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It's All Happening: The Beach Boys Return To The Bowl

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"Because it's hard to find someone you love who loves you -- but you can begin, at least, by finding someone who loves your love song" -- Dave Hickey, "Air Guitar"

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The Beach Boys on Ed Sullivan, 1964

Brian Wilson is God. If that sounds like the fiction of 1960s fan mags then I'm proudly strumming the right chord. A native Angeleno, I've loved the Beach Boys from a young age, spurred on by a penchant for the band's creative front-runner Brian Wilson. Hometown heroes in both form and function, the band's music is their own personal fan fiction to California.

With 50 years of song writing about the state and its contradictory mythos, the Beach Boys' love and allegiance to the land of eternal youth is personified in their scores. Languishing
pop melodies cradle the puerile gospel of Brian's folklore. The vacuous dissatisfaction of adolescence, the fickle nature of love, the listless teenage soul...

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'You've got to keep in mind love is here, today and it's gone, tomorrow it's here, and gone so fast.'

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The Beach Boys, 1964

I never understood our culture's collective cringe toward fan fiction in the first place. Evidence would suggest immediate issues of naming. Firstly, one must consider the fan's product: such
outpouring comes from acute conviction that is anything but fictional. Secondly, the proverbial 'fans' themselves: hunched over computers or steno pads, obsessing by way of expounding narrative, belabored pencil portrait or lacquered magazine collage. To me these acts are
distinctly those of non-fiction. The subculture should really be renamed fan realism for its subsuming parameters. Sociologist Jean Baudrillard stated, "Since the world is on a delusional course, we must adopt a delusional standpoint towards the world." The fan in me presumes that Jean must have been a Beach Boys fan.

What some may see as the band's delusion from reality I see as an ideal illusion. The desire to immortalize any art through fandom's infinite musing is a fairly practical act -- an empirical approach to fantasy realized. In this sense it's our shared fanaticism that links both Brian and myself. I love the Beach Boys and the Beach Boys love California -- I'm from California therefore the Beach Boys love me. To a fan, this equation is perfectly logical. And I'm sure Brian would agree.

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The author at the beach, 1991

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Brian Wilson, 2007

I'm taken back to a pleasantly dogmatic drawing I made in the early days of art school. The rendering featured the Beach Boys crammed into a mid-century pickup truck on the beach. Surfboard in tow, vehicle complete with palm frond hatchback, the band was headed for
paradise. Presenting the drawing to the head of the course I was met with a snide, "Well, it's just fan fiction... maybe outsider art." The woman had no idea how truly insider this was...

To be a true fan of anything is to believe your projections to be truths and subsequently your subject the truth-holder. Growing up in suburban Southern California I had no idea that my fictional identity through the Beach Boys was as inaccurate as the band's own posturing. Only one of the Beach Boys actually surfed while Brian Wilson, the architect of their sound, spent most of his life indoors battling the demons of his own concocted nostalgia. In the end, Brian and I would be as happy in our bedrooms as on the beach.

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Brian Wilson, 2005

On June 2nd Brian and I will emerge from our respective bedrooms as the band returns to the Hollywood Bowl for their first reunion in over 20 years. Though to me the event is more of a happening than a concert. In 1957 conceptual artist Allan Kaprow coined the term 'happening' in attempt to dissolve art history's material limitations. It was Kaprow's belief that art and viewer were one, that the experiential component of witnessing a work was in fact a direct participation 'as' the work. In this respect the band's return to this symbolic stage will indeed implicate us all within Brian's fantasy. The Bowl itself is an icon of Los Angeles, hosting its acts against the setting sun to the West and shadowy backdrop of the Santa Monica foothills to the East. Here the distinction between fan and subject is blurred as I'm sure Brian's view will be as idealized as my own. For the fans, it's anything but fiction.