Ear to the ground

“Boy, I wonder if the bar’s going to be open?”

-A Durango parent contemplating attending Mysto the Magi’s Magical Showcase this Saturday at the Abbey Theatre

A visit to Rosewater’s

Kurt Vonnegut packed his bags, joined his characters Billy Pilgrim, Kilgore Trout and Malachi Constant and blasted off for Saturn’s moon Titan on April 11. The novelist known for his mix of comedy, satire and science fiction passed away at 84, but not before leaving a profound mark on the world and on the Durango community.

In addition to authoring influential works likeSlaughterhouse FiveandCat’s Cradle, Vonnegut was an active speaker at institutions around the country. In 1984, he visited Durango to speak to students at Fort Lewis College.

Fort Lewis College Professor of English Larry Hartsfield was present at the FLC Fieldhouse (now Whalen Gymnasium) the day Vonnegut spoke. Among Hartsfield’s best memories of the author was that Vonnegut had been impressed by a Durango deli.

“Vonnegut stayed at the Strater when he came for the lecture and spent the afternoon wandering around town a bit,” recalled Hartsfield. “(Durango) used to have a sandwich shop/deli between College and 5th that was called Rosewater’s Deli after one of Vonnegut’s characters. Each of the sandwiches was also named after a Vonnegut character. Vonnegut discovered this deli by chance but spoke of it during his speech and said how moved he was to discover this deli.”

In the talk, Vonnegut also spoke of two of his favorite themes, political hypocrisy and deceit. But, according to Hartsfield, Vonnegut’s main message was the importance of treating each other with decency and kindness.

“I believe that Vonnegut is one of the most important American voices of the last 50 years, and I often teach his works – especiallyGalapagos,Cat’s Cradle,Bluebeard,andHocus Pocus,” Hartsfield said.“Vonnegut was always concerned with asking readers to examine the belief systems through which they approached the world and the relationship of those belief systems to the ways we treated each other.”

Hartfield added that while Vonnegut always addressed the hard issues, he did it with a light heart. “He wanted us to examine our illusions and realize how damaging some of those illusions such as racism, sexism or fascism could be, but he also wanted us to not take ourselves too seriously,” he said. “Vonnegut’s works remind us to live our lives as fully and with as much joy as possible.”


In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale