THE PL@40+10 QUILT
Pirate Looks at 40 + 10 Birthday Present
Jimmy Buffett's "Pirate Looks at 40 Plus 10" Birthday Present
submitted by Jerry Shea, St. MinneSomePlace PHC
In October of 1995, a member of St. MinneSomePlace, Nancy Stratton, suggested that Parrot Heads in Paradise (PHIP) should give Jimmy Buffett a present in honor of his "pirate looks at 40 plus 10" birthday. She suggested each club contribute a club t-shirt to be part of "club logo" quilt. Since I was attending the 4th Meeting of the Minds in New Orleans, I told her I would make the recommendation to the PHIP organization.
At the national Parrot Head convention, I had the opportunity to present the idea to the officers of PHIP and also to Sunshine Smith. The thought was to give Jimmy something he could not otherwise buy; something that was artistic that would appeal to his artistic interests; something original and creative much like himself; something personal, but as discreet as possible; and, finally, something that represented the PHIP clubs and members. The general consensus was that this would be a great idea.
Now, it was up to me to make it work; not an easy chore as I soon found out. Initially, the biggest obstacle was to find anyone who could make a quilt from cotton t-shirts. Fortunately, I found the perfect partner in this effort, a creative artist who specialized in "expressionistic" quilts. This artist, Linda Schutz from Carver, MN, had not worked with t-shirts before but she had this very undefeatable attitude which matched the challenge.
To come up with the design, we discussed many ideas, the best one of which was the variation of the PHIP logo for the primary side and the club logos on side B. One, if not the only, stipulation given to Linda was that she had the artistic freedom (latitude?) she required, but the final product had to represent all the clubs. Based upon her other national award winning work, I was comfortable in trusting her talents to create a masterpiece for Jimmy.
To finance the cost of her work, each Parrot Head club interested in supporting this project, as sketchy as it was at the time, was asked to donate $50. For this, they got to have their club logo included in the design of the "quilt", which had by this time become an artistic "wall hanging" rather than the common quilt. Thirty clubs made this commitment.
Linda was gracious enough to work with the money and the time we provided to do the best job she could. If the cost of the gift would have been based purely on labor and materials cost, it would have cost at least twice as much. Once finished, the art work would sell for over $4,000. Linda was truly a Parrot Head in her desire to make Jimmy happy.
To get her on the right track and to give her quick lessons on Jimmy Buffett and all things Caribbean, every Jimmy Buffett information resource that I had was given to her. This included every album jacket, every CD, the Parrot Head handbook, the unauthorized Jimmy Buffett scrapbook, lists of songs and the lyrics - anything that might inspire her. It must have helped because she even stumbled next door to the library to study schooners so she would get the design right.
From all of this, the final design was created. To make it personal, she suggested icons of his life as we know it through his music and books. This included his heritage of the sea as passed on to him from his father and grandfather, his hobbies, his music and stories, his business interests, his charitable work, his flair for fun, and his family. His grandfather's four mast schooner, his beloved "Lady of the Waters" seaplane complete with the original registration number on the tail, the famous cheeseburger, the Coconut Telegraph, two manatees, a school of sharks, and "riddles in the sand" (e.g.: "what do you get", "why did the chicken", "who am I", etc. quilted into the sandy beach portion of the design) were chosen respectively as these icons.
Linda's talent was evident in her artistic ability to incorporate each icon into the art work.She also had to create the layout and select the colors. To do this right, she chose to hand dye much of the fabric. For the border, she wanted to use imported fabric from Bali for more of that island character. Not so surprisingly, what was indicated initially as requiring six to eight weeks for delivery was reduced to less than two weeks once the supplier found out it was for Jimmy Buffett. Does his influence know no bounds?
From August 1 through October 14, Linda worked diligently to get it done in time for the 1996 Meeting of the Minds. She stopped counting the hours at 200, in late September. The last touch required on the gift was the representation of the clubs. She suggested the old "message in the bottle" idea with a complete listing of the clubs as the message. Coupled with the PHIP logo variation as the main design, this seemed to be perfect. Even this required special handling. The fabric parchment upon which the names are inscribed had to be created from a paper copy. A special copying system had to be found to accomplish this. It was fortunate that Linda had these contacts in order to complete the job done on time.
At the National Parrot Head Convention, two presentations were made - one to the founders at the Founder's Breakfast and one to Mrs. Peets Buffett, Jimmy's mother, who insisted upon being there to receive it, and Jimmy's cousin (Baxter?) on Saturday night at the Main Event. It was an evening sporting Christmas songs and, of course, a rousing Parrot Head rendition of the traditional happy birthday greeting to Jimmy. The presentation required Peets to pull a string to untie the present which then came unfurling down from above, revealing the primary side featuring the Head Parrot resting underneath a lone palm tree on a beach.
Peets spoke, momentarily joking about how busy her son is, making it impossible for him to be present for this and even her 75th birthday. She warmly thanked everyone, saying she was "overwhelmed" and mentioned that she had hoped this would be a gift that Jimmy could pass down to his children. Given this response and the latest sound from the "jungle drums" that Jimmy himself was pleased, I believe the gift accomplished exactly the sentiments originally intended.
Jimmy Buffett Dear Friends and Parrot Heads: I know this letter is long overdue, but I've been a little busy with the tour and the production of "Don't Stop the Carnival", so I hope you'll forgive me. I can't tell you how touched and honored I was to receive the quilt you had made for my birthday this year. Thanks to all of you for your thoughtfulness, your creativity and the time you spent working on this gift. Again, I'm honored to have it as a token of the Parrot Head Clubs' esteem, and I'm pleased to be able to display it in my Key West office. We've gotten a lot of compliments on it. I continue to be surprised and pleased at your outpouring of support. I appreciate it! Thank you again for this lovely gift. See you this summer. Fins up, Jimmy Buffett
424A FLEMING ST KEY WEST, FLORIDA 33040
May 7, 1997
Dear Friends and Parrot Heads:
I know this letter is long overdue, but I've been a little busy with the tour and the production of "Don't Stop the Carnival", so I hope you'll forgive me.
I can't tell you how touched and honored I was to receive the quilt you had made for my birthday this year. Thanks to all of you for your thoughtfulness, your creativity and the time you spent working on this gift.
Again, I'm honored to have it as a token of the Parrot Head Clubs' esteem, and I'm pleased to be able to display it in my Key West office. We've gotten a lot of compliments on it. I continue to be surprised and pleased at your outpouring of support. I appreciate it!
Thank you again for this lovely gift. See you this summer.