- May 26, 2020 -
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Carlos M. Álvarez

Carlos M. Álvarez

Ex estudiante de periodismo y ex ladrón de libros. No hay nada en particular que pueda aclarar de mí porque yo tengo un oficio una edad una familia y un amor parecido o semejante o análogo al de casi todos los que no viven ni en África ni en Suiza y porque como preguntara un célebre poeta hace ya muchos años en un célebre poema de un célebre libro lanzado de súbito para la posteridad: “¿Quién no se llama Carlos o cualquier otra cosa?”

Ibeyi

Exquisitely handcrafted, like two impeccable dolls put together with old pieces of fabric, the Ibeyi awaken a strange seduction. That is to say, they are beautiful, talented and loving, all of these qualities having an exemplary transparency, but they also give out a force that antecedes them, a mysterious pulse. Perhaps precisely because the backbone of their fusion is a jumble of old things – roots, spells, land, fugitive songs. They are two wandering little devils, genetically from the wilds, educated, conceived and molded in the frenzied, cosmopolitan and, if you will, magnanimous Paris. The spirit of a culture is not measured by the two or three strict topics that are said to distinguish it, but rather the possibilities it offers of mixing, confusing and pairing up with other cultures. In Ibeyi, Cuba demonstrates how malleable it can be, how generous. In the clip River, the beauty of these twins reminds us of a short story by Lydia Cabrera, where the protagonist drowns in the Almendares and her horse turns into the mud that eternally sways on the banks of the river. The French-Cuban Ibeyi – daughters of the great Cuban percussionist Miguel Díaz (Angá) and the French-Venezuelan singer Maya...

Photo: Carlos M. Álvarez

Intimate homelands of internationalism

Reynaldo  ¨Coqui¨ Villafranca must have died ten years ago, on the main promenade of Los Palacios town, when a very macho man, feeling mocked, stabbed him in the belly several times. Minutes earlier, in the town´s cabaret, Coqui had made of the would-be murderer the target of a playful gay joke; perhaps a mild flirtation or a somehow spicy compliment, nothing too evil. ¨My son was always like that¨, Justa Antigua says and moves her hands in the air, loosening them, ¨ a practical joker¨ He stayed for weeks in intensive care, technically dead. ¨They put him plastic bowels and saved him¨, Alicia Cordero, stooped and small, says-. ¨But then we started to worry, because Coqui had to fart, and was not doing it. And we all wanted him to finally fart to see if the surgery had worked. Then, he finally did it. We partied. The story is petty, but if he had died that time, not now, in January 2015, his death would have its advantages. He would have been buried in the town cemetery, a few blocks from his home, surrounded by many other known dead, not of those strange dead people that accompany him today, who...

The faces of Charles

In one of the seven or eight conversations we had, Charles Hill spoke of his fear. That is, Charles Hill is a very strong man, and fear is not carcinogenic and ordinary fear that makes each one of us dumb, namely; being hit by a car, we all discover a nodule, night falling in the city, a bolt burning our appliances at home. Fear of Charles Hill is not one, but many, that crowd, mingle, overlap, and are strong fears. Fears that make biceps and triceps. Fears of history, you might say. Fears that instead of sucking him, are fattening. And in one of our conversations, perhaps in one of the last, a year ago, Charles said he feared that Obama would fix relations with Cuba. I did not pay much attention, and at that point Charles seemed somewhat paranoid. Nobody ever fix relations with Cuba, and Charles was going to die quiet in Havana. I thought he was giving it more importance than it had. But then happened what happened, and, like a cork coming up, I have not stopped thinking about him lately. If his fears have increased. If he suffers from insomnia. If he started drinking again....

José Miguel Fernández / Foto: Tomada de Juventud Rebelde

Matanzas baseball players still in Cuba

José Miguel Fernández and Lazaro Herrera, second base and catcher of the Matanzas baseball team in recent seasons, are in country and not, as several sources claimed, in the Dominican Republic or Mexico. Both were captured on October 25th in eastern Holguin province when they were trying to leave the country. While the escape of Cuban ballplayers is already normal, the case gained attention because, according to reports, the houses awarded both to Fernandez and Herrera for athletic performance in Boca de Camarioca and Matanzas, respectively, had been occupied by the state (given the legal status of government goods), and families of the players evicted. Yansai Montaner, wife of Herrera, told Diario de Cuba, in a report published last October 22, the pressures to which she was subjected to abandon the property, but said that at no time they had evicted her. Her grandparents, consulted in their apartment, in the Frank País neighborhood, Colon municipality, confirmed that Montaner continues in Matanzas, and although sharp, did not seem particularly concerned because "there are no evictions in Cuba." The finding is significant because this is the apartment where Montaner previously lived, and where she probably would have had to go back, if...

Antonio Pacheco

¡Oh, Capitan, my Capitan!

Antonio Pacheco –as well as Omar Linares, Germán and Víctor Mesa–is part of a highly exclusive patrimony. I don’t think we are going to question the legacy of other illustrious Cuban sports figures contemporary with these baseball players. Sotomayor and Luis had something Pacheco and Linares lacked: the opportunity to compete against the toughest rivals. That places them in a context and that context obviously favored their transcendence. Let’s rephrase that: that context means transcendence. It assured them to be remembered and appreciated by European or Japanesepeople. On the other hand, let’s say it in the national dialect, each day it will be harder to keep alive the work by exceptional sluggers and pitchers who were not able to display their exceptionality in the toughest scenarios as they could have, and that results in two evil handicaps. One: by the time we want to clear away doubts on the quality of our idols, we cannot say: “they were up to par with Frank Thomas or Bonds”, but instead “they could have been up to par with Frank Thomas or Bonds”. That undesirable speculative tone cost a lot to sports. Two: the fact that our idols have not dealt with foreign...

johan cruyff

Sport and the World Cup (II)

The goal of our favorite team shakes us, but if the goal beyond what it nature demands it (add a point to the scoreboard), if it is something that goes beyond our expectations only by kindness, without it, then, I say, goal is going to shake us even more. And we gonna shake even more because the act of shuddering itself knows that shaking is not in vain, but a move that will justify, from now on the excitement we give it. It'll reliance by itself but also will influence other post actions and that will create bridges and analogies and will assist in the necessary conformation of what we call a tradition, a memory. Fabián Casas syas he doesn’t remember a better start in the world literature than Neeskens penalty two minutes after the staring whistle of the finals in 1974. Netherlands started with the whistle from the center circle and no German touched the ball until Sepp Maier took it out from the back of the net. Neither the subsequent goals by Breitner (also a penalty kick) and Gerd Müller, nor the title of the host team are as memorable or influential as the Michels and Cruyff team,...

Baseball in the verge of absurdity

The Cuban Team lost the Caribbean league in the stickiest way in which a national squad has ever done it. To add insult to injury one week later arrived to Havana Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr. and nobody cares about it. They are from United States of America, but they were not invading our city, they were not taking by assault the harbors of the port or the headquarters of the National Institute of Sports, and for sure, Goodness, they were not going to put a bomb in our colorful International Book Fair. They were not messengers of a sinister conspiracy, they were ex Big Leaguers, loaded with noble purposes, but the Cuban sport authorities with an invincible gesture of who-cares, completely ignored them. The intention of both was to have a friendly chat like equals “that’s what we want with the Americans, no?”But, neither of them was outspoken enough as to be taken into account. Even though, they attended sport fields to give their batting clinics. When they asked Griffey Jr. why he has chosen Cuba, he answered: Why not? It was the wrong step. Nobody warned “The Natural” that his intentions of donating baseball stuff, making friends,...

Larkin and Griffey Jr.: the visit of the idols (Photos & Video)

The first pictures that Cubans had with Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr. (Baseball living legends: the first, from the Cincinnati Reds, the second especially, from the Seattle Mariners) in the terminal 2 of the José Martí airport, were apparently quite a flood of unemotional flashes. Someone who knew them - especially Griffey Jr. , of course, ordered to press the shutter button , and from there a host of matrons , guards and safety technicians marched under the aura of former Big Leaguers , because they probably thought, it never hurts to have a photo with a celebrity. It is the first time the two come to Cuba, with the goal of a clinic on batting at youth level and exchange views, but there is something particularly interests them. "Finding, Larkin says, where the Cubans get their drive from, how they are, what they do, know them from the inside. Cubans are characterized by their deliverance till the end, their focus on the field. " Someone asks them if they have been aware of the latest Caribbean Series, but they haven’t. We do not know Barry Larkin has entertained over the last week , but we know that Griffey...

Anger machine

Poverty may be, but what can not be is dishonor Ever since I can recall my family has strictly applied this phrase by Jose Marti and my father repeats it nonstop. In a context like ours, it is necessary to clarify the obvious with much thought. Since UPEC´s last plenary, according to some digital media and according to the continuous gossiping of the tragicomic press world, some of the most talented and youngest Cuban journalists were moving to foreign media, particularly OnCuba, mainly on a lucrative basis. This is a dangerous idea, and false in many senses. It takes implicit, and not so implicitly, the suggestion of a topic, let´s say, mercantile: money governs.  I am not one of the most talented young journalists –how crazy is that–, in fact, I don´t believe in the use of that term, but I am certainly one of the youngest and unquestionably one of the most honest too. I can not speak for the rest of my colleagues, but I can speak for myself. Believing that I publish in OnCuba and not in La Jiribilla for an economic matter is a mean argument. My salary in OnCuba barely suffices to pay a poor rent...

Antigonon: where heroes rest

  Unexpectedly, Antigonon, the last work of El Publico Theater, starts with two poems of Martí, one of the Free Verses - El padre suizo- and another from the Single Verses - Sueño con claustros de mármol. They both have a long and devastating epic resonance. When asked on how the apostolic Martí still survives among us, it strikes me that at political level there is primarily a mimetic reproduction of the tone, of the exalted form, but in Antigonon we witnessed a thorough dissection of the poems, as if they had torn the nineteenth century garb and before that sacrilege there was no other choice but to wear the saint with what we have at hand: a lycra, a G-string, rapper clothes or a school uniform. But the saint is dressed, and that’s what matters, and is dressed in the contemporary style, for viewers to love or just recognize him better. Taking the Free and Simple Verses to the lower strata of Cuban identity (things that still brings us reluctance to recognize as Cuban), we will know then that if Antigonon would have undertaken a search, this search would not be the conversion of our situation in a phraseology...

Red chronicle

It is a gray afternoon in which I take the phone and my mother tells me that the neighbor was murdered. I ask for details. My mother is in Cardenas and I am in Centro Habana. He was found dead two hours ago. They found him on the jetty of the flags, with a broken forehead, the car doors open and three deep wounds in the body, one of them in the heart. They killed the man from the third floor, the bald man with dark glasses. He worked in Varadero and represented a foreign agency. He is bequeathed by a wife and two children. His widow, they say, is a lesbian. If not a lesbian, at least she looks the type. She has always been a sad person. She does not work. When she goes out her house and run the errands in the store, or buys avocados from a vendor, she doesn’t even look up. Her broad shoulders, masculine demeanor, her obvious grudge against the world. The world: the hostile and darkened room. The world of provinces that made Emma Bovary to take arsenic to her mouth. In my childhood, I tried to say hello to the lady....

October ninth

Che Guevara died; his portrait was on the cover of Life magazine. There are few faces as intimidating as the faces of this man. In one position or another, in an act or another, in this or that country, as a secret that can’t stay anymore, it reveals the very picture of desolation. Sorry for the confidence, but I have come to him from the most puerile land from the less epic situations. If you want to say something, what do the faces of Che tell you? Where to, for example, he was looking that 1960 afternoon when Korda took him unawares and fiercely embedded it in all the flags and all the sweaters in the world? The events of La Coubre complement the dramatic overtones that stem from his face, and make us forget something. Che looked at social injustices, certainly, but with the side to look at the essential injustice. Che watched the corpses, rabid sea of Cubans, the recoilless fait accompli , the man involved in the dizzying swirl of history, the passage of time , victims as a cause , but also as a chance, and so , without we never noticed , immanence comes because...

Second-hand writer

When I arrived in Havana, even without taking off the dust of the road, the first thing I did was to find out where I could buy something to eat. I was really starving, like any other Cuban innocent who gets to the capital. And later, just later, willing to satisfy other basic desires, I asked where I could learn writing. (I could not do like Lezama: "the book is the first bread of reasonable man, then comes the lamb. But the lamb is Inevitable".) Obviously , people laughed at me, or so I thought. I walked several blocks, lengthy and dazzling blocks, and arrived at El Vedado neighborhood. I saw the Presidents Avenue, the corner of 23rd and G Streets and I entered, as if I was in a party, a place people call literary cafe. I repeated the same question, but there nobody laughed. They all stared at somewhere, put out their cigarettes, slowly frowned, as if it cost a lot of work, and said nothing. I thought they were sad guys, judging by their apologetic faces and the languid and famished speech of their conscious-involving languages​​.But today, of course, I think different, but at that moment, like...

Absence means forgetting

It is curious. In Cuban journalism is about anything but journalism. It's like a black hole. It has the necessary attributes, laws of physics suggest that it should exist, but it remains an accident, a depression indiscernible in the turbulent landscape of the nation. Only custom- extended idleness -makes us see it as a less serious situation than it actually is. Out of the last Congress of the UPEC we can rescue three pieces of news. Diaz Canel himself acknowledged that the main culprit of the mismanagement of the national media was the Party, Raul Garces said "any bump in the road will be infinitely less than the price to pay for another half-century wait for a press that look at ourselves "and Rosa Miriam Elizalde, out of the presentation of the initial results of her PhD thesis, summarized some of the key criteria exposed by journalists in their base assemblies. One of them says that "the recovery of the functions of the media (...) depends on the greater society participation in decision-making, and not the other way around, and this is decided in the political system, not the in the Communication system.” What makes these views a little more...

Does knowing how to read mean knowing how to walk?

At some point I will have to give up reading. It might become harmful if it is not already. There is a point where all you get from books is knowledge, but knowledge does not pay nor justify corrosion. Knowing something does not confirm what you know or what you knew, but what you ignore. Each new discovery is a confirmation of things that are not discovered, and, worse, of the main enigma, the puzzle you will never find out. Writing is late in my life but not reading. Logic says that literature is nonsense. And the logic is right. What I've been losing is intuition. However, if I had not read, I would not have known there was something in me that could be named that way. Intuition is not a talent, of course, is a property. The intuition that I had and have is that I love literature. I am not a humanist, in the uplifting sense of the term; I'm not, no matter how hard I try. I do not believe in literature because it is a sample of our strength as a species, but because it is a sign of our weakness, our wonderful weakness. I...

The noises of the night

 Traveling by train is like a poem, but more exciting. It is like committing murder, but less morbid; and as daring as dancing a strange song, in a strange room, with an unknown couple . The train starts and you do not even notice . Suddenly you think the world is moving (although in truth the world is always moving), that things are moving outside, that houses and buildings and street lighting start, slightly, moving. Perhaps this is what always happens, but only on a train, in a specific type of train the multiple coatings of the facades get revealed, and also the sinister tricks of the cities . It is about nine in the evening and the country, quietly, drains under the railway line of Havana- Santiago train. Crossing Cuba from one side to the other, on the wagons of return and longing, takes just under twenty four hours, almost a day. You start the trip with a sun, or preferably with a moon, and end it with another. Nothing that has happened during that time in the world has happened to you, because your trip is not a linear journey, nor a progressive journey, or even a journey,...

Yellow ribbons

Four of the five Cuban security agents imprisoned in the United States, serving visibly excessive sentences for the legal violations they committed still remain there. Among manydecent reasons, which were then publicly crucified with laudatory campaigns and posters, one might wonder whether the initiative proposed by René González, sending a message to the American people through their own symbols, is really genuine. Cuba has used many times a generous idea as confirmation of a system, a particular conflict as an icon of a whole, of a unanimous welfare, and therefore the question is notoutlandish. The child Elián had to return to Cardenas, but that did not mean, as we now know, and as it was said, that socialism would have an irreversible character. Rene Gonzalez's proposal is, in principle, wise, perhaps the most sensible proposal at propagandistic level this crusade has had. There is a direct relationship between gloating and clumsiness as methods and freedom as an end. For each symposium on the Cuban Five organized in Los Arabos or Camajuaní, for every opportunist who dedicated them a diplomain the CDR (Spanish acronym for Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) or ANAP (National Association of Small Farmers), for each punctilious and useless nationalrepetition, these men accumulated a month in jail, lost one more meter of space, or a light quadrant. You can not believe too much to newspapers and news that every three weeks, for the most convoluted reason, convene for a meeting. I understood-tossing aside my growingskepticism, that the proposal of René González was a genuine proposal when I found offenders from Centro Habana municipality, who have nothing to lose, and therefore nothing tosimulate, dressed in yellow without that to imply a homage to Oshun. M ulatto women wearing yellow headbands and blouses and men with shirts or T-shirts in the same color, despite many wore ridiculous signs. But we will have to forgive this exotic detail . The success of this event demonstrates not only that, its success, but also the complete failure of the previous ones. How could René Gonzalez’s proposal have such massive naturewithout the help of the trade unions, and so spontaneous large-scale demonstration, despite unions? The general impression...

Stillness

Man is ageless. Throughout his life, he is coming and going, arriving and marching, alone and dumb and full of hidden wisdom and ignorance (...) And the best he has ever said, he has told it without words, with his own dumb and living flesh, his hands and eyes, speaking the best language he knows: the one of the speechless animals. William Saroyan . But Abramovic remains. Her eyes are brown. Her eyelashes are short and few. Her nose is large and strong. Her lips are pale . If she collects her hair and drop it into a soft braid, like a waterfall over her left shoulder, Marina Abramovic will look like a distressed and barely gentle peasant. However, the biographical documentary displaying the details of the retrospective sample (I'm not sure that's the right word) of her work in the halls of MOMA, in the spring of 2010, is an extreme documentary, without mercy for weak people. It is almost impossible not to classify as a weak before such nudity. While her assistants propose some of her major performances, Abramovic will remain for three months, six days a week, for seven and half hours, sat in the middle of...

Last call

Carlos Diaz, a professor at the Faculty of Communication at the Havana University until quite recently, and my all time friend, left Cuba earlier this month to continue studies, or simply to go on, as is usual to happen. For the past four years, we had lunch together almost every day, and almost every night we called each other by phone to talk, despite sometimes were anodyne conversations-on the routine of the day. Days on which, what nonsense, we had just talked two hours earlier. Such a ritual is not a tariff of friendship, but rather its consummation. Now I have lunch alone, and now the nights-when reaching that precise point where you have nothing to do -showed themselves in all the extent of tedium. There is a principal base of friendship: fighting drowsiness. That is, according to my calculations , ninety-nine percent of the task. There was no one, except Abraham Enoa, another mutual friend, with whom I laughed so much in recent years as with Carlos Diaz. There is also another principle, which tells that your friend can not give in during defining moments (the 1 % remaining). Whenever a malicious enemy shot to kill me, Carlos made...

Transplant

TransplantIn this country we have always mistaken lucidity with stubbornness, do not you think? R. B. It doesn’t stop. Pedro Cabrera, director of International Relations and Communication of INDER, recently said, referring to Cuban volleyball and the likely reentry of several players that in some cases it is impossible to include them because their desertions occurred shortly before main competitions, which affected notably the outcome. As examples, he cited the recent London 2012 and the World League. He added that, however, some volleyball players did not cause such damage and specifically with them, INDER could established future dialogues. Who are these volleyball players that I do not know them? What class player, whatever the time of year that he left, didn’t leave a hole later in the team? Let us overlook the differentiation. Let us overlook the obvious political bias and settling of scores. Let us pass over, too, the phrase "future dialogue," which we assumed in a privileged position, with time to talk, as if the Cuban volleyball is not suffer a severe coma and could still walk with squeamishness. INDER position is the position of the victim. The generous father whose the hand is biten. Never, under any...

Bad company

I hadn’t thought of Yero for a long time, custom took me almost to forget him. However, the night of June 10, cloudless and without waves, I remembered him a lot, for twenty or thirty minutes. This seems so little, but thirty minutes is too much. All that one can think about something fits in thirty minutes, even with distraction. I had taken a taxi from Cerro and Boyeros to Vedado, and close to Revolution Square the firstconversation we had came to my head. Our conversation, however, hadn’t been in the square, but in G and 27, sometime around 6 PM. It was getting dark, we had started college recently and yet Yero was my friend, there was not that strange communion between us then, that later, more than once would save us, a partnership founded on the annihilation and rejection. We didn’t need each other to live. We were an item on the spot, someone who stay or spend the night there, like a ghost or an intruder in the middle of the forest. Sometimes I entered the forest and found Yero. Sometimes I couldn’t find anyone. I must say I preferred Yero to appear, I guess everyone needs...

Kramer vs. Kramer II

Victor Mesa and Ariel Pestano stole headlines at the end of the series. But let us not just focus on the field. We would all agree that, despite the emotions, there hasn’t been throughout the playoffs a soap opera more delicious than the hilarious press conferences. It is the intent of a country to go out of dormancy. No matter how ridiculous they look, how bad they are organized, we must keep them at all costs, one day we will have a culture of debate and dialogue as it must be. The worst errors of Victor Mesa are not technical. He is a leader, strategist, and protagonist, incurs occasional on controversial decisions, but led a lower team, full of shortcomings, to the discussion of the title, and there will be not a critic, no matter how thorough in dissecting his mistakes, which can deny such merit. There's nothing you can do about Victor Mesa himelf, nothing to erase or deny the good that he has meant to Matanzas and, as things stand, to Cuban baseball in general.  True: there is nothing he can do against himself, but gosh, he has certainly tried. His continued and misguided statements, his excessive outbursts...

Víctor Mesa. Foto: OnCuba.

Victor Mesa: “Le show, c’est moi”

Photo: Beatriz Verde Limó e Iroko Alejo Victor Mesa does not want to talk to me, or to anyone. But that's impossible. It's to ak for an impossible. Victor Mesa cannot live without talking. He is a logocentric, he loves to hear himself, and in an environment like the Cuban baseball, where people are too careful and do not speak or when they do they mumble a set of trifles and no substance, and that is, in itself, sufficient merit. I've caught him at a bad time. Mesa just lost the WBC at the helm of the Cuba team, and on Tuesday, in the resumption of the National Series, during the first series Matanzas against Industriales, he was ejected from the Latin American Stadium in front of thousands of spectators and millions of viewers. The entire country witnessed, sequence by sequence, how Mesa went too far with the umpire, as he tried to withdraw his team from the field and sent out a position player to pitch, in defiance of the authority of Melchor Fonseca, the umpire, who seconds before had ejected pitcher Yasiel Lazo, by two dubious dead balls in a very open game. Although, I must say, without...

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