Trip to California / Think Tank II

Foreword

In the Summer of 2009, the brand manager for Bone Thugs~N~Harmony announced “Think Tank,” an event where 20 exclusive Bone fans would be invited to the studio to listen to Bone’s new upcoming album and give their input on the tracks in an attempt to make the perfect album for Bone’s fans. Shortly thereafter, “Think Tank II” was announced, with the addition of new members (dubbed “Think Tank Executives”). I was one of the lucky fans invited by Bone’s brand manager to attend Think Tank II. Below is my detailed story of the three-day trip (For reference, the actual event took place on Day Two).

I have included as much detail as I can not only so someone can read it and feel like they were there alongside me for the whole trip, but so that I may someday be able to look back on the trip and recall every aspect of it.

 

Day One

So after a short day at work, including ducking out to drive to Nashua, NH to buy a PSP (no sales tax!), I got all my stuff together and headed over to Gina’s work to meet her. She hopped in the car and we switched seats so I could handle some last minute things while she drove me to the airport. I turned my GPS on and entered in my uncle’s address, then turned it off. I also texted her it so she’d have it on her phone just in case something happened to the GPS. I also meant to call my doctor, but I didn’t have my medical info.

Gina decided to park and come on in with me. She noticed my PSP I had bought and gave me a hard time, since my birthday is only two weeks away. We headed in and she got a bite to eat while I got a smoothie to drink and we talked about the trip, going over last minute details and getting ready to separate. When it came time, I waved goodbye to her and headed for security, and forgot to take my laptop out of the bag. The security lady remarked that I hadn’t forgotten to take out my PSP!

I wasn’t waiting more than a few minutes at the gate when boarding began. I got on the plane and found my window seat, settling down with my PSP and my book (The First Commandment, by Brad Thor). Luckily, the seat to my left remained empty. I started reading the PSP materials when we took off and tried to see if the battery that came with the PSP had any charge to it (I hadn’t had time to charge it). Sadly, it did not, so I kept reading and texted Gina that I was heading out. Once in the air, I tried to find some stuff to watch but it was mostly only cable news channels that were coming in. I watched a bit of Fox News, CNN, and even MSNBC (as much as I could tolerate) and then took a bit of a nap. I woke up and read a little from my book, watched some Seinfeld and Family Guy, and then turned on the Red Sox game when I realized half the plane was watching it. I caught a great finish to it, too!

I mostly just read the rest of the flight, taking time to look out of my window at the beautiful sites of Kansas and later Las Vegas as we flew overhead. When we landed, we deplaned on the runway and went inside to a small airport in Long Beach. No Doubt was playing on the radio and I called Gina to let her know I was there, even though it was 12:30 where she was. We chatted, then I grabbed my bags off the small baggage claim area and headed over to Hertz. The first thing the lady said to me was that I had on the wrong hat (I was wearing my Boston Celtics hat). I remarked that they may have won last year, but we won the year before! We chatted for a bit about basketball, Serena’s outburst, and Kanye’s outburst. She had to run a credit check on me (uh-oh!) but I passed and was given a Nissan Altima (hybrid!)

I got to my car and settled in, loading everything I needed, getting my iPod w/ iTrip ready, my GPS set up, and texting my friend Jeni to let her know I was in Cali. She was under the assumption that I was staying with her, but I told her I was staying at my uncle’s place in Pasadena and headed out. The car was so silent and the brake was super sensitive. Also, the highways in Cali were very narrow and I felt like I was gonna get creamed several times. I was starving, too, as I headed out. I noticed that there was a ton of static on my iTrip but figured it was from the airport. But I didn’t get a half-decent signal until I was 15 minutes or more away and even then there was still a lot of static the whole drive to Pasadena. This upset me a great deal, as I carefully assembled a 11-hour playlist of Cali music the night before. Oh, and I also noticed that gas was still expensive out here ($3.30/gallon).

I didn’t get a bite to eat until I was actually in Pasadena, when I just stopped at a BK I saw. I had hoped for some local Cali flavor, but I didn’t see anything on the way and the GPS didn’t either. I didn’t want to show up at my uncle’s house with a bag of BK, so I parked in a gas station to eat it only to see that the people that worked there were still there, despite it being closed. So I drove around eating until I was done my burger and headed the mile or two to my uncle’s house.

When I got there, I pulled in front of the house once I found it and headed to the front door, where there was a note directing me to the guest house. I had to go around the back of the garage, where a motion light went off, then jimmy a fence door open (running back to activate the light when it went off before I was through the gate) and then found the guest house. It was set up really nice for me. It was one room with a couch bed. On an adjacent table was two bottles of Evian and 4 granola bars they had left for me. There was also a bathroom and shower.

I set my stuff up, charging my phone and camera batteries. I turned my laptop on and found a signal and checked my Facebook and email to see if I had gotten any important messages. I left a status update on FB and emailed my parents that I was safely at my uncle’s house. I also found out that the iTrip pretty much doesn’t work in Los Angeles (something about too many radio stations and power lines)… making my playlist pretty useless. I loaded up my PSP for the first time, plugging it into the wall, and tooled around on that for a bit, just messing with initial settings, firmware update, and the PSN store. Pretty nifty little thing it was! I then read a chapter of my book before settling in for the night.

 

Day Two

I woke up around 7am local time, which was really 10am in Eastern time. I think I had gone to bed around 2am EST the night before, so I got some good sleep. The note on the door last night had mentioned that everyone would be up around 7am and I could head inside the main house at that time. I tried to access my FB/email again but there was no wireless access point this morning. So I wrote the above blog entry and some of this one, too, then checked again. Internet was up, so I checked my FB/email, and then got in the shower to wash up before heading over to the main house.

When I got in, only my uncle was home and we chatted for a bit. He gave me a Huntington museum (Art Gallery, Library, Botannical Gardens) pass and then went back upstairs to do some work while I had a couple bowls of Fruit Loops. As he was leaving, my aunt arrived and we chatted for a bit as well. She had to do some work as well and so I went back to my room and wrote down a bunch of places I hoped to go check out throughout the day, today and tomorrow. I also wrote down the addresses for several Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles since I’d heard Snoop mention it all the time but never eaten there (yet). Lastly, I jotted down some hip-hop radio stations to listen to in my car (since the iTrip failure) because L.A. hip-hop radio is the only radio in the entire country that I’ve ever been able to tolerate – in fact, I love it and have even listened to it streaming online before I got my iPod.

I headed over to the Huntington museum but it didn’t open until noon, so I still had 40 minutes. I drove around for a long while aimlessly. Then, noticing an AUX jack on my car’s radio, I plugged a Radio Shack into my GPS and headed over there to buy a cable so I could hook my iPod up and be rid of the static! I got one, turned down the salesman trying to sell me tons of extra stuff, and headed back to Huntington and was let in. I found parking and headed to the gate, where I turned in my free pass, put on my sticker to prove I was allowed to be there, and proceeded inwards.

I saw a tour guide that was just starting a tour. However, I preferred to explore on my own solo, so I made my way left and happened upon the Desert Garden. It was incredible. I was snapping photos and even called my mother to tell her about where I was at. I walked around the desert garden and then found my way towards a lily pond in a new area, with weeping willows. I headed to another building, since it was so hot, and found the Library. Now, this wasn’t some town library deal. This was a building with books on displayed that were hundreds of years old. They had the Gutenberg Bible, George Washington’s journal when he was in the war, and just tons more dating from the middle ages up to present times. They even had the Confederate Constitution!

I exited the building and roamed around some more. My thighs were hurting like hell from all the walking and I wasn’t even halfway done yet. I found some open courtyard with a fountain, then headed for another building which housed an indoor Amazon forest. From there I made my way to a Chinese garden, then a Japanese garden, taking photos all along the way. I then headed for the Australian garden and subtropic garden, which were pretty lame by comparison to everything else I had seen. Next up was a rose garden, where I took more photos, and then I headed inside to an art gallery that had a lot of cool stuff. They even had the first silverware!

When I exited there, I figured it was time to go. I was starving, walking hurt my thighs pretty bad, and I wanted to head to Los Angeles for when I would get the all-important phone call from Bobby with the details on the meeting tonight. I plugged in Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles in Los Angeles and headed in that direction. Along the way, I stopped at a CVS and bought a Gatorade, as well as some other necessities. I even asked the pharmacist advice on what kind of lotion I should get for my thighs, and her advice was literally to just not walk as much tomorrow. Thanks.

So I got to Roscoe’s. I was seated by a nice waiter named Roy and he set me up with the two waffle/two chicken (breast/thigh) combo. I will say that, the entire time I was there, from when I pulled in the parking lot, all through my meal at a window seat, and when I left the place, I was the only white person I saw. I didn’t even see a white person drive by in a car as I ate! Good times. I texted all my Cali friends (and a few back home) while I ate and chatted about being in Cali. My old roommate, Daisy, hadn’t even known I was there!

When I got back in my car, it was like 3-4 ish. I still hadn’t heard from Bobby and was getting pretty frustrated. I also had no idea where I was. I pulled into a McDonalds parking lot and took my GPS out. I figured if I could find a Starbucks, I might get Internet access and would be able to check Facebook on my PSP. I also realized at this time that I wasn’t actually in Los Angeles anymore, I was in Watts. Well, that explained the racial quotas! If you don’t know about Watts, then check this out.

I made my way to a Starbucks, also getting in touch with my old roomster, Daisy. She was busy but we made plans to get together tomorrow.

I found my way to the Starbucks, but it was just a drive-thru. I parked in the plaza nearby and tried to get some Internet access via some wireless connection on my PSP. I also noticed that I was now in Compton.

I have no idea the sequence of events as they played out next, but the afternoon saw a lot of me driving around to various parking lots trying to get a wireless signal on my PSP to check up on Facebook. At some point, I was able to sync my phone to Facebook so I would at least get texts whenever I got anything in my Inbox, in case Bobby contacted me there. Eventually, I found my way to the University of Southern California. I figured I could park somewhere there and just nap or play a game on my PSP until Bobby got in touch. Sadly, they didn’t allow any non-campus people on the premises. It was 5pm now and so I called Gina, totally frustrated, and we basically agreed that the best thing for me to do would be to just head back to Pasadena. There, I could wait comfortably, see my family even, and once Bobby called me, I could then head to the meeting point. And, if he didn’t call at all and the meeting didn’t go down, well at least I’d already be home.

No sooner did I get off the phone than I got a text from Facebook. Bobby had given a number to call to get the details for the meeting! I pulled into a gas station and called up, but it went right to voicemail, followed by a message that the mailbox was full. To sum up the next three hours, I kept calling while driving around, but kept getting voicemail. Others also invited to the meeting had the same problem, and kept writing via Reply to All at Bobby’s message, so my phone was blowing up with texts from Facebook. I also knew of another guy from Boston that was out here and he was having the same issues.

I finally found a parking spot outside a Starbucks by the USC campus. I got connected on my PSP and was up on Facebook for a bit before lying down for a little snooze. When I got back up, I couldn’t connect anymore. But I figured USC was as good a spot to be at to wait as anywhere. Since I was also in a parking spot that required paying a meter, I went back to a shopping plaza and hung out there. And, for the first time, I actually played a game on my PSP, instead of just using it for its Internet browser lol…

Finally, at about 7:45pm, I got a text from Bobby saying that his phone had been ringing non-stop since his original message almost 3 hours prior. He gave the meeting spot out point-blank in the message: Magic Johnson’s Theater in Los Angeles at 8:30pm. I plugged the address in my GPS and I was only 10 minutes from it. Sidenote: I’ve noticed that, no matter the distance to a particular location in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, you’ll always be 10-20 minutes away from it – whether its 15 miles or even just 1 mile.

I hopped out of my car and went to a Baskin Robbins in the plaza, where I got myself a water and a peanut butter chocolate ice cream to chow down before the meeting. I also went to a BK in the same plaza and used the bathroom. Lastly, I had a pounding headache so I went into a grocery store also in the same plaza and got some medicine. And finally, I was on my way.

The Magic Johnson Theater was off of Crenshaw Blvd and, as I pulled in, I saw the other Think Tank II members all waiting around. I met up with Kyle, who put his luggage in my car. Poor guy had checked out of a hotel this morning but was only 21 and couldn’t rent a car, so he had been carrying his luggage around Los Angeles all day and taking cabs. So he stored it in my trunk and we went and hung out with the others, talking about our favorite Bone songs, member, etc.

We got a text from Bobby that Krayzie was running late from a meeting and that the meeting time was changed to 9:30pm. Shortly after that time, an SUV pulled up with two employees for Bobby, who had waivers for us all to sign. I read over mine, and was happy to see a lot of people were. What annoyed me was the clause at the end that said something akin to “I’ve had time to go over this with my attorney,” which we all obviously did not. But what can you do? We all signed it and were told that the meeting was not actually here, but that we were to follow their car to the actual meeting spot. We were also told to not bring in phones or cameras, but that we could get them from our cars once the meeting part was over and the relaxing part began.

Kyle and I got in my car and positioned ourselves right next to the SUV so we could trail it. When it left, we got in right behind it on its ass and followed it through some streets to… a suburban neighborhood? Turns out we were at someone’s house!

I’ll do my best to describe this next part: the place we were at had a gate with a small area on the other side of it and stairs immediately to the right after the gate. We all headed in, being given our grading sheet for the new album, and were told to head upstairs, where we heard Bone music playing. As we climbed the turning stairs and reached the top, there was a cement deck area to our left that faced and overlooked the street. There were double doors on our right that were already open and where we headed in. Inside this gigantic room was a full bar, serving drinks and some appetizers on the left as you entered. On the right was a huge lounging area in a down-set floor that had two steps with the second nearly invisible that nearly everyone tripped on lol… There was a bunch of couches and other furniture to crash on. At the end of the room was a screen display thing pulled down that was the entire size of the wall for a projector that was playing Bone videos on it. Bobby sat at a table to the right of it with head phones on. And straight ahead as you entered was a wall made entirely of glass that led out to a balcony that overlooked the entire city of Los Angeles. It was the most pimp atmosphere I had ever been in.

Kyle and I took our spots and hung out. Everyone was just relaxing, singing to the Bone videos, and Bobby eventually addressed us and thanked us for coming with a pre-meeting speech pep-talk. Eventually, Krayzie, Layzie, and Flesh came on in (no Bizzy or Wish) and met up with us. I got to meet them as they made their way up front to three seats for them up on a staging area. Without much more waiting, we finally began the listening meeting. It must have been 10-1030pm by the time it kicked off.

I won’t give out full details on the songs, of course, but we ended up hearing 20 tracks that we could rate 1-5. I didn’t rate a single song below a 2, and only one song a 2 at that. Most were 4s, a couple 5s, and a couple 3s. This album is going to sound amazing. There was also a collaboration with a certain artist whose name I won’t mention out of respect for the exclusivity of the meeting that just blew my mind away. When this song drops, people may call the song capitalizing, but they assured us that the song itself was recorded way back in May. If any of this seems fuzzy to you, don’t worry, you’ll understand when it finally comes out.

Layzie was on stage most of the whole meeting, as was Flesh (who also tripped on the stairs at one point), and they talked about the songs a lot, as did Bobby when he would introduce them. Krayzie, though, was outside on the balcony most of the time. When he was on stage, he looked upset to be there. No idea what was going on for him personally, so I can’t judge. I know he’s got family issues and I was just grateful to be there, so I won’t hate on him. All three would head outside every now and then for what Bobby called “an ice tea break.”

When the listening session portion was over, we were introduced to some Think Tank I members, the whole staff that worked on the album, and told some incredible information about Think Tank III that I simply cannot share at this time. We also were told that we had free admission and backstage passes to the concert tomorrow night in Phoenix and on Saturday night in Anaheim… oh, if only I lived out here :(

The partying commenced and I went back out to the car to grab my phone and camera, as well as Kyle’s, too. I had brought along my liner notes for an album that had a poster inside and got both Layzie and Flesh to sign it, as well as got photos with them (on Kyle’s camera because the flash on mine wasn’t working). Krayzie had disappeared, which was really unfortunate to say the least. I took some photos of the skyline and room we were in, and we hung out. Kyle went outside for “an ice tea break” with Layzie while I talked with some other members and Phaedra, an up and coming artist from Boston that you should really check out and who is working with Bone on their albums. I also thanked Bobby and had a nice chat with him, too.

Finally, the night came to a close. Kyle and I made our way to the car and I drove him to Union Station in Los Angeles to drop him off. It was already 3am and he had a flight at 1130am, so he wasn’t sure what to do, but he said dropping him off at Union Station was fine. I did so and headed back to Pasadena, where I updated my Facebook status and crashed in my bed.

What a night.

 

Day Three

I woke up around 11 or 12 here and groggily stumbled to the bathroom. I checked Facebook, added a few new friends from last night, checked BTNHboard.com, and wrote the above entry. I was supposed to hang out with Daisy, so I checked my phone and then got in the shower. I figure if my family was home in the main house, they probably were wondering why I wasn’t around yet, but I wanted to make sure I got the above entry written while it was fresh in my mind.

By the time I got to the main house it was already afternoon. My aunt offered to make me a roast beef sandwich with melted cheese (mmm) so I couldn’t pass her up. We chatted about everything from last night to what was going on back home in MA while I ate and eventually Daisy texted me. By that time, it was already fairly late and I had an uncle from Florida arriving to my Cali aunt and uncle’s place that wanted to see me before I left. It didn’t make much sense for me to drive to see Daisy in L.A., drive back to Pasadena, then drive to the airport in Long Beach, so I mentioned that I might be back in Cali soon to Daisy and that we’d just have to get together then instead.

I went back to the guest house and got my stuff ready to leave. I tried to put a movie on rented off of iTunes onto my iPod, only to learn that apparently my video iPod isn’t supported… wtf? I then tried to download the same movie off the PlayStation Network Store on my PSP only to find my memory card didn’t have enough room. So I paid for two rentals for the same movie and couldn’t watch either. Ugh.

I headed back to the main house and just lounged in the living room. Eventually my aunt and two cousins came in and we just chatted it up until my Florida uncle got there and, shortly after, my Cali uncle. We talked for a bit, had some appetizers, and then it was time for me to head on out. We got a photo outside their house and I said my sad goodbyes and was on my way.

I headed for some cheap gas station I had found online in Long Beach and it took me forever to get there thanks to the traffic, despite me having left between 545 and 6pm for a 855pm flight. But I made it, filled up and turned my car in, and headed into the airport, where I made my final calls to Gina and my parents before listening to the last bit of Cali music before boarding the plane. And, while on the plane, I didn’t sleep a bit. I tried but I don’t think it worked. Instead, I read my book some more and played my PSP most of the 6 hour flight. It was a funny reminder to when I had flown to Los Angeles in 1992 and, as a 12-year-old, had bought my first game system ever, the original Nintendo Game Boy. I ended up playing Tetris on that thing the entire flight home from Cali, and this time I was here doing it up with my PSP (and Final Fantasy Dissidia).

I finally got home to a cold Boston (I was still in shorts and flip-flops), got my bags, and caught the 539am bus to South Station, where I waited for the first train to West Newton. I still couldn’t sleep.. and I didn’t feel like it until I got onto the train – but then I didn’t want to miss my stop. Finally, I got off the train, walked the mile or so to where Gina had left my car parked at her work, and drove myself home. I got in, went right to my bed, and crashed until 1pm that afternoon.

And thus ended the Great Cali adventure!


Foreword

In the Summer of 2009, the brand manager for Bone Thugs~N~Harmony announced “Think Tank,” an event where 20 exclusive Bone fans would be invited to the studio to listen to Bone’s new upcoming album and give their input on the tracks in an attempt to make the perfect album for Bone’s fans. Shortly thereafter, “Think Tank II” was announced, with the addition of new members (dubbed “Think Tank Executives”). I was one of the lucky fans invited by Bone’s brand manager to attend Think Tank II. Below is my detailed story of the three-day trip (For reference, the actual event took place on Day Two).

I have included as much detail as I can not only so someone can read it and feel like they were there alongside me for the whole trip, but so that I may someday be able to look back on the trip and recall every aspect of it.

 

Day One

So after a short day at work, including ducking out to drive to Nashua, NH to buy a PSP (no sales tax!), I got all my stuff together and headed over to Gina’s work to meet her. She hopped in the car and we switched seats so I could handle some last minute things while she drove me to the airport. I turned my GPS on and entered in my uncle’s address, then turned it off. I also texted her it so she’d have it on her phone just in case something happened to the GPS. I also meant to call my doctor, but I didn’t have my medical info.

Gina decided to park and come on in with me. She noticed my PSP I had bought and gave me a hard time, since my birthday is only two weeks away. We headed in and she got a bite to eat while I got a smoothie to drink and we talked about the trip, going over last minute details and getting ready to separate. When it came time, I waved goodbye to her and headed for security, and forgot to take my laptop out of the bag. The security lady remarked that I hadn’t forgotten to take out my PSP!

I wasn’t waiting more than a few minutes at the gate when boarding began. I got on the plane and found my window seat, settling down with my PSP and my book (The First Commandment, by Brad Thor). Luckily, the seat to my left remained empty. I started reading the PSP materials when we took off and tried to see if the battery that came with the PSP had any charge to it (I hadn’t had time to charge it). Sadly, it did not, so I kept reading and texted Gina that I was heading out. Once in the air, I tried to find some stuff to watch but it was mostly only cable news channels that were coming in. I watched a bit of Fox News, CNN, and even MSNBC (as much as I could tolerate) and then took a bit of a nap. I woke up and read a little from my book, watched some Seinfeld and Family Guy, and then turned on the Red Sox game when I realized half the plane was watching it. I caught a great finish to it, too!

I mostly just read the rest of the flight, taking time to look out of my window at the beautiful sites of Kansas and later Las Vegas as we flew overhead. When we landed, we deplaned on the runway and went inside to a small airport in Long Beach. No Doubt was playing on the radio and I called Gina to let her know I was there, even though it was 12:30 where she was. We chatted, then I grabbed my bags off the small baggage claim area and headed over to Hertz. The first thing the lady said to me was that I had on the wrong hat (I was wearing my Boston Celtics hat). I remarked that they may have won last year, but we won the year before! We chatted for a bit about basketball, Serena’s outburst, and Kanye’s outburst. She had to run a credit check on me (uh-oh!) but I passed and was given a Nissan Altima (hybrid!)

I got to my car and settled in, loading everything I needed, getting my iPod w/ iTrip ready, my GPS set up, and texting my friend Jeni to let her know I was in Cali. She was under the assumption that I was staying with her, but I told her I was staying at my uncle’s place in Pasadena and headed out. The car was so silent and the brake was super sensitive. Also, the highways in Cali were very narrow and I felt like I was gonna get creamed several times. I was starving, too, as I headed out. I noticed that there was a ton of static on my iTrip but figured it was from the airport. But I didn’t get a half-decent signal until I was 15 minutes or more away and even then there was still a lot of static the whole drive to Pasadena. This upset me a great deal, as I carefully assembled a 11-hour playlist of Cali music the night before. Oh, and I also noticed that gas was still expensive out here ($3.30/gallon).

I didn’t get a bite to eat until I was actually in Pasadena, when I just stopped at a BK I saw. I had hoped for some local Cali flavor, but I didn’t see anything on the way and the GPS didn’t either. I didn’t want to show up at my uncle’s house with a bag of BK, so I parked in a gas station to eat it only to see that the people that worked there were still there, despite it being closed. So I drove around eating until I was done my burger and headed the mile or two to my uncle’s house.

When I got there, I pulled in front of the house once I found it and headed to the front door, where there was a note directing me to the guest house. I had to go around the back of the garage, where a motion light went off, then jimmy a fence door open (running back to activate the light when it went off before I was through the gate) and then found the guest house. It was set up really nice for me. It was one room with a couch bed. On an adjacent table was two bottles of Evian and 4 granola bars they had left for me. There was also a bathroom and shower.

I set my stuff up, charging my phone and camera batteries. I turned my laptop on and found a signal and checked my Facebook and email to see if I had gotten any important messages. I left a status update on FB and emailed my parents that I was safely at my uncle’s house. I also found out that the iTrip pretty much doesn’t work in Los Angeles (something about too many radio stations and power lines)… making my playlist pretty useless. I loaded up my PSP for the first time, plugging it into the wall, and tooled around on that for a bit, just messing with initial settings, firmware update, and the PSN store. Pretty nifty little thing it was! I then read a chapter of my book before settling in for the night.

 

Day Two

I woke up around 7am local time, which was really 10am in Eastern time. I think I had gone to bed around 2am EST the night before, so I got some good sleep. The note on the door last night had mentioned that everyone would be up around 7am and I could head inside the main house at that time. I tried to access my FB/email again but there was no wireless access point this morning. So I wrote the above blog entry and some of this one, too, then checked again. Internet was up, so I checked my FB/email, and then got in the shower to wash up before heading over to the main house.

When I got in, only my uncle was home and we chatted for a bit. He gave me a Huntington museum (Art Gallery, Library, Botannical Gardens) pass and then went back upstairs to do some work while I had a couple bowls of Fruit Loops. As he was leaving, my aunt arrived and we chatted for a bit as well. She had to do some work as well and so I went back to my room and wrote down a bunch of places I hoped to go check out throughout the day, today and tomorrow. I also wrote down the addresses for several Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles since I’d heard Snoop mention it all the time but never eaten there (yet). Lastly, I jotted down some hip-hop radio stations to listen to in my car (since the iTrip failure) because L.A. hip-hop radio is the only radio in the entire country that I’ve ever been able to tolerate – in fact, I love it and have even listened to it streaming online before I got my iPod.

I headed over to the Huntington museum but it didn’t open until noon, so I still had 40 minutes. I drove around for a long while aimlessly. Then, noticing an AUX jack on my car’s radio, I plugged a Radio Shack into my GPS and headed over there to buy a cable so I could hook my iPod up and be rid of the static! I got one, turned down the salesman trying to sell me tons of extra stuff, and headed back to Huntington and was let in. I found parking and headed to the gate, where I turned in my free pass, put on my sticker to prove I was allowed to be there, and proceeded inwards.

I saw a tour guide that was just starting a tour. However, I preferred to explore on my own solo, so I made my way left and happened upon the Desert Garden. It was incredible. I was snapping photos and even called my mother to tell her about where I was at. I walked around the desert garden and then found my way towards a lily pond in a new area, with weeping willows. I headed to another building, since it was so hot, and found the Library. Now, this wasn’t some town library deal. This was a building with books on displayed that were hundreds of years old. They had the Gutenberg Bible, George Washington’s journal when he was in the war, and just tons more dating from the middle ages up to present times. They even had the Confederate Constitution!

I exited the building and roamed around some more. My thighs were hurting like hell from all the walking and I wasn’t even halfway done yet. I found some open courtyard with a fountain, then headed for another building which housed an indoor Amazon forest. From there I made my way to a Chinese garden, then a Japanese garden, taking photos all along the way. I then headed for the Australian garden and subtropic garden, which were pretty lame by comparison to everything else I had seen. Next up was a rose garden, where I took more photos, and then I headed inside to an art gallery that had a lot of cool stuff. They even had the first silverware!

When I exited there, I figured it was time to go. I was starving, walking hurt my thighs pretty bad, and I wanted to head to Los Angeles for when I would get the all-important phone call from Bobby with the details on the meeting tonight. I plugged in Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles in Los Angeles and headed in that direction. Along the way, I stopped at a CVS and bought a Gatorade, as well as some other necessities. I even asked the pharmacist advice on what kind of lotion I should get for my thighs, and her advice was literally to just not walk as much tomorrow. Thanks.

So I got to Roscoe’s. I was seated by a nice waiter named Roy and he set me up with the two waffle/two chicken (breast/thigh) combo. I will say that, the entire time I was there, from when I pulled in the parking lot, all through my meal at a window seat, and when I left the place, I was the only white person I saw. I didn’t even see a white person drive by in a car as I ate! Good times. I texted all my Cali friends (and a few back home) while I ate and chatted about being in Cali. My old roommate, Daisy, hadn’t even known I was there!

When I got back in my car, it was like 3-4 ish. I still hadn’t heard from Bobby and was getting pretty frustrated. I also had no idea where I was. I pulled into a McDonalds parking lot and took my GPS out. I figured if I could find a Starbucks, I might get Internet access and would be able to check Facebook on my PSP. I also realized at this time that I wasn’t actually in Los Angeles anymore, I was in Watts. Well, that explained the racial quotas! If you don’t know about Watts, then check this out.

I made my way to a Starbucks, also getting in touch with my old roomster, Daisy. She was busy but we made plans to get together tomorrow.

I found my way to the Starbucks, but it was just a drive-thru. I parked in the plaza nearby and tried to get some Internet access via some wireless connection on my PSP. I also noticed that I was now in Compton.

I have no idea the sequence of events as they played out next, but the afternoon saw a lot of me driving around to various parking lots trying to get a wireless signal on my PSP to check up on Facebook. At some point, I was able to sync my phone to Facebook so I would at least get texts whenever I got anything in my Inbox, in case Bobby contacted me there. Eventually, I found my way to the University of Southern California. I figured I could park somewhere there and just nap or play a game on my PSP until Bobby got in touch. Sadly, they didn’t allow any non-campus people on the premises. It was 5pm now and so I called Gina, totally frustrated, and we basically agreed that the best thing for me to do would be to just head back to Pasadena. There, I could wait comfortably, see my family even, and once Bobby called me, I could then head to the meeting point. And, if he didn’t call at all and the meeting didn’t go down, well at least I’d already be home.

No sooner did I get off the phone than I got a text from Facebook. Bobby had given a number to call to get the details for the meeting! I pulled into a gas station and called up, but it went right to voicemail, followed by a message that the mailbox was full. To sum up the next three hours, I kept calling while driving around, but kept getting voicemail. Others also invited to the meeting had the same problem, and kept writing via Reply to All at Bobby’s message, so my phone was blowing up with texts from Facebook. I also knew of another guy from Boston that was out here and he was having the same issues.

I finally found a parking spot outside a Starbucks by the USC campus. I got connected on my PSP and was up on Facebook for a bit before lying down for a little snooze. When I got back up, I couldn’t connect anymore. But I figured USC was as good a spot to be at to wait as anywhere. Since I was also in a parking spot that required paying a meter, I went back to a shopping plaza and hung out there. And, for the first time, I actually played a game on my PSP, instead of just using it for its Internet browser lol…

Finally, at about 7:45pm, I got a text from Bobby saying that his phone had been ringing non-stop since his original message almost 3 hours prior. He gave the meeting spot out point-blank in the message: Magic Johnson’s Theater in Los Angeles at 8:30pm. I plugged the address in my GPS and I was only 10 minutes from it. Sidenote: I’ve noticed that, no matter the distance to a particular location in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, you’ll always be 10-20 minutes away from it – whether its 15 miles or even just 1 mile.

I hopped out of my car and went to a Baskin Robbins in the plaza, where I got myself a water and a peanut butter chocolate ice cream to chow down before the meeting. I also went to a BK in the same plaza and used the bathroom. Lastly, I had a pounding headache so I went into a grocery store also in the same plaza and got some medicine. And finally, I was on my way.

The Magic Johnson Theater was off of Crenshaw Blvd and, as I pulled in, I saw the other Think Tank II members all waiting around. I met up with Kyle, who put his luggage in my car. Poor guy had checked out of a hotel this morning but was only 21 and couldn’t rent a car, so he had been carrying his luggage around Los Angeles all day and taking cabs. So he stored it in my trunk and we went and hung out with the others, talking about our favorite Bone songs, member, etc.

We got a text from Bobby that Krayzie was running late from a meeting and that the meeting time was changed to 9:30pm. Shortly after that time, an SUV pulled up with two employees for Bobby, who had waivers for us all to sign. I read over mine, and was happy to see a lot of people were. What annoyed me was the clause at the end that said something akin to “I’ve had time to go over this with my attorney,” which we all obviously did not. But what can you do? We all signed it and were told that the meeting was not actually here, but that we were to follow their car to the actual meeting spot. We were also told to not bring in phones or cameras, but that we could get them from our cars once the meeting part was over and the relaxing part began.

Kyle and I got in my car and positioned ourselves right next to the SUV so we could trail it. When it left, we got in right behind it on its ass and followed it through some streets to… a suburban neighborhood? Turns out we were at someone’s house!

I’ll do my best to describe this next part: the place we were at had a gate with a small area on the other side of it and stairs immediately to the right after the gate. We all headed in, being given our grading sheet for the new album, and were told to head upstairs, where we heard Bone music playing. As we climbed the turning stairs and reached the top, there was a cement deck area to our left that faced and overlooked the street. There were double doors on our right that were already open and where we headed in. Inside this gigantic room was a full bar, serving drinks and some appetizers on the left as you entered. On the right was a huge lounging area in a down-set floor that had two steps with the second nearly invisible that nearly everyone tripped on lol… There was a bunch of couches and other furniture to crash on. At the end of the room was a screen display thing pulled down that was the entire size of the wall for a projector that was playing Bone videos on it. Bobby sat at a table to the right of it with head phones on. And straight ahead as you entered was a wall made entirely of glass that led out to a balcony that overlooked the entire city of Los Angeles. It was the most pimp atmosphere I had ever been in.

Kyle and I took our spots and hung out. Everyone was just relaxing, singing to the Bone videos, and Bobby eventually addressed us and thanked us for coming with a pre-meeting speech pep-talk. Eventually, Krayzie, Layzie, and Flesh came on in (no Bizzy or Wish) and met up with us. I got to meet them as they made their way up front to three seats for them up on a staging area. Without much more waiting, we finally began the listening meeting. It must have been 10-1030pm by the time it kicked off.

I won’t give out full details on the songs, of course, but we ended up hearing 20 tracks that we could rate 1-5. I didn’t rate a single song below a 2, and only one song a 2 at that. Most were 4s, a couple 5s, and a couple 3s. This album is going to sound amazing. There was also a collaboration with a certain artist whose name I won’t mention out of respect for the exclusivity of the meeting that just blew my mind away. When this song drops, people may call the song capitalizing, but they assured us that the song itself was recorded way back in May. If any of this seems fuzzy to you, don’t worry, you’ll understand when it finally comes out.

Layzie was on stage most of the whole meeting, as was Flesh (who also tripped on the stairs at one point), and they talked about the songs a lot, as did Bobby when he would introduce them. Krayzie, though, was outside on the balcony most of the time. When he was on stage, he looked upset to be there. No idea what was going on for him personally, so I can’t judge. I know he’s got family issues and I was just grateful to be there, so I won’t hate on him. All three would head outside every now and then for what Bobby called “an ice tea break.”

When the listening session portion was over, we were introduced to some Think Tank I members, the whole staff that worked on the album, and told some incredible information about Think Tank III that I simply cannot share at this time. We also were told that we had free admission and backstage passes to the concert tomorrow night in Phoenix and on Saturday night in Anaheim… oh, if only I lived out here :(

The partying commenced and I went back out to the car to grab my phone and camera, as well as Kyle’s, too. I had brought along my liner notes for an album that had a poster inside and got both Layzie and Flesh to sign it, as well as got photos with them (on Kyle’s camera because the flash on mine wasn’t working). Krayzie had disappeared, which was really unfortunate to say the least. I took some photos of the skyline and room we were in, and we hung out. Kyle went outside for “an ice tea break” with Layzie while I talked with some other members and Phaedra, an up and coming artist from Boston that you should really check out and who is working with Bone on their albums. I also thanked Bobby and had a nice chat with him, too.

Finally, the night came to a close. Kyle and I made our way to the car and I drove him to Union Station in Los Angeles to drop him off. It was already 3am and he had a flight at 1130am, so he wasn’t sure what to do, but he said dropping him off at Union Station was fine. I did so and headed back to Pasadena, where I updated my Facebook status and crashed in my bed.

What a night.

 

Day Three

I woke up around 11 or 12 here and groggily stumbled to the bathroom. I checked Facebook, added a few new friends from last night, checked BTNHboard.com, and wrote the above entry. I was supposed to hang out with Daisy, so I checked my phone and then got in the shower. I figure if my family was home in the main house, they probably were wondering why I wasn’t around yet, but I wanted to make sure I got the above entry written while it was fresh in my mind.

By the time I got to the main house it was already afternoon. My aunt offered to make me a roast beef sandwich with melted cheese (mmm) so I couldn’t pass her up. We chatted about everything from last night to what was going on back home in MA while I ate and eventually Daisy texted me. By that time, it was already fairly late and I had an uncle from Florida arriving to my Cali aunt and uncle’s place that wanted to see me before I left. It didn’t make much sense for me to drive to see Daisy in L.A., drive back to Pasadena, then drive to the airport in Long Beach, so I mentioned that I might be back in Cali soon to Daisy and that we’d just have to get together then instead.

I went back to the guest house and got my stuff ready to leave. I tried to put a movie on rented off of iTunes onto my iPod, only to learn that apparently my video iPod isn’t supported… wtf? I then tried to download the same movie off the PlayStation Network Store on my PSP only to find my memory card didn’t have enough room. So I paid for two rentals for the same movie and couldn’t watch either. Ugh.

I headed back to the main house and just lounged in the living room. Eventually my aunt and two cousins came in and we just chatted it up until my Florida uncle got there and, shortly after, my Cali uncle. We talked for a bit, had some appetizers, and then it was time for me to head on out. We got a photo outside their house and I said my sad goodbyes and was on my way.

I headed for some cheap gas station I had found online in Long Beach and it took me forever to get there thanks to the traffic, despite me having left between 545 and 6pm for a 855pm flight. But I made it, filled up and turned my car in, and headed into the airport, where I made my final calls to Gina and my parents before listening to the last bit of Cali music before boarding the plane. And, while on the plane, I didn’t sleep a bit. I tried but I don’t think it worked. Instead, I read my book some more and played my PSP most of the 6 hour flight. It was a funny reminder to when I had flown to Los Angeles in 1992 and, as a 12-year-old, had bought my first game system ever, the original Nintendo Game Boy. I ended up playing Tetris on that thing the entire flight home from Cali, and this time I was here doing it up with my PSP (and Final Fantasy Dissidia).

I finally got home to a cold Boston (I was still in shorts and flip-flops), got my bags, and caught the 539am bus to South Station, where I waited for the first train to West Newton. I still couldn’t sleep.. and I didn’t feel like it until I got onto the train – but then I didn’t want to miss my stop. Finally, I got off the train, walked the mile or so to where Gina had left my car parked at her work, and drove myself home. I got in, went right to my bed, and crashed until 1pm that afternoon.

And thus ended the Great Cali adventure!


Share It :

More

About the author

Jason L. Hubsch

Jason L. Hubsch

I love music, video games, comic books, pro wrestling, politics, and God -- and not necessarily in that order! If you like any of these, chances are we'll get along.

Related posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *