POSTCARDS FROM CUBA: altered doorways, three

Altered Doorways Banner

For Golriz. I don’t know why. Do you?

Doorways3-Paper and Metal

The de facto sponsor for this week’s art postcards is Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking. You know why, right?

This was last week’s listening postcard, and it’s worth listening to: if Nikita Khrushchev had to wash a bra in Cuba although Lazaro’s Farm is still my favourite, and if it’s your first time here, it’s best to start with blame it on Hemingway.

*

LANDED here for the first time? Let me catch you up:

Series 1 of Postcards from Cuba is now fully live. Check out the annotated table of contents for a tour, or, if you prefer, hop over to the chronological table of contents.

And if you like what you read/hear/see, please consider expressing your delight by becoming a patron of this project via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: Why?

Jane: Because you’ve always wanted to be a patron of the arts, and you know that artists can’t pay for groceries with exposure.

You: How much?

Jane: Buy me a cup of coffee, a Cuba Libre, or a counterfeit Cuban cigar.

You: That’s all?

Jane: My avarice is happy to match your affluence. But I get $1 in royalties for each copy my other self sells of a traditionally published book. It is impossible to disappoint me.

If you would like to make a contribution, but have PayPal issues (I get it), please email me at nothingbythebook at gmail.com, and we’ll work something out.

Thank you!

“Jane”

NothingByTheBook.com / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook

Altered Doorways Banner

POSTCARDS FROM CUBA: altered doorways, two

Altered Doorways Banner

For Sean. Who loves peeking into open windows and doors.

Doorways2-Paper and Metal

The de facto sponsor for this week’s art postcards is Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking. You know why, right?

This was last week’s listening postcard, and it’s worth listening to: if Nikita Khrushchev had to wash a bra in Cuba although Lazaro’s Farm is still my favourite, and if it’s your first time here, it’s best to start with blame it on Hemingway.

*

LANDED here for the first time? Let me catch you up:

Series 1 of Postcards from Cuba is now fully live. Check out the annotated table of contents for a tour, or, if you prefer, hop over to the chronological table of contents.

And if you like what you read/hear/see, please consider expressing your delight by becoming a patron of this project via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: Why?

Jane: Because you’ve always wanted to be a patron of the arts, and you know that artists can’t pay for groceries with exposure.

You: How much?

Jane: Buy me a cup of coffee, a Cuba Libre, or a counterfeit Cuban cigar.

You: That’s all?

Jane: My avarice is happy to match your affluence. But I get $1 in royalties for each copy my other self sells of a traditionally published book. It is impossible to disappoint me.

If you would like to make a contribution, but have PayPal issues (I get it), please email me at nothingbythebook at gmail.com, and we’ll work something out.

Thank you!

“Jane”

NothingByTheBook.com / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook

Altered Doorways Banner

POSTCARDS FROM CUBA: altered doorways, one

Altered Doorways Banner

For Nick. Who has a thing about photographing people in doorways.

Doorways1-Paper and Metal

The de facto sponsor for this week’s art postcards is Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking. You know why, right?

This was last week’s listening postcard, and it’s worth listening to: if Nikita Khrushchev had to wash a bra in Cuba although Lazaro’s Farm is still my favourite, and if it’s your first time here, it’s best to start with blame it on Hemingway.

*

LANDED here for the first time? Let me catch you up:

Series 1 of Postcards from Cuba is now fully live. Check out the annotated table of contents for a tour, or, if you prefer, hop over to the chronological table of contents.

And if you like what you read/hear/see, please consider expressing your delight by becoming a patron of this project via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: Why?

Jane: Because you’ve always wanted to be a patron of the arts, and you know that artists can’t pay for groceries with exposure.

You: How much?

Jane: Buy me a cup of coffee, a Cuba Libre, or a counterfeit Cuban cigar.

You: That’s all?

Jane: My avarice is happy to match your affluence. But I get $1 in royalties for each copy my other self sells of a traditionally published book. It is impossible to disappoint me.

If you would like to make a contribution, but have PayPal issues (I get it), please email me at nothingbythebook at gmail.com, and we’ll work something out.

Thank you!

“Jane”

NothingByTheBook.com / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook

Altered Doorways Banner

POSTCARDS FROM CUBA: castillo means castle

27-Castle All

For Valentino, who said, “It is forbidden, but…”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Or, this way:

27-Castle All

short guide to Havana’s castles

In Old Havana:

La Punta, or Castillo San Salvador de la Punta: boooring. You’ll probably walk past it as you meander the Malecon, but don’t make a special trip. What? Fine. Go. Then tell me I’m right.

El Castillo de la Real Fuerza: in the heart of Havana Vieja, next to all sorts of other touristy things, this is the one you will probably visit. It’s old. It’s ok. It’s not as good as what’s across the bay.

On the other side of the Harbour:

Castillo de los Tres Reyes Del Morro: Everyone just calls it Morro. Amazing views! Usually hosts a featured artist & art exhibit in one of its chambers–don’t miss that! You’re not supposed to climb into the lighthouse but it can probably be arranged, wink, wink. Nobody cares if you climb on the roof and cannons or into the moat.

Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña: Fucking huge. I mean–ENORMOUS. It just doesn’t end. Much less exciting than the smaller Morro… unless you accidentally climb onto the roof. Which might happen, because there are no signs. And no one will stop you. Also, make sure you find your way underground–highlight of the adventure for the kids. Biggest mystery: why and from where did they get the giant pink tongue slide AND WHAT WHERE THEY THINKING?

How to get there: $5-6CUC taxi ride from Old Havana OR catch a bus going across the Harbour from Parque Fraternidad–ask which bus will take you to El Morro, a kind stranger will show you–OR (best choice) take the little so-cheap-it’s-free ferry from Old Havana to Casablanca, climb up the stairs from Casablanca into the park that abuts that giant Casablanca Christ statue (Christo de la Habana), peek into (or not) Che Guavarra’s house, and then follow the road first to  Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña and then Castillo de los Tres Reyes Del Morro. It is walkable–even with three children–if you run out of steam, a taxi, a horse-drawn buggy, or a local with a car will inevitably offer you a ride. My recommended way of doing the circuit: take a taxi to El Morro, and then walk your way towards the ferry, and take the ferry home. It’s nice to end the day with a boat ride.

*

Trio on benches at laundry park3

The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy the Postcards project, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out.

Or, ya know. Just hang out with us and enjoy. That be cool too.

xoxo

“Jane”

NothingByTheBook.com / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook

*

LANDED here for the first time? Let me catch you up:

Series 1 of Postcards from Cuba is now fully live. Check out the annotated table of contents for a tour, or, if you prefer, hop over to the chronological table of contents.

 

POSTCARDS FROM CUBA: flora, fauna + waiting

24-reallyweirdpicture

For–no, not Flora, come on, how obvious would that be?–Monika. Who once had one of those jobs.

Today’s post is brought to you by Janine Morigeau‘s almost-soundproof basement, Harold Cardona’s Snowball mike, and Sean Lindsay‘s prowess with Adobe Audition. Thank you, my beautiful friends.

Listen:

… and read:

I.

We’re in Havana’s Natural History Museum, which isn’t nearly as depressing as Havana’s National Aquarium—chiefly because all the animals are stuffed, so one might feel sorry that they’re dead but one does not feel sickened by the awful life they’re leading.

Ender is totally completely enthralled.

24-Enderinfrontofdino

Flora’s mildly interested.

Cinder is bored out of his mind.

Me… I’m fascinated by all the wrong things.

Like so many things in Havana, the museum is a time-piece, an anachronism… and also, an embodiment of the tension and lunacy that result from the attempt to insert political education into everything. The mix of 19-century shackles carried into the 20th century—the good intentions handicapped by strapped resources—the desire to educate but only in the right way—the inclusion of Russian scientists nobody else has heard of in the gallery of the giants of science…

Jane: “This is so weird…”

Cinder: “Are you talking about how few indigenous mammals there are in Cuba? It’s not weird at all—it’s an island, and…”

Unschooling for the win. I didn’t even notice that, but yes. The paucity of the local fauna is actually quite astounding. A result of the Spanish conquest, or predating it? Large mammals don’t thrive on islands, of course. Were there more mammals, more birds before the Spaniards and their guns arrived? Must find out…

Now that Cinder points it out, there are virtually no reptiles—except for the sexy sea turtles—in the museum either. And we keep on seeing geckos and little lizards everywhere. Is it because they are common as prairie dogs back home and only tourists give a fuck?

Also… as far as this museum is concerned, Cuba has no flora at all…

Flora: “Are you talking about me?”

Jane: “Not exactly…”

But what I really think is weird is how massively overstaffed the museum is… and how none of the staff is actually doing anything.

Guide 1: “No running!”

Guide 2: “No touching!”

Apologies. There’s that.

The museum is spread over two floors, and the exhibits sort of flow into one another, but there are archways and open doorways, and at each of these divisions, there are two women—white shirts, beige skirts—sitting in plastic lawn chairs.

Guide 3: “No running!”

Guide 4: “No touching!”

At the moment, in addition to us, there are three other families in the museum (it’s small enough and so designed that from almost any vantage point, at least on the second floor, I can see the entire space). The guides outnumber us—especially if you count the clump of four at the front, by the cash register and the mandatory bag check.

Cinder sits down in a chair by a table on which are three books about Cuba’s most important naturalist. (I didn’t write down his name, so you don’t get to find out who he was, precisely.)

Guide 5 comes up to him immediately.

Cinder: “What did she say?”

Jane: “This table is just for sitting at to read these books. So I guess… either pick up a book and pretend to read, or go sit on the stairs?”

Cinder: “This place is so lame!”

24-Fish Medley

Ender doesn’t think so…

Guide 6: “No touching!”

…but then he neither understands nor probably hears any of the prohibitions. He sticks his fingers into the grooves of a blue whale mandible.

Ender: “This is so cool!”

Guide 7: “No…”

Jane: “I know, I know! No touching!”

Flora: “But why do they just put things on the floor and tables like that if they don’t want little kids to touch them?”

Cinder: “I guess so that all these people have jobs?”

He looks at the guides for the first time with vague interests.

Cinder: “They clearly don’t know how to do anything else. And if Ender wasn’t here touching stuff… they’d just sit in those chairs all day.”

Flora: “What are you saying?”

Cinder: “Tag! You’re it!”

24-weirdcollage2

II.

In Poland, during the post-World War II socialist experiment—Poles call it the 50-year Soviet occupation, by the way, and consider it more ruinous to the country than the six year war that preceded it, killed more than 20 per cent of Poland’s population, and left Warsaw with barely a building standing—the revenge of the occupied was pretty simple:

“We pretend to work. They pretend to pay us.”

III.

My cab driver today is a philosopher-entrepreneur-artist as well as tourist hustler. As we drive up La Rampa, thick with people on both sides—people walking, people sitting, people waiting—for what?—he says,

“There are always, always people here. Whenever I drive up this way, I wonder, ‘Why are all these people here? Doesn’t anybody in Cuba work?’”

Oh good. It’s not just me asking that question.

“So?” I ask. “Don’t they?”

He pauses.

“It’s difficult,” he says finally.

Implication: you wouldn’t understand.

But I do.

See, when you can’t buy bread (never mind eggs) on your way before work or after work, because it’s only ready at 1:30 p.m., and by 3:30 p.m. it will all be gone… you leave your job in the middle of the day for two hours to do your shopping. Or to spend two hours waiting in the queue at the post office to send a package, receive a package, get a money order. And everyone else you work with does the same thing. You all take turns at NOT working. You just do. You have to do that to feed your family today.

Everything else, work included, can wait.

Meanwhile… you wait.

Incessantly.

For everything.

You wait… for the grocery store to open. For the meat to be delivered to the grocery store. For the bank machine to get fixed. For the bus to come. You wait-wait-wait-wait…

That line –up there, I know, is for the famous Coppelia ice cream, but that one?

Jane: “Why are all those people waiting there?”

Driver: “The bank probably ran out of money.”

I believe it.

So. They wait…

Communism collapsed because people who have to wait in massive queues for life’s essentials DO NOT WORK, do not produce.

IV.

I am, at heart, more socialist than capitalist, but more than either, I am a creator and if I have a credo, it’s tied up in the belief that a meaningful life is productive life—define productive as you will.

Those young women at the Natural History Museum, who spend six hours a day sitting on their asses in chairs saying “No running! No touching!” offend me.

They offend me because I know that their job—what they do every day for a salary so miniscule it might as well not be paid—rots them.

They are essentially being paid to do nothing. They go to work… and they create, produce, contribute NOTHING.

24-reallyweirdpicture

V.

As we leave the museum, three women argue which one of them has to get out of her chair to return my bag to me. I don’t tip her.

Cinder: “Just to clarify, Mom, are you pissed off with us for playing tag in the museum?”

Jane: “No.”

I’m pissed off at a political-economic system that dismantles each of its ideals as it implements them. And also, the Americans. Always, the Americans. Just, you know, because. (Sure, the Russians too, why not.)

Cinder: “Good. That was fun. And now we know all we need to know about Cuban wildlife.”

Jane: “And what’s that?”

Cinder: “It consists mostly of stray cats and dogs, and the occasional free range chicken.”

True, dat.

24-Penis

*

With gratitude to all the people who make my work possible. Today’s post is brought to you by Janine Morigeau‘s almost-soundproof basement, Harold Cardona’s Snowball mike, and Sean Lindsay’s prowess with Adobe Audition. Thank you, my beautiful friends.

*

LANDED here for the first time? Let me catch you up:

Series 1 of Postcards from Cuba is now fully live. Check out the annotated table of contents for a tour, or, if you prefer, hop over to the chronological table of contents.

And if you like what you read/hear/see, please consider expressing your delight by becoming a patron of this project via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: Why?

Jane: Because you’ve always wanted to be a patron of the arts, and you know that artists can’t pay for groceries with exposure.

You: How much?

Jane: Buy me a cup of coffee, a Cuba Libre, or a counterfeit Cuban cigar.

You: That’s all?

Jane: My avarice is happy to match your affluence. But I get $1 in royalties for each copy my other self sells of a traditionally published book. It is impossible to disappoint me.

If you would like to make a contribution, but have PayPal issues (I get it), please email me at nothingbythebook at gmail.com, and we’ll work something out.

Thank you!

“Jane”

NothingByTheBook.com / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook

24-reallyweirdpicture

 

POSTCARDS FROM CUBA: splash of orange, three versions

23-Guy in Orange Shirt banner

For O., the boy who loves orange.

Square:

23-Guy In Orange Shirt2

Uber-vertical:

23-Guy In Orange Shirt 1

Wishing I had a zoom lens:

23-Guy In Orange Shirt 3

*

LANDED here for the first time? Let me catch you up:

Series 1 of Postcards from Cuba is now fully live. Check out the annotated table of contents for a tour, or, if you prefer, hop over to the chronological table of contents.

And if you like what you read/hear/see, please consider expressing your delight by making a contribution:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: Why?

Jane: Because you’ve always wanted to be a patron of the arts, and you know that artists can’t pay for groceries with exposure.

You: How much?

Jane: Buy me a cup of coffee, a Cuba Libre, or a Cuban cigar.

You: That’s all?

Jane: My avarice is happy to match your affluence. But I get $1 in royalties for each copy my other self sells of a traditionally published book. It is impossible to disappoint me.

If you would like to make a contribution, but have PayPal issues (I get it), please email me at nothingbythebook at gmail.com, and we’ll work something out.

Thank you!

“Jane”

NothingByTheBook.com / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook

23-Guy in Orange Shirt banner

 

POSTCARDS FROM CUBA: What are you looking at?

drip... drip... drip... drip...
drip... drip... drip... drip...

drip… drip… drip… drip… / on a street in Old Havana in a rain storm

All of this weekend’s photographs are sponsored by Aspect Tarot. Thank you very very much!

The first audio Postcard from Cuba is coming April 6, 2016. In the meantime:

*

LANDED here for the first time? Let me catch you up:

Series 1 of Postcards from Cuba is now fully live. Check out the annotated table of contents for a tour, or, if you prefer, hop over to the chronological table of contents.

And if you like what you read/hear/see:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

xoxo

“Jane”

NothingByTheBook.com / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook