The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Buffett's Book

Just what you'd expect.

People sometimes ask me whether I'm a "Parrothead." No, I'm not so ugly (yet) that people mistake me for a talking bird, what they mean is am I a fan of Jimmy Buffett? Well, Buffett's range is such that nearly everyone has a song by him they like, but I think the real reason I get asked that question is because I'm a Grateful Dead fan, and to some people the scenes are similar.

To some extent they are. Both Buffett and the Dead had long careers and big party scenes surrounding them. But I'm not sure how much further the comparisons go. For one thing there's difference in style. Deadheads are partying anti-establishment bohemians, while the Parrotheads are mostly establishment types who party on the side. For one it's a lifestyle, for the other it's only a vacation, and you can see the difference.

Here are some typical Parrotheads.

Here are some typical Deadheads.

The Parrotheads look like guys who when not attending Jimmy Buffett shows are working in offices. If the Deadheads showed up in anyone's office security would be called. The Parrotheads are a pure party scene, with no other significance beyond having fun. The Grateful Dead had a much wider cultural and sociological influence that had a measurable effect on society beyond just the world of music.

Unless of course you consider Jimmy Buffett's books. Books? The Parrothead scene seems as literary as Gilligan's Island, but the fact is the Parrothead-in-Chief is a bestselling author. And in the highest league of writers, according to the Wikipedia:

Buffett has written three No. 1 best sellers. Tales from Margaritaville and Where Is Joe Merchant? both spent over seven months on the New York Times Best Seller fiction list. His book A Pirate Looks At Fifty went straight to No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller non-fiction list, making him one of seven authors in that list's history to have reached No. 1 on both the fiction and non-fiction lists. The other six authors who have accomplished this are Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, William Styron, Irving Wallace, Dr. Seuss and Mitch Albom.

Hemingway? Steinbeck? Dr. Seuss? That's pretty heady company, so I naturally just had to read Buffett's first book Tales of Margaritaville when someone offered me a copy recently. I did so even though I couldn't care less whether I ever hear the song Margaritaville again in my life. In fact, I'd prefer not to, having liked the song just like everyone else when it first came out, but I'm now sick to death of it after hearing it played millions of times on every FM station in the universe.

My verdict on the literary Buffett? Not bad. Shakespeare's reputation is safe, but Buffett is still a better writer than you'd have any right to expect. The same likeable, fun-loving personality that comes across in his music is also on display in his writing. Buffett even aspires to be a bit philosopical, using one story to list his personal belief system, to which I add my own remarks:

Lesson One: Never forget - they are the enemy.

Buffett defines "they" as anyone standing in the way of your dreams - or maybe just your next drink.

Lesson Two: Just remember, assholes are born that way, and they don't usually change.

Truer words were never said.

Lesson Three: You do not want to go to jail.

I have learned that lesson well.

Lesson Four: When you start to take this job seriously, you're in trouble.

I have never broken this rule.

Lesson Five: It takes no more time to see the good side of life than it takes to see the bad.

I strive to remember that everyday.

Lesson Six: If you decide to run with the ball, just count on fumbling and getting the shit knocked out of you a lot, but never forget how much fun it is just to be able to run with the ball.

I'm clutching the ball with both my hands and running as fast as I can.

There are small disappointments. The plots of the short stories are sometimes contrived, and there's surprisingly little sex, but on the whole this is exactly what it intends to be - a light hearted, inspirational read, geared particularly towards the sort of person who would never read a book if it didn't have Jimmy Buffett on the cover.

Buyer's Remorse

The bank in the background of this picture taken on King Street in Northampton used to be a convenience store/gas station where I worked in 1980.

What inspired me to take this picture however was the impeachment bumpersticker. Wow, someone calling already for the impeachment of President Obama! Um, actually I think that bumpersticker was meant to refer to the former president. So why didn't the car owner remove the sticker when the person they wanted impeached left office? I suspect a number of Democrats are already nostalgic for the days when they could blame everything on George Bush. And I predict that as the aftermath of Obama's bailouts become clear, their nostalgia for the days when Democrats didn't have to take responsibility for what happened will only increase.

In Hamp

Last night at the TD Northbank in downtown Northampton I photographed this painting. I recognize Northampton City Hall on the right, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at on the left half. The old Rahar's building?
(click to enlarge)

At first I thought it was just a commerical painting, but then I saw it had a name and a date.

Wow, that painting is 56 years old!

Later we walked over to Sam's where Luke Arivel was giving a viola concert.

Today on Strong Street in Amherst I photographed this view of the Holyoke Range.

Today's Video

We've all been here.

That Autumn Feeling from Efehan on Vimeo.


Anonymous said...

The other side of the picture looks like the boathouse area of Smith College looking from the otherside of the pond.

Don said...

I'm pretty sure that Buffett has covered something like Uncle John's Band on occasion, and I recall rumors that the 1996 summer tour would have been a Dead Parrot collaboration ('pining for the fjords'? wink, wink, nudge nudge)--an Electric Margarita Acid Test, if you will.