MCA of the Beastie Boys, in suave businessman pose.
I'm sure you all heard the news by now, but today MCA aka Adam Yauch of the white, Jewish, now-nearing-50-years-old, original NYC rapping musicians, the Beastie Boys, passed away. Though he'd been sick for awhile, I hadn't heard any updates since (the rather good) Hot Sauce Committee Pt. Two dropped last year, and mistakenly assumed he was recovered. Assumed.
I'm not one to reminisce or even talk about celebrities, but I have three very distinct memories, all in different phases of my life, attached to the music of the Beastie Boys. If there's ever a time to paint my homely Midwestern homage with words, it's in the two-point-five seconds before the news cycle swirls ever onward, amidst all the other remembrances, playlists, and shout-outs you're likely to hear over the weekend. These sounds make me as nostalgic as any other sensory experience that immediately transports you to another time.
One/1993: Sneaking into my older brother's room wasn't tough. By the time I was old enough to brave the silent, particle-board door that opened into the perpetually-darkened space, Adrian was a teenager, and out and about more often than not. The shelf stereo system he had included a CD-player that opened outwards, slowly, with hydraulics, like the door of a Delorean but with less swivel. A poster for Check Your Head graced one wall, black-and-white, the B-Boys wearing sunglasses and looking anywhere but towards the fisheye lens. I'd whisk whatever disc was inside the player out, place carefully on top of the shelf, and find Paul's Boutique. There was only one song my 9-year-old brain wanted to hear. With its mix of swift beats, funky bass, illogically catchy and juvenile lyrics, and the amazingly haunting creepy-whistled-reverb of the chorus, "Egg Man" was all I sought. I played it twice, three or four times if I was feeling secure, then replaced it with what had previously been in the player. Left and closed the door, and nobody was the wiser.
"Sam / I am / down with the program / green eggs & ham / Yosemite Sam"
Two/2001: In high school we had what was known as "open lunch." Basically, this meant that, in the 29 minutes between two bells, we could leave campus and eat somewhere besides the cafeteria. Kokomo being like any other American city was quite spread out, thus you couldn't linger, and had to jet out of the parking lot to beat all the other cars to the nearest Wendy's, Taco Bell, or other chain. Or local option, like 4 for 5 coneys at Cone Palace. My buddy Biz and I were often blessed with first lunch, which began at 10:15 am. Often, we'd be the first in the parking lot, hop into his dark green-blue Oldsmobile, slam in Hello Nasty and rocket towards...Rally's. There was a stretch of road on the way there with a small rise, maybe half a mile in length, not outside the city, but bisecting a field, factory, and small neighborhood. On the way back, we'd often skip to "Body Movin'", bust out some sunflower seeds if the weather was nice, and Biz would try to hit 90 mph, before scorching the brakes back into the parking lot. I don't know if we ever technically got airtime on that stretch of Defenbaugh Road, but we felt like Kings, if just for a moment.
"We need body rockin' not perfection / Lemme get some action from the back section"
Three/2011: Fast-forward ten years and some miles south, where the hills start to gently roll in southern Indiana. A bunch of us dudes, friends, good friends, best friend; all gathered at the wedding of my old-man roommate Andy & Larie. The reception that follows is in Batesville, a town most well-known for its casket company. In a very-Hoosier touch, the location is a Knights of Columbus hall, replete with old-man bartending in a white polo shirt. The DJ starts out slow, but once requests start rolling in, things start flowing. At some point, "Intergalactic" is requested, and all of us tuxedoed-men, now jacket-less and mostly vest-less of course, circle up and proceed to sort-of huddle-and-jump, shout-rapping the entire song at one another, pausing during all the breaks, lowering bodies to "......DROP!" One of the best times ever, to be sure. Thanks, MCA.
"I'll stir fry you in my wok / Your knees'll start shakin' and your fingers pop / Like a pinch from the neck of Mr. Spock"