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Margaritaville Lives

We picnic with Parrotheads, get literary with book-minded bands and witness an old-fashioned blues royale

It's about half-past three coconut-rum Jell-O shots and a quarter till a fourth Corona, but according to the barefoot, steel-drumming James "Sunny Jim" White -- and the 200 or so pholks who've phlocked to the St. Louis Parrot Head Club's sixth annual beach party on July 9 -- it's five o'clock somewhere.

Though Lake St. Louis' Windjammer Point Pavilion isn't quite paradise, the STLPHC is sating its collective self on cheeseburgers, raising money for the Save the Manatee Club -- Parrot Heads in Paradise Inc.'s motto is "Party with a Purpose" -- and offering theories on why, for the fifth year running, their beloved Jimmy Buffett isn't playing a summer concert date at the UMB Bank Pavilion.

"I heard the previous owners wanted xpercent of sales of his merchandise, and that's where the main conflict started," says Jerry Turnbow, keyboardist for St. Louis band PHINS. "With three core members of his band from St. Louis, you'd think they could work something out."

Gatsby's American Dream
Gatsby's American Dream

White, who makes his living performing at Parrot Head gatherings and is mentioned in Buffett's 1999 memoir, A Pirate Looks at Fifty, thinks otherwise.

"I think the Howard Kaufman agency -- Jimmy's agent -- those guys control everything," he says. "Basically [Buffett] shows up and plays all the major concerts, though he still does all the smaller things he wants to do. So it's probably a management decision relating to logistics."

Still, some have a theory that Buffett has boycotted the Clear Channel-owned venue because of Maryland Heights' City Ordinance 95, which prohibits tailgating and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the UMB parking lot for safety reasons.

But STLPHC president Dennis Arnold denies the parking lot/politics connection.

"A Jimmy Buffett concert is 20,000 of his closest friends," Arnold says. "I have never seen an argument or a fight at a Buffett concert. Even with as many margaritas as they tend to get in them, there's no friction." Arnold points out that despite a similar policy prohibiting tailgating, Buffett will play the Verizon Wireless Music Center in Indianapolis on August 31.

Eric Blockie, executive director of UMB Bank Pavilion, agrees that there's not a link.

"There's no correlation between what goes on out in the parking lots and in here," he says, noting that the ordinance also prevents the Mobil station on Riverport Drive from selling alcohol on show dates. "Jimmy Buffett has simply massively toned down his tour schedule. Financially, it's a great date for us, though. We'd love to have him."

In the meantime, the STLPHC will keep mixing the frozen concoctions that help them hang on and know that it's probably nobody's fault.

"We're just lucky to have the club and their many events," says "unofficial Southeast district representative" Dan Brown, who drove two hours from Jackson, Missouri, to attend. "We've got several bands that, even though they could never really replace Jimmy, do a decent job.

"And we roadtrip. If you're a Muslim, you go to Mecca. If you're a Parrot Head, you go to Buffett." -- Julie Seabaugh

Word Up
Don't look now, but we've reached the halfway point of summertime, and you high school students will be wrestling with summer reading lists before you know it. Luckily, many rock & roll bands have drawn inspiration from several great American novelists, taking their names -- and sometimes literary cues -- from actual writers. So, in the spirit of Cliffs Notes (and to save you kiddos the trouble of actually reading the books), we offer CritNotes, a rockin' alternative to summer reading.

Reading Assignment: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Synopsis:Playboy millionaire attempts to recapture his lost love among the charlatans and hangers-on of the East Coast

CritNotes Suggests: Emo four-piece Gatsby's American Dream, whose very name evokes a cribbed essay

Sample Literary Passage: "I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited -- they went there.... Once there they were introduced by somebody who knew Gatsby and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with amusement parks."

As Translated by the Band:"Show me a swollen-headed hotshot son of a bitch/ Who licks his lips caked with glory/And ghosts in fine suits will go dance with contracts in their hands" (from "Shhhhhh! I'm Listening to Reason")

Reading Assignment: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)

Synopsis:A family's ordeal with its matriarch's death, as told by each of the family members

CritNotes Suggests: San Diego metal-hardcore Christian band (and apparent Faulkner junkies) As I Lay Dying

Sample Literary Passage: "When they told me she was dying, all that night I wrestled with Satan, and I emerged victorious. I woke to the enormity of my sin; I saw the true light at last, and I fell on my knees and confessed to God and asked His guidance and received it."

As Translated by the Band: "Through this pain I refine/Tearing me from within/ Screaming to be released but held fast by Your love" (from "Torn Within")

Reading Assignment: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

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