FANTHROPOLOGY
By Andy O'Brien


Right: Illustration by Exapno Mapcase

If you trawl the internet long enough or attend enough fan gatherings, you start to find that a lot of Beach Boys fans fall into various categories. So I've been out with my net to capture, identify and catalogue these creatures.

TYPE 1: HAWTHORNE BUNTHORNE

Natural enemies: Gusher and Hawaiian Shirt

Natural allies: Will occasionally hover around Professional Fan

Many people like the music of Brian Wilson, but few understand it as profoundly as this fan. Only a chosen handful can see the true meaning of "I threw away my candy bar and I ate the wrapper". Rare indeed is a man who can write 500 words on what "Sunny down snuff" actually refers to. For this type of fan, Brian is the ultimate suffering artist and the ultimate cult hero. This is drawn to Brian by the image of the sensitive artist, the feeling that Brian's cult appeal and emotional fragility will rub of and make Hawthorne Bunthorne seem a bit deep and cool. He's a badweather friend of Brian, he likes him best when he's suffering and thinks that Brian's goodtime material is an abberation. He's also incapable of giving any other Beach Boys credit for anything and will tie himself in a knot trying to persuade himself that anything that sounds nice on a post '68 album is somehow entirely Brian's work.

Hawthorne Bunthorne owns hundreds of Beach Boys CDs, but his collection only covers two albums. One half of his CD rack is taken up with Smile bootlegs, the other with Pet Sounds reissues. This is his great weakness. He can talk at length at the lofty artistic heights and hidden meanings of Brian's work, but then he'll let slip that he's never actually heard Love You or dismiss Don't Worry Baby because it mentions cars. He was the one to howl the loudest when Brian decided to finish Smile because it meant Brian was taking his toys away from him. No more fan-edits and worse, Smile would not be a secret any more.

It's true that there is something of the tortured genius about Brian. But then again, there's something of the goofy party-animal about him too. It's damn cool that Surf's Up and Catch A Wave came from the same guy. But that's not enough for some fans, they want Brian to be Thom Yorke or, if you'll forgive a little light sacrilege, they want Brian to die on the cross for their sins.


The above article is an excerpt from the debut issue of ROLL PLYMOUTH ROCK, used with the kind permission of Andy O'Brien.

Other articles in this issue of ROLL PLYMOUTH ROCK include:

  • A defense of the LA (Light Album)
  • An article about Mike Love's hair!
  • Four non-fans give their reactions to Smile
  • An interview with Jon Hunt
  • Andrew Hickey talks about his Dumb Angel webcomic
The price for an issue is $3 US or £1.50 UK. Although there is no web site for this publication, you can get more information by e-mailing: rollplymouthrock@btinternet.com

And…it's the only fanzine I know of that's Printed in Hawthorne, California.

Note from editor:
If you want to do a little FANTHROPOLOGY yourself and see some of the various Brian Wilson/Beach Boys fans in their natural habitat, let us recommend a few sites:
Smile Shop message board
Brian Wilson’s official message board
Beach Boys Britain board
Male Ego board
But beware! Use logic and humor at your own risk if you wish to interact with the various fan categories, as some can be rabidly territorial, sometimes overly defensive and even downright aggressive and abusive towards outsiders and those who appear to rock the party-line.