In May of 2008 activist and M*A*S*H alum Mike Farrell embarked on a month long car tour to promote his autobiography, "Just Call Me Mike." Farrell and his wife, actress Shelley Fabares, had been scheduled around the country for book signing events sponsored by local social justice organizations. But just as the tour was about to start, Fabares suffered a mishap and subsequently underwent hip replacement surgery. Rather than cancel the long-scheduled events, she urged Farrell to continue on, solo. He rented a Prius (which he nicknamed "Mule") and he was off.
Farrell's dispatches, which first appeared on the Huffington Post blog, have now become a book, "Of Mule and Man" ($15.95 in paperback from Akashic Books). The author and the Prius became fast friends. "I sometimes refer to Mule as a 'he' and sometimes as a 'she.' That's not an error. Mule is a hybrid, after all, and sometimes he seems to be a he and sometimes she seems to be a she. And I've become accustomed to both.")
Farrell, who was in Chico last September, returns for a signing and discussion at Lyon Books in Chico this coming Tuesday, June 23, at 7:00 p.m. Cosponsored by the Chico Peace and Justice Center and Death Penalty Focus, the talk will highlight some of the ups and downs of the tour and emphasize the human rights issues to which Farrell has devoted his life.
In New Mexico he spends time with former ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson. In Maryland a woman asks him to list the "three most critically important things we had to do to get this country back on track." Farrell replies: "Elect Barack Obama, elect Barack Obama, elect Barack Obama." (He calls George W. Bush a "pathetic, smirking narcissist.")
Eventually Mule had to go back to the rental lot. "But I do want her to know," Farrell writes, almost wistfully, "how grateful I am for the way she has taken care of me. How do you say thank you to a critter who carried you 8,882 miles, through twenty-nine states, through deserts and mountains, heat and cold, sunshine and downpour, dancing around tornadoes and floods, all in just under five weeks' time?"
Candid, salty, and passionate. That's Mike Farrell.