Today is the birthday of Mike D of the Beastie Boys, so I thought I'd try to solve a toughie...
I've penned an inordinate amount of posts about the Beastie Boys here over the years and not just a few photo quizzes. Granted, I'm a big fan, but I think their frequent appearances here on Flaming Pablum have more to do with the fact that they've always been NYC to the bone. There's also no shortage of material to work with.
That being said, there is one photograph of the band that has always stumped me, that being the band photo of the back of their debut vinyl 7", Polly Wog Stew, featuring such..er..timeless classics as "Transit Cop," "Holy Snappers" and "Egg Raid on Mojo."
My first introduction to the band was via their frenzied contributions to the cassette-only ROIR compilation New York Thrash, but I don't believe I paid any meaningful attention to them until their mutation into a hip hop act. At some point after that, I remember dutifully picking up their debut 7" at Bleecker Bob's for a forgettable song (this was way before the band became revered elder statesmen).
Endearingly sloppy, Polly Wog Stew captured the nascent Beasties in their uber-primitive infancy. As a result, while the record's bracing, breakneck pace emulated the burgeoning hardcore of the day (the band were clearly devoted acolytes of Bad Brains and Minor Threat), their abilities had yet to match their ambitions. But, as was always the case with the Beastie Boys, what made them compelling was that they were doing it -- not just talking about it. Here were kids my own age who weren't just collecting records, they were making their own goddamn punk rock. For that alone, their coolness is forever cemented, as far as I'm concerned.
Anyway, I've gone on to cherish my copy of Polly Wog Stew. I've never quite understood what's on the front cover (frogs? chickens?), but the back cover featured a group shot of the band. The photo in question was taken by one Arabella Field, who is now a an actress and film producer. This is the photograph in question...
My question .... meanwhile ... is -- WAIT FOR IT -- where was this photo taken?
Obviously, it's a crazy tough question being that there aren't many visual signifiers to work with. This photograph could have been taken quite literally anywhere in New York City.
That said, I do have my hunches. My first guess sprang from the information on the record label.
Put out by Rat Cage Records, the Polly Wog Stew e.p. cites the tiny operation's address being located at 307 East 9th Street. Could the youthful Beastie Boys have been photographed on the curb in front of that address?
Granted, it's been 32 (fucking Hell!) years since the release of Polly Wog Stew, so the very spot in question may not look the same anymore. These days, 307 East 9th Street plays host to the brick-&-mortal incarnation of Mud Coffee. If this hunch is correct, here's what that strip looks like today....
Hard to imagine right? But check out that little architectural detail on the frame of the doorway at the left....similar to the same detail on the Polly Wog Stew picture, no? Look again...
I actually reached out to Ms. Field to see if she could shed some light (we have a mutual friend on Facebook), but I've yet to hear back from her. She also took some other amazing pics of the Beastie Boys around Manhattan from the same era that are well worth checking out.
At some point, Rat Cage Records moved their home base to 171 Avenue A..... might that be the location?
What do you think?