14 November 2013

Revisting Rihanna #777

One year ago today, 150 other journalists and I embarked on a crazy trip with Rihanna. Dubbed the #777 tour, the plan was to accompany her while she played seven shows in seven countries in seven days as a way to promote her upcoming seventh album, “Unapologetic.” 

It was a crazy ride to say the least. Rihanna got a lot of press and the most of it was bad because she showed up late for show after show, including keeping people in Berlin waiting for four hours. We were supposed to have press conferences with her on the plane in each city —she was in the front of the plane with her entourage—and we were back in coach and we only saw her twice, when we took off from Los Angeles on our way to Mexico City the first day and then on our last flight on the way  from London to New York City. 

In between, we mainly waited for Rihanna...and waited... and waited. It became very clear that she was constitutionally incapable of getting anywhere on time. It wasn’t just that she was late for the concerts. She was late for a meeting with school children. She was late for a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. But, mainly, she was late for the plane. She, somehow, turned a flight from Berlin to London into a red-eye. 

So take a trip that was going to be exhausting under the best conditions: I’d like to try it with a country artist since they tend to be very courteous about time and very chatty with the press for the most part. But this became a shit show. By the fifth night - on that flight from Berlin to London, we’d all hit our limit. Plus, we were plied with free alcohol on every flight. That's a dangerous combo.  We thought that RiRi might grace us with her presence and float back from first class and when she didn’t, we stood our on seats and started chanting for her. Then, one of the Australian journalists streaked around the plane (this guy, as you can imagine, was a real character. Last week, he won the Australian edition of “Big Brother.”) By the time we landed, we were already an internet sensation and a trending topic with hash tags like #freetherihanna150.

So today when the anniversary of the trip rolled around, several of us were Facebooking photos and emailing back and forth. The conditions were tough, but to the journalist/blogger/radio personality, all of my colleagues were great. I enjoyed them all immensely and I knew none of them before I got on the plane so they are all new friends. We all bonded together in our exhaustion and our frustration, but mainly in our humor in dealing with a ridiculous situation. We laughed a lot and other than the lack of sleep, that’s what I remember the most.  Most of them are based in New York and I miss them. I don’t want to be on that plane again no matter what, but I would go almost anywhere with this bunch of journalists anytime. 

As for Rihanna, for awhile there, especially after seeing the same show night after night, the last thing I wanted was to hear her music and I’m still not much of a fan, but there are certain songs that take me instantly back to that first show in Mexico City when I was just meeting my fellow travelers-come-hostages or to the show in London where she had to go on reasonably on time since it was being live telecast or the final show in New York City where we gathered round afterwards and breathed a sigh of relief that we were done, we were back in the U.S. and the Thanksgiving break was coming so we could get some sleep.

In honor of my fellow #777 Survivors and the trip, I’m giving to a charity that Rihanna has supported, the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. 

Like so many organizations I’ve given to this year, Bear Necessities was started by a parent after she lost her child, in this case, 8-year old son, Barrett “Bear” Krupa,” to cancer. Bear Neccessities helps individual families who are struggling financially as their child receives treatment and also provides medical grants to researchers trying to find a cure for pediatric cancers. 

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