Sunday, November 14, 2004

Cheeseburger in blogdom.

The forces of Immunity have mostly vanquished the dread Virus Hordes, so I'm in a writing mood again.

Going into work on Friday I saw a circus train idling on a railroad siding on the northwest side of Chicago. I know from seeing bus advertisements that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is in town, and besides that every one of about 30 passenger cars and a couple of the flatbed cars had the circus’ name on it.

Other than the name, they were pretty ordinary-looking train cars, maybe even Amtrak leftovers. Someone in RBB&B’s marketing department has let the ball drop. These train cars could be sporting some pretty cool circus murals.

I’ve never been all that enthralled with circuses, though I’ve seen some good ones, particularly Cirque de Soleil in the late ’80s, before it became a fixture in Las Vegas. That troupe came to Chicago then (maybe for the first time) and pitched an enormous tent on some vacant land near the Chicago River that’s now mostly condos. I got a press pass to see one of the shows, without really knowing what I was going to see. Magnificent indeed, though as much vertical theater or airborne ballet as circus: perhaps a postmodern circus, only a cousin of the Barnum & Bailey world, as phony as it can be, and yet a spectacle anyway.

And now for something completely different. I mentioned parrotheads last week. I don’t know any myself, but my brother Jay knows someone who knew a parrothead, so maybe we’re all three degrees of separation from Jimmy Buffett’s true believers.

“The curate at St. John's, Fr. Yost, was a banker in Boston for about ten years before he joined the clergy,” Jay writes. “I can't recall how it came up -- possibly someone was playing something by Jimmy Buffett at the recent campout -- but he said that a member of his staff at the bank was an ardent parrothead. She ran the Boston-area fan newsletter and time off from work whenever Buffett was in the area. This wasn't always convenient for bank operations, he said, but he tolerated it; she would have quit if he'd refused to give her the time off.”

Well, Jimmy’s OK. His songs were on the radio enough in the 1970s to etch themselves in my memory, and I don’t mind. He did some fun songs. But part with money to see him or buy his records? No.

“Margaritaville” of course was his signature song, and grossly overplayed, but I always thought “Cheeseburger in Paradise” was more fun, a rare song that you could taste:

“I like mine with lettuce and tomato,
Heinz 57 and French-fried potatoes.
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer,
Well, good God Almighty which way do I steer? for my

Cheeseburger in paradise…”


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