Yauch died today, at the age of forty-seven. In 2009, he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor he described at the time, in this interview with The Stool Pigeon, as “located in the perotic gland and the neighbouring lymph node.” He fought back, ebbing and strengthening and dimming, as the disease progressed. Friends exchanged messages. “Adam’s doing O.K.” “He’s kinda tired.” Minimizing the situation by using simple language felt like the least hysterical trick you could play on yourself. Sometimes, it felt like a memory might work. “Your remember when Tom and Adam went under the bridge with that car and they almost went into the river?” Nope. Just made it worse, recalling the skinny, loopy kid who took any dare and inflated it until it was beyond foolish. The kid who would think the only problem with cancer is that it wasn’t a good enough punchline. The ideal memorial is written from distance, a generous calculation of merit that proceeds honorably without abandoning accuracy. I have to apologize right now for being unable to give you that—Adam Yauch was a part of my childhood, an ambassador to America from our New York, which is now gone, as is he.
more from Sasha Frere-Jones at The New Yorker here.