“Hey Ladies” | The Airgonaut | 1 September 2022

Thank you, Editor Sheldon Lee Compton, for publishing this story in his beautiful literary project, The Airgonaut. This is, I think, my 7th publication in that magazine? and I love it.  If you’d like to jump directly to “Hey Ladies,” here’s the link.

This story loops in a couple things that I remember, and one thing I love.

I remember when the oil tanker, the Valdez, crashed, spilling so much Prudhoe Bay crude oil–10? 11-million gallons?– into the pristine coasts of Prince William Sound in Alaska that volunteers had to use dish detergent to hand clean all the oil goop off the marine life. Birds, ducks, otters, all of them helplessly encased by feathers and fur laden with petroleum. I have not bought gas at Exxon since then. I remember seeing the Valdez docked in San Diego many years later. They painted over its name, but it couldn’t hide from my disdain. Why did the Valdez crash and spill its cargo? Its captain, drinking, allowed someone without qualification to take the wheel. That was 1985.

I also remember riding in the Five-Borough Bike Tour, right about when the film adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis’s Bright Lights, Big City was in the theaters. I had read and liked the book, with its neon green cover titles and thought the movie was pretty good. I remember going into New York and meeting friends at The Odeon. I can remember sitting on the grass in a park, eating a banana with my friend while we waited for the bike race to get started. Yes, wearing cushioning was necessary. I did have a Falcon and I sold that bike about 20 years ago at a yard sale for $40. It was a beautiful bike. That was 1988.

But the thing I like best about this story is it marks my enduring love and connection to the Beastie Boys’ 1989 album, Paul’s Boutique. I was a DJ at a college station when their first single, “Cookie Puss,” came out. That song was so terrible in such a different way. Then their 1st album came out, Licensed to Ill, which had a monster hit with an equally ebullient video (“Fight for Your Right“). But then, Paul’s Boutique. I listened to it, and laughed, and that album was a CD I played in my Volkswagen Fox, my Ford wagon, my Chrysler minivan, my Smart4Two, and finally one of my sons was old enough to steal it from me. So proud of him for that. I love Paul’s Boutique.

This story gets its title from one of the tracks on the album. It also looks at the other side of the song’s narcissism. What if the girl was offended, was not interested, didn’t want to be pawed and glossed over? What if it was a girl who wanted to be left alone, and not feel compelled to play to cliched rules. Well, that wish can be at odds with the world.

Oil spills, phones ring, cats call, girls stick together.

For your (disgust? joy? edification?) here is the Beastie Boys “Hey Ladies.” I love it.

That album has brought so much pleasure to me. How many years they have been along for the ride in my life! I think it’s fun still to listen to Hip Hop, not so much for the lyrics, but for the beats, the samples, the surprises.

There’s nothing in this world like Paul’s Boutique. The perfect combination of nonsense and narrative. I think the protagonist of my story, whom I love very much, might just be listening to the Beastie Boys on a Sony Discman somewhere right now.

I hope you enjoy “Hey Ladies.”

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