God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

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On Sunday, the city hosted its first -- but with any luck, not last -- Kurt Vonnegut appreciation event, with assorted celebrities (or what passes for them in this town) reading two-minutes snippets of his work, fans doing the same, and then Mayor John Hickenlooper -- whose father went to college with Vonnegut (read about it in this week's Off Limits) -- announcing the winner of the Vonnegut Depreciation Essay contest.

Kevin McCarthy took it, with his "Porterhouse - Jive":

All this is true. Except for some of the stuff about the marmot. And the Brylcreem.

You’re on your own there.

Everyone knows that God drives a powder blue Caddy, smokes Marlboros, and keeps things whirling along reasonably well, except on Thursdays. This is comforting. But back between the Second World War and the Great Driveby, things weren’t so certain. People were flinging themselves around the galaxy looking for answers. Fling, fling, fling.

This story is about one of the flingees. That’s because the flingers aren’t so interesting. They pal around with Vivaldi-spewing plastic gurus and talk to them. “How's the old PX-47?,” they say. “You and me, QT-305.” Let your flingers do the talking to the cello sages, say I.

Look: The town was Denver, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way, Universe, Lint, Navel, Badtempered Minor Deity. The Archangel of Wazee edged towards the door of the Wynkoop Brewery and paused. The glass and brass door was inviting enough, as doors go. But the archangel knew it was a portal to the laboratory for Nice Chime -- a beer so perfect that it could vaporize angst. The archangel liked angst. He was a Rockies fan. Nice Chime had so comforted the deluded that many believed the team was going to the World Series. High hopes.

Once the Archangel of Wazee was just plain old Wally Incubus of Chugacupacoffee, Indiana. That was before he met Denverado Mildwhack. Denverado was one of those women who made every man want to fill her up with Peach Koopler. Wally didn’t know she had been kidnapped by Bugeeders from the planet Trufflesomore and programmed to enslave him using Nice Chime. He just knew she made him feel cryptocrystalline. So it grows.

Denverado had converted Wally to Barkaloungism, a bric-a-brac religion founded by insomniac air traffic controllers. The sacred texts were sung in doo-wop. Wally became an avid “Barker,” even channeling some new verses, or Babarams. Sing with me:

(ooooooo) I likey to bikey, you likey to hikey, so let’s point our Nikes To that place on the Platte, where no one is fat: (dit-dit-dat, dit-dit dat) God’s d-d-dojo (ooooweeeeyooooowaaaaah)

Denverado knew right away that Wally was really the Archangel of Wazee, as foretold in the Carnal Conundrums of Colfax, and that they needed to hightail it a mile high. They had been in the Queen City a hundred eons that summer when the archangel walked into the sacred provenance of Nice Chime. There sat Denverado, slurping some Mighty Red Gumbo. She rolled her teary eyes to heaven and uttered the usual benediction.

“God Bless you, Mayor Hickenlooper.”

After the readings, many in the LoDo Tattered Cover audience headed over to the Wynkoop Brewing Company to drink beer brewed in honor of Vonnegut (whose grandfather was an award-winning brewer), swap stories and generally celebrate a city that takes good literature seriously -- but not itself so seriously that it can't enjoy culture and camaraderie at the same time. -- Patricia Calhoun

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.