Saturday, September 15, 2007

Updated: Butcher Cuba Photos in Sarasota

Update: On Mondays, the art museum only is free. That's where the Butcher show is. I'm there. If not today, next Mon.

Clyde Butcher, long known for his photography of the Florida landscape, went to Cuba on behalf of the UN. Politics aside, which is more or less what he said, the results will be exhibited at The Ringling Museum of Modern Art in Sarasota. Based on his other work, I'll be right there. Admission is $19.00 for adults with various student and sr. citizen discounts available and includes entry to various parts of the museum. You used to be able to go just to the art museum for free on Mondays, but it seems they've changed that. Manda madre if you have to pay 19.00 for the whole shebang every time they bring in a show. I'm looking into that. Click here for the promo. If you're anywhere near the area, it should be worth the trip; the money, I don't know.

Unfortunately, they also seem to have some Cuba programs going on about the same time. I say unfortunately, because based on the following, I fear it's going to be one of those let's all join hands with the dictatorship and sing kum ba ya. I hope I'm wrong.

Havana Film Festival New York is a project of American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, a non-profit organization building cultural bridges between the U.S. and Cuba through programs in the arts. Carole Rosenberg is President of the Foundation, Chairperson and Director of the Festival. Visit for more information.

Why do I think I recognize some of the usual suspects?

Literary Interlude: The Renunciation

My father used to recite this poem often, as if he loved the sound of it all. A little research yielded the fact that Buesa was one of the major Cuban poets of the twentieth century.

Mon ame a son secret...

Pasarás por mi vida sin saber que pasaste.
Pasarás en silencio por mi amor y, al pasar,
fingiré una sonrisa como un dulce contraste
del dolor de quererte... y jamás lo sabrás.

Soñaré con el nácar virginal de tu frente,
soñaré con tus ojos de esmeraldas de mar,
soñaré con tus labios desesperadamente,
soñaré con tus besos... y jamás lo sabrás.

Quizás pases con otro que te diga al oído
esas frases que nadie como yo te dirá;
y, ahogando para siempre mi amor inadvertido,
te amaré más que nunca... y jamás lo sabrás.

Yo te amaré en silencio... como algo inaccesible,
como un sueño que nunca lograré realizar;
y el lejano perfume de mi amor imposible
rozará tus cabellos... y jamás lo sabrás.

Y si un día una lágrima denuncia mi tormento,
—el tormento infinito que te debo ocultar—,
te diré sonriente: «No es nada... ha sido el viento».
Me enjugaré una lágrima... ¡y jamás lo sabrás!

José Ángel Buesa

A Very Bad Translation:

You will pass through my life without knowing you have passed.
You will pass in silence through my love, and in passing
I will feign a smile, a sweet contrast
to the pain of loving you... and you will never know.

I will dream of the virginal mother of pearl of your forehead
I will dream of your eyes like emeralds come from the sea
I will dream desperately of your lips
I will dream of your kisses... and you will never know.

Perhaps you will pass with another, one who whispers in your ear
those words you will never hear from one like me,
and, drowning forever my unfortunate love,
I will love you more than ever... and you will never know.

I will love you in something inaccesbile,
like a dream I could never reach;
and the distant perfume of my impossible love
will mist all around you and you will never know.

And if one day, a tear should make evident my torment,
-the infinite torment I need hide from you-
I will say smilingly "It's was the breeze"
I will joke away my tear...and you will never know.

Friday, September 14, 2007


This one picture says it all. Fido is nowhere to be seen. That is because he is on ice somewhere.
h/t Babalu

You Want WHAT? Perfidy and Payback

I knew this day was coming. Today I received a fundraising letter from Sen. Mel Martinez. I'm on his list because, thrilled at the prospect of a Cuban American Senator, I once contributed twenty bucks of so. Okay, maybe it was more than once. Anyway, don't have much disposable since Packrat, Sr and I dropped out of the rat race years ago, although it does keep trying to suck us back in.

So on two occasions, the Che recordings and the Oliphant cartoon brouhaha, I contacted his office. I never even got the courtesy of a reply saying he could or would do nothing. I mean, even Nelson did that once. Frankly, I have never contacted a politician's office without some sort of reply. As a matter of fact, I've always felt badly that Congressman Murphy of Abscam fame met his political end doing what he did for free for his constituents. I know he helped my family with an immigration matter when my Grandfather was losing precious time in Jamaica waiting for entry into this country for a visit.

Notice I did not expect him to get embroiled in the daily grind of holding appeasers and liars accountable. No, the Smithsonian receives government funding. Martinez is a member of that government. A natural, right? Apparently not. The cartoon amounted to hate speech. Obama and assorted politicians took on Imus. Well, not this Senator. Well, as far as I am concerned, if the Dems don't get too carried away, come reelection time, I'm holding my nose and voting their way for Senator, doubtless adding to some FIU poll.

Maybe in his rush to become an American, the good senator forgot to learn how one treats constituents.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


This has nothing to do with Cuba, but I looked at the list of people receiving awards, and I didn't know any of them. Something has gone seriously wrong over there when people are complaining that Brittany messed up her Lip Synching! Whatever happened to playing guitars and drums and writing your own music.

Ruling From The Grave

Regardless of what the Communist propaganda spurts out, Fidel is no longer here. Whether in person or spirit. What other country do we know of that can be without a leader for over one year. I know of none. How much longer will this 'papelaso' play out. How much more can be asked of the Cubans on the island. At least he should have had the decency to let go after he left.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9/11: The Day After Updated

Among all the rememberances observed yesterday, there is one that will not receive publicity, instead media attention will be turned to the purported rantings of a man who is dead, in effect if not fact. It seems that a Human Rights Council in Cuba opened a book of condolences for the victims of 9/11 for well wishers to sign. According to Roberto de Miranda, vice president of the organization and head of the independent educators

Estamos compartiendo el dolor y el sufrimiento eterno con los familiares de aquellas víctimas inocentes que fueron vilmente arrancadas del ceno de su pueblo y con ello estamos dando un claro y enérgico mensaje a todo el que pretenda el exterminio o terror de los pueblos. La creación de Jesucristo es sagrada y el ser humano su más importante criatura, quien lo ataca, ataca a Dios mismo.”

Rough translation

We are sharing in the pain and unending suffering of the families of those innocent victims who were so vilely ripped from the breast of the community and with them we are sending a clear and powerful message to all who aspire to exterminate or terrify communities. The creation of Jesus Christ is sacred, and the human being is his most important creation. He who attacks him, attacks God himself.

That they would take the risk of doing this is humbling.
(H/T Payo Libre)
Reading the blogs yesterday was a terribly sad, but satisfying, occupation. It started with
the poem posted on Babalu. I was reading, remarking that I liked it as a poem, only to be blown away to find out the poet was fourteen years old. As someone commented, "the kids got chops."

Went from there to Charlie Bravo's memories of that day, aptly titled "Vaccuum," both powerful and haunting, particularly the end.

Came across this tribute on The Queen of all Evil billed as the best 9/11 tribute ever. She's right. Watch it if you can. I was reduced to tears.
(H/T Babalublog)

These are just a few that stayed with me. There were many more. One observation to make, though. For obvious reasons, photos were always powerful; but as time has worn on, more and more we enshrine our remembrances in poetry. It's ironic because the market for poetry has contracted terribly, perhaps because people are less into reading, perhaps because our world requires a different type of poetry than what is marketed. Yet, when it comes to reducing the experience to its essence, to extracting every last scintilla of meaning, we naturally tend to the poem. A poem, like a photo, involves us, makes us fill in the outlines with the horror. Food for thought.

Lighter note: It seems that as Fifo supposedly gasps his last.... That can't be accurate, didn't he have a tracheotomy? Oh, that's right, we don't know for sure. In Search of....Fifo. Anyway, we have a new entry in the ranks of the conspiracy theorists, the phantom dictator. Apparently, it wasn't a plane that went into the Pentagon. Gusano has a pretty amusing take on it all, read it here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Pipes
The last day of the recovery

arms swinging in time to martial drums
a fierce, measured cadence of incredulous rage

The stocky gray-haired piper,
the brown-skinned uniformed policeman, and
the middle-aged Latino schoolteacher
watching on TV-
all infused with the righteous anger of Celtic warriors

we mourn our dead, guilty only of geography,
we sit and weep,
while TVs tell stories of flame-filled horror and
mythic courage.
Still the pipes play and the drums beat on.

We, the people of cities with gleaming towers,
are not patient, nor are we bloodless.
Roused, we find comfort in the those pipes,
for in that very measure is the promise of the
government of men, monolithic, imperturbable,

The pipes herald true battle fields
not the killing grounds brought about by men
who were afraid they were not men
in the dark, misguided service of a Deity they blaspeme.

A Day to Remember

I love country music. It occasions all sorts of snide remarks from my family and friends, even those from Mississippi. Some of the better qualities of country music:

1. Songs have a melody, a rarity these days.
2. People who write country songs like words. Who can forget, "If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?" or "All my exes live in Texas that's why I live in Tennessee" or even "Here's a quarter, call someone who cares"?
3. Country songs have strong women and men who are cheaters, alcoholics, or jailbirds.
4. In country music, life is simple: heartache, partying, and patriotism.

It's this last that concerns me today. Unabashed patriotism is the generally accepted norm, no relativism here. So, on this anniversary, let's share in country's take on 9/11 with a portion of Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue."

Now this nation that I love has fallen under attack.
A mighty sucker punch came flying in from somewhere in the back.
Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye,
Man we lit up your world like the Fourth of July.

Hey Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly,
And there's gonna be Hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell!
It's gonna feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you...
Brought to you courtesy of the Red, White and Blue!

Oh, Justice will be served and the battle will rage.
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage
You'll be sorry that you messed with the US of A
'Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way.

Hey Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly,
And there's gonna be Hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell!
And it'll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you...
Brought to you courtesy of the Red, White and Blue!
Of the Red, White and Blue..
Of my Red, White and Blue

Monday, September 10, 2007

History's Mysteries

These are some of the unanswered questions floating in the atmosphere, the kinds of things you wonder about late at night while watching the History Channel:

  • Where was Atlantis?
  • What happened to the treasure of the Templars?
  • Where was Flight 19 heading?
  • What really happens in the Bermuda Triangle?
  • Where happened to Amelia Earhart?
  • What happened to Wade Boggs' plane?
  • What sank the Edmund Fitzgerald?
  • Where did the crew of the Mary Celeste go?
  • What happened to the lost colony of Roanoke?
  • Where is the famed Amber Room?
  • Where are the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum?
  • What really happened to Michael Rockfeller?
  • Who was Jack the Ripper?
  • Who was the Zodiac killer?
  • What happened to DB Cooper?
  • Is there really a Jersey Devil? Loch Ness Monster?
  • Where's the Dutchman's Mine?
  • What happened to Fidel?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Hierarchy of Needs

Do a survey of what is being written in the MSM about the death of Fidel and the succession to the throne of Raul, and you'll come away with the impression that free health care, guaranteed schooling, and a plate of food are an acceptable replacement for the freedoms we enjoy. As Tennyson's Ulysees says, "as if to breathe were life." Forget Patrick Henry: "Give me liberty or give me death!" In our age of moral relativism, totalitarianism is good for some, if not for us. After all, the same people that see in the succession and its supposed coming quasi Chinese reforms a positive sign are the same people who criticize the Patriot Act. Go figure.

Anyway, I've been struggling with how best to use the non-occasion (at least it will be by the time they get around to announcing it) of Castro's death to help further the cause of freedom in Cuba. Celebration of said occurrence is guaranteed to occur. And I can't say I would stop it. After all, I share in the impulse. At the same time, the scene of glorious rejoicing on the streets of Miami would indicate to the American public that it's over. Only, of course, it isn't over for those who live in Cuba.

Then yesterday, the feast day of Cuba's patron, La Caridad del Cobre- an apparition of the Virgin Mary- Gusano wrote something which struck a chord.

And I got me one of those big old candles with her likeness on it and I'm going to light it right now and join the millions of Cubans that today pray that, just like she saved those three Cubans from the storm so long ago, that she protect our island during the looming tempest. And that once the clouds begin to clear that the light of freedom shines brightly to every corner of our enslaved island.

That's it, I thought. What if the announcement were met with something symbolic, a mass procession, maybe a candlelight vigil for those still suffering under the yoke of the Castro Crime Family? An ecumenical prayer service, representing a cross section of Cuban culture, with Priest, Rabbi, Ministers, maybe even Buddhist monks. With all the press that will certainly descend on Miami, what better way to put the spotlight on the regime? Use the partying to get attention, then....

Alas, I discovered the Mediterrenean, because as Gusano informed, plans are already in the works for something like, as well as a memorial mass for those who lost their lives in the seemingly interminable national nightmare. I look forward to hearing more.

Two More Reads for the Collection

This week's entry is Dancing to "Almendra" by Mayra Montero, a Cuban columnist and writer from Puerto Rico. Set in 1957 Havana, it's somewhat of a mystery, as a young Cuban journalist sets out to connect the killing of an escaped hippopotamus from the Havana Zoo to the murder of Anastasia in the barber's chair in New York. The seemingly farfetched connection leads to the nest of Mafiosi running the casinos in Havana and, seemingly, the corrupt government. Luciano, Trafficante, Lansky, and even Anastasia, all make token appearances. It's got's one armed courtesans, a leprous dance director, circus types, as well as the requisite motifs of the 21st century. I'll let you guess what those are. It all ends in a surprise of sorts. My one concern with this one is that it may color the average person's impression of preCastro Cuba. As my mother once said of the Havana scene in The Godfather, "que despretigio." It was interesting, not a bad read.

For the next one, I'll dig back into 1994, when as far as I can tell, it was last published. A New York Times "Notable Book" and bestseller, it is still available at some libraries and at Amazon. I was reminded of it by the celebrations for La Virgen de la Caridad, when someone called her Ochun. In Alex Abella's Killing of the Saints, Charlie Morrell is called to investigate some particularly brutal slayings at a jewelry store in LA. Before you can say, "Babalao," he finds himself confronting centuries old African beliefs at work. It is a page turner, which will have you believing the near unbelievable. Read it. One of the movie studios picked it up years ago, but I don't think they've ever made the movie.