Martha Henderson (re Joan Baez), 1994

Telephone interview with Martha Henderson (assistant to Joan Baez), June 1994
Interviewer — Metta Spencer
The interview deals with Joan Baez’s June 10, 1989 concert in Bratislava, when the singer dedicated a song to Charta 77 and invited Václav Havel on stage. The incident (and public and official reaction to it) was a harbinger of the Velvet Revolution later that year.

Martha HENDERSON: In Oakland.

METTA: I knew 5-10. Great, I don’t know how long this will take, it’s really your story, I really don’t know anything about it except there was some reference to it in the newspaper, someone who did an interview with Joan. So what is the story?

HENDERSON: Let’s see, what is the story? Joan was… this is in ’89, spring of ’89, Joan was booked to do a number of concerts in different parts of Europe including Eastern Europe. One of the shows was Commercial Music Festival or a government sponsored music festival. Commercial like we would know it but government run in Bratislava. This thing happens every year, it’s called Bratislava Music Festival. It’s for broadcasting and television, etc…. She was booked into that, and each of the countries, what I was doing, my role was to figure out what was the human rights link as we went around and that varied from country to country depending on what was the key issue there. How much we could say, what we could do?

Czechoslovakia things were really not changed yet at all. For example with Poland, the elections that just happened, I think they happened practically while we were on the road, but we knew that the Solidarity candidates were going to sweep everything. So we had arranged to go to Warsaw to do a concert with Solidarity, a sort of celebration concert. To celebrate the success of the elections. That was done not through a concert promoter, that was just done through various contacts. So that was the one extreme, we were there to celebrate these big changes.

In Czechoslovakia however things were very different and about all we could think of to do that we thought we could get away with would be to very quietly invite some of our dissident friends to be guests at the concert. Joan always gets a certain amount of complimentary tickets. What we did, I worked through, actually a lot through Jan Urban, he actually knew somebody traveling to Prague which was where at the time most of our contacts were, so mostly people from Prague we ended up inviting.

So it was all done very quietly. Jan knew somebody traveling there, the person traveled there and spoke in person and there was some cryptic phone messages. I guess Havel wanted to know, he said he knew of Joan’s name, but he kind of wanted to be reassured to be more familiar with her work and her stand on human rights and things like that in the past. He was getting at that point, a lot of people kind of wanting to latch on to his name, even though he still was not nearly as well known as he would become later of course.

But you know within the world of people who sort of followed events in that part of the world, his name was probably the best known in the dissident type. He was the best known and there were others including Jan Urban and Sasha Vondra and I can’t really remember names off hand to well. What we did was, there were arrangements made. I told them what hotel we would be in and what day, you know all that kind of stuff.

That information was passed along and the plan was just to contact us at our hotel and we would not follow the usual custom of leaving names at the box office for people to pick up tickets because that would obviously would have finished off that plan. What we did was, they met us there so the time came. Actually the night before I got a phone call from Jan Urban who said, you know now it’s time for, he was speaking freely on the telephone, he said if we get arrested that’s fine, we’re going to come, we’ll see you at 4 o’clock, we’re coming on the train.

METTA: This was Bratislava?

HENDERSON: Yes. Havel was driving down with Zdenek.

METTA: Mlynar?

HENDERSON: No. I can picture him, he’s a wonderful man, elderly, it’ll come to me later. It’s a good friend of his who’s done a lot of, somebody who is very sympathetic, and I think signed the Charta, but was never as visible and a lot of what he did, he just sort of helped play, he was a support person and a friend of Havel, a person who usually was not the one going to jail, so he was able to be outside and help. Anyway he drove down.

METTA: Is there some way I can get that name sometime?

HENDERSON: Sure, I have it at home.

METTA: Okay, we’ll talk about it later. Maybe it will come to you soon.

HENDERSON: Okay, where were we? They were driving down, the other folks were taking the train together. Well the time was kind of getting late and that’s sort of weird, that reminds me that I hope I have this written down in detail because I’m actually forgetting some little parts of this. I’ve told this story so many times, I thought I’d never forget it. I think what happened was that Havel… I know the crowd on the train arrived, they buzzed me. They got there without any problem and I came down. We sat out on the terrace or whatever having tea and discussing various political cases and plans, and I mean for me, it was incredible because here I was sitting at a table full of folks, one of whom I met Jan Urban before, but the others were just names to me, I’d known before but hadn’t met. There was also a security agent sitting at a table nearby and 2 of them actually eavesdropping and making things very obvious.

METTA: So let’s see, let me get this, there was Jan Urban, Sasha Vondra and somebody else?

HENDERSON: Urban, and, see I have all the names, that’s something I have at home, I wish I thought to grab that.

METTA: Well I’ll get it from you later.

HENDERSON: But I could fill those you know…

METTA: Because I know some of these people.

HENDERSON: Yes I imagine you would. We were sitting around the table, doing you know whatever activists do whenever they get together. We were talking about cases, what projects people were working on. One of the big things was the petition. There was a big petition drive and anyway we talked a little bit about the evening’s concert to, because one of the things Joan wanted to do was, and I had this all worked out ahead of time, was how to say, actually I got in Czech at the last minute found somebody who could translate it to Slovak. How to say I’d like to dedicate this next song to Charta 77 and the Peace Association and they ask if we would add the name of one particular case, oh my God maybe it’s baby brain, I’ve forgotten all my dope memory of something. There was a case of a guy who was in Brno, I think later all these things are so funny because they’re so straight forward during those times and all these people got much more complicated when they entered the world of real politics. There was some scandal about this next guy, but anyway he was a Jazz artist and had one of the biggest archives of music, independent archives, and he was one of the leaders of the Jazz section. He was in jail and all of his stuff had been confiscated and they were trying very hard to get it back before it was destroyed.

METTA: You mean his music or something?

HENDERSON: He had a very large archive of all the sort of Jazz music in the country. It was really the largest collection, because Jazz was sort of an underground art form anyway. If people were composing, that not like it was published in music books available in book stores, there were not to many copies of recordings. They wanted us to say when we said Charta 77, Independent Peace Movement and name this person, just to pick one political case that could be highlighted from the stage. So that’s what we did there.

METTA: Excuse m, when you say Independent Peace Association, what do you mean by that? That’s not what they called themselves did they?

HENDERSON: There was a group called the Independent…

METTA: I see all right. Who were they? I don’t know anything about them.

HENDERSON: Well Urban was one of them. They were in some ways It was mostly of younger people who formed that, younger than the Chartists for the most part. It was part of the whole wave of new associations, a lot of them were called peace associations, they had different sets of political views than what a lot of Western peace groups had, but they sprang up all over Eastern Europe. There was the Freedom and Peace in Poland, Freedom and Peace Association. I don’t really remember the Czech name for it, only the Czech initials but that was the English version of it. They were not really as well known as the Charta 77, but it was definitely a grouping of young activists, young independent activists. Meanwhile we are sitting out there with the security friends eavesdropping on us and making jokes about them and everything.

METTA: These security people know what you are going to do?

HENDERSON: They knew some of it, but it was all open for the most part, not what we were going to do. I think we were pretty cryptic about the stage stuff but the petition drive, that was open, it was possible they could clamp down but things at this time were, a lot of times people refused to be over clandestine about them and it was like if you got arrested doing a petition drive so be it. But what was good about having a totally secret petition that wasn’t known. There was a time when people, there were a lot of other changes happening in other countries. Even in East Germany things were starting to change, and when people started seeing stuff happen in East Germany, it’s like well if it can happen there, it’s definitely going to happen here. So people were bolder about the organizing. We were not discussing secrets, but some things were getting written down and some of it you know?

METTA: Okay, what the petition drive?

HENDERSON: I was afraid you were going to ask me that. It was the One something.

METTA: Was that connected with this guy in Brno?

HENDERSON: No, it was one of the big last dissident action that happened. They had lots of signatures, maybe even close to a million signatures by the time the government started to fall, but it was the One something. I can’t remember.

METTA: Was it run by Charta or…?

HENDERSON: I think so, I think in part, it was probably a collaboration of all the different groupings. Now I’ve forgotten where we are?

METTA: The security guards listening.

HENDERSON: Out in the terrace, in the meantime what happened was Havel and his friend arrived and apparently they had been followed on their drive by 5 security cars, so they, especially he was pretty raveled by the time they got there. He really thought he was going to be arrested as soon as he stepped out of the car. He was willing to be arrested but I think he preferred not to be arrested and also he sort of wanted to make sure we knew he was there and he had come. He wanted to at least get inside and say I made the trip and so use that fact in the press or something. It’s totally feudal to get arrested and have nobody know about it. Although of course we would have been on to it had he not arrived in the evening. He cam in, I guess it was quite the scene in the lobby because all these security people came in too. At this point the hotel people began to figure out that something was terribly amiss because there was all these security types showing up. I don’t know if they recognized Havel or not. He managed to get a call up to, no he came out and saw us out on the terrace. He came out and all of a sudden, it was such a trip because I was sitting there and I just looked up and there’s this very famous person, to me anyway standing there and he came right over to Jan or somebody and said I’m about to get arrested. So what we did was we called Joan, I guess he had called Joan on the phone.

METTA: Was she in her room?

HENDERSON: She was in her room and we got somebody up there and said well Joan there’s this person that doesn’t speak much English but he’s down there. Anyway she came down the elevator and what we did real quickly was she and I actually just put him in the elevator and went upstairs, closed the door and left the security behind because we figured they were less likely or pretty unlikely to actually insist on following us all the way to her room so they could arrest him. The friend meanwhile was outside trying to park the car and bring his cigarettes in and stuff. Well what we did was we had a couple of hours, Joan just decided to keep him upstairs because it was the only safe place to be and we got the rest of the gang.

They were not quite so worried about being arrested, in fact they were fairly assertive about we won’t hide, we won’t hide in rooms. If we’re going to be arrested we’ll be arrested. We were like No, we would like you to come to the concert, we want to visit with you. You might as well see the show before you get arrested. So what we did when it was time to leave before the show was we made the musicians take a taxi cab and the van that was for our use going to and from the hall and stuff, we filled up with all these folks. I have pictures with Joan and Havel and Havel holding her guitar all ready to go off.

Then at that point it was pretty funny because even as we pulled out I was in the very back of the bus of the van and Jan Urban waved to one of the security guards who just laughed. At that point they were not so serious about this at that point. At least a couple of them thought it was pretty funny, but they were sort of doing what they felt compelled to do. So we had the tickets, we had them all backstage, we took them into the show. I was sort of assigned to sit with them, they were in 2 different blocks and I sat beside Havel and it was really quite amazing to sit in that sort of gymnasium type building because no one knew, he did not know what reception, what his reception would be like.

Whether people would really know his name in Bratislava or whether as what recently happened in Prague. He said if this isn’t Prague, you wouldn’t have been able to have a concert because every time he made a public appearance it would just cause standing ovations that wouldn’t stop and it was a great political ??? to disrupt whatever event it was, but this was a happy medium. Sitting there was amazing because they were all sorts of people that would walk up and shake his hand and other people, I noticed looking at sort of young faces, they would be staring down and talking. You could tell they were saying “Is that who I think it is?!?” At one point somebody looked at him for awhile and kind of smiled and then she looked at me and I smiled and nodded my head a little bit, she grinned and turned to the next person, kind of excited that it was him.

METTA: How was his face that well known?

HENDERSON: I don’t know. I guess just, well it’s not like the whole crowd, several thousand knew him by face but there was a very quiet but a steady stream of people coming up with their program asking him to sign it. I guess it’s just that news travels.

METTA: I’m surprised that people recognized him by face. I would have assumed that the press would have assumed that the press would have been unable to publish photos of him?

HENDERSON: Well the underground press published all kinds of things. I mean they weren’t allowed to but lots got around obviously. People who paid any attention to that sort of stuff were, I don’t know, could pick up television from Vienna because it’s very close. So the concert began. I was supposed to go backstage at intermission before Joan’s set because it was a festival so there were different bands, but a friend came along and said a friend told Havel and Steineck(?) that you should keep your friend here so that they’ll have a harder time arresting you. He really thought that intermission is when they would arrest him.

There were other things that were interesting, somebody who worked in the festival, in the music stuff there came by and spoke with him and said that an order had come down yesterday to add 400, I think it was the number he said, plain clothes rebel rousers and police who could boo if anything, sort of be a counter-balance, so there was a lot of security types in the audience mixed in as well. So it was kind of interesting to hear these kinds of things you know that people learn this sort of stuff, word comes down and kept coming over and telling Havel these kinds of stuff, he would sort of translate it for me. So I was thrilled to get to stay right where I was, so when the tour manager came by I just told him what we had been told that somebody thought it was important for me to stay right where I was if we were to keep him from getting arrested. So that was nice.

Joan’s set began, she sang a few songs, she introduced one song as something that was a favorite song of Lech Walesa and she just played it for him and there was an applause at the mention of his name. She did that song and the next one she had these headphones where somebody had recorded the words in Slovak. Everything was so last minute and we were all rattled because of all this stuff that happened in the afternoon, so there wasn’t anytime for her to learn to memorize the sentence which she usually does. She memorizes it or has it written out but this time she just sort of apologized about the tape recording which said I have little speech to make and I can’t make it without these headphones on and play the tape and then said in Slovak “I want to dedicate this next song to Charta 77, Independent Peace Association and Peter Cibulka.

METTA: Peter?

HENDERSON: Peter Cibulka.

METTA: So that’s the name of the person you said awhile ago.

HENDERSON: Yeah, and she really didn’t get past Charta 77 when the crowd went bananas, I mean it was the most electric moment of my entire life because in that instance it was obvious that there was lots of support for Charta 77. That was sort of the key moment, then when it died down a little she went on to say I would like to welcome tonight as my guest Vaclav Havel and so the crowd went nuts again and I was hoping that they would do the spotlight but they didn’t.

Then the other thing that we cooked up which was Havel’s idea, and all this happened at the last second, it was amazing. We think of people around here, nobody’s ever available at the last minute, so of course this is all very different but they found a Slovak folk musician who was banned from performing on television so he was in the crowd and Joan asked him to join her for a song. He was sitting close to us so the spotlight went over to look for him as he walked his way to the stage, and I was like a few people more over here pointed to Havel but they didn’t. I was thinking that I didn’t yell it out or anything. He went up and sang about part of a set, or maybe this happened a song later, but she did sing the song to Charta 77 and then had him come up. He had one set where one verse into the song the sound went off and it was really interesting, so at that point the crowd kind of cut loose again, there was booing and cheering and you could sort of tell there was a real mix of security people in there who were supposed to make noise at the wrong moments.

Anyway they couldn’t handle it, they cut off the sound, he took a bow and made his way back off the stage and some people were clapping and cheering and stuff. I guess when she started singing again, she went up to the mike, they turned the microphones back on and the interesting story that we learned somewhat later was that the people in the sound booth, the police had ordered them to turn off the sound as soon as they saw what was happening that she was inviting this guy up and he started to sing.

But they refused, they ignored the order for a time. Finally some security made their way to the sound booth and shut it off themselves, so that’s when it got shut off. Even the spotlight operator following this guy back to his seat, there were people who were sympathetic in the production side of this who were doing little things like that. I just love hearing that story. That’s really the story of Eastern Europe. There were lots of people, even the ones who were not brave enough, or weren’t in the position to be the dissidents and really visible. Especially as things were gaining momentum.

Then the rest of the concert went on as planned until the very end. For an encore she invited the band which had been out first who she had met and liked, and she might have come out and done one song with them before her set, I don’t remember, I think she did perform with them. She invited them to come back out for an encore song and they were very reluctant to do so. They were very afraid. She got them out there and they started to sing a song and the mike went off again.

METTA: At that point what had they done wrong?

HENDERSON: I think just by agreeing to come back out on stage with her.

METTA: I see.

HENDERSON: That was sort of putting themselves in a position having sympathy for her, and which I think they felt, they just were a little afraid and at that point the mikes got turned off again. I think because it was beginning to be just… It wasn’t a political song particularly just that show of the support of the Czechoslovakian musicians and everything was just too much, but they cut the sound once again.

The thing that was great, there was some hissing and cheering is that Joan got the crowd to be quiet, she motioned and they kept singing the song a cappella. They got the band to sing it. Joan has a very strong voice, she can actually project in a great big gymnasium with several thousand people you can hear her sing without a microphone. She had the strongest voice of anyone there, but you know with the band they all started singing with her and that was the biggest triumph that the authorities just showed their weakness because they just had to shut the power off, they couldn’t let her go on.

They had to do that and that was a real obvious move on their part you know what I mean, it was like they obviously showed their weakness if that’s all they can respond with. Then the crowd actually quieted down and sang with her. It was really triumphant. At the end this time I was not able to use my pass to take all these people backstage. The backstage area was wall to wall uniformed police and military types. It was really intense. I thought they were going to arrest me. They were so hostile. So we had to go all the way out and all the way around and through the crowds. I wasn’t even sure we were going to find our buses again and at that point most of the folks just walked from there to wherever, back to the train and stuff. I did go back in the building and found her at the backstage to make sure we all were together and help carry stuff out.

When I opened the door, she likes to say Martha was 6 feet off the ground. We both were…[side A finished]. It’s important to keep plugging away on these issues and on human rights and even when things seem like they’re not going to change because it’s accumulative, they sort of add up and you never know when the political tide will turn. Things that have happened in the past, experiences that have been gained and built up, education that has happened, influence those come together and change history the way it happened there. It was not at all, the last part of it was very rapid but it really wasn’t sudden or unpredictable. It had to happen sometime, it was bound to happen.

The other thing that I think is important is the role of Grassroots people and organizations particularly in the country but outside the country as well. That it’s very easy to focus on visible leaders or on the role of you know parties. Leadership is important, I mean leadership often has more power to do negative things than to do positive things. A lot of people focus on the change that happens at the top like Gorbachev made all this happen. Well Gorbachev was certainly very important, he was instrumental. None of this would have really happened if he hadn’t come along at a time that followed very strong underground is the right word. He was able to be a catalyst in some way. Even that word is not right, he came after this other stuff, but his action helped to mobilize, catalyze.

METTA: I think half the book is on all these other things that have happened before the peace movement.

HENDERSON: Why don’t I get your address. You spell Spencer?

METTA: cer and it’s Metta.

HENDERSON: That much I remembered.

METTA: It’s 155 Marlee Ave. Apt. 201, Toronto, Ontario, M6B-4B5, and I’ll give you my phone number and fax for a good measure and that’s (416) 789-2294 and 789-4508. That’s wonderful. What was about the decision to close Humanitas?

HENDERSON: This part of it, I’m happy to tell you a little bit about it, but it’s not worth really rehashing in a book. There were 2 main reasons. One is that after, I think it was over 13 years Joan decided that she really wanted to conclude her time being and organization President with all that implies in term of responsibilities for board meetings and fundraising, and wanted to stop doing that. That would seem quite legitimate, unfortunately from my prospective the board did not feel like they wanted to find a new president and sort of keep the organization going without Joan, particularly because we were also having a drop in income, financial difficulties. So it was a financial thing coupled with a move of Joan’s part. They felt like it didn’t pay to keep an organization going at all costs if they were having trouble keeping it afloat and that would be harder without Joan, and that it would be better to give remaining assets to other groups doing similar work. That the money went into programs and not into keeping open an office of an organization that they felt they could not survive without Joan. So that’s the way it came down.

METTA: A lot of things have closed.

HENDERSON: Yes that’s true. The office closed at the end of August of ’92. I think that the organization legally was not out of business till the end of ’92. It’s fine, you may need to say somewhere in there that Humanitas closed. This is my version of how it came down. I just rather not have that even rehashed.

METTA: You said that she sang to Lech Walesa?

HENDERSON: A couple of times actually. Once was in ’86 I think. I had nothing to do with that but she and a friend went over there and went to church. I think that’s where she sang to him in church, or she went to his house maybe, he was under house arrest. I think there was CBS camera crew or somebody prancing around them taking pictures. Then this time in ’89. He wasn’t at the concert that I mentioned earlier, needless to say he was a little busy having the round table coming to a close and the elections just having happened, but we did travel to Gdansk and met him there and went to the headquarters of Solidarity. She sang…

METTA: She sang what?

HENDERSON: Gracious Alivida(?)

METTA: Was she able to sing in any of the other countries, East Germany, Hungary and so on.

HENDERSON: No I don’t know if she ever was in East Germany. She may have been in the Eastern part of Germany since the Berlin Wall came down. She’s done a European tour or two since I left Humanitas. I don’t have quite the same contact that I did then.

METTA: But you are still on good terms and all?

HENDERSON: Oh sure. I just wasn’t involved in that. Also at that time we were in Yugoslavia and I’m using all the old names because that’s what they were called and also Hungary. What happened when we were about to leave Yugoslavia we gave concerts in Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana. In each of those, it wasn’t particularly unsafe or anything. It just, in each of those there was some particular method that seemed appropriate in a dissident, whatever else you might say. In all cases the concert promoters didn’t want to say anything political, it was still uncomfortable for them if they didn’t want to get them into trouble. It wasn’t unsafe for us and what happened on the last day that we were there and leaving was when the massacre in Tiananmen Square happened. So what we focused on in Budapest was China and that night..

METTA: Sorry, so the last date in Budapest was Tiananmen?

HENDERSON: No, it was the last date in Yugoslavia, June 4th I think is when that happened and then we traveled from there to the next concert which was in Budapest. So the issue we talked about there was China and the independent folks there. Again it was much safer, it had then had the elections or the real turnover of power that was not particularly unsafe. What we did there was, the independent folks there had organized a candlelight vigil outside the Chinese consulate. So we joined them at that and of course they got loads of press as a result of Joan being there. So that was China and actually then we went to Poland. We did the celebration there but it was also coupled with a lot of sadness about China and in both Warsaw and Gdansk there were vigils, candles in a particular square. Some people set up candles all over the ground and there were some tents where there were going to be people protesting in I guess in you know whatever square or plaza was near the consulate. That had a big influence over the rest of the trip. The last one was in Czechoslovakia and there is what I told you what we did there.

METTA: Bratislava was the only concert in Czechoslovakia?

HENDERSON: Yes. Now a year later, I think it was in June, she went back to Prague and what they wanted her to do was give, she gave a concert there obviously it was a totally different environment by then. There was a request that these folks and Havel asked. They wanted her to tell a bit of the story about the year before and then they ask her to say again in Czech or Slovak, I want to dedicate this next song to Charta 77. They kind of wanted her to relive that. So she did sing in Prague. She may have been back again. Now I can’t remember if she has been there twice since then, but that was the big one, that was the important one. Because it was the one year later, it was sort of the return celebration.

METTA: That;s wonderful. Okay this is a great story. Do you happen to know by the way Bronislaw Geremek(?).

HENDERSON: Bronislaw Geremek, I probably met him, but no I don’t know him. I don’t know so many Poles actually personally.

METTA: Because I actually want to contact him but I don’t know how to reach him.

HENDERSON: Try Joanne Landy.

METTA: Oh that’s true, she would know, wouldn’t she.

HENDERSON: I would imagine so, or she would know who would know there or John Feffer if you can reach him.

METTA: Good idea. This is wonderful. It’s lovely to talk with you. Are you ever coming back to HCA?

HENDERSON: I don’t know because I don’t really have work for some reason to send me there, although now that I sort of got myself out of the habit, that I’m working again I want to get back in touch with doing that.

METTA: What are you doing there?

HENDERSON: I’m a fund-raiser.

METTA: I see.

HENDERSON: It will keep me kind of focused on AFSC rather than on a particular issue. But I’m hoping to get back into circulation a little bit more. I don’t really know how I’d afford to travel to Europe for meetings but I have heard that things are better. I’ve talked to several people who have had contacts in Europe with HCA, they seem to feel pretty good about the way…

METTA: I’d be interested in those reports. I went for the last 4, 5 times, I’ve been last year 4 times and it was all my own expense, it was a bit much. I was chairing the Structure committee and writing the Structure document. I did a huge kind of inquiry for that sounds very official. I interviewed a whole bunch of people and did a survey of everything to find out what all the problems were. I think that stuff may not have had any impact, I’m not sure that it made any difference to anybody, but I’d be interested if other people think that it’s clearer.

HENDERSON: Well these were comments, no from inside, and I haven’t heard otherwise, I just haven’t talked to anybody who is involved.

METTA: Well there isn’t the kind of, I haven’t encountered any?

HENDERSON: I just felt that by the time that Bratislava conference, I really felt like it was a good idea that there were a lot of good people and it was so poorly focused. Somehow the agenda really was not one that felt compelling to very many people from Eastern Europe. That may have changed some. It just didn’t feel like, it seemed like that there were a lot of projects that were really well focused and doing very practical kinds of thing, and it could have been a reflection of my own interest to some extent. But I just felt kind of discouraged about it and I felt that no matter how much complaining had been done about the way leadership was structured, and the way that the main secretariat was structured that it just didn’t matter. You know very well.

METTA: I know all the stories.

HENDERSON: Totally immersed in the structure issues and I just felt like it just wasn’t really getting any broader. There wasn’t a plan. I don’t know, so that I don’t know if it is or really not.

METTA: Well I still think it’s chaotic and I think there’s still real problems there but I’m hopeful that Martin Palous, he is the new co-chair instead of Sonja. I think he could maybe tighten it up a little. I’m not sure. For one thing he’ll be there in Prague and that will help. I think he’s an organized kind of guy.

HENDERSON: Is Mary still involved?


HENDERSON: I miss not having the contact with her because I like her and I find that her writing very influential for me in the early 80’s.

METTA: That’s what she does so well. And she does the fundraising; it’s her baby and she’s made it happen. But I think is nobody has any sense of how to chair a meeting. They don’t understand what a motion is. Did you know that? They don’t have that concept in Europe. They already have such a huge agenda, their business meetings are always jam packed because they only meet 2 or 3 times a year. They do enough work so that they should be meeting every other week. So when they have to jam pack all that in, they can’t.

HENDERSON: It makes people frustrated. Well I’m going to need to go because I have some other calls to return before my meetings.

METTA: Fine, it’s been wonderful. I hope I will see you again and I really appreciate this, and you are going to send me that stuff.

HENDERSON: Okay I will, bye-bye.

The Russian Quest for Peace and Democracy, by Metta Spencer, published by Lexington Books