Saturday, September 5, 2009

Snowboarding Celebrity No. 9: Adam Yauch (aka MCA)


Getting older is not a smooth process, it happens in jumps, and we all go through life feeling either too young or too old at every step. The moments when you suddenly realise you are getting older are always quite a shock. For me these moments have included:
  1. The first time a Premiership footballer was younger than me.
  2. When my friends started having kids intentionally.
  3. Dealing with the evidence that as a grown man I looked like a multicoloured clown wearing baggy trousers and hoodies when not in a snowboarding environment.
  4. Realising that my childhood heroes have moved on from dying of drug overdoses and suicides and have started to die of natural causes
Some of our recent articles included a few stories of dead snowboarders so to change things up this week we look at someone before they die. Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch of Beastie Boys fame, was recently diagnosed with throat cancer, which he should pull through comfortably, but I’m not taking any chances.

I guess this picture was taken after the surgery

I was a big fan of the Beastie Boys back before all the instrumental jazz nonsense, but I never spent much effort caring which one was which. Today we are going to look in more detail at the one called MCA.

He's the one that looks like he has cancer. And he's wearing a Burton jacket

MCA was born August 5, 1964 in Brooklyn, New York. His hobbies are basketball, gourmet cooking, snowboarding, skateboarding, creating music, and he is fluent in Spanish. He is currently married to Dechen Wangdu. They have 1 daughter, Tenzin Losel, born September 31, 1998. Adam practices Tibetan Buddhism, though he, Adrock, and Mike D were all raised Jewish.’
So he’s 45, he’s found religion and he also seems to have a family of Star Wars characters
I’m not sure music can be considered to be a hobby, but we are here to look into his snowboarding hobby in more detail

Holy shit - Cancer!

Flakezine, some sort of historical paper blog about snowboarding, has evidence that Mr Yauch was very much into snowboarding in the early 90s which is some pretty historical snowboarding.
In fact, Mike D was probably introduced to the chrome Arnettes by fellow Beastie and snowboarder Adam "MCA" Yauch. Mike D even wore the shades at Board Aid, Warp magazine's snowboard/rock'n roll fund raiser for LifeBeat held at Snow Summit in spring of 1994’
I couldn’t find anything more about Board Aid but it sounds mint – as long as miserable shouty Geldof wasn’t involved.
‘Boing Boing Magazine #13 the "media culture brainwash for now people" included an interview with Beastie Boy and 1994 MTV Video Awards prankster Adam Yauch. The sub-head on the interview asked, "Does snowboarding bring out the Buddha in us? The Beastie Boy's Adam Yauch says, "Yeah!" MCA explained his love for both Zen Buddhism and snowboarding saying, "I like being at a high altitude and getting into a "flow" that's nice." It shore is, brahda!’
Brahda is another word whose meaning has been lost over time. I imagine this was some sort of US snowboarding slang from the early 90s specifically used to indicate support for snowboarding Buddhists.
Go Brahda!

It was when he was snowboarding in the Himalayas back in 1993 that he found religion. This is from a blog that has a comprehensive run down of rappers who have found god.
Rapper: MCA
Real Name: Adam Yauch
Converted To: Buddhism
Year: 1993
Reason: After a snowboarding trip in the Himalayas in 1993, MCA returned with a newfound outlook on the world and an all-together matured personality. Known as one of the most tongue-in-cheek rappers in the game, MCA came back dropping nuggets like this: “We have a lot of machines and we think of ourselves as really advanced. But in fact we’re not very modern compared to the Tibetans, who have a more inwardly evolved society in terms of their psychology and philosophy. And without adopting some of that understanding and learning from the Tibetans and from Buddhism, we’re basically going to destroy the planet for everyone.” Zing!

Adam Yauch groping the Tibetan flag

So he has snowboarded in the Himalyas which is a pretty tricky destination. You have to be a dedicated snowboarder to choose the big death mountains as a destination, but other than developing the ability to walk up mountains is Mr MCA any good at snowboarding? We investigated further.
In 2003 an extreme sports DVD that included snowboarding called ‘Keep Your Eyes Open’ featured fellow Beastie Boy, Mike D. It also featured snowboarders Marc Frank Montoya, Mike Basich and Tina Basich. In the commentary Adam Yauch’s riding is discussed.
Mike D is the one on the left, I think.
Is that a
snowboarding tattoo?

Nah it's the Silver Surfer

‘For all of you out there who bought the DVD, the audio commentary with director Tamra Davis and professional snowboarder Tina Basich is by far and away the best part of the disc's special features. At one point it is revealed that Tamra Davis originally met Tina through Adam Yauch, who snowboarded with her for two winters. During the course of the commentary track, the two go on to discuss how Adam Yauch's abilities as a snowboarder are considered with high regard among those who he has wintered with.’
Tina Basich is considered to be ‘The Godmother of Snowboarding’ which, although being a seriously uncool name to get lumbered with, it does at least give you an idea that she knows her stuff. In fact she used to snowboard with MCA quite a lot:
‘Tina Basich. Considered one of the world's top snowboarders, she's also a roomie with Beastie Boy Adam Yauch at her Utah home. (They're just friends.) And she snowboards with Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters.’

Tina Basich - Godmother of Snowboarding, God Damn Bad at Painting.

Now I’d like to also have some proof that Dave Grohl, famous for being the drummer from Nirvana, is a snowboarder but I can’t find photographic proof so he’s not joining the snowboarding celebrity gang. All that I could find out is that he used to date Tina Basich
Dave Grohl - snowboarder? Unproven
On a side note, I did find out the Richard Dean Anderson from MacGyver is a skier but again that doesn’t count. Would have been freaking awesome though.

MacGyver - Fuck Yeah!

But let’s get back to the Adam Yauch story and the unfortunate sad ending. Sad because although he’s not dying, he’s officially dead to me, because it turns out he is an ex-snowboarder.
He began his studies earnestly with a spiritual healer, who taught him meditation, massage work, and energy fields. "Now he feels as though he's 'a little closer to leaving this dimension.'" It seems as though Yauch has worked through his insecurities and can get through a day without being upset; and perhaps he has also come to terms with not being so materialistic. During the Ill Communication era, the Beastie Boys temporarily relocated to Los Angeles, where MCA lived in a log cabin. Apparently, snowboarding is a thing of the past, but he still has a "big-screen TV."
It’s a shame because back in the day and he was pretty decent snowboarder and here is the video to prove it. The snowboarding kicks in after 25 seconds

Although clearly he concentrated on the art of the straight air.

Bonus Game
Now that you have seen a few pictures of Adam Yauch and the other Beastie Boys. Try and figure out which one is which in this lovely fan painting:

Answers on a postcard, because I sure as hell can’t figure it out.

And Finally
One thing I’m always extremely concerned about when it comes to celebrities is ‘how tall are they?’ It turns out I’m not alone. There is a website dedicated to it and it’s got a lot of dedicated heightiasts who take this sort of thing very seriously. Here are some snippets form the discussion/argument forum and it's worth a read after this.
glenn says on 30/May/08
i studied this guy carefully alot of times in the last 8 months.5-8 with bad posture.i think he can achieve 5-9.i was gonna ask him.i was too embarrassed to.mightve been fitting,as he was promoting his basketball movie.this pic above was by accident at an airport.adrock 5-6.mike d 5-10.its weird cause i have a vinyl single where on the back cover they are all standing straight,shoulder to shoulder,(which is rare),and they looked the original heights i had them at,which was the 5-8 for mca,the only difference.there appeared to be a 2 inch difference with each member in other im not so sure.i thought i sent rob my recent mike d pic(last year).i guess not.i needed updated pics with these guys bad.hadnt had updates since 1994,not including adrock in 2001.

Roger says on 6/Jun/08
Mike D 5'10''??? Are you kidding? I saw the Beasties live, including all three of them coming of the stage and walking / running in front of the audience. All three of them were almost frighteningly short. I remember it so well because the security guards in front of me were 5' 10'' max, and they were taller than any of the 3 Bboys, including Mike D.

Your claim to expertship to height, Glenn, is now in doubt - I begin to think you are not 5'8'' at all.

glenn says on 7/Jun/08
roger.fuk saw mike d on stage.i talk to the guy in the street for 20 comments below.others agree on 5-10.cause you think he is that short,that must mean im not 5-8.thats pathetic,infantile thinking.

Roger was later banned from the site and shunned by the heightiast brotherhood.

Adam Yauch's height is currently estimated to be 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)

Adam Yauch suffering from a bad case of 'can'cer.

Jesus that was bad. No wonder I left that till the end

Check out our back catalogue of snowboarding celebrities.


  1. well dave grohl said him self that hes a snowboarder on an interview year 2000

  2. Dave grohl was found with 7 ounces of semen in his throat, is this correct?

  3. RIP dude. I listened to BB when I was a kid living in the Soviets. Your voice "... my name is MCA..." is still ringing in head after all the years... What a life. So sad...

  4. Im not liking the cancer references on this average article...

  5. I know Dave Grohl used to snowboard. I rode the half pipe with him back in the day at Hood. Must have been like 1999, give or take a year or two. Saw him hiking up the pipe and approached. Asked him if he was who I though he was. He replied "Not today my man" and gave me a smile. Gave him his respect and privacy knowing that he was the drummer from my favorite band of all time. Almost fanned out though.

  6. Badly written article with cheap cancer references. Pffft.


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