Finding Margaritaville in the ‘Hood

by Bob Sparrow

Late best friend, Don Klapperich, introduced me to Jimmy Buffett’s music in the late ’80s via cassette tapes from Saudi Arabia. I have since collected all his music, videos, read all his books including the Margaritaville Cook Book. My Sirius Radio in mostly on  the ‘Margaritaville’ channel, I’ve seen him live in concert numerous times and recently went to San Diego to see the play, Escape to Margaritaville, based on his music and lyrics, much like the play Mama Mia is based on ABBA’s music. The production is hilarious and is eventually headed to Broadway. I am clearly a big fan – a Parrothead. What is the appeal of a singer whose voice is more a kin to that of a carnival barker?  The vibe he creates!

Marge, Jeanne, Diane, Julie, Reta, Linda, Althea

Last weekend, we decided to celebrate the first weekend of summer Jimmy Buffett-style by hosting a ‘Finding Margaritaville’ party for our neighborhood. How do you find Margaritaville? Where is it? Some people say it’s in the Caribbean, other say it’s in Key West somewhere around Kokomo. According to Mr. Buffett, “Margaritaville is a state of mind where there is booze in the blender, good weather and colorful characters, just on the edge of paradise with a dash of reality thrown in to add flavor.”

Dianne, Pam, Kathy, Shelly

Well, that comes very close to describing the neighborhood we’ve lived in for the past 32 years, especially the part about the colorful characters. It was here I was going to start listing some of the characters and their accomplishments/antics, but there are 20 some couples that live on the two streets that make up ‘the ‘Hood’ and there is not room here to do them all justice and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out, so let’s leave it at it’s a neighborhood filled with interesting, giving people where you can always find booze in the blender.

Banana Dolphins

Marge, her monkey and parrot in her tree

A good example of this giving neighborhood occurred when I asked if anyone in the ‘hood wanted to donate money to help the guide we had in Nepal after his home was destroyed in the 2015 Kathmandu earthquake – I had $1,200 on my doorstep that afternoon!   If someone is sick or housebound for any reason, neighbors will take turns preparing dinner for that family – and we have a number of outstanding chefs in the ‘hood (Rob Warren & Richard Wade immediately come to mind). When our kids were growing up and playing at each other’s house, wherever they were at lunchtime the mom would fix lunch for the whole gang. No one ever worried about where their kids were or if they had eaten lunch. It is an amazing group of people with whom we are lucky to be associated.

Phyllis & Starlet

Captain Jack

At 6:00 on Saturday, the house and yard were in their final stages of decoration; inside the ‘food island’ highlight was the pineapple palm tree, thanks to Marge Dunn and the dolphin fruit plate, thanks to Linda and Starlet. The best decoration outside was the Margarita machine; the surrounding palms and pool complemented it nicely. Partygoers arrived in full ‘Parrotfanalia’. Aside from the 40 attendees who were within walking distance of our house, more importantly within crawling distance home, we had a few family members to add a bit of spice to our already colorful cast of characters; including Linda’s 91 year old mom, Phyllis, who didn’t miss a beat, Linda’s sister, Starlet both in from Minnesota and my brother, Jack, who lent his deft bartending skills to the party, his wife Sharon and her son Brad.

‘Creative’ winners, Dunns, Baldwins & Webbs

Marc Webb, the Pied Piper, started the ‘pool party’

We had a contest to find out “Are You More Creative than Jimmy Buffett?” where couples had to change the titles of Buffett’s songs to something more original.  I can’t write all the answers we got here due to our PG rating, but needless to say the ‘hood is very creative.  So of course the party was a success, how could it not be with this group? As they say, a good time was had by all, especially those who jumped in the pool with their clothes on later in the evening – alcohol may have been a factor.

I’ve probably forgotten a few things that happened that night, but I know this, the ‘hood has been a great place to raise our little kids and a great place to raise a little hell.    Fins Up!

Phyllis bracing for the start of the party

 

Tanis, Stefanie, Lisa, Doug, Keren, Sandi

Buffett Philosophy

M Casino & ResortNo, this isn’t about how billionaire, Warren would invest your money, but rather about another Buffett, one who has a decent net worth himself – somewhere north of $450 million – and invests so little in his concert attire that he doesn’t even wear shoes.  Yes, I’m talking about Jimmy.

I got a chance to see Mr. Buffett for the umpteenth time two weeks ago in the Hollywood Bowl and once again came away totally entertained by this man whose voice has been likened to that of a carnival barker.  So what is the attraction you ask?  A little history is probably in order . . .

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———–Don———-

I was turned on to Buffett’s music by my late, great best friend, Don Klapperich, back in the 80s when he was in Saudi Arabia, and prior to the common use of the Internet, we regularly  communicated by exchanging cassette tapes filled with music and patter.  Like most casual fans of music, I was familiar with the songs Margaritaville and Come Monday, but probably couldn’t have told you who sang them.  Don sent me a Buffett song called Somewhere Over China, a song with interesting lyrics that I asked him about, which apparently was his cue to start sending me more Buffett.  He did, and implored me to listen to the philosophical lyrics.

Philosophical lyrics?!!  To me, and perhaps to most casual fan of Jimmy, philosophy and Buffett didn’t seem to go together – what deep meaning or life lesson was I supposed to garner from “wastin’ away again in Margaritaville” or “having a cheeseburger in paradise”?  But between the songs Don sent me and the ones I subsequently purchased, I started to learn and appreciate the ‘Buffett philosophy’.  Now don’t get me wrong, he’s no Confucius or Descartes, but he is a fairly accomplished individual.

Serious Jimmy

Businessman Buffett

fun Jimmy

Balladeer Buffett

At 68, Jimmy not only still plays over 20 U.S. concert dates and several foreign locales each summer, but he is the head of a juggernaut business enterprise.  He has turned the brand ‘Margaritaville’ into resorts, casinos, restaurants, clothing and record labels, tequila and more.  You can thank Jimmy if you’re ever had a Landshark Beer in a Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant. He’s written numerous books and appears frequently on TV and in movies, and does a ton of charity work.  He’s a veteran pilot who occasionally ‘buzzes’ his concert parking lots, which are filled with partying Parrotheads, prior to his concerts in his seaplane, the ‘Hemisphere Dancer’.

So here’s a primer of his philosophy from the songs and books of this Renaissance man . . .

On a general philosophy of life . . .

“Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party. ”

Hemisphere Dancer

‘Hemisphere Dancer’

On staying young and living life in the ‘now’ and not worrying about how you’re thought of after you die . . .

“I’m growing older, but not up, my metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck, let those winds of time blow over my head, I’d rather die while I’m living than live when I’m dead”

On self-inspection . . .

“We are the people our parents warned us about”

On keeping a good attitude when life brings changes . . .

“It’s those changes in attitudes, changes in latitudes, nothing remains quite the same.  For all of our running and all of our cunning, if we couldn’t laugh and if we weren’t all crazy, we would all go insane”

On being in the right place with the wrong person . . .

“The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful”Landshark

On birthdays . . .

“It’s just another trip around the sun”

On why you should travel . . .

“You do it for the stories you can tell”

On looking back at a full life . . .

“Through 86 years of perpetual motion, if he likes you he’ll smile and he’ll say, some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life all the way.

On rationalizing a drink before the cocktail hour . . .

“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere”

104.3 WOMC partied with Parrot Heads at The Loungin On The Lagoon Beach party before the Jimmy Buffett concert at Comerica Park on Saturday, July 28th 2012 (Photo by Steve Wiseman / 104.3 WOMC)

Pre-concert parking lot party

From the mouth of Buffett . . .

“We’re all somewhere over China, heading east or heading west.”

“Yes I am a pirate, 200 years too late.”

“If the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me.”

I will admit that most of his philosophical stuff gives way to Fins, Cheeseburgers, Volcanos and Margaritas during his concerts, and that’s OK, as having a good time is a very big part of Buffett’s philosophy, but in a rare quiet moment, I still enjoy putting in an old cassette tape and listening to Don introduce a philosophical Buffett song.

Fins up!

Nepal Postscript

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Annapurna South

As you can probably tell, I love to travel, and part of what make travel so enjoyable is coming home. I am now home at last, with a head full of incredible memories of awe-inspiring mountains, the lakeside, tourist town of Pukhara, the humid, elephant-filled jungle lowlands of Chitwan National Park and the teeming city of Kathmandu.

Kunmig airport

The Modern Kunming Airport

I don’t know if I believe the slogan, “Getting there is half the fun”, but I can tell you this, getting home is a pain in the ass . . . literally! For us, it clearly won the battle of ‘the one bad day’ . . . or two. We were picked up at our hotel in Kathmandu at 1:30 on Friday afternoon (That’s around midnight on Thursday back on the left coast) for a 4:30 flight from Kathmandu to Kunming, China. We arrived there around 7:30 p.m. and had to pick up our checked baggage, as it could not be sent directly from Kathmandu to Los Angeles. Unfortunately our connecting flight to Shanghai, China wasn’t until 8:00 the next morning, so we had ‘a few’ hours to kill at the airport – like all night! We thought about going to a nearby hotel, but then decided we’d just tough it out and hang at the airport. After we wandered through all the shops, eateries and restrooms, we cozied up to an airport bench with our backpacks and luggage and tried, in vain, to get some sleep. The next morning we departed at 8:00 and arrived in a very smoggy Shanghai around 11:00 a.m. We then had about two hours to kill before departing for Los Angeles at 1:00 p.m. After an 11 hour flight, we arrived in LA at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. I don’t think Patrick is going to let me book anymore of his flights.

For those keeping score at home, that’s crossing through 11 time zone and the International Date Line for a total of 36 hours from start to finish! Now that I’m in the comforts of my own home, I like to say that it wasn’t that bad – but it actually was.

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Those Damn Stone Steps

I think the message was clear from the blogs posted over the last two weeks that our favorite part of the trip was our time spent in the Himalayas – the scenery, the people, our time with Dom and Kirin and that feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day that was only relieved by a hot shower and a cold beer.

Each time I posted over the last two weeks, a Jimmy Buffett lyric echoed in my head and helped me realize why I love to travel and write:

“If you ever wonder why you ride this carrousel,

You do it for the stories you can tell”

So thank you Jimmy and thank you to all who followed us on our adventure and particularly those who took the time to comment on the blog – it’s always good to hear from home. I did try to respond to them all, but our schedule and connectivity issues wouldn’t allow, but I did read, and sincerely appreciated every one.

Thanks to sister Suzanne, who I’m sure edited and cleaned up my posts and kept me abreast of what was going on back home.

Thank you to Patrick, for taking two weeks off work to join me – I couldn’t have had a better trekking and travel companion. We spent 24/7 x 2 together and we’re still friends . . . I think.

Jimmy

Inspired by Jimmy Buffett

My biggest THANK YOU goes to my wonderful wife, Linda, who surprised me with this amazing trip for my 70th birthday. I have to admit that Kathmandu was not on my rather extensive ‘Bucket List’, but it turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime. I love you Linda and you cannot know how much this trip meant to me.