Kickin' It Freestyle
So What'cha Want to talk about anyway? A Slack Tide free-for-all
Apologies for the atrocious headline and subhead. I say that knowing that it’s never wise to make your lead, or “lede” as it’s spelled in the business, an apology. It suggests instability and uncertainty. People like to think that their leaders are steady, that they know where they’re going and are decisively headed there. Or that they at least have a staffer in a bunny costume willing to help them gain their bearings when they lose their way. Though of course, I don’t think of myself as the leader of Slack Tide world. I’m merely its community organizer.
It’s always embarrassing when white guys speak in rap lyrics, even if they’re quoting the Beastie Boys, themselves white. Just watch Ari Melber if you don’t believe me. When making musical references, as this column often does, I usually come to you from the moody singer/songwriter or classic rock/soul-man end of the pool. Though all music can be soul music when it comes from the right place. And I namecheck the Beasties not only because man cannot live on Townes Van Zandt and Solomon Burke alone. Sometimes he needs to blow out the jets:
But I also mention them since after I marked the tenth anniversary of the great Levon Helm’s death a few columns back, I was reminded that as of May 4, it’s now been a solid decade since the Beasties’ Adam Yauch (stage name MCA), the gravel-voiced brains behind their operation, left us. He’s the one in the flannel shirt in the above video. Throat cancer got him, just like it did Levon. Yauch was only 47. The Beasties saw no reason to go on without him. As bandmate Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) wrote in his and Mike Diamond’s memoir: “The band didn’t break up. We didn’t go our own creative ways. No solo project fucked things up to cause animosity. This was our last record because Adam got cancer and died. If that hadn’t happened, we would probably be making a new record as you read this. Sadly, it didn’t turn out that way. Sadly. Sadly. Too fucking sad to write about.”
If you’re one of my two readers who care to deep-dive on Yauch’s/the Beasties’ considerable body of work, some of my favorites include Root Down (sampling some killer Jimmy Smith licks), Sure Shot, Jimmy James, and Too Many Rappers (featuring Nas). But if you’ll allow even more discursion - why stop now? – here’s something so uncool, it’s cool. I can’t say that I’ve ever liked the band Coldplay, on account of my heterosexuality. But the very night Yauch died, Coldplay was in concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and lead singer Chris Martin performed this impromptu piano tribute, turning one of the Beasties’ most cloying ‘80s-era party-anthem songs into something kind of moving. Like I said, soul music can come from anywhere. Even from Coldplay.
What does all this have to do with anything? Not much, if I’m being honest. Except that as the subhead of this piece suggests, I wanted to try something new today. Mind you, I generally abhor new things, reasoning that if new things are preferable to the old, why didn’t they think of them sooner? But I wanted to encourage a free-for-all in the comments section. Often, readers send me questions for an “Ask Matt,” and I’ll select one or two of them as an essay launch-pad. Or else I’ll write an introduction to kick around a single subject in a discussion thread. But this isn’t that.
This can be about whatever’s on your mind: current events, fishing, spirituality, music, miscellaneous life matters, why crypto/ NFT’s are stupid and we should be glad the market is crashing, whatever. As they used to say in the Mickey Mouse Club, long before Ron DeSantis decided he was a dangerous rodent who must be crushed under the jackboot of the state, today is anything-can-happen day. Leave a comment of any sort, and I’ll either try to address it or dodge it, depending on whim. And you can jump back in, and we can go to town and paint it red. Or you can tell each other what’s on your minds. A round-robin email exchange, in essence. No rules, except maintaining civility. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll pretend it didn’t happen and never speak of it again. I’m closing this off to paid subscribers only. You won’t even get to lurk otherwise. So if you’re paywall-curious, now would be a good time to join. For 50 bucks a year - roughly the current price of a carton of milk - you too can be a full member, and never miss any locked-up features. Or you can do the same for five bucks per month – you’re able to cancel after any month. But why would you cancel when the country’s fate swings in the balance?