The album cover from “Paul’s Boutique,” shot at the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington Sts.
BY HEATHER DUBIN | A proposal for a tribute to the Beastie Boys on the Lower East Side was a no-go Tuesday night at Community Board 3.
LeRoy McCarthy, a Brooklyn resident, presented the board’s Transportation Subcommittee with an application to co-name the corner of Rivington and Ludlow Sts. “Beastie Boys Square.”
Board 3’s guidelines require that 75 percent of residents and merchants in the immediate area support a co-naming. Yet, while McCarthy collected enough signatures — from 17 apartment units out of 20 on Rivington St. between Essex and Ludlow Sts., and eight of nine businesses — this was not enough to satisfy the committee members. McCarthy also had 1,445 online signatures, not specific to the neighborhood.
David Crane, chairperson of the board’s Transportation and Public Safety/Environment Committee, opposed the co-naming of the intersection, which the popular hip-hop band featured on the cover of their 1989 album “Paul’s Boutique.” He cited the board’s criteria for street co-namings and also contended there was not enough residential backing from the area, noting that three other buildings — 113, 116 and 126 Ludlow St. — were not included in the petition.
“I don’t find that there is a strong connection to the Lower East Side, which is the entire point of the guidelines that the board passed in 2006,” Crane said of the application. “The guidelines are looking for a very strong connection from the individual who is deceased and has been in the community for 15 years, or an institution that has been involved in the community for 30 years.”
While there are exceptions, Crane noted it would have to be a “highly acclaimed accomplishment linked to C.B. 3 with overwhelming public support.” In this instance, however, Crane is unconvinced the Beastie Boys’ influence on hip-hop warrants a square.
“We were a set for an album cover,” he said.
One of the Beastie Boys, Adam “MCA” Yauch, died of cancer in May 2012. The band’s surviving members are Michael “Mike D” Diamond, of Brooklyn, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, of Manhattan.
“There are lots of talented people on the Lower East Side who are living,” Crane said. “These types of honorific things should be posthumous.” He expressed concern that street namings have become too frequent.
McCarthy discussed the significance of the Lower East Side to hip-hop and the band’s significance to the locale. The Beastie Boys lived in Chinatown, recorded music on Avenue A, have had office locations in Soho and Hudson Square, and are from New York.
“They are New Yorkers,” McCarthy said.
He touted “Paul’s Boutique” as a critics’ favorite and dubbed it a “cult classic” ahead of its time.
“This is a symbolic album to the whole New York City underground hip-hop street culture,” McCarthy said. “This is more than one group, this represents a whole culture.”
Shannon Sacks, who lives on Rivington St., spoke in favor of the co-naming.
“The Beastie Boys mean so much to me,” she said. “It’s important that we recognize them for the great band they are — for what they’ve given to music, what they’ve given to society and what philanthropists they are.”
Sacks also mentioned friends from around the world who come to New York and ask her to show them where the album cover of “Paul’s Boutique” was shot. Two other community members also shared their approval for the co-naming.
Board members debated the issue for almost two hours, and ultimately determined more signatures were necessary.
At one point, McCarthy questioned the board, “Are you changing the rules on me?” He garnered the necessary 75 percent of residential support, albeit in one short block.
“More signatures would tip the scale for me,” said Karen Blatt, a board member.
Chad Marlow, another board member, was in favor of the square’s co-naming, and urged McCarthy to gather as many signatures as he could from the neighborhood.
“Come back and knock our socks off,” Marlow advised. “Crush it. Let us know the community wants this, make us have no doubt. There is no doubt — but just prove it.”
In a follow-up phone interview, McCarthy said he was not deterred by the new task ahead of him. He was pragmatic regarding the board’s response.
“They put themselves in the line of fire,” he said of the community board. “They have a job to do. But, at the same time, I think things changed after I thought I had everything [that they] requested.”
He plans to re-approach residents and resubmit the application in February.
“I don’t think it’ll be a big problem to get additional signatures,” he said. “People are elated when I’m telling them about it. This is going to move on in a positive direction, I feel.”
McCarthy did not know if the board members comprehended the Beastie Boys’ contribution to the Lower East Side, and he wondered if there was a cultural disconnect.
“I’m not sure how many people on the board like hip-hop, buy it or knew who the Beastie Boys were before the presentation,” McCarthy said.
He has a larger goal in mind to bring recognition to hip-hop in New York City beyond “Beastie Boys Square.” McCarthy wants to have a hip-hip icon honoree in each borough. Hollis, Queens is already taken care of with “Run-D.M.C. JMJ Way,” which McCarthy was responsible for.
“Hip-hop has more mentions in its music than media referencing New York,” he noted. “For that free advertisement, shouldn’t New York City government say, ‘Thank you,’ and show some appreciation?”
A resolution requiring McCarthy to secure a total of 500 signatures from apartment units of buildings and merchants along Ludlow St. from Delancey to Stanton Sts., and on Rivington St. from Orchard to Essex Sts., passed with eight votes, with Crane abstaining. The resolution will go to a full board vote on Jan. 28.
If it turns out that the 75 percent benchmark for this expanded area is greater than 500 signatures, McCarthy is permitted to stop at 500. However, assuming the number of units is lower, he was given a minimum of 150.
“This way it’s not an overwhelming effort,” Crane said.
McCarthy can return to the subcommittee after he has the allotted amount of signatures.
“Other applicants have brought a ton of signatures,” Crane said. “All have brought hundreds, and some have brought thousands since the guidelines of 2006.”