I have a shit load of artists that need to be posted asap, but this happened just yesterday and I REALLY need to get this of my chest. The more the blog evolves the more people ask me: “Why do you do this?” “Are you paid, to do this?” “But, really, why do you put so much work and effort in this?” “Why don’t you just take digital pictures, I mean, that is like sooo much better and easier.” There is no real answer to those questions.
A year ago, august 7th , my birthday, I made a vow to myself, to carry out every idea that sticks too long in my head. What happens if you JUST DO IT? The blog is the first idea I made reality. Yes, it’s a lot of work. Yes, it’s exhausting. And sometimes I ask myself if it’s all worth the effort, preparation and literary the blood, sweat and tears. Just like yesterday. N.E.R.D. was scheduled to perform at the TMF AWARDS in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Since I am not happy with my NERD Polaroids, I decided a while ago to try and get another, better, sharper one. I was wondering if I could spend a whole free weekend for that goal, instead of chillin’ at the beach in my hometown. After weighing the pros and contras I decided to go.
- I’ve never been to Rotterdam and it’s only a 2 hour trip by train.
- Via via Jules was able to get us VIP-tickets to go to the event. This meant that we could save on dispenses like the entrance fee, food and drinks for the day.
- The weather predictions were pretty good and considering Rotterdam is a huge port city this is a surplus.
- You never know what can happen.
So, we went. This is what you need to know: N.E.R.D. was scheduled for a fast 15 minutes performance at 20h00. This meant that we had to be quick, sufficient and extremely focused, since we did not know the location nor the people. So we decided to take it to another level: Bribing. Packed with 3 bars of Belgium’s finest chocolate, 1 Duvel beer and a little monkey with a message around its neck we arrived in Rotterdam.
(I know, this is completely disturbing, insane and quite frankly ridiculous, but my options are running out here.)
I decided to use these props as ammunition, to trigger the artist and entourage in some strange bizarre way. Use the bait, come home with the fish. First stop in Rotterdam was The Westin Hotel. This is the most luxurious and only 5 star hotel in the city. Logically, this hotel was a realistic option for N.E.R.D. to stay in.
I was dressed properly and with my heart throbbing in my throat I walked straight into the hotel lobby. I quickly showed my card (discount card for the supermarket actually) and told the receptionist that I was ordered to deliver this small package for N.E.R.D. (I KNOW!! This is psycho.) Now, this was a wild guess. We had no idea whatsoever if the band was actually there, but I guessed that we would quickly find out, reading the reaction of the receptionist.
So, just in case they were nòt, I had my unprofessional little cellphone and not an Iphone or Blackberry in my hand, ready to make ‘a surprised phone call’, wondering ‘why I was giving these wrong directions?’ The receptionist scanned me for one second and politely replied: “Of course, we will make sure this will be delivered to them asap.” I smiled and gave her one ‘Cote D’Or’ chocolate bar with hazelnuts (my favorite) with inside, a little card with the message if I could take a Polaroid picture after or before the award, signed with my name. Just before I left, I asked the receptionist if I could count on the fact that it would be delivered, because ‘I rèally have to go to the event.’ Like I was so very important and stuff. She nodded affirmatively and told me that the package would be delivered as we speak. I couldn’t get any faster out of that lobby. I felt like a crazy stalker in a sleazy B-movie.
Second stop was the event. The TMF AWARDS were held outside next to the famous Erasmus bridge and on the beautiful Welhelmina Kade. The location was àmazing. The architecture of the bridge in combination with the water and all the boats was just breath taking. The sun was out, shining full force on the hundreds of people at the event. Without losing focus we cleared out the perimeter. We quickly found out that there was a ‘dead zone’ between the artist-area and the VIP area. Basically the artists and VIP had the same entrance area. The artists were brought in in black blinded cars and dropped off at the end of that ‘small street’. When they were due to perform, little golf cars exported them to the artist and stage entrance. This was the only chance for me and Jules to try and reach contact with our subject. So the fact that we had the right bracelets that authorized us to be there, was a gift from heaven. We could not use our usual technique of trying to get on stage or get noticed because there were so many people already there that trying to get front row would be the equivalent of trying to reach the eye of a tornado. You might get hurt in the process.
Also, depending on our ‘good looks’ was soooo not an option because the place was stuffed with the most beautiful women in the most sexy outfits. Rotter-Dajmn! If you consider that Holland has a huge colonial history with places like Trinidad, Aruba, The West-Indies, Latin-America etc, you might get an idea of the beautiful mixture this can result in. The funny thing is, this goes both ways. I have never seen a place with so much eye-candy in one day. 😉 Anyhow, this didn’t make us lose our focus. We chose a strategic spot in the shadow right next to the stage area and waited. and waited. ànd waited. At 19h00 a black blinded van passed us by. Was it the band? The clock was ticking and we started to get nervous. Is this the right area? Are we in the wrong place? We went through our plan for the last time, when I saw a first entourage member walking by. They are very easy to recognize since they have only one dress code: Billionaire Boys Club or ICE CREAM gear. This meant that the show was on! I ran up to the guy and gave him the monkey with the message around its neck, politely asking him if he could please deliver this to Mr Pharrell Williams. He replied kindly that he would do his best to give the item to him. He continued to walk and when he walked into the entrance I saw him checking out the little monkey. 2 bars of chocolate and 1 Duvel beer to go.
Again. We waited. My nerves were killing me. I was hoping the little gifts with messages would trigger his attention or flatter him in one way or another and made it easier to approach him, asking him for that crucial Polaroid. And then we saw them. 2 little golf cars heading our direction. ‘It’s on, I whispered to Jules. With another chocolate bar in one hand (I was hoping he or somebody would recognize the bar since it was -hopefully – delivered at their hotel room) and my Polaroid in the other I picked myself off the floor and walked straight in their direction. Jules brought her BBC hoodie, just in case. It was not really the time to wear the thing since we were melting like ice cream so she just held it in her hands.
The first golf car with only Pharrell Williams and Mr Mean Bodyguard again, stopped just next to me and while the security was opening the gates of the entrance I slowly walked in his direction. I said “Hello” and made the gentle gesture that I would like to give the chocolate bar to him. He had his sunglasses on, but I knew he was looking straight at me, probably wondering where this chick came from all of a sudden and what the hell her intentions were.
“Hi”, I said, “I would like to give this to you”. He looked confused and didn’t really respond. All of sudden éverybody around me started to yell. “Mr Williams, Mr Williams, DO NOT TAKE THE PACKAGE, DO NOT TAKE THE PACKAGE….!” Everybody started to yell and got all winded up and I was so shocked about this reaction that I could only stumble: “But it’s just chocolate….” I felt strong arms around me, grabbing me and pulling me away from the golfcar. Pharrell Williams just repeatedly asked, “But what is it? What is it? But what is it?” Jezus, Mary, Mother of God, this was too much for me. I was com-ple-te-ly shocked. I mean, do I have a stamp on my forehead with big screaming letters: AL QAIDA? As if I was; òr trying to bomb the man, òr attempting to poison the poor soul? I was so shocked and I felt a wave of disappointment coming over me so I just froze and could not say another word. Jules was standing there, completely shocked as well, still holding that BBC-sweater in her hands.
Right before the gates closed he saw that we were together and noticed the BBC- sweater. He called out to wait and pointed out his finger directed to us and asked us to come closer. Like two electrocuted zombies we approached him. He smiled and while shaking our hands he said to give all messages/stuff to his assistant and that he would do his best to help us out. He smiled again, said that it was really nice to meet us both and left. The BBC sweater saved us. It is known that he is very grateful towards the buyers of his brand.
We planned this with perfection. everything went according to plan. But we made a crucial mistake. Worse, we made a beginners mistake: I did NOT show him my I-touch with the other artists, I did NOT open my mouth to ask him a Polaroid picture. Jules did NOT make her spontaneous introduction to present the blog when I am in lost for words. We just stood their, looked at him, nodded and let him go. His presence weighs on people like a container boat. His assistant was the same guy (Mike) I already approached twice (in vain) the two former times. He was busy with his Blackberry when I approached him with the following words: “Hello there, it’s ME àgain, the Polaroid-chick from Belgium. Since last two times did not work, we decided to bribe you to get closer to a Polaroid”, while handing him another Cote D’Or chocolate bar and a bottle of one of Belgium’s most notorious beers: Duvel. Why the Duvel, you might ask? Well, on BBC ICECREAM’S-blog it is often mentioned to buy the entourage or the assistants a beer to reward them for their hard work for keeping the blog so up to date. I was happy to see that he was at least slightly happily surprised by my intro and smiled, showing off what appears to be a brand new diamond studded grill. Shiny, I must say.
So, big was my surprise when he walked away with his exquisite Belgian merchandise for ‘connoisseurs’, the gates re-opened and the security pushed the bar and beer bottle kindly back in my hands. Ok then…..Belgiums ‘Delicatesse’ was clearly not appreciated. Unfortunately there was no time to waste, so we ran back to the concert-area and fought our way in the crowd with our last desperate attempt to get that DAMN Polaroid. We started to realise that we made a huge mistake in our approach and that the main goal was not clearly explained to the artist. So in an effort to right-en our wrongs Jules pulled out a white paper and in the middle of the crowd I wrote the following message with a metalic green make-up eye pencil.
‘POLAROID PLEASE’? (the paper was too small to write more in large letters)
The performance was very short. The crowd with mostly hysteric girls was screaming and pulling and pushing. I could barely manage to breath and hold the paper in the air at the same time. Jules was still holding that damn sweater in the air to draw attention and girls responded on it like a bull on the colour red. They got furious, tearing the sweater down, threatening us that they would KICK OUR ASS(es) if we dàred to put it up again. It was terrible. And then it hit me like a hammer. What the fuck was I doing to myself to get this stupid picture, trying to grab a one second moment in a lifetime of a star too high to reach?
I quickly got rid of the thought and while the girls were pulled up on stage during ‘All The Girls Standing In The Line Of The Bathroom’, we pushed and kicked our way out of the hysteric crowd. All of a sudden, Jules yelled my name and pointed at the ground. There it was, my precious Polaroid on the floor, only seconds away to be crushed by a million hysterical women’s feet. I grabbed the Polaroid from the floor and did not even dàre to think what might have happened and cursed my way out of the hysteria. The girls were standing in the line alright. No doubt about thàt.
We ran back to the ‘dead zone’ waiting for them to come out. We saw one golf car speeding us by with Pharrell Williams and a white towel over his head and a very protective bodyguard with eyes ready to kill. The fact that he was hiding his face was enough to realise that it was over. It’s a clear statement that he did not wanted to be disturbed or spoken to by ànyone. Which is his right, of course, and there was no way I was planning on disrespecting that. I knew it was over. The assistant passed me by and in a final attempt I approached him, showing the Q-Tip Polaroid but he just kept looking at his blackberry and told me that ‘it was up to P’. “Ok”, I said, I totally respect that, but I did not even have the chance to properly ask him the question, any question whatsoever!” He pulled his shoulder and looked at me like there was nothing he could do. I made him promise to àt least let him know my request, thanked him and said goodbye.
We failed. We took every opportunity, we took every moment, we had all the necessary props, but still, we failed. While recapitulating the moments we realised that we made the following mistake: WE DID NOT EVEN MENTION THE WORD -POLAROID- and counted too much on the fact that he would remember us. The combination: realising that ‘the trigger gifts’ obviously did not work with all the bodyguards, security and the yelling made us complety numb. We had our two minute moment, and while Pharrell Williams was speaking, we just listened and nodded, and we just let that moment pass by, while instead, we had to ask this simple question: “Can I please take a Polaroid picture?” Take that question away and look at it from the other side. You see one girl with a package in her hands, walking straight up to you and another girl holding a sweater in the air with your company brand signed on it, as an artist, I suppose you can only come to one conclusion: Crazy Fans? And is thàt now èverything that we were working so hard for, making sure we were never considered that way…?
We watched them leave in the black blinded vans. Another failure, I realised how lucky I got that day, the 7th of August 2008, when I managed to get on stage and took that N.E.R.D. picture in the middle of their performance. It does make you wonder why you do what you do. It does make you ask yourself if it’s worth all the effort.
But there we were, on this beautiful location, watching the sun go down, with that impressive Erasmus bridge looking down at us and although we were very disappointed, we realised that we would never be on this beautiful location if it wasn’t for the blog. And I’m a fighter, not a quitter. Another time, another place, another story. But I’m honest, I want that picture asap because I’m tired of chasing Pharrell Williams and N.E.R.D. This girl is no longer standing in line. We threw ourselves on the free food and drinks and danced the night away. It’s like ‘The Monty Hall Problem’: even with conditional probability, you always have to consider the variable change. This time the variable change is that what some people call starstruck. And for the skeptics amongst you guys, still wondering why I do what I do, “there is you, there is me and there is between. If you remove the between you see me achieving and you dream”. (Show you how to hustle, by P.W.)
PS: I’m wondering what happened to that monkey… did it reach its destination or is it lying all alone, in a corner, somewhere?