Fins Up for the Gulf Coast; Thumbs Down for the Networks

I am a Parrothead.  And a proud one at that.  There’s something about the escapism in the mixture of rock, folk and reggae from a tropical-themed stage filled with members of the Coral Reefer Band.  There’s something, too, about the carefree attitude and the free-flowing margaritas found so easily before any show.

Yes, I know that Jimmy Buffett doesn’t quite look at things in the same way that I do.  And yes, I know that in terms of political involvement, Buffett has gone from abstention–”I ran away from politics, it is too bizarre at home,” he sang in Far Side of the World, from the eponymous album he released in 2002, his 33rd record–to knee-jerk, emotion-filled partisanship–”To me it was more about eight years of bad policy before (Obama) got there that let this happen. It was Dracula running the blood bank in terms of oil and leases,” he told the Associated Press last week–but I am ready, willing and able to give the man a pass.

Was his criticism of George W. Bush and his administration, as it pertained to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, ill-informed?  Absolutely.  The Bush administration gave the Deepwater Horizon–the rig which sank and caused this whole mess–six different safety citations, while the Obama administration, the ones so blameless in Jimmy Buffett’s eyes, actually gave the rig a safety award last year.

But, again, I give him a pass.  Wanna know why?

Well, as I write this, my television is tuned to CMT.  On that channel–check the higher numbers of your digital cable listings to see if you get it–Jimmy Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band is playing a benefit event live on the coast in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  As far as I know, he’s the only celebrity out there to do anything of the sort.  Heck, he’s the only one even talking about it.

When a tsunami came ashore in Indonesia, every celebrity seemed overnight to have their own foundation.  NBC, ABC and CBS simulcast a benefit program featuring A-listers, D-listers and everyone in between, appealing to the giving nature of Americans from coast to coast.  When an earthquake shook Burma to its core, again the celebrities came out in droves, and again the networks responded.  And when the Haitian capital city was ravaged by another quake, again the celebrities came out, again the networks responded.  That time, it was simulcast in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.  That time, everyone from George Clooney to Wyclef Jean to Kathy Griffin–I think–were involved.

Yet when a true disaster happens on our own shores, when it is American working-class families who are living without, confronted with uncertain futures, where are the celebrities?  Where are they?  Where is the same awareness that so many strove for when the trouble occurred abroad?

Silence.  Except for one.  Jimmy Buffett.

Buffett has never held himself out as the greatest singer in the world.  But he’s built an empire on being able to turn stages and amphitheaters in places like Camden, New Jersey and Cincinnati, Ohio into places like St. Kitts, St. Thomas and even Gulf Shores, Alabama.  He has built a brand, and in the face of complete and utter silence from everyone else, Jimmy Buffett was there.

And you could find him on CMT.  Not NBC.  Not ABC.  Not CBS.  Who cares that thousands of families are wondering where their next paycheck is coming from?  Who cares that thousands of businesses normally bustling in cities dotting the coastlines in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are now wanting for customers and traffic?  Big Brother was on.  Dateline was airing its Sunday night installment.  Forget Jimmy Buffett and the Gulf Coast.  Call back, maybe, if the disaster reaches Cuba and Jay-Z gets involved.

So, this evening, it was Fins Up for the Gulf Coast, and Thumbs Down for the networks.  And, as for Jimmy Buffett — while I’m sure that many Parrotheads like myself are throwing out their albums and hanging up the seashell bikini-tops and grass skirts, I’m giving him a pass.  I don’t care whether he’s right or left.  I don’t even care whether he’s right or wrong with where he places blame.  The Gulf Coast is in trouble, its people are floundering, he sees it, and he’s daring to do something about it.

Spot a problem?  See Americans in trouble?  Either you do everything you can to help, or you go golfing.  Again.  Buffett is a good guy.  He did what he could.

That much, I like.  It provides, dare I say, a little escapism from the reality that too often sees disaster confronted with talk alone, or with sweeping changes in policy more related to an encroachment on freedom than to the problem such changes were designed to solve.  Action, it seems, is refreshing.  Kind of like a margarita.



  1. Elle Cie says:
  2. Karla says:

    Jeez, Jeff… that is why I’ve pretty much given up on reading this blog anymore. Does Buffet even care about what is happening to the environment and people? I see this as he’s making a political statement and turning a blind eye to Obama’s complicity. Obama should be charged with criminal negligence for not allowing other countries and American business men to help.

  3. Jeff Schreiber says:


    I read it as Buffett being a musician, traveling within a certain crowd, told certain things over and over and over again, merely parroting (pun intended) the standard leftie talking points. The value, for me at least, is in actions rather than words, and when it comes to ACTIONS, Buffett is showing himself to really, truly care about the area he grew up in.

    I’ve read his books. It’s a love affair he has. He’s umbilically connected to the temperate zone; it brought him life, it brought him love, it brought him things he’s never outgrown. His actions should be the barometer by which he should be measured. The rest, I chalk it up to just not searching for truth. I have liberal friends and family, good people, who just don’t want to hear the truth, because it shakes everything they know and have known to the core. I was once one of them. I understand it. That Buffett is being the only big name to step up, though, says something.


  4. Mum is the word says:

    Three networks v. three chord songs

  5. nana3 says:

    I have reluctantly had to agree that Buffett is an why should I expect anything else other than the standard liberal BS. It was good for our area economically and took our minds off the fact that the well is gushing full steam as we were listening to “Margaritaville”. I wish Jimmy and others would REALLY look for the TRUTH and realize what a disaster is upon us. ‘THEY’ are not telling us just how bad and dangerous it is, the air, the water, the clean-up, the toxic dispersant etc. We are sitting here every day in a massive chemical cess pool, going about our business trying to make a living and live a normal life. Our children and the most vulnerable from a health standpoint are in grave danger but the sun comes up and everything seems somewhat ‘normal’. We are involved in a giant experiment and our lives and health are not being protected by our government or BP. We are ‘Wasting Away in a Black Wave’….the Black Wave is a documentary about the EXXON Valdez spill. I give Buffett credit for trying to help and as you said, no one else seems interested. After all, it doesn’t really matter what he thinks of Bush or Obama…it is irrelevant at this point. We need prayers more than entertainers because our only hope is in God.

  6. Boston Blackie says:

    I too have been a parrothead since first seeing Buffet in a bar in FL back in the late seventies. I was annoyed by his comments about Bush and the free pass given to Obeyme since he has never been political before. However, he is putting his money where his mouth is – not like so many Hollywood elites. Once again, when it comes to helping our fellow Americans the lame stream media did not step up to give free air time. It reminds me of back in May while channel cruising, I came upon a telethon for the mid Tennessee flood victims. Again, nothing from the lame stream media to draw attention to the cause. It was, like the Buffet concert, on one of the country music channels. Though I had extensive damage to my own home from flooding, including no roof, I had to give to TN(and Buffet)as my mother raised me to. I do not say this to toot my horn, but to show that if asked Americans will help their fellow citizens. Not everyone says let the government take care of it. There but for the grace of God go I.

  7. Boston Blackie says:

    “We need prayers more than entertainers because our only hope is in God.”

    No truer words have been spoken. The Gulf Coast states are in for a dramatic loss of wildlife – something Cape Cod experienced in 1969 when a barge spilled 200-thousand gallons of oil into salt water marsh. The oil is still evident 40 years later. However, nobody is addressing the human impact. The clean up crews are dressed as if they are touching radio activate material yet we are being told to come on down – the beaches, water and air are fine.

    You are in my prayers.

  8. HonestAmerican says:

    I know Buffett, personally. Have for many years.

    Last time I saw him, he was carrying his own mortar and pistil around a suite at the Hyatt giving everybody a big snort.

    I thought he had stopped all that and grown up but perhaps he hasn’t.

  9. T.I.M. says:

    It is fascinating how the stars come out in force when it helps Obama to look good, but keep to their mansions when appearances might reflect on Obama’s utter lack of success (or effective action). Makes me wonder if those conference calls to the artistic community aren’t in force again — urging
    “restraint” until this crisis is behind us.

    And Jeff — the term is correct. Music aside, we have a nation of people who use their heads to parrot whatever the administration tells them. If only they were also a nation with the critical ability to parse-it.

  10. Gail B. says:

    Let’s not forget that God blessed Jimmy Buffet with his talent.

    I enjoyed Buffet in the 1980s down in the Keys; and if he wants to use his talent to help the Gulf Coast folks today, more power to him! Who else has done anything?

  11. nana3 says:

    Thank you, Boston Blackie…I am old enough to have seen a lot of natural disasters and have always felt we could overcome them…somehow this seems different. My concern is for the children because they will have exposure to these chemicals when their bodies are developing. I worry for the expectant mothers and the elderly. And of course, I hurt for those whose financial future is in jeopardy. Bless you and I pray that you have recovered from your damage. The uneasy feeling that this disaster has been manipulated by people with ulterior motives who will not reveal the truth is overwhelming. Our country is facing many challenges and by the grace of God and support from each other, we will endure.

  12. Glee says:

    Now HERE is something to sing about:

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly 60 percent of American voters say they lack faith in President Barack Obama, according to a public opinion poll published on Tuesday.

    The results of the Washington Post/ABC News poll are a reversal of what voters said at the start of Obama’s presidency 18 months ago when about 60 percent expressed confidence in his decision making.

  13. Justine says:

    I’m disappointed, Jeff, in both Buffet and you. Our country has gotten to where it is because we have failed to question the left. You give Buffet a pass simply because he gives a concert to aid the gulf coast, while at the same time supports Obama’s clear malfeasance toward the gulf disaster?


  14. Boston Blackie says:

    What amazes me when I see these polls is that it is ONLY 60%. I guess a portion of the other 40% are young adults that know more about what’s happening with the Kardashians than with the Gulf Coast region and this admin’s comings and goings.

  15. Michael says:

    Buffett was right on Bush (I’m a libertarian, not a GOPer – both major parties and basically all presidents are absolutely awful, especially warmonger like Bush & Obama) and he’s right to stick by his home and people when disaster strikes. We need more high-profile folks like Buffett stepping up now. God bless you, Jimmy!

  16. We're No. 2, We're No. 2 says:

    BEIJING (AFP) – China on Tuesday rejected an assessment from the International Energy Agency that it had surpassed the United States to become the world’s top energy consumer, calling the data “unreliable”.

    The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal cited a top IEA official as saying the Asian giant had taken over the top spot in 2009, earlier than expected.

    ———————- so quit beating up on us now, Mr. Gore, and your minions

  17. Walt says:


    As you know, I too am a huge Parrothead, and only have one person to blame for it. YOU!!! Who knows, maybe it was the fact that you completely saw the rationality behind driving 450+- miles from Philadelphia to Greensboro for my first show because there were no tickets left in Camden, (which was a short 15 minute drive from home.) Or, could it have been the subsequent 8 years of shows which have taught us numerous life lessons including; how to maneuver a 30ft RV through a congested parking lot, looking for the ideal parking spot and tailgating site along the Delaware River, or discovering that those funny-looking, bowl-shaped straw hats are in fact one of the world’s engineering modern marvels, since filling those hats with ice surely saved our lives from the blistering 105 degree August afternoon.

    Regardless, the true draw and secret behind this phenomenon is the escape from the rigours of everyday life and our constant pursuit of success we feel is mandatory, especially within the region of the world in which we live. Even if for just an afternoon, we can escape the “social norms” and act as individuals without feeling as if there is a certain protocol in which we need to obey.

    Mr. Buffett has shown by his actions that although he has experienced tremendous professional success as an entertainer, he too is an individual, who still supports the people of the gulf coast, even when the other “icons” of entertainment turn a blind eye to the catastrophe located off our very own shores.

    Simply put, he exhibited personal responsibility. He had an opportunity to help and he took advantage of it in a way in which he knew how. Not because it was going to put him on some major spotlight (sorry CMT) but because it was what he felt was right.

    The hard truth is that it may be impossible to ever change the perception of the masses, and the only thing we can control is our own reaction to life’s events. Some people wait for others to help, while others don’t waste time and start picking up the pieces on their own. Sometimes we see pictures of people waiting in line of a handout or government aid and sometimes no photos are ever taken, because instead of picking up a camera, they pick up of shovel in order to scoop up some oil-contaminated sand off the beach, or they’re piling up sand bags, so the flood waters which just destroyed their home, doesn’t do the same to their neighbor’s.

    Jeff, you’re right. It’s not about right or left. It’s not about one opinion or the other. It’s about action!! Action is the only thing which will produce results. If each one of us acted in ways which would produce the greatest results in our own lives, and focused on our own responsibilities, the results would be exponential and the effect would be felt by all.

    Thank God for giving us the ability to practice personal responsibility…

    Thank every single person who served in our military for protecting our right to practice personal responsibility..

    and thank artist like Jimmy Buffet, who give us the songs which run though in our heads while we work to control the destiny of our own lives…

  18. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Very well put, Walt.

    For those who don’t know him, Walt is a very good friend of mine, a die-hard conservative, and my daughter’s Godfather. I’ve been after him for a while to submit some stuff here at AR–he and I had lunch a few days after I started the site, and I think I asked him then to contribute–but he’s always so darned busy, taking personal responsibility and pursuing success and what not.

    Nevertheless, we do tend to cut loose from time to time. Yes, the sign says “NO TAILGATING.” Whoops.

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