Thursday, August 23, 2007

Margaritas and Marijuana in Paradise, While Cracking Jokes

I vowed to compare Claymates and Deadheads, but I guess I forgot another category.

Sure, other musicians have their obsessive fans. The Claymates. The Deadheads. The Parrotheads.

I forgot the Parrotheads. Probably because cheeseburgers, whether in paradise or elsewhere, are probably not on the South Beach Diet.

Margaritas definitely aren't on the South Beach Diet.

But let's compare the Parrot Heads to the others, shall we?

As party animals go, they're rather odd birds. Fond of flip-flops, barbecuing, and icy drinks in tall glasses, they like to congregate at the beach, drinking in the salt air and sunshine. They love traveling in flocks, and won't give a second thought to flying across the country in search of warmer climates. However, they're usually back at their jobs by Monday....

[Parrot Heads], much like Deadheads, Phish Phreaks, or any other band-monikered grouping of fans, excepting perhaps Clay Aiken's "Claymates" -- have something of an image problem.

When I asked Sandlapper Parrot Head Club President Mary Fisher what the main difference was between a Deadhead and a Parrot Head, she shot back an answer stunning in its simplicity: "We have jobs!" (And here I was thinking it was less a musical choice than one of a preference between drugs and alcohol).

Indeed, one thing echoed by every Parrot Head that I spoke to was the concept of "partying with a purpose." ("Getting drunk" doesn't count.)

"Giving back a little to our communities is what most clubs are the most proud of," says Mark McKaughn, President of Parrot Heads of the Triad. "Clubs around the US, Canada and the UK donated a total of more than $1.6 million in the year 2003 and contributed more than 365,000 man-hours to charities of all sorts."

And one person alleges a change in attitudes, probably due to a change in latitudes.

[T]he blogger said ONE thing about Clay Aiken, and the Claymates swooped in as if the blogger had ripped him apart....Take for example my mom.. she is a Parrothead, and Jimmy's been around a heck of alot longer than Clay. You know what Parrotheads do? Buy Jimmy's CD's, watch him on TV, and have a ball at his concerts. That's about as far as they take it. But Claymates, they take it to an extreme.

As for Parrotheads and Deadheads, I turn to Jimmy Buffett himself.

If you could work with one artist you haven't already worked with, who would it be?—Thomas Schisler, BALTIMORE

Jerry Garcia and I had always talked about doing a Parrothead-Deadhead show together. Unfortunately, we can't do that now.

Now THAT would have been interesting. If you can think of two sets of fans that wouldn't be at each others' throats, Parrotheads and Deadheads would top the list.

Even if the Deadheads don't have jobs. And some of them do, as this Jody Kuchar post attests:

In the mid 1970s many of us, a bit more mature and needing to move on, took jobs and blended into regular society. We would all still see each other now and then, but weekends were not spent on speed highs at which no one slept and things got a bit out of hand. I've heard it said that the hippies all went to work for IBM; there is a line in an old Eagles song that goes something like this:
"I saw a Deadhead sticker on a cadillac". In my case this was almost true; I went to work for a Fortune 500 company, it could be said that I started late on my career goals.

Technically the line's from a Don Henley song, but close enough. Dave Barry's similar line stated that the 1960s influenced some people very deeply when they had to choose what radio station to listen to while driving their Jaguars to their brokerage firm jobs. And here's another story that Extreme Mortman cites about a guy from the '60s who was pretty much washed up:

But whenever I think about the most powerful material in the book, I come back to [Dick's] early life. Like the time [Dick] was twice nailed for drunk driving while working in transmission line construction in the mountains of Wyoming. Hayes writes: “The same month that he was arrested for a second time, [Dick's] friends and former classmates received their diplomas from Yale. As he sat in the jail cell in Rock Springs, the contrast struck him hard. For eighteen years, [Dick] had a carefree life marked by a series of seemingly effortless accomplishments. His admission to Yale, on a full scholarship, appeared to continue this promising trajectory.

“Now almost four years after the excitement and anticipation of that first cross-country train trip to New Haven, [Dick] found himself alone in jail, left to contemplate everything that had gone wrong. Even for someone who had been—and would be—known for his equanimity, it was another disturbing new low.”

So what happened to this guy? He became Vice President.

But I can't see him as a Claymate, Deadhead, or Parrothead.

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