December 2000. Snoop Dogg is scheduled to perform at the Gypsy Tea Room as part of a promotional tour for his new release, Tha Last Meal. At the time, I found myself in the employment of said establishment, and having handled countless esoteric/idiotic requests from bands over the years, I could only imagine what someone such as Snoop Dogg would demand. Little did I know I was dealing with the most laid-back (um, stoned) outfits to ever play the venue. Catering was minimal--what about the munchies?--and the gear/equipment the band required was nothing to speak of. Hell, keeping the tour manager's attention from wandering while advancing the show was the real challenge. The day of the show I was told that two 15-passenger vans would be showing up with Snoop and his entourage at approximately 8 p.m. By approximately, I mean I received the call around 9:20 p.m.--punctuality was certainly not a priority--saying that the two vans were in the vicinity but were having problems finding the venue. After circling the block several times, including one pass during which I stood in the street waving my arms wildly at the vehicles, they pulled into the back entrance.
A few moments later, the doors flew open and what could be termed as "questionable" smoke began billowing out of the vans. It was like a cross between a Cheech and Chong outtake and a hip-hop version of Spinal Tap. People began pouring from the vehicles: road crew, friends, uncles, second cousins, assorted baby's-mamas and random groupies and hangers-on. And at long last, the star of the show. As his tall, lanky frame made its way from his ground transportation and into the venue, what he was carrying caught my eye. In Snoop's right hand was a coffee grinder that clearly had seen extensive use, none of which involved coffee beans. In his left hand was just under a trash sack full of weed. Needless to say, the mood of the venue turned into that of the neighborhood block parties you've always heard about but never seemed to be invited to. Everyone was drinking, dancing, carousing and having a blast, with Snoop Dogg providing the soundtrack. He played all the hits, made everyone smile and, without a doubt, gave everyone their money's worth. If you missed it the first time in an intimate setting, don't make the same mistake again. Just make sure you inform your employer you have a "doctor's appointment" until around lunchtime the next day, so as to give yourself time to recover.