It would seem that in Cuba, instead of a reason for happiness and celebration and hope, all that the New Year could bring with the coming of every January is simply the arrival of the alleged celebration of the now extremely old Triumph of the Revolution. Because of this, the press is always full of “the same.” Recently a 50th Anniversary Bohemia Special Edition magazine was published with articles published in 1959. In general, like always, even today, they tell of the horrors of the dictatorship overthrown that year and everything “we cannot forget.” (But how could we, if every year, one after another, they remind us again how hideous it is?)
In the magazine there are two pages with “Phrases for History,” of course from the “Star of that moment,” with many photos of him. I would like to repeat some of the phrases here, to see how they strike one today with the passage of time:
…”This war was won by the people. And I say that for anyone who believes that he has won it. What interests the Revolution is the people…” Who would be the one who, at that moment, believed that he had won and was interested in maintaining, for such a long time, all of the people under his absolute command and authority?
…”I believe that this people has the same rights as other people to govern itself and to chart its own destiny.” …And since then…? Sometime it’s time to let the people chart a new destiny, and it would be good to stop living through what someone else charted for himself and extended to everyone.
…”Where there is justice there is no crime, and where there is crime there is no freedom of the press; where there is crime they hide what they do.” …Freedom of the press? Where is that… is it here? “This people is not a barbaric people, nor is it a criminal people. This the most noble and sensitive people of all." …Asshole, then why are you so determined to fuck them over?
I find out through the official organ of the Party that our star no longer lives in the flag. They already came out with explanations, but I am left with the symbolic message. I think it says more than words.
They’ve sold a pig in a poke to our friend the local political boss Guamá, our comrade in the PCC (Partido de la Carne de Caballo [aka “The Horse Meat Party” to you English speakers]). A Gorki (who is not the director of PPR because he knows how to turn on a computer and even has an account on Facebook) has sent him nothing more and nothing less than a communiqué, which the boss kindly published. We exonerate the boss of all guilt, so please they are not going to burn him at the stake, and I already talked to my former comrades of the G2 and all the archives will be eliminated.
According to the MINIT [Ministry of Interior] computer the information sent was a co-production between Hugo Chávez and Kim Il Sun who, as we all know, are boyfriends who communicate through Fidel Castro, who plays the role of intermediary between the living and the dead.
We apologize to all the innocent anticommunist victims who have been affected by this com-muniqué.
I take advantage of the opportunity to attach a photo of myself, which is totally beside the point but I look very sexy in it.
I think the political posters and billboards have long since crossed the line of semantic absurdity. But this latest adjective, “mighty,” [pujante] has left me with my mouth hanging open. The first time I saw one of these banners (they’re now hanging all over 23rd Street), and read “mighty,” I imagined a woman laboring to give birth with tremendous pain and, since then, every time I read the little word I can’t get the idea out of my head. The worst is when I read the complete phrase, “The Mighty Revolution.” I can’t even begin to explain the disagreeable image that forms in my brain, where there’s no longer a woman in labor, but poor exhausted Cuba, incessantly pushing to give birth to this enormous revolution that won't leave her womb once and for all.
I wonder, who are the people who are making the signs and how much are they paying them? At times, I can make myself believe that they’re doing it deliberately, that those fetuses of metaphor are so that we will read between the lines, so that we will laugh to ourselves and know that they, the designers and publishers of the Mighty (from now on I’ll call it that), are only doing their job because that is how they earn their beans.
Abandoning the unofficial CDR acronym, widely used in commercial transactions on the black market, for 24 hours the Cuban people can say loudly on the telephone, “Here, man, I got the Carne De Res.” You have to be careful, however, you can only say it once since it’s half a pound; if you say it twice you’ll raise suspicions that you have enough for two meals. Here’s the photo of the gift of the Communist Kings, who are different from the Three Kings, they come only once every fifty years and they don’t give gifts, they sell them.
Irrespective of what it might mean to be standing at the front of a classroom without the pedagogical skills necessary to handle it, to make matters worse by having academic gaps, makes it truly pathetic. However, if you add turning on the television as a substitute for the work of a teacher, adjectives fail me and we enter, once again, into the Kingdom of the Absurd.
Newly-minted teachers and social workers I know are desperate: with seven years of compulsory social service, going where they send you, without working conditions, faced with marginal adolescents they can’t handle, teenagers themselves with an absurd program, the Revolution decided to give them the responsibility to teach what they don’t know.
The consequences? The demands on the teacher-in-training and the academic level of the students in the cellar, depressed teachers, students with serious behavior problems faced with teachers with serious problems of self-control, and a television that tries to teach what the teacher doesn’t know. There are even teachers who are prepared and would like to run their classes as well as they can, but no: they can’t turn off the television because they are not the owners of the classroom, the owner is the one speaking impassively from the screen who makes the laws and says you have to present the following content.
Knives to threaten the teachers and chairs to break the heads of the students form a part of the teacher-training process in some cases. There’s one who’s teaching an entire secondary school by himself in spite of his having punched a student, but what are you going to do if no one else will take on such a workload.
The students who take knives to school get sent to another school, the teachers who knock them about or crack chairs over their heads are sent to another school also, as the joke says: a man comes home and finds his wife having sex with her lover on the sofa; desperate, the guy throws the sofa out the window. We all throw out the sofa, then the wardrobe, then everything in the house and then, we throw ourselves out the window to see what happens. Anyway, the governmental experience protects us: what it has mostly done, this Revolution, is throw out the sofa, by the dumpster load.
I recall the stories told by acquaintances about the efforts, expense and the lies some parents had to tell to give their children a present for “Three Kings Day.” Siblings were even born to satisfy the requests of some toddlers.
Revolutionary history always emphasizes how, before, poor people didn’t have any money and could not, even on this day, give anything to their children who still “believed” in the “Three Kings and Father Christmas,” and the social problem of the marked class differences between those who received much and those who received nothing. Hence, the absurdity of celebrating these dates was like something taken as a given by the people… to the great dissatisfaction of some.
But, in reality, the differences were never completely eliminated. They tried to eliminate the frowned upon celebration of Christmas and the Three Kings Day which, according Revolutionary history, became a part of the bourgeois life that we had to let go, when in reality, for some, they were almost more cultural and family traditions than celebrations based on religious beliefs. Then the children had to put aside their silly innocence and must learn that the bearded kings were others and brought other kinds of gifts.
This last January 5th, watching people expend tremendous effort running to the shops to buy their children “toy cell phones” at 25 Cuban pesos (national money), and others in line at stores selling toys in “Cuban pesos” but also in “convertibles” or CUCs (1 CUC = 24 national money or Cuban pesos), I remembered that the “terrible” social differences that the government so greatly “fears,” have more or less always existed.
As a child I had friends who had everything--toys and other things--that marked the differences, solely because of the fact that they were Papa’s nieces or nephews, relations or shirt-tail relations, or his kids. Me, with my “poor communist” family, I had to be satisfied with playthings from the coupons in the ration book in their three variants or categories: basic, non basic, and additional. Making it even more complicated were the numbers they gave out and the terrible lines, adding uncertainty about whether you’d get something you saw in the window, and the disappointment when the most desirable items were running out, the times when you’d be “bawling” because you didn’t reach the front of the line in time and had to leave the store with “something” so as not to go home with tears running down your face and empty hands.
To me, Three Kings Day and Father Christmas don’t mean a thing, nor do I know the history very well (because of my background, I suppose), but I wonder if the absurdity, like so many other things, wasn’t an attempt to impose the disappearance of these dates on so many people for whom they continued to matter and to try to eliminate something, established or not, in the mass culture of the people. Because even now some grandparents and parents find themselves “between a rock and a hard place” with the problem of low wages and the high prices of toys, etc. etc… on top of the terrible and noticeable differences compared to their children’s playmates.
Maybe the kids of today will just have to invent a new story about the New Kings (...at this point, way too old) to see if we believe them.
Our last blogger meeting was led by Eugenio Leal of the Mason blog. In his presentation he discussed citizen journalism, copyright, freedom of expression and self-censorship, all from the viewpoint of the personal ethics a blogger may or may not adopt. It’s a topic that’s very difficult to reach consensus on and for this reason it was, perhaps, one of the most lively meetings, which I like because it shows that we don’t all think alike and what is brilliant is that we will be VERY different.
I’ve transcribed here some of the paragraphs from his presentation which were most interesting to me:
“With the internet we are learning, beyond the technology, that human communications of a new type are being created in the new era of computing: virtual communities. These communities are based on the exchange of information and knowledge between people who might live in different countries and who will never meet face-to-face…”
“Blogger Code of Ethics:
Assume responsibility not only for your own words but also for the comments you allow on your blog.
State your tolerance level of abusive comments.
Consider eliminating anonymous comments.
Ignore the trolls.
Continue the conversation outside the internet, talk directly or find an intermediary who can arrange it.
If you know someone who is behaving badly, let them know.
Don’t say anything online you wouldn’t say in person.”
This code provoked enough controversy among us, I have doubts with respect to many of the points (which is normal for me), I think talking about blogger ethics is too complex. There are many blogs and to make it worse we are not blogging under normal conditions, for example: not only do I have anonymous comments, but I encourage people to comment on my blog anonymously, or protected by pseudonyms. At the same time I think it’s good that we try to reach a consensus among ourselves, even though it might not be infallible.
I close this post with the same words with which Eugenio closed our meeting, a beautiful interpretation of the words of Jeremiah:
“Because, like Jeremiah, what we try to do is: uproot and tear down, ruin and demolish, build and grow.
Uproot and tear down everything that separates Cubans.
Ruin and demolish the psychological barriers of helplessness.
Build and grow our nation, finally, with all and for the benefit of all.”
I have an exam coming up in this subject and these are its general objectives. I have decided to publish them to share my moral conflict of wanting to pass it, which is too large to bear alone.
1. Interpret the significance of Marxist-Leninist Political Economy as a scientific foundation for understanding of the exploitative character of the Capitalist Model of Production.
2. Develop the belief that the study of capitalism is a necessity for the construction of Socialism.
3. Explain, from the Marxist-Leninist and third world viewpoint, that the socioeconomic changes operating in contemporary capitalism don’t alter its exploitative nature, classism, and its historical trend.
Last Saturday at 10 in the morning they showed a documentary about Mussolini. They didn’t put the credits at the end and I missed the beginning, so I can’t tell you what it was called or who directed it. I started to watch it in the middle and as it went on I decided to take some notes to share here. It’s not that I am already seeing ghosts where there aren’t any, but tell me if all this isn’t too much of a coincidence…
- He always wanted to win over his audience even if this meant contradicting himself over and over in the media. - Under his government you could only belong to one party. - The media only talked about the prosperity of the country. - He had initiated censorship at the beginning, which ended up becoming the status quo of his regime. - He promised progress and development. - He made himself Commander in Chief of Italy. - He fought wars against the will of his people, in which thousands of soldiers died. - His wife was barely seen in public. - His family held positions in the government. - He introduced compulsory military service. - He was very paranoid and toward the end of his life his mental state was terrible. - All the bad he did outweighs the good he’d been able to do.
Note: I have no picture of Mussolini, so I decided on this one by pure "coincidence".
(A friend brought me this text, it seems my work is bearing fruit and my friends are beginning to get excited and give me posts. Even though they are anonymous, I know that bit by bit they’ll stop being so, we’ve already come a long way even with a pseudonym, which gives me hope they’ll continue writing.)
Photo: OLPL Text by: The White Salamander
There are journalists, almost always foreigners because the national ones are too “careful,” who pose “uncomfortable questions” to “our leaders,” more or less causing heart attacks in public. Just a few days ago they asked Raúl about dissent in Cuba and he almost had a heart attack, meanwhile answering “forcefully.” Sometimes you assume you know the meaning of certain words for many reasons, through reading, conversations and hearing them so often from the mouths of others. And so you don’t look them up in the dictionary because their meanings are “obvious.” But I wonder if sometimes they aren’t used badly, leaving us with a slightly erroneous idea of them. I have to share, even if no one has asked me to:
Dissidence: (ad. L dissidentia) n. 1. Action and effect of dissenting. II. Serious difference of opinion. Synonyms.: Disagreement, division, Anton.: Harmony.
Dissident: (ad. L Dissidens,-entis.) n. One who disagrees. adj. Disagreeing.
Dissent: (ad. L Dissidere.) v. To deviate from the common doctrine, belief or conduct. n. difference of opinion.
This word, dissidence, and all of its “derivatives,” in this country has, for all practical purposes, been banned as nearly every thought that is different from theirs is banned. And as a consequence they want “the masses” to look at a dissident like a social pariah. “EWWWW, stinking dissident!!!!” they seem to shout. Because of this some have already been separated from the their families, friends or acqaintances simply for being, or going with others who are, “disaffected with the Crown.” The fear instilled is great, I honestly admit that for me sometimes it is… (That’s why I write this as “anonymous.) In this country, the governemnt, on the few occasions they’ve done so, mentions dissidence (or “political deviants”) as a small percentage of people whom they believe they can “control” very well. Furthermore, they accept as a fact the belief that all of them are supposedly “paid by the Empire.” Knowing the full meaning, I wonder if the government is really so naïve as to believe that there are only a minimum number of people who disagree with its “Common Doctrine” (??) or who are “seriously in discord with the opinions” of the government. Because if that’s the case, I believe they’re seriously deluded or, one might say, total clowns, to not know that there is a great percentage of dissidents in this country, many, thousands. Too many people don’t think like “Them,” they want to change things, they are tired of everything, of nothing changing for 50 years. It’s only that lamentably we don’t all have the balls to do what some do, some of the wonderful very young people, bold, and though fearful, brave. And paid by the Empire? What Empire might that be that they’re talking about? Oh right, I’m sure it must be the “Foreign Empires,” because in this country a large share of the people live on what their families and friends send from “outside,” if not…
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”.
Yesterday, Wednesday, January 8, we held our blogger meeting without any difficulty except that Yoani’s phone mysteriously stopped working at noon. The presentation this time was enlivened by Reinaldo Escobar of the blog Desde Aqui [From Here] who, with his never failing and off-the-wall sense of humor, several times made me laugh until I cried. Among other themes, we talked about freedom within the blog, but what I liked the most were the selections that Reinaldo used as illustrations during his presentation. Here are a few:
Clarification: The source of the obscure metaphor, below, is Comrade Fidel
Examples of double meanings:
Tell Manolo that Roberto has the books he wants (who wants what?) They spoke with Maria about their affairs (the affairs of whom?) The strength that victory brought was notable (victory brought him more strength, or was it the strength that allowed him to obtain victory?)
Example of obscure metaphors:
(…) after lives offered up and so many sacrifices defending sovereignty and justice, one cannot offer Cuba the other shore of capitalism.
It’s not clear if they are offering capitalism to Cuba from another shore to lead it astray from the right path or, if, on reaching the anticipated shore, oh! surprise! there’s someone there offering capitalism. In our historical context “the other shore” is Miami, and so to use the term the other shore to refer to the end of the road causes confusion. On the other hand, we use shore to refer to the periphery of an area, not for the ends of a line.
Example of a presumptuous reference:
(For a recipe for fried rice) "the tomatoes here exceed, not in the ontological sense that Heidegger might give it, but because of the inconsistency that Schopenhauer might imply"
Example of a humiliating clarification:
He turned on the faucet by putting his hand on the handle and giving it a slight turn to the left.
Example of unnecessary detour:
What I want to say, without offending anyone and without my words awakening any sensitivity among my hosts, who have given me the most conscientious attention, perhaps greater than my humble person deserves, is that, despite the pleasantness of the evening, I’m tired.
To come to an understanding of how far we have taken this system, we need to be attentive to the details that, with the force of half a century, shape our everyday lives but that are anomalous in any healthy society. On December 24th we always eat with our family and friends. We have someone in the family who is a communist. The ten people whom we ate with this year, by unanimous vote and without abstentions or ‘no’ votes, decided we wouldn’t invite her. We wouldn’t be able to speak about any topic (she relates almost everything we say to politics, particularly everything Ciro says, the poor guy, he says ‘school’ and already there’s a squabble); we wouldn’t be able to make political jokes (among which we had printed for the occasion); we wouldn’t be able to yell at each other about social topics (we agree on almost nothing but we argue with great vigor); and the worst of all is that we know she would feel super bad among so much worminess, and we’d never be able to reestablish our relationship after a single disastrous Christmas eve dinner.
Those are the sad situations which this revolution has led to in 50 years: a society in which parents and children aren’t on speaking terms, mothers take their children from home, friends don’t speak, long time marriages break up for ideological reasons.
The mother of a childhood friend was married her whole life to a State Security official. They never divorced but from what I understand they slept in separate rooms and while she went to church he went to the Ministry of the Interior. Ironically, the wall of the living room was in agony, one day yes and one day no when a photo of Fidel was replaced with one of the Pope and vice versa, with the usual squabble and shouting that preceded the change in decoration. In time, the one of Fidel ended up hung on one side of the kitchen (it’s worth clarifying that the one in my house mysteriously disappeared along with all the photos we’d hung under it).
I believe the moral crisis in which we bathe every day still isn’t calculated: the best match—a foreigner; the lottery—permission to live abroad; the best skill—the double standard; the sexual harassment—naïve public exhibitionism; the prostitutes—‘fighting’ women; the illegality—selling eggs; the legality—snitching; the best in the class—the best liar; survival—stealing.
Once on the news they were talking about a serious problem in England where the majority of the young people don’t exercise their right to vote because they’re not interested in politics… What irony: I dream of not being interested in politics, of not caring who will be president elect. But even better: I dream that in the next election we eleven million Cubans on this island don’t exercise our right to vote.
The rigors of life in the G2 are too hard for me. Imagine, the first day at work they ordered us to ….God! How stupid, to be standing still in place? From that moment on my lumbago started. Later, when they saluted the flag and started to sing the national anthem, I developed a rash all over my body that itched like hell. But when that colonel said that we had to recite by heart the putrefied mummy Castro’s commandments about his definition of revolution, I suffered an intestinal infarction and fainted. The doctor who saw me at the Naval Hospital tested my tolerance for Socialist Slogans and determined that I wasn’t fit to continue to provide my services in the State Security, now I am a retiree of MININT with a meager pension of 120 pesos monthly, so I must return to music. By the way, I did manage to get into the secret files and recover my papers, so, in case I don’t survive the consequences stemming from my one day in the G2, here are the lyrics to the song I wrote about stinky-feet Che:
Che did not bathe
Che was a babbling cocksucker the day Castro found him and with his crooked teeth signed him up and put him on his boat. and there wasn’t a single expeditionary who could fall asleep. Because an unbearable foot stink hung around the place.
The farts he farted raised tremendous curiosity. If his asthma doesn’t let him breathe, where does he get so much gas? Such putrefaction bothered even Fidel himself. Who made him a commanding officer and sent him to an invasion far away from him.
He even had a few children when the revolution was won. Who was the madwoman who could tolerate such a stench? And Castro sent him to Bolivia never to smell him again. And under that pretense, made sure they would kill him there.
P.S. I’m missing a stanza that someone ripped off the page, I’m sure to keep it as a souvenir.
The reasons for both decisions are equally important to me. The sacrifice of either option is great. I think things can be done for this country from within or from without, that’s not the point. What does seem important to me is NOT to be judging the role of those who are doing things from whatever place on the planet while everyone thinks they are all State Security or opportunists. It seems that the long arm of paranoia has gotten lodged in the minds of many of us to absurd levels. Deciding to stay doesn’t mean that I think there will be changes in Cuba in the next 50 years, I don’t want to err on the side of naiveté with the disillusionment that tomorrow becomes repentance. However, to stay is to renounce for an indefinite period the rights that I am due as a citizen, some of which I exercise in these times because I want to, even though they are not legitimized, as Mariela Castro argued in her strange letter “NOT” directed at Yoani Sánchez (it seems, somehow, exceptional in the history of writing, that now people write to themselves from Cuba about Yoani, people who are NOT interested in her and who don’t even know who she is). On the other hand, deciding to go, I think. would be conversely to give up any hope of possible changes in the next 50 years. But why not dream of a world where paranoia and fear of thinking don’t exist, where I am paid for my work, where there is no talk of gratuities of 60 million dollars for who knows what prominent figures when the rest of us mortals still live on 20 CUC a month and without gratuities (trips, vacations in Varadero or in the keys where I can’t go) and where snitching, as I once said, is institutionalized and if anyone doubts it I quote:
"It is not possible to lead and control and at the same time to be tolerant; to play the role of 'the good guy' as it's popularly called. Hence, the various epithets, usually derogatory, that they assign to those who do what really needs to be done."
Raúl Castro speech before the National Assembly of People's Power Palace of Conventions, Havana, December 27, 2008.
If I balance the vocabulary that I’ve heard in the past month, that of the government shows clearly the words Hate and Intolerance; of what changes does this speak to me, from within and at what time? I don’t know with this syntax. Thanks, but I think I prefer Guatemala, because without a doubt we are entering Guatepeor.
Translator’s note “From Guatemala to Guatepeor” is an expression that means “from bad to worse” or “out of the frying pan and into the fire.”
A friend comes to see me and tells me she's very upset that she had to dump her boyfriend (they’d been going out for two months). I was very surprised because until that week he’d been the perfect boyfriend, and I asked her why.
She was kind enough to write down the reasons, because she’s convinced that my house is full of microphones from State Security, so she didn’t want to tell me out loud. Here they are:
1. He’s a Fidelista, not a communist. He says Fidel is NOT guilty of everything that happens in Cuba. The fault lies with those around him who do things without telling him. The poor guy, after fifty years he hasn’t learned anything…
2. He’s a Delegate to the National Assembly from his district, but even though he doesn’t agree with the way in which “the Others” manage the country, he received construction materials to fix his house (the ends justify the means).
3. He told my friend not to complain about being required to serve more than two years of social service duty, that it was a way to pay back the Revolution for everything it had done for her.
4. When he comes over to the house, it’s always at night and when she’s already sleepy, so she asks him to make coffee. However, he’s never done it.
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.