11 January 2012

Jimmy Buffett Fandom: An M-Team Investigation

Portrait of the author as a fake pirate

Bethany from finance managed to ditch the kids for a weekend, buy store-brand tequila and triple sec, and get a couple of $80 lawn-level seats at the Jimmy Buffett concert. She, along with her husband and their couple friends, are all going to show up early, bring a few stocked coolers, and blow off some steam.

Now all the stress and baggage she's felt about her unsatisfying career and hectic home life are melting away in a haze of sunlight and alcohol. She's lighting up next to the Honda Pilot she uses to drive the kids everyfuckingwhere these days - the one with stick figures of her, her husband, three smaller stick children, and the stick dog.

How she hates that stick dog, leaving stick shit all over her stick house. And if she's being honest, she resents her stick kids for the constant attention they demand. She used to be fun! She didn't used to have to buy weed from a friend of a distant younger cousin who looked at her weird when she asked. But today, at least, she can pour another Don Julio and Roundy's Triple Sec, inhale deeply, and picture herself on a sunny beach in Nassau. Doesn't matter that she's never been sailing in her life. Today she's a Pirate Queen, which, shut up, is
totally a thing, Jeff, you dick.

But she's not a pirate, she's a middle-class mother and wife. Which is to say, she can't hold her alcohol really well. But she hasn't felt this good in ... forever. So she keeps on. Which invariably leads to the pass-out.

Your average Jimmy Buffett tailgate turns from an age-adjusted Spring Break to something resembling an army field hospital by concert time. These people tailgate hard, but don't necessarily ask themselves if they have the ability to do so anymore. And they call themselves Parrotheads. And dress in a manner befitting a greeting card with a Hawaiian theme. For all these reasons and more, people who otherwise love drinking in the sun seem to universally abhor self-identified Buffett fans.

Room 101 for a great segment of the populace
But not me. I am going on the record as unrepentantly loving it - the music, the tailgating, the concerts. And what's more, I'll concede you every point made against the man. The music? Nautical/party/lost love stuff, none of it terribly deep or concerned with musicianship. The fans can embody every bit of the worst stereotypes put upon them. Even his most depressing song ends with a sort of cop-out grace note at the end.

I won't even attempt to defend this incongruous fandom, mostly because I love that it drives people nuts. But I will give the following points by way of explanation:

- The man, hard as it may be to believe, is actually quite a respectable author. I've picked up a couple of his books over the years, and I'm confident reporting that he's a better fiction writer than nearly all of the creative writing graduates currently employed by Starbucks, who would of course scoff at the idea.

- We all like pop music in some form. If you find Jimmy Buffett vapid, then more power to you. Just remember to get back to listening to real music of substance. Something with meaning. Like Ke$ha. She bring up Important Subjects. Like not stopping. And turning the music up. And ohaohaohoh, ohaohaohoh.

- Ever been in a hipster bar full of drunks? WAY more obnoxious. And frankly, middle-aged people in grass skirts have better taste in beer than the skinny jeans set. In most things, really.

- Most venues that even allow tailgating only give you 3 hours at most prior to an event. Jimmy Buffett builds this whole Tailgate Tent City concept into the experience. Parking is always included in the ticket price, and you can show up at 8am for a 7:30 pm show to fire up the grill. There will, in my experience, already be drunk people there. It frankly kicks the shit out of most other tailgating experiences I've had, and there have been many.

- Most importantly: I'm an adult. I like it. So until I kidnap you, dress you in a Hawaiian shirt, and make you listen to Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes through noise-canceling headphones, you can fuck right off about your opinions of my personal tastes in musical entertainment.

(drops mic with grass skirt attached)


Rich said...

Not only do I hate Jimmy Buffett, but he endorses this lifestyle I cannot afford. "Don't work and just party all day"? That's expensive. At least when I listen to hair metal, I know I have enough cash in the bank to get hooked on, and eventually OD off of, heroin.

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