Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Perpetual Parrothead Tailgate

Cap'n Jack said it best. "Life is Good." I don't know if Cap'n Jack is his real name or if he even coined the phrase "life is good". It doesn't matter 'cuz Cap'n Jack has that right, at least when you are tailgating at the DTE Energy Music Theatre 3 hours before Jimmy Buffett takes the stage. Cap'n Jack is 61 years old, with graying hair pulled back into a pony tail. He was there with Cap'n Ron, another aged pirate, and both of their woman. I was there with my wife, brother Snap and his woman. We arrived in a steady stream of Parrothead traffic and were directed single file into the grass overflow parking lot. From the parked vehicles came the colorfully clad occupants with their lawn chairs, grills, and coolers filled with assorted beverages.

At a Buffett tailgate, you end up partying with everyone you parked in proximity to. And unlike the real world where a neighbor on your street may get a half-hearted wave as you drive by, you actually get to know your parrothead neighbors. Turns out that Cap'n Jack and his wench (pirate term of endearment) live in Davison just a few miles away from us. They are retired (GM) and they are planning a motorcycle trip out west later this summer. The couple on the other side of my van live in Ohio and they just got a real good deal on a new house. He is an ex-cop who now juggles several trades and she works in a pharmacy and was born and raised a cheese head from Green Bay.

The barter system is alive and well at a Buffett tailgate. Cap'n Jack was the first to make our acquaintance, as he came over asking for a bottle opener. Mrs. Snap saw that he was holding two Land Shark Lagers, so she ended up trading him a Michelob Ultra for one. A slightly inebriated 24-year-old Grand Rapids Parrothead stopped by our tailgate wearing a grass skirt and numerous lays around his neck,asking if I had a cigar for him. I traded him a cigar for his neckware for my sister-in-law. Before long, Cap'n Jack, ex-cop guy, Snap and I were all puffing away on cigars, drinking ale, trading stories, and just having a good time.

I thought to myself that tailgating at a Buffett concert should be a microcosm of how we interact with neighbors, coworkers, even strange passerbys. Unfortunately that is usually not the case. Cap'n Jack says life is good and I'm not going to argue with him on that. It's just that it would be better if life were a perpetual parrothead tailgate.

Oh yah, the show was great!

Freep article on the show


  1. Great post. It strikes me that Parrotheads are a "tribe." Everyone in that parking lot knows that everybody else belongs to their tribe--they don't have to establish trust-- it's already there. Being in that situation is great fun since everybody accepts everybody else- at least on the "Parrothead Tribe" let's-have- a-party level. I think that hockey and college football are tribal too. But the Parrothead Tribe is a party tribe, not a "my team must win" tribe. The great thing is that there was no way the Parrothead tribe could lose!

  2. That's a good way to look at it! Parrotheads kind of look like that tribe of indians in South America!