Friday, January 07, 2005

More Vaclav Havel and Lou Reed

There is an article in at about the relationship between Vaclav Havel and Lou Reed. Here are some bits (some of it you know if you read the blog a lot):

It's not clear if Vaclav Havel is a bigger fan of Lou Reed or if Reed is a bigger fan of Havel. The two of them will be together for Stage Talk, as the series of public conversations at Svandovo divadlo is called.

When rock musician Reed was in Prague for a May 2000 concert, he had high praise for then-President Havel. "I think in this world it is very rare to have some heroes. I think President Havel is a real genuine 100 percent hero," Reed told The Prague Post at the time. Havel, on the other hand, has credited Lou Reed's music with helping to set off the chain of events that ended in the Velvet Revolution.

Reed's praise is well-founded. Havel has been short-listed for the Nobel Peace Prize several times. Havel's comment needs a bit of explanation. Reed's band, the Velvet Underground, was a major influence on the Plastic People of the Universe. The arrest of the Plastic People in 1976 led to Charter 77, which Havel was closely involved with. The Charter 77 movement is seen as the start of the downfall of communism in Czechoslovakia.

...When Havel was invited to the Clinton White House in 1998, he brought Reed along as his musical guest. Hillary Clinton, then the first lady, said, "The Velvet Underground became the Velvet Revolution," although that probably massively oversimplifies matters.

...Reed and Havel became friends during an interview in 1990. The interview appears in Reed's collected writings, Between Thought and Expression. Following the 2000 Prague concert, the two stayed up well into the night talking at a hotel bar near the show's venue, followed by a visit to Havel's villa the next day. They've met other times as well.

...Reed has a reputation for being a little difficult in interviews. When he was here in 2000, he explained his refusal to play in Austria while it had a right-wing government by saying, "My action was my statement." When asked to comment further, he said, "I'm not a political analyst," and moved on. For one particularly pointless question, his answer was, "That's his question? Next question."

...The evening [Stage Talk] will conclude with music from the Plastic People of the Universe and the Velvet Underground Revival Band. Reed likes the local revival band, and once allegedly mistook them for an old live recording of his real band. Reed himself is not scheduled to perform, but nothing is stopping him from deciding to jam.
When you ask whether Lou Reed is worthy of the praise he is given, well, how many other rock'n'rollers have brought down a government?

That last bit about his liking the revival band and mistaking them for the real Velvet Underground, if true, is classic Advancement.

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