Friday, May 26, 2006

The Man Behind the Curtain

It is always beautiful in Key West. Maybe it’s the place, (laid back); maybe it’s the people, (not the ones Clay refers to as dirt bags – he’s doing a calendar so you’ll know who they are). Maybe the fact that the weather is perfect (except for during a hurricane but even I bet it was beautiful, just treacherous). Anyway, it is beautiful, especially around sunset. That’s when the place to be in Louie’s Backyard. Tourists go to the Hyatt or other similar locations on the ‘other side of the island’-- that’s the honky-tonk side, where the cruise ships come in, you drink at an overpriced Sloppy Joe’s, and if you’re lucky you will find Clay holding court at the “Last Flight Out” Just the Clay experience is worth whatever the trip costs.

People who live in Key West meet up at Louie’s just before the sun sets and yes some of us have seen the green flash – but usually after a few mojitos. Or right after sunset when the sky is still only a little pink and gold but it’s already night according to the clouds. And that’s when most of the tourists are rushing to have dinner somewhere else—although Louie’s does dinner but it is a little pricey.

Dink, Soozie and I were finishing up another round of some wonderful liquid when Jimmy walked in. One important element in this story is Dink. Born and raised in Key West, his parents were closely connected to Ernest Hemingway and were the keepers of a great deal of his history – photo’s, writing, chachka’s, etc. (It isn’t sacrilegious to refer to Ernest Hemingway crap as Chachka’s is it?) Anyway, Dink is a Key West character in the nicest sense. He is generous with his time, his home and the people he knows, and he knows everyone.

It was a little dark when Jimmy arrived and no one seemed to notice his arrival. He was unencumbered by an entourage or any security. He just walked in, saw Dink, said hello, and sat down. It happened to be next to me. We talked for about two or three minutes and then Dink did introductions. “Iris, I’m sure you must know Jimmy Buffett.” He said casually. “Sure”, I replied. Who doesn’t know Jimmy Buffett, I thought. We talked for about half an hour and two more rounds. He didn’t drink a margarita. Soozie, who was on the other side of the table, kept mouthing “Who is that?” But now the only lights were from the bar and I was afraid he would see me mouth the information back – I couldn’t be subtle in the dark, and that would have been too embarrassing—we were supposed to know who he was. We sat there for another half hour and had a fairly substantive conversation about New Orleans. I suggested he be the voice for all the people who were still struggling and he suggested he was doing all he could. The conversation went from “here’s a good idea” to “who do you know in politics?” It turned out that he knew Bill Dixon, one of the smartest, most savvy, great political people (politics in the largest sense) and fortunately my friend. We talked about Dixon and some other wild people we had in common and he told me he had been searching for Dixon for years. “I love Dixon, he’s so great, I can’t wait to talk to him”, he said excitedly. “Don’t have google huh? I said.

We were getting hungry and since we try not to do pricey every night we left for Salute. A fabulous restaurant on the beach. We got up and Soozie said, “I’m sorry I must have missed your name.” “Jimmy Buffett,” he answered. “Sorry not to have had more of a chance to talk to you.” “Me too,” she said. And we left. Then it hit her. “Holy Shit!!, she said. “That was Jimmy Buffett!!” I gave another “duh” but this time it was a bit more animated.
I sent Dixon Jimmy’s e-mail and did the same with Jimmy. Yes, I do have his e-mail and no before anyone asks. Then I called Dixon to find out if he had ever been in touch. He hadn’t. I was surprised since Jimmy seemed so excited about it, but what I have generally found it that celebrities don’t want to work at anything—they are so used to someone else doing it. Jimmy was on NBC Today, today. Here’s a guy who is unquestionably a marketing genius. I mean let’s be honest, he’s done the same 10 cute songs for a million years and has made a billion dollars on products – parrot hats t-shirts, margaritaville, whatever. And I guess I wonder why you wouldn’t get in touch with someone like Dixon, who have crafted real change in the country, to help you do the same for the people you consider your own, who still are hurting from the hurricane last year and about to face more. Don’t get me wrong, I loved talking to him, he’s a very nice person and I’m sure he’s done a few concerts for hurricane victims, but I expected more from the man behind the curtain. We’re just sayin…


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