The Love-Hate Relationship


At 4 am the other day I was listening to an old Beach Boys song about a car. For no particular reason I googled the title, and up came somebody’s blog – a 75 word analysis of the song. At the bottom of the blog was a single comment, followed by the blogger’s grateful “Thanks!” It struck me it’s probably not unusual for a blog to have only one comment, given how many blogs must be out there. [Ed: well, how many comments do we get?] I was about to click off when I noticed a link at the top called “Why Do I Hate Mike Love?”

Some background. It doesn’t matter if anyone knows who Mike Love is anymore. (He is one of the Beach Boys.) I know who he is, but that’s not the point. Half a century ago it was fashionable to hate Mike Love. He was a square. He was a creepy, porcine, greedy, unimaginative dork. For youthful intellectuals – then and now apparently – Mike Love is a potato blight on the luminous landscape of adventurous pop music. Young philosophers debate endlessly what might have happened had Mike Love not told Brian Wilson, “Don’t fuck with the formula, man!” That is, stop writing stuff like Pet Sounds (1966), Brian, and keep making hit records about cars and surfing. The consensus is that from around January 2, 1967 until this very moment in March 2015, Beach Boys music was and is dreck. Hijacked by Mike Love as Brian Wilson fell into drugs and craziness, and then taken over completely by Love when Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson died, the Beach Boys became a cover band doing Beach Boys songs. Their music was no longer fun or even interesting. Sales plummeted. No one mourned. Around 1970 when Capital records deleted their back catalogue, no one noticed. I’m not persuaded that Mike Love single-handedly drove “genius” Brian Wilson into drugs, depression and a state of permanent childishness; but on the other hand, I can’t think how Mike Love’s company would in any way promote mental health. But I’ll leave it to you to decide if you hate Mike Love or not.

Anyway, I clicked on the link, “Why Do I Hate Mike Love?” It was 4:08 in the morning. A few banalities would help me doze off, I thought. Up came a brief introductory essay followed by a comment. Then a second comment, and a third.

Wow, people seem to write on this blog. And they all really hate Mike Love. Some comments were invective of the sort I wrote a few lines ago, but some were interesting. One writer said he lived next door to Mike Love. Another had recently gone to a Beach Boys concert. Another provided what he claimed was documentation of some of the lawsuits Mike Love has filed – for example, suing Brian Wilson for using the name Beach Boys a few years ago. Another had some things to day about Love’s apparently numerous marriages to young women. One commentator was sitting in his math class when he found this blog and just wanted to share his feelings about Mike Love. Another comment was in English charmingly broken; she was a French girl who also had something to say. There were dozens of comments. I kept reading. It was now about 4:30. Up popped a comment from – I think I read this – one of Mike Love’s kids. (At 4:30 in the morning anything on the Internet seems plausible to me.) Another writer claimed to be Mike Love’s cousin. These commentators wanted to provide “corrective vision.” Then more comments attacking the positive contributions as “revisionist,” and others offering more shaded glossings. More comments. More exegesis. Details, modifications, facts verified or corrected about some heinous act by Mike Love.

Now it was 4:40. I began to read faster. Then I started just scrolling the pages. Dozens of comments. Hundreds of comments. From Mike Love’s contempt-ories to teenagers who had recently discovered early Beach Boys music and had already noticed the dramatic and horrifying post-1966 plunge into the abyss. There were hundreds of comments from all kinds of people: from the lost continent of Atlantis, from a species of intelligent sub-atomic particles who hated “Kokomo” more than injustice…

Gradually a strange, feverish tone began to wrap itself around all these comments. These people REALLY HATE MIKE LOVE! Part of me – I don’t know what part – thought this admirable. Not Mike Love, of course; he’s pond scum; but the commentators’ energy and life force and strength – that was admirable.

Then – in part because it happened to me as well – I discovered something else was going on: something cathartic and therapeutic. I was a participant in a gathering of howls. All of us had come to this blog to howl at the man who had darkened the moon. Without my understanding or even awareness (although plenty of comments were scrolling by detailing and analyzing this very phenomenon), the collective howl was transforming itself into a giggle. The whole world had at last reached the conclusion that at bottom Mike Love just wasn’t worth giving a fuck about. It was a cosmic giggle. Inspiring even more comments!

I don’t want to say more about this – only to recommend that if some night you’re sleepless and feeling a little goofy, check out Why You Hate Mike Love. I laughed so hard my eyes were full of tears.

One thought on “The Love-Hate Relationship

  1. Pingback: Smile | Professor Gumby

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