When I finally got home, I was dead tired. But I was so pumped from everything that I was totally wired and couldn’t sleep. I went into work at 7am that morning with NO sleep and put on my usual morning playlist (which happens to be entirely FM lol). As I was listening to “Get That Money”, I thought about how crazy it was that only hours ago I was there meeting the guys who made the song. (We were talking about how unbreathable Kev’s jacket is lol) To know that I was talking with the people whose voices I’ve listened to repeatedly for the last 2 years is just CRAZY. Although a lot of what I experienced this weekend was not expected, I’m thankful for everything that happened. This weekend has been the best thing to happen to me in a really long time.

cops. world leaders. G20. far*east movement. (p1)

June 26, 2010. It’s going down in my books as one of those days I’ll never forget. And no, I’m not referring to the protests and riot that took place on this date. I’m talking about what I witnessed inside Fortress Toronto on this day when all hell broke loose just outside of it.

It was as though I had spent the day in a completely different world. When I arrived at Union Station that morning, the streets were calm and quiet. The only sound I heard were the raindrops that fell onto my umbrella. I was only about three intersections away from work, but this usually short walk felt unusually long on this day. Alone I walked down the street inside the “cage”. I passed by many officers – some who stood alone while others were in small groups. Every officer I spoke to was pleasant and patient. I knew my day was off to a good start. It was raining pretty hard at the time. I particularly remember walking pass a group of four officers and feeling bad for them. For a moment I had the urge to offer them my big umbrella, but I didn’t. I just continued walking to the next checkpoint.

When I finally arrived at the hotel, I was surprised by all the commotion in the lobby. Machines had been set up for security screening, and no one was allowed to enter the hotel without being screened. It was like the airport. Due to the fact that our hotel is attached to the convention centre where the summit was to be held, and the fact that we had at least 4 countries’ delegates staying at our hotel, it had to be highly secured. There were RCMPs and police officers from different provinces scattered around the lobby, along with our own hotel security and members of secret services. Throughout the course of the day, I learned how to distinguish the differences between the different types of uniformed men.

I had only been at work for barely half an hour when my co-workers pointed out the motorcade that was passing by our store window facing a deserted Front Street. Escorted by police on motorcycles and in a cruiser, we knew that a VIP was about to turn into our hotel. Standing just outside our store, we were able to look down into the lower lobby. I was extremely surprised that the first VIP I’d see was China’s President, Hu JinTao. His motorcade pulled up to the doors of the lower lobby and, with his entourage of about 10-12 body guards, he was whisked into the hotel. His hair was slicked back with everything in place and his trademark smile was worn on his face.

At 1pm, everyone was expecting the U.S. President to arrive and was hoping to catch a glimpse of him. It was almost an hour later when we finally got word that he had indeed arrived at our hotel, but he was whisked through a secret entrance. Bummer, eh? Strangely though, at that same time I actually felt more disappointed that I wasn’t at Far*East Movement’s meet & greet than not getting the chance to see Obama. But that’s the next part to my story. I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.

After a while, I started to pick up on the cues of when a VIP would soon arrive. Security would heighten in the lobby and then I would hear the sound of the police motorcycles making their way down the street, followed by the motorcade. Looking down into the lower lobby, I would see the black cars pull up. The flashing white lights at the bottom of the cars soon became familiar to me. I witnessed the arrival of Britain’s new Prime Minister, David Cameron, who only had about 3-4 bodyguards with him. He came upstairs and walked right pass our store to reach the board rooms. He was a young looking guy compared to most of the other world leaders. I also watched the arrival and departure of South Korea’s President, Lee Myung-bak, who was with his wife, entourage of about 10 bodyguards, and many other officials.

Then I heard about the protest that had turned violent – the burning of the cop cars and all the vandalism. A tv was placed just outside my store in the hotel lobby to show the soccer games. When the U.S. vs. Ghana game was over, it started showing the chaotic streets to the north of us. At one point, I looked outside my store window; Front St. was still like a ghost town. Police were out there patrolling, but that was about all the action there was. When dinner time came around, motorcades came to take VIPs over to the Royal York for their gala dinner and our hotel became quiet again.

With the riot in the city, our hotel was on lockdown indefinitely and there was no public transit in the area. It was at that point that I started to worry about how I was going to get home. I figured the rioters had to get home somehow and I didn’t want to encounter any of them en route. I decided to stay in the hotel until I felt it was safe for me to leave. After all, our hotel was probably the safest place in the city at the time.

So how did I get home? And what happened to the Far*East Movement meet & greet?

To be continued…