In the days following Adam Yauch’s passing in May of last year, many of us nostalgia-stricken fans were searching for words to express how deeply saddened we were by not only the loss of Adam but inevitably the Beastie Boys as a whole. Someone along the way said something to the effect of, “The Beastie Boys were the Internet before there was an Internet.” Without even having to think about it, any Beastie fan over the age of 30 had to agree with how incredibly accurate that statement was. Likewise, it’s on the Internet that I’ve spent the last 11 months scrounging up old Beastie Boys clips as part of my own personal grieving process. Like this one from 1984. It’s of the early incarnation of the band, where Kate Schellenbach (later of Luscious Jackson) played drums and Mike D sang. It was recorded for a NYC public access show called The Scott & Gary Show. Even though this one was uploaded to YouTube way back in 2007, I hadn’t come across it until last week. I apologize for the late slip, but this Beastie Boys footage needs to be addressed...
First of all, how great are those graphics for Scott & Gary? Black magic marker on some poster board, with a still camera shot on it—it’s a reminder that public access TV, like punk rock or zines or anything that employed DIY methodology, was something that virtually anyone could do...no matter how shitty the outcome. Alright, moving on…
“White Shadow” is my goddamn jam! To those that are unfamiliar, The White Shadow was a television program that ran from the late ’70 to the early ‘80s. The basic premise was this: a Caucasian former NBA player takes a basketball coaching job at a predominantly African American and Hispanic high school in South Central Los Angeles, where fairly predictable culture clash-y type things ensue. I was way too young when it originally aired and grew up without TV for a good portion of my youth, so I never got to see that much of it. But one of my fondest memories from childhood is visiting my uncle’s house and staying up all night, lying on the floor in front of a little 9” black and white TV set, watching reruns of The White Shadow on a UHF channel. Anyway, this song is obviously about that show and really important stuff like what time and channel it was on and how it eventually got cancelled, which totally bummed the guys out. To me, this is pretty much the best song ever written.
I love how after the second half of the strangely-interrupted “White Shadow”, Mike D, who is very much in command despite being a horrendous (AKA-awesome) singer, dismissively waives the host off like, “Wait, we got another song…” He then turns to Ad-Rock and says, “Remember to sing.” (Which Ad-Rock does indeed remember to do.) before proclaiming, “This one goes out to our mothers.” In typical punk rock fashion, “Egg Raid on Mojo” is sloppy, fast and fun. It ends with Mike D stating, “That was our new Kiss mastermix version.” It’s unclear whether that’s a shot at the band KISS or the radio station, KISS FM (I think this was recorded on Valentines Day.) but it matters little to me either way, as I believe rather hasty endings such as this are a key component of live punk shows. Johnny Rotten’s famous line from the end of the last ever Sex Pistols show comes to mind: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”
OK, before we leave, let’s take special notice of the sartorial choices going on here. Kate is wearing a nice V-neck sweater...Ad-Rock is sporting the snap back mesh; a look we will get used to seeing him with, at least until '89...my surprisingly preppy guy, MCA clearly hasn’t discovered the motorcycle jacket yet...but, whoa, wait...let’s talk specifically about Mike D’s green windbreaker for a second. I know that fashion, like pretty much any fucking thing else, is circular. That is, "what goes around, comes around." But I have to wonder; did he time travel forward to the year 1995, visit a Pharcyde video shoot, steal Fatlip’s windbreaker, sew a hood on it, dye it green, and then bring it back to 1984 just to look really awesome while singing hardcore songs about old TV shows and juvenile actions on public access television? I think want to believe it’s entirely possible… OK, I know that’s a huge stretch but I just spent 20 minutes of my life Googling “green windbreaker ‘90s rap videos Fatlip time travel” in hopes that I would find some minuscule strand of evidence that would back my theory. I was unsuccessful but I'm not about to just throw that time away. Let me have this! Hey, one of the many things the Beastie Boys taught us about life, is that sometimes when you’re committed to an idea you just gotta make it work, even if making it work means admitting that it doesn’t really work at all. So, uhm, there’s that. Also, note to self: coin the term “windbreaker hip-hop.”
Shoutouts to MediaGod for the upload.
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