"Gratitude" was the motto of the second-annual "MCA Day" in Brooklyn yesterday, and a constant procession of fans came to pay their respects to late Beastie Boys co-founder Adam Yauch on the one-year anniversary of his death from cancer of the salivary glands.
Two street signs quoting Yauch's best-known lines about the borough met those approaching the industrial Littlefield art space, a 20-minute walk from the newly-minted Adam Yauch Park in the rapper's native Brooklyn Heights. "Born and bred in Brooklyn, U.S.A., they call me Adam Yauch but I'm MCA," one read. A super-fly Cadillac parked out front sported a paintjob of classic Beasties snapshots and "RIP MCA" written across the trunk (a sign asked Instagram users to hashtag #MCADay). And to honor his commitment to Tibetan Freedom, prayer flags were strung in the cherry blossom trees. Inside, the word "gratitude" was emblazed on stickers, posters, T-shirts and more.
The all-day event was packed for five hours straight, and offered fans the chance to see early Beasties photos by Glen E. Friedman and Sunny Bak – the Boys at the 1964 World's Fair Unisphere in Queens, the Boys partying at the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood. DJs spun Beasties classics and other early New York City hip-hop, and organizers and those close to the trio and Yauch delivered funny, heartfelt and at times tear-jerking speeches.
Longtime band confidant and mix-master DJ Hurricane took the stage to remember Yauch's goofy side: "At this show back in 1987 the opening band, Murphy's Law, couldn't make it. So we dressed up in suits and mustaches, like the ‘Sabotage' video. Adam shoves this banana in his pants and it fell down during the show. I had to be the lead singer, so I grabbed two mics and just screamed. It was a mess," he said, chuckling. He told another tale about "Sure Shot," which he wrote for 1994's landmark Ill Communication. "I was away DJing and the [Beastie Boys] were back in L.A. They called and said, 'Hey, how'd the chorus go for that song? ' So I had to sing the chorus over the phone – I was half asleep! But they had it recorded when I got back."
"MCA Day is official," he added. "And it looks like it's gonna get bigger and bigger."
House of Pain's Danny Boy O'Connor also dropped by to pay his respects: "Just imagine getting picked up in that [Cadillac] at the airport," he cracked. He recalled a tour with the Boys when he was just 21. "'Jump Around' was Number One on the charts. We were ready to go buck wild. But [the Beastie Boys] were all, 'We're into the Dalai Lama now.'" He added, "I'm their number one fan. I wanted to be them so bad it hurt."
The mood was one of constant gratitude for Yauch the Beastie Boy, father, artist, philanthropist and Brooklyn native, who grew from a snot-nosed punk to a socially conscious Buddhist, all in view of his fans. Screens projected rare concert footage and photos of Yauch, from high school to his final years. Shirts saying "New Yauch City" abounded. A photo screen of the Brooklyn Bridge, emblazed with the word "Sabotage" offered a backdrop for photo ops with glasses and fake mustaches.
One fan rapped MCA verses to the bartender, while another took video footage of his girlfriend reciting the entirety of "Paul Revere" after throwing back shots. The bar was also well stocked with juice boxes for the many tots, who painted "Intergalactic"-style robots and created other MCA pictures and Play-Doh art. As Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz said Friday at the park-naming ceremony, "Like the Wu-Tang Clan, Beastie Boys is for the children."
The fan-made art was moving, too; paintings and graffiti art covered the venue's walls. A bulletin board shrine to Yauch read, "We're all connected like a Lego set . . . Whether we have or have not met . . ."
The event organizer, Michael Kearney spoke ("Whether you flew 3,000 miles or walked 30 steps, thank you. It's about keeping this going . . ."), as well as State Sen. Daniel Squadron ("The tie gives the wrong message but I'm a longtime fan. The Beastie Boys are an important part of this city. The Beasties' and MCA's influence can't stop, won't, don't stop."). But the most passionate speech came from Matt Hamilton, a hardcore fan who had a private moment with Ad-Rock last year in Union Square, where an impromptu memorial was held following Yauch's death.
"Adam [Horovitz] hung out for hours [last year in Union Square] and signed autographs and took a million pictures with fans. I told him that losing MCA was like losing a member of my family. I felt like I grew up with them. As they progressed we progressed too. Adam grabbed me and he said, 'We grew up together.'"