June 19, 2004 by
When things get weird, I think about happy, simple times. For me, that would be college. I carried a full load, volunteered, worked, DJed and managed to find time to sample all the fresh beer in Farmville. One moment I will never forget was when the Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill record came out in 1986. Rap from three white guys…it was outrageous. I played it all the time at the two radio stations I worked for. I still smile when I think about the good times associated with that piece of vinyl.
Is it odd that last week I would want to rush to Tower to buy the latest Beastie Boys CD? I should have more pressing concerns, right? I should be searching for more writing gigs, getting laid, or solving local-level literacy problems. Nope. I haven’t been this excited for new music since the B-52’s Cosmic Thing. Shit, should I be admitting that?
I’ve been having a touch of post traumatic stress ever since the 9/11 hearings. I tried not to watch, but even at the gym I’d catch myself reading the closed-captioning on the TVs while on the eliptical trainer.
Friday, my former employee emailed me that she had signed up for the long-term effects health study. Like many that worked downtown, she’s been having health problems since 9/11. I don’t want to think about what may be wrong with me. Coming to CA was part of my solution – enjoy life and don’t think about health consequences.
In a way, I felt the Beastie Boys new album was put out to reconnect me with New York while I enjoy sunny southern California. This was their first album in six years and I knew they would have a lot to say about recent events in New York. I still want to forget about my personal experience of walking home from Wall Street to Brooklyn; however, I want to celebrate survival and rebirth.
I managed to hold the tears back while signing the credit card receipt at Tower. Outside, I began to cry as I looked at the To the five boroughs cover CD art. It was a rendering of the NYC skyline with the towers in it.
I rushed to the car and listed to “Ch-check it out.” I stopped crying, smiled, and I wanted to dance. When I got home, I listened to the remaining 14 tracks.
“An open letter to NYC” caught my attention immediately with it’s “listen all you New Yorkers” intro and a fast beated squeal that reminded me of a tape cassette being fastfowarded. I grabbed the lyric sheet.
Dear New York,
I hope you’re doing well I know a lot’s happened and you’ve been through hell. So, we give thanks for providing a home.
Just a little something to show some respect to the city that blends and mends and tests. Since 9/11 we’re still livin’ and lovin’ life we’ve been given. Ain’t nothing gonna take that away from us.
While listening to this song and crying, I went to the health department website and got on the WTC health registry. I was no longer going to casually gloss over the fact that I was there and volunteered at the pile. The cough and sinus problems ceased when I moved to California, but I’ll never forget I was there.
Thanks to my lyrical connection to New York, I’m getting my ass in gear and dancing at the same time.
Check it out.