At the age of fourteen I became helplessly and hopelessly smitten with the Beastie Boys.
Their music was the soundtrack to every iota of my adolescence and ensuing fawn-like stumbling into adulthood. I wanted to emulate them, marry them, be them. Everything they professed to admire I would eventually and ill-advisedly try my hand at – including skateboarding at the Prahran bowl and taking my ‘rhyme book’ to hip-hop open mic nights (I am currently thanking baby jebus that camera phones were not around at this time as I would almost certainly have become the inadvertent star of one of those ridiculous viral You Tube clips – ‘Midget Rap Lady’ or somesuch). I procured the heart of my high-school sweetheart in the mosh pit of the 1994 Hordern Pavilion show and snuck into the band’s hotel via the service lift after they played with Helmet at Festival Hall. In New York at age twenty I would look up from a cup of terrible coffee and somehow catch the improbable sight of Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch skateboarding directly past and spend the rest of the trip listening to my then-boyfriend marvelling that he could ‘barely believe that shit…I mean, Beastie Boys! Right there on skateboards! On the streets of New York!’
I met one of my best friends Megan on the dancefloor of a Beastie Boys tribute night at The Club in Collingwood, racing over to her with an awkward, sunshiney grin because she was the only other girl I’d ever met who knew all the words to Paul’s Boutique. We started a zine and clothing label together called B-Grrrl because we thought it would impress the band, and we flyer-bombed every room of the Rydges hotel after Summersault on the off-chance MCA would seek us out.
Eighteen years later I would have my hand on Megan’s pregnant belly in an apartment in Reykjavík as we reminisced about all the tousle-headed Dickies-wearing boys we’d loved in the Beastie Boys' absence, and three days after that conversation Adam Yauch would be dead.
Some time ago I wrote in typically understated show offy fashion about Adam and the many kindnesses he showed me over the years, though I was never anything more to him than just a wide-eyed, blushing idiot in an oversized beanie. He even took me to see Miss Saigon, an unlikely event that would have barely registered a blip on his multi-layered radar but stayed seared on my soul forever like a cattle branded memory.
Adam Yauch was the totem of my wild adolescence. I wish I’d been more eloquent and impressive when we met. I wish I’d saved the answering machine message he left me. I wish I’d been able to put into words how gargantuan a gesture it was on his part to bestow a modicum of affection to someone who adored him so completely and I wish I’d clasped his hands and sung every shred of my goofy soul right into his sweet face.
Mostly I will miss his gigantic heart.