I've been left a little traumatized after the celebrations of the CDR. Between the discussion on the bus, my neighbors’ Sunday volunteer work, and the reggaeton on the 28th until 1:00 in the morning; right now I feel a sense of "been there, done that... and never again would be too soon."
It turns out that Sunday was a “voluntary workday.” Obviously El Ciro and I weren’t aware of this, so when he went downstairs with the dogs and found an old man weeding the grass, with his last ounce of strength, he said, “Compadre, let me do it, I’m younger.” So as he cleared the block of every weed, “the guy with the list” approached and said, “Hey compadre, leave that, it’s already been checked off.” El Ciro looked up and discovered that in addition to having taken part in voluntary work, he was, in effect, the only one who had actually done any work. As for the others, it was grab a brick, move it from the right to the left, and then look at the guy with the list and say, “check me off.” I remembered the time the mutt broke the light on the stairs and El Ciro (one hundred percent private initiative) changed it without saying anything to anybody. A neighbor told me later that a meeting had been planned to define a repair strategy: “How much money to be collected from each apartment, who would collect it and who would spend it.” We had skipped all the steps.
For the party it was the same. In my building, by ten o’clock at night, the only person awake is me. My poor neighbors closed their eyes four hours later because they “had to celebrate” September 28th, the fiftieth anniversary of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). After midnight I heard an innocent neighbor ask why they hadn’t had the party on Friday or Saturday. Poor thing, she doesn’t know that you dance on the scheduled day, you work on the scheduled day, you sleep on the scheduled day and you live according to the schedule.
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.