Beastie Boys Square Is Probably Definitely Not Happening
Community Board members are not impressed with gatefold album covers
A plan to rename the intersection of Rivington and Ludlow Streets "Beastie Boys Square" received another set-back last night when Manhattan's Community Board 3 voted 5-1 against the motion.
LeRoy McCarthy, whose idea was inspired by the iconic Paul's Boutique album cover, will now have one last shot at presenting his case when the motion is taken to the full board on March 25th. This follows a 24-1 vote against the idea earlier this year. After Community Board 3 cited the lack of a tie between the Beasties and the community as a reason to deny the motion, it seems the group won't be getting a hometown street sign honoring their achievements any time soon.
McCarthy, who was also behind last year's attempt to rename St. James Place and Fulton Street in Brooklyn as Christopher Wallace Way, presented his case to the Transportation and Public Safety Committee at the University Settlement building. His motion was preceded by a debate about whether Con-Edison's stray voltage issues in the area were inadvertently electrocuting dogs. (That debate went on for over an hour, eventually preventing Bill Adler, the one-time director of publicity for Def Jam records and close ally of the Beasties, from speaking on behalf of Beastie Boys Square due to other engagements.)
When eventually given the opportunity, McCarthy put forward the main thrust of his argument: The Beasties had ties to the area going back to their days of playing at CBGBs and recording at 171A Studios on Avenue A, and had worked with charities that directly benefited the community (including the ASPCA, the Lunchbox Fund and Habitat For Humanity). With Adam Yauch's passing in 2012, he also argued that the Beasties were effectively "dead" as a group, thereby satisfying another of the Board's requirements for the co-naming of a street.
By using the corner of Rivington and Ludlow for the cover of Paul's Boutique, McCarthy claimed the Beasties had "memorialized a time capsule" of the area for the world. Although he added, "It's not just about a photograph that was taken 25 years ago -- it's about more than that... Hip-Hop was founded in New York City and now it is around the globe and [the Beastie Boys] were a component in moving it around the globe."
The cut and thrust of local politics in full effect
At the request of the committee, McCarthy also presented 421 signatures he collected from residents and businesses directly in the area that were in support of the re-renaming venture. This endorsement seemed to impress the sole council member who voted in favor or the motion. She concluded, "If the people that live there would like [the re-naming] I'm fine with it. My job as a Community Board member is to support the community. If that community wants it, then I'm all for it."
Unfortunately, that was a rare victory for McCarthy on the night, as the rest of the committee present opposed (or in one case abstained) from voting in favor of it.
"We are the same age as the Beastie Boys so we know who they are," said the chairperson, before adding that he did not see that the Beasties' accomplishments were linked directly to the area of the city under the care of Community Board 3. This lack of a link was cited by other members as the main reason for voting against the motion. "First of all, their music is good," said a committee member. "They changed a lot of peoples' lives, but did they have a tie to the Lower East Side?"
Another committee member warned about a "snowball effect" that might arise with other celebrities wanting streets names after them -- although his example of "Ross from Friends" living nearby seemed more comical than convincing.
After a 5-1 (plus one member abstaining) vote against the motion, McCarthy was told the decision will now be taken to the full board later in the month. Once raised there, the decision can be passed, modified or rejected. In the meantime, you can view McCarthy's draft resolution in full at the NYC government website.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.