This is a true story account taken from an email between Rick Barrio Dill of Vintage Trouble and Ed Young of World Live Mobile explaining the amazing set of events.
As you know, we had shot the video for "Nancy Lee" on several Iphone 4s, mine being one of them. Shortly after the shoot, we had backed things up to hard drives, but there was a problem with some of these and we didn't know about this problem for a few days. We got the call from the directors on the video that they need us to personally backup our individual phones again and I just hadnt had a chance to sync/backup my phone because we were so busy and figured I would get it to them the next day. In that interim, we played a huge show at our residency here in Los Angeles. I was leaving the club that night to load out around 2AM and most clubs being very dark, as you can imagine, getting from the backstage area to the trucks out back can be interesting on just about any night. I threw my phone in my bag, loaded out, made my checklist and drove home about 40 minutes away. Upon getting home, I went to plug in and sync/backup my phone and realized somehow my phone wasn't in my bag anymore. Instantly, your heart sinks of course. It must've fallen out during load out. I retrace my steps...I go down to the garage and tear apart my truck. It must have fallen out in my truck while loading...unfortunately, no dice.
Then I move to thinking it must've fallen out either in the backstage area of the club, or worse, in the alley behind the club. By this time, its going on 4AM and no one is available to contact at the club of course. We have a soundcheck the next day at 1PM opening up for Paula Cole the complete other side of town, and the thought of driving down again all the way to the club and NOT having a cell phone to communicate is not appealing at all of course....especially if its INSIDE the club. Then I will have wasted another trip and much needed time. On the other hand, if its laying outside in the alley, at first light, someone is going to grab it and the thought of the MUCH needed "Nancy Lee" footage disappearing as well as other new Vintage Trouble song ideas and memos not backed up is literally making me sick to my stomach. I pace up and down my house, starting to lose my mind. What to do? My girlfriend was on the east coast (3 hours ahead) and close to 6am PST, I call her for advice. She convinces me there is NO choice. I need the phone. Drive down, sack up, brave traffic and get my ass to the club to at least rule out it's not laying out back in the alleyway. Here is where the story really gets interesting.
So I prepare myself to brave the LA morning traffic without ANY kind of phone capabilities (how did we ever LIVE without cell phones?) and it finally dawns on me...I HAVE MOBILE ME...I remember seeing an ad for "Find My Iphone"...hello! I log in, click the "find my iphone" button and low and behold, the gps tracker zooms in and apparently gets within 6 meters of where your phone is. Sure enough...its at the back wall of the club...but I cant tell whether its actually inside the back door...or in the alley. the gorgeous blue dot was kinda right on that border. So...score one for feeling better that I know where the phone is…but lose one for not knowing if the phone is secure. Ok...final decision made...GET OUT THE DOOR! Literally, as I am tying my shoes and grabbing my keys...the BLUE DOT STARTS TO MOVE!!! You are KIDDING ME! Yep...MY phone starts to just jet its way down to the 3rd street promenade and then north several blocks and if you can imagine...I am now actually WATCHING myself be violated. Actual true sickness to stomach commence.
I of course used the "send a message to my phone feature" for at least an hour but no avail. no call back. Thankfully, the phone was locked (one of many testaments to the great iphone features), but it doesnt help that this expensive phone with near priceless information on it was now touring the Santa Monica beachside. What to do now? Did a homeless person get a new Iphone4 present? Did a security guard pick it up? Once I leave my house, I cant communicate to try to coordinate a search really. Im running out of time too. Of course, not able to go to sleep...I have to try. i leave my house...phone-less and with the thinnest of prayers.
By the time I get thru traffic and down to Santa Monica, the day is already zooming and there is early morning activity all around. I of course scour the back parking lot and alley way and there is plenty of life and people moving around, but of course no sign of my Iphone4 anywhere. Stomach in knots, I need an update from my east coast command center...but do they even MAKE pay phones anymore? I walk all around and finally find the ONE pay phone in Santa Monica (its 35c by the way to make a call...good luck getting change, lol) and its currently being used as a headboard by a homeless woman crazed out of her mind...pacing and screaming in circles all around the phone. I manage to maneuver myself into position with the same homeless woman yelling at me long enough to call the east coast. Where is the phone? My EST command center informs me that it has been moving all around the promenade but it appears to be stopped a few blocks over and now back in the FRONT of the club again. I hang up my lifeline and head towards that area. By the time I get there, of course, everything is locked up tight and no one around. Clueless again, I make my way back around to the back alleyway and there is still plenty of life moving around, but no one holding a nice shiny new Iphone4 in plain sight. The janitors are moving through all the buildings and several of the offices as well as the club are having the customary cleaning staff run through. I go to the back door which is now open and the one janitor working inside the club doesnt speak english. I explain I WORKED here last nite and lost a phone. He says in his best broken english, "no phone, no find" and I proceed to bust myself into the club to look around anyway, just to be sure. I look all around...nothing. Besides, last I had contact with my "eye in the sky" it was out front and moving east anyway. Hopeless...ooof. Back to stomach sickness.
At this time, its still too early to call anyone from the club. Me and my stomach wait till 930am, the earliest I feel even remotely ok with waking someone up to help on THIS coast, and I call our amazing soundman Guy. I tell him my story, that I have been tracking the phone and its somewhere around, but last update, it was back "near" the club. He graciously wakes up and says, "come pick me up, Im only 2 miles away, I have keys and there is an internet connection upstairs in the greenroom of the club...I will help". I go pick him up as fast as possible and NOW, by virtue of picking him up, I have HIS cellphone to communicate with the east coast. As we are pulling back IN to the club parking lot, east coast breaks the new bad news. "I figured you found the phone...its been heading EAST on I-10 for 15 minutes...the phone is gone". I know....this keeps getting worse.
Just to be thorough, we go upstairs, log in and further commence WATCHING the violation continue...this time towards East LA. I send a few more "lost phone, call 555-1212" text messages to the phone, but of course...no luck. At this point, still clueless what to do, the Blue Dot STOPS....and sits put. It sits put now at a specific address for 10minutes. I decide this is the last chance to free fall out the plane again and go after THAT address...phoneless. Guy, being the amazing friend he is, says "I cant let you go at this alone...you need communication with the east coast if it moves...and besides, i want to see how this ends". A great guy indeed (pun intended). So speeding down the 10 we go.
Along the way, the phone starts racing away AGAIN...and as we are moving towards a point, the point keeps moving as declared via a faint voice through Guys phone some 3000 miles away. Finally, as we get off the 10, we are informed the blue dot stopped and now does find another resting place...in NOT so good a neighborhood. Thankfully, its only 1030am. I get what appears to be an EXACT address (or across the street address) and google maps shows its a housing complex. As we get closer to the point, my girlfriend says my phone is across the street from (lets call it 2632 Jones Street to protect the NOT so innocent). We arrive to this spot and across the street where the phone is, there is a chainlink fence with several large and unhappy looking dogs and approximately 10 or 12 nice little tiny project style abodes. No way can I go door to door knocking here...lol and let's not forget I have to be at soundcheck in about 2 hours. A bullet wound might not be the best way to get the sound I need. I look at Guy...what to do? We are dead in the water again.
As we sit outside in the protection of my truck with me unable to make the last decision to pull the plug on this operation, out of nowhere...Guys phone rings. It is David, the owner of the club we play and where Guy is employed. "What were you doing in the green room this morning?" he asks and Guy proceeds to fill him in on the drama we are living out. David is blown away. He, like most of us, had no idea this technology even existed, much less could even process the real life drama of my last 6 hours. As they are about to hang up, Guy thinks to ask...just out of curiosity..."do you know where our janitor lives?". David does not, but says he will try and find out. 5 minutes later he calls back, just having spoken with the mother of the janitor for the club. The janitor has been working for them for 2 years and to this point has proven incredibly trustworthy. The mother informed David that he lives approximately 2 blocks away from where we are currently parked. "Call her back and ask if he actually lives across the street from 2632 Jones St?" I ask. In LA 2 blocks is nowhere near ironic. He calls back 2 minutes later...this time on 3 way, through Guys phone, WITH the mother of the janitor. "yes...directly across the street". "How about you tell him to come outside and bring my EFFIN PHONE...we know he HAS IT". She relays that her son says he doesn't have it, to which we reply..."we are sitting outside, nice try!". 10 uncomfortable minutes later, the same janitor whom I briefly had a chance bi-lingual encounter with not 2 hours earlier comes outside with MY IPHONE4 in HIS HAND!!!
"Sorry, found it". He says. Right. I didn't care. Guy made me stay in the car, to avoid a battery and assault charge, which was probably wise. I was so pissed, but at the same time, the happiest guy on earth. My "Nancy Lee" footage and all the new Vintage Trouble Song ideas and my very lifeblood communication and work tool was back in my hands. Never to leave my side again...lol. In my head, I designed a chain to hook the thing to my belt for the future. I literally was to the point of tears. Who needs sleep when the end to this amazing story leads to this very point? Truly amazing.
So for me, this whole thing is a HUGE testament to 1) Steve Jobs and the amazing people at APPLE for designing such useful and brilliant tracking technology that normal people can use for good things. 2) My girlfriend for pushing me to get in the car and jump out the plane chute-less so to speak, in pursuit of the phone and the almost priceless data on it. 3) ME, for staying with it and never giving up on trusting your instincts. Had I NOT had the nerve to go all the way back down and continually hang around in Santa Monica snooping, I never would've had the brief 5 minute chance encounter with the janitor during the small window he was cleaning the club. 4) GUY for being a true friend and gladly getting out of bed to help be a medium for the backside of this adventure and to think to get David to investigate further and LASTLY, 5) DAVID for being the FINAL and completely VITAL last THREAD to weave the whole thing together by calling out of the blue at the perfect time and bring this whole amazing story full circle by tying the janitor back to the exact location where we were at. Without any of these pieces, this story is just a sad throwaway. So much went into this and to just end up getting all the footage back from MY piece of the Iphone Nancy Lee video too...its just nothing short of an amazing sign of the beauty of technology and the times…truly.
rick barrio dill