Friday, April 3, 2009

The Asshole From El Paso

Many years ago, I was at my dad's place looking at a book on the history of country music and there was this crazy fucker in some kind of mink coat with rhinestones all over, heart shaped, plastic-jewel studded sunglasses under his crazy-ass paisley fedora. And I was like "Who the fuck is that?". And my dad said: "That's Kinky Friedman, of Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. And it's a good thing this book was made in the UK, because no American book on the history of country music would have included him." I've learned a lot of valuable things out at my dad's place.

Later, I learned that he was running for governor of Texas and his slogan was "The Asshole From El Paso. I see today's political scene as very much like a Jerry Springer episode, but I don't think it needs to be that way, or should be that way, so I'm not in favor of bullshit campaigns in general. On the other hand, here in Seattle, Dan Savage has announced a bid for the Mayor's office and I'm glad he did it. It reminds people where politics currently are. So maybe Kinky had the right idea in his campaign.

I asked my dad to play me some Texas Jewboys tracks and didn't hear anything memorable. If Kinky ever succeeded musically, it wasn't in the couple of tracks I heard. I also came back into the city with several paperbacks of Kinky Friedman Novels. For what's probably more than a year now, all they did was sit on my shelf getting dusty with the other books. But, just recently, after a long stretch of reading nothing but Bernard Cornwell, I did some re-reading of Carl Hiaasen. Specifically, I re-read Skinny Dip for the third fucking time. And it was funnier than ever. In fact, I think it may be even funnier than Strip Tease which kept me up late several nights laughing my fucking ass off. If you haven't read Strip Tease yet, you're in for a serious treat. I can't even emphasize that enough. But we're talking about Kinky.

I decided to finally pick up Armadillos and Old Lace and see if the asshole from El Paso did better in prose than in music, and so far, it looks promising. To start with, look at the blurbs and who they're coming from:

"Spreads more joy than Ross Perot's Ears"
-Molly Ivins

"Kinky Friedman is one of Texas's great natural resources"
-former governor Ann W. Richards

"Kinky, Mozart, Shakespeare--with what could I equal them"
-Joseph Heller

There's more like that. If those blurbs are actual quotes from the people whose names are printed beneath them, I'm impressed. So I'm convinced to read further.

Here's a sample from the first few pages that convinced me to read the rest:
I could use a little quiet, I reflected. I'd become somewhat ambivalent about performing country music gigs lately and I'd come to realize that anybody who uses the word "ambivalent" probably shouldn't have been a country singer in the first place

I think I'll be reading the rest. I'll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, Carl Hiaasen is a proven winner. I'm no fan of his environmentalism at all, but he is a virtuoso of satire. His books are better the 3rd time than they are the first. And I laughed out loud the first time. I've been meaning to write in detail about why this guy rocks for a long time, and I can't go into the details just yet, but that's been on my to-do list forever. Maybe someday I'll write that essay. For now, if you're book shopping, I'll tell you that his funniest are: Strip Tease, Skin Tight, Skinny Dip and Lucky You.

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