Monday, June 6, 2011

Brian Wilson: A Character Study

I'd like to say that the following observation about Brian Wilson has nothing to do with his ability on the field.

I have a love/hate relationship with Brian Wilson, aka The Beard, aka BWeezy. It's probably been a good two to three year, conflicted relationship. When he first came into the organization I dug him. He wasn't the cookie cutter looking baseball player and I liked that. Tat's on his arms, a faux hawk, intense eyes and a bad ass 1, 2, 3 inning - he piqued my interest. Then 2010 came around. I think it started with those orange shoes. It wasn't my thang. I didn't get it and I just thought he was trying to be an attention hog. So I sorta went on my own little private anti-Wilson soap box every time he came up. I just thought he was a show boater and I really wasn't into it because of our little miSFit team. He was drawing attention to himself and I didn't like it. We'd been there done that and I liked that the whole team was gaining recognition, not just one dude.

Then the beard started to grow (literally.) When I saw that thing starting to come in, I was a little offended. Ok, not personally offended because I didn't have a beard, but offended because his beard was getting attention and no one was mentioning Sergio Romo's real black beard. He's the original bearded one and no one noticed. Next came the one liners and weirdo talk. I was skeptical. I wasn't sure, was this a case of someone just doing it for the individual attention or was it because the Giants were under the microscope because of their scrappy, nail biting wins? Hmmmmm....?

The next thing I knew I was getting a video forwarded to me by my work husband that had an interview of Wilson. I believe the title of the interview was "Check this out, Wilson is nuts." It was the now classic video of Wilson being interviewed by Chris Rose and the "Machine" walked in frame during the interview. What the hell was this? What's this guy proving? Is he gay? Is he outwardly saying he's into S&M? Was that Zito in the whole leather getup? I had a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. From this smallish interview, Brian Wilson now had all eyes on him and his eccentric personality.

So, what does a girl do when she's studying the character of Brian Wilson? She gets the call to work an event with him. Ok, so as I have mentioned in a previous UBC blog, I volunteer with the Giants Community Fund and have been for at least the last 6 years give or take. Because of my previous work experience with the Giants and also in my current work life, the Fund has been giving me the job of Celebrity wrangler (which means I'm the bad gal who has to tell kids, adults and the elderly that they can only get one autograph and that there is no time for photographs.......yep, that's me.) Tonight was no different but I didn't know  until I got to the event.

I actually have worked this specific event in the past. About two years ago the Community Fund partnered with the Irish Cultural Center and had an event with Brian Wilson and Giants third base coach Tim Flannery. That year Mr. Wilson had NO beard, was pretty quiet and we were still selling tickets at the door. This year was a 180. When I arrived at the Irish Cultural Center there were two of San Francisco's finest hanging out at the front door and a lot of "who are you" kinda eyes. Yes, it's confirmed, this isn't 2009 anymore.

I was running a little late and ran upstairs quickly and made my way to the registration table to see what my job was for the night. I figured I was working the front door and checking in my Irish comrades as I did back in '09. As I was trying to figure out my job, the woman running the show came up to me, asked my name and then replied "Oh good, you're Erin, you're going to be handling Brian and Tim when they get here.............." this kind of floated up and over my head and I thought she was just kidding....hahahhaha, yeah, I'm going to be wrangling the Beard and Flannery.......yeah, ok, sure. But then came the confirmation in black and white on the night's itinerary, clear as could be: Celebrity Handler: Erin. Wait, what?????

So, that's what I did. Here I was......writing this character study for the past few weeks, trying to think of what the rest of this particular blog was going to be, and here it was right in front of me....tatted up, full beard, beanie, a television crew and lot's of character - GO! We anticipated Wilson and Flannery arriving around the same time so there I was with a Giants employee who regularly wrangles these guys waiting near the parking lot for arrival. Employees of the Irish Cultural Center, a few local newspaper writers and photographers and the Showtime crew were also waiting. Yeah, the Showtime crew was there, never even occurred to me that they would be here....good thing I actually "dressed" up for this. Oy this happening? Um, yes, it is and baton down the hatches Urban Baseball Chick cause you're in it to win it.

A few minutes later he rolls up in his high-end luxury vehicle, driving himself and pulls the old UBC move, pullin' it in backwards to be able to escape quickly after the event. Bright turquoise v-neck t-shirt, big black beard, and a grey loose beanie hanging off the back of his dome, classic. He quickly mic's up for the Showtime folks and then runs over to sign autographs for the fans outside the parking lot yelling to him just wanting to shake his hand, tell him "He's the Man" and getting quick shots of him on their Smartphones to share with their friends on Facebook or Twitter. He runs back over and there we were, briefing him on what was going on and shuffling him up the stairs for his interview with the Chronicle.

Easy part is over, now we gotta get him inside, where there are about 300 Irishmen, women and children anxiously waiting for him. We found the best way to get him in quickly and I tell him where we're going and to follow me. Open the door to the room and boom, it's GO time. Bring him and the lovely Tim Flannery over to their autograph table. Well, little did I know the rest of the room was right behind us ready for their autographs. This wasn't the plan. I look at the two gentlemen and ask if they needed anything from the bar, cause that's what I do. Gotta make sure these guys are taken care of. Run to the bar, get some waters and the chaos starts.

Here come the parade of kids, parents, the elderly with all of their paraphernalia to be signed. Baseballs, jersey's, photo's, iPads, a box of sugar (inside joke that involved the above mentioned "Machine" interview), posters, bottles of "Fear the Beard" wine, scarves and even a forearm. Yes, a forearm, completely attached of course. And here I am, saying no to posed photo's and telling the fans "One item per person, Thank You!" all the while having the Showtime camera in my face and a boom mic hovering over my head. Wilson and Flannery are great with the crowd and the kids. One kid actually asked Wilson if he could touch his beard and Wilson said yes. It was a pretty funny moment cause the kid was freaking out when he was handling Wilson's beard. I was a little weirded out by the request, but Wilson took it in stride. The kid actually shrieked after the awkward episode and his father couldn't have been any prouder. Hysterical.

It was hot and I was so happy that I am not claustrophobic. I had people trying to sneak behind Wilson and Flannery to get a quick pic and in front of the table it was about two to three people deep just snapping photo's. Controlled chaos was what it was and I was in the middle of it trying to regulate. We had agreed earlier that we needed to put a time limit on the autograph session and we were quickly nearing the time for the rest of the event to unfold. We still had a Q&A session with the audience and some music was to be played by Flannery (who is a pretty good musician/singer) and Wilson who plays the harmonica......of course he does.

I ended up being Wilson's assistant....when I say assistant, I mean that I took the items fans were giving him and holding onto them until it was time to get him out of there. Done with autographs we get him on the stage for the rest of the event. I take a load off 'cause my dogs were barking and sit in the back and chat with some new friends. In the meantime, we're figuring out what our strategy is for getting Wilson outta this room without it being a cluster........(fill in the blank.) I look at the time and it's showtime again (no pun intended.) Me and my Giants friend make our way up to the front again to make sure we escort him out the door without too much commotion. The Irish band that was there takes photo's with him as well as gets autographs, the Irish dancers come over to take a group shot with the Closer and then he looks at me and I ask him if it's time to jet.

The Showtime crew takes his mic and we start heading out the door. I hand him the items I was entrusted with, neatly bundled for easy transport and he's off, back down the stairs to a bunch of waiting fans and Smartphones in the parking lot.

So, who is this guy? He's a famous athlete who has a huge beard and piercing blue eyes. He's a version of himself that is making a good living off this guy named Brian Wilson and/or BWeezy. He's a guy who has a wine named after him, a guy who has thousands of t-shirt's with his bearded portrait on them. He's found his niche and he's sticking to it cause it works, but is it the real Brian Patrick Wilson? Nah, cause I saw that guy back in 2009 sans beard and character and he was a pretty "normal" dude. But that doesn't get you national attention or any kind of endorsements or a Showtime crew following you, right?

Cheers to you Mr. Wilson, you're Winning.


  1. Very interesting toots. Kudos.

  2. You are such a riot! SF is in town again... (AZ-don't know if you are still here- another post you had gone to spring training)if you are in need of a chick (gamer/baller) to scope out the dudes and wreck some havoc- let me know!