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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Brian Wilson: A Requiem

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 3:50 PM

click to enlarge We think Brian Wilson will do just fine in L.A.
  • We think Brian Wilson will do just fine in L.A.

Finding wisdom in a Tom Cruise film about men specializing in the art of synchronized drink-pouring is a bit like spotting a $20 bill underneath a dumpster. But, lo, there it is: "Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end."

So, the relationship between the San Francisco Giants and eccentric relief star Brian Wilson has ended. By definition, it's ended badly -- but it's a special level of bad when the man who epitomized the team's self-applied misfit image heads over to the arch-rival outfit.

Of course, this is just a new beginning for Wilson. Baseball is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that, via a 1922 ruling by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes ludicrous even in that era, enjoys an antitrust exemption. "Personal effort, not related to production, is not a subject of commerce," wrote the judge.

Obviously that's not so. This is a business -- and the Giants' decision to lowball Wilson after he was forced to undergo a second major elbow operation was a business move, as was Wilson's choice to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. So, even for the fans -- who knowingly take a naive, Holmes-like view of the game for sanity's sake -- it's hard to fault Wilson.

But we will miss him -- and an era that feels longer ago and lasted far shorter than a glance at the calendar confirms.

Brian Wilson's beard -- which, by day, grows to more greatly resemble a shoe polish-black version of Van Gogh's postman, Joseph Roulin -- is now more famous than Brian Wilson.

A guy with a taste for neon clothing, moon boots, self-promotion, and partying probably struck many as an L.A. character. Not so: Wilson is a tough-as-nails kid from Londonderry, New Hampshire, where water freezes during the winter. But, we have a feeling he'll fit in well in L.A. He seemed to do fine in the Marina, and it's likely a transferable skill.

A fateful meeting
  • A fateful meeting
Despite his oversize personality, fans -- at least this fan -- never really thought "I've heard enough from Brian Wilson." That's because he's as clever as he is odd. Here's a sampling from just one TV appearance, on George Lopez's since-defunct show (maybe the two can rekindle their friendship down south):

  • Asked if he went to Thailand, Wilson lasciviously responded "I sure did." He continued: "I engaged in some activities that I'm proud of. I did what any normal 28-year-old single male would do in a foreign country. I had a lot of massages."
Hectored by Lopez that "they got massage parlors here," Wilson replied "Not those kind of massage parlors." He then waited just long enough before noting "they were strictly sexual." Laughter. "I don't think that's funny. They were consensual."

  • For whatever reason he sees fit, Wilson whipped out an action figure of The Machine. Lopez, stonefaced, countered by stating "you're a crazy motherfucker." Not sure Johnny Carson ever did that, even when he was sitting next to Tiny Tim.

Oh yes, The Machine. Yes, that really happened. Yes, a bondage-wearing, murderous, semi-clad figure plucked from the film 8MM became a mainstream reference thanks to Wilson. Brian Wilson went on TV talk shows and made the hosts pucker their assholes in discomfort by whipping out a gimp mask. Yes, on television. Yes, that really happened.

We'll miss those days -- and miss rooting for a player smart and funny enough to make that work and successful enough that the powers-that-be let him do it.

We wish him better luck in Dodger blue than other Giants-to-Dodger transfers such as Jason Schmidt, Juan Uribe, or Eugenio "0-for-37" Velez.

Where's The Machine? Chavez Ravine. It even rhymes.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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