Man Vs. Machine: The Brian Wilson Story - NBC Bay Area

Man Vs. Machine: The Brian Wilson Story

A star is born and his friend wears leather underwear



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    Closer Brian Wilson is the king of the menacing beard.

    Move over Betty White. Take a hike Al Hrabosky. You both need to make room for the San Francisco Giants' star closer Brian Wilson.

    It's not just anyone who can so quickly supplant both a beloved octogenarian TV star and an eccentric relief pitcher in the public's consciousness, but the dyed-black-bearded, faux-hawked Wilson is most certainly not just anyone.

    Here are only a few things he has done recently: led Major League Baseball in saves during the regular season; dominated the post-season, as the Giants won their first title since moving west in 1958; and captivated a nation by unleashing a mysterious, hulking character who wears a leather bondage mask and not much more during an October interview with Fox Sports' Chris Rose.

    Wilson said the man is his neighbor and he calls him "The Machine."

    The world is now awakening to Wilson's oddly magnificent MO. The tatted hurler visited Jay Leno's show last night and introduced millions of  (possibly confused) viewers to "The Machine, " who then made a startling, silent appearance. A recently launched Facebook group lobbying to land Wilson a "Saturday Night Live"-hosting gig already has close to 12,000 likes (a far cry from the 200,000 or so White racked up before SNL called, but the night is young).

    In the days before Halloween, "Fast Company" magazine noted, fake Wilson beards were flying off costume shop shelves, including a model that doubled as a baby pacifier. And yes, there are Twitter accounts: BeardOfBrian has 4,293 followers as of the morning of Nov. 5. (A sample tweet: "When Brian Wilson plays Hide & Seek, he hides inside of his Beard and no one ever finds him.")

    The logical question is: How did this happen?

    As is the case with many contemporary memes, it all started with YouTube (and "The Machine"). Wilson's interview with Rose was a viral masterpiece. In terms of popularity, it has already destroyed a clip of that other famous Brian Wilson singing "California Girls" live at the Roxy in 2006. And it's not even close: 204,164 views for the former Beach Boy; 409,719 for "The Machine."

    But not every YouTube star gets invited to Leno. Wilson also happens to be extremely charismatic and bizarrely comfortable in his own ink-splattered skin.

    When Leno brought up Wilson's orange cleat controversy that led to MLB fining the pitcher for wearing them, Wilson said the league had a problem with the shoes because they contained "too much awesome." When talk turned to trying to rhyme a word with "orange" Leno told Wilson to give it a try.

    "I don't want to," Wilson said flatly and the audience exploded with laughter.

    If he can do that with four simple words, it stands to reason that "Saturday Night Live" would be lucky to have him.

    Selected Reading: NBC Bay Area, Fanhouse, Facebook.