MCA DAY NYC – May 4, 2013

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

We had an absolutely PERFECT spring day on Saturday, May 4, 2013.

Hopefully through a combination of my words and images, I can give you all a little taste of the feeling of pure energy and joy that this event gave to me. Because my heart is literally bursting with pride. And joy.

That being said, here we go.

Since last year’s MCA Day, Nicole (Mah Dukes), Mike Kearney (MCA DAY) and I have remained friends who talk pretty regularly. I think back in June or July of 2012 Mike and I had a phone call about some big ideas we’d both been having after the first MCA Day. So many fans had contacted us both after the first MCA Day – expressing their regret for not being able to attend or being unaware that it was happening – with one single common request…

Please, have another one. We need to let it out.

At first the answer was no. The first MCA Day was done in the moment and was such a poignant event, it didn’t seem right to force another when the last one happened so organically and beautifully. But the more we all spoke with people, the more a request for a second event was repeated over and over again. I started to see tribute concerts, articles, people speaking on award shows about HOW MUCH the Beasties and Yauch in particular meant to them, and how messed up they STILL were, even almost a year later. The new message jingle on my phone started to keep pace like a kick drum, and so after some deliberation, Three the Hard Way was born and the planning for MCA Day 2013 began. We paid for some Skype time, worked out a mission statement and got to work.

The search for the appropriate venue was long and difficult, and let me tell you that it’s not easy to plan a public event in the city.

Planning in an urban environment involves permits upon permits and special tricks you must do (like standing on your head while you knit a sweater using only your toes while simultaneously singing the Sesame Street theme song) to get an event approved. I mean, it was silly and all, but we did it. For Yauch.

The venue hunt was the most difficult task we had to manage, but once we discovered the wonderful folks and venue of Littlefield, Brooklyn, everything else seemed to fall right into place. I’d like to just stop right here and THANK THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE AT LITTLEFIELD for being so awesome to work with. If you are an artist, a musician, or need a space to hold a party or reception – check Littlefield out. It’s awesome and there are a few nice hotels just a block or two away, so out-of-towners can stay, park, and just walk. I highly recommend the venue for its flexibility, easy access, and friendly staff. Seriously. Kudos to these folks. They took an active interest in our event (they’d previously screened Awesome…I F’n Shot That at their facility), and helped us at EVERY stage of the game. We must have called or emailed them fifty times. I don’t suggest you do that, but they helped us at each step and I just want to send our sincere thanks to the whole team at Littlefield – thanks, you guys, for everything!!

Once we’d locked in Littlefield, we drafted a plan and rallied the troops. The team of volunteers came to us from a number of places. Some were folks who’d attended the first MCA Day, some were artists we’d each met in passing, and others were hardcore fans we’d had the pleasure of meeting at various Bboy-related events.

One in particular is our friend Sarah from Sydney, Australia. She was the mastermind behind the PWR2MCA project. Homegirl flew out of her HEMISPHERE to get here to be a part of this. Her experience with the PWR2MCA campaign helped us a ton with planning and outreach, and we were so unbelievably thrilled to have her with us. She’s a warm little ray of sunshine, that one. 🙂

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

Our girl Sarah, carefully holding Glen E. Friedman’s gorgeous Yauch print as Juliana looks on in the background during gallery setup.

There’s Andy Katz from Maryland, a watercolor artist and the designer of our amazing logo and art labels. He, along with Kevin Bednarz, an artist and designer from Virginia, helped me tremendously with the Keep It On and On art show. I can’t even say how grateful I am to you guys for your help with all of this.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

Our friend Andy Katz hanging his awesome art labels as part of the art show.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

Kevin Bednarz in front of one of the many pieces he created live at MCA Day.

There are SOOO many others to mention, all equally as unique and important. To quote Yauch’s Rocknroll Hall of Fame speech: “I wish I could name everyone who deserves naming, but of course there are too many names to name. You know who you are, and I send my love out to all of you.”

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

All the same, we got the team. This is our group of volunteers just before the doors opened to the public.

The point is… everybody had a talent or a skill that was needed and the pieces just seemed to fall into place. Granted we’d have things go wrong but the driving force behind it all was the idea that we were going to hold a fitting celebration in honor of Yauch and the Beastie Boys, who have given us a lifetime of music. Certainly we could muddle our way through any issues with the planning of a five hour event. It was time for big girl/big boy pants and a little old-fashioned work.

Through a lot of train and bus rides at odd hours, technically-hindered skypes and lots of emails and google docs and texts, we made it happen.

The sun shone down on us on May 4th. We had gorgeous weather, a great location, a great vibe, and the most welcoming and diverse mix of people I’ve seen in a LONG time. So many folks told me that they drove several hours or flew in just for the weekend so that they could be a part of this. Random people were grabbing me just to say “thank you.” Kind of incredible.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

The crowd outside mingling and admiring Dave Sussman’s Beastie Caddy.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

Miss Sarah’s thoughtful touches helped pull the event together. We hung these lovely Tibetan prayer flags from the trees in the courtyard.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

The original MCA Day boombox was back, along with some fun freebies for the folks who came out. We printed limited edition posters and cards and stickers, just so everyone could have a memento to take home with them.

My pet project, the Keep It On and On art show, went really smoothly thanks to my solid team. Art came in from Italy, Germany, across the US and elsewhere around the globe. The art was broadcast live via social media channels during MCA Day and on the website a new artist was showcased just about every 30 minutes throughout the event. There was also a digital slideshow of each piece in the collection that ran on a large screen on the main stage at Littlefield.

Between the awesome weather, the incredible crowd and the hours of music that pumped through Littlefield, I daresay that this day was pretty near perfect.

Danny Boy of House of Pain, DJ Hurricane, and Cey Adams all took a few moments to address the crowd and share a story or memory about Yauch. All of the DJs threw down amazing sets, and the breakdancing crew busted their incredible moves for us. Little Bboys and Bgirls got up on stage and showed us their awesome dance moves, too, when they weren’t making art or coloring/painting at the kids art station. We had artist Kevin Bednarz live painting several pieces at the event, and every infant at the event had some kind of homemade Beastie Boys hat or shirt on. Other folks were signing the scrapbooks or putting together a tribute in Andy Katz’s “Yauch Book,” which allowed attendees to write a note, make a collage and make their tribute a piece of art in a handmade book.

We also were able to bring back Matt Hamilton, a familiar face to those who may have seen the Gothamist writeup on the original MCA Day. He was the fan who spoke to AdRock and expressed what SO many of us were feeling on May 4, 2012. Leave it to Matt to again make us all tear up just before wrapping his speech up with “HELLOOOOOO BROOKLYN!!!”

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

Our official House DJ and friend Pat Poon kicked off the music for us.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

(L-R) Mike Kearney, Danny Boy, DJ Hurricane and Dave Sussman.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

Cey Adams tags Bednarz’ artwork, while Mah Dukes looks on in the background.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

One of my favorite shots of the breakdancing crew on the main stage.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

A young Bgirl showing us what’s up!

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

One of the many Beastie Babies in attendance.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

This father son combo had the moves down. Love these two and Dad’s awesome shirt!

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

We had a Sabotage background where folks could grab silly mustaches and pose for a photo. I really enjoyed seeing so many different folks with silly mustaches!

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

Matt Hamilton speaks to the crowd.

Jay Shells incorporated our event into his “Rap Quotes” Project and installed two signs outside the venue, hanging a third in the art show.

We had photography on loan from old school Beastie photogs whose notable work you have DEFINITELY seen. Photographers Sunny Bak and Glen E. Friedman both loaned us some awesome shots.

Senator Daniel Squadron, the NY Senator who penned a formal resolution for Yauch, also appeared on stage to talk about important he and the Beasties are to the history of NYC and music in general. He gave a fitting speech which would serve to close the event on a wonderful note.

The list of cool shit that came in just doesn’t stop, and I would consider the art show and the event overall a resounding success. Thanks again to all the artists who submitted to the Keep It On and On art show – I couldn’t have done it without you!

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

Mike Kearney (left) with Jay Shells as he hung one of his two Rap Quotes project signs outside the venue.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

New York Senator Daniel Squadron spoke just before the end of the event.

Overall, I saw a lot of dancing at MCA Day, a LOT of hugging, a lot of smiling, a lot of old friends reconnecting and a lot of new friends meeting for the very first time. There was a so much love poured into planning this event, and a lot of love came out of it. Every single person I met at MCA Day was someone that I could easily spend hours talking to. It felt more like a family party than a public event, and that sentiment right there sums up the feeling of the day.

 (Michelle Lawlor/Lucky 17 Photography)

Check out the crowd we had about halfway through the day! All Beastie heads body movin together! I estimate somewhere between 500 to 600 people passed through our event throughout the day.

Spending the previous day at the Adam Yauch Park dedication ceremony, I felt a profound sense of sadness when I saw the sign formally unveiled. For me it was another reminder of the permanence of Yauch’s departure from this plane of existence. Yet I left there feeling so happy to have been a part of it all, and am so very hopeful for the future. The music, the tours, the late night rides home after shows, the laughs, the dance moves… the silly rhymes… they are all interwoven into the very fabric of my being. And now, maybe some young kid who will have grown up playing in Yauch Park will plot and scheme his next big idea while shooting hoops on the basketball court. Maybe he might look up Adam’s name and hear the Beasties for the very first time. Maybe their music might change his life forever, just like it did ours. The most enduring gift we have from Adam is his music, and that won’t ever stop entertaining, educating and uplifting. What a tremendous legacy.

I knew the first anniversary would be a tough one for everyone who knew or loved Adam or was touched by his music. I didn’t want to cry as hard as I did a year ago, and I tend to think that he probably wouldn’t want us to sit around crying for him. My feeling was that he would want us to get out and do something worthwhile and fun. So that’s what we did. We smiled and celebrated and remembered. We sang and we danced, arms around our new friends as we lived every single second as it came.

The day flew by in a blur. It seemed like we were just starting to hang banners and after what felt like mere moments later, it was all over and we were loading out. Thankfully I took lots of pictures. I mean, that’s what you’re here for, right? There are LOTS. There are so many images I want to show you but this post could go on for miles. Please check out the gallery to see everything – there’s just so much good stuff to share.

Enough of my jibba jabba… it’s picture time.


Or, view a slideshow that I created of some of my favorites, below.

A big thank you goes to my teammates Nicole and Mike: I couldn’t have done any of this without you. My wise friend Dina Eisenberg says “Shine brightly. Someone else needs to see the path to where you’re at.” That’s what these two exceptional professionals do for me. We worked together, pitched good (and sometimes really bad) ideas to each other, and always kept our eyes on the finish line. Someone once said “If you want to be better at something, surround yourself with people who challenge and uplift you.” These two fine folks do exactly that. They held a light up so I could find my way to where they were, ahead of me.  I am so unbelievably proud to have been a part of this event and of this creative and uplifting team. It has truly been an experience I won’t ever forget as long as I live.

If you came to Littlefield, submitted art, helped out, retweeted/reposted on social media for us, or just sent us good thoughts from your corner of the world, thank you. I’m so grateful for all of the wonderful people I’ve met through this whole crazy adventure. Even if we haven’t yet met, I thank you.

On May 4, 2013, we lit up Yauch’s hometown and our hearts to hold a positive tribute to a man and band that gave so many of us so much of what we are today. It’s hard to begin to try to repay something like that, but I like to think that we gave it our very best. Maybe he heard us celebrating for him.

At least, I’d like to think so.

4 Responses to “MCA DAY NYC – May 4, 2013”

  1. Kevin says:

    ABSOLUTLEY AWESOME!!! What an incredible job ML!

  2. admin says:

    Thanks KB!!

  3. Sarah says:

    ……………….there’s something in my eye, Michelle.

    <3 and gratitude to you and the whole damn crew

    xoxo from Sydney

  4. Jen says:

    Left me a little teary. Beautiful. Well done, Michelle.