A new word for these times

trump

Portmanteau is a concept that we all live with everyday. It’s taking two–or sometimes more–words and combining them to form a new word. My dog, for example, is a schnoodle, or a cross between a schnauzer and a poodle. Other portmanteu words include jeggings, listicle, and threepeat. The malleability of English guarantees that new words of this sort will always be created.

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as president, a wave of aberrant behavior swept across this country. One of the more publicized acts–because it occurred in New York and had to do with well-known artists–was painting swastikas and the words “Go Trump” in Adam Yauch Park, which is named for a member of the Beastie Boys, the late Adam “MCA” Yauch.

Yauch was Jewish by birth, but he was a practicing Buddhist from 1996 until his death. With this in mind, the swastikas don’t make any sense–there or anywhere else–other than to identify religious animus in the hearts of whoever committed this act.

In trying to cope with this stupid act, a gathering was held in Adam Yauch Park on November 20. Adam “AdRock” Horovitz addressed the crowd, and advised them to fight back in any way that they could. “If you’re a writer, write” was one of the bits of advice he gave. So consider this an attempt to live up to AdRock’s advice and speak out against the Trump-inspired acts of hate that are taking place in this country.

“Antipathy” is a word that someone who isn’t a writer doesn’t normally use. If you don’t like somebody, it is usually enough to call them a name and be done with it. The saltier and more profane the terms used are, the more it gets the speaker or writer’s sense of antipathy toward that person across.

In thinking about my feelings toward Donald Trump, and the divisions and fears he exploited in order to appeal to millions of voters across this country, I realized that “antipathy” is a fitting word to describe them. But I also realized that the word “Trump” can be dropped into the middle of the word, and the general feeling of both words would still make sense. Thus, antipathy directed toward Donald Trump will be forever known–at least by me–as “antrumpathy.”

Whether I’m the only person who ever uses this word, or it spreads like wildfire and gets added to a dictionary someday, is secondary to the idea that Trump’s election will lead–and already has led–this country into places I’ve never seen go before. Hate crimes are on the rise, and this is before Trump even takes office. Trump’s never going to explicitly call for any attacks, of course, but some who look on his election approvingly are now acting in ways that they would not have done just two months ago. So fight back we must, and I’m using creativity and my humble blog to do exactly that.

So please use this new word in whatever setting works best. Don’t try making any money from it, though, because I’m not and I don’t want anyone else to, either. This word hopefully won’t be needed in four years, when Trump leaves the White House after a single term in office. But for now, consider it a nonviolent addition to the language of our protest. And the Beastie Boys would certainly approve of that turn of events.

You Just Never Know, Part 2

tvsfish

I’ve written about the Beastie Boys several times, including here and here. The death of Adam Yauch in 2012 (a/k/a MCA) came as a shock, since he is the same age that I am now. In fact, I’m about the same age as he was when the cancer that did him in was diagnosed. And if that doesn’t grab my attention, not much will.

When the Beastie Boys released Licensed to Ill back in 1986, it offered lots of silly, goofy rhymes. No subject was too off-kilter, so long as it made for a rhyme with another, equally off-kilter topic. The very first song on the record had a rhyme that went “If I played guitar I’d be Jimmy Page/ The girlies I like are underage.” Having read Hammer of the Gods not too long before that, and knowing that Page had in fact engaged in such behavior, their words seemed brilliant and provocative at the same time. And there were many more where that came from.

The death of Abe Vigoda yesterday, at the age of 94, can linked to the Beastie Boys, if only in the most crazy, backhanded way. He was nearly 70 years old when MCA, at the age of 22, rapped “I got a girl in the castle and one in the pagoda/ You know I got rhymes like Abe Vigoda.” I suppose admitting that Abe Vigoda has rhymes like yours wouldn’t help your rap career very much, would it?

So who would you expect to live longer back in 1986, the almost 70 year-old Abe Vigoda, or the still-in-his-early 20s Adam Yauch/MCA? You wouldn’t pick Vigoda, would you? And yet that’s what happened.

Llife can be painfully short, or surprisingly long. There’s no way of knowing just how much of a shelf life any of us will have. But if life is being enjoyed, that’s what matters the most. Everything else works itself out, eventually.

NOTE: This is a retread of a piece I wrote about Phyllis Diller when she died in 2012. The only differences are in bold italics for Abe Vigoda. Is this recycling? Of course it is. But the wheel of life–and death–keeps on turning, all the same.

MCA got it right

mca-4

Today the term “MCA” came up in a work-related context, and it reminded me of Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. I googled “MCA Beastie Boys” and came upon many interesting things, and two images in particular that I wanted to share.

The first was a shot of the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC (and Jam Master Jay) on the roof of a building, probably in New York, and probably somewhere around 1986 or thereabouts. There were six artists–two of them no longer with us–who made some of my favorite music, then and now. I appreciate their musical legacy, and the lesson that life is a fragile thing. Jam Master Jay was shot to death in 2002 at the age of 37, and MCA died of cancer in 2012 at the age of 47. But their music lives on.

Yauch

The second image is of a quote from Yauch/MCA. According to him, everything we do, and everything we say, is a chance to bring change to the world. We would all do well to remember this in our everyday lives. Thanks to him for putting this idea into words

You just never know

I’ve written about the Beastie Boys several times, including here and here. The death of Adam Yauch last spring (a/k/a MCA) came as a shock, since he was just a couple of years older than I am now. In fact, I’m about the same age as he was when the cancer that did him in was diagnosed. And if that doesn’t grab my attention, not much will.

When the Beastie Boys released Licensed to Ill back in 1986, it offered lots of silly, goofy rhymes. No subject was too off-kilter, so long as it made for a rhyme with another, equally off-kilter topic. The very first song on the record had a rhyme that went “If I played guitar I’d be Jimmy Page/ The girlies I like are underage.” Having read Hammer of the Gods not too long before that, and knowing that Page had in fact engaged in such behavior, their words seemed brilliant and provocative at the same time. And there were many more where that came from.

The death of Phyllis Diller today, at the age of 95, can linked to the Beastie Boys, if only in the most crazy, backhanded way. She was nearly 70 years old, and past the age that someone my age would have known much about her career, when MCA, at the age of 22, rapped ” I got rhymes galime, I got rhymes galilla/ I got more rhymes than Phyllis Diller.” I suppose admitting that Phyllis Diller had more rhymes than you do wouldn’t help your rap career very much, would it? And what are “rhymes galilla”? Your guess is as good as mine.

So who would you expect to live longer back in 1986, the almost 70 year-old Phyllis Diller, or the still-in-his-early 20s Adam Yauch/MCA? You wouldn’t pick Ms. Diller, would you? And yet that’s what happened. She outlived him by a few months, and then they both died in the same year. Crazy, isn’t it?

Llife can be painfully short, or surprisingly long. There’s no way of knowing just how much of a shelf life any of us will have. But if life is being enjoyed, that’s what matters the most. Everything else works itself out, eventually.

I’m feeling good to play a little music

Earlier this month, MCA from the Beastie Boys passed away after a fight against cancer. He was just a couple of years older than I am now, and it reminded me once again of how short life can be. I fear getting old more than I fear dying young, but that doesn’t mean early deaths aren’t hard.

I was in Cleveland when I learned of MCA’s passing, and the day after it happened I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time. I was originally down on the idea, because of some groups that have been left out, but I realize that’s just silly. Rock and roll has always been a big part of my life, from the time that I heard the guitar solo on Styx’ Renegade back when I was ten years old. If this place is where the history of this artform is being preserved, then so be it. As I was looking at some of the artifacts on display, I felt like such a place is needed, in order to remind us of who has made this music and why.

And so it was that I came to the rounded hallway where all of the inductees’ signature are displayed, and then to the display for new inductees. That’s me on the left above, with the Beastie Boys’ exhibit. Pictures weren’t allowed inside the display, but rock and roll is about bending the rules, so I enlisted my daughter and we waited for an opportune moment. I don’t think I could have staged a better shot if they allowed me to.

There were already four pictures commemorating Rock hall inductees who had passed away, in the first few months of this year. Dick Clark was there, along with three others. MCA would have been the fifth picture on the wall, but they hadn’t had time yet to find a suitable picture. And Robin Gibb has passed away since then, bringing to six the number of Rock Hall members that have died in the first five months of this year. You can say that rock is dying right before our eyes. That’s a bit dramatic, but it hasn’t been the best of years so far.

I listened to the Beastie Boys in college, and  haven’t stopped since. I’m glad they moved away from the juvenile stuff on Licensed to Ill, but kept the weird references in their lyrics. Nobody ever did what they could do, and that’s what made them unique. Their absence will be a big void, not the least of which is a 2009 Lollapalooza show that they pulled out of due to MCA’s condition. They had bigger issues to deal with than playing a concert in Chicago, but the release of a new disc last year made me think we might see them on stage somehow. But it was not meant to be.

I wrote this piece tonight because, as my daughter was listening to Radio Disney in the car this evening, I heard the opening bars of “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” in the background during some meaningless DJ chatter. There were no lyrics in what I heard, but it was if I was being reminded to get some thoughts about MCA and the Beastie Boys out to the wider world.

After leaving the Beastie Boys display, I came to a jukebox  where you can put on some headphones and pick out any song by any of the Rock Hall artists. I did this for at least a half an hour with Beastie Boys tunes, and I would have liked to do it for even longer,  but impatient children had other ideas. I didn’t know half as many rhymes as I thought I did, but it was fun anyway. And the band that provides that to its fans is rare, indeed.

NOTE: The title of this post comes from an MCA lyric toward the end of Root Down, which can be seen and heard here.

I might be freakin or peakin, but I rock well

The passing of MCA is terribly sad news. The Beastie Boys can’t continue on as they were without him, and I’m sure they know this.

The Beastie Boys directly inspired me to start writing this blog last year. A line from “Too Many Rappers” from their latest release advises listeners that “If you’ve got something on your mind, let it out.” Two days after hearing this, I wrote the first post for this blog, and I’ve written hundreds more since then. So thanks to MCA, not only for the beats, but for the advice as well.

I’m in Cleveland now, and tomorrow will include my first trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It should be a weird scene, since MCA was inducted not even a month ago, and it’s probably safe to say he didn’t get to see his band’s exhibit before he died. I’ll take pictures, and say the rhymes that I know by heart, and try to see if others are there for the same reason. A full report will appear here before too long, but I wanted to get something out before then.

MCA was older than me, but not by very much. Life is indeed short. All the best to the surviving Beasties, and all their fans, like me, who will play a few tunes and remember all of the love that they’ve spread into society.