Strange and Queasy Times
I blinked repeatedly at the screen....rubbed my eyes. More blinking. More rubbing. Impossible! Could it BE?! The New York Times scolding Fidel Castro?!!
"Shirley!" I shrieked. "Come see!... Hurry!" I was afraid it was a mirage, afraid it might vanish.
"What is it?" She shrieked back. "I'm busy. Freddie's here. We're watching Will and Grace. By the way, Freddie says he's not mad at you anymore."
‘Wonderful! Then come on up, and bring the little fruitbag with you."
"Don't START, Humberto!...I wont have that kind of ...."
"Okay I promise. Come on up."
They came up, wineglasses in hand (who's wine, what wine, where the hell did I dine?) Sorry for the digression. But it's irresistible. Peter Frampton music always sparks many salacious memories. Spring Break of 76. Panama City before MTV started whooping it up as a National Spring Break Mecca. Back then it was more of a regional Spring Break Mecca. A boozy melting pot for deep Dixie where Alabama, Georgia and Miss. rednecks laughed at our New Orleans Brooklyn accents (see Confederacy of Dunces) and we at their Hee-Haw ones; where our boom-boxes tried to drown out their Lynyrd Skynyrd with our blasphemous Disco; Where — ah, the memories. But that's another article.
"Look at this will ya?" And I pointed with my chin at the NY Times piece. "Can you believe it? They're mad at Fidel for nabbing those two Czechs and throwing them in prison (since released). Hell, they didn't say peep when my parents and uncles and cousins and half their friends and relatives got thrown in prison, when Cuba had (per-capita) the most political prisoners of any nation on earth — of any in history — and that's using pinko Amnesty International's own figures, when the firing squads were piling up corpses round-the-clock. Hell, they loved Fidel then. Now they get all huffy because of two measly Czechs..... But I guess it's better late than never.
"Yes Freddie, those poor Czechs didn't know what they were getting into down there. Oh sure, they'd lived behind the Iron Curtain and bravely defied the Czech commies during their Velvet Revolution. But ain't no "Velvet Revolution" gonna cut it with Castro. It's gonna take a freakin bomb to blow him into pink mist, or bullet through the eye.... like Mo Green...remember Mo Green, Freddie?..."Hey what's this?..No! I buy YOU out!" ...."Mikey showed him, hunh Freddie?"
"Gosh, Humberto" Freddie lisped. "You're sure hung up on that Movie, hunh?"
"Of Course, Freddie!" I leaped from my chair.
"Oh Goodness" Shirley sighed. "I'm going down for more wine...want some?"
"Bring me up a beer...frosted mug's in the freezer.....Anyway Freddie. It's TRUE! Yes! Fidel and his lapdogs in the Pinko media are RIGHT, see. All us Cuban-Americans are Mafiosi at heart, see. That's why I like that movie so much, see. What more proof do ya need?..And did you see Andy Garcia in..."
"Oh I just LOVE Andy." Freddie said dreamily." He just...'
"Never mind!" I barked. "Saw how good he played his role in the last Godfather — Academy award nominee and everything. They say he'll replace Pacino as the Don in the next one, see. It's perfect Freddie, because we're all Mafiosi-of-the-Heart! See!"
"Oh Humberto, " Shirley huffed as she poured my beer. "Your family's nothing like that. And you do the worst James Cagney. Your family's LOUD, true. And they make me SO MAD when they speak Spanish in front of me. I always think they're talking about me. But they're the sweetest people.....Heck, everybody likes that movie. It has nothing to do..."
"And look," I pointed back to the screen. "See where they threw those poor Czechs? See where they shoved them into solitary confinement in 6x9 cells with a hole in the floor for a toilet and bright lights on them all day?.....See that — Villa Marista. That's a notorious political prison and torture chamber in Havana. Cuba's Lubyanka, Freddie."
"Yes," he said with a vacant nod. "I see that, Vi-lla Ma-ris-ta." He said slowly, trying to get the Spanish accent right, like Chris Dodd or Maxine Waters when they come back from some Potemkin tour of Cuba with their script.
"Castro would throw your ass in there too Freddie!" I belched. "In a heartbeat. You wouldn't stand a chance."
"No way!" Freddie chirped. ‘"I'd never do anything to get thrown in there. "Oh heavens no, I'm afraid of guns and bombs."
"Wouldn't matter, Freddie." I nodded towards Shirley. " They'd throw you in because of your....ummm — genetic predisposition." She smiled.
"No WAY!" Freddie gasped.
"Yesiree, Freddie my boy! You'd be cutting cane for twenty years. Happened to thousands of your....um....ilk. Haven't you seen the movie Before Night Falls? It's all true. Hell, you'd love it. It's about a Cuban poofter. The reds rounded them up like the Nazis rounded up jews in the Warsaw Ghetto."
"That's horrible!'"Freddie said with a shaken expression. "Why?"
"Because the Cuban Commies woke up one morning and decided they didn't like maricones, that's why." I quaffed my beer. "Ahhhh.....Even worse, most Cuban homos, being artistic types — hence leftists, had backed the Reds. "Useful Idiots", the Reds call people like that. Shoot man, I keep telling ya: YOU should be warier of concentrated government power than ME. Those Cuban poofters had NO IDEA they'd be in slave-labor camps after they'd helped Castro......Anyway, that Villa Marista?...That's where I made my first communion."
"It was a Catholic school in 1961, run by Marist priests from Spain. I went there. It was four blocks from my house."
"No kidding!" Shirley said. "You mean, that's where that First Communion picture your mom was showing me at Christmas was taken?
"The very place," I said. "And hell, it was no piece a cake then either. Those Spanish priests were like James Brown's poppa — they didn't take no mess. "
True stuff here, folks. Spaniards talk with a lisp by sticking out their lower jaw on all S's. Some say it's from the time of King Phillip. He had a horrendous underbite — worse than Bruce Springsteen, if you can imagine that. And everybody tried to imitate his crippled pronunciations. Whatever the reason, Cubans find it simply: Hilarious!
Especially seven-year-old Cubans in the very front row of the class. These priests had expressions like you see in a Goya painting. That made it worse. I'd be popping a gut trying to stifle the guffaws while these black-robed gentlemen mumbled and lisped away, my body convulsed with tremors, my torso jerking spastically, my head trembling — all the while trying to shield my contorted face from their cruel gaze with a book. Finally spittle would start leaking. And they continued their spastic lisping. Tears would start squirting. On they'd lisp. I'd finally lower my quivering head on the desk, some shrieks would leak out, some muffled guffaws, more convulsions. I'd hear footsteps..
WHACK!! on the side of the head. "Senor Fontova!" He'd shout (with a lisp) by now I'm beet red, convulsed like an epileptic, and guffawing openly —
"Hasta Cuando?!" (with a lisp) WHACK!! again. WHACK!..... Like I said — no piece of cake then either.
Amazing. The NY Times mentions how horrible it was that the Czechs were put in solitary confinement for a few days. Hell, THOUSANDS of Cubans have been in it for MONTHS! Cuban political prisoner Vladimiro Roca has been in solitary for 1200 days! Dr Elias Biscet for over a year!
Ever heard of them?.... No! Of course not! But Ahh!..Imagine if they'd been held prisoner — even a fraction as long — by Pinochet or Botha or Somoza. Why they'd be household names in the east Village, Hollywood and Washington, at least. Why Robin Williams and Sting and Whoopi Goldberg and AlecBaldwin and all their imbecile friends would be holdings benefits, and fasts and Concerts and lobbying Congress and all the rest of that crap. No doubt about it.
(By the way, anyone interested in helping these courageous men — courageous black men, I might add, incarcerated by an overwhelmingly white power structure, I might add — please take note, Messieurs Jackson and Rangel and Sharpton and Conyers and Dellums and Mfume, and you too Ms. Waters — can go to http://www.cadp-nyc.org. (I have no affiliation financial or otherwise with this outfit.
But I warn you: you won't be a "human-rights activist" by helping these men. Remember, they're Castro's prisoners. So you'll be an "anti-communist zealot," a "crackpot" a "red-baiter" a "hard-liner" an obstacle to "dialogue and brotherly love between nations."
If you wanna be a "human-rights activist" you have to write a song like Sting just wrote about Pinochet's (handful of red) victims. Please keep this in mind. I'm giving you fair warning.
Geezuz, but these Pinks are weird. How can a brain — any brain — work so inconsistently?
Nothing new here, actually. The New York Times finally lapsed, like many liberals lapse. But always when it's too late. Always when Red regimes are LEAST oppressive. Think about it. The Soviet Union did FINALLY loose it's lustre with western Pinks.
But when? Remember? Yep. Around the time they invaded Czechoslovakia in 68. Yet that invasion was a picnic compared to what they'd done to Poland and the Baltic states in 1940, where almost a third of these countries' populations where hauled off Siberia in cattle cars. But ah, western "statesmen" only cared about the butcheries and deportation in western Poland that year. And the hell with the Baltic states.
Western Pinks were most infatuated with the Soviets at their most murderous — when the Ukraine was being depopulated, when marathon show trials preceded the murder of thousands of innocent men, when eastern Europe was raped and defiled. That's when the NY Times sang Uncle Joe's praises.
Ditto for Red China. The Red Chinese did finally lose their lustre in Pinko eyes. But again, when?
During Tianamen Square. Again, when life there was a walk in the park compared to twenty years before. That massacre was a slap on the wrist compared to what the Red butchers had been doing non-stop to their enemies for thirty freakin years! During the butcheries of the Cultural Revolution western pinks had Mao posters in their rooms. During the 60's the NY Times rhapsodized about Mao.
Remember when "peace was given a chance" in Indochina? Like clockwork, there was NY Times stalwart Anthony Lewis scribling about how the Kmer Rouge would improve Cambodia's lot — at the very time they were hacking, clubbing and shooting a third of their countrymen into mass graves.
We live in strange and queasy times my friends.
Put that in your "human-rights" pipe and smoke it.
February 10, 2000