I hope to present my blogs in a more personal way going forward, so as to make it a little more interactive and entertaining. Links will be attached to this blog allowing you, my subscribers and whoever is just curious, to view the multi-media blog on YouTube (my channel, PhotoSpeak Productions) or possibly also using other formats where possible (such as MP4 recordings). This is still a transition in progress, so I expect there will be significant improvements along the way (photo essay, music, narrative).
Stick with me and invite your friends to register at the bottom of this blog page. There is no obligation involved. (Unlike my full-length documentary on Iran, published last year, these blog posts will be much briefer, hopefully not exceeding 5-12 minutes maximum). And if you aren't interested in my journalistic tendencies-- what I have to say -- I think the background music will be entertaining and a closer look at the images usually will be interesting and informative.
Check out this link if you have access to YouTube (best on HD TV or computer screen) - You may either subscribe on YouTube or on this website/blog, if you wish.
Cuba Connection — 2018
Walking the streets of Havana in March 2018, I spied a man in a white teeshirt watching a spontaneous soccer match below his crumbling apartment. Beneath him a pallid woman lies prone, staring perhaps in a trance; or maybe she is ill. The soccer ball occasionally bounces oﬀ her body without moving her.
This woman is Cuba, subdued and motionless, but looking skyward and hopeful. She sees the failure of her eﬀort to build a new social order. And yet, a new generation of Cubans play all around her. These are not children of the Revolution. These boys are playing soccer, a sport that is gradually supplanting baseball as the national pastime.
Change is coming, but probably not fast enough for the guy on the balcony.
Like individuals, nations and their citizens present two selves. It is sometimes hard to tell which is more genuine or if political (polite) appearances on the surface actually reflect the inner reality. Art is often a conduit of clues about a nation’s character and style under the surface— not always, but often.
I barely hit the street on my first day in Cuba when a passerby flashed the grin that many islanders were easy with. However, the blank stare of the green alien persona painted on the wall next to him (and barred entrance) gave me pause. Two thumbs up offer the promise of Havana’s good life, but the haunting eyes of that long green face cast a shadow on the friendly gesture.
Old Havana, Cuba invites its visitors to smoke, drink, eat and dance. Inhibitions nurtured at home are sorely tempted in this intriguing city, held together by duct tape but made charming by its residents and mid 20th century revolutionary hangover. Down the street from my hostel/residence are well- attended bars where both men and women patrons mingle with drinks in one hand (maybe two) and cigar in the other. Rum and coke before dinner is a custom that purportedly prepares the diner’s digestion of some meat (or fish) treat neighboring with rice and beans. Drinks are cheap ($2), but Cuban cigars burn $4 and more.
Wikipedia says dance-rhumba originated among poor workers of African descent in the streets and solares (courtyards) of northern Cuba in the 19th century. Rumba remains one of Cuba's most characteristic forms of music and dance, featuring “vocal improvisation, elaborate dancing and polyrhythmic drumming.” Especially on Sunday afternoons and every night, anyone strolling the alleys and roads of Old Havana can pick and choose to mix with an assortment of foot-tapping, rump-waving, shivering bands and show-oﬀs. My intrepid traveling companions, and even I at one point, did not shrink from the challenge and coaching that most Cubans seem always willing to oﬀer.