Why you should care

Because what you get paid sometimes doesn’t matter when you have to work.

I stole a Bible from the Spotted Pig. I took it from a shelf of old classics that served as décor in the “VIP room.” Nobody was reading them books, and I needed a memento from the night Jay-Z and I bro’d down in the West Village restaurant he co-owns.

I was on some boondoggle work trip hosted by YouTube. They flew me out to NYC for a star-studded Radio City Music Hall presentation of their new strategy for killing broadcast television. Jay-Z was the headliner that night, performing “New York” to a bunch of corporate suits holding up phones.

I was standing close enough to see the pained look on his face. The look of suffering jackasses. The look of saying “fuck it” for a paycheck, then having to put up. My noisy weirdo band once played a San Jose corporate party to an audience of 55-year-old chino’d white dudes with phones. They knew they were seeing something cool, but the only value of it was in the Facebook cred they got for seeing it. My heart went out to Jay-Z in his moment of paycheck-earning.

Fast-forward to an hour later, with me sitting next to my new bud, Jay-Z, talking shit.

After the show I found myself drinking booze with all the other corporate suits at the dinner. I was seated next to Jay-Z’s manager, who was also earning a paycheck, eating dry chicken and regaling us with stories only believable when you’re Jay-Z’s manager. He talked about the Clintons being some of the coolest people he’s met. OK, sure. I can see that.

Fast-forward four hours and I’m at some after-party upstairs at the Spotted Pig trying not to look at Jay-Z across the room as he sat alone eating fried chicken. The party is just getting rolling, so there’s, like, 20 people in the room, including some “famous” YouTubers I don’t know and some cream-of the-crop corporate suits like myself. Of course, peeps are starting to line up to shake the man’s hand and say stupid fan shit to him. “Let the dude eat his fuckin’ chicken and stop embarrassing yourselves,” I’m thinking. Soon enough, though, I say, “Fuck it” and make my way over.

fuck yeah bud

I got 99 problems, but a stolen Bible ain’t one.

Source Photo Courtesy of Megan Tweed

Fast-forward to an hour later with me sitting next to my new bud, Jay-Z, talking shit on how everybody hates the new stadium he’s building in Brooklyn and how soul-killing it is to play to limp crowds. I’m popping off all sorts of crap, watching him laugh, slapping him on the back and shit. He’s pretty soft-spoken, with a smile that takes over his whole face when he laughs. He seems pretty normal, and kind, and almost relieved to be hanging. I can only assume I seemed slightly drunk and obviously wildly hilarious. We’re digging the hangs, though, and acting like we are the only peeps in the room.

I eventually pull my head out of the tunnel vision I’ve got on, and realize there’s a whole room crammed full of people looking at me and Jay-Z like, “What up, yo?” OK, I can’t hog the dude all night, and besides, I think he had just started dating Beyoncé. Gotta respect. I tell him it’s been cool hanging, but I’m gonna go mingle. He nods and smiles, squeezes my shoulder and tells me to “stay cool.” I say something like, “Fuck, yeah, bud, you too.”

I stuck around a bit longer, chatting up rando YouTubers before grabbing the Bible and slinking out the door. As my taxi pulled away, I watched Jay-Z and his crew pile into a couple of Escalades and lurch off into the night. Fuck, yeah, bud. Good hangs. Still got that Bible. Still haven’t read it.

OZYTrue Story

Good stories from around the globe. Essays and immersion, into the harrowing, the sweet, the surprising -- the human.