Wednesday, January 03, 2007

the year of the vonnegut

2007 is officially the "year of kurt vonnegut" in indianapolis, according to this week's nuvo cover story. this means there will be tons of vonnegut shiz going on all year: lectures, discussion groups, tours, maybe some kind of "performing arts dimension".

vonnegut is not only one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century (who frequently discussed indiana and indianapolis in his novels), but his family is closely tied to indianapolis history—his father and grandfather were architects who designed numerous local landmarks. as such, a citywide celebration of vonnegut's work is such a natural fit that one wonders why it didn't already happen years ago.

according to the nuvo article, which is worth a read for the local historical stuff, the year of vonnegut is largely the brainchild of mayor bart peterson. the mayor's history of arts support is mixed—the local electronic music scene never recovered after peterson's "rave crackdown" a few years back, and his crusade against violent video games is troubling—but he and the city have done a lot to support highbrow art over the course of his administration, at least, as well as sponsoring events like MMS for the common rock fan.

i won't include any quotes about all the year's vonnegut events; you can read up on that for yourself. but i couldn't resist this. at the end of the article is a short interview with vonnegut about the year's fesitivities, which includes this great quote from vonnegut about growing up as a german-american back in the day:

One thing you must acknowledge is that the Anglo-Americans hated the Germans. The Athenaeum used to be Das Deutsches Haus, the German House. Yellow paint was splashed over the front of it. The Germans had given the same offense that the Armenians had given in Turkey, and the Ebos had given in Nigeria, and the Jews had given in Germany: They were so successful, finally the Anglos were saying, "Who the hell's country is this?"

One thing that I regret is that my parents, who were fluent in German and could so easily have taught me, didn't. My father told me he got a letter saying, "Don't teach your kids that Dutch!" The hatred was really quite something — and painful in a business way, too.

sound familiar? same talk, different immigrants. 50–80 years from now, latinos will be fully assimilated into US culture (assuming it survives!) and those of us who're still around will have to put up with anti-robot hate speech.

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