He's a Texan treasure, is what he is! In the sad absence of Ann Richards and Molly Ivins, Mr. Friedman holds the central role of making sure the rest of the world knows we're not all entitleddipshits, right-wing martinets, American Idol hopefuls or dangerous psychos down here.
Kinky makes Texans look good; smart, brave, truth-speaking, self-aware, literate, fun-loving. Which most of us are, dammit! Fightin' the good fight on an often-absurd planet of poetic landscape, checkered history and bizarre ideology.
Furthermore, Kinky Friedman taught me how to pitch a softball, identify a wild "touch me not" plant and to plant peppers in the soil-packed bed of a de-commissioned and recycled pickup truck.
Well, not just me, though; Kinky was a sort of camp counselor emeritus to hundreds of campers at Echo hill Ranch, founded in 1953 by Kinky's progressive, enlightened parents as an oasis of child-centered, non-competitive summer fun and education amidst a Texas summer camp dominated by hardcore competitive sports (whereas when I was a counselor at Echo HIll, I was taught the adage "we don't teach swimming, we teach kids"), Bible-pushing (OK, we had Friday night shabbas, but it was pretty low-key), and semi-Fratlike preambles to a lifetime of class-privilege networks.
No, we sang Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan protest songs, did lots of arts and crafts and performance in addition to lots of physical activities (my sister Annie, amazingly, found hersef to be a crack shot at riflery, and I became a full-fledged Red Cross lifeguard). Not surprisingly, camper-written-and-directed skits were a regular feature of our communal evening entertainment (and forget 'noncompetitive' — we may have been nurtured and encouraged, but just you try directing a cast of four in a little gem of sketch-comedy as a surely SNL-bound 12-year-old and your leading man insists on giving his punchline in Hebrew!)
I went to Echo Hill Ranch every summer from ages 10 to 15, and so did my sister. So I can't be objective.
ANYHOW, THOUGH. GUESS WHAT. HE'S PLAYING IN SAN ANTONIO TONIGHT!!!!
See here, below.
KINKY FRIEDMAN'S TWENTY-TEN TOUR
Musician, Author, Icon Headed To Sam's Burger Joint
The man that the Washington Post called, "the last public intellectual
in Texas since the death of Molly Ivins," Kinky Friedman, will be
touring Texas to share his songs, stories, and excerpts from his
breakout new book, 'Heroes of a Texas Childhood.' Kinky's Twenty-Ten
tour is set to make a stop in San Antonio Thursday night, with a live
concert at Sam's Burger Joint (show starts at 8pm!)
"I want a chance to talk to the people of Texas, share some of my
childhood heroes, and sing some songs," Friedman said. "I think the
people of Texas appreciate a guy who rides, shoots straight, and tells
the truth. That's the kind of guy I am."
Kinky will be available for interviews and comments after each show.
In his latest book, Kinky Friedman reflects on the impressive characters
who colored his own years growing up in Texas. Heroes of a Texas
Childhood highlights 23 individuals who inspired and influenced the
child then known as Richard Friedman. Kinky's heroes come from all walks
of life. Some are well-known, like Sam Houston and Lady Bird Johnson
while others are more obscure. All of his subjects have something in
common: they each showed unwavering courage in the face of obstacles,
resistance and fear.
"Some of the heroes in this book are covered in glory, and some remain
unsung even to this day," says Kinky. "They are between these pages
because of the way they faced the failures, challenges and tragedies of
their lives...the best way to know somebody is to find out who their
heroes are." In paying homage to his heroes, Kinky's trademark wit meets
a softer, more thoughtful voice. Insightful, touching and always
entertaining, Heroes of a Texas Childhood is the most personal of Kinky
Friedman's 29 books.