Saturday, September 8, 2007

Literary Interlude: Poe Ain't Got Nothing On Us

This is a particularly bloody traditional poem I heard as a recording over the radio as I was growing up. A few years ago, I had my aunt send me the text, which I lost. I got this version here. It's been recited so many times that it's usually credited to anonymous. One website credits Manuel Muroty as the poet. Who knows?


Qué cómo fue señora....?
Como son las cosas cuando son del alma.
Ella era muy linda y él era muy hombre,
y yo la quería y ella me adoraba.
¡ Pero él !, hecho sombras se interponía
todas las noches junto a su ventana,
fragantes manojas de rosas había
y rojos claveles y dalias de nácar...
Y cuando las sombras cubrían las casas,
y en el cielo la luna brillaba,
de entre las palmeras brotaba su canto
y como una flecha a su casa llegaba.
¡ Cómo la quería !
...Como le cantaba sus ansias de amores
y como vibraba con él su guitarra.
Y yo tras las palmas con rabia le oía
y entre canto y canto brotaba una
lágrima,lágrima de hombre, no crea otra cosa señora
que los hombres lloran como las mujeres
porque tienen débil como ellas el alma.
No pude evitarlo....La envidia es muy negra
y la pena de amor es muy mala,
Y cuando la sangre se enrabia en las venas
no hay quien pueda calmarla señora.
Y una noche lo que hacen los celos
lo esperé allá abajo junto a la cañda.
¡ Retumbaba el trueno!..llovía, y el río...
Igual que mis venas, hinchado bajaba.
Al fin, a lo lejos lo vi entre las sombras.
Venía cantando su loca esperanza.
En el cinto colgaba el machete, y
bajo el brazo la alegre guitarra.
Llegó hasta mi todo tranquilo...sereno.
Me clavó en los ojos su fría mirada.
Me dijo___Me esperas...?Le dije___¡ Te espero !.
Y no hablamos más, ni media palabra...
Que era bravo el hombre, cual los hombres machos,
y los hombres machos, pelean y no hablan.
Como la quería...El machete lo dijo
su amor y sus ansias. Roncaba su pecho,
brillaban sus ojos, y entre golpe y golpe ponía su alma.
___No fue lucha de hombres; fue lucha de toros...
Eso bien lo sabe la vieja cañada.
Pero más que el amor y el ensueño,
pudo la rabia y la envidia.
Y al fin mi machete lo dejó tendido sobre su guitarra.
¡ No tema señora !...Son cosas pasadas.
Todavía en el suelo llorando me dijo.
___¡ Quiéra...Que es buena...Quiérela, que es santa...
Quiérela como yo la he querido
que aunque me muero, la llevo metida en el alma.
Y tuve celos de aquel que moría
y aún muriendo la amaba.
La sangre cegó, mis pupilas
y el machete en la mano
temblome con rabia.
Lo hundí en su pecho,
con odio y con furia.
Rasgué su carne buscándole el alma...
porque en el alma se llevaba mi hembra,
y yo no quería que se me la llevara.
Autor: Anonimo

How did it go, Senora? It went like things that arise from the soul. I loved her, and me, she adored. Into this picture another man intruded. Every night, he would serenade her with his guitar. One night, when the jealousy was too much, I waited for him in the cane brake. Along he came with his guitar. Like men, we fought, not speaking. But like men, we let our machetes talk. We fought not like men, but like bulls, as the cane brake can attest. How he fought! How he loved her! But rage and envy overcame love, and I left him draped over his guitar. Don't be afraid, Senora. These things were in the past.
How he loved her! Crying, he begged me to love her as he had loved her, that even though he was dying, he was taking her with him in his soul. And I was jealous of he who was dying. The blood clouded my eyes and my hand trembled with rage, as I plunged the machete in his chest, raking it, looking for his soul. He was taking my woman with him, and that I did not want.

Friday, September 7, 2007

In the Presence of the Lord

was one of the better known Blind Faith songs. It seems fitting because not too long before the advent of Blind Faith, "Clapton is God" grafitti began appearing. All of this is brought to mind because I just noticed on Barnes & Noble new releases, that there is a Clapton autobiography. "Wow, man," I thought, reverting to the early seventies.

I was a bit too young for Woodstock and all that, not to mention that my Cuban parents thought it was all Sodom and Gonorrhea, as my mother would say. It was only in high school when I went to see The Concert for Bangladesh with friends that I discovered Clapton. It was love at first sight. I became enamored of his music and started buying any album where he had ever played from Mayall to Delany & Bonnie to his solo album. I spent long hours in the basement, my really cool headphones jacked into my carefully researched stereo system, just grooving out on the music. Unfortunately, this was the period in Clapton's life when he was battling heroin addiction and had dropped from sight.

So when it was announced he would be playing Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey, I forced my parents to cut short a vacation to Puerto Rico. (Knowing how crazy I was about Clapton, they actually did it.) Since it was general admission, my friends and I went early in the morning. By the time the opening act came on, we were hot, tired, and most of the crowd was under the influence of some mind altering drug. Surprisingly we weren't, maybe we were still too young. To make matters worse, the opener was some sort of clownlike comedian prancing around the stage in tails with a flower in his hand. He did not exactly connect with the besotted bikers sitting behind us, who demonstrated their displeasure by lobbing projectiles over our heads toward the stage.

Clapton came out and was understandably miffed. Actually, he was so miffed, he only played 45 minutes. So, I had forced my parents to come home early and spent hours in the hot sun to hear less than an hour's worth of music. I can't say I stopped listening to Clapton. I only did that after "Money and Cigarettes." To this day, the strains of "Layla" still have the power to lift my spirits, and "Please be with me" is one of my all time favorite love songs, rivaled only by Dave Mason's "You are Every Woman in the World to me" and some of my father's Javier Solis songs like "Bonita."

So I didn't give up on his music, but I never went to another Clapton concert. By the way, anyone know what Bangladesh is called today?

God's Warriors and Anti-Christian Paranoia

In the I told you so department, Gary Bauer Writes of CNN's God's Warriors

I’ll spare you the details of the six hour mini-series and get right to the documentary’s central message: Conservative Christians who pray in front of abortion centers and orthodox Jews who settle down to live in Israel pose as much of a threat to freedom-loving Americans as fanatical Muslims who preach hatred of all non-Muslims and send their children off to become suicide bombers.

He seizes on this and other examples of the campaign against what is described as "Radical Christianity." His is an interesting take on the same, if a bit naive. Read it in Human Events, here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

In Keeping With The Bovine Theme: A Round-up

Today's chemo day, so I'm outta here. Thought it would be a good time to clean house and post various brief items I've had floating around.

Found a trailer for Cuban Blood, one of my favorites. Can't post it, so click here. It really is a little gem of a movie, despite Harvey Keitel's accent and Bernal's presence.

Found this a while back in Newsweek, surprisingly, kinda reminds me of the days when they had a more factual perspective and I was a subscriber. It's an interesting take on the choice facing Cuba now.

I've posted on the dismal state of reading in America. Seems liberals read an average of one book more a year, a grand total of four. Sure enough, the left never misses an to belittle conservatives. Ex-congresswoman Pat Schroeder seized on that one. I'm no statistician, but I have to wonder whether the fact that most college professors are liberal helps them on that one. Anyway, there's a good response here.
And for a little bit of fun, what about a food fight? Click here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cattle Rustling Revolutionary Style

Found this old article on Cubanet via Cubaverdad, a farmer had his only cow butchered, alive, I might add, right in his field. Read it here

It reminded me of an incident. My grandfather would raise a single pig in his backyard. When it was ready for slaughter, he would distribute the meat far and wide in his hometown, for which he was universally beloved. When he died, the custom continued, carried on by a relative. Things got so bad, that this relative was reduced to raising the pig in the kitchen. Alas, the expedient was not enough. One night, they broke into the house while the residents were sleeping and made off with the pig, the sewing machine, and two picture frames with pictures of me. Also taken was the bicycle, their only means of transportation, requiring a thirty some odd hike to the nearest city.

War Movies on the Way

A number of big screen movies about the Iraq War are on their way. An ABC news article points out

Unlike past war films, the majority of which were not released until years after the conflicts had ended, Hollywood is anticipating the fall release of films inspired by the current war in Iraq.

The explanation given for the same is the public's widespread disgust with Bush and his policies, note not the filmaker's. As it goes into explanations, the liberal myopia becomes apparent. It just doesn't occur to them that there is any other view but their own. Perhaps they should ask themselves a question, why haven't their own politicians ended the war?

Aside from an unfair advantage in that most Hollywood Types are left leaning, I am concerned about the effect on the public. After all, one of the biggest obstacles Cuban Americans face in trying to convey the reality of the regime is the stupid Havana scene in the Godfather, which has become for Americans what Cuba was before the revolution, instead of a small segment of a very different country. So to me the question becomes what qualifications do these people have to be shaping public policy? Were they elected? How smart are they? How well versed in the issues?

Scariest, however, is the possibility that a film could have an actual effect in the conflict, could result in the deaths of American soldiers. I really hope they have used whatever residual common sense they have.

Read it here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Azucar Amarga

No, it's not old film noir. It's Havana in the 90's. Watch it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Splutter, Splutter, Splutter!: Updated

I thought the Mad Emailer was a thing of the past, that I had worked out my anger through the blog, that I was now a reasonable person all of the time. But just like Closeau's unfortunate chief, I am sitting here spluttering and probably have a runaway tic. Reading Penultimos Dias I clicked on a link to what was supposedly a good recap of Cuban-American relations. Oh, it was Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, so it couldn't be that bad, could it?

I guess I should have known when the author of the piece, Steve Clemons, referred to his "perch" on The Huffington Post. Alas, other than remarking on it, I did not realize until later that every liberal shibboleth in the arsenal was in play. I'm not even complaining here about whatever proposal was being espoused, although I'm pretty sure it was something like "open the flood gates." It is the colossal naivete of the entire article that leaves me floored. These people run around making pronouncements like the voice of God based on wishful thinking and good PR. Amazing!

Clemon's runs through the positions of the various Dem contenders for the White House, declaring Dodd's "the gold standard:"

He wants American people to meet Cubans and wants to trigger an arbitrage between the norms of our society and theirs. That is the American way. That's what we did with China.

Of course, this won't be easy with the tourist apartheid practiced in Cuba, but that's just an inconvenient fact. And since when is there freedom in China? After all, according to the embargo lifters, that would be the logical outcome of increased trade and tourism.

Next, he brings out the big guns, Congressman Jeff Flake and the ubiquitous Joe Garcia, token Cuban American poster boy for the liberals. The aptly named Flake, who hitherto has limited himself to salivating over the business bonanza to be had in the impoverished Cuban market, is all sentiment toward the poor exiles who cannot return home at will:

President Bush's tightened restrictions on Cuban-American family travel is now forcing people to choose whether they are going to attend their father's funeral or their mother's.

Now I ask those of you who have been following the Cuba situation, when has Flake cared a rat's derriere about Cuban exiles?

Next comes the one of the few valid points in the whole exercise, the story of a poor GI who about to deploy to Iraq cannot visit his sons. Let's see, how many of those do we have?

The rest of the article dwells on the self-recriminations of the former Chief of Staff to Gen. Powell. If his is the expertise of our establishment, it is no wonder we are in the mess we're in in Iraq. Highlights:

One of the areas of Cuban activity on which we focused was what has been described as one of the world's best systems for delivering healthcare to impoverished people-

The passion in the doctors' eyes as they related their experiences in delivering basic healthcare in isolated, freezing regions of Pakistan was truly heartwarming. Some of the human interest stories the doctors related brought laughter to us all and served to demonstrate conclusively how deeply these medical personnel had been touched by their almost year-long experience in Pakistan.

Talk about effective public diplomacy!

He is absolutely right. It's all terribly effective, the use of slave doctors as a tool of diplomacy. Gee, how come Cuban doctors in Namibia, Venezuela and elsewhere defect regularly? How come host countries have to sign agreements to in effect act as their jailers? And how come this "world's best system" fails to deliver to its own? Do these people have any idea of the realities of Cuba?

There's more

Those interested in the realities of Cuba's health care progress -- and the many lessons we can learn -- can skip the Michael Moore film and instead see Salud

After the Russians, Venezuela cuddled up to the Cubans and now they essentially barter doctors and medical support for oil between each other

Let's see, the many lessons we can learn, huh. Words fail me. We can learn how to practice medicine without most medications, modern equipment, and decent facilities. And the word, barter, barter, he says. Are Cuban doctors not human beings that they should be exchanged for oil like kumquats?

Finally, he gets to his point

Fidel will not be around long in my estimation, and we need our political and policy leaders to begin plotting a policy not riveted in the past and not dominated by a shrinking cartel in Miami.

Uh, oh, you knew that was coming, the old Miami Mafia swipe. Stupidity, stupidity, stupidity!

Now before you go calling me an intransigent, historic exile, etc..., please be aware that I am nowhere near geriatric, I am a native born American, open to change. However, if you're going to make pronouncements from Mt. Olympus, you ought to know you're talking about! I would like policies built on fact, thank you. Read the whole miserable thing here.

Update: how's this for a quick turn around? If you can stand it, go to the article Clemons cites here.

Unbelievable: Who Do They Think They Are

Why is it that when people reach a certain level of achievement in, say, pretending to be someone else or in being savvy enough to sell their Internet start up before the crash of hi tech, they seem to think they have the same prowess in the field of national politics or international relations? I mean, give me an essay, and I can do a pretty nifty job of editing, but that doesn't mean I think I can do brain surgery. Apparently some do.

I am horrified at what I hear of the new Brian de Palma project, bankrolled by Mark Cuban. The PR nightmare of Abu Ghraib wasn't enough, now they want to smear the troops who are risking their lives for their country, whatever you may think about the war. It is very scary, because the visual image in the hands of a professional can have a profound influence on the American public. Of course, that's what they are counting on.

At the same time, I stumbled on this link on Babalu, stories by independent journalists on the ground in Iraq. A completely different feel from the MSM. It felt like an antidote. What is the truth, I wonder. What is more likely? That our troops are running amok in Iraq, or that they are doing a yeoman's job under extremely difficult circumstances? I refer back to my post on Lone Survivor to point out the effect that this liberal mindset is having on our troops.

Can you imagine the effect on the WWII American public if every day, they were subjected to losses, scandals, etc... instead of "Why We Fight." Compare the figures. We lost about a million men. Of course, I'm beginning to think FDR had the right idea, impose censorship on war matters until after combat.

Frankly, I am no devotee of war or even this war, however, we cannot afford to walk away. If these liberal and show business types had their way, we'd go back to our pre 9/11 ways. And how long would that last, as we sat at home with a big, fat bulls eye on the landscape?

If the American public does not voice its displeasure now, we might as well pack our suitcases, retreat to the mainland and never ever go beyond our borders. Maybe we could build a fence to keep out terrorists. Oh, no, that won't work for planes, and anyway that would hamper illegal immigrants. Unbelievable!

H/T Abajo Fidel

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Tomorrow They Will Kiss...Maybe

Tomorrow They Will Kiss is a novel I've been circling for about a year. It's interesting but the trade paperback and the artwork reminded me of the Esmeralda Santiago novels, so I skipped it. This week I was pretty desperate for reading materials while doing my chemo escort thing, so I finally picked it up. I should have picked it up sooner.

A while back I posted on the old telenovela, El derecho de nacer, and the gurgling Rafael del Junco. Well, in Eduardo Santiago's Tomorrow They Will Kiss, we have another telenovela with a a temporarily blinded Rosalinda who is almost romantically involved with her boss. It is one of the unifying factors in this story about the lives of five Cuban women carpooling to their jobs in a Union City doll factory.

This is what some now call the "historical" wave of exile. Forced by the growing repressiveness of the Cuban revolution from a tropical world where their concerns centered on the petty scandals of their neighbors and the perfect half moons on their nails into the cold gray world of a Union City production line, the story of each emerges. There is the more entrepreneurial of the lot, Leticia who drives them in her yellow van, sometimes still reeking of fresh pork from her husband's early morning delivery route; the elderly and infirm Berta: the reclusive wife of a political prisoner, Raquel; and Graciela, Caridad, and Imperio, a trio from Palmagria.

The point of view here shifts from Graciela to Caridad to Imperio. These three adversaries cum friends are locked in a tangle of emotion that predates the novel. As each tells her story in the present, their shared history emerges. Caridad and Imperio here represent the small-mindedness, the strictures of small town Cuba, yet they are all too human. And it is the scandalous, reckless, passionate Graciela who rises triumphant from the ashes of the past.

If I have one quibble, it is that her romance with the her rather one dimensional boss, Barry O'Reilly, read hippie, is too like the telenovelas that the women discuss in the van every day. On one level, this is definitely grown woman's chick lit, on the other it has much to say about the human cost of the Castro regime and the redemptive nature of exile for some. Intricately plotted, Santiago has done a marvelous job of weaving together an amazing number of threads. I enjoyed it.