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Adam Yauch Is Recovering From Surgery And I'm Not Recovering From The Beastie Boys

Beastie_boys Making it a weekly practice to write for MamaPop has exposed me to how deeply influenced I am by popular culture. It's in my bones. But just like the way you carry your bones around with you all the time and never think about them, so too with pop culture. It's too present to be aware of. You just go about your life, being made of it, unaware of it.

Until you get bone cancer and then suddenly - you've got bones on your mind. That's how I feel about hearing about Adam Yauch (MCA) getting throat cancer. The Beastie Boys have been a constant staple in my background. They were just there. But since hearing the news and following Yauch's progress, I've been thinking a lot about the Beastie Boys. All I do is rhyme and steal.

Let's put things in context. I will always love music but I've never needed music like I needed it when I was a teenager. In terms of identity, I was absolutely certain that I didn't want to be my parents. That's all I knew. The rest was up for grabs. I needed some role models. I needed the Beastie Boys.

In January of 1986, I was 14 and a buddy of mine was hit by a car and killed. I bring this up a lot and I apologize. But I confess. That's where I'm broke. It's the source of every question I've ever asked. In August of 1986, his Mom took me to see Run-DMC. Now unless you were submerged in underground New York punk (I wasn't) or you had a copy of the Krush Groove soundtrack (I didn't), you didn't know about the Beastie Boys in August of 1986. You just noticed their goofy name on the bill that night and shrugged your shoulders.

I was young, morbid, and primed to have my head explode.

There's nothing quite like being ignorant of a band you're on the verge of loving. There's that moment. You're not engaged or committed at all and then... riveted. Please tell me you know what I'm talking about.

These kids, barely in their 20s (Ad-Rock was 19) took the stage clutching Budweisers and microphones and, yeah, they were white. That was an undeniable aspect of the first impression at a Run-DMC show including Whodini, Too Short, and an 18-year-old rhymer named LL Cool J. But beyond that initial distinction, they immediately distinguished themselves from the polished flow of popular 80s rap. They were sloppy. They used power chords. The Ad Rock nasal thing. The unabashed yelling.

And they were In... Fucking... Corrigble.

They didn't use the stage. Rather, they stayed in a tight cluster in the middle, weaving around each other and the case of Bud they brought out like they were at a party in your backyard. They kept grabbing beers, chugging some and spilling the rest in the wake of their outlandish rap gestures. They closed their set with Slow and Low and I had three kick ass older brothers who would always be a couple steps ahead of cool.

Licensed to Ill came out in November and I remember the cassette in my hand. I had a soundtrack. And a way to be.

Their appearance at the 1987 Grammy awards is burned into my memory. If you don't watch the whole thing, at least watch their entrance up to around 33 seconds:

The bounding steps. The hyped up pogo leaps. Yauch grabbing his nuts. My Dad sneered and shook his head. Here was where we parted ways for good.

Who can say why some things slip into what is forgotten and some things make indelible memories? I remember sitting on the steps of Berkey Hall at Michigan State, looking at the cover of Check Your Head. I remember seeing them in Detroit and Ad-Rock spitting on the stage. I remember coming unglued the first time I heard Sabotage in Gabe's gold Taurus

These are the images I float around on. The stuff in which I stew. So when I heard that MCA had throat cancer, it all came bubbling up and it struck me in an odd way how steeped in the Beastie Boys my life is. 23 years. And Adam Yauch has throat cancer?!?

But it's sounding like he'll be OK. His doctors are optimistic. In a statement released last week, Yauch reported that he was recovering from surgery and he's preparing for 7 weeks of radiation. He's refusing to take his pain meds and that made me smile.

I needed MCA to show me how to fight for my right to party. And now I look forward to the beating cancer lesson. Get well soon, Adam Yauch.







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Comments

colleen

this is perfect. just awesome.

Katie

I absolutely get what you are talking about. Amen to all of the above. Even if you are not a fan of the awesomtastic B-Boys, all of the above is universally true. That is life, my friend.

Grammar Snob

Thank you for this....I have always had a soft spot for The Beastie Boys and recently introduced them to my teenage nieces.

Get well soon, Adam!

Jan

Great post, really, I mean it. GREAT post.

Good to read real life experiences with such bands as the Beastie Boys and how a member illness affects us all.

Sweetney

What a great tribute. I hope he reads this.

Gaby

I bought tickets to last weekend's Lollapalooza primarily because the Beastie Boys were headlining, and I was so sad to hear that Adam was diagnosed with cancer and wouldn't be able to perform. Freaking cancer.

I hope he gets well quickly, and I look forward to seeing the Boys in concert soon.

mommymae

that was when they had a huge inflatable penis, isn't it?!? what a great fucking tour to see. i thought the same thing about yauch getting cancer. one of my musical idols has been humanized. it's weird. and makes me consider my own mortality.

Holmes

Very nice, dude. And this:

"There's nothing quite like being ignorant of a band you're on the verge of loving. There's that moment. You're not engaged or committed at all and then... riveted. Please tell me you know what I'm talking about."

Yes, yes, yes, though I confess, these moments are fewer and farther between as I get older. Maybe it's that whole thing about needing music when you're younger.




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