Anyone who knows me knows how much stock I put in enthusiasm.
Today, when I heard about the death of Adam Yauch, the first image I had in my head was what you see above, his music video directing alter ego, Nathaniel Hornblower. It was an incredible creation. Just as weird and funny as the group was in their best moments. But he was also Yauch’s nom de director for many of the Beastie Boys’ best videos. It seems weird to think that a musician needed an autonomous outlet for his creativity, yet I always thought of it like that. It was his way of expressing his own vision outside of the confines of what I imagine the democracy of a band is like.
The second thing I thought of, right on the heels of that, was their recent (and incredible) concert film Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That! Aside from being an incredible conceptual experiment, it also showed just how amped the group got on stage, even now, in their mid-40s. Still running around an arena, and leaping into the air on nearly every bass drop.
What was great about Yauch’s enthusiasm, specifically, was the way it hid behind that proto-sarcastic face of his. Mike D and Ad Rock are both practically walking Roger Langridge drawings, but MCA would always be the funniest because his default state was so perfectly Straight Man. It made his contributions to the energy of the group so galvanizing to a kid and a teen and an adult like me.
And on top of all that, he was always the voice of the group in their countless efforts to address social injustice. He showed me that you can internalize the problems of the world, work to fix them with whatever means you have able, and still love everything you love so deeply that you can barely contain yourself. That you’ll dress up in lederhosen and rush the VMA stage, that you’ll love your city enough to rap about it, love the Knicks enough to get put in NBA Jam, love movies enough to make them, love the world enough to stand up for it.
That you’ll jump up and down every single time the opportunity presents itself.
Thanks, MCA. Rest in peace.