At David Dinkins Circle, just down the entrance ramp to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park south of the LIRR station, throughout most of 2022 you’ll see a bronze bust of R&B and rap star, as well as popular actor, James Todd Smith, better known as LL (for “Ladies Love”) Cool J. Though hailing from Bay Shore in
Nassau Suffolk County, he grew up in Queens. After cutting his first record “I Need a Beat” at age 16 in 1984, he went on to rack up hit after hit including “Going Back to Cali”, “I’m Bad”, “The Boomin’ System”, “Rock the Bells”, “I Need Love” and “Mama Said Knock You Out.” As an actor, he has been in dozens of films and a current role in CBS-TV’s “NCIS: Los Angeles.”
In January 2022, Trinidadian sculptor sculptor Sherwin Banfield unveiled his tribute to LL Cool J entitled “Going Back to the Meadows” (the title is an homage to “Going Back to Cali.”) The bust is mounted on a 1980s-style boom box radio mounted on a speaker…and the sculpture includes speakers that actually work, playing LL Cool J music from noon to 5pm every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. When I happened by it was just before noon on Sunday and had I stuck around I would have heard it.
Why a goat? Banfield is illustrating the belief of many that LL Cool J is the “G.O.A.T” (greatest of all time) rapper.
For those of you under 50, cassette tapes were a prime method of listening to music beginning from their first distribution in 1967 well into the 1990s. Neither boom boxes nor cassettes are dead yet well into the music streaming era. I once owned dozens of cassettes, and made hundreds of mixtapes (in which music from multiple sources is copied onto blank cassettes) and frequently gave them as Christmas gifts, a frugal measure that meant hundreds of hours of work. Such playlists can now be produced in a matter of minutes. I infrequently bought prerecorded cassettes, preferring LPs, then CDs, and now MP3s on my computer (I have drives that have a million songs on them!)
Banfield sculpted the bust on Governor’s Island and it was installed at Dinkins Circle in January 2022. Plans call for it to remain until November 23, 2022.
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