Day Four: Listen:

I have seen a lot of people this week. They all have stories. Most are Kurt fans already. Like-minded people come here to explore his life, or to just say, “yes” to the freedom to read.

Occasionally you get someone who is not so familiar with Kurt (we are on a first name basis now). These are the most fun for me. I get to articulate my own thoughts and feelings, and cultivate a new reader into the Vonnegut fold. I like that. Pay it forward.

I sleep behind a wall of banned books (short for banned, challenged, etc.). People love it. They want to see how many they have read. They ask how many I have read. They marvel at the inclusion of Charlotte’s Web, or Little Women. Its easier for them to grasp why Lolita or A Clockwork Orange are there, but a little harder to grasp the more subtle insanity of including the seemingly innocent tales of women and children.

Go figure.

They want to know why I am doing this. What’s the point? That’s tougher. It all makes perfect sense to me. I usually say its because I don’t want some one else deciding what I or my children can read. By all means decide what your own children read. That’s called parenting. But when it extends to what others read, that’s called censorship.

Being Locked Up with Vonnegut is the inverse of “celebrity.” Everyone knows you are here, but no one knows who you are or why. And when you tell them, they nod politely but it all seems to work out. Surprisingly few librarians though. I hope they are all busy with Banned Book Week.

Sleeping in a window is a little bizarre. I fortunately attract little attention from the bar patrons across the street. People look, nod and move on. But I’m still waiting…

And they feed me. Well. Tonight I shucked my own oysters (from Milktooth…the hottest restaurant in Indy). It all goes up on Facebook and my colleagues are finding it hard to digest that I’m somehow “imprisoned.” It’s certainly not like prison, and I won’t pretend it is. But I am locked up here in the KVML. It’s not prison, but it “ain’t no picnic either” (Unless you count the food, and I do.)

Speaking of food…a bunch of thanks to Public Greens, Books & Brews, Libertine, Fresco Italian Café, Milktooth and especially Sarah at NUVO for putting it all together foodwise. Such a great food scene here in Indy.

One of the best parts of each day are the programs each day at noon and six pm. Smart, interesting people saying smart, interesting things. While I thought I would learn a lot about Kurt, banned books, censorship and downtown nightlife (I did), I didn’t expect to finally learn about poetry. I heard a lot of it this week. Joe Heithaus, Marc Hudson and Tyrone Williams moved me in unexpected ways. Constance Macy introduced me (figuratively) to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I am forever in her debt.

And of course, I still have a job. I’m not asking for sympathy, that’s just how it is. So I feel uncertain whether I am failing or succeeding at either.

All that said, it’s invigorating, interesting, heartwarming and fun (most of the time). I so appreciate everyone here. Their spirit, curiosity, taste in music, all of it. It’s a good gig.


From the window…

Rick Provine

September 30, 2015



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