Friday, May 4, 2012

Adam Yauch: America Mourns a Beastie

Here is Adam "MCA" Yauch as he would assuredly like to be remembered -- making a prank phone call to the Carvel ice cream company.


Cooky Puss (1983)
This is a very sad day, of course, and I thought it might be fun to revisit one of Adam's lighter moments. This song was the title track from a 1983 EP by the Beastie Boys. Adam was only 19 when this came out, a fact which might give you some insight into the juvenile mentality behind the record. Growing up in mid-Michigan, where there were no Carvel franchises, I was completely baffled by this song when I heard it (around 1987 or so). I was totally unfamiliar with the surreal, low-budget commercials made by ice cream maven Tom Carvel or with his line of character-themed ice cream cakes like Cookie Puss and Fudgy the Whale. Only a few years later, when I saw the entry for Mr. Carvel in the book The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste by Jane & Michael Stern, did I begin to make the connection to the Beasties' song. If you listen carefully to this recording, you'll hear that Adam not only mentions Cookie Puss but also a couple of holiday-themed spin-off characters: Cookie O'Puss (an Irish fellow for St. Patty's Day) and Cookie Chick (a baby chick for Easter). Imagine my surprise when I did a Google Image search for "Cookie Puss" years later and discovered that the cake in question looked familiar! That same eerie, smiling face was visible in the liner notes of the Beastie EP! Suddenly, it all made sense! 

For the curious among you , this composition is credited to Adam's co-Beastie, Adam Horowitz, and legendary indie rock chick (and former Beastie drummer) Kate Schellenbach. And that guy talking about what his real name is? That's comedian Steve Martin, his voice sampled from a track called "My Real Name" off the Wild and Crazy Guy LP from 1978.

Cookie Chick
Cookie O'Puss