Classy Rapper Memory

Early 1990s in Chicago. I was coordinating Illinois police with Tibetan security agents of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the Tibetan leader’s visit. I noticed a quiet young guy who appeared to be a homeless person in faded car wash hoodie with a badly shaved head who somehow infiltrated the Dalai Lama’s entourage. He appeared harmless, and Tibetans went over and spoke to him, so I figured his presence had been handled.

Time to move and our police motorcade pulled up in front of the building. I got the Dalai Lama in his car, split up the Tibetans in other cars, and then with two monks got in the police cruiser I had been assigned.

The little homeless guy tried to get in my car too. Politely but firmly I told him, “Sir, this is a motorcade vehicle. You’ll need to get your own transportation.” He said in a confused voice that he had been told to get in this car. Losing valuable time, I told him no. The police driver made it worse by looking over the seat at the young guy and saying to me, “It’s OK. We have room.” I ignored the driver and repeated that he could not ride in that car. Wordlessly, the young homeless guy backed out and closed the door and we sped away with siren and lights.

Next day I escorted the Dalai Lama to a speaking venue and spotted the same little guy in the same faded car wash logo hoodie. I asked the Dalai Lama’s younger brother if he knew who that was. He looked over and then back to me and smiled, “That’s Adam Yauch. His Beastie Boys did a benefit concert and raised millions of dollars for the free Tibet cause.”

My heart sank. That was the “homeless guy” I threw out of my police cruiser yesterday.

I knew I had to apologize and so braced for a rock star blast of ego and rage and walked over to Adam Yauch. “I am so sorry for what happened yesterday in the motorcade confusion…”

He looked me in the eye and cut me off mid-sentence. “No, it’s OK. I completely understand. Yours has got to be the most difficult job of all,” he said in a firm and sincere voice. “Thank you for all you are doing to keep the Dalai Lama safe.”

20-some years later I am still moved thinking about that classy rock star bright light. RIP MCA. You made a big impression in the world and never stopped giving. You will be missed.

12 comments to “Classy Rapper Memory”

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  1. Imagine if you had given your time and profits to raise money for a charity. (I know, I would want a small amount of recognition or “back slapping.”) Now imagine being told you could not ride in a car with your charity’s leader. Envision some security person telling YOU to find another mode of transportation. How many of use would humbly accept that situation? I doubt I would.

    Even if you managed to get through it, what would you do? I would probably ruminate over it. “I can’t wait until I see that body guard…. I’m going to give him a piece of my mind… I’m going to tell him who I am… etc…”

    Yet in the same situation, this multi-platinum star acted in the most humble, dignified, and thoughtful manner. It is an inspiring story.

    During my day job I work with music artists. They range from the novice who has never recorded anything to platinum selling / Grammy winning artists. In my experiences, the bigger the star the more down-to-earth they are. (Of course, the tabloids are quick to note the exceptions). In my observations, if you spend all of your energy setting yourself against the world, your anger prevents you from rising to where you ultimately want to go.

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. MCA will be missed by more than the music community.

  2. Mr. Hayes,
    I love the lesson and the hard choices that must be made when keeping the peace. But, most of all you inspired me as a young kid in the early 80’s and as a result I am now considered a Master (whatever that is) of Kung Fu San Soo. Your passion for your art helped drive me on past the immaturity of a young martial arts want to be to become a martialist in a art not so different from yours.

    Thanks for the good work,

    Sean Russell
    Russell’s Kung Fu San Soo
    Murrieta CA 92562

    • Dennis Donahue says: -#2

      Thank you for sharing this story. We always hear of the negative and/or agressive situations that become glorified when practicing martial arts. What a great example of humility rising.

  3. I had no idea that he was a follower nor that he had done a benefit for the Tibetan Cause. But, having studied security for years I have to say I would have done the same thing. An apology is much easier to give than to resort someones life if you had let the wrong person in. At least you had the heart to apologize which makes you a better person than a lot of the security people out there.

  4. Doesn’t this say more about the perceptions people have due to how they see others are dressed? Kind of like racial profiling.

    • Stephen Hayes says: -#2

      Kind of like that. Yes.

    • I think as a ninja, one would not be discriminitary, especially one as elevated in mind science as Mr. Hayes, however as a body guard you almost have to be a little judgemental and discriminitary as it must come with the job 🙂

    • Regardless of how you choose to dress, one should always be willing to accept responsibility for the outcomes of that decision, as Mr. yauch clearly and so gracefully did. It’s a good wake up call though, to always be on alert for those who dress appropriately but behave in a manner at odds with what the position might otherwise dictate.

      In a security situation, offended sensibilities take a far second to ensuring the safety of your charge. The courage Anshu showed in apologizing for his mistake and Adams grace in acknowleging the difficulty of Anshus position and responsibility are the sorts of indefinable attributes which, to me, define what it is to be a Man and not just a boy.

      Even in cases of racial profiling, I respect the officer more who persues a suspect knowing that he runs the risk of accusations of racial bias more than I respect the one who looks the other way for fear of being accused.

      Thanks, Anshu, for sharing this very poignant and unexpected anecdote.

  5. Wonderful story. How heightened the caution is when the protectee is not merely a successful businessperson or entertainer, but a symbol of compassion and dignity and moral purity for the entire world. Moreover, a person who is at risk not just from the usual stalkers and inappropriately interested but from the enmity and ill will of tyrannical nation states.

    I so admire my teacher in this; that he not only shares the knowledge of the ninja and brings light to human beings but also proactively guards the living treasures of the world.

    That is an unparalleled example.

  6. I didn’t know he passed away. RIP.

  7. Pete Fernald says: -#1

    An Shu, thank you for your memory. I was a fan of TBB in my youth and although somewhat rebellious, I was really looking for something to focus my life on. Now I am coming full circle and appreciate hearing an inside story about MCA and how you crossed paths with him. May he rest in peace . . . I appreciate the concentric circles of life and continuing to studying under your leadership!


  8. Sometimes what we must do contradicts what we should do.

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