2006.02.17: February 17, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Election2006 - Friedman: Television: New York Times: Kinky stars on CMT Reality Show

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malaysia: Special Report: Author, Humorist and Malaysia RPCV Kinky Friedman: February 9, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: RPCV Kinky Friedman (Malaysia) : 2006.02.17: February 17, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Election2006 - Friedman: Television: New York Times: Kinky stars on CMT Reality Show

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Kinky stars on CMT Reality Show

Kinky stars on CMT Reality Show

Can the 61-year-old Richard (Kinky) Friedman "I'm too young for Medicare and too old for women to care," he says rally enough disaffected Texans to become the first independent governor of the Lone Star State since Sam Houston in 1859? Or trailed by CMT's relentless cameras, will he vote himself out through outrageous antics, politically incorrect jokes and off-color asides? At a campaign rally, he really does exhort the crowd with "If you don't love Jesus, go to hell." And he tells fondly of his "Yom Kippur Clipper my Cadillac that stops on a dime, and picks it up." Author, Musician, and candidate for Governor of Texas, Kinky Friedman served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malaysia in the 1960's.

Kinky stars on CMT Reality Show

Following a Candidate Named Kinky

By RALPH BLUMENTHAL
Published: February 17, 2006

EVERY journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance," goes the wisdom of Kinky Friedman as he hits the campaign trail for governor of Texas the only Jewish, country-singing, mystery-writing independent candidate with a Palestinian barber/campaign manager and a coin box at the end of the bar.

It's an unconventional bid for sure, on view tonight in the first two half-hour episodes of "Go Kinky" on Country Music Television.

Talk about a reality show, even if there may not be much suspense over the political survival prospects of someone who adorned a recent cover of Texas Monthly dressed in drag as Queen Elizabeth II making a rude gesture and who says things like "There's a fine line between fiction and nonfiction, and I believe I snorted it in 1976."

Can the 61-year-old Richard (Kinky) Friedman "I'm too young for Medicare and too old for women to care," he says rally enough disaffected Texans to become the first independent governor of the Lone Star State since Sam Houston in 1859? Or trailed by CMT's relentless cameras, will he vote himself out through outrageous antics, politically incorrect jokes and off-color asides? At a campaign rally, he really does exhort the crowd with "If you don't love Jesus, go to hell." And he tells fondly of his "Yom Kippur Clipper my Cadillac that stops on a dime, and picks it up."

Mr. Friedman said he did not censor CMT. "We let them shoot what they wanted to shoot," he said by phone from Aspen, Colo., where he was performing at a benefit for the United Jewish Appeal.

He insisted he was not worried about scandalizing a Bible Belt electorate. "This is going to be a pretty young audience; I don't think the old-timers will be watching much," he said. But he conceded, "It may be a little too much for some people let's see how it plays." Will Rogers, he said, had it right when he called politicians "the greatest comedians of them all: every time they make a joke it becomes a law and every time they make a law it becomes a joke."

He was in good company, said Mr. Friedman, who called himself a Judeo-Christian: Jesus and Moses too got crosswise with the government and died homeless and broke. Jesus would be sympathetic, he maintained: "My Jesus is warm and loving and has a sense of humor."

On the show, he agonizes that he may be too smart to be governor of a large Southern state, but then again how wise is it to muse publicly about suicide, hit on attractive women ("You've got first lady written all over you"), toss away a speech ("Who wrote this crap?") and storm out of a strategy session on the campaign bus, complaining: "I got to sit and listen to this" the next word is bleeped "all day?" His first rule as governor, he vows, will be "no meetings."

He makes many other pledges. He wants to change the Ten Commandments to the Ten Suggestions. He will name his pal Willie Nelson to head the Texas Rangers, and his Palestinian adviser and hairdresser, Farouk Shami, who coifs the once-bushy but now alarmingly thinning Kinky tonsure, as Texas's first ambassador to Israel. He will work tirelessly through the campaign: "I can sleep when I'm governor." And he promises, "I'll never leave the governor's mansion except to go to Vegas."

The Republican incumbent in Austin, a frequent foil, is hardly spared. Mr. Friedman confides that he hired a private investigator "to dig up some dirt on Rick Perry."

"He was unable to," Mr. Friedman reports. "He did, however, find a considerable amount of dust."

The Perry campaign, in turn, has rejected Mr. Friedman's demand for "unconditional surrender," retorting, "The Democrats are not the only ones smoking something."

Mr. Friedman has no problem with recognition. His worn, goateed visage, trademark black garb and ever-present cigar make him instantly identifiable in the remotest corners of Texas, where cars sport bumper stickers reading, "He Ain't Kinky, He's My Governor." (He wears black, he explains, "as a great sacrifice for the people of Texas," and adds, "Anyone stupid enough to wear a black outfit to a Fourth of July picnic is a perfect governor of Texas.")

But to get on the ballot in November, Mr. Friedman has only from March to May to gather 45,000 signatures from independent voters who did not cast ballots in the Republican or Democratic primaries. And then he would face a crowded field of partisan candidates and another maverick running as an independent: the Texas comptroller, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, apostate Republican and mother of President Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan.

But winning may be beside the point, as the CMT show suggests. This is performance art of a high order, with Mr. Friedman bumbling across the landscape, frequently lost, pledging allegiance to "the little fellas, not the Rockefellers" and spouting one-liners like "I'm not pro-choice, I'm not pro-life, I'm pro-football."
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He ponders the honor of being asked to head a big parade. "It requires great skill, ability and focus to be a grand marshal," he declares, only to be informed, "You're not the grand marshal."

He assures one follower, "You're the son I never had," drawing a hurt protest from another: "I thought I was the son you never had."

"You're also the son I never had," Mr. Friedman mollifies him.

He's thinks gays should be allowed to marry: "They have every right to be as miserable as the rest of us."

Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies come to mind.

Although he tested the waters as far back as 2003 with a slogan inspired by his columnist friend Molly Ivins, "Why the hell not?," he officially threw his black hat into the ring in February 2005, declaring his candidacy on the radio and television program of Don Imus (another friend) while standing in front of what else? the Alamo.

The choice facing Texans, he declared, went beyond paper or plastic. Here, he said, was a chance to recreate the glory days of the Old West, when the cowboys all sang and the horses were smart.

Clearly he is putting us on, for behind the buffoonish facade is an inspired satirist, which has long been evident from his 1970's country troupe Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys and their classic "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" a crie de coeur against bigotry as well as his several dozen mystery novels starring, naturally, himself, with titles like "The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover."

There may be little hope or risk of a Kinky governorship at this crucial juncture in Texas history, with the state staring down the barrel of a judge's order to reform its collapsing educational financing system, Republican leaders at swords' points and citizens regularly ranking near the national bottom in social indicators, from high school graduates to children with health insurance.

To which Mr. Friedman has a ready answer. Considering his predecessors, he asks: "How hard could it be?

"I can't screw things up worse than they already are."

"Go Kinky" has its premiere tonight on Country Music Television at 11 and 11:30 Eastern and Pacific time, 10 and 10:30 Central.





When this story was posted in March 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:


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March 1, 1961: Keeping Kennedy's Promise Date: February 27 2006 No: 800 March 1, 1961: Keeping Kennedy's Promise
On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order #10924, establishing the Peace Corps as a new agency: "Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed--doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language. But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps--who works in a foreign land--will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace. "

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The Peace Corps Library Date: February 24 2006 No: 798 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory. New: Sign up to receive PCOL Magazine, our free Monthly Magazine by email. Like to keep up with Peace Corps news as it happens? Sign up to recieve a daily summary of Peace Corps stories from around the world.

Top Stories: February 2, 2006 Date: February 4 2006 No: 783 Top Stories: February 2, 2006
Al Kamen writes: Rice to redeploy diplomats 20 Jan
Peace Corps mourns the Loss of Volunteer Tessa Horan 1 Feb
RPCV pursues dreams in America's Heartland 1 Feb
Sargent Shriver documentary to be shown in LA 30 Jan
W. Frank Fountain is new board chairman of Africare 27 Jan
Abbey Brown writes about acid attacks in Bangladesh 26 Jan
Christopher Hill Sees Ray of Hope in N.Korea Standoff 26 Jan
Jeffrey Smit writes on one man diplomatic outposts 25 Jan
Joe Blatchford's ACCION and microfinance 24 Jan
James Rupert writes: A calculated risk in Pakistan 23 Jan
Sam Farr rips conservative immigration bill 21 Jan
Americans campaign for PC to return to Sierra Leone 20 Jan
Kinky Friedman supports Gay Marriage 20 Jan
Margaret Krome writes on Women leaders 18 Jan
James Walsh leads bipartisan US delegation to Ireland 17 Jan
Mark Schneider writes on Elections and Beyond in Haiti 16 Jan
Robert Blackwill on a "serious setback" in US-India relations 13 Jan
Kevin Quigley writes on PC and U.S. Image Abroad 13 Jan
Emily Metzloff rides bicycle 3,100 miles from Honduras 9 Jan
Charles Brennick starts operation InterConnection 9 Jan
Lee Fisher tells story of Pablo Morillo 7 Jan
Nancy Wallace writes: Was PC a CIA front after all? 4 Jan

Paid Vacations in the Third World? Date: February 20 2006 No: 787 Paid Vacations in the Third World?
Retired diplomat Peter Rice has written a letter to the Wall Street Journal stating that Peace Corps "is really just a U.S. government program for paid vacations in the Third World." Director Vasquez has responded that "the small stipend volunteers receive during their two years of service is more than returned in the understanding fostered in communities throughout the world and here at home." What do RPCVs think?

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

PC establishes awards for top Volunteers Date: November 9 2005 No: 749 PC establishes awards for top Volunteers
Gaddi H. Vasquez has established the Kennedy Service Awards to honor the hard work and service of two current Peace Corps Volunteers, two returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and two Peace Corps staff members. The award to currently serving volunteers will be based on a demonstration of impact, sustainability, creativity, and catalytic effect. Submit your nominations by December 9.

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.


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Story Source: New York Times

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