Elgin, Texas ‘gets Kinky’ — that is, Kinky Friedman is coming to town

I recently got to interview someone I’ve admired for quite some time, Kinky Friedman, known to most folks as a crazy character who made an unsuccessful run for Texas governor (campaign slogan: Why the hell not?). I have a bit of a connection to the man, who makes his home in the Texas Hill Country. His family used to have a summer camp for Jewish children. My grandpa Vernon Williams was the town barber in nearby Medina; he used to go out there and cut hair. Everytime the subject of Kinky Friedman comes up, Mom mentions that.

My impression of the man? Funny as expected. But also a hell of a nice guy. I  think his rascal persona is mostly just that — a persona. Below is the news story as it will appear in the Nov. 10 Elgin Courier. I also posted a few videos, because people forget that he’s also a hell of a musician. His early career with the Texas Jewboys is the reason we even know about the man. And while most of his songs strike me as funny, some are also striking examples of country songwriting. “Sold America” is a masterpiece of a song. I’ll post again after I’ve heard him speak.

Kinky Friedman to speak in Elgin, Nov. 21

Elgin is about to get “Kinky” — Kinky Friedman, that is. Noted author, humorist, singer-songwriter and political candidate Richard S. “Kinky” Friedman will give a speech at the Elgin Public Library on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. Friedman was invited to the event by the Friends of the Elgin Library.

Friedman’s lecture will focus on his new book, Heroes of a Texas Childhood. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and Friedman will sign autographs. The lecture is free and open to the public. In a telephone interview last week, Friedman said Heroes of a Texas Childhood features 23 people he admires — some are familiar to most Texans, others aren’t quite as familiar.

“Many recent college graduates never heard of many of them,” he said, naming Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and WWII hero Audie Murphy as examples. “A lot of Texans don’t know upon whose shoulders they stand.”Other heroes include Sam Houston and Davy Crockett. Two of his heroes are still alive: singer Willie Nelson and attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes. “They aren’t my heroes because they were persistent or lucky,” Friedman said. “They’re my heroes because of the tragedies and failures of their lives and how they dealt with them.”

Friedman said he regards Nelson as a hero, not because he is a fellow musician, but because of the kind of person he is. “He became a folk hero the hard way. Adaptability and pugnaciousness are what got him through where other equally talented musicians did not.”

He will also speak on his short story collection, What Would Kinky Do? The book was illustrated by the late artist John Callahan, a quadriplegic who created very painstaking, brilliant drawings.Friedman said he will sign an autograph for anyone who requests one.

“I’ll sign anything but bad legislation,” he said. He will also pose for photographs. “That’s one thing I learned from Willie [Nelson],” he said. “Willie will stay and sign autographs as long as it takes. People like Bob Dylan won’t do that.”Friedman is still performing music and recently finished a tour at 15 venues around the country, all of which sold out. “It feels like I won the race for governor everywhere but Texas,” he joked.

Frieman said his visit to Elgin is not part of a book tour. “Life is a book tour, or a political campaign,” he said. “The political campaign is in hibernation. Texas wants a governor with hair. Is that too much to ask? Music is a much purer art form than politics. I think it’s far better to be a musician than a politician.”

Friedman decided to visit Elgin after meeting Elgin Friends of the Library President Laura Stough on a plane. Stout asked him to speak in Elgin and he liked the idea — especially after learning that she was a professor of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M. Kinky’s father, Dr. Thomas Friedman, taught the same subject at her alma mater, the University of Texas. In addition, Friedman and Stough both served in the Peace Corps.“

He had already agreed, but when he found out that connection to his father, he said, ‘this has to be,’” Stout said.Friedman has an animal rescue operation in the Hill Country called Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch (www.utopiarescue.com), where he has taken in dogs, cats, donkeys and pigs.

“It’s a very happy orphanage,” he said. “The animals leave wistful when they get adopted. Money may buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.”Friedman’s program will be part of a series of literary events that has featured lectures from authors Susan Wittig, Rupert Isaacson and Judy Barrett. The Nov. 21 lecture will be free, but priority seating will go to the Friends of Elgin Library. There’s still time to join that organization before the event.For more information, call (512) 281-5678.

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2 Comments

Filed under alt-country, country, interview, music, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Elgin, Texas ‘gets Kinky’ — that is, Kinky Friedman is coming to town

  1. geronimodeleon

    Thanks for this feature, and for your blog. It’s been too long since I’ve been here!

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