I know of a secluded place in the Southwest where spring waters vary from muddy red to an incredible aquamarine. Spirits are said to populate the waterfalls at night, dinosaur petroglyphs adorn smaller canyon walls and the natives might share their mota with you, if you're lucky. The protected pristine environment suffered from tourists, including me.
|Malecón, Cuba - © Marika Garcia|
I've used that setting in stories, but tried not to share its location, because my knowledge of the area is detrimental to the continuation of its ecosystem. It's part of my species' environmental butt-print--especially of the subspecies Americana--that it leaves all over the planet.
|Havana at night - © Marika Garcia|
In a posted, bucket list, I included a visit to Cuba, before my government removes restrictions on traveling there. A visit after that would be more like standing in the lines of DizzyWorld than some significant experience. It wouldn't be to go for the sham nostalgic thrill of classic American Cars in Cuba.
|Havana After the Rain -|
© Marika Garcia
Cuba has entered La Bloga writings for many reasons and many times. In my own, the Chicano fantasy novel The Closet of Discarded Dreams includes fictionalized characters of Che Guevara and Marilyn Monroe homesteading a 9/11 monument, engaged in a flirtatious relationship. However the two appeared in the book as it was being written, I hope their roles added delight to the plot.
In my WiP entitled Bruised Hearts, Mended Dreams, a tiny, fantastical, jungle sprite named Polymito (inspired by the PBS documentary, below) works alongside young Cuban sculptor Fortunato. The beautiful snail with wings shoots a love dart into an azteca Tzitzimime, star being named Lechita.
|Cubana Josefina - © Marika Garcia|
Besides for researching material for my fiction, Cuba is on my bucket list because of another aspect to its pristine nature--its cultural exclusion from decades of Americana. (For a peak at some of its vibrant cultural expressions, see Lydia Gils' post this week on the Drapetomania exhibit of el Grupo Antillano--where, as she says, she herself would like to be.)
|en el Club Galiano -|
© Marika Garcia
So. while everyone in the world has "enjoyed" copying American culture, the Cuban economy, people and environment have been boycotted from doing so by our government. A blessing and a curse.
This April is an historic month on the Isla. It marks the thirty-third anniversary of the Mariel Boat Lift when 125,000 cubanos fled their homeland and, among other things, added to the anti-Cuba political bias of Florida and the U.S. electorate. It also commemorates the fifty-second anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs, CIA-backed coup that greatly derailed U.S.-Cuban relations.
Cuba had gained only formal independence from the U.S. in 1902, as the Republic of Cuba. Under that new constitution, the U.S. retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and supervise its finances and foreign relations. Like we've done to too many Third World countries.
Rather than embracing Cuba's liberation from the Mafia, corporate banana-republic interests and the dictator Batista regime's corruption and exploitation, the U.S. gov't boycotted our island neighbor for decades. This contributed to the Cuban people's present poverty and estranged us from them. Again, the blessing-curse.
Of coursse, we latinos are no homogenous bunch, the reason that conservative Cuban-Americans who vote Republican have little understanding of why so many Chicanos historically lean toward progressive ideas, such as in the Chicano Movimiento days when Che was one of our heroes.
Che continues as Cuba's second great national hero, after José Martí, and schoolchildren there begin each day with, "We will be like Che!" Imagine: a revolutionary for a daily role model. Throughout Latin America, schools, monuments and museums bear his name. Guevara has even been sanctified by Bolivian campesinos as a saint. But he also remains hated by certain Cuban-American exiles. Which brings us to the present.
I realize the posts below will contribute in a small way toward more of my subspecies wanting to invade this Accidental Eden. That's no one's fault; it's the nature of our kind, possibly the same reason that Global Heating is our way of self-immolating--to rebalance the planet. I'm as guilty of precipitating that as anyone.
Cuba: The Accidental Eden
|polymita - do not purchase|
This is the title of a PBS documentary recently re-aired, with much to teach us about Cuba's international leadership in (forced) sustainability and ecosystem protection. You can go here to watch the episode. Yes, it will make you want to go to Cuba, if nothing else, to see the endangered Polymita before they become extinct.
|Polymita - do not touch|
The Polymita is a genus of large, air-breathing land snails, terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the family Helminthoglyptidae, endemic to Cuba and nowhere else. It is also Nature's Cupid. Polymita creates and uses love darts as part of its mating. The dart can strongly favor the reproductive outcome for the snail that is able to lodge a dart in its partner. Sex and love, Cuban-snail-style, naturally.
Inviting La Bloga readers to Cuba, 7/13
|Babylonia, Cuba - © Marika Garcia|
Arizona author Tom Miller, a regular reader of La Bloga, has put together a U.S. gov't-approved five-day trip to Cuba. Initially organized for the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, it has been expanded to include others who write and promote journalism and literature.
|El Paseo, Havana - © Marika Garcia|
That’s where La Bloga readers come in. Tom and AAN put together an informational flyer here.
This is an opportunity to mix with Cuban writers and, not incidentally, make landfall on the island while los hermanos Castro are still in charge. After reading the flyer, direct your questions to Tom at tlmolinero AT msn.com or 520-325-3344.
Tom Miller has written about Latin America and the Southwest for over thirty years. His adventure books include The Panama Hat Trail about South America, On the Border, an account of travels along the U.S.-Mexico frontier, Trading With the Enemy about Cuba travels, and about the Southwest, Revenge of the Saguaro. He's edited compilations, How I Learned English, Travelers’ Tales Cuba, and Writing on the Edge: A Borderlands Reader. He has led educational tours through Cuba for the National Geographic Society and others, is a member of the Thornton Wilder Society and Cervantes Society of America and a major contributor to the Encyclopedia Latina.
La Noche Cubana - San Antonio
Thurs., April 11, 6-9pm
The Cubans are coming! The Cubans are coming . . . to Bihl Haus Arts! So, get ready to 'go Cuban' with us at ICONS, a powerful exhibit of paintings and multiples by Cuban artist Adrian Rumbaut.
Preview Adrian's one-person show at La Noche Cubana, on Thursday, April 11, 6-9 pm. This celebration of all things Cuban—art, music, dance, food, drink, culture—features musical guests Trio Tresero from Austin, world-famous mojitos and Cuban-inspired delicacies, a silent auction of Cuban-themed items, and more! Dress is Caribbean casual, 50s Havana, or come as Marilyn Monroe and/or Ché Guevara (why? see artwork below).
ICONS opens with a free public reception on Saturday, April 13, 5:30-8:30pm. Music by George Prado and David Gonzalez, with a special 7pm performance by Jose de Leon who will sing 5 boleros written by Cuban composers. Pool-side salsa dancing from 7:30–8:30 pm. The evening includes Sangria and Cuban botanas. The exhibit continues through May 25.
About the Exhibit: The artworks in ICONS form two bodies of work. The first, Contraparte/Counterpart, explores “visual duality” through the super-imposition of the symbolic images and iconic paired portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Ché Guevara, two of the most recognized and commercialized faces of the 20th century. In this work, Adrian fuses the pictorial with the graphic by combining painting and fabric design. In each pair of paintings, the reverse image of the alternate is embedded on the canvas.
In the second, Diagramas Pictóricos/Pictorial Diagrams, the artist questions the rules of pictorial traditions such as composition and equilibrium. In them, iconic portraits of Marilyn, Ché, Marx, Mickey Mouse, etc., have been cut up and recombined to create new faces, multiplied images that mimic reality itself.
Adrian Rumbaut will visit San Antonio during April and May. Adrian’s work was recently featured in the 11th Havana Biennial and in Cuban Art Space (NYC). His work is found among collections in Cuba, the U.S., Germany, Canada, Spain, United Kingdom and Portugal, among other countries, and he is the recipient of several notable prizes and awards. In recognition of Adrian’s artistic achievements and value to Cuba, the government recently provided a home for his family in a new development on the outskirts of Cienfuegos. The development consists of small but durable apartments made completely out of white PVC.
"Tickets, available here
or by calling 210.383.9723, are $75 advance ($90 at door). (100% of the proceeds benefit Bihl Haus Arts, a non-profit community art gallery; a portion of the ticket price is tax deductible). More info here."
There. I've done my Bloga best and worst to promote more of my subspecies invasion of La Isla. On the positive side, perhaps it will improve relations between neighboring peoples, help end an insane blockade to peaceful understanding. If you go, leave the Polimitas alone, even the shells of ones that supposedly died naturally. Cuban children and the spirit of Che will thank you.
Segundo Sábado - San Antonio, Tex.
featuring Artists Benjamin and Anna Varela in
Saturday, April 13, 2013
6:00pm – 9:00pm
Married couple Benjamin and Anna Varela join together in their exhibit "Nopalitos, Tostones, Y Cafe" in Gallista's Main Gallery. Opening reception will feature poetry performances in celebration of National Poetry month, hosted by Grand Slam Champions Anthony the Poet and Amanda Flores. Special guest folk musicians "La Chichada" and DJ Roach will add to the celebration. Artist's studios will be open, and Yolanda's cafe will be open.
Benjamin is currently an Adjunct Professor at South Texas College in McAllen, Texas. He received his M.F.A. From the University of Texas Pan American. Anna is currently an Art Teacher at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo-North High School. She received her M.F.A from UT Pan American.
Keystone XL Pipeline Update
Despite its incredible ramifications on North America's environment and economy, the U.S. State Dept. has schedule only one public comment hearing on this pipeline.
|y más polymitas|
It will be held April 18th in Grand Island, Nebraska (2.5 hours west of Omaha.) Nebraskan community leaders whose farms and ranches are threatened by Keystone are asking for help mobilizing supporters to come to this important hearing and stand with them. Please come join a BBQ (April 17th), rally (April 18) and more to make your voice heard at the hearing.
Go here for details. P.S.: Fracking is bad for Polymitas and other livings things.
Es todo, hoy,