Who are you, exactly? My name is Bob Haslett, but I have gone by the moniker (pseudonym) of "surfpirate" since my high school days back on the coast of Virginia in the mid 1970s. A nickname that honestly I don't remember how or why it started or who gave it me, but it stuck. Probably one of my high school surfing buddies. Being an IT guy, in the early days of the internet back in the 1990s, when very few individuals had their own domains (well before GoDaddy ease), I locked up the domain names surfpirates.com and surfpirate.com, where I rule my online empire now (such as it is). Note ... it is "surfpirate", one word, all lower case. Why you ask? I reply "Why not?"
How did you get here? I grew up in the coastal Virginia Beach area. I went to high school there in the 1970s. I went to college there (Old Dominion University) after that and graduated in 1982. I may (?) have skipped far too many classes in both high school and college to go surfing in Sandbridge Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but eventually I did graduate with a degree. After graduating college, I got a job as a computer programmer with C&P Telephone in their IT department, and moved to the DC metro area of Maryland with plans to get "a couple of years work experience" under my belt, and then move back to Virginia Beach or somewhere else along the coast. Somehow 30+ years slipped by, and life, wife, 2 kids, multiple dogs, and multiple mortgages happened and I was still in living in Maryland just outside of DC. C&P Telephone evolved to become Verizon, and I moved up the ranks from a lowly computer programmer to become an IT manager. After 30 years of working at Verizon, I was unceremoniously let go. I was only 53 years old. It was the best thing that could have happened, as I decided to stay "early retired". They did give me a gold watch, so I had that going for me.
Tell us more . . . So what does a 53 year old ex-computer programmer with bad knees do in early retirement? He writes and publishes a 390 page book with a collection of his comic strips. (The BN Critters Collection) He takes up stand up paddle boarding, because ... "bad knees", surfing is no longer an option. He paddles every day rehabbing those knees. On the Potomac River mostly, about 5 miles from his house. He coaches his son's baseball teams. He takes his daughter to her horseback riding lessons. He dotes on his wife, because, well she still wants to work as a school teacher, because she loves it. She is retired herself now. He also apparently starts talking about himself in third person, so let's stop that right now. A side note on those "bad knees". I was still surfing when I could up until 2012, but in that year I had a bad accident when my Silverado truck smashed head on with a dump truck full of gravel. My truck was totaled. I broke two ribs; chipped a bone in my neck; received a ton of bruises .. I recovered eventually from all of those injuries, but my knees have never been the same. Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a GREAT way to rehab knees and to still be out on the water. Both my kids have now completed college and are beginning post graduate studies. My daughter graduated with a degree in Philosophy from Goucher College and is now taking business classes in Delaware. My son is about to graduate from the University of South Carolina with a major in Marine Sciences and is about to begin a Masters program at Texas A&M. My wife and I built a new home and moved to the Delaware coast in 2019. Lewes, Delaware. It took me 35 years, but I am back at the beach. I will never leave again.
"My best friends and times are Jimmy Buffett concert tailgate parties. I am one of 4 administrators of the BuffettNews Facebook group (over 35,000 members and growing). Heck I wrote and published over 800 comic strips over a 6 year period inspired by and featuring parrotheads."
So Jimmy Buffett, huh? I honestly do not refer to myself as a parrothead. I don't begrudge those who embrace the term, but I was a fan of Jimmy Buffett's music long before Timothy B. Schmidt coined the term at that 1980s concert in Cincinnati. My first exposure to Jimmy's music was about 1975 in high school. A surfer friend of mine had just returned from a summer surf trip in Florida, and was telling me about all of the beaches he visited and surfed as he drove "down A-1-A" along the coast. A few weeks later I was in a Peaches Record & Tapes in Virginia Beach, browsing through the discount racks, and I saw an 8-track tape with the title "A-1-A." The dude on the cover looked like my kind of guy ... long hair, mustache, ripped jean shorts, and sitting in an adirondack chair under a palm tree. I bought that tape, popped it in my car 8-track player, and I was hooked. Many years later, I was living in Columbia, Maryland, and I managed to get Jimmy to sign that very same 8-track tape for me at a show in the Merriweather Post Pavilion. My first time seeing Jimmy Buffett in concert was 1978 or 1979 I think--those were my hazy college daze. It was at King's Dominion Park outside of Richmond, Virginia. $6 each and our college IDs got my girlfriend I into the park, all the rides, and a Jimmy Buffett concert to boot. Oh ... "boot" ... it was the year he broke his leg and was wearing a walking boot cast on his leg. In the four decades plus since that show, I have only missed a couple of years seeing him in concert. Many years I saw multiple shows, most at my hometown venues of Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland and Nissan/Jiffy Lube Pavilion in Virginia. I have also travelled to Jimmy's concerts on occasion. Frisco, Texas. Williamsburg, Virginia. Charlotte, North Carolina. Woodstock, New York. Hershey, Pennsylvania. Probably others I am forgetting. I can't begin to give an exact number, but I am quite certain the total number of shows is over 100.
I have been fortunate to meet Jimmy a few times. The first time in the 1980s on Duval Street outside his, at the time, one and only Margaritaville Cafe.
Other times over the years at book signings ("yes" he used to do book signings) and other events. I've managed to get his autograph on books, a passport, an 8-track tape, a vinyl album cover, even on a Margaritaville Cafe menu. You will NEVER find these on eBay, they are my favorite possessions.
Are you a coconut-bra-wearing kinda guy? I am not a member of any parrothead clubs. That's not for me. I don't begrudge others that choose to do so, but it's not for me. I also have zero interest in attending a MOTM gathering in Key West. I went to Key West for the first time in 1979, and almost every year between 1985 and 2000. I had friends who owned a house in Old Town about 3 blocks from Duval Street. My wife and I used to house sit for them for 2-3 weeks every summer. They sold the place in 2001, and I can't bring myself to visit and stay in a hotel. The last time I was in Key West was in August of 2001 when I attended Captain Tony Tarracino's 85th birthday party. Key West changed too much for me when the cruise ships started docking there. I think the last straw fo me was seeing a Planet Hollywood and a Hooters restaurant on Duval Street.
Are there, #godforbid, others? Jimmy Buffett's music is far from my only listening pleasure. Far and away my favorite singer/songwriter (sorry Jimmy) is John Prine. I saw John in concert perhaps 30 times, also going back to my college days at Old Dominion in the early 1980s. A mutual friend introduced us once back stage after one of his shows. I was thrilled. John's death earlier this year was heart wrenching. He was such a talent. My music tastes lean towards classic rock. Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival. The Ramones. Bob Dylan. Heck Joan Jett, Pat Benatar too. I'm all over the place with my music tastes. Depends on my mood, and whether or not I am driving on an open stretch of road.
Before we go, is there anything else?
I do not have a musical bone in my body.
Stand up paddleboarding. I love it. Now that I am living back at the beach, I try to go to sunrise or sunset at the beach. Not as often as I'd like, but the option is there whenever I want once again. I have been "early retired" since 2012. I have no intention of working again.
And baseball. I love, love, love baseball. It is something that is generational in my family. My grandfather was a scout for the Cleveland Indians in the 1940s/1950s. My father took me to countless games. I coached my son's teams for years. The Washington Nationals 2019 was MAGIC! "Yes" ... the only movie scene that will make me cry is Field of Dreams ("Hey. Dad? You want to have a catch?")
Thanks Surfpirate; it's been a pleasure!
To purchase copies of Bob's Book, The BN Critter Collection, click here or on the photo above.
To visit Bob's online"surf shop," stop by: https://www.zazzle.com/store/surfpir8
If you'd like to be our next "Featured Parrothead Artist," please fill out the following questionnaire and we'll get back with you as soon as we can.
Fins Up my Parrothead Friends!