This last Friday night we went with some friends to G Street to accompany a Canadian journalist who was doing some interviews for a punk rock magazine and wanted to ask the frikys about Porno Para Ricardo. The man asked me to help him choose some people to interview and to serve as translator during the interviews. I was a little pessimistic, at times I have less faith than I should, but I went with him convinced that no one would speak well of Porno Para Ricardo, of that they would be afraid to speak or wouldn’t give their names. I was absolutely wrong in all three cases.
All those interviewed said that PPR was the best rock band in Cuba at this time, and that its songs were very good with excellent lyrics. To the annoyance of Alonso Alpidio, number one in the top ten of those interviewed was “Comunista Chivatón” [Communist Snitch] followed by “Comunistas de la Gran Escena” [Communists of the Grand Stage] and by “Nueve Cuentos” [Nine Stories] (the latter sung into the microphone in English by a fan of the Faculty of Foreign Languages). All those interviewed agreed that the group is censored for telling the truth, the government fears and stifles them, and there is no freedom of expression in Cuba. Everyone gave their full names and one said, “There is no fear.”
On the fate of the group, however, there were several answers: 1. Gorki is still in prison. 2. Gorki isn’t in prison because Ciro’s father, from the United States, mobilized the human rights community.
These answers made me feel a little guilty and I’ve decided to work with Yoani Sánchez to remake the multimedia presentation, “The Gorki Case,” no to present it as an exhibition, which was the initial idea, but simply to distribute it on flash drives and CDs, as we do with all the info, and so the frikys can, at least, know how we got Gorki out of jail.
On the other hand, this morning I received one of those good luck emails that friends send me, with a note from someone names Ricardo Espinosa which you can read in Habanemia. For the most part the text attacks the rockers for making a scene at and littering “G Street (or the avenue of the presidents)” as the article says.
First I would like to remind Ricardo that G Street was called The Avenue of the Presidents when we had presidents in Cuba, so the clarification in parenthesis can be interpreted as political irony. But I don’t think that was the intention of the author, so I advise you to edit your note so you won’t have problems with the political police.
The rest of the note seems quite consistent, it’s true that the street is “taken” and there is a tremendous scene. However, it seems a little exaggerated to me for Espinosa to think that, “a group of those young people, with obvious intent to annoy, were pounding drums from 10 at night until 5am.”
I would also like to take advantage of his note to append a small paragraph. I would like to sue the Cuban government for the public scene it causes at the “protest-drome” whose neighbors have to endure days and days of crowds of people who attend marches, interminable shouted speeches, traffic blocking their streets, concerts from every kind of musician, parades of every kind, and to make matters worse, when they look out their windows, a blue sea is blocked by I don’t know how many black flags, which has given rise to another nickname for the unfortunate “Anti-imperialist Bandstand,” this time a literary one: Mordor. Meanwhile, the Plaza of the Revolution and the Central Committee are called “The Eye of Sauron.”
Translator’s note The title of this post is also the title of a PPR song. Frikys – Derived from the English word “freak”.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.