January 2011



Meme with Rosita Fornés

It’s Sunday again and once again I connect my old GE, on the pretext of keeping it running, to listen to the only radio program on my planet I tend to support: Memories, as well as taking advantage of it to move my skeleton, dancing alone like Isadora.

Once the tubes heated up I started to hear something that left me pleasantly shocked: On Days Like Today, by Meme Solís. This greatly caught my attention because it had been many years since I heard her voice on the radio. Would we once again get to hear Guillot of Celia Cruz? That would be great news because it would really show that something was changing.

I’m not one of those pessimistic people who always sees things in gray, but nor do I get excited about any old nonsense. When I was in the most enthusiastic stage of my choreography, Fernando entered with an expression between astonishment and disgust. He had been at the shops to buy chopped meat and it turned out that a package that yesterday cost 1.10 CUC, today was 1.70, and the one that cost 2.20 was now 2.80. So, as if by magic, from one moment to next it had risen by nothing more nor less and 60 centavos in CUCs, the equivalent of 12 Cuban pesos, or more than the daily wage.

But I insist that as I am a person who thinks positively, I think that sooner rather than later which will change, like it or not, and it will happen one of these days, as the words to the song day.

January 30 2011

Oil painting by Cuban painter, E. Abela

So loved by many, misunderstood by some and utilized by others.

Martí is the instinct of love, of generosity, of altruism, of sacrifice.

So predominant was the creative impulse in Martí that the sweep of his life arched further and further away from the center of his “me”.

“Man loves liberty, even if he does not know that he loves it. He is driven by it and flees from where it does not exist.”

“I do not believe that in matters that interest all and are the property of all, nor even in private matters, should the opinion of one man attempt to prevail.”

“All power broadly and extendedly exerted, degenerates when made a caste.  With castes come interests, haughty positions, the fears of losing them, the intrigues to sustain them.  Castes seek each other out among themselves, and support each other by the shoulder.”

“In the world, there should be a certain amount of decorum, as there should be a certain amount of light.  When there are many men without decorum, there are always those who carry within themselves the decorum of many men.  Those are the ones that rebel with terrible strength against those who rob peoples of their liberty, which is to rob men of their decorum.  Within those men are thousands of men, an entire people, human dignity.”

Remembering the Apostle*, on the 158th anniversary of his birth (28 January, 1853).

*Translator’s note: This refers to El Apóstol de la Independencia Cubana, the Apostle of Cuban Independence, as José Martí is known reverentially by all Cubans.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

January 27 2011

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The year starts and private businesses proliferate. The recently laid-off self-employed, with their classification somewhat vindicated, are no longer the badly named exploiters, quacks, et cetera, terms with which the regime disrespectfully referred to them. Now they need them so they are self-employed workers.

In my neighborhood, from the earliest days of Nuevo Vedado, there has been a hair salon once gorgeous and elegant, that after the year 1959 lost its luster. until it turned into a dark place with broken windows, no light, and big water problems. So, little by little, it languished until it turned into the misery it is today.  Also, originally, it was separated only by a staircase to an entry where there was a barbershop. After that it was attached to a hairdressers. With time, the deterioration of both spaces accelerated, lacking an owner to take an interest.

Now, since the beginning of the year, the new hairdresser (old barber shop), with its new owners, has regained its charm. Moderate prices and careful attention are a part of its new image. However, the other side, the one belonging to the state, continues to be deteriorated and dark. Since the two are next door to one another, popular ingenuity has begun to refer to them as The Prince and the Pauper.

January 13 2011

Yesterday in a conversation among friends, fed up with such serious topics as the layoffs of more than one million workers and wanting to lighten up the conversation a little, we ended up telling anecdotes that, although sounding like jokes, are pure reality and make us laugh by being so absurd in themselves.

Look, Marta was telling me, I had to see it to believe it.  It turns out that on G Street, after they furiously decimated the busts and statues of the Cuban presidents from the republican era, not taking into account that they are part of our history, there was a statue that became famous, because when it was knocked down, the shoes remained on the pedestal, and for this reason it continues to draw many visitors. However, it’s not that statue that I want to talk about, but the one they made of Salvador Allende, with a colossal out-of-proportion raised arm with the hand pointing to the horizon (in this case the sea).

Well, my friend continued, someone noticed that the hand could be unscrewed and separated from the rest of the bust, and he removed it as a joke. It was lost for several days until one night it was rejoined with the rest of the sculpture. Then, occasionally someone would remove it again, and days later it would reappear as if by magic. For that reason they had to assign a guard to the bust.

Like with John Lennon’s!, said Wilfre. It’s a fact that now there is a person assigned to guard the Chilean president twenty-four hours a day. The same thing happens with the most famous of the Beatles. The caretaker keeps the eyeglasses in his pocket and puts them on the now popular bronze figure when someone wants to take his picture next to it.  Once the picture is taken, he puts them away again, until the next occasion.

One thing I am sure of, I told those who were present, is that neither of these two guards is going to be laid off with these new labor readjustments. And wouldn’t it be more economical, interrupted Verónica, if they put contact lenses on the subject statue?

Translated by: Espirituana

January 16 2011

Yesterday in a conversation among friends, fed up with such serious topics as the layoffs of more than one million workers and wanting to lighten up the conversation a little, we ended up telling anecdotes that, although sounding like jokes, are pure reality and make us laugh by being so absurd in themselves.

Look, Marta was telling me, I had to see it to believe it.  It turns out that on G Street, after they furiously decimated the busts and statues of the Cuban presidents from the republican era, not taking into account that they are part of our history, there was a statue that became famous, because when it was knocked down, the shoes remained on the pedestal, and for this reason it continues to draw many visitors. However, it’s not that statue that I want to talk about, but the one they made of Salvador Allende, with a colossal out-of-proportion raised arm with the hand pointing to the horizon (in this case the sea).

Well, my friend continued, someone noticed that the hand could be unscrewed and separated from the rest of the bust, and he removed it as a joke. It was lost for several days until one night it was rejoined with the rest of the sculpture. Then, occasionally someone would remove it again, and days later it would reappear as if by magic. For that reason they had to assign a guard to the bust.

Like with John Lennon’s!, said Wilfre. It’s a fact that now there is a person assigned to guard the Chilean president twenty-four hours a day. The same thing happens with the most famous of the Beatles. The caretaker keeps the eyeglasses in his pocket and puts them on the now popular bronze figure when someone wants to take his picture next to it.  Once the picture is taken, he puts them away again, until the next occasion.

One thing I am sure of, I told those who were present, is that neither of these two guards is going to be laid off with these new labor readjustments. And wouldn’t it be more economical, interrupted Verónica, if they put contact lenses on the subject statue?

 Translated by: Espirituana

Spanish post
January 16 2011

Photo, Rebeca

This was the name of a popular TV comedy show on my planet. Although I assure you that for me, the star of comedy is the national television news. When I manage to tie myself to the armchair, to watch ten minutes of this program, the question in the title of this post is what comes to mind.

I don’t know if I’m more surprised or indignant, to see and hear how people criticize, especially the neighbor across the street. One of the things in the news that has provoked the most comment these days has been the famous billboard on Eighth Street in Miami where the “five heroes” appear, which lasted less time “than a meringue at the door of a school” due to pressure and outrage from the Cuban community in exile.

This is intolerance, it’s true, but to talk about the speck in your neighbor’s eye while missing the log in your own, annoys me much more. I would like to know if, here on my little planet, they would allow someone to put up a billboard asking for freedom for the political prisoners who still languish in their cells in unsanitary conditions with nothing. The difference is that those on the billboard in Miami play chess on the internet and have all kinds of resources and good sanitation, beyond what those here can even dream of.

I would wish that they would want the same things for them, that people here are equally deserving of fair and humane treatment.

I ask for nothing for myself, as some religious people on my planet would say, that I do not also ask for you.

January 18 2011

I’m sure if this gentleman were alive today, on my planet, he would write of local customs.

I went with my friend Regina to the Veterinary School, because her puppy needed emergency surgery. I did not want her to have to undertake this sad errand alone.

It had been many years, thank God, since I had been inside this campus. On arrival, the impression was horrible: the state of abandonment, deterioration and filth hit me. Who is last in line for surgery? I asked. I immediately marked our place behind a lady carrying a little sata puppy with a strong demo. There was a German Shepherd with an ingestion of pork, and a cocker spaniel puppy with the same. It was still very early. Later the line swelled with the new patients arriving. One was brought in a wheelbarrow used for construction materials.

When we got ourselves organized and were waiting our turn, an employee shouted that the power company had informed them that today would be a “free hand” in the whole area. In other words, there’s not going to be any power until who knows when. My friend and I bristled. The thought of having to repeat the ordeal, we were not amused, when another voice, this time from one of the doctors, announced that surgery would continue because they were going to operate with the light from the sun. Yes, you heard it right, “A Pleno Sol” just like the movie, but without Alain Delon in the leading role!

Recovery room entrance. The spots are bat feces.

A dog owner approached us and told us all the services offered in this place, but the only inconvenience was they could cut the dogs’ toenails but they didn’t have the clippers for it, and also they could vaccinate but right now they didn’t have any vaccines, and they could wash and style the dogs except right now they didn’t have any water and the electric clippers were broken.

Finally, after a long wait, even though we were third in line, but some emergencies arrived which logically had to go first, we could see the lamentable conditions of the place didn’t stop the magnificent and brave surgeons, saving the life of each little animal, spending the day in the “sunlit” operating room.

Hats off to the vets!
January 7 2011

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