A pirate looks at 70. And, canny pirate that he is, Jimmy Buffett sees a sprawling community for 10,500 hoary parrotheads — a tequila-drenched retirement stopover on their way to rock ’n’ roll heaven.
No entertainer has quite diversified his rock ’n’ roll portfolio like Buffett, with the possible exception of the posthumous Elvis. (Last week, the never-say-die Presley estate opened up a $137 million, 40-acre expansion across from Graceland, including a diner specializing in grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Take that, “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”)
Buffett and his investors, exploiting his most ubiquitous barroom hit, have opened eight Margaritaville resort hotels (with a ninth underway in Kissimmee), a casino, more than two dozen Margaritaville restaurants, some in airports and on cruise ships, a passel of Cheeseburger in Paradise hamburger joints and so many 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bars.
Jimmy’s chain of gift shops peddle Margaritaville chips, dip, barbecue, spicy frozen shrimp, margarita salt tins, headphones, beach chairs, pool floats and Margaritaville brand rum and tequila to go with industrial-sized $400 Margaritaville blenders.
The Buffett musical “Escape to Margaritaville” is set to open on Broadway in 2018. Obviously, Buffett’s adherents, despite so many million brain cells lost to alcohol consumption, boast considerable disposable income (or an utter lack of impulse control).
But they ain’t getting any younger. Buffett (the Steve Jobs of margaritas) can see that. As Jimmy Kimmel noted last week, “It’s easy to build a Jimmy Buffett retirement community. Just hold a Jimmy Buffett concert and lock the doors.”
Other aging rockers might look out at their crowds and see a wrinkled, withering fan base. Buffett sees opportunity. So he and his partner, Minto Communities (builders of the more conventional Artesia development in Sunrise) figure his fans will pay $200,000 to $350,000 to live out their golden oldie years in mythical Margaritaville. Latitude Margaritaville, west of Daytona Beach (with a shuttle service to a private beach club), marketed to the “55 and better” set, figures to be America’s first rock ’n’ roll retirement joint. (Though Laguna Woods, a retirement community in California, claims, proudly, to be the first municipality in Orange County to allow cannabis dispensaries.)
The usual retirement village amenities — fitness center, indoor lap pool, spa, art classes — come with a band shell and an array of Margaritaville bars and restaurants. Parrotheads can literally rock until they drop.
Margaritaville Holdings claims that some 10,000 Buffett freaks have already indicated they want in. Which makes sense. Latitude Margaritaville is perfectly timed, a retirement community catering to an aging generation that can hardly come to terms with growing old. You can see them, so many gray hairs, still packing arenas to see (and hear if their hearing aids are functional) their aging rock idols. More like rockers with walkers. Except the pills they’re smuggling into the concerts are more likely to be Lipitor and Celebrex. Woodstock circa 2017: “Stay away from the brown Zoloft.”
Us baby boomers might be less about hip than hip replacements, but we don’t want to boogie gentle into that good night. As Mott the Hoople sang (1974) Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh. You gotta stay young, you can never grow old.
Organizers of the famed rock festival Coachella last year offered oldsters Desert Trip (better known as Oldchella) near Palm Springs, featuring the even-older-than-Jimmy Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and the Who. Little Feat might not have been there, but their prescient 1977 anthem captured the spirit of us rockers gone ancient:
Off Our Rockers, Actin’ Crazy
With the Right Medication We Won’t Be Lazy
Doin’ the Old Folks Boogie
Down On the Farm
Wheelchairs, They Was Locked Arm in Arm
Paired Off Pacemakers With Matchin’ Alarms
Gives Us Jus’ One More Chance
To Spin One More Yarn.
Now, everybody join in:
And You Know That You’re Over the Hill
When Your Mind Makes a Promise That Your Body Can’t Fill
Doin’ the Old Folks Boogie
You gotta figure other old rockers and their financial advisers will emulate Buffett. I’m signing up for the the Bruce Springsteen Nursing Home. (Born to Limp.) Followed, in quick succession, by the AC/DC Hospice, AKA “Highway to Hell.”
Meanwhile, can somebody help me remember what the hell I did with that lost shaker of salt?