Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Desus, Mero, Spike Jonze, and the Beastie Boys talk new documentary, what a Brass Monkey really is

Mike D, Ad-Rock, Spike Jonze
Mike D, Ad-Rock, Spike Jonze
Screenshot: Desus & Mero

With the intended IMAX release of Spike Jonze’s intimate two-man show documentary Beastie Boys Story—like seemingly everything else beautiful in this world—being cancelled in lieu of a more humble, living room-sized Apple TV+ launch a few weeks ago, Desus and Mero similarly settled for Jonze and the surviving Beastie Boys on a glitchy video chat on Monday’s show. (Mike Diamond’s penchant for suburban living trading breathing room for decent wifi service saw him absent for long stretches, giving Adam Horovitz ample opportunity to rank on his lifelong friend and bandmate.) Such inconveniences and last-minute adjustments are just life these days. (Horovitz noted that his signature distaste for going outside stands him in good stead, although he’s less tolerant of “the dead bodies piling up.”) But the quintet made the most of their spotty extended time, the Boys talking about re-teaming with old “Sabotage” director Jonze, and how their mutual 50-ish selves still find working together a lot of fun.

With fellow New Yorkers Desus Nice and the Kid Mero urging the former (and ever) Mike D and Ad-Rock onto whatever topic the hip-hop legends felt most interesting, the interview covered a wide swath of amiable silliness. From favorite breakfast cereals (Desus Nice explaining that his love for Frosted Mini Wheats stems from the comparison to the plain version you get in New York City jails), to Adam’s cherished official Run-DMC hat (pulled lovingly from within the impressive clutter of his garage), to debunking the amateur mixologists’ attempts to replicate just what the hell a “Brass Monkey” is. No slapdash cocktail of malt liquor and orange juice, Adam stressed that the Licensed To Ill track was inspired by the young Beasties’ penchant for drinking an actual, bottled or canned beverage from Heublein Spirits, the fine folks behind A-1 Steak Sauce and (checking Google with horrified delight) similar “dusty at the bottom of the deli shelf” pre-made cocktails named things like “Malcolm Hereford’s Cow” and “Hobo’s Wife.”


With Mike D popping in and out, the Beastie Boys minus Adam Yauch (plus Spike Jonze) talked ruefully about the aborted IMAX release of what our own Erik Adams noted in moderate disappointment played more like “a feature-length TED Talk” from two aging rap icons and less like the more crowd-rocking spectacle of the band’s Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That! Still, as evidenced by their thoroughly lived-in back-and-forth throughout the interview, the two old pals make a hell of a comedy team. Plus, as Adam noted, it was a lot less painful than the time the band had to cancel a tour, when the much-younger Mike shattered his collarbone on his bike in a New York pothole. As related by Horovitz, then the dazed Mike D told concerned bystanders staring at the clavicle protruding from his skin that he was just going to lie down and take a nap right there in the street. Nowadays, it’s Jonze who extols the virtues of a good old, non-traumatic nap during the day, perhaps sleeping off the fact that Adam resolutely refuses to watch his other movies. At least he did see the one Mero memorably summarized as the one where the Joker fucked a computer. So that’s something.

Beastie Boys Story can be seen now on Apple TV+.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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