In 2004, The New York Times' Stephanie Zacharek negatively reviewed the video for the Beastie Boys' new single "Ch-Check It Out." MCA a.k.a. Adam Yauch, who died today at the age of 47, had directed the video under his pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower. He didn't take kindly to Zacharek's review, and let her know in a letter to the Times demanding, among other things, that she send him a goat.

His letter:

One Goat, on Account

To the Editor:

I had the great pleasure of reading your unsolicited critique of the "Ch-Check It Out" music video ["Licensed to Stand Still" by Stephanie Zacharek, May 16]. It took some time to get to me, as it had to be curried (sp?) on goatback through the fjords of my homeland, the Oppenzell. And in the process the goat died, and then I had to give the mailman one of my goats, so remember, you owe me a goat.

Anyway, that video is big time good. Pauline Kael is spinning over in her grave. My film technique is clearly too advanced for your small way of looking at it. Someday you will be yelling out to the streets below your windows: "He is the chancellor of all the big ones! I love his genius! I am the most his close personal friend!"

You journalists are ever lying. I remember people like you laughing at me at the university, and now they are all eating off of my feet. You make this same unkind laughter at the Jerry Lewis for his Das Verruckte Professor and now look, he is respected as a French-clown. And you so-call New York Times smarties are giving love to the U2 because they are dressing as the Amish and singing songs about America? (Must I dress as the Leprechaun to sing songs about Ireland so that you will love me? You know the point I make here is true!)

In concluding, "Ch-Check It Out" is the always best music film and you will be realizing this too far passing. As ever I now wrap my dead goat carcass in the soiled New York Times - and you are not forgetting to buy me a replacement! Please send that one more goat to me now!



The writer, whose real name is Adam Yauch, is a member of the Beastie Boys. He directs their music videos under the pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower.

Yauch, besides being a pretty funny guy, was a film buff. His film distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, which he founded in 2002, released last year's We Need to Talk About Kevin, the Oscar-nominated Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy, as well as dozens of other foreign, independent, out-of-print and documentary movies. Criterion asked him to select ten films from their collection; here are the results. ("Sometimes I get free DVDs from Criterion, but not always. I wanted to get one of each, you know, like the whole collection, but they said, 'No, Adam, we don't do that.'")

Zacharek admits that she still owes him a goat, but, to her credit, is not shouting out "He is the chancellor of all the big ones! I love his genius! I am the most his close personal friend!"

[NYT via @KateAurthur; image of Yauch at Bard ca. 1982 via @JonahWeiner]