The death of Adam Yauch on Friday left any person who remotely likes the sound of music sobbing. That’s because of one reason: Nobody dislikes the Beastie Boys. Nobody stops headbanging after yelling out “KICK IT!” when “Fight For Your Right To Party” comes on somewhere. The line “I like my sugar with coffee and cream” in “Intergalactic” off their (arguably best) album Hello Nasty is one of the coolest lyrics in any song I’ve ever heard. It’s not a brilliantly insightful line or a life-changing epitaph; it’s just constructed in a way that screams cool. Hence the name of their debut LP, Licensed to Ill: they defined what it means to be “ill.”
But Yauch’s death hit home for me on a different plane: Rick Rubin, the famous producer best known as that grizzly white guy in the “99 Problems” video, started Def Jam Records in his isolated insane asylum of a dorm room in Weinstein. He was the brains behind Licensed to Ill so, by undeniable logic, Weinstein created the Beastie Boys. And I lived in Weinstein my freshman year (Shout-out to 5th Floor, B Tower, Class of 2010). That means that the Beastie Boys, at one point earlier in their career, were standing right in the middle of my room. Actually, probably on the Stoop – a place I used to call home. And that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard, even if it’s technically missing a few facts here and there.
So I did some research and found that other really cool stuff happened right where you’re sitting as you read this. Hopefully you made it down this far, because look at this:
Adam Sandler was an RA in Brittany. Let’s think about this for second: at one point in the history of the universe, someone was busted for smoking a bong in their bathroom by none other than Billy Madison, aka Happy Gilmore, aka Longfellow Deeds, aka Sonny Koufax, aka one of the many reasons why SNL was as awesome as it was in the 1990s. Imagine being told that you had a meeting with the head of residential affairs in Brittany in the “Opera Man” voice. I would not be mad, because that would be the climax of cool in my life.
“Bro Rape” was filmed here in what looks like Rubin or Third North. You might have seen the YouTube video that has been watched by over 9 million people. Or maybe you haven’t, so here’s a quick summary: it’s a mixture of How to Catch a Predator and the Dave Matthews Band album Crash, done by the comedy troupe Derrick Comedy. In the video, the two “bro rapists” are none other than NYU-er Donald Glover (Childish Gambino, Troy Barnes, whatever) and SNL cast member Bobby Moynihan. After the troupe made a name for itself online and at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in Chelsea, at some point Glover got a call from Tina Fey’s manager, who asked him to be a writer on 30 Rock. In other words, coolest phone call ever.
Paul Thomas Anderson didn’t last two days in Tisch. The director of Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood and pretty much every Fiona Apple music video – they dated for a little bit, making him even more cool — dropped out in 48 hours and was at Sundance by the end of the year. Damn. This proves one thing: he’s so cool that NYU couldn’t even handle him. And that’s totally alright. (Same logic applies to Woody Allen.)
Aziz Ansari was a Sternie. The creator of Entertainment 720 majored in “Mathematics.” Tom Haverford was in a cohort. In other words, Sternies can be cool if they bail from Goldman Sachs post-graduation, hit the improv comedy circuit, become good friends with Kanye and date Rashida Jones in a faux community somewhere in the middle of Indiana.
I could mention Lady Gaga belting her heart out for the first time in Third North, but here’s another musical axiom like the aforementioned one used for the Beastie Boys: nobody thinks Gaga is cool. That doesn’t mean she’s a bad musician: talent is not synonymous with coolness and every Metallica fan knows this all too well. Her gig on East 11th Street is just not allowed on this list.
Because this is about being cool. And everybody who listened to and loved MCA is an expert on the subject.