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Václav Havel’s death last week was less surprising than the reminder he was still alive. How he came close to reaching the Czech median life expectancy of 76, I have no idea. The perpetually wheezing, intermittently pneumonic Havel had been two sniffles away from his last since the re-election year of his friend Bill Clinton. That’s when doctors removed a good chunk of his malignant right lung, so charred by a three-decades long chain of unfiltered Petras that it could have modeled for those EU cigarette-packs obliged to illustrate the consequences of the habit. Then there was Havel’s half-decade as Prague’s Papillon, breathing dank prison air and subsisting on Czech jail slop. That he managed to eek it out to a ripe old 75 is an act of defiance to rival his stands against Husak and Moscow. Or maybe there’s magic on the Portuguese coast where Havel spent much of his last decade on this planet. (more…)

December 30th, 2011 | Comments (30)