Sketching assholes on the other side.

The news it came to me today in the form of a watered down newspaper designed to feed the need for news in a society with an eroding attention span. Kurt Vonnegut had passed. My stomach fell a little bit, and it wasn't the homeless smell drifting from the corner of the train this time. This was a man, who genuinely changed the way I looked at things (Vonnegut not the homeless guy, although I must admit, I have never read any of the homeless guys work). There were others before, I remember writing something similar when Ken Kesey died and certainly John Hartford. But Vonnegut was different. He fed me. He motivated me. He led me on adventures that were as ridiculous as they were beautiful. His cynicism spoke so loudly, and somehow it was never bitter, that is just the way it was. He spelled things out for you in all their absurd glory, then he tipped them on their side just to put everything in perspective.

I remember buying Cat's Cradle at the San Francisco airport. I started reading it when we took off, I finished the last words just as we touched down in Detroit. The wings could have fell off that plane, I would have never known... I wasn't there. I was with Newt and the Hoosiers, learning to embrace the end of the world. I was hooked. I have read three other Vonnegut books in one sitting and believe me this is no testament to me, it is all on him. The tales are so insanely structured, so gloriously ridiculous, but at the same time rooted in the simplest of topics.

I think above all what I learned from Kurt Vonnegut was to question what you think you know and to feed your imagination. Just because someone tells you something is someway or you read it in a book, Don't take it as fact. Learn it for yourself. The way he presented the absurd with such reckless abandon, but somehow made it seem common place. He noticed the deliciousness in the ridiculous and he help the reader appreciate it too... and in many cases notice it for the first time.

The thing I have said many times about reading a Vonnegut novel is this. I try every time to get him, to catch something that he will leave unfinished, a question left unanswered a plot left unexplored. He sets up this wonderful circus of tangled insanity, lets it dance around like a drunken clown and like then at the end... OH, the end, he so magnificently takes every little drop of beautiful wackiness, even the tiny mouse droppings, and wraps it up into a nice neat little easily digestible package, puts it in your lap, then smacks you on the back of the head while he smokes a cigarette and complains about the weather. You can do nothing but sit there in amazement or call him a "Bastard." The latter being the bigger compliment.

I have no doubt that he is somewhere right now asking questions that are spot on, making comments that are even more profound and sketching assholes with the mighty flaming tornado in the sky.

Kurt Vonnegut, quite possibly the person that I never met that I least wanted to keep that way. If I would have met you, I would say "I'll miss you," since I hadn't I will just say, "Good luck with the beaver mag that is eternity."

So it goes.

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