For Adam Yauch. I am so tired of writing these.
This is obnoxious and obscene and don’t let your kids listen to it. Or if you’re a kid listening to it, just don’t tell your parents.
This was their first single. I heard it on WNYU, which is where I first heard of the Beastie Boys. I may or may not have seen them play as a hardcore band, back in the 80s I once tried to figure it out but never could. I do know that I took my life into my hands going out to the Capitol Theater in Passaic to see them, back when they had the go-go dancers in the cages, and scalped tickets in front of the Garden when they opened for Madonna on the Like A Virgin tour. (Really, I wanted to see Madonna, but the Beasties just made it more interesting.)
Somehow I found myself in the middle of the crowd at Lollapalooza 96 in the middle of their set, very close to the front, and if you have ever been there you know what that was like: it was insane. Jumping, singing, arm waving, very very male. I gave up my front row seat at the 98 Tibetan Freedom Concert to my friend Kathy, who was wearing her Beastie Boys socks that day, because she deserved it more than I did.
The genius of making a record by prank calling Carvel and asking to talk to Cookie Puss will only make sense to a certain generation, and that generation of people is right now walking around their offices with red eyes and remembering the first time they heard a bunch of white Jewish kids rapping. They were our age. Everyone I knew knew someone who knew them. Everyone I knew knew someone who dated them. Everyone I knew knew someone who smoked pot with them.
And then, they grew up at about the same time we did, at about the same time we started feeling uncomfortable with the lyrics, when we got to the point where we couldn’t have kept listening if they kept going in the same direction. They still managed to be bad ass and full of conviction. They taught a generation of kids who probably couldn’t have found Tibet on a map to care about something beyond their own front yards.
They were New York and they were ours and they still are right now. We’re just missing one. Fuck cancer. Fuck this shit.