In speech to Mensa convention, Friedman coy about 2014 political plans

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Kinky Friedman, the cigar-chewing musician, author, entrepreneur and onetime Texas gubernatorial candidate, on Wednesday night answered the question on everyone’s mind at the American Mensa organization’s annual convention in downtown Fort Worth.

Sort of.

“I don’t know if I’m running for governor or not next time,” Friedman told an audience of about 1,800 people at the Worthington Renaissance hotel.

“So I’ll do what I usually do,” the Texas humorist said with a drawl and a drag on his trademark cigar. “Which is lie about whether I’m running or not.”

Friedman admitted before going onstage that he isn’t in Mensa himself.

“A man with The Washington Post said I was the last public intellectual in Texas,” he said. “So that’s my credential.”

In 2006, Friedman ran as an independent for Texas governor and drew more than 500,000 votes.

“Political courage is, I’m the only heterosexual candidate in America who, back in 2006, actively supported gay marriage,” he reminded the crowd. The statement drew one of the night’s loudest ovations.

Friedman’s early jabs on Wednesday night were aimed squarely at one of his former opponents.

“When I die, I’m going to be cremated,” he said, “and the ashes are to be thrown into Rick Perry’s hair.”

He introduced a close friend, comedian Ruth Buzzi, a North Texas resident.

The tiny woman, energetic and bright-eyed as ever, stood and waved her arms at the crowd’s applause.

“A little louder please,” she shouted.

Friedman said time is beginning to take its toll on his own senses.

“I’m 68 years old,” he said, “but I read at a 70-year-old level.”

He said he is hard of hearing, “but I don’t really mind. I can imagine what people are saying, which is always more interesting than what they’re really saying.”

Friedman just wrapped up a European tour of 36 shows in 38 days over seven countries. “Willie [Nelson] always says, ‘If you’re out on the road, you might as well work’.”

Not above shilling his array of products, sales of which benefit his animal sanctuary near Austin, Friedman lauded one of his enterprises, a tequila called Man In Black “for Palladin, Zorro and Johnny Cash,” he said.

“It’s not your grandfather’s tequila,” he said, “it’s better. It’s your grandfather’s gardener’s tequila.”

Most of Friedman’s quips were really funny but definitely not suitable for print.

After a particularly baudy toast, Friedman offered up a better one: “May the best of the past,” he said with a wave of his drink, “ be the worst of the future.”

Friedman was the keynote speaker for the Mensans’ event, which is scheduled annually during the week of July 4. The theme this year: “Culture in Cowtown.”

During the rest of the convention, more than 250 lectures are on the agenda, including Alzheimer’s genetic research, NASA scientific ballooning, Sherlock Holmes and the new George W. Bush library.

There’s a testing session from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday for people who’d like to see if they are smart enough for Mensa.

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins

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