DIARY - 28 JUNE 2011 - KINKY FRIEDMAN & VAN DYKE PARKS - MELBOURNE
FRIEDMAN-VAN DYKE PARKS
TOFF IN THE TOWN & PRINCE OF WALES
Friedman & Van Dyke Parks - PBS Studio - photo by John Karpik
moon was in the fourth house and the sun was homeless and conspicuously
Yo, a creative cosmic collision when singing Texan crime novelist Kinky
Friedman and touring partner Van Dyke Parks descended from volcanic Chile
ash to land on the mean streets of Melbourne.
First there was their downtown digs - one of two apartment blocks named
Medina in Flinders St.
Just due west of the Vinnies soup kitchen that was doing a roaring trade.
And south east of Etihad stadium where Kevin Rudd was headlining the Vinnies
CEO sleep-out for the homeless the following night.
The Kinkster, CEO of Kinkajou Records, declined the offer to sleep on
cardboard with 200 high profile peers including Kevin Rudd - an evictee
from Boganville in national capital Canberra.
Friedman, 66, was enjoying the sleep of the just at a Melbourne Medina
- he had roughed it under the stars at another Medina many times.
That Medina is where The Kinkster hangs hat, cigar, cats and dogs when
home on the range at his Echo Hill ranch in the Texas hill country.
The 400-acre ranch, celebrating 60 years in the Friedman family in 2012,
doubles as a holiday camp for disadvantaged city students and Utopia -
a shelter from the storm for homeless canines.
Medina is also the Texas apple capital 24 miles west of Kerrville - refuge
of tribes of Kerrverts in the Bandera county hill country.
But at this Yarra front Medina there was no sign of refugees, canines
or Kerrverts of any persuasion.
Kinky was hungry and requested Chinese fish - across but not from the
Yarra - at Crown Castle where pokies' pawns and prawns outnumbered royalty
every night of the week in this chess tourney.
A short stroll through the ground floor gambling graveyard convinced The
Kinkster he would find more fortune at Lucky Chan's.
He chose flounder - not the Bobby Braddock song I Lobster But Never
TOFFS IN TOWN
is a lethal weapon for comedians - especially when the first gig is advertised
as The Toff In Town.
The Toff In Town is an upstairs restaurant-bar of some repute at Curtin
House in Swanston Street.
Easy to find when the promoter Adam Yee is handy.
But a slip of the tongue or a hearing abnormality can be disastrous for
weary world travellers.
Just 100 metres west of the Medina on Flinders St was another upstairs
venue with truly similar name.
Yes, the famed Top Of The Town - a plush bordello described by some as
a house of ill repute.
It was an ideal opening for Van Dyke to take his baby grand all the way
to the Top and tickle the damsels' ovaries.
Piano players in brothels were popular features in days of yore.
68 and holding, was deprived of such ribald glee - instead he tickled
his ivories up on Swanston Street.
also a photographic record of the Negro penis signing at the scene of
the rhyme - courtesy of Brunswick bon vivant and audio-visual ace Kip
Karpik who was on the road again with The Kinkster.
also scored a scoop at David Heard's Acid Country show on PBS-FM
by capturing the artists in the studio with a deaf dog.
not clear if the Acid Country matinee caused as much mock shock
as Brian Wise's Off The Record interview on RRR-FM.
But it was at the Toff - not the Top - where we found keyboard king
Van Dyke making final adjustments to a substitute piano at sound
check when the baby grand wouldn't fit into the slimline lift.
Maybe the Top Of The Town would have provided a wider opening for
a baby grand pianist.
Not so for
the hungry novelist taking an opportunity to sample his cigar as an appetiser
on the Toff balcony that overlooked the majestic mystique of the newly
wed Doyle mall down below on windswept Swanston Street.
No army marches on an empty stomach so The Kinkster inspected those culinary
choices beyond the passing parade of trams.
In direct line of sight from the balcony vestibule were three well-lit
shop fronts - Vietnamese and Thai restaurants and Off Ya Tree, offering
body piercing, tattooing and other exotic experiences.
The Kinkster already had the munchies so he declined the opportunity of
tree offerings and settled for Thai treats.
VAN DYKE PARKS PIANO AT
back at the ranch there was a light in the Toff tavern.
curtains opened at Curtin House the pianist in the spotlight was resplendent
in multi-coloured bowtie, Geelong Grammar light blue shirt and pressed
denim in traditional faded blue.
born and Louisiana raised Van Dyke may have long called California
home but reached to his roots to resemble a Dixie colonel.
Brisbane double bassist Robert Davidson, spiritual and musical guide
of sorts, accompanied Parks as he strolled back through time to
an era when antebellum mansions and southern belles rang for their
Parks patter was soft and sweet.
by John Karpik
Kinky when I was a brunette," quipped the artist who was born in
Hattiesburg and raised in Lake Charles and chose a cameo of Waltzing Matilda
as his stage intro.
Van Dyke did rabbit gags in his entrée for the jaunty overture
to Jump and Opportunity For Two - his album-length interpretation
of the Uncle Remus Brer Rabbit tales.
"These are the survival tales of a rabbit but I have no sexual expectations
tonight," Parks joked.
He spent almost an hour exploring highlights from a career that embraced
an endless variety of musical forms and styles.
He also joked about his cult status among promoters.
"They say 'who is Van Dyke Parks?'" he explained, 'get me a
young Van Dyke Parks.'"
He added: "we're going forward because we can't find reverse."
The artist honoured the 19th century American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk
- the "Chopin of the Creoles" with Night in the Tropics.
"This was New Orleans circa 1857," he said of a song by the
composer who died at 40 in exile in Rio after collapsing on stage from
malaria and reportedly taking an overdose of quinine three weeks later.
He also delved into romantic nostalgia in Wings Of A Dove - not
the Bob Ferguson penned Ferlin Husky hit used in the 1983 Robert Duvall
movie Tender Mercies.
And then there was Orange Crate Art - title track of his 1995 album
with Brian Wilson.
"Brian had a major impact on me in the seven short months I spent
with him," the artist revealed of the Beach Boys legend with whom
he wrote the group's Smile album - a psychedelic epic.
He also performed an impassioned tribute to late bluegrass master John
Hartford with Delta Queen Waltz.
Van Dyke branched into calypso with his jaunty foxtrot FDR in Trinidad
and environmental plea Cowboy.
In his entrée for Cowboy - he denounced the evolution of
Hawaii from natural beauty to a land of golf courses after the 1893 dethronement
of Queen Lili'uokalani.
He explained the United States got the Hawaiian territory by aiming a
cannon at the Queen adding that he's "obsessed by means by which
we got here, and to question that."
NICHOLSON AND STEVE YOUNG
by John Karpik
revealed that when he was broke he approached a young Jack Nicholson to
save his bacon by scoring a movie.
Parks also performed Sail Away then All The Golden - his
tribute to the frequent Georgian born Australian tourist Steve Young from
his eclectic 1968 album Song Cycle.
"When I was 24, I didn't know anything then, but I wrote this song
for Steve Young - a great American songwriter," he explained.
He also wrote the liner notes for Steve's 2000 album Primal Young.
Steve toiled as a postman in an era that included working with Parks in
the Greenwood Country Singers.
Van Dyke later played accordion on Angel Of Lyon and Silver
Lake on Young's 1993 album Switchblade Of Love and Jig,
Scotland Is A Land and Little Birdie on Primal Young.
It was no surprise to learn Van Dyke appeared as a child actor in 1956
Grace Kelly movie The Swan and had recurring roles on Jackie Gleason
TV show The Honeymooners.
The pianist's session work, movie and TV score composition and writing
for artists diverse as Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Cher, Bonnie Raitt, Everly
Brothers, Ry Cooder, T-Bone Burnett, Divinyls, Little Feat and the late
Phil Ochs and Tim Buckley.
He also played a lawyer and wrote the music for 1990 Nicholson movie The
Two Jakes, another Nicholson film Going South and had acting
roles in Popeye and the Twin Peaks TV series.
Movie and TV shows featuring his music included Wild Bill, Brave Little
Toaster, Casual Sex, Bastard Out Of Carolina, Private Parts, The Jungle
Book, Out On A Limb, The Company, Next Door, Club Paradise and Harold
And The Purple Crayon.
As impeccable as his CV may be the multi-talented artist demonstrated
a little humility - he helped stack stage-side chairs at the end of the
It was the far cue for jovial Jan Juc journeyman Peter O'Keefe to lead
a nocturnal posse corralled by Van Dyke's partner Kinky to the exotically
named Celestial Lane.
The lane - the reported birthplace of Chinatown - was also home of the
Cantonian culinary hotspot - the Supper Inn.
So it was fitting that The Kinkster hosted a dinner for his God-daughter
Pia Akerman - a journalist for The Australian.
Pia's pa Piers - a character in Kinky's novels and former L.A flatmate
in the seventies - was set to appear on ABC-TV Sabbath show The Insiders
hosted by former Chiltern footy star and Vinnie's CEO Sleep-out speaker
But now it was Pia - not the News Ltd executive columnist Piers - who
had the Kinkster's full attention as O'Keefe expanded on his one time
career as a chef in Austin, Texas, by impersonating a dumb waiter.
THE KINKSTER AND FRED NEGRO
by John Karpik
touring partner Kinky probably needs no introduction - the icons collided
at a Jimmy Webb birthday party more than 40 years ago.
The collision destined Parks to be a frequent member of The Kinkster's
Texas Jewboys out on the Lost Highway.
They co-wrote Take It Easy Trailer Park on Friedman's 1983 album
Under The Double Ego and Parks played on live cuts of Homo Erectus,
Asshole From El Paso and Wild Man From Borneo on 1992 disc
Old Testaments And Revelations.
They sharing billing and occasionally the stage at the two Toff shows
that were punctuated by a concert at road works ravaged St Kilda venue
The Prince Of Wales.
There was no sign of Timbertop refugee Charles, second spouse Camilla
or their mounts.
Horseback may have been a more direct route and means of travel to the
St Kilda show.
Kinky opened with Nashville Casualty And Life - one of his serious
pearls in the snow.
"This one's about honour," The Kinkster advised, "get on
her and stay on her. This is a little thing I had out a few years back
but I had to put it back in. I send it out tonight to my favourite artist
- Freddie Negro. I said I'd sign anything but bad legislation. Then a
few years back it wasn't a great career move to sign Freddie's dick. It
wasn't a great career move but it does rival the time I signed a man's
scrotum in Scotland. My definition of an artist is a man who is ahead
of his time and behind on his rent. My other favourite artist is John
Callahan who was bugled to Jesus last year."
Callahan, who became a quadriplegic at 21 after booze-fuelled car crash,
died at 59 on July 24.
He drew black humour cartoons by clutching a pen between both hands -
his quasi memoir was titled Will The Real John Callahan Please Stand
Two animated cartoon series have been based on Callahan cartoons. Pelswick
- a 2000 children's show was on Nickelodeon - and Quads is a 2001 Canadian-Australian
A proposed biographical movie, with Robin Williams in the title role,
was planned in 2000 but never produced.
DYKE AND RICK PERRY
The Kinkster also paid tribute to touring partner Van Dyke.
"I'm getting up in years myself," Kinky confessed, "I look
up to Van Dyke for wisdom and advice and get very little, I might add.
I'm 66 but I read at 68 year-old level. I'm too young for Medicare and
too old for women who care. Because of my advanced years I have worked
out my last will and testament with my lawyers. When I die I'm going to
be cremated and the ashes are to be thrown in Governor Rick Perry's hair."
The Kinkster ran against Republican Governor Perry in the 2006 Texas Gubernatorial
campaign as an independent.
Perry recently scored headlines for having used a handgun - concealed
in his shorts - to shoot a coyote who menaced him and his Golden Retriever
while they were jogging in state capital Austin.
Kinky was blessed by the absence of coyotes on his tour bus during his
run for that head job.
was a very long campaign," Kinky added, "running as an independent
is tough when you have the Crips and the Bloods. If we had - what
you have - mandatory voting in Texas I would have won. The crowd always
picks Barabas - they say kill Jesus, pick Barabas. You know we haven't
heard a lot from Barabas over the years. He never saved a soul, never
won a football game.
Instead I was endorsed by Willie Nelson.
me some very good advice before the election. He said if you're ever going
to have sex with an animal always make it a horse because that way if
things don't work out at least you've got a ride home. I have only two
things of interest in life - Libya and Charlie Sheen."
The Kinkster performed feminist anthem Get Your Biscuits In The Oven
(Get Your Buns In The Bed) and dedicated Lady Yesterday to
John Walsh - "the world's most dangerous Albino" and now head
of the ESPN cable network.
THE CIGAR TO WILLIE
artist performed Autograph before promoting his cigar company
with a parody of smoking laws.
"There's a bunch of countries - Japan, Korea, Israel, France,
Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece - that have a much higher smoking
per capita than Australia, or America. Also every one of those countries
has a longer life expectancy than Australia. The only thing we can
conclude from this is that speaking English is killing us. Politicial
correctness means if a new Richard Pryor walked in we couldn't make
him a star. Or Lenny Bruce or Mel Brooks or George Carlin."
The Kinkster performed his timeless political correctness parody
They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore and dedicated Homo
Erectus to Vinnies marketing and fundraising manager and photo-journalist
Carol Taylor and her elderly partner.
it was Sold American and a gracias to the support act Puta
Madre Brothers with a warm invite to Texas where "Jesus reportedly
told the Mexicans don't do anything until I get back."
David Heard & Kinky enjoy a smoke outside
PBS - photo by John Karpik
Next it was
back to Shotgun Willie Nelson - one of two Texans about to record another
Kinky tribute album.
is Jesse Dayton.
"The only three things of interest to Willie are his music and drugs.
He got busted on his bus coming across the Mexican border. I saw him right
after the bust. He looked terrible - he looked like he just lost 6 ounces.
Later that day was a rare spectacle of Willie Nelson in handcuffs signing
autographs for law enforcement officers. Willie's the hillbilly Dali Lama.
The only other area of interest for Willie is the sport of golf. I myself
don't play golf - the only two good balls I ever hit was when I stepped
on a garden rake. Willie has this golf course outside of Austin. A woman
came in and was complaining she had been stung by a bee. The golf pro
said 'where did it sting you?' She said 'between the first and second
holes.' The golf pro said 'well, I can tell you right now, your stance
is too wide."
Then it was time for the next tune.
"This is the first pro-choice country song ever written," the
"It's probably the only pro-choice country song. During the campaign
I supported gay marriage. I said they had every right to be as miserable
as the rest of us. The interesting thing I also supported prayer in schools.
You won't find any politician in Australia at any level who supports gay
marriage and prayer in schools. I was against wussification in schools.
I wanted the Ten Commandments put back in public schools. I said put em
back in - just call them the Ten 10 suggestions. About that time they
had a campaign by undercover cops to arrest drunks in bars in Dallas.
That's wussification of the worst kind. I pointed out the last time Oscar
Wilde was arrested was by undercover cops. I think I was the only candidate
who even mentioned Oscar Wilde. Oscar was busted in 1895 in a hotel bar
in London by undercover cops. The undercover cop came up to Oscar who
was really walking on his knuckles. He said 'Oscar Wilde' and Oscar says
yes. The undercover cop says 'do you know who I am?"' Oscar turned
to the barman and said 'good God, there's a man here who doesn't know
who he is.'"
The artist then peformed Rapid City, South Dakota, and introduced
Ira Hayes - a "Native American Thanksgiving prayer."
"I don't think you have Thanksgiving here," he added.
"Neither do The Native Americans. The Native American Thanksgiving
prayer is 'thanks for nothing.' The Native Americans also believe you
can't own land, you can't own a house, a horse, river or a waterfall.
The only things Native Americans can own is a casino. This is the true
story of a Native American hero - Ira Hayes."
The Kinkster praised the Internet for making his novels available as audio
books and E-books.
"You will also be able to read my Texas Monthly columns - Drinker
With a Writing Problem. That's the good side of The Inernet. There's
also a bad side - a dark side. Say there's a 57 year old pedophile in
New Jersey who pretends he's a 27 year-old surfer from San Diego to a
15 year old girl in Wyoming who really is a middle aged vice cop in Miami.
Don't get me wrong folks I despise paedophiles as much as anybody but
you do have to admit they always slow down in school zones."
- THE NAVIGATOR
it was time for a reading from Kinky's latest book - Heroes Of
A Texas Childhood.
The Kinkster chose The Navigator - a chapter on late professorial
DFC award winning father Tom.
"Writing this book - a non-fiction book - l discovered there's
a very fine line between fiction and non-fiction - and Van Dyke and
I snorted it in 1974," the author revealed.
"When I'm Governor of Texas this book will be mandatory reading.
This is a story about my dad who died 10 years ago."
Parks and Davidson rejoined The Kinkster on stage for a cameo on Wild
Man From Borneo before his encore - the evocative Marilyn &
Joe love story with obligatory audience whistling.
"Whistling can some times be a cosmic experience," he added,
"some times it can be very tedious."
And then there was a tribute to Kinky's favourite songwriter.
is a song by my favourite songwriter who died in obscurity," The
"Woody Guthrie wrote so many songs that were visionary. This song
he wrote from a newspaper story and it reflects exactly what's happening
in America today. The bad guys are no longer the gangsters. Now they're
the banksters. It's probably here as well. This is a true story about
a great outlaw in Oklahoma - Pretty Boy Floyd."
The morning was still young when the audience decamped with swags of autographed
books, vinyl and other memorabilia.
That sure looked like Pretty Boy Floyd directing traffic from Fitzroy
St road works to young lasses displaying their wares under the chilled
red lights of Disrobe and Grey Streets.
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