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Saul Landau, R.I.P.


I visited Saul in his Alameda home a couple of days ago. As you know, he is dying – rapidly. His eyes, his brain, his spirit all are there, but the body is breaking down and giving way to the inevitable. He is surrounded by family who read books to him make sure that final thoughts are expressed. He's heard that the Cubans have given him an award. He keeps spinning out wild proposals, the latest being that Cuba should offer to take in the Guantanamo detainees in exchange for the US closing the prison and withdrawing from the island. The Cuban ambassador was respectful enough to call Saul and explain that Cuba would not be doing that. Saul also thinks constantly about the Cuban 5 still imprisoned here in the United States, and how it might be possible to win over Judy Gross, the wife of imprisoned Allen Gross, in a common cause. It was good that Saul was dreaming.

Not only that. We will see Saul's next film while he's in the afterlife. Saul finished the film, with Mariela Castro, about LGBT rights in Cuba and other freedom issues. He says the interviews went great, but that he would have to leave the finishing edits to others. 

We talked of Cuba, Saul's lifetime passion. In recent months, I have been asking Saul many questions, as I have been working on a Cuba book. His last words on the subject to me were these: "People they go there thinking it is a paradise. It's not. It's a regular country is all." 

John Burton and I had driven over to Saul's place for a couple of hours. Saul could sit up but could not walk. He could kiss his grandson and daughters. He was trying to reach closure with his ex, Rebecca, who was there. It was a warm sunny day, but I felt the world was a colder place.  

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