Since the death of Václav Havel on Sunday, Czech television has been filled with scenes from the ‘60s through the ‘80s documenting the dissident movement the former president and playwright played such a prominent role in. At the Czech Center in New York City, a spotlight is shining on that same era of history in the exhibition Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance, 1968–1989.
In his first New Year’s address as president in 1990, Václav Havel announced that he was not elected so as to lie to people. And let’s not lie now. His departure from this world has ruthlessly detracted attention from other events that it is crucial the Czech public monitor. And the dirty protagonists may for the first time in their lives be grateful to Havel.
American guitarist Gary Lucas has played a striking variety of music — from the avant-garde rock of Captain Beefheart to Chinese pop of the 1930s to collaborations with musical luminaries such as Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Iggy Pop, John Zorn and David Johansen, as well as with his own band, Gods and Monsters. In his latest album, Lucas takes on the pantheon of Czech classical music with a modern touch thrown in.
Poet, art historian, art critic and publicist, and prominent figure of the Czech dissident movement under the communist regime, Ivan Martin Jirous, better known by his nickname “Magor” or “nutter,” died on Thursday aged 67. He was a collaborator with the banned Plastic People of the Universe band and a signatory to the outlawed Charter 77 movement together with Václav Havel.
On the first weekend of November, more than a dozen of bands associated with music that was frowned upon or effectively banned by the authorities under communism will come together to perform at Prague’s Archa Theater for the two-day festival “A tribute to the Czech underground,” organized by Guerilla Records on the occasion of the label’s 10-year anniversary.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the criminal convictions of four leaders of the Czech underground culture, including a member of the Plastic People of the Universe who opposed the communist regime of the then Czechoslovakia. The four were sentenced in 1973 to up to a year prison for singing anti-Soviet songs in a Prague pub. The head of the court said the sentences were clearly motivated by the hardline communist orthodoxy of the time.