Columns

2014.02.19 Kinky Friedman's cigar isn't all he's smoking

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about singer/writer/entrepreneur/politician Kinky Friedman, but a recent DVD purchase has got me thinking about the “pioneer of political incorrectness set to music,” as a reviewer calls him. I am somewhat ashamed that I bought the DVD on eBay, rather than directly from Kinky’s website at a higher price. Sorry about that, Kinkster.

The DVD contains a Friedman concert  recorded in 1975 for the PBS series “Austin City Limits.” It’s the only episode ever taped for the show that was never aired on television. Not on PBS, not on KLRU-TV, which produced it, nor anywhere else.  A few people had bootleg copies, which were said to be extremely popular when shown at parties, but now it’s available to everyone.

It features a young Kinky and members of his former group, The Texas Jewboys. Yes, Little Jewford, Snakebite Jacobs, Wichita Culpepper and the rest in all their glory. I was surprised when I saw how much Snakebite resembled Kinky, at least back in 1975.

As a person with a thread of genealogy connecting me to Pocahontas, I suppose I should have been offended by the song “Miss Nickelodian,” which probably did offend many with more Indian heritage than me. Alarmingly racist? Maybe, but also hilarious, especially the sight of Kinky in an Indian headdress. As the liner notes read, Kinky showed “no mercy to any gender, genre, religion or ethnicity.” That included his own, but it wasn’t hard to see why a squeamish executive or two kept the performance off the airwaves.

Another eBay offering that I passed on was a genuine copy of the 1962 Austin High School yearbook, chronicling Kinky’s senior year. It would have been worth the price just for his senior picture alone, except for the seller asking $99.99. That’s too much for me, even though Kinky (known as “Richard” back then) was wearing a bow tie in his senior portrait.

 There was also a photo of him with the school newspaper staff. Kinky was sports editor of the paper, which made me laugh almost as much as the photo of him with the tennis team. He looks pretty uncomfortable holding a racket. Apparently he wasn’t in the school band.

Last, but not least, there’s a photo of Kinky in sociology class, playing the part of a mental patient. That had to be good practice for a future in the music industry. It’s pretty useful experience for a budding politician as well.

Not having learned his lesson in a 2006 gubernatorial run against incumbent Texas governor Rick Perry, Kinky is currently running for Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Claiming to be an “old-time Harry Truman blue dog Democrat,” whatever that means, Kinky intends to bring a bit of Colorado to the Lone Star State. If elected, he plans to push for the legalization of marijuana. 

Stating that “legalizing, taxing and cultivating pot can be the economic engine to fund education,” Kinky’s campaign statement adds that legalization “will also effectively spay and neuter the Mexican drug cartels; the people of Texas will become the new cartel.”

Kinky asserts that cotton requires twice as much water to grow as hemp, even though hemp produces more than double the fiber that cotton does. He says that the cultivation of hemp requires no pesticides while one quarter of all pesticides used in the world go into the production of cotton.

I have to wonder if Kinky is considering the effect this may have on his old pal Willie Nelson. The overdue income taxes Willie once owed the IRS might seem like chicken feed compared to the taxes he could owe on legalized marijuana.

Declaring that “Lifting the prohibition on pot is not about long-haired hippies smoking dope; it’s about the economy, the environment and water conservation, education, the border, health care, criminal justice (and injustice),” Kinky doubts that any other candidate will even mention the issue. That’s another reason he’s running. “It’s a dirty job,” Kinky says, “and I get to do it.”

Kinky has even recently given up his cigar business, so time is running out if you want to buy a box of “Kinkycristos.” Who knows what he’ll be selling next if he wins the March 4 Democratic primary and manages to get pot legalized. If he loses the primary, maybe I can get a better deal on that yearbook.

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