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.