Still Kinky 

He messes with Texas

FRI 4/11

Yes, George W. Bush reads books, and Kinky Friedman is one of his favorite novelists. The fellow Texans even exchange occasional correspondence. But Friedman is friends with his big fan Bill Clinton, too. The cowboy and country-western singer turned mystery scribe -- author of sixteen books including the New York Times bestseller Roadkill -- doesn't belong to either party, though he backs W on what he calls "this Iraq thing."
In his brand-new novel, Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned, the cigar-smoking Peace Corps alum whose pals call him the Kinkster -- and who will be at Cody's on April 11 (7:30 p.m.) -- creates a couple of small-time con artists who befriend, of all things, an author. Struggling with writer's block and striving, with ever-shakier resolve, to stay on the wagon, said author finds inspiration first in the Greenwich Village lowlife bars he visits with his new tequila-chugging pals, then in the increasingly complex cons that all three devise. Sure, sabotaging a corporation's inner workings is risky business, but hey, it's great material. And even if it seems likely to kill him, at least it makes our protagonist feel alive for the first time in ages. Moreover, love's in the air. And he'll do whatever the heck it takes to write his Great Armenian Novel.

Friedman, who has been covered with equal avidity in the mainstream press, literary journals, lifestyle magazines, and Jewish newspapers, wryly resists categorization, though he told a reporter recently that he might have become a Buddhist if it weren't for Richard Gere. Not PC, he's the brains behind the '70s cult hits "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed" and "The Ballad of Charles Whitman," about the sniper who killed thirteen people at random from inside the University of Texas Tower's observation deck in 1966. Friedman's band, the Texas Jewboys, has toured with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue and has performed at the Grand Ole Opry.At Cody's (2454 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-845-7852), having left his pet armadillo back home on the ranch, he'll read from the new book and field. -- Anneli Rufus

FRI 4/11

RAIZ PUDDING

Protest music has a rich heritage in Latin America. Lately, there's plenty to protest right here in the USA, and Grupo Raíz is ready. The Bay Area-based nueva canción (new song) sextet runs traditional Andean music through a Cuban blender, riffing on social themes with a percussive style behind such instruments as the Colombian tiple, cuatros from Venezuela and Puerto Rico, and of course the charangos, sikus, quenas, and bombos of the Andes. Last fall they issued a compilation double CD of old material, much of it recorded at La Peña, their home away from home. Their message this time around is "Peace No War," and they'll play it loud Friday night (8 p.m.) at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. www.lapeña.org -- Kelly Vance

SUN 4/13

Altared Jeans

What will you bring to the Peace Altar at today's Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade? Your holy jeans? Some nonviolent violets? The Earth-friendly, extremely multiculti event, featuring costumes galore (wizards, shamans, sorceresses, jesters, peasants, etc.) plus music, dancing, and floats, is also sponsoring a Peace Altar at People's Park, where the faithful can make devotions to the concept of peace. The parade -- a Pieter Brueghel painting come to life -- steps off at 12 noon and the paganizing goes on till 4 p.m. at the park. For more info, or just to get in touch with your inner druid, phone 510-845-9032 or log onto www.paganparade.org -- Kelly Vance

THU 4/10

Jumpin' Jupiter

Toward the end of 2001, astrologer Michael Molnar ascertained that the star of Bethlehem said to have guided the Magi to the newborn baby Jesus was actually a double eclipse of the planet Jupiter. If you want a good vantage point for this week's eclipse, head to the Chabot Space and Science Center (10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland) for A King's Dance: Jupiter Eclipse Event. Through Chabot's telescopes, you can watch the largest planet in our solar system move into the shadow of two of its four moons, which will then eclipse one another. The festivities take place between 7 p.m. and midnight, and admission costs $10 for Chabot members, $12 for the rest of us. Call 510-336-7373 for more info. -- Stefanie Kalem

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