A conversation on social media about Jimmy Buffett surprised me. We asked people to describe their idea of Margaritaville.
For the most part, the question elicited fun, perhaps predictable, answers. For many, the idea of Margaritaville conjured flip-flops, a little booze — maybe a lot — and a long day on the beach. But for others, the question induced some nose-wrinkling and jabs at what they saw as an affectation and commercialization born from Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 song about a care-free lifestyle in a tropical climate.
It’s true, Buffett found fame and fortune singing about a blown-out flip-flop and a frozen concoction that helped him hang on. And it’s also true, the corporate Buffett, who has tanker surfed in Galveston, was too busy for an interview with Coast Monthly.
But when I hear the song “Margaritaville,” I think mostly of a certain freedom, the kind many people try to bottle on their trips to the coast, wishing they too could stay all season as they pack up the beach house and return to the daily grind.
By now, most of the tourists covered in oil have gone. But as you’ll find in these pages, Margaritaville, to Buffett fans who call themselves Parrot Heads, remains. It’s a lifestyle many locals live each day, and visitors chase as they seek that certain freedom and ease by the sea.
When we think of Margaritaville, it isn’t the tourist-driven resorts. We think of a state of mind. As several readers and Parrot Heads put it, Jimmy Buffett’s songs are like mini-vacations, reviving good memories or offering a brief escape. What’s not to celebrate about that?
And we couldn’t feature Parrot Heads without featuring a few real parrots — some wild, some pets — who have a lot of attitude, as you’ll read in this issue.
Whatever you make of Buffett today and his Margaritaville empire, and wherever you’re reading this, we hope this issue, like his songs, offers an escape to the upper Texas coast.
We’d like to thank Moody Gardens and its staff in Galveston for introducing us to Gabe (Gabriel), a blue and gold macaw or Ara ararauna.
And we’d like to point out that neither Gabe nor any other animal at the vast educational tourist destination consumed a margarita during the cover shoot for this issue.
While Gabe’s exact age is unknown, he has called Moody Gardens his home for 23 years.
Gabe is an ambassador animal at Moody Gardens, known for its Aquarium and Rainforest pyramids, Palm Beach and more. The ambassador animals participate in Moody Gardens’ program, including birthday parties, camps and workshops to educate guests about various species, habitat and conservation.
Visit moodygardens.com for more information.