I met Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in a back alley.


By Eric Brinling

As I was walking down the street one day, I heard the unmistakable sound of several men singing harmonically in a sort of surf rock style. I did not know the song, as I am no huge Beach Boys fan, but I could easily identify the band from their distinct sound. I only wondered what they were doing in the middle of Oakland on a Tuesday night.

I followed the music, and came upon a dark back alley. Then the music stopped. It had been coming from a radio, leaned upon by a 77-year old man named Brian Wilson (of Beach Boys fame). I could not identify him immediately, as, after all, I am no huge Beach Boys fan, and it was also pretty dark, but I soon recognized him from his celebrated 1988 appearance in ABC’s Full House, in the episode when Danny and Jesse get in a fight over who gets to go see the Beach Boys in concert with DJ but eventually it works itself out because for some reason they all get to go up on stage and sing with them, despite being untrained musicians (with the exception of Jesse, who certainly deserved the spot on that

Anyway, here I was, walking down a dark alley with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys standing before me. I asked him what he was doing here, in the middle of Oakland.

“God Only Knows,” he answered me, looking pensively off into the dark brick wall to his right. “Gettin’ Hungry,” he said, more to himself than to me. He took something out of his pocket, which I couldn’t make out in the darkness. He took a crisp bite out of it.

“What are you eating?” I asked.

“Vegetables,” he answered, and took another bite. I didn’t bother to ask him for specifics. I felt comfortable assuming it was a carrot. “Take a Load Off Your Feet,” he said to me, motioning towards a chair near to him.

I sat, and asked him how long he would be in the area.

“Here Today,” he said simply. Does that mean he would be gone tomorrow? Being no huge Beach Boys fan, I did not know.

He held out a vegetable of some kind to me, which again I could not see because of the dark. I took it and took a large bite out of it. “Is this a carrot?” I asked him, as I could not tell.

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” he said.

“So… it’s not a carrot?”

“Caroline, No,” he told me, shaking his head as if I were his student who had just answered a simple question incorrectly. Also, my name is not Caroline.

“What is it, then?”

“I Know There’s an Answer,” he told me, which did not help, because I also knew that there was an answer, he just wasn’t telling me. I remained silent for some time, and eventually he said, “Let’s Go
Away for Awhile.”

“What?” I asked him, “Where would we go? And why?”

“Salt Lake City,” he said, answering but one of my questions.

“I’m not going to Salt Lake City with you, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys,” I told him, and I got up to leave.

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys sighed, and said, “I Should Have Known Better.”

As I left Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys’ alley, I thought to myself, “Wasn’t that a Beatles song?” Being no huge Beach Boys fan, I did not realize that the Beach Boys covered that particular song in their 1965 album The Beach Boys’ Party.

I passed by that same alley later that week. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was no longer there. Some say he’s still out there, offering college-aged men strange vegetables and a trip to Salt Lake City.