Today, we skip through time into Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s absurdist anti-war sci-fi satire Slaughterhouse-Five. One man’s fatalistic journey back and forth from alien zoos, mind-numbing suburbia, carpet-bombed city remains, traumatic swimming lessons, and pre-determined futures. An audio mix in glorious non-linear!
Listen to the SH5 mix here, because you already have listened to it and you always will.
“All this happened, more or less.”:
Telstar – The Tornadoes / As We Go Up, We Go Down – Guided by Voices
KVj always played such a great unreliable narrator because he could seamlessly be funny, horrifying, and thought-provoking at the same time. I have trouble having any one idiosyncrasy (well, other than sleepy or boring) at any given time.
Billy Pilgrim: Once in A Lifetime – Talking Heads / Do It All Over Again – Spiritualized
Debate time: Broken soldier’s PTSD-garbled mind, misunderstood time-travelling abductee’s cautionary tale, or a parabolic representation of a desperate longing for a new model to explain away human tragedies. Any way you slice it, you gotta love that jacket.
Roland Weary: Tin Soldier – The Small Faces
Jingoistic! Gosh, I love being able to use that word.
Unstuck in Time: Trail of Time – The Knitters
Time travel is so much more efficient sans Delorean. Unfortunately, it’s also considerably less handsome without Michael J Fox.
The Alien Zoo: In a Jar – Dinosaur Jr
Shake ‘em and see if they fight! With humans, it’s usually that easy.
Tralfamadorians: Little Hands – “Skip” Spence
I can’t believe aliens that are essentially hands with plunger bottoms are the things that kill the universe. I was sure it was going to be the Republicans.
Montana Wildhack: Another Girl, Another Planet – Only Ones
Sure, if I do happen to get abducted by aliens I’d love to have naked model-actress cellmate. However, I’d probably just end up with a boilerplate probing.
Edgar Derby: Slow Death – The Flamin’ Groovies
I suppose we all know we are going to die, but not quite with the same intimacy and inevitability as the lovable English teacher’s foretold demise. He always makes me think twice when I contemplating looting me up a teapot.
Suburban Life: Everybody’s Happy Nowadays – The Buzzcocks
Wars, abductions, imprisonment, bombings, assassination, and the only time Pilgrim ever seemed miserable as when he was a successful doctor and family man.
Kilgore Trout: Books About UFOs – Hüsker Dü
My absolute favorite part of SH5 is the vignettes describing Trout’s novels (a moneytree fertilized by human murder, the robot with bad breath, the time-traveller measuring Jesus’ height). Heck, Vonnegut’s alter-ego’s ideas for made-up novels are better than most science fiction.
Paul Lazzaro: Sweet Revenge – John Prine
Cotton candy is probably the sweetest thing. Revenge is a close second though.
Lasergun Assassination: My Days are Numbered – Close Lobsters
Omniscient knowledge of the exact moment of death isn’t so bad when you know you death is a pleasant purple with a soft hum (and then you can go back to some more satisfying life event). I still would probably prefer not to get lasered in the head. Hey, you remember that X-Files with Peter Boyle where he could tell you how you’ll die? That was a great episode.
Unstuck in Time: Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies
Déjà vu all over again.
Schlachthof-funf: Underneath the Bunker – REM
The slaughterhouse is the safest place to be? Yeah, we’ve heard that one before say the cows.
Abducted for the first time again: U.F.O. – Jim Sullivan
I feel its only appropriate to include an artist that was actually abducted by a UFO. Hopefully, he is doing as well as Pilgrim in the whole forcible mating department.
Dresden: Its Hard to Believe – Glenda Collins
We always like to think of ourselves as the good guys, but, um, yeah.
The Greatest Moment: Good Feeling – Violent Femmes
Riding a cart around firebombed city might not be my selection for the moment to relive over and over. Mine would probably be my chicken wing eating contest championship 2003. Coincidentally, the moment I would least like to relive is about an hour after my aforementioned greatest moment.
“So it goes.”: So It Goes – Nick Lowe
After every time I read this book and get this three word mantra “ohrwurming” in my head, I can’t tell if Vonnegut is laughing at or crying about the human capacity to accept and dismiss the myriad of senseless horrors. Probably both.
“Poo-tee-weet?”: To Here Knows When – My Bloody Valentine
I guess a little bird song is probably about the most intelligent thing that can be said about war. If only everything was beautiful and nothing hurt…