January 21, 2005: Headlines: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Election2006 - Friedman: NBC 5: Kinky Friedman spent two years with the Peace Corps where, as he tells it, he earned 11 cents an hour teaching folks who have farmed successfully in Borneo for 2,000 years how to grow their own food

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malaysia: Special Report: Author, Humorist and Malaysia RPCV Kinky Friedman: January 21, 2005: Headlines: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Election2006 - Friedman: NBC 5: Kinky Friedman spent two years with the Peace Corps where, as he tells it, he earned 11 cents an hour teaching folks who have farmed successfully in Borneo for 2,000 years how to grow their own food

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-13-244.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, January 23, 2005 - 5:23 pm: Edit Post

Kinky Friedman spent two years with the Peace Corps where, as he tells it, he earned 11 cents an hour teaching folks who have farmed successfully in Borneo for 2,000 years how to grow their own food

Kinky Friedman spent two years with the Peace Corps where, as he tells it, he earned 11 cents an hour teaching folks who have farmed successfully in Borneo for 2,000 years how to grow their own food

Kinky Friedman spent two years with the Peace Corps where, as he tells it, he earned 11 cents an hour teaching folks who have farmed successfully in Borneo for 2,000 years how to grow their own food

Musician, Author Kinky Friedman Eyes Texas Governor's Job

POSTED: 10:15 am CST January 21, 2005
UPDATED: 3:44 pm CST January 21, 2005

MEDINA, Texas -- A 3-inch statue of an armored Don Quixote rides on the dashboard of Kinky Friedman's well-worn Nissan SUV.

Like the 17th-century Spanish literary hero, the 60-year-old musician, mystery writer and operator of an animal rescue ranch intends to defend the helpless and destroy those he considers wicked.

Friedman is poised to surrender at least a good chunk of his comfortable life in search of glory and adventure. The field of battle is politics.

On Feb. 3 in San Antonio, in front of the Alamo, the politically independent Friedman formally begins what he calls a quest to get himself elected governor of Texas in 2006.

Friedman -- whose books include "Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned" and "Kinky Friedman's Guide to Texas Etiquette" -- downplays suggestions this is all just a quixotic fantasy or stunt by an irreverent joker-minstrel interested in hawking books, music CDs and bottles of olive oil and salsa.

He says his candidacy is born out of a passion for Texas, a disgust with political correctness and what he considers a pathetic dearth of inspiration from Austin.

"This is not so much a political campaign as it is a spiritual one," Friedman said, gripping his cigar under the shadow of his black cowboy hat -- both signature items. The hat covers the wiry hair that gave Richard Friedman his nickname back in the 1960s at the University of Texas.

"You can say it's a joke if you want. I would say the most recent joke was the last gubernatorial election -- $100 million to destroy each other, to make us vote for the lesser evil," he said.

Friedman makes an unlikely candidate, a fact in which he revels. "I'm the unpolitician," he said.

"Yes, there is some humor involved," said Friedman, whose campaign slogans include "He's Not Kinky, He's My Governor" and "Kinky for Governor -- Why the Hell Not?" "I talk to power with truth and humor. And I'm not afraid to."

Amid one-liners that often play on his Jewish background, he talks about Jesus Christ, quotes Tolstoy, Dylan -- as in Bob -- and Nelson -- as in Willie. He counts the latter two as friends.

Before his writing career took off in the mid-1980s, Friedman toured with his band, The Texas Jewboys. Before that, he hitchhiked around the world after a two-year stint with the Peace Corps where, as he tells it, he earned 11 cents an hour teaching folks who have farmed successfully in Borneo for 2,000 years how to grow their own food.

Born in Chicago, his family moved to Texas while he was still in diapers. He grew up in Houston and then Austin, where he was sports editor on his high school paper and once wrote a football game story in Latin.

At the foundation of his beliefs is a battle against what he calls "wussification" -- political correctness that's weakened spiritual and cultural fibers and has strangled free thought and independence.

"I think he would be the best thing for Texas."
- Nancy Parker Simons

People are afraid now to say "Merry Christmas," afraid to light up a cigar, afraid to say it's OK to pray in schools, he said. "It's been going on for a long time," he lamented. "We didn't get to be the Lone Star State by being politically correct."

It also chafes him that the term Texas cowboy is now often used as an insult.

"Cowboy and Texas are being used derisively and derogatorily by people these days," Friedman said. "Cowboys are real important and I'm going to defend them to the death, and get his image back."

Among dozens of framed pictures crammed on the walls of his tiny work office in an idyllic Hill Country ranch house are those of Gandhi and Freud, a handwritten note from Bill Clinton and a snapshot of Friedman with George W. Bush. At the invitation of both presidents, he's spent nights at the White House.

He shares his 500 acres with Echo Hill Ranch, a summer camp for kids that's been in his family for about 50 years, with the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, a home for dozens of unwanted dogs and several horses, pigs and chickens. In the past three years, about 750 animals have found new homes through the efforts of the small staff.

"He's not a politician and I think he would be the best thing for Texas," said Nancy Parker Simons, who lives at the animal shelter and manages the daily operation. "We've got such a reputation out there and it's not so hot. We need someone who can crack jokes. He's honest. I don't know what y'all do as governor, but as Kinky says: How hard can it be?"

Also in Friedman's office, where he cranks out a column for Texas Monthly magazine on an old portable electric typewriter in a space lit by one lamp with a Tiffany shade and another lamp with no shade at all, there's a poster left over from his first run for political office.

He lost in a race for justice of the peace in nearby Kerrville in 1986, a distinction he compares to Bush's initial defeat in a Texas congressional race.

"He was a failed politician like I was," he joked.

His 17th mystery book, where private investigator Kinky Friedman is the main character, is set for a March release. He's guaranteed fans -- who include Clinton and Bush -- this will be the last book.

He will kill himself off in the final adventure.

"Killing yourself is literary suicide," Friedman said. "But I'm tired of it."
Kinky Friedman intends to run for Governor of Texas in 2006.

And it gives him time to move on and take his populist message to an electorate he believes is fed up with professional politicians and ready to embrace him as the Texas version of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura.

"Jesse ran for governor because he believed many people shared the American dream, that it existed in their hearts like it did in his," Friedman said. "He believed that if you stood up on your own two feet and said what was true that you'd still have a chance. And that's the kind of way I see it."

Schwarzenegger was equally important, he says, for opening people's minds to the fact "an outsider, such a joke, a Hollywood-heavy movie-star type, could actually win."

Friedman's big on concepts and short on details. It's the goal that matters.

"My three good qualities I have are knowing how to ride, shoot straight and tell the truth," he said. "That's very different from the politician when asked a question automatically thinks: 'Insert lie here."'

He'd legalize casino gambling to solve the state's education finance dilemma, push for life without parole to provide an alternative to the death penalty and create a Texas version of the Peace Corps, enlisting friends in the entertainment industry to volunteer their services.

"I've been able to achieve many of my dreams in my life and I'd like to help many others, especially young Texans, be able to achieve theirs," he said.

He hasn't yet staked out positions on other issues.

"You've got to take a leap of faith," he said he would tell curious voters. "Can this guy move the state forward?"

For now, Friedman no extensive campaign organization, no bulging bag of campaign cash, no spot on the ballot and deliberately no party affiliation.

"I don't like the baggage of either party," he said.

Daron Robert Shaw, a University of Texas associate professor of government who's studied campaigns and has worked in them, said anyone "who is a kook or oddjob now could be Mr. Governor next time around."

"I certainly don't want to discount that possibility," Shaw said. "But, man, it's a tough road."

Friedman faces ballot regulations and fundraising realities and needs economic or policy unrest among voters, which is something that generally fuels alternate candidates, Shaw said.

Friedman will have up to two months in 2006, following the March primary, to collect 45,000 signatures on petitions to get him on the November ballot as an independent. Between now and the petition drive, he's using free media to get his message out, which is why he's starting so early.

"When we get on the ballot, my feeling is the people who now call the campaign a joke, they will take it more seriously," he said. "I have one advantage. I'm in Texas. This is a maverick state. This state loves an underdog. And this is a very independent thinking state."

On the Net:
Kinky Friedman Web site, www.kinkyfriedman.com

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

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Story Source: NBC 5

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Malaysia; Writing - Malaysia; Humor; Election2006 - Friedman



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