More than twenty years ago, a college professor friend introduced me to a talented country western musician with the remarkable name of Kinky Friedman. His band wore the unlikely moniker Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. Thus began a journey through the diverse worlds of music, literature, politics, and down to earth, gut-busting humor. Friedman was not content to rest on his ability as a singer-songwriter. He has authored numerous mystery novels and now writes a monthly political column for Texas Monthly. He is truly a multi-talented man of great humor and ability, hilarious and irreverent as any of America's greatest talents.
'SCUSE ME WHILE I WHIP THIS OUT is a collection of some of Friedman's previous published pieces, as well as some never before released material. His writing covers subjects from country music to politics to life in general. Like a great Texas barbeque, there is a little something on the plate for everyone to enjoy.
In this era of fierce political partisanship, perhaps the most redeeming endorsement one can make for the man affectionately known as the "Kinkster" is the fact that he has been an invited guest at the White House of both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Friedman writes of his first visit to Washington in "Hail to the Kinkster." After personally autographing a book for President Clinton and receiving a note that read, "I have now read all of your books --- more please --- I really need the laughs," the President and Kinky began a three-year pen-pal relationship. Finally, in 1997, Friedman was invited to a White House dinner. Sitting next to the President, Friedman offered him a Cuban cigar, telling him, "Mr. President, don't think of it as supporting their economy, think of it as burning their fields."
In 2001, fellow Texan George W. Bush invited Friedman for a return visit to the White House. The dinner is described in "The Houseguest." While Bush and Clinton share little common ground politically, apparently they do share a love of cigars. Friedman describes smoking a cigar with President Bush on the Truman Balcony. They discussed baseball and the President's visit to the World Series to throw out the first pitch, and while nervous, President Bush explained that he simply followed the advice of Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter: "Whatever you do, don't bounce the ball on the way to the plate. They don't care who you are --- they'll boo you."
There are other wonderful pieces in this collection. Friedman describes his admiration for and meeting with Joseph Heller. We learn of his musical experiences with the Texas Jewboys. Each chapter provides the reader with fascinating glimpses of a truly original American character and, in addition, loads of laughs. The only criticism of this collection of essays is that there are not enough of them. Introduce yourself to Kinky Friedman through this book and then check out his other books. He is a true piece of Americana and a great writer to boot.
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on January 23, 2011
'Scuse Me While I Whip This Out: Reflections on Country Singers, Presidents, and Other Troublemakers