The Kudzu Kronicle

Because not all Southerners are the same

Dodging snowflakes with Jimmy Buffett

One of the great things about a Jimmy Buffett concert is the way folks from all kinds of different backgrounds and persuasions come together as one wonderfully weird and colorful — if somewhat inebriated — flock (or “phlock for us Parrotheads).

Most of that experience happens in the afternoon of tailgating before the show, which is more of a show than the show itself. Friends and strangers share food and drinks, high-five, dance together, splash around in inflatable pools, throw leis and beads and roam from pickup tailgates to tents to makeshift tiki huts, palm trees, ships and volcanoes. I’ve been to eight (or nine) Buffett shows and I’ve never seen a single fight. For the cops roaming a parking lot full of tailgating Parrotheads, it’s about as easy an assignment as they’ll ever have.

My wife (then girlfriend) and I at a Buffett show in 2011

However, these fun festivities likely have ground to a screeching halt because I haven’t been there in years. In fact, because of various work commitments and bad timing, I haven’t been to a Buffett concert since 2012. I can only assume that Parrotheads have somehow managed to carry on without my presence — as difficult as that might be. Fortunately, we can rev up the party once again as I’ve secured a couple of tickets for the Thursday, April 25, show at Ameris Amphitheatre in Alpharetta — a town those of us below the Gnat Line refer to as “Atlanta.” Roswell, Decatur, Norcross, Kennesaw, Duluth, Conyers, etc., are all “Atlanta” to us.

But I did notice a little something different while buying tickets this time — snowflakes.

Granted, the whole ticket-buying experience has shifted to online, which has made it easier to secure passage to the show. (In fact, my ticket is a virtual ticket with a QR code on my phone.) If you miss out during the few minutes it usually takes for them to sell out, you can pay a little more later to get them on sites like StubHub. This is much better than the early days when a bunch of grown folks in Hawaiian shirts would gather at the Ticketmaster counter inside places like the Publix on Bradley Park Drive in Columbus (where I repeatedly failed to secure tickets) and linger for an hour until they went on sale while teenagers running the checkout lanes would look around bewilderingly wondering, “Why are all these tropical old people hanging around? Are they lost?” Continue reading

Sometimes, resolutions are for the Dawgs

Every year, I make a few New Year’s resolutions. I don’t usually make them public because the last thing I need in my life is someone holding me accountable to what I say or write. It’d be like if President Trump said something like, “We’re gonna build a big, beautiful wall, and Mexico is gonna pay for it,” and his supporters actually held him to it.

No, I can’t handle accountability any more than he can. Unfortunately, I can’t blame everybody else — Democrats, the fake news, the Fed, Rosie O’Donnell — for my failures. If I make a resolution, publicly, I’ve got to own it.

Over the years I’ve privately made the resolution to lose 15 pounds in the coming year with a combination of better eating and more exercise. I’ve made that resolution so many times that by now I should weigh approximately minus-125 pounds. Having recently purchased a couple pair of new blue jeans for the winter — assuming it gets cold enough to wear them — I can verify that I must not weigh minus-125 pounds. Continue reading

Debriefing Santa Claus

Today we celebrate Christmas Day — or Jimmy Buffett’s birthday if you’re more into being a Parrothead than into religion. Better yet, throw on a tropical shirt, put on that “A1A” album and open some presents. After all, the jolly old elf Santa Claus put a lot of work into circumnavigating the Earth last night in search of good little boys and girls to leave presents under the tree.

Unfortunately, Santa is an unusually foul mood today. I caught up with him for a little interview about how the night went and plans for next Christmas.

Me: Merry Christmas, Santa!

SC: Yeah, yeah. You got five minutes. Make it snappy. Continue reading

2019: The year in preview

As we say goodbye to 2018 — also adios, farewell, and go crawl back under whatever horrible rock you came from to 2018 — we can rest assured that 2019 can’t possibly be as irritating, mainly because there are no midterm elections. And in Georgia there is no gubernatorial election, which means the next time Brian Kemp points a gun at a teenager, he could get arrested for it.

It has become an annual tradition for, literally, dozens of people across the nation to curl up with my annual Year in Preview. Anybody can report on what happened in the year 2018, but only someone like me with no sense of responsibility whatsoever can look ahead and provide a sneak peek into actual events guaranteed to happen in 2019 with the obvious caveat of unless they don’t.

So, without further ado thanks to the high tariffs on all the ado from China, let’s get right to it with a look at …

JANUARY Continue reading

With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you …

At the end of every episode of “Barney and Friends,” a giant purple slightly-too-happy tyrannosaurus rex led the show’s young stars in singing the “I Love You” song:

I love you/You love me/We’re a happy family/With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you/Won’t you say you love me too?

Children happily sang along because Barney would eat children who did not cooperate — a scene more brutal than any in “Jurassic Park” because Barney had no incisors, just a bunch of molars which required hours of grinding the children down into digestible portions.

We sure could use Barney right now, not just to do away with uncooperative children but to teach us about love, harmony and being a part of one big happy family. Unfortunately, Barney was canceled in 2009 after becoming the first celebrity caught up in the #MeToo movement when he gave great big hugs and kisses to Stella the Storyteller without her consent. Despite producing a calendar showing he was out having beers with friends at the Pterodactyl Club when the incident supposedly happened, Barney lost his show. He was last spotted in September singing “The Clean-Up Song” while collecting aluminum cans along a roadside in Topeka to support his drug habit.

If you’re still reading, my point is that we have endured a brutal election season that finally ends today. With only two viable political parties, tribalism and partisanship is out of control. Also, if you’re still reading, what kind of freak are you? No one reads anything longer than a Tweet anymore. That’s why Americans grow more stupid every day. SMDH Continue reading

10 Jimmy Buffett songs perfect for your Hurricane Michael playlist

(Note: Yes, I posted this same thing last September when Irma hit. I put a lot of sweat into changing the word Irma to Michael as Margaritahill is under threat of yet another tropical storm, this time a little stronger.)

I love the beach. Unfortunately, I live three hours from the nearest coast.

But, thanks to Hurricane Michael, it looks like I’ll have a tropical couple of days here in Perry, Georgia. Of course, Michael should be merely a strong tropical storm by the time it gets here as the ensemble models have him tracking right over my house. Ben Jones at WMAZ-13 TV in Macon just reported, “We see Michael hitting Chris Johnson’s house and Margaritahill starting about 9 a.m. Monday. And speaking of ensemble models, we expect Chris to be modeling an ensemble featuring flip-flops, cargo shorts and a Margaritaville shirt with the sleeves cut off about that time — in other words, his formal wear for this special occasion.”

As a Parrothead, I’ll be sure to greet Michael properly with a margarita in hand and Jimmy Buffett tunes playing. I’ll have to make sure these 10 hurricane-related songs are on the playlist. (If you have any that should be added, let me know in the comments below.)

Bama Breeze (2006)
This song was a tribute to the legendary Flora-Bama, a collection of bars on the Florida-Alabama line that got mostly blown away by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It has since been rebuilt.
Sample:
In 1984 Mick Jagger passed through town
Bought the house a round
Signed his name on the wall
In the ladies bathroom stall

Nobody Speaks to the Captain No More (1986)
“Floridays” was Jimmy’s best album of the 1980s.
Sample:
He was a fugitive with a pseudo name
Lost his mind in a hurricane
Coconut upside his head
People said he’d be better dead

Perrier Blues (1978)
This was off Jimmy’s first live album, recorded at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre — with a broken leg, no less. He said he wrote it while in a hurricane hole in Nassau, Bahamas, riding out a storm while listening to a Jackson Browne album.
Sample:
Ridin’ high atop the main mast
Harbor stretched out below
All day I’ve been feelin’ kind of half-assed
So I asked the boy to lower me slow
Lower me slow

Landfall (1977)
This is off the “Changes in Latitudes” album that spawned the hit “Margaritaville” — and the billion-dollar industry surrounding that made-up place. My grillin’ pad is called “Margaritahill,” and I expect a cease-and-desist letter from Jimmy any day now.
Sample:
`Cause I’ve seen incredible things in my years
Some days were laughter, others were tears
If I had it all to do over again
I’d just get myself drunk and I’d jump right back in

In the Shelter (1971)
The subject of this song from Jimmy’s folk-singer days wasn’t hiding from a hurricane, but a lot of folks are looking for shelter right now. This is from the “High Cumberland Jubilee” album that the producers “lost” because they didn’t want to release it. Miraculously, they “found” the tapes after Jimmy hit it big.
Sample:
Past the boutique
down the alley to the river people pass her by
Sits on the big gray rocks takes off her boots and socks
And knowing what she will do next
Just starts to cry

No Plane on Sunday  (1986)
Hurricanes leave a lot of folks stranded near airports wondering when they’re gonna be able to leave. Folks who fly to Caribbean islands and third-world countries likely can relate to this song.
Sample:
You can throw your luggage down
Lose your cool and stomp around
But there’s nothin, nothin you can do
Wipe away your girlfriend’s tears
Go to the bar and have some beers
There ain’t no way the bird’s gettin through

Last Man Standing (2002)
“Far Side of the World” is Jimmy’s best album of the 2000s, although that’s not saying a lot. This wasn’t the best song on it, but I hope to be still standing after Wednesday night.
Sample:
Gonna be the last man standing
People crashin’ on the sofas and passed out on the floor
But the last man standing
Sayin’ bring on a little bit more

Survive (1979)
Again, I just hope to survive through the next few days— along with Margaritahill, my grill, the house, my electricity, etc.
Sample:
I play the stereo loud
When I’m away from the maddening crowd
Smokin’, jokin’, clowns we all are

If It All Falls Down (1986)
I’m expecting an awful lot to fall down thanks to Michael— just hope it’s mostly small limbs.
Sample:
Never wanted to be
A part of history
I have my days in the sun
A beach bum, a man for all seasides
Guidance counselor said
Your scores are anti-heroic
Computer recommends
Hard-drinking calypso poet

Tryin’ to Reason with Hurricane Season (1974)
Off “A1A” — which Buffett purists consider the definitive Buffett album — this is one of my go-to strumming songs on my guitar. Easy and, of course, breezy.
Sample:
Squalls out on the gulf stream,
Big storms coming soon.
I passed out in my hammock,
God, I slept way past noon.
Stood up and tried to focus,
I hoped I wouldn’t have to look far.
I knew I could use a Bloody Mary,
So I stumbled next door to the bar.

And, yes, Parrotheads, I left 2009’s “Surfing in a Hurricane” off this list on purpose. It may be the most literal song about an actual hurricane, but it is simply awful. Awful, I say.

TRAVELOGUE: Memphis, Elvis, BBQ and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll

About 10 days ago, I set out for a place I’d never been — Memphis, Tennessee — with a couple of women who are big fans of some guy named Elvis Presley, who is some sort of music or movie star, or a gas station attendant, depending on what magazine covers you like to peruse in the supermarket checkout aisle.

My Mom and my wife Shellie are both Elvis fans, so this trip was for them — especially my Mom who recently had a milestone birthday. My Mom is such a huge Elvis fan that my son hated to break the news to her about Elvis’ passing away, something he learned about somewhere around 2006 or so.

“Memommy,” he said awkwardly from the back seat of a car she was driving. “I don’t know how to tell you this, but Elvis is dead.”

Fortunately, she seemed to take it better than she did in 1977, so Saylor figured she must not have been such a big Elvis fan after all to be able to take it in stride like that.

So, this was a trip for the ladies. I just tried to stay out of the way as much as possible and keep as many comments to myself as possible. Along the way, though, I had a great time — and I’ve saved the best spot for last in this little travelogue.

Below are a few thoughts from some of the key points of the road trip, followed by photo slideshows from each attraction. I won’t be offended if you skip all of the brilliant words I’ve composed and go straight to the photos. Americans don’t or can’t read anymore, so I became a writer at the worst possible time. It’s even worse timing than when my great-great-great-great-grandpa decided to become an airline pilot in 1847. It literally took him several months to find a job. Continue reading

Pause the boycott, kick off those New Balance sneakers and enjoy a Kirk Cameron movie

Another week, another boycott. Yawn.

That was me yawning, not Nike, of course. The folks at Nike are jumping up and down and yelling because their sales are soaring. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Colin Kaepernick ad. It likely has more to do with folks who just like to see boycotty snowflakes melt with rage and have fun making it happen.

I admit that I do like to see snowflakes melt — and I’ve found over the last few years that the folks who scream “SNOWFLAKE!” the loudest are often the most easily offended and always feel persecuted. Yes, it is so hard being a straight white male from a long line of privilege. It’s like time-honored values such as misogyny, racism and homophobia are just fading by the wayside. Awww.

I don’t like to see snowflakes melt enough to go out and buy a Nike t-shirt, though. That’s kind of a personal thing with me. I just don’t like shilling for brands and corporations. Well, except Margaritaville. I’ve done enough shilling for that brand that Jimmy ought to let me have one of his retirement homes for free. I did head to the gym last week in a Nike t-shirt that my wife bought me just to see if some loud-mouthed snowflake might have something to say. Just out of curiosity, of course.

Boycotts are nothing new. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was just a little over 60 years ago — when America was “great” — and really helped accelerate the Civil Rights Movement. But lately boycotts have evolved into petty protestations that people do not think the same way you do. “MY THOUGHTS SHALL NEVER BE CHALLENGED!”

Lately right-wingers have boycotted — or at least said they were boycotting (but not really) — Netflix, the NFL, Nordstroms, Starbucks, Target, Anheuser-Busch, Macys, Nabisco, Amazon and Pepsi. Big deal. I’ve been boycotting Pepsi for years, but for the right reason — taste. And last I checked, Amazon is doing quite well as Jeff Bezos makes more money in a day than President Trump pays out daily to keep various women quiet. That is not fake news because I got it straight from an aninominunimous source inside the White House who guarantees Bezos makes more money in a day than that. He makes more money in a day than I will in 1,247 lifetimes. Continue reading

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