The Great Psychedelic Armadillo Picnic: A ""Walk"" in Austin

Kinky Friedman, Author Crown Publishers $16.95 (140p) ISBN 978-1-4000-5070-3
A good travelogue conveys a sense of place while pointing the reader towards interesting activities, destinations, places to eat and the like. A great travelogue does all this, but it also stands alone as an enjoyable read, regardless of the reader's travel plans. This quirky tour of Austin, Tex., delivers the whole enchilada. Friedman (Armadillos & Old Lace, etc.), novelist and founder of the band Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, is not what most people would think of as a typical Texan. When he suggests what car to buy to fit in (either a pickup or a Cadillac will do), he proclaims,""I myself drive a Yom Kippur Clipper. That's a Jewish Cadillac--stops on a dime and picks it up."" But this attitude gives Friedman the perfect perspective from which to narrate a journey through his city. His suggestions of things to do all come from personal experience and are usually accompanied by a colorful anecdote or observation. In a chapter on places to eat, Friedman gives this tip on dining at the Magnolia Cafe:""Feel free to light up a cigarette if you smoke, because Magnolia is one of the few restaurants you can smoke in without some asshole trying to make a citizen's arrest."" Friedman's plain-speaking is part of the book's charm. What other travel guide would proudly list a mass murderer--Charles Whitman, who shot 45 people from the Texas Tower in 1966--in a section on famous citizens? As Friedman points out,""We like to think that everything's bigger in Texas. This, of course, includes mass murder sprees."" Whether or not a trip to Austin is in your future, this slim book paints a vivid picture of a city that's as appealingly offbeat as Friedman himself.
Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
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