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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Rolling Stones Give Satisfaction in Cuba

A few days ago I was grousing on this very blog that President Obama's visit to Cuba was an epic joke and I still think so.
The Rolling Stones trip, however, is another story.
I'm thrilled that they made the journey, and musical history.
The concert was free to anyone who could get there -- and believe me I wish I could have made it. The Stones -- Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood -- played at the 450,000 capacity Ciudad Deportiva outdoor stadium.
I've heard Mick and the Boys in concert -- loud, brash, energy filled sessions in which Mick proves how to stay thin by running from one end of a stage to another for seemingly endless songs.
It's the first time the Stones played Havana, because they were very young lads when "the revolution" happened and the chance of playing the city were nil.
But while Obama's trip was a load of political posing and photo opportunities, the Stones, well, they were something else.
It was a chance for people who have been strapped by a terrible burden, a mean economy and a life deprived of much to get some satisfaction. And the pro bono work by Mick and the Boys did give the band some incredible publicity. At this stage of their lives, they can afford to give back -- such a venue elsewhere would have made millions in ticket sales. Whatever they got out of it financially may not be clear but the memories they have, and made, are clear indeed.
I know, it's only rock and roll, but I like it, I like it, yes I do.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Obama's Cuba Visit Is An Epic Joke

This photo is of my family in Havana. It was taken before "the revolution," the term favored by Fidel Castro with respect to his takeover of Cuba.
What you see in this photo is a group of people who grew up together in small towns, married and had children. One of them -- the little girl pointing her nose in the air on the last row -- is me.
The Cabreras were comfortable after years of working hard, but it was not always so. The adults you see in the picture grew up relatively poor, giving each other a leg up along the way, until life finally fell into place and they were happy.
We spent as much time together as we could. We took vacations together (sometimes all the kids would sleep in one room laughing into the night), celebrated life's events and welcomed babies into the fold. (There are a few more of us in the clan that were just gleams when this shot was taken.)
But along came "the revolution" and life as we knew it ended.

A few short years after this photograph, that close knit family was living scattered around the United States because none agreed with "the revolution." We remained emotionally close but physically separated, saddened because by nature we Cabreras are family oriented and really, really liked being together.
But jump forward to this week -- in which President Obama stepped off Air Force One with his entire family onto the land where we Cabreras were born, a land none of us has been to since we left. Some of my cousins have been talking with each other about the pain that the photo has engendered.
Obama is making the rounds, including the mandatory laying of a wreath on a monument to Jose Marti, one of the founders of Cuba and a poet in his own right.
The comments we read on social media are appalling to us. We read ignorant statements from people who want to smoke Cuban cigars and drink at Hemingway's favorite bar in Havana. We are asked to sum up an incredibly complex, emotionally gut-wrenching issue into a stupidly simple statement for their ignorant minds to absorb in a nanosecond.
Well, here it is, in part. Our families were destroyed, life as we knew it vanished. We don't belong there anymore, but in a sense, we don't really belong where we are, either, in some fashion.
And now the so-called Leader of the Free World is shaking hands with one of the people responsible for exploding an entire country, splintering families and creating a "socialist democracy" which by all accounts is an abysmal failure. Obama's communications people, meanwhile, are putting lipstick on this pig of a trip -- which began by Raul Castro failing to meet Air Force one at the airport, an insulting slap to Obama's face which he has chosen to ignore.
This "historic visit" is nothing but an orchestrated, self-aggrandizing move by a lame duck man in a lame duck position. Nothing will change as a result, since the Cuban Embargo must first be lifted before US/Cuba relations can be more normalized. Good luck getting that by a predominantly Republican Congress, Mr. President.
As to the rest of you who voice opinions on Cuba and the Cuban people based on a tiny amount of knowledge -- get an education. There's more to my homeland than cigars.

Jose Marti wrote, "Better a minute on your feet than a lifetime on your knees." How could Obama lay a wreath in memory of this Cuban icon and not know he was dead wrong in carrying out this travesty of a visit?
Read about Marti, and then we can talk.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I'm Done With No Fun And Anne DIMaio

The last few months of my life have not been the greatest. No, there are no health issues, thank the Fates, and for that I am grateful. 

I won't bore you with the details -- the days have been tedious and mind numbing to say the least and I am not giving them any more energy.  So there.

That said, I will mention (in a wry, dry and not very kind tone) something I learned to do very easily in this aforementioned period, which I will henceforth call the Era of Don't Bore Me With Downton Abbey I'm Sick of British Dramas. The number of people with whom I formerly surrounded myself has shrunk tremendously. It wasn't something I set out to do, but something which just happened as a result of the Era of Don't Bore Me With Downton Abbey I'm Sick of British Dramas.

I no longer deal with Passive Aggressive. I don't get it, I don't want to get it, I don't want to be around it. Frankly their behavior is truly dichotomous, way too much trouble to comprehend and ultimately making the whacked-out dual nature of Geminis seem much more appealing. 

I'm done with folks who crab about "negativity" in their lives. They activate my gag reflexes. You cannot have all "positivity" because that's not the way the world is made. Something inside you should run when you come across one of those "Happy! Happy! Happy!" birds who are all sunshine and light and chirping and flitting about the place. I tell you the Positivity People are hiding something sinister that will eventually explode out of them. So I say negative to positivity. I plan on introducing them to The Stinky Sewer People who routinely tear up the roads near my house.

I'm finished with people who make plans with you and then at the last possible minute bail out, usually with some illness like ebola or they found kudzu in their front yard or the New Year's Ball slid off its pole, rolled over three states and finally landed on top of their Buick. You get my drift the excuses are palpably false.

And I suppose I must write off those who don't like that I write about my life and probably include them in my scribblings. Here I say to them the holiest of all truths: if you don't want to be written about don't hang around with writers. We can't help ourselves. We are born to tell stories and if we get some wine into us we will probably share one or two of those stories. We might spin a yarn about how we think your brother is an insecure goon who secretly hates women and probably mistreated you when you were a kid. C'mon, you know it too -- but you won't say it. Apparently you can't let us do that for you, so you are next off the list. 

My Feet at Gulf Coast Hospital
Yeah, I was bored.

And finally, one more -- one which I will use the name of the actual person. Last year I got violently ill after eating oysters at a Bristol bistro before leaving on a Florida job hunting expedition. No sooner I reached Florida when I ended up in the hospital for three days -- turns out I had C-Difficile.  (It's nasty, you don't want to get it.) 

Meanwhile I had been staying with a friend of mine -- Anne DiMaio -- who wigged out completely as I lay on the gurney stabbed with an IV and trying to figure out why my insides were roiling and coiling with such venom. She really lost it -- went back to her house, got my suitcase and dumped it in the hospital lobby, telling me that I was on my own and then barrelled out the doorway of the hospital making enough of a scene that I had to explain it to the medics in charge.

Needless to say I didn't talk to her after that, and have not done so since -- and now put her in a blog where she will permanently reside as part of the era of Don't Bore Me With Downton Abbey I'm Sick of British Dramas and weird antics by former Marines.

I'm done with Anne DiMaio, I'm done with the others, and most of all, I'M DONE WITH NO FUN. Yes, I yelled it out. I haven't had a lot of fun lately and I'm going to make up for long time. If I see you out and about and invite you to join in, then you haven't been picked off like unwelcome lice from a kid's head.  So join me for some much needed R and R. 

All the rest of you I'll discreetly walk away from if I catch you staring at me at the grocery store, the gas station or any of those other places were are likely to run into each other. I'll nod my head, but that's about it.

Amen, and pass the butter because some of you are toast. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Whole Foods Sells Oranges Without Appeal


Whole Foods. The supermarket chain is a tony enclave in which the well-heeled are able to shop for edibles of the highest quality. In theory, the produce is supposed to be top of the line, organic, and Whole Foods is allegedly America's healthiest grocery store.

But the chain harvested some seriously bad PR this week because some marketing fruitcake got whacked on the head with an organic coconut. In a maneuver so stupid it's pathetic, the stores stocked its shelves with pre-peeled oranges in plastic containers.

One must presume that the idea was for convenience and saving the few precious seconds it would take a chimpanzee to peel the fruit. I can't imagine that Whole Foods' customers have become that lazy. Needless to say, social media went bananas about the unappealing oranges and blasted away their sour grapes.

Mother Nature has done a terrific job of packaging these edibles. The peels can be made into marmalade, dried into potpourri or added to a compost heap. But no. In order to sell this now incomplete food Whole Foods had to buy plastic packaging.

We all know what happens to those. But who the hell knows what happened to all those peels? Further, a boatload of humans spent time and energy peeling the damn things at who knows how many bucks an hour. That alone undoubtedly drove up the produce price.

According to Twitter users Whole Foods pulled the naked fruit from its shelves. Were these perfectly good items thrown on top of a trash heap to boot? Or did Incomplete Foods at least donate the oranges to some shelter?

Amen, and pass the juicer, please.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Political Pablum -- Do Not Eat

In 1931, the Mead Johnson Company marketed Pablum -- a product which represented a new era in nutrition for babies. It provided children with dietary Vitamin D, an important element which helped to prevent rickets, a disease which weakens bone.

Pablum (made of wheat, corn meal, bone meal and brewer's yeast among other ingredients) was easy to digest and didn't trouble the baby's tummy. It was an important development at a time when infant malnutrition was a major issue in industrialized nations.

In 2016, it might be prudent to educate the public about a new type of rickets that is now rampant in the United States. This one is not causing skeletal weakness but instead a mental one. Simply put, the shortened attention span of the American public is a true crisis in an election cycle which requires that people really give their all to the current process.

These days, grown adults are consuming what I'm going to christen "Political Pablum" at an alarming rate via assorted media entities. I'm not blaming the internet -- I'm a firm believer that it is an incredible tool. I am however blaming the people who consume the Political Pablum without realizing that it is being fed to them the same way Pablum cereal is put in the mouths of babies.

Political Pablum is a simple carbohydrate of sorts, easily digestible information that does not require much analysis to consume. Worse, people are eating it in droves and feeding it to each other because it's easy to pass along. Some of the websites where this Political Pablum is being generated have absolutely no connection to news, no overseers, no editors to make sure there is some semblance of truth to a statement.

I'm generating Political Pablum right here. That said, I'm an intelligent person with a journalism and communications background and know full well that this is a blog in which I express my opinion for no other reason than my own enjoyment. Hey, it's what we writers do.

But I'm going to beg and plead that when you consume any type of Political Pablum, including what I write here, that you take a little time to chew things over before you swallow any of it. Nutrition is an important thing, most notably the nutrition of your brain and thoughts.

Amen, and pass me another spoonful?