Sincere Thanks to Kurt’s Karass
“If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.” This was one of the themes of Night of Vonnegut, sponsored in part by Wabash College on April 11. While “So it goes” and other quotes were referenced as part of our 50th anniversary celebration of Slaughterhouse-Five, the theme of the evening related to Vonnegut’s courage in sharing his honest description of war at a time in our country when people didn’t necessarily want to be honest about war. The truth was often too ugly for people. Interestingly, Greg Castanias (who served as Honorary Co-Chair of the event, along with his wife Jane) further reflected on the book by describing how he discovered that his own father was one of those service members involved in the firebombing of Dresden.
And if that story wasn’t interesting enough, Night of Vonnegut featured an author, who, like Vonnegut has been banned. Best-selling author Salman Rushdie, who was interviewed by the exceptional historian Douglas Brinkley, wowed the crowd. The introduction to Rushdie was given by an 11-year-old student, Sophie Maurer, who has read Rushdie’s work. Her speech on freedom of expression and her appreciation of Rushdie led to a standing ovation. Rushdie’s thoughtful perspectives and sharp wit also brought our nearly 400-person audience to its feet.
And if that wasn’t enough, something else made the evening magical. It could have been the two Shortridge High School students, Lucy Pickett and Corbin Katner, who received $1,000 scholarships for their thoughtful essays on Slaughterhouse-Five.
It could have been the film world-renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist Kimbal Musk shared with us as we presented the Common Decency Award to him in absentia. It could have been the folks from Jockamo Upper Crust, who won this year’s first-ever Kurt Vonnegut Cuisine Award. It could have been the extraordinary Rushdie/Brinkley conversation. It could have been the creative and hilarious 1969 costumes. It could have been all the food vendors that donated to us that night. It could have been the far-out 1969 music. It could have been the presentation we gave about the ways in which 543 Indiana Avenue will make the ideal permanent home for KVML. It could have been the fact that our friend Mickey Maurer led the fundraising call-out, which raised more than $190,000 in cash and pledges that night. It could have been any of those things or any number of additional aspects of the evening that made it special – that made it really stand out as the BEST EVER Night of Vonnegut.
I think it could be summed up as one clear thing that made the evening so special – Kurt’s Karass – from everyone listed above to the committee that planned the event along with the hardworking staff, the volunteers who showed up to do the thankless jobs, the journalists who wanted to mark this moment in our local history, the board members who helped to fill the tables with guests and asked them to donate to our cause, and to our very generous sponsors, this event could not have happened without a loving Karass that knows Vonnegut matters and recognizes that our mission of advocating for free expression and common decency is important.
We thank you all!