Sunshine, warm temperatures, a comfortable spot on a gorgeous beach… even in the nicest moments of the nicest days of our lives, it could all come crashing down in an instant.

This podcast is here to remind us of that grim possibility.

It was back in 1996 that a mistake by the authorities almost did away with pop music’s greatest champion of the laid-back life.

This is the time police in Jamaica almost shot down Jimmy Buffett.

Fans loved Buffett’s songs about kicking back and taking it easy with good food, good friends and, of course, a margarita or two.

But the guy also liked to work: in addition to his very busy musical career, he had a restaurant chain, resorts, frozen foods, his own line of rum, he invested in race horses, the list goes on and on.

Still, he found time to kick back, and this brush with danger came on a break from a tour, while he was in Jamaica.

Buffett was hanging with some big-name friends (U2 frontman Bono and his family, plus record executive Chris Blackwell) when they got hungry and decided to go get some chicken.

They all hopped into a plane called Hemisphere Dancer, with Buffett himself at the controls.

Just after landing at the airport in Negril, the plane started taking gunfire.

“These boys were shooting all over the place,” said Bono. “I felt as if we were in the middle of a James Bond movie.”

The police in Jamaica had mistakenly thought that this plane was smuggling drugs, even though, as Buffett said, on this occasion, “I was innocent. Not even a spliff.”

Fortunately no one other than the body of the plane was hurt, the government issued a formal apology to Buffett and his passengers, and the singer went on to write about the experience on his next album.

“Like all things,” he said later, “it made for a good song.”

I mean, that’s one way to look at nearly getting shot!

A lot of my fellow Midwesterners are surrounded by cicadas right now; they’re all over everything and they’re making all sorts of noise.

Well, it could be worse.

In July 1931, a time when a lot of people were still just barely hanging on through the Great Depression and a central US drought, a massive swarm of grasshoppers showed up and wrecked millions of acres of farm fields, to the point that you wouldn’t know anybody had planted anything there.

And that’s if you could see the field at all: sometimes there were so many bugs around they blocked out the sun.

Jimmy Buffett Song Inspired After Plane Sprayed By Gunfire (New York Times)

Grasshoppers devastate Midwestern crops (

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Photo by Steven Miller via Flickr/Creative Commons