You know “hate” is a strong word. I wish there was some modifier or middle of the road word that wasn’t quite as intense as “hate” but not quite as soft as “strong dislike”. On the great scale of likes and dislikes I would inhabit that middle ground in my opinion of singer Jimmy Buffett. This is quite a shift for me. In fact, if the Jimmy Buffett universe was confined to music only – he would still fall firmly in my “like” category. His tunes are harmless – a bit of fun – light hearted. And like him or hate him, you have GOT to admire a guy that had 5-inspired minutes of creativity – jotted down a dopey song idea on a napkin and turned that one dumb song into a multi-billion dollar a year industry. That’s the story behind “Margaritaville”. The way I’ve heard JB tell it, all he really had was the “wastin’ away again in Margaritaville” line and he scribbled the rest in about five minutes sitting in a bar. My God, what I wouldn’t give for five decent minutes! I also think he’s brilliant and probably pretty honest with himself and noodled his destiny through. His thought process probably went a little something like this…
“Gee, I’m a mediocre song writer at best. I can play the guitar a little bit. My voice is nothing to write home about, but I get by. I’m not really into being a country singer, but I’m probably too twangy to be a serious rock and roller. All I really want to do is make enough money to buy a boat, get high a lot and score some tail. I’m down here in Key West without a clue how I’m going to accomplish all of this. Come to think about it – these folks down here have it pretty good. Everyone is laid back, nobody seems to really have jobs except the bartenders. What if I just wrote a bunch of songs about the beach and hanging out and drinking and such. I’m not really selling the music – more like selling the lifestyle 2 and a half minutes at a time. Let’s give it a shot and see if anyone will buy it.”
Selling the escapism is brilliant. But here’s my beef with James William Buffett and the delightful knuckleheaded Parrotheads that follow him around – which I might add, I once considered myself a fringe member of. That man can literally put his name on any piece of crap and sell a million units. He fancies himself a writer of novels and short stories. His books routinely debut at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller lists – is it because he’s such a brilliant writer? No – the books are crap – let’s be honest. Seriously, I’ve read three of them and apart from the autobiographical one he penned on his 50th birthday – they suck. But the hardcore Parrotheads buy them like crazy – two or three copies at a time and give them as gifts.
So what turned me on good ol’ Bubba? My festering loathing of the Buffettempire started with the Margaritaville Cafe’ chain of restaurants. It used to be there were just a few and you had to go places like New Orleans and Key West to visit them. I didn’t have a problem with these outposts. They more or less reflected the flavor of the locations. In fact, I had some very fine etoufee at the New Orleans location the last time I was there and as I said, I enjoy the music – and it plays exclusively throughout the restaurants – so, I’m fine with that. Then came the Orlando location. OK, cheesy, touristy – I can let that slide. Same with the Myrtle Beach location. Then came the Las Vegas location – this is where the wheels started coming off the Magic Bus for me. Margaritaville Vegas stood out like a sore thumb – and you have to be pretty damned out of your element to strike a dischord in Vegas. Then this past winter, I went on a cruise to the Caribbean. Cozumel? Margaritaville. Ocho Rios? Margaritaville. Grand Cayman? Margaritaville. And the dips came off the cruise ship and FLOCKED – excuse me, PHLOCKED to these places. YOU ARE IN THE ACTUAL CARIBBEAN YOU SIMP!!!!!!!! You’ve just spent $3,000, travelled all the way to the Caribbean Islands to rush off to buy the fake Caribbean sold to you by a guy from Ala-freakin’-bama. And now – holy cats – go check out his online store. You can buy Margaritaville shoes – Margaritaville furniture – golf bags – drink machines. That whore will slap a Margaritaville logo on anything that will slow down long enough to put a sticker on! Seriously, dude – Gene Simmons of Kiss is laughing at you. I keep waiting to see the Margaritaville casket advertised.Waste Away in Margaritaville style! Doubles as the ultimate tail-gate cooler until you bite that big cheeseburger in the sky!
Part of me really hopes against hope that fuzzy little Jimmy Buffett was laying in a hammock somewhere playing a song about laying on the beach and drinking a beer when some shameless huckster, carny broke in witha big stack of contracts and said “Sign here Jimmy and we’ll start writing you checks!” But I fear the truth is probably more like Jimmy gathered his brain trust around a big conference room table and started barking out orders for styrofoam hats and t-shirts. I imagine JB is fiercely protective of his brand – as evidenced by the slew of lawsuits that get filed every year against anyone and anything that even smells remotely like Margaritaville copyright infringement.And to that end, I’m sure Jimmy’s minions scour the internet everyday looking for any ill-word about their uber-Lord and flip-flopped master. Maybe they’ll even stumble upon my little rant here. In which case, Mr. Buffet, sir. Hire me now and I will tirelessly and gleefully whore out your good name!