Friday, April 13, 2007

He Told the Truth, Mostly

I used to watch Kurt Vonnegut at a bus stop on 47th and Third. He would hang out, watching people and I watched him. I never approached the man, never spoke to him. I can tell you that he moved like a sloth. Deliberately, slowly and it was maddening how little movement you sometimes got out of him on any given lunch hour that I spied him at that bus stop.

I happened to be in Manhattan yesterday. I stopped by the bus stop to pay my respects.

Vonnegut had a tremendous influence on my life. I read Palm Sunday in high school. It was the first Vonnegut novel I read and I think I shall re-read it now. It's one of the only ones that I've read once. All the others are dog-eared. I kept reading him in college, even though none of the courses I took required his books. Rather, as an enormously shy, long haired solitary kid who had the socialization skills of a rock, I spent hours at the college train station reading Vonnegut. When I wasn't fantasizing about getting on the next train home, I was in his world, figuring out what he was trying to tell me or not as the case may be. Mr. Vonnegut had a bent for encouraging self discovery and independent thought.

Couple of things that have stayed with me from Vonnegut:

-describing the blood of army scouts turning snow to cherry slush.
-Sally in the garden, sifting cinders, lifted up her leg and farted like a man. The bursting of her bloomers broke sixteen winders and the cheeks of her ass went (you need your hands now).
-Po-teee-weeet.
-A love of Twain.
-His Indiana accent that was like a bandsaw cutting galvanized tin.
-Being merciless. If a phrase or sentence does not illuminate or describe your subject in a new and unique way, scratch it out.

I disagreed with the man fervently in later years. A written response to one of his tomes, emailed back to the friend who emailed it to me cost me that friendship. I haven't heard from Marty since.

Too bad. I think for myself and I stick to my guns. Vonnegut would have despised me but respected me all the same and I him. So it goes.

Goodbye Kurt. And thanks. When I crawled out of my freshman shell at college and traded your books for a beer glass and friends, they used to say to me that they thought I was some super intelligent grad student immersed in serious work taking time out for intellectual exercise at the train station.

How's that for foma?

Bunny on.

1 Comments:

Blogger Sis said...

1) Sometimes living by the untruths is our only option; 2) Our friends often have better vision than we do.

11:13 AM  

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