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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Galland

If You Live in Brooklyn, Should You Know the Beastie Boys?

The most shocking thing about my trip to New York a few years ago wasn't the man who went to the bathroom on the subway (there was no toilet). It was very late, and the subway appeared to be where he planned on spending the night, which made sense to me.

What was shocking was the questions I got the day my family, and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge wearing my "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" sweatshirt. The confusion wasn't from people visiting from another country or tourists from a small rural town that maybe preferred country music. For the most part, tourists seemed to know the answer; it was the young residents of Brooklyn who thought the retro boom box was cool but didn't understand the correlation to sleep.


My quest to dig into the details doesn't stop because I am on vacation. Much to the dismay of my teenager, research and quantitative data were needed to avoid assumptions based on a couple of questions about a sweatshirt. If they were from Brooklyn, we rolled into the following questions:

  • Do you know about "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"?

  • Have you heard of the Beastie Boys?

  • Have you been to White Castle?

  • You live in Brooklyn and have been to White Castle, but you don't know who the Beastie Boys are. (This wasn't a question, but it happened more than once.)

  • Did your parents graduate between 1986 and 1996?

  • Are you familiar with the artist commonly known as Jay-Z?

The results of the unofficial survey revealed some trends that I found interesting.

  • Roughly half of the Brooklyn residents surveyed between the age of 18 and 24 knew that the song "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" exists but couldn't tell you who sings it.

  • Despite most having parents who graduated during the Beastie Boys heyday, only a microscopic number of those surveyed knew Paul Revere's relevance.

  • An overwhelming percentage of those surveyed did not know of the band, yet they had been to White Castle. So much for that amazing co-branding!

  • A surprising number weren't sure how to locate Oregon without reference to Seattle.

  • There is hope that they might pass on great musical knowledge to the next generation in Brooklyn residents.100% of those surveyed knew of Jay-Z.

  • Overall, the people of Brooklyn were very friendly and had some really interesting stories to share.

Note: People in the 40-ish age range didn't need the survey; they got it. No pressure was applied. The survey was limited to those who felt like chatting and happened to be out on that sunny Thursday. There was no alcohol involved at the time of the survey.


My kid probably thought the parents of the survey participants who hadn't been forced to learn so much about 90's pop culture were pretty cool. Maybe even wishes they could provide my husband and me with some parenting advice. We might take it too far, but thinking about that has me excited about our next lesson: watching Billy Madison.


After a surprising day of surveying Brooklyn residents and enjoying some amazing coal-fired pizza, I recounted some of the results with our young and very chatty Uber driver. He not only had some great restaurant tips but knew all the lyrics to "Paul Revere" and suggested a fun singalong.


My initial question was a little bit in jest, but it seems like a group ranked in the top 10 of a decade would be more widely known in their home-town. From scrunchies to a new season of Saved by the Bell, the '90s nostalgia is alive and well in 2021. Maybe White Castle can lead the charge in educating local youth about the Beastie Boys. Given the popularity of '90s pop right now, it might be a win-win (again).


If you are planning a trip to Brooklyn, here are my top recommendations:

  • Try coal-fired pizza. Pizza prepared in a brick oven isn't new for us from the PNW, but this is unique and worth a try. (Note: The Grimaldi's location near the bridge has some outdoor seating that is open.)

  • Walking the bridge is a beautiful experience. To limit, but not avoid, the crowds, try starting from the Brooklyn side of the bridge and plan it for a weekday.

  • Enjoy the peaceful beauty of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

  • Visit the Coclico boutique and find a beautiful pair of shoes.

  • Practice your empathy-building skills and engage in conversation, might be one of the highlights of your trip!


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