Kinky Talk

Courtesy of Wayne Gilbert
Kinky visited Houston this weekend. We can still smell the cigar.
If you happened to see a mustached, cigar-toting dude in a big, black cowboy hat this weekend, chances are good that you espied one Kinky Friedman. The gubernatorial hopeful was in town for a fundraiser, as well as the "Power Pathos" opening reception at Station Museum. Then on Monday, the Kinkster took a tour of the Houston Ship Channel and a Baytown petrochemical plant. Friedman's on a sort of "State of the Environment" Texas tour; he'll visit Caddo Lake, the Biodiesel Industries of Greater Dallas/Fort Worth facility in Denton and the West Texas Wind Energy Consortium in Sweetwater among other stops. We figured the verbose former Houstonian would be happy to opine on H-town, so we caught up with him for a few minutes during his travels to East Texas.

HouStoned:What are your thoughts on your home town, now that you've toured the Ship Channel and Baytown?

KF: In many ways, the environment of Houston has gotten worse. It's now the most polluted city in America — though Dallas may give us a run for our money. The biggest culprit of what's hurting us is diesel, and that's why we need to get this state on biodiesel. Baytown, well, thankfully I didn't go through at night. They say the sun never sets in Baytown. But I like that they have the electrified truck stop out there.

So are these pollution problems fixable, in your opinion?

KF: We have the money to do it, we have the technology to do it and the laws are on the books to do it. So why isn't it getting done? The answer is we don't have the leadership or will to get it done.

Yeah, Governor Perry isn't exactly your favorite person, is he?

KF: Look what he did in Houston. He brought all these Katrina evacuees into Houston, who your police chief says have created 18 percent of the murder rate in one year. But there is good news in Houston, and that is you can now get boudin at Circle K.

Actually, we don't have those in Houston anymore. You spent the weekend at some cool events, especially the art show at Station Museum. What'd you think of the turnout?

KF: Well, I'm happy as the King of Siam because the young people are getting into the process, and that was always my hope. They're the biggest group of all and the most apathetic. It's not Kinky versus Perry, it's Kinky versus apathy. And if we beat apathy, we've really done something great.

It's not just Kinky versus Perry, it's also Kinky versus Comptroller Carole "One Tough Grandma" Keeton Strayhorn. Any thoughts on her not being allowed to use her nickname for the November election?

KF: You know what? Tell everybody to stop picking on Grandma. They're doing it because she's running as an independent. If she was running as a Republican or Democrat, they'd leave her alone. They should let her have Grandma on the ballot. They should leave her alone. It ain't the cowboy way to attack Grandma.

Speaking of names, looks like voters will get to see your real one on the ballot.

KF: Yeah, they're going with my real name: Richard Kinky Friedman. I would have preferred Kinky Friedman. I don't mind Richard. It evokes a certain nobility, like Richard the Lion Hearted, Richard Nixon or Ricardo Montalban. It's a proud name, and I hope to wear it in health and happiness for the state of Texas. -- Steven Devadanam

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