“Sister Sarah full of grace help me find the parking place/ in a world that doesn't want what we can give/ sister Sarah don't you weep/ all your babies are asleep/ is this the way we die, she said or the way we live/ she could have been an angel, she could have been a whore/ maybe just a girl who left her halo at my door.” - Sister Sarah - Kinky Friedman.

It could been a perfect plot for a made for an animated Disney-Kinkster mystery novel movie mélange set by the bayside in seamy St Kilda.

No Hollywood director would be needed for Finding Nemo And A Parking Spot Near Memo.

In the Oscar winning comedy drama adventure film Finding Nemo that grossed more than $871 million at the box office and another 40 million DVD sales, the frightened fish is last seen in Sydney Harbour.

That animated movie featured the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGenres, Alexander Gould and Willem Dafoe with local cameos by Barry Humphries, Geoffrey Rush, Eric Bana, Bruce Spence and the late Bill Hunter.

Now we have a sardonic sequel and a stellar cast with pitch perfect vocals.

First there's the ever protective clownfish named Kinky Friedman and his constant companion and regal blue tang Zoe who search for their abducted son Nemo who is last seen in Sydney Harbour.

The Kinkster and Zoe - former denizen of Tel Aviv and now Texas - fly in for the singing Texan crime novelist's eighth Australian tour and are met at Mascot airport by Kinky's former Los Angeles flat-mate-veteran columnist Piers Akerman.

Piers arranges for Kinky to set the catfish among the pigeons by sourcing his address to the National Press Club in Canberra as a tour launch.

Next there is an appetiser at the national capital's Harmonie Club operated by The Kinkster's second favourite people - the Germans.

And, more importantly, a decoy for the real purpose of his mission - Finding Nemo And A Parking Spot Near Memo.

So, cuddly Paddington Bear Piers alerts The Kinkster to a lead that has never been followed.

There has been a sighting of a mysterious snorkelling prime minister named Harold and a fish resembling Nemo near his holiday home north of Paddington at Pittwater.

But The Kinkster is one step ahead of Piers - he has a source at the quarantine station at Portsea who alerts him of a sighting of Harold and Nemo in the heads after the Port Phillip Bay dredging.

But the cosmic comic decides to release his own red herring by doing his first Victorian gig across the other side of the bay at the Harvester Moon Café on Bellarine.

It's a perfect ruse for a mother goose chase - finding parking spots near Oakleigh Caravan Club promoter Peter Foley's other war veterans' refuge at the Memo Musical Hall in St Kilda.

Foley booked The Kinkster into the cake capital's musical mecca in Acland Street - strategically due east of Luna Park and equally close to the bay where Nemo and Harold might still be at play.

But there is a fast growing problem for nearby bayside businesses - onshore dredging of the strip to accommodate new super tram stops has meant reduction of affordable parking.

Council's coffers have been boosted with a flood of parking fines from confused motorists with a vast cast of notable exceptions - car thieves and drive-by-shooters.

This reviewer didn't risk donning an irritatingly fashionable clown mask and being mistaken for a gutter crawler, drive-by shooter or carjacker in his vain search and destroy mission for a perfect parking spot.

Instead he retreated in his Italian coupe to St Kilda Road and parked outside Wesley College, established 1866.

That was about three decades after his ancestors - the original boat people - farmed across the Yarra in Brunswick.

It seems fitting as snorkeller Harold Holt and fellow Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies received a fine Methodist education on this Prahran campus.

Although Harold may or may not be enjoying aquamarine pleasures with Nemo I'm confident my Alfa will not be reduced to unclaimed ashes like those of long deceased Pig Iron Bob Menzies who was found in a box in a rusty tin shed at Springvale crematorium by veteran Truth newspaper investigator Adrian Tame and recently deceased photographer Spider Funnell.

I have time to read parking restriction signs and search for clues on the football and cricket ovals where I battled Wesley Wowsers who wet their trousers in adolescent team sports in the fifties and early sixties.

There is a clanging of a bell - not from the majestic clock tower or chapel but an approaching tram heading south.


“Met her in a pawn shop, took her down to the local bar/ held her close to me, anyone could see all I am is me and my guitar/ people came to listen, some travelled from afar/ they stood in line as if to find salvation in that bar/ I told myself there's just two things that got you where are/ all I am is me and my guitar.” - Me And My Guitar - Kinky Friedman-Sean Rima.

The tram trip is a joyous journey although my Myki card, when caressed on a nearby machine, seems to have updated from “invalid,” which I hope I'm not, to “top up balance.”

As a senior citizen, with free travel at weekends, I expect this means seeking a seat far from the door where I can adjust my balance when the driver is forced to swerve to avoid killing Nemo if flood waters wash him onto the tracks.

I can't find Nemo but do spot Memo in a dark laneway off Acland St at the appointed starting time - 8.40 pm.

But my elation turns to shock upon arrival as I'm greeted in the foyer by the Kinkster and Zoe who are selling and signing merchandise - normally a post coital-concert practice.

Having no phone or watch I fear I'm operating on pre-daylight saving time and missed the show.

Luckily I'm greeted by Hawthorn football club forward scout and premiership winning University Blues coach John Kanis who assures me that unlike the Geelong football team or his Hawks I have not missed the big dance.

Although the support act is reportedly missing in action - perhaps looking for parking - I arrive safely and the Kinkster steps into the breech by meeting his constituents for selfies, autographs and early financial pleasures.

This was manna from heaven for photographer and long suffering Melbourne supporter Kip Karpik who so far had not lost his wallet in a woman's hand-bag as he did at the Caravan Club on The Kinkster's previous tour.

But this belated benevolence is interrupted when an agitato member of the female species informs the artist she found Memo when the doors opened at 7.30 pm and would like a little action.

At 71 the Kinkster chooses oral and visual over physical and heads backstage to the stage where his entrée is his eulogy to Pretty Boy Floyd with the aid of the “plectrum Janis Joplin wrote Mercedes Benz with.”

The artist introduces his latest album title track The Loneliest Man I Never Knew with a credit to his inspiration - Tompall Glaser of the Glaser Brothers who drove south from Nebraska and played on the late Marty Robbins hit El Paso .

Kinky's banter does not extend to a humorous anecdote by his late producer and pal Kacey Jones about the first time she met The Kinkster.

“Kinky and Tompall's cowboy boots sizzled when they walked across the hot coals of the Barbecue in a famous Nashville restaurant,” Kacey told me in a 1988 interview when she fronted Ethel & The Shameless Hussies , “they were dining out on filet sole.”


“Jesus in pajamas came at 3.16 one morning/ to a Denny's by the freeway in the ancient town of Dallas/ where everything was frozen/ there are many Denny's in Dallas but few of them were chosen/ but Jesus in pajamas finally arosen/ Jesus in pajamas came a shuffling to my table/ ‘help him if you can,' a voice said, ‘help him if you are able.'” - Jesus In Pajamas - Kinky Friedman.

Instead the singer regales his audience with Guinness , Mexican mouthwash, Barry Manilow and Shotgun Willie Nelson anecdotes reprised from his Press Club launch in his introduction to new song Me And My Guitar - from his Resurrected Limited Collectors five track EP - released for this tour.

It's a poignant parable about the singer's passion for his on-stage weapon and salient snapshot of his muse.

The Kinkster exudes his delight in feigning deafness when asked questions he finds irritating before resuming proceedings with historic favourite Homo Erectus with the plectrum on which fellow Texan Kris Kristofferson wrote Me And Bobbie McGee.

It's a well-paced show with his new homeless homily Jesus In Pajamas inspired by a meeting with a hobo in a Dallas Denny's restaurant followed by equally evocative Marilyn and Joe .

Then humour struck again with his 1973 crowd pleaser and women's lib agent provocateur Get Your Biscuits In The Oven, Get Your Buns In The Bed.

He revealed that was long after he wrote Old Ben Lucas when he was 11 and belatedly reached older audiences on the recorded version that featured Eric Clapton on Dobro after their chance meeting in a men's room on the 1976 Rolling Thunder tour with Bob Dylan.

This enabled the artist to introduce new pathos primed paean A Dog Named Freedom before revamping Waitret, Waitret, Please Sit On My Facebook and one of Nelson Mandela's nocturnal cell block sleepers Ride Em Jewboy .

The Kinkster also jerked tears in another new tune Sister Sarah before injecting humour with Asshole From El Paso - inspired by recently deceased Merle Haggard classic Okie From Muscogee .

Friedman described Merle, who died on his 79 th birthday on April 6, as “one of the greatest country songwriters” as he introduced his take on The Hag's Mama's Hungry Eyes .

His Peter LaFarge penned Ira Hayes tribute was adorned with customary Native American Thanksgiving greeting - “thanks for nothing.”

The artist didn't venture into the Clinton-Trump trap of his Press Club performance - not even being disappointed with Bernie Sanders early exit from the Presidential race.

“It would have been the first time a Jewish family replaced a black family in the White House,” was Kinky's wry regret.

Instead he reprised and read his eulogy to his paternal professor Tom who won a DFC for his Air Force heroics as The Navigator from his book Heroes of A Texas Childhood .

But he allowed a little indulgence for his 2006 Texas Gubernatorial candidature which earned him 700,000 votes and praise from Texan mentor Shotgun Willie.

“We won everywhere except Texas. As Willie says ‘the good thing is we are not in control.'”


“Zoe, Zoe, I know you'll never be wife/ Zoe, Zoe, I want you always in my life/ we met in Austin, Texas, when you were just a child/ now you are a woman of the world/ you could kill a man at 20 feet with a look or with a smile/ captain of the ocean or captain of my soul.” - Zoe - Kinky Friedman.

This enabled Kinky to introduce Zoe – his tear-stained tribute to his ever patient touring soul-mate.

With that revelation off his chest it was time for an existential exit with photographer Karpik's interaction and albino interuptus in crowd favourite They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore with comedic caveat “hearing Jesus loves you is very comforting - unless you are in a Mexican jail.”

It was the perfect prelude to his Judy Garland moment - “buy what you like and let it kill you.”

So it was time to introduce his fitting finale Sold American with an anecdote on a documentary about fellow star Glen Campbell suffering Alzheimer's disease.

“Glen Campbell recorded this on his album I Knew Jesus Before He Was A Superstar ,” the Kinkster explained.


“I saw this documentary on Glen having the disease you get when you lose your memory but I can't fucking remember what it's called.”

It was a hard act to follow but chauffeur Tracey Miller tried by taking the Echo Hill country Utopia dog shelter benefactor Kinky for post-concert drinks at the nearby noisy Dogs Bar .

Sadly, the only canine in residence was a stark statue - a black dog.

Not a freshly minted premiership preening red, white and blue barking bulldog.

It seemed like a bad omen and good time to jump a tram to find Alfa - sadly, still no sign of Nemo.

But that omen proved prophetic for photographer Karpik - those unseasonal storms of life blew the roof off his Blairgowrie hill-top home's garage due north of the Port Phillip Bay heads.

Maybe Nemo and Harold were exposed to too much hot air and emulated Trump and expelled their final fiery gust on dry land.

Review by David Dawson with photos by John Karpik

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