|Photo via Lebendiges Museum Online|
I saw Günter Grass in 1969 in the south German town where I was (in theory) studying, in a campaign appearance for the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, which was, as I hardly understood at the time, about to end the 20-year reign of the Christian right with the chancellorship of the great Willi Brandt. He lectured all us soixante-huitards and hippies on the subject of revolution, with avuncular indulgence; we could talk about Marx and Mao and Marcuse all we wanted, but young Germans had to vote SPD, because nothing else would change things. His mustache was one of the most spectacular things I'd ever seen. I just wanted to say that. And that the dazzling radicalism of his writing made the bumpy pragmatism of his politics believable and, in the end, clearly right.
Superawkward audio: Interviewed by Patricia Marx on WNYC in 1964.