I’ve been in Los Angeles all week. As a veritable New York tourist, I find there’s a pleasant edge to this city, where most bad yings are allayed by a sunny yang: traffic, palm trees; traffic, KXLU/other great radio; traffic, great hikes; traffic, beaches; traffic, tacos. I like it here. I can fathom why, during their prime, the Beastie Boys did too.
In fact, when Adam “MCA” Yauch died in 2012, SoCal’s public radio station KPCC put together a nice list of the places the rap trio frequented, from Capitol Records on Vine where they released Paul’s Boutique (still a fresh record), to the L.A. River, into which they threw a mannequin in an anthologized version of the band’s music video for “Sabotage.”
And so, one would think that an L.A.-based bagel outfit, named after the Beastie Boys and inspired by New York City, the so-called mecca of bageldom, would be a safe bet for this Brooklyn Jew to enjoy breakfast. Wrong. (As they say here, there are basically no good bagels in L.A.)
Make no mistake, the Yeastie Boys bagel truck on Melrose Place looks cool. Located in front of Alfred Coffee, which serves blood-orange kombucha and nitro cold brew from a tap and features many beautiful people inside, the truck looks rad, beginning with its name that’s written in a similar font to the Check Your Head album cover. The fun-ness continues with a “weed fund” instead of a tip jar, and other stuff like ampersand and nude-from-behind Kim Kardashian bumper stickers.
Oddly, the Beastie Boys references and hommages, of the pun variety and otherwise, appear to stop at the truck’s name, which is a shame.*
But a food truck could be adorned to high heaven, or not at all, and it might not matter (or at least be the end-all judgment). What matters, in matters of the stomach, is food. The eats. So I ordered a classic: The “Lox Deluxx”—lox, cream cheese, red onion, capers, and tomato on a “hand-rolled” sesame bagel. “No one does hand-rolled shit like we do,” a Yeastie Boys founder told LA Weekly in summer 2015, around the time the truck opened shop.
I’m relieved to say, that’s a good thing.
*Here, dear Yeastie Boys or whomever wants to make some serious dough, is a menu, free of charge, of pun-laden Beastie Boys meals, from the estimable Matthew Fishbane:
Fight For Your Right to Havarti $5.99
Shad roe rack $7.99
Triple Trouble [BLT] $6.39
Lookin Down the Barrel of a Bun $3.49
Egg Man $4.25
High Grains Drifter bowl $7.99
5-Piece Chicken Dinner $12.99
Slow and Lox $5.49
No Herring Till Brooklyn $8.19
Professor Borschty $4.99
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.