Been thinking about this guy a lot lately — the one smiling on the far right. This shot is an out take from the Check Your Head cover shoot, captured by the esteemed Mr. Glen E. Friedman, an institution in his own right.
The Beastie Boys were my compass in high school. I loved everything they did, in fact, in my eyes they could do no wrong. Maybe they could do no wrong in general, especially back then in the mid-90s. Everything — the music, the style, the irreverence, the activism — they were on it. And while it may have become fashionable to question their impact, or heap them in with the likes of their aging pop star peers like Madonna, I’m glad that the world has come to its senses.
MCA was my main man back then, my inspiration. I bought a used Fender Jazz Bass that looked like his my sophomore year of high school, aiming to emulate the depth and breadth of his sound on fuzzed out instrumental tracks. I memorized his lyrics, sagged my pants just so and generally bit his style for everything it was worth. And because of that, I learned so much through osmosis that I’ll never really be able to appreciate it all. Jazz, funk, punk, skateboarding, graffiti, art — it’s a never ending line of influence that extends into my life today.
I just read yesterday that MCA’s will stipulates that no Beastie Boys songs will ever be used in commercials… ever. That kind of gumption, the authenticity and the purity, is what I think I saw in them all along. Yeah, I know the story of the group’s beginning and all that, but the simple fact of the matter is that once they were in motion, they stayed in motion, scarcely ever breathing an uncreative breath (something that GEF knows a thing or two about).
In MCA’s aging face and gray hair, I saw my own. If was getting older, that surely meant that I was, too. And now, through him I understand more about my own mortality. There’s another lesson there, something about going gracefully into the night, even if life was more about the BOOM for you all along. Trailblazers will be trailblazers, and MCA will always be a light ahead in the woods.
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