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Kinky Friedman: The right wag for the job

July 30, 2010 | 12:11 pm

Kinky Friedman-Canters Deli 7-21-2010
 
If there were a Great Quotations Hall of Fame, Kinky Friedman would be a shoo-in, with a batting average that has to top .700. Friedman, who I've profiled in a story in Friday's Calendar, comes through the Southland for a string of concerts starting with a pair of shows Saturday night at McCabe’s in Santa Monica. Here’s what the leader of Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys, author of 29 books and former candidate for governor of Texas and Lone Star State agricultural commissioner had to say on a variety of topics.

-- Mel Gibson:  Nice people tell me, ‘God, what a great life you have,’ [and] ‘You’re an inspiration,’ but the truth is, I haven’t really made it. I mean when I look back, I haven’t made it like Geraldo Rivera’s made it or Bill O’Reilly’s made it, or Tom Waits has made it in some ways, even though the mainstream never heard of Tom Waits. Or Bob Dylan or Willie [Nelson]. I just haven’t made it that big. And I probably never will -- unless I can think of a very dramatic way to go. But the people who did make it, who have made it, are Mel Gibson and Tiger Woods. No one can argue that. But today, to stand here and say Mel Gibson has made it …he hasn’t made  it.  It’s comforting.

-- Arnold Schwarzenegger: He really was a Democrat Republican. How do people rate him, now -- pretty low, right? He never was a genius. He just happened to have a connected wife with the Democrats and he was a Republican. A winning combination.

-- George W. Bush: He listened to bad angels and they destroyed him. He listened to Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. And they destroyed him. They’d destroy you or me if we listened to them. He had some great people around him: He had his dad, Laura is wonderful, Colin Powell.  But he didn’t listen to him, oh no. …The Koreans have a thing called “han,” which is the unfinished business of your life. And George Bush’s was to show my dad that I’m better than he is: I can clean up his mess, finish what he didn’t do. And he never could. He was always a cheerleader; his dad was a football star. He was AWOL; his father was a hero. And that’s han. Han is like you’re jealous of your brother.  Everything you do is, whether you know it or not, is that.  Mel Gibson and Tiger and all that, it’s all han. Something really in childhood, a Rosebud/Citizen Kane kind of thing. One little thing.  Even though there’s no reason for you to be jealous of your brother. But it brings you down in the end. Unfinished business.

-- His first West Coast concert tour in nearly 20 years: This tour is called Go West, Young Kinky. We’re going to a lot of places I haven’t been to in a long time. I think 15-16 shows in about 15 days. They may be wheeling me out on a gurney for the last half of the tour. I am 65 years old -- although I read at the 67-year-old level.

-- His latest book: “Heroes of a Texas Childhood” is 23 heroes of mine. After writing it, I discovered why they‘re heroes really: It’s the tragedy and failure in their lives and how they handled it made ‘em heroes…. I really think we should know upon whose shoulders we stand, and if I am ever governor of Texas, I will make this book mandatory reading in the public schools. I will do a reading from the book during the show. After the show I’ll sign books. I’ll sign anything but bad legislation.

-- Career politicians:  In general, I think these people have been around too long. Corruption comes when you serve in office as long as they have.… I think we should limit them all to two terms: one in office, one in prison.

-- The two-party system: George Washington hated the idea of political parties. He said all we need in government is common sense and common honesty. And they’re both pathetically lacking in Washington today.... Good people are not drawn to politics. That’s the problem today. Why should they? The ones drawn to politics are the former hall monitors, Young Democrats,Young Republicans, and this is George Washington’s worst nightmare. It truly is the Crips and the Bloods. They really are the bullies of the playground. I was shocked this past year at the Democrats’ self-interest in their party. You want to find out something about the future of our country? Go talk to a Libertarian; he cares about that. He cares about the Constitution. And the "tea party" folks. It’s really a very good attitude to have: It’s called being on the outside looking in. Those are the people that are going to give us a president one day who wants to be president for all the people. The one we have now does not.

-- President Obama: Leave it to America to elect a black man as president without any soul. How did we do it? But we did. Particularly, the handling of the gulf [oil spill] situation was the final blow to me. That hole probably could have been plugged with the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s just an idea.

-- Importance vs. significance: Everybody I admire died with no money.  Mozart was buried in a pauper’s grave. Gandhi, Martin Luther King died broke. Anne Frank and Jesus — I don’t know if they had a grave. So I’ve developed an idea that there are people who are important without being significant. A lot of politicians manage to be important without being significant.  Some of the very biggest [pop music] acts in the world … they still draw, they can pack a stadium, but it’s the Iggy Pops, the Tom Waitses, the Molly Ivinses, who are significant. It’s not Gov. Schwarzenegger or [Texas] Gov. [Rick] Perry. They’re important -- you’ve got to hand it to them. But they’re not significant.

-- The wisdom of Willie Nelson: I’ve been endorsed by Willie Nelson. They said, “Why do you endorse Kinky for governor?” [He answered] “Because Kinky is open to ideas. He listens to ideas. The others have been around so long they never will.” Willie gave me some advice:  He said, “If you’re ever going to have sex with an animal, make sure it’s a horse, because that way, if things don’t work out, at least you know you’ve got a ride home.” That’s why we call him the Hillbilly Dalai Lama.

-- The death penalty: In the 2006 race [for governor], I was addressing serious issues that no one was taking seriously. Even as early as then, I came out against the death penalty. Both our [major party] candidates, the Republican — Perry — and the Democrat — [Bill] White — were both for the death penalty.  They’ve done their polling, they’re good little politicians, and they’re striving to be politicians, not statesmen. The fact is, if Texas got rid of the death penalty, they’d leap to the head of the class.  The country would stand up and cheer for Texas. We’re not backwards; we are bipolar. If a guy like me was ever elected, it would be transformational. There would be no death penalty. Often I speak to Christians about this. I tell them, I apologize: I’m sorry you’ve got to hear this from a Jew. But remember, folks: That’s who you heard it from the first time.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Kinky Friedman outside Canter's Deli in Los Angeles. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles TimesGay / Associated Press





 

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