Hearing the news of Adam Yauch’s death hit me in an unexpected way today. Seeing a facebook post that read “RIP MCA” led me to investigate and sure enough the twitter and tumblr-sphere were alive with RIP’s and condolences. I would say my fan cred lies in that grey area between die-hard and clueless, probably just like most people within my age demographic. I know all their hits and most serve as anthems for one life phase or other. The Beasties were a staple of suburban teenage-dom and discovering them was a rite of passage for any white kid trying to make amends with their rebellious streak. I remember thinking the music video for “Sabotage” was brilliant because it was a music video but it also pretended to look like a movie (how clever!), and it was campy, self-aware and bad-ass. I think that was the first video my friends and I recreated once we got our grubby little hands on a video camera, donning hipster moustaches before they were a thing. Anyway, having one of your adolescent idols pass away is inevitable and not all that uncommon. I remember the day Kurt Cobain died. I cried, and for months was scribbling “K.C.R.I.P.” on all my notebooks. The sadness and disillusionment with life came with the teenaged territory and we wallowed in our esteemed rockstars’ woes. Meanwhile we saved our lunch money for concert tickets and used our creative energy to make fashion statements out of safety pins and try not to care too much when our purple hair dye washed out and made it look grey.
So what does this have to do with the Beastie Boys and Adam Yauch’s death? The Beasties were different. They were positive and empowered. They were smart and worldly. Admittedly they had their misguided attempts in the world of role-model-dom, but they weren’t famous for their struggles. They were famous for being fucking rad, knowing how to party and having sick rhymes. And just like they didn’t live for their struggles, Adam didn’t die by his. He died from something that can happen to any of us. He died from something that happens to distant relatives and friends from high school’s parents. Or our heroes.
Obviously I’m not the same age as Adam, but sometimes sharing an imagined identity forms a much stronger connection than how long you’ve been alive. I can relate way more with the Beasties and their frame of mind than I can with a lot of people who share my graduation date or who watched the same after-school specials. I feel deeply saddened by his death. I feel humbled by the reality that no amount of external anything - fame, fortune, friendship or fly beats - can keep us from the inevitable. Adam’s death is a reminder of that; that thing we all know, but conveniently avoid as we put things off or fail to tell our fellow humans we love them. I hope he was able to be with the people he loved during his final days, and reflected on his life believing he’d done alright. I truly believe we all do our best, but allowing ourselves to embrace that truth can be the hardest of all. In the end, we all just gotta fight… for our right… well, you know. Peace and love in the next world Adam.