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Friday, April 13, 2007

A Sermon for Kurt (of the Vonnegut variety)

Alright, alright, everybody sit down, sit down. This is a FUNERAL for crepe’s sake, not a burlesque house…that’s at six.

Hokay, now that everybody’s settled, I think it’s time to take a toast to my dear friend, Kurt, 84 years ancient; his obliterated Paul Maul endorsed lungs no longer breathing in air. As a personal admirer of the man who only knew him through his books, I believe I am the end all, be all authority to talk about his life history, for who else is qualified, his wife and kids?

And while the answer to that rhetorical question might be an obvious, “yes”, they’re not here right now, and supposedly didn’t receive the 389 emails I sent them.

So…so it goes.

Kurt grew up a young boy like most young boys. The only problem being that his father was an oft-unemployed dreamer, and his mother was a pill popper who one day mixed her Flintstone pills with her booze and never woke up again. This, I’m sure you can gather, was a suicide that would rest heavily on Kurt’s soul, and often was the reason why there was always a hint of sadness in his mirth—a punch to the heart for every donkey kick to the funny bone his one word paragraphs would deliver.

Because, in all truths, Kurt really wasn’t a very happy man. In his masterwork, Slaughterhouse 5, he recounted his occupation in World War 2, which was a war that he saw some terrible things in, and also some pretty funny (But not funny, “ha-ha”) things in as well. Like the fire bombing of Dresden, for instance. Believe it or not, Kurt actually LIVED through it by staying stored up in a meat locker with a bunch of Germans at the time. And when reading the book, you really can’t tell which Kurt found funnier, the firebombing, or the fact that he came out of it alive. And to be honest with you, I don’t think he even knew the answer to that himself, which makes him even MORE of a mystery. That crazy moralist always WAS kind of “funny” in that way.

But Kurt had a whole bunch of other books, too, and to think that people usually characterize him based on just that one makes me want vomit in a fit of rage! And Mountain Dew. But mostly rage!

Player Piano, his first novel, is a masterpiece that goes into the whole HAL issue (When will robots start taking over, already?) before HAL was even a twinkle in Arthur C Clarke’s eye. And The Sirens of Titan, a head trip if there ever was one, tackled questions that I can’t quite remember right now, but it was an adventure all the same, as all of his stories were.

Following Sirens was Mother Night, and following that was…Well, I’m not going to read you off the list I have in front of me right now. In the age of wikipedia and iTunes, or whatever you kids use to steal Sir Mix-a-Lot songs these days, I don’t have to read you off the titles, as you can just look them up yourself. But I will tell you this, they’re all wonderful, introspective, brilliant; tickle your belly button, hoo-ha’s, that should be read by all ages, no matter the generation, or whether you’re squeamish to a well-told story fattened up in all the right places with humor.

So, Kurt, hopefully resting on Tralfamadore with your sister, Alice, your brother Bernard, your doppelganger Kilgore, and all the other crazy, hepped up characters you lifted your ass up for and farted out, God bless you, and your Unitarian ways. If there’s anything this Earth ever did get right, is was messing you up in all the wrong ways for you to write your stories and make the rest of us show our toothiest grin to the world. And while that may be a horrible thing to say, somehow, I think it’s what you really thought, too. (*Turns around and ruffles Kurt’s hair*)

And so it goes, forever and ever. Amen.

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