Feb. 4th, 2011

purejuice: (girlfriends are forever)
I think Egypt and Cuba are a lot alike. That's the message my rear brain keeps telegraphing from my visual sense of being totally at home in Havana, which is, I have decided, the most beautiful place I've ever been -- not least because it looks like Cairo. The caliphate and all that. I don't know what the stats are on the percentage of Andalusians among the conquistadors, but as the resident of one of the vast swathes of the Americas much devoted to its mudejar architecture -- some call it Torquemada moderne -- I'd say it was high.

The sense of a socialist state educating everyone who can do the work to the highest possible degree, and then having no work for them is truly soul-murdering. The waiter at Luxor, a good, fat, job -- had a PhD in economics. The gigolos hustling the girls in the GMU class on revolution I toured Cuba with all had masters' degrees in sports kinesiology.

A ghastly miasma hung over Cuba of a mind is a terrible thing to waste, as it did Egypt, with the baksheesh mentality a mask for desperation and hunger as much as it is corruption.

The guard of the Rosetta Stone in the Cairo museum had unilaterally roped off the space and charged people money -- "Psssst, pssst, want to see the Rosetta Stone?" -- to see the world heritage treasure -- while all Cubans good-looking enough to bear the traffic do a little whoring on the side. It's called the jinetera economy, and the sight of huge pink fat slobbering smirking German tourists with gorgeous 16-year-old schoolgirls, and boys, ranging in shades from almond to eggplant is the most depressing sight in Havana.

What happens when you get too old to suck D? One of the many interesting entrees that being part of a class studying revolution yielded was a tour of one of the agroponicos Fidel authorized when the bottom fell out of Soviet trade. For 500 years, Cuba has basically had one or another one trade partner to whom they send all their sugar, never diversifying agriculture in the amazingly fertile countryside under any regime. You could call it the jinetera cane economy. So when the sugar daddy dies, the Cuban economy implodes and they have to sell to the Canadians the oil rights off Varadero Beach, the gorgeous, paradisial, very very weird, gated, and allegedly ho-free, tourist ghetto. So they let no hoes through the toll gate into Varadero, but the nice pacifist Canadian oil rigs pump all night and enslime the sand with tar-like pollution and do god knows what all to the fish, the corals, and the ambient temp of the Gulf Stream.They also built a stinker of some kind of smokestack factory upwind of their one surviving moneymaker. Truly insane.

So the economy of the socialist society implodes. There is no food. Fidel decrees that empty lots should be turned over to hydroponic gardens to feed the masses. They work fabulously well and are guarded night and day by the gardeners, who are all retired party functionaries. We toured one, a gorgeous and incredibly advanced productive space with a large and airy shed, built of woven twigs, in which rabbits were raised both for food and fertilizer. In the corner of the shed, well hidden from any passers by, the old functionaries had a huge pot of rabbit stew cooking on a Primus stove, supplied with stolen kerosene, for their lunch.

The only other Cuban in the place was a middle-aged woman. She could have been a young woman who, like many of the musicians I saw in the painfully restored, Epcot Cuba town of Trinidad, for example, playing zombie versions of the Buena Vista Social Club hits for the Yankee dollar, were the most-wrinkled miserable-looking people I have ever seen. And I'm including the beggars of fucking Cairo. This agroponico woman could not make a living sucking D, in a word, and I asked what she was doing at the agroponico, and how it really worked. She whispered that she got her own ration of vegetables and bribed them for more. She went door to door selling them on the black market. This was her only income.

Today's piece in the NYT about the Cuban economy, the genius and grace of the Cubans, reminded me of the Egyptians. A people who keep their ancient clunker cars going on brake fluid made of shampoo and brown sugar deserve way better. May God bless them all.

For now, carpenters like Pedro José Chávez are allowed only to do repairs, rather than make things, because there is no legal market for wood. His workshop, perched on a rooftop in the Vedado area of Havana, is filled with crude machines made of salvaged parts because proper tools are too expensive.

“It’s absurd that they will give you a license to work but they won’t give you access to materials,” Mr. Chávez said. “Cuba is falling apart,” he added, gesturing to the crumbling buildings nearby. “We could help rebuild it.”


The cover of one of many amazing books of material culture introduced to me by Kate Davies through her blog, Needled. It's a homemade television aerial created during the Soviet era of aluminum forks. All of you who think computers run the revolution, think again. And don't throw away your pencil.
purejuice: (Default)
I also have to point out that you read it here first.

The bros are running the Tahrir Square mosque clinics.

In more ominous news, this story is the only one I could find that reports the detention by Mubarak of Amr Ezz and several other founders of the April 6 Youth Movement.

purejuice: (Default)
It is my observation that when the cynosure of TMZ and Radar Online disappears from the annals of People magazine it marks the agreement of said cynosure, Britney, Sandra, whatevs, to appear on the cover of People to the accompaniment of loud sucking noises.

Look for an exclusive exculpatory intvu with Charlie Sheen on the cover of People soon. Hopefully re-enacting his totally schnockered party-with-the-hoes video dance.


purejuice: (Default)

January 2012


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