Pharrell Williams looks like he's been to many Zen gardens in his four decades on this planet, but in fact, today’s field trip will be a first. "We’ll be learning together," he says, standing in the lobby of his Bel Air hotel, surrounded by outrageous ferns. The peaks of his Vivienne Westwood buffalo hat are huge and uneven, like the Alps. His face is - well, you know. He looks like he is never going to die. He has looked that way for forty years and counting.
Someone mentioned this Japanese Zen garden in Van Nuys, said Pharrell would like it. And so, on an overcast Tuesday in January in Los Angeles, we are off to look at some meditative trees. We wedge ourselves into an SUV and start driving, Pharrell in the captain's chair, his cheerful, pixie-cut wife, Helen, beside him. His phone rings almost immediately, the name "Ush" - for Usher - displayed on its screen. They start talking. It is, at first, not at all clear what they're talking about - just that Pharrell is trying to talk Usher into something preposterous involving horses.