Friday, May 4th, 2012

Adam Yauch, 1964 – 2012

Today is a very sad day in that Beastie Boy Adam Yauch has died. He was a terrific musician and filmmaker and a warm, funny person who a lot of people loved. I got to know him a little bit in the '90s because my roommate from college helped him run his Tibetan-Freedom organization, The Milarepa Fund. The way that he handled the news of his cancer diagnosis three years ago impressed me as amazingly graceful. Which was not a surprise—the way he handled it, I mean. He had always handled maturing, and changing, in the public eye more gracefully than many other examples we've seen.

When the Beasties started out, with the beer-spraying and the girls dancing in cages and whatnot, Yauch was the loudest, most raucous and drunken member of a notably loud, raucous, drunken crew. But as time went by, he became a voice for peace and sensitivity and caring about the world—without ever turning shrill or holier-than-thou. He became gentle and soft-spoken without losing his sense of humor. I remember reading an interview (I wish I could find it but I can't) in which the reporter challenged him on the change: "Is the current pose not hypocritical in light of the past?" Yauch didn't flinch or get mad or defensive. He said most everyone has a time in their life that they look back on with regret. He used the word "asshole," I think. And he said, "We just happened to be on TV a lot when we were assholes." I'm paraphrasing, but I think that's pretty much it. I think about that a lot as I get older myself, and look back at stupid things I've done. And as I've been writing about those things a lot over the past couple years, I hope to be as honest about stuff as he was. And as kind-hearted and forgiving. He was a really good guy.

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IBentMyWookie (#133)

It just hurts.
Not just because of the music, but because I bloody respected him so much. To see the growth in the Beasties as individuals, as they moved from their (let's be real) somewhat dickish personae in the early 90s (insufferable in interviews, pleased with their own cockiness) to truly thoughtful, impressive men, was staggering. Man, I respected the fuck out of them, and of Yauch in particular. For all the talk of self-actualization, here's someone who did it, and did it quietly and did it with integrity and now he's gone, too soon.
Someone make Balk embrace me with his meaty arms and make the hurt go away.

Thanks, Dave, this was terrific. I've posted this plenty of other places today, so why not: I usually don't get all sideways about the death of a public figure. But the Beasties have been a significant part of my life for over 25 years, from high school to fatherhood. I saw them live as recently as 2008.

Hard to accept that is going to fundamentally change with Yauch's death.

laurel (#4,035)

As he got older he also got foxy as all get out.

If he were Mike D, he'd be back from the dead already.

C_Webb (#855)

MCA and Levon, I feel like I've been listening to a lot of great music sadly, these last few weeks.

Matt McCabe@twitter (#226,611)

Bry I'm still mad that you bailed when we were sposed to go meet them at msg. I think you wanted a good table at wxou or something…sad day, probably the group I most closely grew up with if that means anything. might have to break out the inflatable phallus in tribute.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@Matt McCabe@twitter ^^ Gets it.

@IBentMyWookie All of this. yes.

evanherbe3 (#233,182)


Smedley T (#9,794)

I know (hope) that its meant in good fun, but I find that the "And Now He's Dead" headline has begun to rankle, now that I see it above the news that Yauch, Sendak, and other heroes have died. Maybe The Awl could keep things snarky/funny elsewhere and be a bit more gentle 'bout the end of the road?

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