Day 17: No Sleep Til Brooklyn

Whilst there are people I would much rather be chained to in the world Simone has turned out to be rather resourceful. Actually when pushed I cannot think of many people I would enjoy being chained to. Perhaps David Niven in his prime would be apt. She picked the lock of a motel room off the main drag in Seymour and managed to steal a few clothes from a Laundromat. I refused to put a Green Day T-Shirt on, until Simone threatened to kill me with the lamp in the motel room. I told her she would find it hard to get away with a dead body chained to her, but her resourcefulness was such that she probably could easily saw off the bits of my body causing the problem.

Funny, I faced down a homicidal Sue Lawley but a hip-hop girl from Boston was much more trouble.

“I’ll be shot of you when we get to Brooklyn anyway. I know this guy who has a metal shop there.”
“Brooklyn. New York. So many bad songs,” I muttered.
“Brooklyn is home to the best crews. Eastside.” Simone said, with funny hand gestures.
“Eastside. Might as well be Northside. Take your beloved Jay-Z again. This is a man named after the intersection of two tube lines. Its like a British rapper calling himself Escalator Link or Waterloo & City Line. Mind you, knowing British rappers it is more than likely.”

She settled into her usual sulk when I reminded her she could not listen to any music in my presence. I suppose I was in a funk after not having any gin for almost ten days. Never mind. We would only be shackled together for another day, and this morning she stole a car and we set off for Brooklyn, with no hitches. Except non-stop lousy traffic. But that’s a given. Its New York.

THE BEASTIE BOYS – No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn

No sleep in Brooklyn more like, if young chaps such as the Beastly Boys (nice wording – cheers) have anything to do about it. Or any part of New York You see the rap scene is often referred to as Urban music, presumably because only an ugly grimy cityscape could throw up such ugly, unpalatable music. Or alternatively with all the traffic noise, perhaps it is the only music that can compete with the din. Whatever, rap is nasty, and the Beastie Boys are some of the nastiest. Not just with the casual sexism of Licensed To Make Me Feel Ill (oh, they say sorry now, but have they ever given any of the money to battered women charities?). But the increasingly sad sight of seeing balding, middle-aged men wearing hoodies when they should be clocking on at the office. No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn, when they get home from a long day at work obv.

Of course for years in the 80s New York, nay the nation, nay the whole world was GRIPPED by the ‘beefs’ between crews from the Five Boroughs, immortalised in records such as “The Bridge Is Over”, “South Bronx”, and… actually, hold on, that isn’t true. Nobody was gripped by those records. In fact nobody cared at all in the whole world apart from KRS-One, whose inflated sense of micro-regional pride made him the Citizen Smith of the hip-hop movement. The proud tradition of hip-hop battling rests on the shoulders of this man’s calling out wackness on people because they lived half a kilometre away from him. Any more petty and he’d have been rapping about planning permission and overgrown leylandii. It is a measure of the supremely tedious awfulness of these intra-city battles that alone among hip-hop traditions they haven’t even been ripped off by UK rappers. Luckily one day New York MCs put aside their differences, bought an atlas, discovered that America had another coast and the borough wars ended.

(The Beastie Boys’ latest record, To The Five Boroughs, may be seen as a tribute to this bygone area, or perhaps a rueful acknowledgement that only a city which gave eartime to ARSE Weapons would have the patience to listen to it.)