A living trivia category for over thirty years, was the tiny hamlet of Paradise, located in a corner of Michigan’s upper peninsula. Townsfolk could take social media publicity no longer.
A popular fishing and vacation destination, the “Please refrain from playing Jimmy Buffet music–thank you for your cooperation,” signs in store windows were hard to explain. The law was impossible to enforce.
“I wouldn’t care if I never heard that “Cheeseburger in Paradise” song, ever again. And I think most everybody here would agree with me,” Mayor H. Claven Clifford II said at the town meeting.
“If I get another request from a Hollywood media producer, to be interviewed about our being anti-Jimmy Buffet this or that–I’m gonna’ scream. I swear, Buffet got more publicity from our denial, than he would have gotten otherwise.”
“My father, who was mayor at that time, is probably turning over in his grave.”
“Permission to speak?” Asked Councilman L. E. Muenster. “Don’t you think it’s time we overturned this asinine piece of legislation?”
“Permission granted. However, I would caution the councilman to watch his choice of words. Did you wish to make a motion?”
“Yes, I move that city ordinance 192-85 prohibiting the playing of Jimmy Buffet songs within city limits be overturned.” The motion passed, almost without objection.
In tiny Paradise, Michigan, it had been against the law to play Jimmy Buffet songs in businesses or public buildings. It went back to the mid-eighties, when a merchant applied for a license to open a local “Cheeseburger in Paradise” restaurant.
Needless to say, Jimmy Buffet’s lawyers weren’t pleased; threatened legal action if the name wasn’t changed forthwith. Mayor H. Claven Clifford, not to be outdone, sent a petition to Buffet’s people. The village of Paradise wasn’t much of a competitive threat–he pleaded. Paradise, MI was denied–left to its own fates.
Times changed–the years went by. Most townspeople became indifferent to Paradise’s “Anti-Buffet” ordinance. After all, Paradise was best know for “pasties”–tasty, homemade meat pies. And Paradisians were satisfied with the fame that pasties brought their fair city.
Whitefish Point was nearby, and had a museum dedicated to Great Lakes shipwrecks. Included in the exhibits, was a tribute to the wrecked, Edmund Fitzgerald. The lake waters began to clear.
The Jimmy Buffet, “Cheeseburger in Paradise” debacle faded from memory. Gordon Lightfoot, who popularized the “Ballad of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” although Canadian, remained as close to being a local favorite son, as anyone else would ever get.