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Beach Reading - Kinky Friedman. Frequent Flyer

"A one time country western singer now private investigator, Kinky lives a colorful life."

Catherine Krantz

Frequent Flyer by Kinky Friedman

I'm wondering how many books you have to read by the same author before you can call yourself a fan. I'm on my 3rd Kinky Friedman and its feeling like a relationship. I'm feeling all attached, that's the beauty of good books and engaging writers --they take you along for the ride.

Or maybe its just Kinky that makes me feel this way, I feel like I know everything about him. He seems to intertwine all his stories referring back and forth and around and around in this constant reference to other stories, other books. And if you've read these books, you just already know, know all the stories, the inside jokes, you're in. If I walked into Kinky's New York warehouse apartment at 199B Vandam street I would recognize it immediately, I've been there three times already. I know exactly where the telephones are, where the Sherlock Holmes head with the cigars hidden in it is, where the bathroom with the litter box in the shower is--that you can't ever empty cause you never know if a quarter of a million dollars worth of cocaine is stashed in there. I even know how to get in, I know exactly how to yell up from the sidewalk for the puppet head with the parachute and the key in its mouth. I know all about the freight elevator with the one bare bulb and the sounds of New York. I know the soothing sounds of roaming garbage trucks and the thundering of the lesbian dance class upstairs. I feel like a neighbor already. I want to tell Kinky to take out his trash and... invite me in for a drink, why doncha? I'm sure I could develop a taste for Jameson Irish Whisky shots out of a bull horn. C'mon be My friend!

Kinky Friedman is a character, he writes mystery stories about a character named Kinky. A one time country western singer now private investigator, Kinky lives a colorful life. He's got all these colorful friends with colorful names like Ratso and Rambam. He's clever and irreverent and he has fun, even if he'd never call it fun. He gets into trouble then figures these complicated clever ways to get out of it, and never disappoints. He wears a cowboy hat and smokes cigars in elevators, for god's sake! I wanna hang out with this guy.

The latest one I read was, Frequent Flyer, but they've all been just as witty, engaging and entertaining, and I'm sure they always will be. Some people tell me he actually exists and can't believe I'd never heard of him. Never even heard of him until the grown man giggling over his paperback at the corner of the bar said, "You gotta read this guy!" He's like this legend, this urban myth. They say Rambam is real and so is Ratso, that I could actually meet them if I knew where to look. But just when I start thinking about a pilgrimage to this New York apartment with the puppet head, I read the book jacket. It says the real Kinky Friedman lives in a little green trailer on a ranch in Texas. That's the trouble with fiction, its sucks you in, then spits you right back out.

Lucky for Kinky (or the real residents of 199B Vandam--if there is such a place) that I live a couple thousand miles away. Cause I got this bottle of Jameson--that a friend and fellow Kinky fan was nice enough to give me-- sitting on my desk, right next to... not a porcelain Sherlock Holmes head full of cigars, but a red plastic Santa head filled with chocolate. And as soon as I finish the candy I going straight for the Jameson. And if I drank enough Jameson, and it was in walking distance, I just might find myself on the sidewalk outside 199B Vandam. In a stupid hat like Ratso, screaming up for Kinky, "Throw down the damn puppet head I wanna come up!"

December 2000

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