It’s like a political soap opera: Chavez wins the first somewhat-close election in a decade, securing Cuba’s energy source and top trade partner for years to come, only to be felled by cancer just before his inauguration, tossing the fates of the two nations into uncertainty — OR WILL HE LIVE? No one seems to know if Chavez is dead, dying, or alive in Cuba, where he’s being treated. Everyone there, obviously, cares. Stay tuned…
I never passed through security for a flight to Miami without experiencing a certain weightlessness, the heightened wariness of having left the developed world for a more fluid atmosphere, one in which the native distrust of extreme possibilities that tended to ground the temperate United States in an obeisance to democratic institutions seemed rooted, if at all, only shallowly.
Joan Didion, Miami, 1987, as easily applicable to Cuba today as Miami then.
“It was interesting to observe how in Cuba, a country isolated largely by the U.S. embargo, people have no access to foreign publications, and their international exposure is very limited. However, Cuban artists are quite well informed. They have a long tradition of sharing the information they do have, and of distributing among themselves books and magazines that become community objects. ”
- Gabriel Orozco on visiting the Havana Biennial.
Within a broad conversation printed in Art In America — between Orozco and fellow Mexican conceptual artist Damián Ortega — there are interesting tidbits on the differences between the Cuban and Mexican art contexts. Check it out here.
This is the sort of song that was playing in my mind while I was shopping at Yanet’s. Check out my short essay, in today’s Paris Review Daily, on buying old illicit things at her Havana vintage emporium.
Thanksgiving in Havana was black-market filet mignon, purchased by an expat friend who’d lived there for fifteen years without buying red meat on the black market, too afraid of the penalties (seven years in jail, I think). Red and black on a glass table with three Americans and a Mexican around it, a slice of festivity on an ordinary day. A glass of red wine, one of the $10 bottles from the Melia Cohiba wine shop instead of the $4 Nazareño we usually picked up at the Cupet’s convenience store because we couldn’t stomach more rum and we couldn’t not drink, either. People wandering the streets after dark, like normal. Me heading to a grateful dinner and then bowing my head and giving thanks for being where I was, when I was.