top of page

Delta Blues and Vonnegut News

By Naomi Serviss

Best-selling Author Kirk Vonnegut  (1922-2007)
Legendary Author Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

Last week, Lew and I boarded an

Indiana-bound Delta flight.

Sanitized wipes in impossible-to-open packets

were handed out to each passenger.

I squelched my inner guffaw.

It was wishful thinking that

wiping down our tray tables and arm rests would save us from the virus.

I wiped everything down, anyway.

It couldn’t hurt.

I even flew on Delta Air Lines

and didn’t think that was a bad omen.

I still mask sensibly and carry a spare.

Because, why not?

It couldn’t hurt!


“It couldn’t hoit.”

Rim shot!

That perfect riposte, a punchline for many a Borscht Belt comic,

has long been woven into the Serviss nomenclature.

It’s a great tagline,

suitable for any occasion.

Here’s something I’ve learned recently:

Don’t argue with people

who dismiss


Even if one is my walking partner

and the other is my sister.

Kurt Vonnegut’s omniscient brilliance

illuminated my sepia life when I was 15.

His words echoed bits of my world in tone, subject and biting sarcastic wit.

Vonnegut’s artful prose sparked

wild curiosity and unhinged imagination.

Player Piano, his earliest novel, was published 69 years ago.

In it, Vonnegut savagely constructs a dehumanized world.

The computers won after all!

It holds up well today.

Next year will be its

70th publication anniversary!

It will be celebrated

In Indianapolis, his hometown, and throughout the literary world.

In Player Piano, computers have overpowered humanity.

Not a surprise, considering.

Picture Orwell’s Animal Farm time warping with Alice in Wonderland.

I still have my original 95-cent copy,

yellowed around the edges.

The cover is taped to the paperback.

This ancient novel survived more than

a dozen moves crisscrossing the country.

Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five and

Sirens of Titan devastated and enlightened.

Vonnegut wrote more than 120 stories, dozens of essays and penned ink drawings for fun and profit.

He survived WWII as a 22-year-old POW during the

horrifying firebombing of Dresden.

Slaughterhouse-Five still ranks among the top antiwar books.

In the late ‘60s, viewers watched

the Vietnam War news on television during dinner time.

We rode buses to Washington to protest.

Slaughterhouse-Five was, in 1969 parlance, “heavy.”

It was being read on college campuses

and shared the pre-social media way, with an actual book!

And banned!

Vonnegut was a free-speech champion

and tirelessly used language to debunk censors and hypocrites.

He’s an icon to aficionados.

And very quotable.

My kids know how much I value Vonnegut’s art

and social commentary.

Last Friday, my son Ben steered the family to the quirkily astonishing Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Museum, in Indianapolis!

Who knew?

Vonnegut was born into wealth

in a land of cornfields and dreams.

His family helped put the city on the map.

The museum operated a lending library of

worldwide censored books.

Then the pandemic happened.

The lending stopped.

Now the operators are eager for visitors.

Virus-wise, I’m feeling a little looser these days.

Delta and other mutations have me concerned,

but not worried.

Coming back to LaGuardia Airport after our flight last week

was just as torturous

as pre-pandemic.

Over-crowded, claustrophobic

and anxiety-triggering.

Construction equipment and

confusing signage everywhere.

The usual.

A surprisingly high percentage of

travelers were masked.

That was comforting.

But the screaming toddlers and strollered

babies were a familiar downer.

Decades ago, Lew and I flew to California

with two-year-old Emily and months-old Benjamin.

We had wisely reserved the bulkhead,

where kids could play games on the floor

and fill coloring books.

Flying was a positive experience then.

That six-hour trip ended as begun:


I credit the dozen toddler and baby books

brought to ensure

a pleasantly tolerable excursion.

Spalding Gray, another favorite writer,

reflected on life’s unpredictable perfect moments.

Indescribable, but you know it when you’re having one.

Our family shared a perfect four days

in the Midwest,

meeting new relatives, blowing bubbles and watching

rainbow confetti waft through a summer’s breeze.

So it goes.


Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including



bottom of page