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DID YOU READ

Inside the Beastie Boys’ Oscilloscope Laboratories

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Yesterday evening, IFC’s Lunchbox crew paid a visit to the Beastie Boys’ Oscilloscope Studios–or as Adam Yauch later corrected me–the Oscilloscope Laboratories. I’d tell you where it was, but besides signing a confidentiality agreement, myself, along with my fellow IFC crewmembers were blindfolded and driven around in the back trunk of a car. I think we went over a couple bridges, but I couldn’t tell you for sure–if I had to guess, I’d say their secret den is somewhere between Jersey City and upstate New York.

(left: Adam Yauch testing the Oscilloscope’s surveillance system.)

We met up with Adam Yauch (aka MCA, aka Preying Mantis, aka nephew of world renown filmmaker Nathanial Hornblower) to tape an episode of Lunchbox, which will air this Tuesday, April 29 (Noon EST) on IFC.com–the same week that Yauch will be premiering his brand new basketball documentary, Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot, at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.* I should also point out that the film features college hoops phenoms, Michael Beasley and Kevin Love, sure to be top picks in the upcoming NBA draft.

*NYC Fun Fact: For all of those not familiar with New York City, Tribeca is the section of town in lower Manhattan known as the TRIangle BElow CAnal Street.

This was my first trip to the Oscilloscope since 2004, when I attended a listening session for the Beastie’s soon-to-be-released album, To The Five Boroughs. Upon entering the Laboratories, MCA told me to follow him into one of the building’s many offices. He showed me a picture I had drawn of the Beastie Boys years earlier, which was resting on the same wall as Nathanial Hornblower’s Grammy Nomination certificate–what an honor!

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Before I go any further, I guess I should point out that drawing pictures of people I admire is a habit I formed as a youngster, which (for some reason or another) I haven’t been able to break. In the early 80’s I sent one of my first drawings to Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Kent Tekulve (left), and I’ve been doing it ever since. Is this an odd ritual? Perhaps, but what are you gonna do?

You’d expect the O-scope offices to be frantic like a newsroom, considering that Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot is set to premiere in just a few days. It was actually quite the opposite though. The 3-man Oscilloscope team seemed pretty laid back, and the halls of the Laboratory had the silence of an after-hours school building.

For those familiar with Beastie Boys-lore, you should know that their lair (which resembles an old-school newspaper office) has been featured in music videos like “Ch-Check It Out” and “Shazam! The Melee” (featured on Awesome; I Shot That’s Gratis Textiles disc). Presently, the Lab resembles the bedroom of a boy who just got back from a long camping trip, or in this case, the room of a band who just got off a busy touring year. The main lobby of the Oscilloscope is stacked high with road cases, organs, empty adidas boxes, and see-through bongos. Hanging from the ceiling is a monstrous-looking salad bowl contraption–which I’m sure the Beastie Boys peer into from time-to-time practicing their fish-eye lens moves.

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(right: The Beastie Boys making good use of the Oscilloscope digs in their “Ch-Check it Out” video.)

To the naked eye, the Oscilloscope looks more like a really cool thrift shop than a film distribution office/music studio. Every few feet you’re greeted with a neat little knick-knack–a 70’s style miniature basketball hoop, a fake-mustache kit, a dollar-store S.W.A.T. team fun-pak, a Roland SP 303 (resting on the same counter as an espresso machine), and the Beastie Boys’ Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which casually sits atop their refrigerator with a handful of other statues and figurines.

Moments before our interview started, Mike D–with bicycle in tow–popped out of one of the offices. After exchanging a few pleasantries I asked, “So, what have you been up to lately?”

“Ah, not much, just coming up here, makin’ some music, that’s about it.”

“Oh yeah, what kind of music are you making?” I foolishly inquired.

Mike proceeded to list ten or so different genres of music, leading me to believe that the new Beastie Boys’ album–which he said should be out by next year–will be a Latin-infused, Asian hip-hop, hardcore, world-music album. At the end of his lengthy description, a smile appeared on his face, basically telling me, “C’mon Jim, you know better than to ask what a new Beastie Boys album is going to sound like,”

Minutes later MCA and I sat down for our Lunchbox interview. Continuing with the thrift-store-vibe, MCA informed me that the chairs we were sitting on were “finds” from nearby trash heaps. Considering I survived many years of post-college life on garbage-picked treasures, I felt right at home.

Knowing that MCA is a meticulous worker (and also discovering that he was up until 3AM the night before making last-minute adjustments to the film), I felt compelled to ask, “Is it tough being a perfectionist?”

MCA replied, “I don’t know if I’m a perfectionist. Here’s how I look at it. When you’re given a deadline–you work as hard as you can, trying to make something really good, up until that deadline hits.”

Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this Monday night, April 28 (6PM, BMCC), and will hit theaters on June 28. My little sit-down Oscilloscope-chat with MCA can be seen this Tuesday, April 29 on IFC.com’s Lunchbox. Also, make sure to follow all of the Tribeca Film Festival happenings at IFC.com/tribecafilmfestival

Following our interview at the Oscilloscope Laboratories, MCA asked, “So does this take care of one of your blogs for today?”

I thought about it for a second, and responded, “I guess it does–good idea.”

The IFC Lunchbox crew was then bound-and-gagged, stuck into a trunk of a car, and found ourselves on the bank of the Hudson River a few hours later.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…