Reinaldo Cedeño

Reinaldo Cedeño

Vivo en una ciudad con nombre de Apóstol y apellido de país: Santiago de Cuba. No creo en el horizonte, basta dar un paso más.

Reincarnation of a myth

There he comes. The city would fit in his pants. He wears two color shoes. He spins his walking stick among his fingers. Everyone looks at him. Most people don’t even know his name, they don’t need to. He is known as El Benny, the reincarnation of the greatest interpreter of popular Cuban music, Bartolome Maximiliano More (1919-1963). Since very young, his father used to take him to bars and parties. He wanted the boy to share his taste for music, if he went out of tune, his father’s hand would be drawn in his face. They boy made sure that didn’t happen. He didn’t study in an academy. He attempted to become a boxer, but his grandmother rescued him from the ring and made him take music lessons. His natural gift, his privileged hearing won over the battle. So he made a living passing the hat around in every corner. He joined several bands, but his spirit led him to fight for his dream once again: to bring back Benny in the streets of Santiago de Cuba. Juan Manuel Villy Carbonell, El Benny from that Cuban eastern province, was born on January 31, 1962. He is not a dandy...

Motos en Santiago de Cuba

An adventure in the city of bikes

Santiago de Cuba is getting another nickname besides the ones earned by history, or the mountains, or heat, or carnivals. Now some call it "The city of the motorbikes." While in Havana a true museum of American cars from the fifties travels its streets as taxis; in the eastern city you can think that, at any time, they will drop the checkered flag in a race track. There are bikes from anywhere in the archipelago, of any brand and above all they are everywhere. I cannot remember when such a flock arrived on two wheels. Perhaps the late nineties, after the slow recovery from the economic collapse of the fall of the socialist block, but such influx have never stopped. This is one of the most densely populated municipalities in the country, spread beyond its foundational streets on developments, hamlets, towns and peripheral sites. The public transport-buses or vans-is just not enough for the transfer of Santiago's population. Let alone cabs. Rental bikes are recognized because there's always an extra helmet hanging from the helm. And once you take it, you can get inside the same in a gleaming model, another full of patches, or one using plastic bags as...

luis carbonell cuba

Luis Carbonell: a complete artist

I wish I could say who Luis Carbonell was… but not even him could. One day, one unique early morning, at the airport, he confessed to me: “I don’t know Luis Carbonell, I learn from him, he surprises me, I am still discovering him”. I don’t aim to repeat the biography of this man born on July 26, 1923, in the streets of the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. I was moved –I’m even more moved– by his statement: “I came from Santiago first, but then I was Cuban”. Before being consciously aware of the homeland, we are consciously aware of our little ground under the sun. Let’s take a jump, the first one of many. After his home time was severely hit by a hurricane in October, 2012, he premiered a scene by actor and director Santiago Carnago. Help was needed in all sorts of ways. He was willing to pick up stones if necessary and so he told the highest authorities in the territory. That was about the size of his humbleness. If I could choose a sample of stock I would take one of the anthological events in the national discography. Back in 1955, with the...

arrendamientos de locales en cuba

Some notes on self-employment

In Santiago de Cuba there is a central beauty parlor by the name of Vogue, which refers to a famous fashion magazine, at the Callejon del Carmen, in front of a bronze sculpture of composer Miguel Matamoros. There is not a sign identifying the place. Its walls are barely naked and the prices of the services offered can be read in a rustic list. The ironing is the most expensive service, it can cost up to 50 Cuban pesos (CUP) for long hair. All services are charged in CUP. The services offered seem to be the same; however, a lot has changed. These kinds of businesses were previously owned by the State; today their facilities are lent by the State to the self-employment sector. At present, Vogue is run by eleven hairdressers and two manicurists. The current tenants have to pay taxes for the facilities and for performing their job (a permit), as well as for water, electricity, necessary products, social security and they have to leave room for an investment fund. It seems overwhelming… Nonetheless, Mirurgia, a fit Cuban woman with more than ten years of experience in hairdressing, expressed her opinion while taking care of a client: “It...

MISS ALINA

When Miss Alina asked the students to go up on the platform, the stairs seemed endless to me. We had copy the Geography assignment from Angela’s workbook. Shame was suffocating me. Five or six shrunk boys were standing before the crowd. The mountain in the distance seemed to have fallen over me. When shame became even more suffocating than the heat, Miss Alina said: – I’m proud of you. Though truth may be harsh it is a true friend. I listened carefully to her, but it took me a few years to get to understand her words. I could draw her right now in front of the blackboard; I could describe the way she used to hold chalk. I could cut her out from the school terrace roof –where I used to escape by the spiral stair–, and I used to look at her walk in the midst of the dust of the road. She would arrive with her notes and her humble clothes. And the school would remain in silence. Miss Alina could change the universe with the tip of her pointer, from Tasmania to Greenland, from the Urals to the Atacama Desert. Thanks to her I learned the...

Michael Jackson three times in my house

Einstein was black, thin. His name of a genius, but he was a dancer. His generosity made things easier when finally showed us Michael´s latest move. One day bent his knees, that magical moment he stood on his toes. Michael Jackson was in our classroom! He just had a rival: airplanes. He dreamed of being a pilot, but an invisible eye injury returned him to the ground, and there were no shadows to the king. I showed him some magazine that was taking it on Michael Jackson and his marriage. "Watch as Michael's hand is whiter than that of Presley," he said. Not even then he lost his temper. My friend never looked at his skin. His Michael was above everything. No review could touch his idol. -It is envy. They do not forgive him.... One day Einstein ventured to my house. My in-law Santiago stole his attention. They became engaged in a conversation about the youngest of the Jackson in which it was impossible to add a word. It was the first time Michael was at home. He rose from the sand in the Pharaonic hall. Turned and a thousand faces appeared. Kicked and trees returned from felling, elephants...

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