Hanging Out With Vaclav Havel

I once interviewed Vaclav Havel, the Czech writer and leader who has died. We were in New York and what struck me about him was his generosity. There I was, a young journalist with only a few credits to his name, and this leading Cold War dissident gave me an afternoon of his time. We walked around New York, talking about theatre and politics, yes, but also just shooting the breeze. We ended up at a jazz club in the Village, and listened to an early set of a quintet whose name I forget. I remember that when we parted it was cold: a wind had come up while we were in the warm confines of the club, and Havel didn’t have a hat. I gave him mine. His thanks were simple, direct: unforgettable.

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