Ellen Carpenter is the quintessential journalist: professional, talented, and hard working. However, with the current title deputy editor of Nylon Magazine and previously an editor for both Rolling Stone Magazine and Spin Magazine, these cookie-cut definitions don’t, well, cut it. Ellen Carpenter is more than a journalist. She’s a mother, a music enthusiast, and “a theater geek”– above all, she is passionate.
“‘So,’ said Billy gropingly, ‘I suppose that the idea of preventing war on Earth is stupid, too.’ (Vonnegut).” War and literature are sanguinely germane to Kurt Vonnegut. Throughout the Vietnam War, he and postmodern authors analogous depicted the intergalactic—through the wonted use of space travel—as a literal and imaginative frontier to essentially homestead. In Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five, space travel functions as an escape from protagonist Billy Pilgrim’s psychological problems, elicited from his particular and personal experience in World War II; thus metaphorically exemplifying the lives of the American people and the austere realities they faced in the 1950s through 1970s during the Vietnam War. Vonnegut’s science fiction novel, published in 1969, (Reiko, 1) creates literary escapism from subsisting with the experiences that Vietnam brought and continued to produce. The recurring theme in American science fiction—space travel—emerged from the post-depression period, epitomized in Slaughterhouse-five: Where celestial crossings and the fourth dimension symbolically imply forms of detachment from reality and the repercussions of war.
“I wish I was your age,” Rick Kogan – yes, the Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune – says to one of Columbia College’s introduction to journalism classes that I happen to be apart of. A few of us twist around the plastic chairs to get a glimpse at the man of the hour. I am in the front row of a beautiful conference room with a beautiful view at WBEZ’s Navy Pier home, waiting to be enlightened. Truthfully, I had been doubtful: do I really want to be a journalist? This is a dying field. Rick Kogan walks up the isle with the confidence only a cultured, urbane writer can. “You’re in for a remarkable journey,” he says to our wide-eyed, diverse class. And so it begins.
I was on a bus yesterday. If you know anything about Chicago public transit, you would know why this is a semi-significant fact. You and I were going to Navy Pier. Not together. We walked to the back of the bus to lean against the dusty carpeted walls. How does that happen? You don’t know either. There was a grandmother with a grandchild. She is looking around at everyone, she is standing and smiling and nodding. Like a simpering tiger; this is my kill. This is mine. It’s so bittersweet. So caustic.
The fundamental soundtrack to CTA was an old bum rambling endlessly. I hate bums. In Chicago, there’s a palpable difference between the homeless, and the bums. Palpable like an orange, ripened with forearm tracks and too much sun. I hate that. The milky skin right under your elbow crease is lined with light green streams and now needle scabs with purple rings. It’s terrible, you know? It’s awful. It’s so corrupt. This bum, this woman, loves the grandchild. In a parallel universe, this grandchild is hers. You always say that, like a pompously, precisely philosophical catchphrase out of your comics. But in this paperback our little boy is you. He is attached to the legs of his tiger. He is turning away from this fat, this old and grimy woman pointedly stating she knows him. And she knows his secrets. She knows he loves her. She is pointing and staring into his vast, vast eyes, “I know you little boy. I know you.” And he understands her. He understands she really and truly can read his thoughts and is inside his innocence, ripping it seam by seam. We are watching this from a two rows’ difference with several suitcases, several guitar cases blocking the poignant show. This show no one fathoms but you and I.