Adam Yauch Forever in Brooklyn

Hanging on Jungle gym bars in what, before today, was known as Palmetto playground in Brooklyn Heights, fans of Adam Yauch (MCA) gathered for the renaming of a park that the young Beastie Boy learned to play basketball in.

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As cars, trucks and motorcycles revved by to get on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, Yauch was honored by Borough president Marty Markowitz, Francis Yauch (Adam’s mother) and Adam Horovitz (Ad- Rock).

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Francis Yauch stepped to the podium and got a standing ovation from the crowd that had come to honor a man that provided a soundtrack to so many lives. “I’m proud of the way my son used his celebrity,” she said, looking out to the crowd of admirers. “Adam played in this park as a child and learned to ride a bike here. He made films about New York parks in hopes that kids would still be able to use them to come together like he did with so many.”

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All around, parents lifted their children on their shoulders to get a glimpse of Ad Rock as he stepped to the microphone to honor his friend, bandmate and brother.

“I’m glad there is an Adam Yauch park around now for all the other crazy kids in Brooklyn,” Horovitz said, fighting back tears. “I got extra lucky because I had a chance to ad two more brothers to my family.”

Adam-Yauch-Park-Dedication-10 It was a celebration of Yauch, Brooklyn, and a culture that a Yauch helped to define. For a man gone too early from this early, there will forever be a spot in a city that he helped put on the global scene.

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Saturday, May 4th, is MCA day in Brooklyn, and a celebration of his life, art and music will take place throughout the borough. But on this day, under the new spring sky, just blooming trees, and basketball hoops that were once shot through by this trailblazer of peace and music, a place to play and get together with friends will stand forever in his name.

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“I run this land / You understand?/ I made myself clear.”

-MCA

Mike’s Coffee Shop in Brooklyn

There are places that capture a voice. They allow for the brief moments in the world – free of movement and distractions. Free of wild-eyed algorithms determining fate. They are simply, a door to open up and allow the characters that are hanging around in your brain a chance to come out.

For me, the silence of writing is maddening. I can’t keep it all down for very long. I’d much rather be in a noisy place with the madness of the world happening around me than alone in a room with a computer. It just works that way for me. The computer time is the actual work, while the writing, the act of the writing, is one of the few spiritual connections I have with the universe.

I wrote much of Hollywood Forever in nightclubs  or in pieces of type-written chapters that I posted on lamposts up on Sunset Boulevard. There is a heartbeat that provides the rhythm to prose – one that starts perhaps in poetry and is knifed out by hours of carving. I have been searching for places where I can connect, and yesterday found one in Mike’s Coffee Shop just near Pratt in Brooklyn. Everything there was a step back in time – not one of nostalgia, for I’m slowly moving past all of that.

No, this was a step back to movements. Sitting at the counter with nothing more than a pad and pen, I was able to connect with my characters in a way I hadn’t been able to since I sat on my fire escape writing The Last Block in Harlem. I have been on a search recently for my grandfather – Some of you may already know that if you’ve been keeping up with the posts. It’s been an overwhelming response from people who either knew him or studied him, and now I have that connection. That connection seems to have opened up a bit more for me in ways of connecting to the story.

How it happened I’m not sure  – perhaps it was a bit of just running into wall after wall and not being afraid that they weren’t coming down. The characters to go with him are starting to appear as well – so I’m on watch and overly sensitive to the sounds that come to me. I can’t help it. Those are very magical moments – and ones that I enjoy because of the peace it gives me inside. Like medicine writing is to me – a drug that calms my shaking and makes the world appear in a way that makes sense. I feel like I have a purpose when I’m putting it all down.

Now it’s taking shape and I feel older – like I’ve put in my time and spilled out other words just so I can get to these. Each book is that way – when finished, they’re like pieces of a mountain that I’ve blasted through in order to make a tunnel safe enough to go through. I can’t figure out if live is the tunnel or it’s the pieces of mountain that we’ve turned into rock. Passageways or matter? That’s seems to be the debate – but regardless of what we call it, the process feels correct. It’s there in so many ways.

And so, while everyone around me was eating scrambled eggs with two slices of cheese that they mixed in, burgers with fries, or perfectly shaped waffels, I sat with a cup of coffee and asked the universe to write through me. Carrying around my grandfather, he is now the guide to the story, and it’s unfolding in a way I can’t believe possible. What’s more, it has me retracing steps of places I’ve lived, of lives I’ve lived, and I have such clarity. Even in Harlem, where I thought I got it all out, those bricks are calling back to me.

It’s amazing because when you look back at a place that you’ve lived or been, it’s easier to see it – I mean really see  it – when you’ve had some distance from it. Inside of it, when you’re actually living, there is too much tied in and you’re part of it. Part of the story. It can be a dangerous act to live and write at the same time, but that’s the high wire act of doing it all. It’s a blessing to be at peace for some moments – I have to believe that it’s a hight power  pushing out the madness inside of the chest just long enough to get the words out. Just long enough to do so.

Early on Saturday Morning

It’s so damn quiet here in Brooklyn. Makes for the perfect morning. Drinking my first cup of coffee from Racine Kringies sent over from Wisconsin via Karen McQuestion and her amazing heart. I believe it’s just may get things going enough so I can get back to that giant office building in Los Angeles. Was it even an office building – I have no idea. It’s going to be the centerpiece though for the new book. Working it out. Working it out.

How do you paint a building with words. Do you construct?

The building sat on top of a pizza place, a head shop and a store that sold two suits for 99 dollars. That suit store gave me comfort because I always thought that if there was an emergency, I’d be able to get a suit quickly and go to a big meeting or something like that. Not sure what kind of big meetings I’d be going to, but if there was ever a reason, I’d have a plan. Always liked to have plans.

The rest of the building was five stories of bricks. If you were lucky, your office faced Hollywood Boulevard. Thing is most offices that did had their drapes closed, which I could never understand because it was defeated the view. Everything was being defeated in some way. The halls were all painted this fantastic green, which I was later told was because of the original handyman who died before he could do the same to the offices inside. We spent tons of times in the halls during those early days.

……

Now the thing that I’m trying to work out here is the narrator – is it going to be the organizer or the main character? That’s the tough part for me right now – The last two books have been the main character and it came off well enough, but I think there has to be something new. Who knows – this is only the run through stage. Should know better than to ask these kinds of questions so early.

Now the job of the main character I have. Got it while walking down the street to the train the other day. He writes papers for college students in that little box of an office. What are some of the other people doing in those offices?

1. Website builder

2. Detective

3. T shirt company

4. Cartoon Makers

5. Photographer

6. Map Maker

7. Video Editor

8. Screenplay Writer

9.  Tax Man / Woman

10. Lawyer

11. Band

going to have to focus in on a few of these side folks, but not get too many. The trick is to show the amount of people and businesses without going through each one. Show scope but don’t dive in but don’t skimp either. Going to be interesting. All of them will be independent businesses though which will be a main theme running through it all:

Independence. Will have to start putting up maps and charts to keep track of everyone as they grow. All of the people in this building (Going to stop calling them characters for the moment and just feel the peopleness of them). They are all separate from the mainstream. Now some of them are looking to get picked up, but others exist outside of the mainstream and that is the very thing that makes them all unique. They don’t realize it because they are in their own little offices, but soon, they will. They will notice that they share a building and that if they combine all of their talents, they’ll have a community.

Will have to subvert this message – but it’s there.

My question now as I move through all of this is:

How can I tell a story in Hollywood without going into the film industry? The main character himself is just looking to live and survive. Not to be famous – only to exist outside of the mainstream. He doesn’t want to give in. Now – because of his fear of the mainstream, he is going to get sucked into it. Your fear of things has you avoid them, but in the end, you walk into the pit. Going to enjoy that one.

Is someone going to be controlling everything like it is one huge grand plan? That might be a little far fetched. Perhaps he thinks someone is. He goes out and tries to prove it only to find that there is no grand conspiracy – only that people intentionally give in and give up because of fear. Not sure how that would come through. We’ll have to keep pushing.