The Beastie Boys’ new book: How they wrote it.

The Sunday New York Times featured a cover story in the Arts & Entertainment section on the new Beastie Boys book. Ad-Rock and Mike D explain how this whole project came together.

The story begins — or maybe ends — with three guys in their early 50s hanging out on a beautiful late summer afternoon, drinking iced coffee and talking about how much they love the Clash, and how weird it is that the celebrity-clogged hotel where they’re sitting is just up the block from where CBGB was way back when. Dad stuff. Two of the dads, though, are the surviving members of the Beastie Boys: Adam Horovitz, with upswept gray hair and a white T-shirt with a faint graffito on the front; and Michael Diamond, wearing a bright red button-up, his hair still dark, his face creased and tan from years living in Southern California. Ad-Rock and Mike D, in other words.

The third Beastie, Adam Yauch — MCA, the conscience, shaman and intellectual backbone of the group — died in 2012 after a three-year battle with salivary gland cancer. His absence, six years later, is a palpable fact in the room. His name comes up a lot in the conversation, as it does in the new book Horovitz and Diamond have written. Called “Beastie Boys Book” (though the front cover might lead you to believe that the actual title is “PIZZA”), it’s a 571-page doorstop and a tombstone, a compendium of anecdotes, recipes, impish riffs and shaggy-dog stories and a heartfelt elegy to a much-missed friend.

The volume, full of old photographs and comics, with a riot of fonts and layouts, is a nonmusical summa of Beastie aesthetics. Personal history, tour bus folklore, studio geekery and a generational drama that summons an impressive roster of witnesses, including the writers Jonathan Lethem, Ada Calhoun and Colson Whitehead, the comedian/actress Amy Poehler and assorted fellow musicians. Some scores are settled, some beef is squashed, and no doubt some ugly business gets airbrushed or skipped over. Bad behavior is acknowledged; feminist-ally bona fides are upheld. Since there won’t be any more new Beastie Boys music, this scrapbook will help to consolidate a sprawling and complicated legacy.

If you’re a fan, you must keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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