We were assigned to write a story in my seventh grade English class. It could be about anything. I was pumped. All writing up to that point had come with strict parameters, restraints—shit that bored me. This assignment destroyed all the rules in my mind. This was fiction—boundless, imaginative. The teacher’s idea was for us to learn not so much how to write fiction but the draft process, revisions, editing. I ignored that.
What I decided to write was a story based upon one of my favorite videos of the time (and all-time), the Spike Jonze-directed 70s cop movie homage, “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys. I was obsessed with the video (and the song), just as I was, at the time, with NYPD Blue and Serpico. I had thoughts about becoming a detective then but I think my fascination was more of a general interest in investigation—though, investigating art and life more than murder. Also, it just looked really cool. (Have you seen Al Pacino in Serpico? The hair, the shades, the beard, the beads, the bike? He looks awesome. And that’s how the real Frank Serpico was!) But unlike NYPD Blue, which I could see on network television, and Serpico, which I could rent for free from the public library, my exposure to the thoroughly cool “Sabotage” was far less—I didn’t have MTV. So when I decided to write a story about the video, it wasn’t one of those literary adaptations of a movie, me playing the video over and over again to meticulously capture every moment in prose. I was going by memory. Plus, I was expanding, indulging. The video was really a trailer to the story I had planned.
I was up to twenty-two pages on “Sabotage” when the story was due. Of my first draft. The other kids in my class had written stories of a few pages, revised them on the second and third, and were ready to turn in the final. I was just getting warmed up. The scene I recall being on was the one where Cochese was tied to a chair, a bomb ticking down on a table before him. His partners are about to bust down the door with some karate kicks. They free him and the three rush out of the building, across the street, sliding over the hood of their car, just before the building explodes. Later, they track down the bad guys and put them down. But I had to turn in what I had. I think I got a B—the teacher wrote something about how creative it was but couldn’t go higher because, well, I hadn’t completed my assignment. I wish I could’ve finished it. There was a lot more of the story to tell.
Classic piece I actually chose and transcribed for the CREEM anthology published by HarperCollins:
Earlier that evening, after Pee-Wee Herman had visited their dressing room and before they appeared on Joan Rivers’ show, the Beasties were tossing parsley at me, dropping ice cubes in my hair, and “dissin’” (graffiti-artist lingo for “saying bad things about”) my brown socks and flannel shirt. I interpreted all of this to mean that they did not like me.
But I don’t feel alone. Just days before, they’d been evicted from the Sunset Marquis for throwing chairs out their window into the swimming pool. And that week, they’d also become the first group ever to be censored on American Bandstand—Dick Clark, who’d put up with Johnnies Rotten and Lydon in past episodes, apparently determined Adrock’s mid-song crotch-grab was just too much. The Beasties had previously been banned from the Holiday Inn chain after they’d cut a hole in the floor of one suite to serve as a passageway to the one directly below; they’d been banned from CBS Records headquarters after allegedly ripping off a camera at a label party. And MCA brags that he punched aBay Area Music interviewer in the face not too long ago. These guys are total jerks, and they’ve got the fastest-selling debut album in CBS history.
The Beastie Boys on tour in Los Angeles shortly after the release of their debut album, Licensed to Ill.| Creem | May 1987
There was nothing cooler to me in ‘92 than wearing t-shirts and winter hats and jumping around in the woods in slow motion.
Beasties not even bothering to pretend they aren’t lip syncing on American Bandstand, 1987.
In this exclusive excerpt from Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label, the forthcoming book about the legendary hip-hop label, key players—including Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, the Beastie Boys’s Ad-Rock, and LL himself—recall the rise of a rap superstar.
Well, this took forever to exist.
The Fresh Air Interview: The Beastie Boys — “If we knew we were going to be around so long, we would have come up with a better name.”
The birth of the Beastie Boys—an oral history on the 25th anniversary of Licensed to Ill.
I need these in my life again.