Tag Archives: Run DMC

You can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop, MCA come and rock the sure shot

It is difficult to credit, when you consider their later preoccupations, that the first incarnation of the Beastie Boys was a gift to tabloid headline writers, creating outrage wherever the group went, causing riots and scandalising sleepy British society.

That it was all taken seriously was amazing even to my 10-year-old eyes, who could see that the Beasties were meant to be a real-life extension of the Saturday morning cartoon shows I was glued to. With their Volkswagen-owner bothering jewellery, Ad Rock’s baby-faced clowning and the custard pie antics of the Fight for Your Right video, the moralising made it even more certain that I and many other kids far from their native Brooklyn would love them.

Of course, history records that the band had the last laugh on everyone who predicted that their brand of juvenile humour would begat nothing more than a one hit wonder. The moves from frat house soundtrack to enlightenment now look so assured that again, it is difficult to recall exactly how close to being written off they came. Teaming up with the Dust Brothers to make an album now as universally loved as it was initially ignored, organising concerts in support of the Free Tibet campaign, apologising for the worst anti-women tirades of their Licensed to Ill days in the lyrics to Sure Shot.

The Boys done good.

And that is before we even get to the music, the incredible brilliance that is the Sabotage video:

The wonder of Intergalactic: I can’t be the only one who never walks through Shinjuku station without thinking of the lads dancing in a crowd of bemused Japanese commuters, can I?

And now that high whine is silenced. I first heard of MCA’s illness when learning that touring in support of their latest album was on hold pending his recovery from another round of treatment. 47 is far too young and cancer is a bitch. But as a Buddhist, perhaps he would have celebrated the impermanence of life, knowing that it is short for all of us and the end is inevitable. What matters is to live it to the full and bring happiness to others while we are here.

On both counts, MCA delivered.

Goodbye and thanks for all the tunes.



Filed under The Golden Country

Shock absorber

All manner of outlandish vocabulary has come up in lessons over the last couple of weeks, at times straining the interpretive skills of a new teacher.  We were talking about buildings and the technology that saves them from quakes.  There was an awful lot of hand movement going on as the student attempted to demonstrate and I wracked my tired brain for the right word.

Eventually we managed to make it to ‘shock absorbers’.  I mentioned my belief that Japanese innovation in this area and strict adherence to building codes must have saved a lot of lives, as well as the buildings themselves.  It seems I am not the only one who thinks so.  You only have to witness these Tokyo skyscrapers swaying like tall grass in a breeze to realise how lucky we were:

(Although I did hear from students with offices located on high that the resulting queasiness lasted for ages!)

Attempting to further clarify ‘shock absorbers’ I mentioned cars.  They have the same thing, I told him, it is the same word that stops you feeling all the bumps in the road.  He looked back at me, with a thoughtful expression and I wondered if he had understood, maybe I hadn’t explained it well enough.  As I was trying to think of other ways, he spoke.

It’s like you.  Your personality is a shock absorber

Is it, I wondered?  I am not so sure.  Whenever a student tells me I am brave for staying, or gives me a gift to say thank you, I question the bravery of drinking tea and eating cake, the twin exploits of most of my post-quake days.  I certainly don’t feel brave, especially not in comparison with this, a Japanese medical aid worker’s diary from Iwate.

I especially don’t feel brave when I reflect that her story had me in tears, the piece titled ‘Beautiful’ in Quakebook also made me cry and saying goodbye to friends has moistened my eyes more than once, until I am beginning to realise that when I look back on my first year in Japan it is going to be at the greater part of 12 months spent sobbing.  It feels as if my nerves have migrated closer to the surface of my skin since I have been here.

Then I stumble across mention of a new type of shock absorber, one being developed with the intelligence to sense the kind of shock it is facing and react in the best way to avoid damage.  And although the article is concerned with buildings technology, I realise that it is as neat a description of the kind of person I want to be as I could ever write.  So that when future shocks happen, as they inevitably must, I can – in the immortal words of Run DMC – wobble but not fall down:

Words to live by, even if you aren’t in an earthquake zone.

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Filed under Japan