Where on earth do I begin?
I’ve been percolating on how to properly put into words the sheer bliss I feel after having one of the most fun yet exhausting weekends in a long, long time. If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’ve been dealing with the passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys and have been trying to assemble an organized effort to get fans together to share in the memories and music.
This weekend, August 5, 2012 would have been Yauch’s 48th birthday. To honor the band and man that shaped so many of us, my new friend Jason Palk decided to hold a Beastie Fan Celebration in NYC on the eve of Yauch’s birthday. We began the day bright and early by going on a walking tour of the NYC landmarks that were crucial to the formation of the band. We saw some awesome sights and had a fantastic time – all while sweating profusely in the intense August heat.
When I arrived that morning to the Frederick Douglass playground on 100th and Amsterdam, I had no way of knowing that the 30+ folks I’d meet this day would make their way into my heart so quickly. These fans – these really, truly wonderful people – they GET IT. We don’t have to explain what this band means to us – we understand on sight. We can rap and vibe and make jokes that only we understand. It’s nice to know that other people have been affected as deeply as I’ve been and truly just want to celebrate the music that has shaped us all. Everyone was cool.
We also had a very international crowd. We had folks come in from Boston, California, Canada, Germany, Louisiana, New Jersey (me!!) and beyond. Some folks rearranged their vacations just to be a part of this. I’m telling you – the fans that this band has are simply incredible.
We began the day by stopping at John Berry’s Loft at 100th and Broadway. It’s now a beauty salon above a diner, but back when Adam Yauch was just 17 years old, it was the site of the first show for the band that would ultimately become the Beastie Boys. What an incredible piece of history. Just like the county fête where John Lennon met Paul McCartney. Yeah… I went there. It’s that important.
Our next stop was the 7th Avenue Subway Station, located at 53rd St. and Broadway. You might remember the 2004 performance of “Ch-Check It Out” on the Dave Letterman show. The boys emerged from the subway station and rapped along the streets all the way down to the theater. Yauch comes out with an intensity here – he’s just on fire. Just a few hours before this all went down, the band reached out to their fans and they were allowed to line the sidewalks during the shoot. If you haven’t seen this epic performance, I recommend you, you know… Ch-Check It Out… (sorry… couldn’t resist).
We stopped to take some pics of ourselves coming out of this subway entrance, which was really fun.
Next up we hit 171 Avenue A, which is the original location of Ratcage Records and the location at which the boys recorded Pollywog Stew. Bad Brains recorded their first tape here and the Beasties played early shows here, before Ad-Rock joined the band. It’s now a burger joint called Bad Burger and they were not only very kind but they also made some delicious food. If you’re doing this tour on your own, stop there for a bite. It’s yummy!
While everyone was inside, I stepped out to get a photo of the building’s exterior. Up comes my new friends James and Ajit and James is literally yelling “HEY! WE FOUND YOU!! YEAH!!!!”
Turns out those guys missed us at the playground and tried to follow the tour PDF’s Jason had posted online. Our sneaky sticker team had been “dropping science” behind us as we moved from landmark to landmark, and these two put their noses to the ground and followed the stickers to find us. Seriously dudes… good detective work. How cool is that!?
After 171A, we took the (sweaty) mile walk down to 511 Canal, which is the location of Oscilloscope Laboratories, the independent film distribution company that Yauch started with David Fenkel. The office building on Canal also housed the Beasties recording studio and film production facilities.
During the making of Hot Sauce Committee, I believe there was a time where the band streamed live video from the offices to show fans what they were up to… like mad scientists in the la-bor-a-tory.
To the Five Boroughs, The Mix Up and Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 were recorded here, as well as the Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty album/reissue commentaries. The office scenes from “Ch-Check it Out” and entire “Shazam” video were shot here. Quite a large chunk of BBoy history resides within these walls. Plus, the Gratitude and RIP MCA signs in the window were quite moving to see. Yauch’s a man that is very very loved and incredibly missed. I had to wipe some tears from my viewfinder at this spot.
We also decided this would be a great place for a tour group photo. Here (most of us) are – muggin by Oscilloscope.
Back on the subway we headed down to Chinatown to visit a former residence of the band, 59 Chrystie Street. After the band won a lawsuit against British Airways for an unauthorized use of “Beastie Revolution” in a commercial, they took their winnings and got a pad at 59 Chrystie. According to a SPIN magazine 2008 interview with Yauch, he inferred that it wasn’t the greatest of places to live, but it was theirs. This was a particularly crowded spot but we had to stop for just a moment to pay respects.
Next up we headed to the intersection of Rivington St. and Ludlow St., affectionately known as the location of the Paul’s Boutique cover photo. It’s now a burger joint but inside they did have a large panoramic print of the Paul’s Boutique cover, giving a nod to the building’s history. Nice.
We had to pause here to grab some food and get out of the blazing sun for a moment. My ultra-white skin needed another slathering of SPF 2,000 sunscreen, so we ducked inside a bar just up the street and took a little break. Turns out the bar had a great special deal and the bartender was kind enough to blast BBoys music for us while we were in there. I am telling you, NYC still has some surprises tucked away in happy little pockets. This city loves and respects the BBoys. And that’s alright by me.
Our last stop was the Midwood MCA Gratitude mural. After a long subway ride and an “interesting” subway rider in our car (ahem), we finally made our way up to the platform to get the best vantage point. I have to say – rolling 30+ deep we were loud and boisterous all day. But on this platform, we all fell silent.
This mural is so meaningful, so beautiful, and so large… it just brings you to your knees. I did have to turn away for a few minutes here, because the tears started flowing all over again. There was a sense of reality and finality here. It was peaceful and quiet on this elevated subway platform as we all took turns peering over the railing at this beautiful tribute to our friend Adam. Collectively I think we all sent our energy out to him, in hopes that he’s in a beautiful, peaceful place now. In case you haven’t seen it, the mural was painted by Team Entree. You can see their blog post about it here. Such a moving tribute.
After this we headed back toward Brooklyn. The group ultimately dissipated for a few hours while we got ourselves ready for the YAUCH PARTY AT THE OVERLOOK!
Mah Dukes and I meandered around Brooklyn and my Jersey-native self got another dose of NYC love. I swear, Brooklyn is seducing me. I love Trenton and all but man… Brooklyn keeps me on her speed dial and she’s been calling me a lot lately. Sigh.
Fast forward to about 8pm and we headed over to the Overlook bar on East 44th Street btw 2nd and 3rd. This wonderful spot was kind enough to let us use their ENTIRE bar for our party. In case you’ve never been there, the bar is enormous and features a rooftop party deck under the stars. Um, hello!?!? Yes please!!
Some blog ragged on us before the party about not having it in Brooklyn – but it turns out that no facility would have us for more than just 2 hours, and all the spots Jason looked at beforehand were just too small. So hang up the complaints, the Overlook was the perfect spot for the throwdown.
DJ Pat Poon was in full-effect, playing a crazy good mix of BBoys all night long. And don’t you know it – I never heard a repeat. NOT ONE. Now that’s a catalog, friends.
The Oscilloscope folks were out in full-effect, sporting their awesome electric green tees. The bar also had a special that if your name was Adam or MCA, you drank for free. There were also Brass Monkeys available.
The evening was a blur of hugging, dancing, rapping, smiling, laughing, singing… all things that I imagine that Yauch would have really enjoyed. We were also lucky to get the added treat of the attendance of legendary artist Cey Adams and his lovely lady Isabella. Cey and Isabella – first off – you are both incredible people. Thank you for coming down and celebrating with us.
I’ve said this before, but the Beasties surrounded themselves with SO MANY wonderful folks, I feel so blessed to have met some of them along this amazing journey. Cey is so friendly and easygoing and willing to share stories about his time with the band; I know that so many of us fans won’t ever forget having the chance to chill out and spend some great time with him. What an incredibly lucky bunch we all are. Thank you Cey and Isabella, 1,000x over.
At a point in the evening I was polishing off a drink and Jason Palk came to see if I had my camera. Doy. Yes, I have it… it’s here in this monster 50lb bag. (Yeah, I overpacked… what else is new.)
He smiled. “There’s something outside I think you should see.”
Stepping outside I saw one of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen. There, parked right in front of the Overlook, was Dave Sussman’s FRESHLY wrapped Cadillac. It featured a complex collage of Beastie memorabilia, photos, artwork, and even the PWR2MCA fist. So many of us stood there, speechless, staring at this incredible work of art. The detail and hard work that went into this vehicle was just astounding. Upon speaking with John he told me that the car had just been completed THAT EVENING at about 6:30pm. WE WERE THE FIRST TO SEE IT.
The car has been featured on tv. You may remember it from the Brooklyn Way. So it’s already famous. Just now, it’s erm… famous-er.
From the bottom of my heart, John and Dave, THANK YOU for bringing this to us. It was incredibly moving to see and thank you for being so gracious as to let us fans take photos next to it on this beautiful night. I really enjoyed chatting with you as well.
While snapping photos of the car, I commented about the buildings behind the car and how the lights, clouds & smoke made it look iconically “New Yorky.” Dave laughed hard at me and made sure I never forgot that flub. What can I say bro… I live in Trenton. We don’t have big buildings like this. So, to illustrate what I’m talking about, I’ll just let my photos do the talking.
The night rolled on and many beers, tequilas (Rusty!) and drinks were drank. We tore up the dancefloor, and at midnight we all raised a glass and toasted our man Yauch. It was emotional and wonderful all at that same time. I hope that he could see us and hear us having a great time on his behalf. Without you Adam, Adam and Mike – none of this would have been possible. Thanks to this band, we have new friends, new experiences, and a greater appreciation for the small things in life. For fear of overusing this term – even though it’s really the best one to apply here – we have so much Gratitude.
We love and thank you for all the music and great times over the years.
Seriously. BBoys for LIFE.
As with any good thing, the party had to come to an end. I was riding home with Mah Dukes and after being awake for almost 24 hours straight, we had to hit the road.
Saying goodbye to this incredible crew was really hard, but I was so full of thankfulness and appreciation that I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, even in light of the tears.
To all the new friends – so much love to you guys – all over the world. Thank you for making my life richer just by being in it.
Until next year. <3
Because there was SO much ground to cover w/ this event, I couldn’t cut the shots down. You can check out the massive photo gallery below. I tried to caption everything as best I could. Enjoy!!
This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 at 2:45 pm. It is filed under 2012, Music, Personal Randomness and tagged with 171 Avenue A, 59 Chrystie Street, adam yauch, Adam Yauch's Birthday, BBMB, beastie boys, Beastie Boys Cadillac, Beastie Boys Fan Celebration, Beastie Boys Message Board, beastie walking tour, celebration, Cey Adams, Dave Letterman, fans, John Berry's Loft, John Sussman, landmarks, New York City, NYC, oscilloscope, oscilloscope labs, Overlook NYC, party, Paul's Boutique, PWR2MCA, RIP MCA, summer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.