Remembering Vaclav Havel

“Politics is a kind of dough that one is eternally kneading; one can almost never say: the objective has been achieved; I can cross it off my list and turn to other matters.”

— Vaclav Havel

I’ll always remember Havel, at least for the “Velvet Revolution” in the Czech Republic. Prior to this he was a playwright and imprisoned along the way for speaking out.

While leading the country following the Velvet Revolution he made a visit to one of the colleges in St. Paul where he spoke. I was able to get a press pass from the Austin Daily Herald. Unfortunately the photograph I shot following his speech didn’t turn out. But at least I saw him and I’ve continued to read most of his works.

Knowles Daugherty informed me that a little theater attached to a bowling alley in Minneapolis performed a play of his that I was able to enjoy.

A few years later I watched him answer questions from an audience with Madeline Albright who had served as Secretary of State under Bill Clinton. I think Havel only lasted in office for one term and nearly died from some type of illness.

“Vaclav Havel, the Authorized Biography,” by Eda Kriseova, I would strongly recommend as well as any of his plays if you were interested. In it, it says: “He foresees the day when the world will have evolved so far that no one cares anymore whether a person who claims to believe something is serious or not. If he were serious, he would probably even be considered a lunatic and a fool.” Hmmmmm?

The other day I took back to the library a book about the virtue of forgetting in the digital age. Before leaving I checked it back out. When talking to Brandon, the librarian about it he said, “You don’t miss what you never had.” I started reading it on a bench along side the millpond without my glasses.

I think it’s time for our own federal politicians to do some kneading, perhaps the state government and it sounds like our local government is doing some kneading as we speak. The lack of state funding hurts.

On a brighter light I made it to the Coffee House on Main to hear singer-songwriter Anne Marie David. Of course I got there late, having to tend to Mello first. Her uncle Michael Cotter was also present and they both played well together to a charged up audience and on a break there was time for me to become acquainted to Swede Carlson sitting at the next table.

We talked about the loss of the small farm communities that once dotted the land around here and connected people in a way that really isn’t anymore, or at least not like it was. Swede also mentioned Bruce Heiny and their mutual friendship from the early days together at Austin High School.

Michael told a few stories and one was the story of the Killdeer. It was the first story he told to a story telling group in Minneapolis. They were city folks who had city training and Michael stories came for the early days of his life on the farm when hard times brought folks desperately looking for work that would stop at the farm.

The Killdeer story brought wet eyes to everybody I think as Michael told the story of the killdeer attempting to halt his tractor route until he finally stopped the tractor then Michael got off the tractor and said, “You gotta show me where it is.” (the nest that is) And she did.

Years later Jeanne and I were flying out west to a wedding in one of those really big planes with long rows in the middle and we were seated next to Michael who was on his way to San Francisco to do some reading there. San Francisco is a long way from Minneapolis and the farm.

Michael still tells stories and can be heard at the Brick House the second Friday of the month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. along with other readers young and old including poet Betty Benner.

In the meantime I will begin looking at the virtue of forgetting in the digital age. I’m forgetting everything else.

Sunday’s Herald pointed out that after failing to secure funding they are still working to extend the shooting star trail to Rose Creek and Austin. I’m sure Gerald Meier would welcome your thoughts and suggestions and help.