May 15, 2012

To say that The Beastie Boys are important to me would be a gross understatement.

My favorite, older and wiser cousin who made me mix tapes of The Violent Femmes and Luscious Jackson drove me to Philadelphia the summer before 7th grade to see The Beastie Boys on their Hello Nasty tour. It was hot and I got my first buzz, from my first stadium beer, foamy water in a plastic cup. I yelled, and danced. I fell in love. We drove back through the pine barrens, ate onion rings at Olga’s, and as the clocked ticked into the morning, we told Jersey Devil stories.It was the first of many concerts, of many un-girly girls nights with Lyndsey, and the first of many (many) beers.

They were my first favorite band, my devotion  evidenced by my middle school wardrobe of Beastie Boys tees and cargo shorts. They were funny, smart, and irreverent – which is how I saw, and how I continue, to see myself. It’s funny to me how the boys have stuck with me over the years, and how deeply saddened I was by MCA’s passing this weekend. MCA was the impetus for the creation of The Beastie Boys, and was responsible for so many of the things that helped my love for the band become more than a passing phase – from their philanthropic involvement, to their love of this city, to their brilliant music videos.

I think, that from the general public, there was this was this kind of eye-roll when The Beasties’ publicly apologized  for the errant misogyny in their earlier work. But for a budding feminist, who had been introduced to the band by a strong, smart woman, it felt important. License to Ill came out the year after I was born, and while I loved those songs, they always felt like jokes to me – maybe I just want to believe this, but even as they were rapping about girls doing dishes, they were apologizing to annoyed Brooklyn mothers for doing so.

The older (and punker) I got, I dipped backwards into the Beastie Boys catalog, loving Pollywog Stew and Some Old Bullshit (and Kate Schellenbach – forever and ever). I loved Paul’s Boutique, and when the critics panned it, they, in true Beastie fashion went out on their own. I remember where I was exactly the first time I heard At The Drive, all because of Grand Royal Records. The acts on Grand Royal Records, like Cibbo Matto, Bran Van 3000, and Liquid Liquid (god damn, they had a good line-up)  opened me up to electronic-driven music that continues to inform how I value music now. MCA’s dedication to Freeing Tibet always felt genuine to me, and as I got older and more political, with an ever-bleeding heart, I respected him more and more. There was this sentiment that they didn’t give a fuck – until it mattered.

I was meant to see the Beastie Boys at All Points West in 2009, just as Adam Yauch was diagnosed with cancer. Jay-Z filled in for them when they were unable to perform, with one of the best live hip-hop sets I have ever seen. His cover of No Sleep Til’ Brooklyn was raw, and loud, and perfect after a soaking wet day of shows. Only after moving to New York could I really see how important this city was to The Boys, and how it informed their music, their videos, their personas. I spent a lot of time in Brooklyn this weekend, maybe on purpose. Friday night outside in a backyard bar, Check Your Head played on vinyl. Bar and restaurant sidewalk clapboards mourned the loss of one of Brooklyn’s boys. It felt good to know we were all together in feeling bad about this.

I’ll miss you, MCA. You were too young, and too good.

“Dear New York I hope you’re doing well

I know a lot’s happen and you’ve been through hell

So, we give thanks for providing a home”


2 Responses to “On MCA”

  1. yummybooks said

    Crying into my morning coffee, this was the best tribute I’ve read yet. You’ve got a way with words, lady.

  2. Meg you give me chills. I have to agree with the above post… you’ve got a a way.

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