I peeked around the corner of the street and there they were. Hundreds of odd looking anime characters. Some presumably schoolgirls, and others, disturbingly ugly creatures that you’d think would haunt you in your nightmares during the depths of the night.
600 staff members and a year of planning goes into the annual Anime Matsuri convention, the 8th largest anime convention in North America. Promoting the Japanese culture, this 3-day event from April 7- April 9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center covers everything from cosplay, music, fashion, anime, to art and collectibles.
Founder Deneice Leigh started Anime Matsuri 11 years ago in the Woodlands, and as it grew exponentially, the convention was rezoned to downtown Houston to accommodate a larger, more diverse audience. Anime Matsuri is one of the few conventions that utilizes every single floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Did you show your patriot-ism for the Falcons last Sunday? Am I funny yet?
It was a one of a kind game, making history for the first Super Bowl overtime. As a Patriots fan, I was undoubtedly disappointed during the first half. I nearly gave up hope (until Gaga’s halftime performance of course), but when my Internet resumed to stream the game after a brief lag, I noticed the Patriots went from 12 to 20 on the scoreboard. Like I said, Gaga makes everything better. The Patriot’s comeback was mind-blowing.
I sat on floor in front of my LCD TV, legs sprawled out, moping till the fourth quarter while I snuck in whatever few homework questions I could during the commercials. Unfortunately, most of them weren’t even good. What I did notice was that many of them centered around the topic of inclusion and diversity. Budweiser, on the other hand, straight up made a commercial about immigration. Subtle much?
I have to admit the Skittles ad was my favorite, mainly because that was the only remotely engaging commercial that genuinely made me laugh out loud (and I don’t mean a courtesy chuckle).
Living in Houston, Super Bowl fever was prevalent in my life, whether I liked it or not. Super Bowl propaganda, radio promotions for free concert tickets, significantly longer commutes to college the week before, constant construction to widen highways and revamp the bridges are among some of them. The constant buzz about all eyes being on Houston was kind of empowering, though. When does Houston ever get this kind of exposure? The city officials even had the downtown homeless population relocated to the outskirts, to give tourists the illusion that downtown Houston is pristine beyond gentrification.
Now that it’s all over, it feels weird. What now? What happens on December 26 after you hype up the entire month for Christmas?
So I started my fellowship at Houstonia Magazine this past January. I absolutely love it because of all the new experiences I get, and interesting people I meet. One of these amazing events I was privileged to attend was the 2017 MAXIM Super Bowl Party on Feb. 4, which happened to be at a new venue around five minutes from my house.
I bought myself a Tadashi Shoji gown from Nordstrom Rack for $87 that morning. What I realized during the party was that there was an inch-long thumb tack embedded within the dress which poked out the entire night, scraping my arm. I now have a 2-inch scab by my left elbow. There is no way I am keeping this dress.
The party was phenomenal, and probably my once in a lifetime experience being invited to a celebrity event as a member of the media. I had a press pass and everything, granting me access to every nook and cranny of the arena. Even VIP backstage with free valet parking.
Six rounds of security checks and a metal detector separated guests from the party entrance as celebrities waltzed down the red carpet.
Singers, reality show stars, celebrity wannabes, and fans took to the Smart Financial Center, looking like a million bucks. You could see the fuchsia-lit stadium from miles away. Stunt motorcyclists flew through the air at the Monster Energy FMX Motorcycle Show outside the center, which had been transformed into a glamorous party hall. Models danced on illuminated platforms as waiters served light bites.
Famous faces we’d seen on TV and in tabloids stood inches away. Patriots cheerleaders walked out of their bus, posing in their cocktail dresses for the flashing cameras. Pop stars Fergie and Nick Cannon were there, as was Rocket James Harden and Dallas heartthrob Chace Crawford from Gossip Girl. Chace passed by me on the red carpet, as he avoided most of the media, keeping a low profile before hopping to another party with Fergie.
Even Ludacris made the bash. Some stayed only for a bit before hopping to other parties, while others spent the entire evening in their private suites. I spoke with Texans player Andre Hal and his girlfriend. I interviewed a Patriots cheerleader, former Cheetah girl Adrienne Bailon, Bow Wow, and even Olivia Caridi from the last season of The Bachelor.
As guests entered the grand hall, they were greeted with bright red lights, blaring music, lingerie models, and elaborate displays of macarons, cupcakes, and spiked ice cream. The Monster Energy Lounge and the open bar kept the audience in good spirits throughout the night. After crowds spent hours socializing, at around eleven, the performances got underway and everyone went insane.
Agile, graceful, acrobatic dancers hung from the ceiling on red ribbons as DJ Khaled dropped beats. DJ Khaled is cool and all, but a DJ can only entertain the crowd so much before he just gets boring, as he stands behind a booth for an entire hour scrambling to find a song we aren’t already tired of hearing on the radio. It got boring after 20 minutes, and I was left there swaying to the music for 40 minutes as I prayed for DNCE to swoop in to save me from my boredom.
DNCE came on at midnight and got the crowd screaming along to hits “Cake by the Ocean” and “Toothbrush” while tossing them everything from DNCE “currency” and roses, to beach balls and sex dolls. Yes, it was weird. I was front row in the VIP section during DNCE’s performance. Joe Jonas (aka my crush since the 3rd grade) held my hand twice during his brief performance. Just when I thought I died, I was reincarnated, and died again the second time. Ok I’m done fangirling.
Travis Scott ended the night at around 2:30 as the partiers roared along to his hit “Antidote.”
Follow me on IG @rafafarihah to see my interviews and photos with some of the stars. I will have a MAXIM makeup tutorial video out tomorrow on my YouTube channel.
Check out my original Houstonia article here with a video of the event.
Simone Manuel has made a remarkable achievement this year after becoming the first African-American woman to win an Olympic individual swimming event. What is amazing is that I went to high school with Simone two years ago. She graduated a year before I did. Although I did not personally know her, the fact that a normal teenager from a community I am from was able to reach such great heights, shows that any amount of dedication and perseverance can help you achieve your dreams.
It’s a shame that many undermine her strenuous training and stamina by placing her on a pedestal for being a “black swimmer” who won a gold medal. I mean of course, it is a step in the right direction, just like having our first black president, and maybe someday we may have our first female president. It’s okay to acknowledge it once. But giving her so much attention solely on the fact that she is black, seems like a slap in the face for the work she has done, just like any other competitor.
Keep your feet on the ground. Don’t forget to shoot for the stars. Dream
Someday I will become a known journalist. I believe.
Joy. Ecstasy. Happiness. Glee. What is this delicate emotion that several words have been coined to describe? Happiness is a not just a state of mind, but a way of life.
“I don’t fix problems. I fix my thinking. Then problems fix themselves.”
Happiness comes hand in hand with not only appreciating the little things, but also trying different things. Take out 15 minutes from your day and just take a stroll outside your home or go for a relaxing drive. Go somewhere you haven’t been before, like a community event or a festival. Involving yourself can really make you perceive beauty in a different light. I did it and I will be forever grateful.
Recently, I came across an advertisement for the Magical Winter Lights festival in Houston, Texas. I googled it and with one look at their promotional video, I was astonished. Apparently it is the largest lantern festival in the nation. I HAD TO GO.
The festival consisted of grandeur lantern displays of famous landmarks, with a section for each continent (except Antarctica, obviously). It has been a dream of mine to travel the world someday. Someday. Seeing the lantern monuments illuminated in the night sky under the constellations was absolutely enthralling.Photographs and words don’t do justice to the beauty of it all. For those of you who want to go, it is open till January 10, 2016 so hurry! Check out some shots I took and see for yourselves: