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06.10.09

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Phaedra

Nice Guy: Mike Farrell of TV's M*A*S*H has become a champion of numerous environmental and social causes.

Travels With Muley

One book leads to another when Mike Farrell hits the road to promote a memoir

By Alex Shigenaga


IT TOOK Mike Farrell 31 days to drive himself from one side of this country to other and back. At least now he knows that it doesn't have to take a lot of gas.

To promote his acclaimed memoir, Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist, Farrell embarked on a book tour with just a single companion, a rented Prius affectionately nicknamed Mule. Navigating the never-ending booksignings, radio interviews and perils of the road, Of Mule and Man (Akashic Books; 222 pages; $15.95 paperback) has Farrell passionately speaking on some of America's thorniest issues. Interwoven with Farrell's developing affection for his Prius is a running commentary on electoral politics, social activism and American life, all amidst the backdrop of the heated 2008 presidential race.

While he may best be remembered as B.J. Hunnicut of M*A*S*H fame--precisely the kind of association that former actors often find irritating--Farrell's activism is not dissimilar to the show to which he owes his celebrity. While comedic and entertaining, both have the guts to tackle real-world problems. Of Mule and Man lends page space to the organizations that co-sponsor his events. Among these organizations are Greenpeace, SEIU, chapters of the ACLU and the Death Penalty Focus. Although it's hard to ignore Farrell's political slant, it is admirable that he doesn't lose sight of what's important in life: friends, family and community (and a Lakers win).

What is most endearing about Farrell's adventure, though, is his humility and gratitude. His celebrity is no doubt a means by which to gather support for the causes he stands behind himself, but at every stop in every city he is stunned by the kind and inquisitive crowds from which he fields questions. Through this, his respect for community leaders, fellow activists and fans shines through the pages.

Thankfully, his conversational writing style isn't weighed down by pessimistic rants. That isn't to say he's exempt from them, though. Cruising through Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas, he muses about the difficulty of hybrid technology and scoffs at the conservative-dominated airwaves of the Red States. "I don't like this," Mule grunts. Welcome to America.


MIKE FARRELL reads from 'Of Mule and Man' on Monday, June 15, at 7:30pm at Capitola Book Café, 1475 41st Ave., Capitola. (831.462.4415)


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