By David Beard
What is it that we’re doing exactly?
How is it that we can contribute to a world cause, and in doing so, pit the surviving members of The Beach Boys against one another? The media just had a field day with The Beach Boys’ name, and the ones who really suffered were the members themselves.
Recently, Eduardo Goncalves (founder, Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting), a Gosport, ENG, UK, resident, had already begun the petition to “ban trophy hunting.” Because of his cause, he follows trophy hunting events so he can protest, assumedly because he is truly invested in stopping the act of trophy hunting. So, in his pursuits, he learned that The Beach Boys (Mike Love and Bruce Johnston) were performing at The Safari Club International Convention [TSCIC] with the petition mistakenly addressed to Elliott Lott (who has not been BRI manager for a number of years).
Political feelings aside … I know, hard to do … you are either against hunting and killing animals or you’re not. If you’re a vegetarian/pescatarian like Mike Love, it’s fairly easy to understand his perspective. Now, the only hunter in The Beach Boys (to my knowledge) was Dennis Wilson, and I don’t think he was into trophy hunting. So, as far as The Beach Boys are concerned, this type of behavior is probably frowned upon because I’ve never seen any of the members associated with anything of that nature (except for performing in front of those that support it).
So, at some point, Mike was booked for a private gig to kick off the new tour in Reno to play TSCIC, and it turned out to be a trophy hunting event with Donald Trump Jr. (a known trophy hunter) as the keynote speaker. There is so much going on right now with the Senate and President Trump that it’s easy to see that we’re a country divided, and Goncalves cleverly used The Beach Boys’ name to gain traction, and it worked. In short order, the news of TSCIC event spread, and, because it was Mike (using The Beach Boys’ name) playing the event, it found its way to the Brian Wilson community message board.
A well-intentioned fan then forwarded the link, and it soon became national news with headlines stating that Brian was, “urging fans to boycott the band,” and Brian “disavows Beach Boys show at hunting event with Trump Jr.,” etc. Then, on Monday, Feb. 3, Brian’s Twitter feed had this post: “This organization supports trophy hunting, which both Al (Jardine) and I are emphatically opposed to. There’s nothing we can do personally to stop the show, so please join us in signing the petition.” [Note: Brian’s Tweet included the link to a change.org petition titled: “Tell the Beach Boys to Say No to Trophy Hunting,” but the title has been since updated to “Say No to Trophy Hunting,” and is addressed to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, not Elliott Lott or The Beach Boys.]
In response, Mike offered this statement: “We look forward to a night of great music in Reno and, as always, support freedom of thought and expression as a fundamental tenet of our rights as Americans.”
The story continued to gain a lot of traction, even showing up on primetime news cycles.
The fact was Mike and Bruce were already locked into performing due to a contractual agreement, along with Charlie Daniels. The well-intending fans continued, and, though it was great that Brian signed the petition to protest trophy hunting, things, unfortunately, went down the rabbit hole. Soon, the masses were signing the petition and joining the charge, and lines were crossed. As opposed to signing the petition because they were against trophy hunting, which they may or may not have been, it became an aggressively-toned Mike Love thrash-driven petition signing. Why?
Shouldn’t we have just signed the petition with the understanding that Mike had a contractual obligation that supersedes his personal beliefs, and take it upon ourselves to spread the word to raise awareness?
Suddenly, and expectedly, the story became “Brian Wilson against Mike Love.” Then, more articles about Brian against Mike … and folks, the petition is not a Brian Wilson against Mike Love issue. If it was, the name of the petition would not have changed.
As for Mike, this is what he did: he performed at a private event in front of an audience that he doesn’t personally know while possessing diametrically opposed points of view on life than those in attendance. Think about that for a good minute. For every show, Mike performs in front of an audience that has differing opinions than his. What does each of the audiences and Mike have in common with one another? The music. If you’ve ever attended any concert whatsoever, then you were surrounded by people with differing points of view and belief systems. We’re diversified, but the music always brings us together. At least, it should. I can’t think of a single interview by any member of The Beach Boys at any stage in their career where the idea was to record music of division.
So, I’m going to ask the question again. What is it that we’re doing?
Why did we allow this to happen? Do you think Brian feels better having been in a position where he was quoted as using a word like ‘disavow’ focused on his cousin? That’s an important question. You have to understand there are a lot of Wilson and Love family members that have to endure this type of media coverage, so, the idea that the band members are the only ones affected is hardly the case. We owe all the family members of all the member’s families a sincere apology.
Then there are the issues people have with the current president.
Does Mike Love like Donald Trump, or Donald Trump, Jr.? He must. We’ve seen Mike and Donald together, on many occasions, so they are on a first-name basis, but The Beach Boys and Republican presidents have been linked since Ronald and Nancy Reagan and the nation embraced them in 1983. However, the idea that Mike needed an entire nation to dump on him for performing music at a gig was detrimental to all involved. Not to mention, incredibly insensitive.
The comments I was reading by Brian supporters toward Mike supporters and vise-versa provided a window into what’s wrong with the world we live in. It is as though people were sitting around waiting to dump on Mike, as well as one another. I want to say that Mike’s supporters were cool through it all, but they weren’t … I read a lot of really nasty stuff hurled in Brian’s direction. So, from both sides, I witnessed deplorable behavior behind the guise of a “trophy hunting petition.”
I am a Beach Boys supporter: that’s the petition fans need to sign.
So, what’s the story here? Beyond the reality that there are people that enjoy trophy hunting, the worst part of all of this is that fans did not seem to mind that Brian, Mike, and The Beach Boys’ name were the casualties. And for what, to have Mike feel worse about playing the gig? I’m sure the measure of that tactic reached its zenith, but what about the deepening wound that was just reopened among the members of the group? What about that?
If you know Brian the way I do, he is about love … and his natural ability to use his expression of love in his music. In this case, it was about love for life.
I believe it was right to bring attention to the petition, but the way the fans and the media made Mike a scapegoat was wrong. The event is in the rear-view mirror. We all need to take a step back and understand the greater issue here.
The fact the same petition continues to accrue signatures and is being addressed to Boris Johnson concerning UK law is another indicator that this petition – as far as Goncalves is concerned – is to stop trophy hunting and has nothing to do with The Beach Boys or its members.
The Beach Boys are – after all – “America’s Band,” and America is currently struggling with its (political) identity; it’s only natural that this type of thing would have a ripple effect. But, trophy hunting has been going on for years, and at the very least, we can surmise Goncalves wants to find a way to stop this “sport,” so he used The Beach Boys’ and Brian’s name to promote his cause.
So, if you see Mike, ask him about his stance on different hot topics, and then apologize to him. If you see Brian or Al Jardine, apologize to them, too, for putting them in such an uncomfortable position with the media. Most importantly, thank each of them for all they’ve done for us through their gift of music.
Folks, we owe Brian, Mike, Al, Bruce, and David Marks – along with the late Dennis and Carl Wilson – a debt of thanks and a big apology. I love The Beach Boys. Brian, Mike, Al, Bruce, and David are important and exceptional human beings. Each of them. I am really not sure how anyone would miss that fact. They are the world’s greatest American band!
I’d like to see Brian, Mike, Al, Bruce, and David come together to raise awareness for a collective cause because it would be at that moment where they could truly see how appreciated they are, and how great it is when they a collective voice; the Surfrider’s Foundation would be a great place to start.
©2020 David M. Beard/All Rights Reserved