Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I feel like laughing out loud, jumping over my couch, grinning like a maniac, and just generally wigging out. Why? Because it's past the witching hour, and I am still awake thanks to RJ and her nascent teeth. So I've been converting audio files to use on my final radio project that's due tomorrow and I'm all strung out on music, balancing on that strange tipping point between crying and shouting that makes my whole body feel electric and volatile. I could implode at any moment. I think I will take this opportunity to expound on something I've been thinking about lately: the Jimmy Buffet phenomenon.

Jimmy Buffet, the king of boat music, needs no introduction. We've all heard Margaritaville. But here's the a multi-platinum mainstream artist, JB has never even been nominated for a grammy; he is not a talented singer, he's not even badgood like a Dylan or Neil Young, he sounds like my dad singing around the campfire; his songwriting is often predictable and his guitar work not particularly noteworthy. Yet he has enjoyed steady success for the last 30 years, and maintaints a loyal following of "parrotheads," including myself. I don't know, there seems to be something about his straitforward approach, not hiding the fact that, on paper, his music is somewhat mediocre. Yet when it all comes together it just kind of makes you smile and nod your head. He sings about the middle-class America that most of us grew up in, decent folk who just want to put in their 8 hours, who know they should probably do more, who change diapers, clean the toilet, save their money, who cry during soup commercials, and fantasize about getting away.

When I was young my dad had JB's "Coconut Telegraph" album, and listened to it constantly for about a year. I can't listen to it now without seeing myself in our brown Aerostar minivan, trying to imagine myself as a character in one of Jimmy's grapefruit ballads, flying to paradise. He also sings about John Wayne dying, about getting old and breaking his leg playing baseball, about street sweepers who do their job (that one always makes me tear up), and about his daughter in a song called "Little Miss Magic." There is no end to the cheese, and no end to my appreciation for it. Maybe big doses are better than small ones. Anyway, I don't think many people will agree with me....but here's to Jimmy Buffet, minstrel of the common man.

I think next time I'm going to write about Bruce Hornsby, whose music could heal the world.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Counting down los days

Hard to stop thinking about going to Mexico this Christmas. So I wrote a poetic tribute to our upcoming trip. I'm not sure how it is a tribute. It's kind of a leftover from our last visit. I'm not sure what it means, but I'm feeling it.

White dude in Mexico trading
his skin for sun, serving limes

to tourists wondering why
he’s turning brown, inside

out, living in cutoffs
forgetting Canada, damn

Canada and piss jobs,
ex-wives, no tequila, not even jellyfish.

If I remember correctly his
name was David, spoken softly

like palm fronds. He offered
to sell pretty much everything:

horses, ATVs, kayaks, parasailing
and of course, the banana ride.

In the end, we bought a shrimp
plate and sat rigidly among empty

tables—it was Wednesday.
We told him we loved

this place, this quiet beach
where locals dine Sundays

separated by hundreds of
swells from the hotel zone

and their jobs scrubbing,
starching, driving, haggling,

begging. So he showed us a room
in a gated yard with a nasty

dog, a mango tree, and lots
of rebar. His green eyes never

left my wife’s neck, and I felt
somewhat flattered I admit,

but certainly a little scared
of this white dude in Mexico.