Vancouver Part 1: He Never Does

I am a firm believer that adventure begins long before we ever set foot off a plane or onto a train platform. There is something to be gained from every encounter,  and I am immediately reminded of this while setting out to Vancouver, Canada for the first time. Perhaps it is the fact that I'm excited to be further exploring North America, or even that it is my first time to use my new passport, but today I am insanely sociable and chatty.

I almost immediately strike up a conversation with the elderly couple sitting next to me. Their names are Steve and Sherry, and they're native Canadians. To my pleasant and honored surprise, I discover we have a lot in common.

“We're coming back from 2 months in Honduras,” he says, as I notice their matching sun-dried red complexions.

“Our families think we're crazy, but they're the crazy ones. We leave all the time and come back to find them doing the same thing as before, and they're not even happy with it !” says Sherry.

“Haha. That's right love,” begins Steve as he places his hand sensually on her thigh. “We sold all of our companies that we'd spent years building up to do this. We can honestly say that this was the better choice.”

I smile at them as if to smile at myself. It's nice to chat with fellow vagabonds, especially ones so well aged. The time passed with them prepares me for the coming adventure, and inspires me to maybe be a bit like them some day.

____

My first thought after entering customs at Vancouver International Airport is one that I don't think I've ever had in my life.

“Why are there so many Asians ?!”

I see the signs in English and French, which was to be expected. However, I become startled after seeing Chinese everywhere. As I take a better look around I began to see why, and after talking to a few people I am happy to learn that my first thought was an appropriately ignorant observation. 

Forty-three per cent of Vancouver metropolitan residents have Asian heritage, which is a much higher proportion than any other major city outside of Asia. (www.vancouversun.com) 1-in- 5 of every Vancouver resident is of some Asian descent, making it the largest metropolitan Asian population outside of Asia. By the year 2031 it's expected that those of Asian descent will be the majority.

My previous perspective of Canada as an always cold, Mountie moose laden land filled with Caucasians and occasional Indians, like Russell Peters, eating maple syrup and staying really healthy while listening to Celine Dion was the last thing on my mind has I roam a city where the population is just as colorful and eclectic as the landscape. I'm used to hearing people speak several languages during travel, but that's because they're tourists. This is the first time I've heard so many languages spoken by residents; French is a given, while several dialects of Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean clash with varieties of Spanish and Portuguese. All of this makes sense considering that 52% of residents do not speak English as their first language.

I thought I had heard it all until I approach a man to ask how I could get into the harbor to take some photos. He replies with a Liam Neesoneque accent, and I look back with a blank stare. He’s kindly giving me directions and the whole time I am waiting on him to tell me about his particular set of skills and to wish me 'good luck'.

He never does.


Vancouver's population provides a linguistic voice while its beauty and nature provide the music. Fresh mountain air and seagull songs. The Princess Royal cruise ship pulls out of the dock making percussion of the flowing waters, while the sun's reflections off of the the buildings are the perfect lighting for this show.

Grammy Weekend Part 2: Captain Cosmos

There are many things that people told me about coming to Los Angeles.

“Los Angeles has perfect weather all the time!”

"Man, in L.A., you can run into anyone at anytime.”

These statements, and many, many , more are too true to be good. Chris and I sit through the telecast, and periodically exiting to network with artists, producers, and musicians alike. The real fun begins when we walk from the Nokia Theater to the Staples Center where the actual award show is held. We enter the halls like herded cattle clamoring, looking to see if we can recognize someone.

There are simply too many people moving too fast, but I have a couple of nice moments. I chat with the Vine Queen herself, Brittany Furlan, and I am 80% sure that I passed Maria Menunous.

The show begins, and we take our seats. I'm not sure what others see on television, but it is spectacular from our view point. Anne Lennox's voice gives me chills. My 4th time seeing Adam Levine sing is made even more brilliant by adding Gwen Stefani. I had never heard anything by Sam Smith until his duet of “Stay with Me” with Mrs. Mary J. Blidge, but before they sang their last note I had already gotten on my iTunes store.

It's common for people to roam the hallways during the show, so Chris and I do as well. We need to charge our phones, and there is always the chance that we will run into an a-lister. Our eyes search everywhere to no luck, and we step on a glass elevator. I look down at the bar to see a woman's back. She has on a very familiar dress. I am 67.34% sure it is Taylor Swift's backside.

The ceremonies were wonderful, but we had hardly eaten all day. So we head to In n Out Burger again to discuss our concerts for tomorrow night. We pass the next morning drinking coffee and relaxing on a cafe terrace before switching into music mode at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A ..

Our concerts had sold out during the weekend, and we carry a euphoric Grammy wave into every fiber of our performance. It is a two piece duo with Chris on soprano sax, and myself on acoustic guitar. We're overwhelmed as our intimate audiences applaud not only our cover songs, but our originals as well. Much like stepping out of our chauffeur's truck on Grammy day, this moment is something I've never really known, and am not sure if I'm ready to describe.

However, I am always ready to express how hungry I am. Change clothes. Pack gear. Hit the streets. We're two men whose physical fatigue is worth weary bodies, as we look to cap off an incredible weekend with a proper meal. We go to In N Out Burger for a third time, barely keeping our eyes open as we sit down to eat.

I am mid-way through my first burger, when I notice a familiar face in the window's reflection. I search for him on Google just be sure, and it's him. NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON! The host of Cosmos is sitting behind me, face deep in burger meats and juices. We have so much in common. When I see him about to leave I ask if I can take a photo with him. Thankfully, delightfully, he says yes.

I could hardly ask for a much better experience for my first time eating In N Out and Roscos, attending the Grammys, and doing concerts in L.A.. After being amazed by the talents of the world's biggest music stars, and feeling like a bit of twinkle myself; I end the journey with Captain Cosmos.



Grammy Weekend Part 1: This is what I think

I am in L.A., for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards as a guitarist with Chris Mitchell, a Grammy Recording Academy saxophonist. It all sounds fine and fancy, but upon arrival no sense of red carpet decorum can cure our hunger. We drop off our gear and follow our stomachs. The famous In N Out Burger on Orange Street and Sunset Boulevard is our choice, and it is also my first time visiting. People pass literally in n out, as the resto's name suggests. I order a double double combo with an extra cheeseburger in anticipation of my usual behemoth appetite.

“So, what do you think?” asks Chris.

This is what I think.

IMG_0085.JPG

To walk off our tasty burgers, we go to Rodeo Drive. It's luxury is calm and pristine. It's prices, priceless. It is window shopping at is most expensive, and we're swiping proverbial Black Cards right and left. We stop in the Luxe Hotel for a drink, and a think, before heading back our hotel.

The Grammys is an all day event. So we opt to do a proper morning warm up in preparation, which turned into the most chic morning hike in the history of morning hikes. While others jog past, sweat laden and panting, we look like this

We immediately refuel after our grueling cardio with hefty portions of The 2 Food Groups

  1. Chicken

  2. Waffles

My first time at Rosco's Chicken and Waffles is delicious. This is what I think.

There is no time to spare. The Grammy Pre Telecast is about the begin, so we suit up in proper fashion. Our chauffeur arrives in his big black truck. The leather seats are as smooth as the rolling wheels, as we all crack jokes and take photos and videos.

 

We pass through the security block. The ambiance is electric. People lining the streets to see who steps out, not knowing it was just us: to kats from Houston, Texas with music in our fingers and faith in our hearts. However, as soon as they open those truck doors we become something different. Jackets buttoned up. Sun glasses on.

I've been in what seems like too any countries, while feeling like it's not enough at the same time. The landscapes of the cities of roamed cross my mind everyday in flashbacks of their glorious beauties and friendly personage.

But.

The feeling I feel while exiting the truck is something completely and uniquely different.