Posts Tagged ‘Cuba’

NO EXCUSES FOR CUBA Pt. 2

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Habana Centro_Where Excuses Go to Die5I may have returned from Cuba a more informed tourist, but I remain a clumsy narrator, for I’ve experienced more than I know how to process at once.

So, with my eye ever on excuses (and a reliance on my iPhone camera for more complete coverage), I’ll just jump right in.

Our casa particular was in Habana Centro, the most densely populated district in the city of Havana, where much of life is spent where the action is: right outside the building in which one lives. Street sports like handball, self-regulating pet and child care, gossip, singing merchants, colorful laundry Habana Centro_Where Excuses Go to Die3being pinned to decaying balconies, inventive refuse repurposing, prostitution, championship dominoes, and, of course, more vintage Chevy tweaking than outside a Barrett-Revolutionary Square_Where Excuses Go to DieJackson auction are daily occurrences, rain or shine. Drivers use their horns in polite little taps to warn pedestrians, slower cars, and ubiquitous bicycle taxis that they’re approaching from behind, because walking in the middle of the narrow streets is necessary – and not because the city lacks sidewalks. This is about Darwinian natural selection: misshapen rebar barely clinging to crumbles of concrete isn’t just a photo op, it’s a reminder that falling chunks of rotting rooftops are common, especially following an afternoon downpour. Our local host was explaining this to my wife when a basketball sized slab of wall proved his point a few feet away.

Habana Centro_Where Excuses Go to Die1

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NO EXCUSES FOR CUBA

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

CUBA_Where Excuses Go to DieThe Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) named Cuba one of the ten most censored countries in the world. I make no excuses for needing to see what this looks and feels like. 

I’ll be doing so as a woefully under-informed US tourist later this week, so I’m under no illusion I’ll be able to see as deeply into the island’s infrastructure as I’d like or be creased as deeply as I’d prefer the Cuban wrinkle to go. But as much as this Yanqui is eligible to absorb — socially, culturally, and spiritually — is as much as I hope my heart can handle. (more…)

No Excuses Book Review #1

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

The Skies Belong to UsThe Skies Belong to Us: Love & Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking

In the end, Brendan Koerner’s The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking, is about character. Though it was published nine months ago, it’s a fun choice for No Excuses Book Review #1.

I’m not old enough to remember the plague of airline hijackings that took place in and around American airspace during the hippie era, but I do remember laughing with my mom through a television rerun of The Out of Towners, a 1970 Jack Lemmon comedy. In it, everything that can go wrong for two hapless New York tourists does, and despite the appearance of a happy ending, the two find themselves on a hijacked plane just before the credits roll. “This plane is going to Havana, Cuba!” announces the hijacker as he brandishes a gun. (Apparently a lot of these folks were aiming for Cuba; they envisioned a revolutionary paradise when, in reality, Castro jailed ’em instead.)

Initially that’s why I picked up this book: Because I am old enough to remember the aftermath of the ’60s and ’70s skyjacking plague.

In The Skies Belong to Us, Brendan Koerner provides readers with a central romantic antihero narrative on which his exhaustive research hangs. But nothing hangs so long as to slow things down. Koerner’s approach and writing is solid as cement, yet it moves as quickly as a TV news crawler. (more…)

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS = TALK

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

2012: The War on Big Talk

By not following through on things, I’ve caused more damage to my self-image and confidence than all of the frustrations or bad luck the world has ever thrown at me. 

The older I get, the harder the could’ves and should’ves tend to bite. On the other hand, when I start something and I finish it, I feel like I have a full tank of gas and a wallet full of cash. The feeling is like body armor against the bullet points on lists of others’ accomplishments: (more…)