Enterprising Cubans are training replacements ( pictured above) to serve on the nation’s local chapters of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. Government complaints that the new comrades are overly conscientious have been greeted with national hilarity. President Raul Castro recently announced that he is sending the one hundred top new Defenders to the U.S in a historic gesture of goodwill to Cuba’s thousands of Miami Relatives. Miami has reportedly asked the CIA how many small planes and automatic weapons it will trade in exchange for 100 highly trained communists.
The Cuban public was not impressed.
“Big deal,” said several of the 23 doctors who happened to stroll by during Electrica’s fifteen minute man-in-the-street interview in downtown Havana. “Cuba is full of highly trained communists. ”
The remaining 20 physicians either snorted or laughed, as did the 47 world class musicians, 32 internationally famous dancers, 12 poets, 83 artists, seven engineers, 15 craftsmen, six cigar makers, several rum experts, ten winning Olympic athletes and a small crowd of laughing Rastafarians.
Also, an old man selling bananas illegally from a wheelbarrow
“We know there will be changes in Cuba’s future “, pronounced a popular and handsome orchestra leader, who sat on the front steps of a crumbling old mansion divided into fourteen tiny apartments. He laughed loudly and added, ” But anyone who shows up from Miami whining about getting his grandfather’s land back will be immediately shipped to North Korea.”
So far, CIA sources have stated off the record only that the agency will under no circumstances accept any hamsters from Miami.
The Relatives responded by threatening a radio campaign urging Miami patriots to take down Congress, promising that “Elian will be a picnic in the park compared to this.”
Havana Times photo
Meanwhile, Raul has strictly prohibited all canine members of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution from sniffing any Party member in public.
“It’s times like this that the president misses his brother most,” confided Venezuelan leader Nicholas Madura, as he arrived in Havana to lend his support to Raul. The Cuban president greeted the former bus driver abrubtly, as Madero stumbled over several of the CIA agents who had been underfoot throughout Venezuela for at least six or seven years. Castro aimed a swift, well-placed kick at a senior agent as he stamped out of Jose Marti airport, followed by his presidential comrade, who had faced down American intelligence to be democratically elected. Castro had just snubbed Vladimir Putin’s offer to poison six rude Cuban bloggers and was in no mood for Russian or American mobsters, frivolous dissent, or ambitious dogs , regardless of breed. Well, as Fidel had famously said, a revolution is no bed of roses.
Castro stopped, turned to face a crowd of Granma reporters and addressed the nation.
“Be like Che!” he ordered, “Now, sit!”
Hundreds of good dogs immediately sat.
No further word from Havana at press time.
Thank-you to Paul Siemering for sending me the great photo of the Committee in Defense of the Revolution that appears at the top of this post.
Junie was rolled into the House of Gold late last summer on a dry desert afternoon, three weeks before her 98th birthday. A wind followed her through the huge front door, carrying the smell of walnut trees and hay. Hundreds and hundreds of walnut trees surround Casa de Oro, extending in neat rows as far as the eye can see. Junie lay back and watched the ceiling lights zoom past far above her as she was whisked along a network of hallways smelling of urine and bleach. The ceiling was the only thing she could see. It was a view I had come to know well.
I was hunched on my bed with the curtain pulled closed when Junie was deposited three feet away onto the adjourning bed. If I had looked, I would have seen the tiniest, oldest, and most fragile woman in the world. I would have been taken aback by Junie’s unexpectedly purposeful and glowing gaze.
I didn’t open the curtain right away, though, or even say hello. Medicaid had just kicked me out of the House of Gold’s Rehab Unit without any notice or stated cause, thus eliminating my physical therapy. I’d been hustled out of my separate Rehab Unit room with a speed rarely seen in Casa de Oro, and certainly never hinted at by teenage nursing assistants Yolanda and Tutu. The surgery I’d been preparing myself for was automatically terminated.
I wasn’t used to this part of the House of Gold and I couldn’t wait to leave. I was there thirty years too early.
Nurses and their assistants came in and out, speaking loudly to Junie, but not listening to her replies. She spoke very softly, which made it easy for them to ignore her.
I finally pulled the curtain, leaned over, and took her hand. Then I listened to Junie as hard as I could.
“I know all of the walnut trees,” she whispered. “And I knew all of the horses.”
Now that I am safe in my own home, I think of Junie. I won’t ever again set foot in the House of Gold, but I want you to remember what she said.
Junie knew all of the walnut trees and all of the horses.
Note: Please pardon the poor formatting
Once upon a time, about two and a half months ago, l was stuck in a motel in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where my car had died: suddenly, without warning, and in the middle of a six lane highway .. wait –
during rush hour. When else?
The cost of the tow truck, a new alternator and the motel bill had left me with exactly $4.26 to my name. Sounds about right. I mean, what’s my point here?
Let’s see..twenty minutes before my car came to a dead stop, I’d been lying in a hospital bed a few blocks away, expecting surgery and rehab for which I’d been waiting three and a half years. I’d prayed only that it wasn’t too late: that is, I’d certainly been able to walk three and a half years earlier. Had New Mexico’s public health system included actual medical treatment, I’d have been walking long ago.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was told there would be another delay, but I was. By now, though, I’ve learned that filing complaints, calling Santa Fe, appealing to state social workers and otherwise pitching a fit are stupid things to do if you are poor in New Mexico. So two nice medics wheeled me out to the hospital parking lot, sort of shoved me into my car, tossed my walker in the back seat and waved as I pulled into rush hour traffic. Hopefully, there’d be someone around to shove me back out of the car when I got home. A few blocks later, my car suddenly slowed down….
And that’s where you came in.
Five years ago, I stood alone against Vampires Are Us Media Group, aka GateHouse Media and its neoliberal lawyer and/or journalist pals.
At stake was the life of a Mexican-American father who was being framed for murder after he had acted to defend himself from a white supremacist attack .1
During and after the case, I was attacked by a relentless barrage of lies, threats, retaliation, libel, and textbook defamation. 2
It turns out that the idea of a reporter’s faith in the truth is actually a huge media joke.
Everything that made up my life was smashed and broken in order to destroy my credibility.
After they broke my heart, they broke my back.
In spite of the increasingly surreal quality of my world, I nevertheless maintained a dim sense that life went on. For example, I awoke the next day from motel dreams of swerving traffic and began lurching down the hall toward the free breakfast. A sharp flash of pain immediately reminded me that I’d left my walker on the passenger seat of my old Crown Victoria, which had been towed away. The pain remarked, in the overly familiar tone of a permanent guest, that the motel hallway had certainly grown longer overnight. I ignored it hatefully and leaned heavily into the wallpaper, sliding almost horizontally toward the distant lobby.
The breakfast area was a sea of Anglos: half of them were attending business meetings, and the rest were families on vacation. I looked around for something to help me through the line and as I grabbed a large luggage rack on wheels, I was pierced with longing: a memory of gliding swiftly through crowds, able to estimate their size, take photos, grab phone quotes and spot the outside auditors arrive without missing a beat.
Then I moved my back the wrong way and cried out as a flash of electricity instantly knocked me over – I mean way, way over. I was bent completely in half and I couldn’t move. Everyone just sat and pretended they weren’t looking at me. I looked at the floor because it was all I could see.
“I’ll get to her as soon as I can,” a motel employee said impatiently (and to someone else!) from behind me. Instantly I was resolved not to ask for help.
However, I knew that I would soon fall to the floor, so I rapidly ran through my options. I was fairly sure that if I cried in front of this large group of strangers, I would hurl myself in front of the first rapidly approaching cement truck I could find.
I heard what sounded almost like a sort of scuffle, and twisted my neck as far as I could. A man rapidly approached, elbowing people aside so that he could place a chair under me and – very slowly – help me to sit down. With the authority of a single gesture, he signaled a passing businessman to assist him in lifting the chair into an adjourning lounge and getting me onto a couch, Once lying on my side, the pain soon subsided.
The man’s name was Ruben, and he was evidently pissed off at the entire breakfast crowd.
(Hey, me too hermano! Over here! I am pissed off too – at everyone. !Mira – aqui!)
?”Usted hablan Espanol?” I asked Ruben. English was not working out for us.
“Si, si!” he replied enthusiastically and I arranged my brain in preparation. At least ten or twelve minutes later, however I realized that my brain had bypassed the prep zone and gone, unsupervised, straight to Spanish.
This blew my mind. I’d been speaking Spanish freely and effectively without thinking about it!
Let me tell you, it was like a visit from magic! I shall never forget it. My brain had inexplicably changed in significant, even profound ways, and my world had suddenly become much bigger. Infinitely bigger than if I had suddenly been able to get up and run.
Ruben and I didn’t have a complicated conversation, but it was, by every measure the best kind of conversation because it connected us. He was a Mexican national who had recently taken his time exploring North America’s west coast from Vancouver to San Diego. He said he had seen Mexicans everywhere he went. I told Ruben that I have been studying Pancho Villa and E. Zapata. Some of Villa’s generals were actually Americans – these were by far the most moronic scoundrels in the conflict. ( No, I didn’t say “by far the most moronic scoundrels” in Spanish.)
Villa himself, of course, had the heart of a lion.
When I mentioned the EZLN and “Commandante Marcos”, Ruben gave me a huge smile and a small victory sign. I told him that for 15 years my life’s biggest dream has been to join the Zapatista struggle in some way. Ruben said they are a role model for every resistence struggle in the world. He thought the right-wing coup in Brazil should be a global priority right now, because it represents a huge threat to all of Latin America. Looming right behind that is, of course, the relentless aggression of the United States.
We ended by vowing that Hugo Chavez will live forever and the Bolivarian Movement will triumph. The very last thing I told Ruben was that although I was born in New York City, Mexico is the country of my heart. Ruben didn’t roll his eyes. (Thank-you, lord ) Instead he called me a sister of Mexico before disappearing around the corner.
That afternoon, I drove north through the bright desert. To the west, eight or ten coyote loped along at easy pace, out well before sunset and close to the flatland farms they know to be dangerous. They were looking for water.
What I knew had been lost to me: I didn’t believe it anymore. But Spanish had returned it to me that morning (or at least pointed the way) because Spanish holds memory forever. It infuses the past into the present until collective memory crackles in the air. As itself a living thing, Spanish recognizes you.
I was more than halfway home. Although the day remained shining yellow and blue, the earliest signs of evening had begun to appear in the western sky – so subtle as to be nearly invisible. By now, Ruben was zipping through West Texas, heading southeast to San Antonio, where he planned to cross the border at Laredo Nuevo
If only one comrade can hear you, all can hear you.
Some families are lost to their daughters forever, and some are not. Somewhere, the people are waiting intently for snow.
The last and smallest of the yellow flowers are blooming now in the New Mexico desert,
Still, even in loneliness, no heart beats alone.
!JaJaJaJaJa! (Ha, ha, ha!) That is the sound of my remembered laughter. No matter what anyone says, it is also the sound of Sandinistas laughing from far away.
Was it magic? Well, my Spanish adventure hasn’t happened again – not like that, not that way. For the most part, except for the common exchanges of daily life, and a political vocabulary known to all, my road to Spanish remains a careful and deliberate, albeit always generous one.
But hey! Don’t you know that God sends Spanish just in time?
These are meant for readers interested in further clarification, and supplement the numbered statements above.
111. Media and popular support for my refusal to identify a confidential source evaporated in the face of my conviction for contempt of court. Without my knowledge, First Amendment stars such as Harvey Silverglate and Lucy Dalglish joined corporate media lawyers in a behind-the-scenes effort to force my testimony. This is in and of itself a basis for disbarring all attorney on both sides.
2 Worse, the coverup was itself a series of flagrant federal civil rights law violations that propelled already alarming evidence of entrenched press/corporate corruption into a much more chilling sphere. It revealed that non-profit public policy giants such as the ACLU have a real disregard for both the First Amendment and sections of federal civil rights law. It’s a disregard as genuine as that displayed by the most recalcitrant corporate offenders.
When the past refuses to stay in the past, it usually heads straight for thepresent. There, it’s easy to spot, because it’s usually causing a racket of some kind. If you order it back, this type of past will appear to comply, but it never departs in good faith. As soon as you’re sure it has finally obeyed, it will show up somewhere else, claiming to be the present.
Maybe it is throwing rocks at a tank in Palestine. Maybe it is an old Jewish man, lighting a candle in Warsaw. Maybe it is a pirate in the Sudan. Maybe it is sneaking across the Mexican border. Maybe it is a 16-year-old gang member aiming a gun at a 15-year-old drug dealer in southwest Chicago.
Or maybe it is a broken heart in Indonesia.
Art and text by Claire O’Brien / 2015
Five minutes after Yolanda Baltimore’s escape, everyone inside the Detroit Emergency Management Camp knew that she had not only spotted the sign on time, but had also displayed a spectacular, even singular finesse, the like of which may well not be seen again
Hearts soared with hope and pride. That Yolanda.
They could not have asked for a stronger sign. The sky brimmed over with the brightest stars anyone had ever dreamed. Immediately, over 500,000 people began moving outward from the center of Detoit. This movement was so intensely focused, so controlled, so slow and so impossibly quiet that it was almost impossible to see. At least that’s what the government observers who were supposed to be monitoring the Camp’s massive NSA security system kept reporting, until officers threatened to throw the next guard who “just couldn’t see right” down an open mine shaft into Camp Appalachia.
Alicia Evans-Gonzalez prepared to step into the flow of people from her position in a crumbling doorway in Section Nine, where she’d been pretending to nod off on the low-grade heroin that managed to make it past the machine guns, razor wire and drone attacks when bread and milk could not. The United North American Home Security Forces had no idea that actually, only a handful of people in the Detroit City Concentration Camp continued to use heroin. That meant 8,000 troops the UNAHSF didn’t know about.
Evans-Gonzales scratched herself convincingly, then lowered herself with one brief twist into the passing stream.
Ten seconds later, she had disappeared.
“We had no doubt we would win. We knew we would win” Evans-Gonzalez told her grandson, DeRay twenty years later as the two worked together at the 15th George Jackson Memorial Apple Harvest. “We just knew. We’d been preparing ourselves every moment, from that first morning we woke up to find the city surrounded by razor wire, electric fences and gun towers, attack dogs patrolling and helicopters buzzing overhead – right up to the night of Yolanda’s escape.”
Evans-Gonzales bit into a big Yellow Delicious apple.
“Well, of course we’d actually been preparing for generations,” she corrected herself as she chewed.
“But why didn’t you send a grown-up?” asked Deray, who thought of himself as twelve years old. Actually, he had just turned eleven.
“An adult wouldn’t have stood a chance. Believe me, we tried,” Evans-Gonzalez replied. “Six lives were lost before the People agreed that our only hope lay in the kind of person the guards had always ignored: a little girl.”
“Sometimes we make everyone a king,” he said.
His grandmother smiled.
SPEAKING OF LITTLE GIRLS
Yolanda had crossed the Buffer Zone, a mile and a half of flattened rubble encircled by a high fence. Several times she had laid down flat at the approach of a helicoptor, but the searchlights had swept the sky, not the ground below, and she had felt very glad to be a small girl.
Now Yolanda stood very still, looking through the fence and standing free. Evening had just fallen, and it had begun to rain. She had nearly arrived at her destination, a small garage at the end of a one-way street, and had begun peering about sharply for the message she had retrieved in dozens of dreams over many months.
Yolanda was eight years old. The world was wet, but not dark – the impossible stars were almost too bright to know what to do with themselves. But the fence was very high. Yolanda might have been afraid, but then she wasn’t – how could she be? she asked herself.
For surrounding her as far as anyone could possibly imagine, in every direction were the People, stretching out to her from the prison that could never hold them, from across the country, across the skies, across the oceans and across the centuries. There were the living, of course, as well as the people still to come. She did not know about other people’s ancestors, but as for her own, Yolanda Baltimore’s ancestors were here, right here – and they left no question about it.
Please click on the link above. It’s a contribution from Eddie Star at http://eddiestarblog.wordpress.com
Check out Mr.Star’s blog!
END OF PART ONE ∇ TUNE IN SOON FOR PART TWO
When I was 19, my girlfriend, Shirley, lived on Tiebout Ave, near 183rd and the Grand Concourse in the north Bronx. We spent so much time on the D Train that eventually we came to regard it as a sort of extension of Shirley’s living room. Lurching our way south toward Manhattan or to the deep south of distant Brooklyn, we spread out comfortably (if we were north of 125th St., when seating was roomy), eating Popeye’s chicken and playing cards.
Meanwhile, our huge platform shoes glittered like skyscrapers.
Essentially, we were proud of ourselves for being smart enough to be young and beautiful in the right place at the right time – and wearing the right shoes.
We had no idea that an afternoon at Coney Island, eating junk food on the boardwalk and taking off our gigantic shoes to wade in the dirty surf wasn’t everyone’s idea of great good fortune. We didn’t realize that our huge shabby beachfront was actually a slum.
Yes, it was rundown, but its dimensions remained glorious and, for us at least, gleamed with adventure and a kind of abundance. Even the scale of its decay was impressive, although I think the miles of South Bronx rubble we regularly passed through had enabled us to sort of look through decay.
At any rate, seagulls still circled in the bright sky, the air still smelled of salt, waves rolled in and ships passed on the horizon. People did spread blankets on the sand and win stuffed animals for their kids in the shooting galleries.
Above all, people ate. A lot. But nobody ever loved Coney Island food, or ate as much of it, as my girl Shirl and I.
In much the same way, we thought everyone would wander the north Bronx’s Concourse if they possibly could, checking out the stacks of cheap and desireable stuff piled high on the sidewalk and eating huge mounds of greasy noodles.
Shirley and I turned heads in a city that wasn’t inclined to turn its head for anyone: women, men, teenagers – suddenly, it seemed that the whole world wanted to dance with us.
This adolescent thinking may well have been a case of arrested development, but it turned out to be a good thing, since actually neither Shirley nor I was at all certain that we even belonged in the world. We tried to act stuck up, but we could never pull it off. Actually, we were immediately delighted to be almost anybody’s friend.
Looking back, I think of us fondly as Life’s Cheap Date
“Here I am! I promised I’d be ba- “
Hello? HEY! Hello!
” Hey! I SAID I’m back! Wait! Don’t you want copies of my press release… check out my statement on Twitter!”
Andrew Reynolds, thanks a bunch for your generous cat advice.You were right – Julio is almost twice as old as I thought he was, and thus didn’t make front page news. He’s evidently not a WILD BEAST, but merely an adolescent, just as you diplomatically suggested.
VALERIE DAVIES – no, not you…move over, lady..yeah, YOU; thank-you, dear friend for hearing the distress call of a fictional cow seperated from a fictional herd on the other side of the planet.
Your ears got so sharp from listening via your heart.
Oh I can’t find your email adress: can you send it to me?
ELLEN HAWLEY: You should get a medal for your patience. Please forgive me – I had no Internet acess at all. I’ll write soon!
Rosaliene Bacchus, Robyn Jambo, Derrick J. Knight, Stuart Bramhall, Ashi Akiri, Lens 1: thanks so much – and please everyone else – please forgive my haphazard brain for not listing all the rest of you dear lunkheads.
I have more notes for the rest of you lot, so please come by soon, and I’ll be over your way ASAP. (I’m still looking for lost files!)
“Claire’s files are up..there. Somewhere….I think..”
JEREMIAH KAUFFMAN: HIS WORLD of ART and POETRY
Author: The Salty River Bleeds, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481
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