Six hours, thirty-nine minutes, eighteen seconds: the duration of all the Beastie Boys songs on this hard drive. Andy’s collection, primarily, but the computer is mine — or — it was mine back when there was such a thing as His and Hers around here. Let’s just say I don’t hesitate to delete his Journey tracks when space gets tight.
The Beastie Boys, on the other hand, The Beasties share our home and hard drive with undisputed and consistent airplay. Just ask the neighbors.
FULL DISCLOSURE. I’m not posing as someone in mourning. In fact, here’s the embarrassing truth: in terms of face/name recognition, hearing about Adam Yauch’s death is a bit (just a tiny bit) like when I was ten and John Lennon died and I got The Beatles confused with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on The Flinstones. That week, my brother wore out his cassettes of Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s and I got educated. The difference now is that I’ve enjoyed the Beastie Boys’ music for years, it’s just their names and faces that have eluded me.
Did you see what I just did? I compared MCA to John Lennon. Justifiably. With my whole heart.
Except, consider the iTunes run-time designated for The Beatles on this hard drive: one hour, five minutes, eight seconds. No contest. Most of those tracks aren’t even played.
That doesn’t negate the fact that yesterday, when I got the news, I had to google to learn that there are two Adams and the one who just died went by MCA. I’ll further confess that last night, as Andy and I sat under the moon bobbing our heads and bouncing our toes, I worked hard to listen for and learn MCA’s voice. I still can’t pick him out.
I’ll add that if he were healthy and alive today, and he and Mike D and Ad-Rock took the table next to ours at El Chollo for a margarita, if everyone else in the restaurant remained calm in the presence of brilliance, I wouldn’t recognize them. I’d just think they were any three guys on their way to the beach.
But here I am posting about him today. Why?
I have limited time this weekend this morning this afternoon. I’m parceling out my commas my minutes my hours. I’ve got aphids to kill (or push along, I haven’t decided which yet). So, why?
Why am I posting about a man whose name I didn’t know — whose face I wouldn’t recognize?
It’s not because my idea of the best way to start a wedding is to have Groove Holmes and Sabrosa playing while guests mingle over cocktails. And that is my idea of the best way to start a wedding. But that’s not why I’m posting about MCA’s death today.
It’s not because I want to join the chorus of condolences to his family and friends. Even though I do. But that’s not what moved me to the keyboard.
It’s not because I’d even planned to write a blog post today; I’ve got other, more pressing, assignments.
I suppose it’s because I’ve learned something about the importance of paying homage in recent months.
It started with having to face the fragility — not of every life — but of lives I held incredibly dear.
Perhaps it’s become a slight obsession of mine, this awareness that every living thing is headed in one direction: towards death. Every person waiting at the cross walk of Bundy and Santa Monica right now will die. I will die. Even if I don’t kill them today, those aphids on the rose bush outside will die.
So, the urgency I feel when I’ve had too much coffee is genuine.
And at the risk of sounding melodramatic, the fact is, I want to participate in the story of humanity; I want to make a contribution to life (thank you, J5). I want to surround myself with people doing just that also.
The Beastie Boys did it. Look at that body of work.
I can’t write intelligently about why Get it Together is a fucking masterpiece, but one-two-oh-my-god!-it is. Put on any song of theirs and you’ll find some greatness.
What an amazing contribution to life. To my life. Thank you, MCA — MCA — Adam Yauch, thank you.
Rest in peace.