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Se muestran los artículos pertenecientes a Noviembre de 2009.

SONG OF THE WORMS. November 9, 2010

I usually try to avoid Downtown Miami at night. There’s something creepy about it. I always think werewolves, vampires and zombies come out in Downtown Miami when darkness falls, whether there’s a full moon or not. Last night, though, I screwed up my courage and decided to go see Margaret Atwood’s presentation as part of the Miami International Book Fair at the Downtown Campus of Miami Dade College. I’m glad I did.

Margaret Atwood was funny. The crowd was great. About a thousand people turned out. Many of them were Latinos, but I don’t think I’ve seen as many “anglos” gathered together in Miami in years. I love Miami’s Latin atmosphere. The people, the food, the music. But I also miss a lot about life in the English-speaking USA, especially the people,  the gringos, white, black, asian, etc. I wish we had more of a mix of people in Miami. At best, it would prevent me from forgetting the English language, which I don’t get to practice much anymore.

I enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s talk and I bought  her new novel, The Year of the Flood,  which I’ve already started reading. But the main reason I went to see her is that  I love her poetry, which had nothing to do with her presentation last night. I  just felt I had to be there and thank Margaret in silence for being a great poet.  I ’m always moved every time I read one of her poems, Song of the Worms. I’m so fond of that poem that I did three paintings, inspired by it. The paintings are not much, but the  poem is sublime.

I know Song of the Worms has nothing to do with politics and much less with Cuba. But, being a Cuban who’s lived most of his life outside of his country of birth, I can’t help having become obsessed with a poem that talks of the dignity and inevitable victory of worms, the tyranny of boots, fences that will topple and brick walls that will ripple and fall. If you’re Cuban, you may understand what I mean. If you don’t undertand, it’s not that important. It’s my very personal interpretation of a work of art. It’s just me being childish,  like my paintings. Here’s the poem by Margaret Atwood:

 

We have been underground too long,

we have done our work,

we are many and one,

we remember when we were human

We have lived among roots and stones,

we have sung but no one has listened,

we come into the open air

at night only to love

which disgusts the soles of boots,

their leather strict religion.

We know what a boot looks like

when seen from underneath,

we know the philosophy of boots,

their metaphysic of kicks and ladders.

We are afraid of boots

But contemptuoous of the foot that needs them.

Soon we will invade like weeds,

everywhere but slowly;

the captive plants will rebel

with us, fences will topple,

brick walls ripple and fall,

there will be no more boots.

Meanwhile we eat dirt

and sleep; we are waiting

under your feet.

When we say Attack

You will hear nothing

at first.

 

 

09/11/2009 18:30. ricardobrown #. sin tema

Se me perdió el dinero. 16 de noviembre/09

Soy olvidadizo. Distraido. Vivo en la luna de Valencia. Como quieran llamarle. El hecho es que soy así desde niño. Se me pierden las cosas. Y varias veces he pasado grandes sustos por ello.

Como aquella vez en Barbados. Se me quedó un sobre con cuatro mil dólares en un taxi. Era dinero que me habían dado en el Noticiero SIN para cubrir gastos en la cobertura de la Invasión de Grenada. En aquellos tiempos en la Sin nos daban dinero en efectivo. No había tarjetas de crédito de la empresa. Yo creía que tendría que pagar esa plata. Pero, sorpresivamente, el caballeroso y honesto chofer vino al hotel y me entregó el sobre. Se negó a aceptar una recompensa. No me acuerdo de su nombre.

Pero si me acuerdo de Antonio, en Tegucigalpa. Me pasó lo mismo. Dejé un sobre con siete mil dólares en un taxi. Y Antonio regresó al hotel y me entregó la plata. Recuerdo bien su nombre, porque cuando me di cuenta que había dejado el dinero en el taxi, le pedí a San Antonio que me ayudara. Mi mamá jura que a si a uno se le pierde algo, le pide a San Antonio que lo ayude y aparece el objeto perdido. En Barbados se me había olvidado aquello y el dinero había aparecido de todas formas. Pero en Tegucigalpa, me acordé de San Antonio y recuperé el dinero y dio la casualidad (¿sería casualidad?) que el taxista se llamaba Antonio. Antonio tampoco quiso aceptar una recompensa. Pero si aceptó darse un par de tragos conmigo.  Nos hicimos amigos y lo vi muchas veces después en otros viajes a Tegucigalpa y hasta conocí a su esposa e hijos. Tremenda familia.

Por esas y otras razones, Barbados y, sobre todo,  Honduras son lugares que yo quiero mucho. Nunca me olvidaré de esos taxistas tan honestos y decentes. He hecho el cuento diez mil veces. Y esta vez lo hago por algo que me pasó esta mañana

Estaba, como siempre, muy apurado. Entré corriendo a una oficina de correos donde tengo una caja postal. Había un señor ya mayor abriendo su caja postal y sacando el correo. El señor terminó y se fue. Yo saqué mi correspondencia de mi caja y empecé a echar en la basura todo el “junk mail” que recibo. De pronto, el señor entro de nuevo a la oficina de correos. Me preguntó:

-¿Usted acaba de entrar, no?-

-Si señor-

-¿Se le cayó algo?-

Vi entonces que el señor agarraba en su mano derecha un puñado de billetes. Me toque los bolsillos y me di cuenta que se me había caido el cambio de algo que había comprado antes de ir a la oficina de correos. Eran menos de diez dólares, que me había metido en un bolsillo. Le dije al señor:

-Creo que si, que se me cayó algo-

-Dígame, ¿que se le cayó?

-Pues creo que un poco de dinero-

-¿Cuanto?

-Pues mire, la verdad que es no sé-

-Pues dígame, ¿cuanto?

-Señor, la verdad es que no sé la cantidad exacta-

-¿Cómo no va a saber la cantidad exacta?-

-La verdad, señor, es que no sé, es pequeña-

-¿Y cómo voy a saber yo si usted me dice la verdad?-

 

Y ahi perdí la paciencia. Le dije al señor que verdaderamente yo no estaba en ánimo de someterme a un interrogatorio y que tampoco tenía tiempo de hacerlo pero que, ya que le interesaba eran quince millones de dólares con cincuenta y siete centavos, pero que como soy una persona noble y caritativa se lo regalaba a  él que seguro lo pondría a mejor uso que yo,  que lo único que hago con el dinero es gastármelo en todo tipo de actividades ilícitas que atentan contra la moral, la decencia, la fauna, la flora y la paz mundial. Y con la misma le dije que tuviera un buen día y me marché. El señor no me dijo nada. Y ahora pienso que, en un arranque de impaciencia herí los sentimientos de un pobre señor que a lo mejor gritaba en vez de hablar porque es medio sordo. Aunque, pensándolo bien, parecía escucharme sin ningún problema. Quizás es sencillamente que el señor en un chusma. O tal vez es que yo soy un prepotente. Pero la verdad es que me molestó el señor. Y me hizo pensar en el taxista de Barbados y Antonio, el taxista de Tegucigalpa. Caramba, aquellos señores si que eran educados. Me devolvieron miles de dólares que yo, de idiota, había perdido. Y este señor, por menos de diez dólares, quería someterme a un interrogartorio estilo Abhu Graib.

 

 

 

16/11/2009 18:45. ricardobrown #. sin tema


Born too late. Nov. 27, 09

 

Ricardo Brown

I was listening to music. Coltrane. Ellington. Monk. I usually listen to just one of them at a time. But this time, I listened to all of them. One by one. I started to groove.

I thought about being born at the wrong time. I thought about the Cotton Club, Birdland, Blue Note.

Then I put on Basie. Basie swings. I lost it. I was borderline then I crossed the border. I put on a black suit, black skinny tie, shades, a porkpie hat like Monk would wear. I had someone take a picture. That’s the real me. It’s what matters. Not politics, not money, not work, not anything.

The music. That music.

 

27/11/2009 11:56. ricardobrown #. sin tema

I went to a garden party. Nov. 29, 09

 

I went to a garden party. Well, it was sort of a garden party. A benefit event for poor people somewhere. And it was in a sort of roof top garden in a new huge, almost empty sky scraper in Miami. One of those grandiose buildings which were supposed to be the new face of Miami when no one thought that the real estate bubble would burst. Now the building is a white elephant. Like many other buildings in Miami.  Miami has become a white elephant cemetery.

Anyway, I didn’t know many people in that garden party. It was sort of a play of words of the old Rick Nelson song where he said no one knew his name at a garden party he went to. In this case, no one knew my name and neither did I know anybody’s name. Well, almost anybody. There was this person whose name I know because I’ve seen him on Spanish-language television for many years. He’s a big star. Literally, because he probably tips the scales at over 300 pounds. This big star was one of the offcial masters of ceremony at this party so he got on a stage and spoke into a mike. I was astounded at his lack of English language skills. Hell, I always thought his limited command of Spanish was due to the fact that he grew up in this country. I figured that he spoke lousy Spanish because his main language was English.

But it turned out that his English is just as bad as his Spanish.

It’s amazing that someone can work on Spanish language tv in this country and be bilingually illiterate. They’ve really dumbed down big time Spanish language television in the US. Sad.

 

 

29/11/2009 17:14. ricardobrown #. sin tema

Afghanistan Nov. 29, 09

President Obama will announce on Tuesday whether he will send more troops to Afghanistan.

I think maybe he should send Congress to Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda and  the Taliban.

This whole Afghanistan issue is a bit hypocritical to me. We all talk about war. But only a small segment of our young people actually go out and fight the war. The rest of us watch football games on television, go to the mall and argue about whether Tiger Woods was really involved in  a car accident or he got beat up by his jealous Swedish wife.

I despise Al Qaeda and the Taliban. They’re murderous, medieval assholes. But if we’re going to fight them, we should all be involved in some way. We should all be called to make some sort of sacrifice. There’s something definitely wrong with dumping all the sacrifice on our young people in the military.

I

29/11/2009 17:25. ricardobrown #. sin tema

They're as phony as a three dollar bill. Hadn't heard that phrase in a while. I think it fits here. Nov. 29/09

 

I know an old  dude who’s been in this country for over 40 years. He says he loves the country where he was born, but that he also adores the US to which he often refers as “this land of freedom that has so generously received us.”

I think this guy’s an asshole. He’s lived here for forty years but I don’t really think he knows much about the US or that he loves this country.

For one thing, he never bothered to learn English. He’s always bitching and moaning about undocumented immigrants from other Latin American countries. He says they’re ruining the US. He says that if it were up to him, he would round them up and kick them out. He also hates Blacks. He would send them back to Africa, he says. Yet he’s so arrogant and stupid that, after four decades in this country he has been unable or unwilling to learn the language of common usage. He knows very little about the US., its history, its traditions. In my opinion, most of those undocumented immigrants he despises are definitely better Americans that he is. Most of them are decent,  hard working people who came here with dreams. Most of them are grateful for being here.

This other idiot is a hater. A stupid, intolerant asshole who does not know or really care anything about US history, literature, customs or anything having to do with the best of this country’s ideals and principles.

This guy’s son grew up in this country. They, too, claim they love the US. They speak good English, but they were draft dodgers during the Vietnam War. At least that’s what I think they are. Somehow they managed to avoid military service when it was compulsory. They’re the type of patriots who believe that someone else and some else’s kids should fight the wars while they stay home and make money.

And that money making part doesn’t seem to be all that legit.

 

 

29/11/2009 17:49. ricardobrown #. sin tema