This week, journalist and musician Paul Myers joins host Liam McEneaney and resident panelists Frank Conniff, Kevin Maher, and Catherine Popper, as they talk about the Top pieces of Pop Culture that shaped their worldview, changed their lives, and made a huge impression on them. Topics range from Kurt Vonnegut to the Beatles, from dollar records to Dr. Strangelove.
PAUL MYERS is a musician, songwriter, radio host, and journalist. He has an article in this month’s Mojo magazine, and is currently at work with comedy troupe The Kids In The Hall on an authorized autobiography of the legendary group.
Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007)
Kurt Vonnegut was born in 1922, on Armistice Day, in Indianapolis, IN. His father was a well-to-do architect whose fortunes, job opportunities, and mental health fell off drastically with the Great Depression. As a teenager, Vonnegut attended Shortridge High School, where he served as a writer and editor on the school paper, the Shortridge Daily Echo. After high school he enrolled in New York’s Cornell University. Although he lent his writing and editorial skills to the Cornell Sun, his major was biochemistry – a choice made at the urging of his father, who believed that a degree in the hard sciences would better prepare his son for financial success than had his own background in architecture – yet Vonnegut performed rather poorly in these studies and ended up leaving Cornell to join the U.S. Army in 1942.
Much later, Vonnegut’s World War II experience would form the core of his novel
Slaughterhouse Five, published in 1969, during escalating opposition to the Vietnam War. Vonnegut’s characterization of WWII, and all wars, as a “children’s crusade”, coupled with his sardonic depiction of the horrors of war, provided a potent antidote to patriotism and the Hollywood glamorization of battle. Yet horrifying as his WWII experience was, Vonnegut feels proud to have served, believing that it was an instance where intervention was the decent thing to do.
Kurt Vonnegut combined satiric social commentary and black comedy with surrealist and science fictional elements. His best known works are Player Piano (1952), Cat’s Cradle (1963),Slaughterhouse-Five (1969; film, 1972), and Breakfast of Champions (1973). Known for his outspoken political opinions, Vonnegut also produced a host of essays, articles, and short stories. A number of his works have been translated into television or film, and he graced a few of these with cameo appearances. Vonnegut was also a graphic artist, and illustrated a number of his works himself.