Cuba ‘Cuber’ it was high time to call the whole thing off

obama and raul

When I was a kid most anybody with any sort of ear could do a spot impersonation of John F. Kennedy. All a body had to do was say the word ‘Cuba’ a la JFK — “Cuber”. And then we’d pee ourselves with merriment at our impersonational talents. Take that Vaughn Meader. And I am not going to bother explaining who Vaughn Meader was. If you weren’t there at the time it won’t mean much.

But, it was all merriment about a truly difficult time in the world. A time in which we came perilously close to World War Three. Go back a little bit. When Fidel and Raul and Che were holed up in the mountains outside Havana. What a swathe those bearded and fatigue-wearing brigands cut and it was just the sort of thing to appeal hugely to an adolescent lad. It was all quite thrilling. Piggish dictator Batista was to be toppled and it would be a new era for Cuba.

To punctuate my feelings about it all I got myself a little printed poster published by the ‘Hands Off Cuba’ committee in Vancouver and put it up in my bedroom. My old man was not pleased. Regarding Fidel, Dad was of the “dirty commie” school. But, he didn’t force me to remove it. Otherwise, with the exception or Ricky Ricardo I knew little about Cuba.

Ultimately the “new era” lost a lot of its romantic charm when the trials were held and thousands were imprisoned for their reactionary, pro-Batista views. Increasingly the Americans soured in their attitude and that sent Fidel, in desperation for the revolution to survive, into the welcoming arms of Nikita Khrushchev.

And then it was game over regarding the erstwhile connection between the US and Cuba. And then there was the silly buggers and pathetic Bay of Pigs abortive invasion of this island only 90 miles from Florida. Didn’t work for shit. It was said that JFK was talked into the damn foolishness by old Joe Kennedy who, according to those who hated the Kennedy clan, once own half the whorehouses in Havana. Maybe he did.revolution

More important and terrifying was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Those fraught 13 days in October of 1962 brought us closer to international conflagration than any other event before or since. We were petrified and I kind of felt that I was too young to die in a nuclear holocaust.

As we know, cooler heads prevailed and the ghastly was averted.

But, the US remained resolute in refusing to have any truck with Cuba and they left the beautiful island nation as a storehouse of brilliant retro vehicles and a people who, while seemingly happy – and still producing great music – were essentially impoverished and possessing very few freedoms. And thought crime remained a crime in a state that, while it may have its ideals, is far from being free. In fact, after the fall of the Soviet empire, Cuba remained one of the few communist holdouts in the world.

Canada, by the way, has always maintained diplomatic ties with Cuba.

I know a lot of people who have vacationed in Cuba and love the place. We sailed past the island last fall on our Panama Canal cruise and I was hoping we’d see land more clearly. It also showed me how damn close a potential enemy was to mainland America.

I have not vacationed in Cuba on a point of principle. I don’t give a sweet goddamn what the US thinks about Cuba and I’m not hugely anal about the fact it is a communist state. What does bother me massively is the great number of political prisoners in Cuba and that is a reality that cannot be denied. Short and to the point, I won’t spend my money in a police state.

That said, I am delighted for the change in US attitude towards Cuba and the overtures about softening antagonisms. May it indeed be so. That I would welcome and expect the Cubans will as well. I also hope they maintain their integrity and not get too (for want of a word) Americanized.

So, here comes the dirty stuff, so this isn’t for tender eyes. Well, it’s mainly dirty stuff lite so it shouldn’t bother the more sensitive

dirty statue

I have a few blogger contacts who are very frank about their sexuality – sometimes graphically frank about their sexuality and attitudes and what they do and what they like and what they are or ain’t getting.

You know, all of that “making the beast with two backs” stuff that Shakespeare referenced.

I admire these people for their candor and I am voyeuristic enough that I can sometimes find it even a bit titillating to learn what transpires when these individuals (female mostly) drop panties. eve babitz

My only problem with this is I’m not sure I have it within me to be so candid. That’s a hell of an admission for a generally pretty liberated writer to make.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love sex and human sexuality. I have had sex just quite a whole bunch of times over many years, but I get torn as to how much I want to share. Added to which I live in some trepidation that I might bore you senseless. Sex is a very difficult thing to write about. And one of the reasons, I believe, is due to its intensity. I mean, when it’s going right it’s a ‘kapow!’ kind of thing. How does one put that down to full-effect on the printed page or a computer screen?

I once (and vainly) tried to write some erotica. No small task. I thought it would be easy, but it was more challenging than I anticipated. What I wanted to be erotic and sensual just came out smutty. I didn’t want to convey dirty, I wanted to bring about arousal on the part of the reader. The rule of thumb, one writer of erotica suggested, was to gauge your own arousal level as you write. In my case it was about as horny as a tour of a fish plant. dirty flix

Of course, the thing with blogs is that they’re a bit like personal memoirs – diaries, if you like – in which you invite your reader to take a trip with you. But, you know, I am not sure that I want my readers to see me with my pants off. Well, maybe some of them, but I’ll go no further than that with that theme. But, bear with me while I strip down to my leopard-skin underpants and stretch myself, arm behind my head just so, in front of a roaring fire.

No, that just feels kind of silly. I think I’d rather see you in your knickers in before that fireplace, but that’s just me.

Have I set a mood for you?

Not for me, either.

So, as I said, I love sex. I love all the elements that go into a sexual encounter and the frolicsome things a couple can do, but I don’t know if anybody wants to share in those bits of me, and I don’t think I want to go there.

Maybe I don’t want to ask for whom the bell tolls, if that’s OK

reaper

A few years ago, after as much procrastinating as was reasonable, I wrote a will. I did not want to write a will because to do such planning is a fairly strong indication that I might die and need to be prepared for it.

The task was not an easy one. I have no heirs or successors except the memsahib so I figured the loot would go to her and she could spend all the money that would come her way provided she had no plans for it after the following Tuesday. No, it’s not that bad. But, most of my wealth lies in assorted goods and chattels – ie stuff. Stuff like books and a few bits of bric-a-brac. I do wish I actually had some heirs and successors, but life didn’t work out that way.

Anyway, I did the will after getting stuck on the bit about what was to be done with my no-longer-of-much value bones. Yeah, I’m generous and they can harvest the bits that are of any use, but then there is, ahem, disposal. Now on one hand I don’t give much of a shit mainly because I’ll be dead. But, burial or cremation? I think I opted for the fiery furnace route since I don’t believe chunks of real estate she be devoted to bones, not when they can be turned into condo developments or golf courses. I think my ashes are being scattered in some body of water but I honestly can’t remember what locale was specified: It’ll be either here, Deer Lake near where I grew up, or Hawaii. Hawaii sounds good because then the missus can have a brief vacation whilst she goes to scatter me amongst the fishes and lovely sea turtles. I am a Pisces, after all.

So after the will was completed I did all the legal rigamarole and got it notarized and so forth. So, that bit’s good now and has been for a few years. However, there is another aspect to the dwindling days time of life, and that is what must be done before one croaketh? marley

The last time I visited my doctor he handed me a little yellow brochure that is titled Advance Care Planning. It’s a pretty little glossy item from the provincial government and boasts photos of happy and healthy looking folks on it. That’s a ruse, of course. The subject material is nothing about healthy and happy, it’s about grim and nasty stuff that might befall a fellow or girl in an unexpected way, especially past a certain age. We might become physically disabled, incontinent, batshit crazy, immobile or all sorts of other unpleasant things. I resented my doctor for giving this to me – you know, pointing out reality and all. I don’t want that. I want the fellow to marvel at how youthful and healthful I seem to be and that perhaps I have a good shot at immortality, or maybe a hope of transmogrifying into another dude with a different appearance like Dr. Who. I’ll choose the David Tennant version so I get to have my way with Rose.

The good doctor wanted me to scrutinize the brochure carefully and in conjunction with him and my wife to explicitly state my wants in a grim crisis time. Like do I want a cessation of medication. Well, kind of depends what kind of dope they give me, I reckon. “Hmm, this stuff isn’t bad.” But I jest, of course. I know such planning is important. I know my own father explicitly stated he did not want to be kept alive in the case of severe disability and, frankly, his sons and daughters-in-law were grateful for that. I’m pretty much the same about that, I reckon.

While I make light, I know I will get to it and get it done. Sometimes I think, what if I don’t get it done? I’ll be dead. Why would I care? Well, maybe not getting such a thing done will be one of those “chains we forge in life” and I, like Jacob Marley, will be doomed to spend eternity making up for my negligence.

Well, maybe I’ll get to haunt somebody. That’d be good. I have already picked out some candidates.

Santa, baby, I don’t want so much other than for the world to be a nicer place

sanity claus

My favorite Christmas season reference comes from the classic Marx Bros. Film A Night at the Opera when Groucho is explaining the elements of an insurance policy to Chico and makes reference to the “sanity clause”. Chico responds with, “You can’t fool me. Everybody knows there ain’t no Sanity Clause.”

Drum roll, please.

Ah, Christmas. And an essential element of the paganized and commercialized modern Christmas in which radio stations are filled with Yuletide songs starting on about September 27th and the more naive hold to the belief that the season is really about the birth of the Christ child and all that stuff rather than the vilest bit of mammon in the course of the year. I’m thinking that if they start Christmas music so early they should be obligated to cease broadcasting it by Dec. 15 and segue into Easter music. Let’s get out and start commercializing Easter, dammit. We’ve been laggardly in that regard.

Oh, and by the way, and just a little bugbear of mine. A concession to piety and culture comes every Christmas when assorted offerings of Handel’s magnificent Messiah are presented to an otherwise unpious public. Good stuff except for the fact that the Messiah is an Easter composition and such pieces as I Know That My Redeemer Liveth have no connection with the likes of Burl Ives and Holly Jolly Christmas. It loses meaning.

But quibbling aside, one of the elements of contemporary Christmas is the letter to Santa Claus. You know that Jolly Old Elf who was essentially a creation of both cartoonist Thomas Nast and the Coca Cola Company and has no connection with any historic St. Nicholas, jolly old or otherwise.

But for decades the young and maybe not so young have taken pleasure in penning a missive to the old buzzard at the North Pole in hopes of getting more and more stuff.

So, call him what you will: Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St. Nick, Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, it matters not for He is omnipresent at the time of the year and has been for a long time. So here is my letter to Santa:

Dear Santa:

1. Well, like Linus I’d like to see peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men. Uh, make that ‘people’ in contemporary egalitarian context.

2. I’d like an ensuing year of decent health and energy and having to get up no more than twice a night to pee.

3. I’d like to know what it’s like to hit the sack and actually sleep through the night.

4. I want no further viruses in my computer, OK?

5. I would like to be grateful for what I do have and not worry about stuff I don’t have. Stuff ultimately ends up cluttering the garage in any case. Anybody want any old coffee makers that don’t work and a defunct breadmaker? Why are they still in my life?

6. I’d like to cease dwelling on past injustices by assorted people in my history. They did what they did. I’d also like to cease feeling guilty about injustices I perpetrated on people in my past. I did what I did. Hating myself won’t make it better.

7. Let me be grateful for the relationship I currently have.

8. Let me be grateful for the wonderful friends I have and let me also shrug off injustices by people I assumed were friends.

9. Don’t give me anything material because the things I want are too costly to ever be realized by me and I honestly don’t care at all. Anyway, Lamborghinis are notoriously cranky and hard to start on a cold wet day.

10. Let me see as much of the world as is slated for me to see and let me continue to be enthralled by the colors and the sounds of alien cultures. Such things enable me to grow.

Thank you: I remain your obedient servant.

Such a violation of my integrity as a creative person can’t be passed off lightly

computer shit

I would never attempt to offend legitimate sufferers of PTSD with my whining over a matter some might see as trivial, because that would be inexcusably inappropriate. But this last week has given me a tiny hint of what it must feel like to lose your bearings in your life.

As I mentioned, last week my laptop was hit by a hideous virus that denied me access to virtually all my documents and many of my photos. Fuck-fuck-fuck!! I have no idea where it came from and why it chose me to wreak havoc upon, but it did.

I spent a few days going back and forth between my house and my tech place and God bless them they were able to get rid of the virus. A virus that has left me so paranoid that I am almost apprehensive about writing a blog about my experience. I hadn’t had a virus before so it has left me shaken and a bit paranoid. Where did I get it from?vars

Can come from anywhere you ever went, said my techie. Might have been something last week or something ages ago. Your computer never forgets where you’ve been. That’s scary, but it’s true, of course. And sometimes we got to less-than-savory places where we shouldn’t be hanging out. Or maybe not. Anybody’s guess, he suggested.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that I lost a ton and a half of stuff, writings, photos, personal history, the elements of me and my musings from a number of years of creative stuff. I write. I write for a living and I write to express myself. To violate that process is, and not to put too find a point on it, a sort of ‘rape’. An assault on my integrity and my lifeblood, as it were.

The blessing is that I had saved some of my past stuff on flashdrive and discs, but not enough. There was also a fair amount of stuff on my elderly and painfully slow dear old Acer that had traveled a good chunk of the world with me. Dear Acer, you are old and feeble but you enabled me to transfer a fair amount of stuff back to my revitalized laptop once the boys got it going again for me.

Now, it’s not entirely the same as it was and I am wary and trepidatious, and even though it has been home since the beginning of the week, I am still wary. And that is where the feelings of PTSD come in. I have been feeling down and deflated ever since. It hit me harder than I had anticipated such a thing might.

But why wouldn’t it? It’s my identity and my meaning. Yes, I have other things in my life, and good things they are. A nice home, a loving wife, dear Max, and cherished friends both in realtime and here on Blogger and Facebook. Love you all and you give me a good chunk of meaning.

But, my writings are my essence. They are whatever talent I might have and they justify my getting up in the morning. So, yeah, I feel thoroughly kicked in the slats and while I know the feeling of violation will pass, I can only say it can’t happen too quickly.

Call it whatever you like but please don’t call it a ‘perfect storm’. That one has been so done

valley flood scene

It is quaintly called a ‘Pineapple Express’ and the expression stems from the fact that our current weather system(s) originate in the tropical region of the North Pacific near the Hawaiian Islands.

But, if you are thinking balmy, coconut palm punctuated beaches, beautiful plumeria blossoms and bevies of bitsy bikinied beauties, then think again. Those elements are the good Hawaii. What we have been experiencing for the past few days on Vancouver Island and coastal BC is the bad Hawaii. The Hawaii of typhoons and ceaseless antediluvian rains reminiscent of the flood of yore, except it has been doing its flooding now. Bitty bikinis are replaced by yellow wellies and rain slickers.

The Hawaiian aspect we have been experiencing, however, is balminess. We have had temps as high as 17, which is in the mid-60s in old money. We went to that in less than a week from temps in minus realms and frozen duck coconut braponds.

The worst part of the express has been the aforementioned rain. And in that I am grateful that we live on higher ground here in Comox. The lower areas are not so fortunate and a hell of a lot of our pretty place is underwater. You see, along with the PE, we have also had inordinately high solstice tides and also because it has been raining so hard the rivers are well past overflowing their banks. A brutal combination and yet I absolutely refuse to refer to it as a ‘Perfect Storm.’ Sorry, but overused is overused and that one has been rendered as tiresome as ‘selfie’ and ‘polar vortex’. Perfect storm it may be, but you won’t hear it from me. Anyway, the movie was vastly overrated and hyperbolic. The book was much more chilling.

So, anyway that is where we are right now weatherwise and if you are facing ‘polar vorteces’ and 18 feet of snow. I don’t care.

Not the lovable guy with the garish sweaters and the pudding. Surely not

cos

Don’t you hate it when icons prove to have feet of clay? I mean, how dare the beloved poop on the positive image we have of them?

 

Some people turn out to be scummy and it doesn’t come as a complete surprise, but others have built reputation for being paragons of rectitude and decency.

Such a man was Bill Cosby. Good old Cos’ was such a symbolic figure right from the get-go in his long career.

Known as a stand-up comic he, a well-educated man, came to epitomize an era of hope for the black community. He was a man of enlightenment in the era of Martin Luther King and in a time that was racially tempestuous – alas, what time isn’t, considering recent events? But Cos was a herald of the future in terms of race relations. Well, we know how well that played out, but he still had great symbolic impact

i spyTo indicate his acceptance by the broader community, witness I Spy, the groundbreaking and excellent TV series he shared with Robert Culp in which the duo, as a couple of tennis bums, ostensibly, strode the world as agents. Groundbreaking series in that nobody questioned the right of this black man to be on equal footing with a white guy. Of course he got the usual ‘Uncle Tom’ bullshit thrown at him, but no less a comic icon, and nobody’s Uncle Tom, Richard Pryor was unabashed in stating he worshipped at the shrine of Cos.

Meanwhile, his comedy albums were hugely popular in the days when such things were important cultural facets, and the good ole’ Jell-o pudding ads. By golly, this man of color was part of everybody’s family regardless of their ethnicities. The frosting on the cake came with The Cosby Show. Everybody loved Dr. Huxtable in his ghastly sweaters, with his beautiful wife and charming, fully functional kids. We all wanted the good doctor to be our dad.

But then, a few years ago, things changed a little. There were allegations of sexual impropriety, even rape. Not Cos! Not Dr. Huxtable! Could not be so. It just didn’t jell. So it was largely forgotten.

Then more recently, more allegations and assertions of drugging, sexually assaulting and all sorts of disagreeable shit came to be leveled at Cos. He, in response, turned mute. And his grim and grizzled stubbly visage has been seen by nearly everybody. A far cry from the lovable fellow smacking his chops over that Jell-o chocolate pudding.

Cosby is different from, for example, Jian Ghomeshi. While people admired certain Ghomeshi talents, a lot of other people had found him to be an arrogant shit for years.

Cos wasn’t an arrogant shit. We loved him. It hurts at the fundament.