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Kinky Friedman

Kinky Friedman
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Kinky and Mr. Magoo (Photo by Brian Kanof)

We’re very lucky to have Texas legend Kinky Friedman kick-off his Southern Discomfort Tour here at the Dosey Doe. Freidman describes the show as a solo concert where he’ll sing his classics, along with political commentary, jokes, a book reading, and a book signing. (“I’ll sign anything but bad legislation.”) Fans will also get a preview of his “Men In Black” Tequila. “We celebrate Zorro, Paladin (Have Gun, Will Travel), and Johnny Cash…and it’s the best Mexican mouth-wash in the world.” I spoke with the Kinky in January and, despite my being a little intimidated, I found Mr. Freidman horribly nice and thoughtful.

FPH: Tell us about the book you’ll be reading.

Kinky: “Heroes of a Texas Childhood” was written in my last campaign [after] Jim Hightower advised me, “Don’t tell them who your heroes are; that’s the best way of finding out who you are.” So I picked these 23 heroes. What made them heroes to me, from Sam Houston to Anne Richards, wasn’t that they won the battle but the obstacles they had to overcome to do it. Some of these are personal like my dad who was a navigator in World War II and flew a B24 Liberator. The story about him – which is probably the one I’ll read – is a little Mark Twain moment in the show. When I finished the book I showed it to some friends of mine, young college kids and graduates. They had never heard of Barbara Jordan; they’d never heard of Audie Murphy, Henry B Gonzalez, and on and on. In other words, they didn’t know on whose shoulders they stood. So I vowed right then and there that if I ever do become governor, this book will be mandatory reading in public schools.

Maybe it’s the internet where, like Billy Bob [Thornton] says, “the audience has become the show,” but the result is I don’t think we’re going to see any stars…we are going to see product, product like Justin Bieber or Lady Ga Ga but you won’t see another John Wayne and that’s too bad for all of us.

I’ve been working on this book with Billy Bob Thornton and he has a movie coming out I highly recommend called “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” and you won’t see any movies like this. The rest will be 300 million dollar video games aimed at 15-year-olds or the other story will be a chubby curly-headed kid who brings a goat to Las Vegas and screws all the chorus girls.

Look at Nashville where they have these corporate publishing whorehouses. Obviously this is making money, somebody’s recording them – Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, or somebody – but after two decades of this method, nobody has written “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Hello Walls”, or “King of the Road”. Those were written by three fucked-up guys in the same little town of Nashville, right there in the same place – Music Row. These guys were drunk, broke, worried and lonely…and look at what they were able to produce! If I could even hear ONE song like those this year or this decade that would be great, but you don’t.

We’ve changed as a culture; the whole culture has ADHD. Barry Manilow, who I have nothing against, writes songs that make people feel good for a short period of time and he’s made more money than God but look at Kristofferson or Haggard, they write songs that might make you think and stay with you a lifetime – that’s what I shoot for. Now, I haven’t written any new songs – these songs are a lot older than a lot of people in the audience – but these audiences have been great and they know every lyric.

FPH: Explain to me Rick Perry.

Freidman: His run for president has made me look really good. He’s made George Bush look like Thomas Fucking Jefferson! We got a situation now in Texas where all the Aggies and all the blondes are telling Rick Perry jokes.
When I go through airport I’ll have people say to me “I voted for you, Kinky.” Of course, if that many people voted for me, I would have won but now that Perry is running for president, people aren’t saying “I voted for you, Kinky”, they are grabbing me by the shoulder and saying “You should have won!”

Last month, as I came through the Austin airport, I had an unlit cigar and the lady cop there says “Is that thing lit?” and I said, “To which thing, madam, are you referring?” and, anyway, I passed through all the TSA stuff when this agent, big black guy, was following me and I thought he was gonna give me shit for an unlit cigar. Finally, he caught up with me and I turned to him and said, “Is there some kind of problemo, officer?” and he said, “No, I just want to shake a good man’s hand.” When he said that, I thought, you know, probably no one had ever said that to Rick Perry. Not to pick on Rick – he’s just a politician. That’s why I’m a musician first. It’s a giant step down from musician to politician. That’s why I say musicians could better run Texas or the country than politicians; we wouldn’t get a hell of a lot done in the morning but we’d work late and we’d be honest.

Bad people are being drawn to politics. They’re former hall monitors and they remain bad people. The good people, the best of our country, are definitely staying the hell away from politics. The Occupy folks were really onto something, but that revolution got hijacked and they didn’t get the point across. The point should have been that the greed and the money that has corrupted and destroyed our country is mainly manifested in the political system – which is a fundamentally dishonest field of endeavor – and that by flooding it with money, we’ve destroyed it where you and I can’t run for anything. If we wanted to run against Rick, he’d snap his fingers and he’d have 17 million bucks. America saw right through the guy but Texas didn’t.

FPH: But why?

Kinky: That guy stays in the shadows. He knows he can’t walk into a restaurant and get applause like I got; they’d boo him so he stays away from that. These guys are really the bullies of the playground and the two-party system is terrible. When you start electing the smartest guy in the room like Obama, you’re thinking of I.Q. That’s a mistake. You should be thinking of Inspirational Quotient because that may be all a president can really do. If Obama were to give a fireside chat, the fire would go out. We see in Obama a man who, whatever you think about him, he’s not a leader or a statesman. He’s not a strong force in the world. You look at the guys who were and you see their ability to inspire. I met a chick the other night in Houston who was inspired by Obama but that’s the only one I’ve met anyplace. Black people aren’t inspired; young people aren’t inspired; and you think of JFK who inspired millions of people – inspired a generation. That’s why I joined the Peace Corps and worked in the jungles of Borneo for 11 cents an hour – because of JFK. Reagan had it, FDR had it, and Anne Richards had it but I don’t see a Winston Churchill in sight. I’m reading about Churchill and, man, there was a guy who would go against public opinion all the time and he would stand by his guns. You don’t see that now. The guys who are the most devious, lying, complete rascals, hypocrites, and scoundrels are the ones who make the best politicians today. My definition is accurate- “poli” means more than one and “ticks” are blood sucking parasites.

FPH: Well, there are some like Ron Paul…

Kinky: Well you’re right. Ron Paul and Chris Christie are two I can think of who will take stands on the left and on the right. They don’t let the party tell them what to think. Everybody else lets the party tell them what to think.

FPH: Why do we get such poor candidates?

Kinky: Because we deserve what we get! When I ran for governor, 26% of the people voted. That killed me. Everybody else that was for me didn’t vote. All the people who didn’t vote decided “Kinky can’t win” and they didn’t vote; but if we had mandatory voting it would have been a landslide for Kinky.

FPH: What’s to be done?

Kinky: Well, the system is so broken and corrupt. We need political reform badly. It’s a shame that a man that doesn’t have millions of dollars can’t win. You’re seeing it right now. [Money] won’t guarantee that you’ll win but you have no chance [without it]. Huckabee best expressed that when he won the Iowa caucus [in 2008] and said “Man, we’re flying, now I really have to come up with ideas to give people.” and he flew right into a wall. The big money guys don’t care what your ideas are; they just want to know if you’re gonna win and the fix is in. It’s like Jesse Ventura is a good man but he’s a bad politician; he didn’t realize that wrestling is real and politics is fixed. That’s the truth! How can we un-fix it? I don’t know. We need a Churchill. We need somebody who doesn’t care about public opinion, doesn’t care about the parties, and cares about America.

It’s very much like Nashville or the Hollywood scene. It’s all part of the same thing. I think political correctness, as Barbara Jordan warned, has really drowned our country. We’re to a point where if a young Richard Pryor were to walk into the Dosey Doe stage at our show, we couldn’t make him a star. So we’ve taken a big cultural step backwards. Thank the Lord we still have “”They ain’t making Jews like Jesus anymore!”

FPH: You work with a dog shelter; can you tell us about that and which is better to deal with – dogs or politicians?

Kinky: Dogs are much better than politicians. They’re spontaneous, honest, loyal, forgiving, and they know how to have a good time. The way the world is now, politicians will say anything. Part of the problem is that the crowd always picks Barabbas. They say “Free Barabbas! Kill Jesus!” every fucking chance they get! Look at Barabbas… the guy doesn’t call, he doesn’t write, he’s never saved anybody’s soul, and he’s probably never even won a football game. So the crowd picks wrong, they pick the wrong guy, and they will probably do it again. That’s why Utopia Animal Ranch is a big thing to me. We started 14 years ago in Utopia, Texas. Cousin Nancy and her husband Tony ran the place. The neighbors came with pitchforks and chased us out so my dad gave us part of the ranch near Medina, TX and we’ve adopted thousands of dogs now. We’ll take any stray or abused animal, we’re a never kill sanctuary, open out-door pens with trees, and the dogs get walked by volunteers. It’s like a happy orphanage. Every time we find a home for a dog they turn their heads back as they leave; it’s that kind of place. You see, money can buy you a dog but only love can make it wag its tail.

FPH: What makes Texans so unique and special?

Kinky: Texas is fighting this country’s drive to be homogenized. Texans are a lot like me; I’m that last nail that can’t be nailed down.

Let me leave you with one bit of advice before I go – find what you love and let it kill you.

Wednesday February 8th Kinky Friedman @ Dosey Doe in the Woodlands
8pm $98/$78/$58 (dinner included)
For more information on Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch visit www.utopiarescue.com

2 Responses to Kinky Friedman

  1. Pingback: Free Press Houston » FFW – The Free Press Preview for February 02 – 08, 2012

  2. Daniel February 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    For Christ’s sake, Barry Manilow is older than Kinky Friedman!

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