As a young Buffalo News contributor, I met Nat Hentoff when I was still in college to interview him for a feature story. I was an avid Village Voice admirer and it was Hentoff (and Mark Jacobson) whose compelling and groundbreaking work made me want to leave town to write for the Voice. Hentoff was fearless; he even kept his phone number in the phone book for all to find. I sat on his couch as a college kid and he was completely gracious as we moved willy-nilly from jazz to education (I was nervous and jumped from topic to topic).
His affecting "Our Children Are Dying," about education amid the poverty of Harlem, is one of the reasons I moved the New York Videogame Critic Circle toward community/charitable endeavors. When I began writing for the Voice, Hentoff was still a lauded fixture there. And when I moved from Jersey City to Greenwich Village, part of the reason I settled on 12th Street was because it was down the street from Hentoff's apartment. Simply seeing him walking on the street would dissolve any kind of writer's block I was having. I certainly didn't agree with him on everything he espoused, but he had a great impact on me - and so many. Rest In Peace the great Nat Hentoff.