Tag: Port Writers Alliance

This Week In The Dream Antilles


Your Bloguero And The Book

You probably didn’t know that your faithful Bloguero was interested in commerce. Actually, to tell the truth, he really isn’t. But he can’t lie. Even though he has neither real skill for commerce nor any interest in it, even though in general he could care less about it, he finds himself now personally involved in it. Namely, selling his book, Tulum. Your Bloguero can hear his faithful but somewhat intellectually snobbish readers (and his many wise-ass critics) saying, “Selling? Ewwww. How could you?” Your Bloguero agrees that selling is often crass, sometimes beyond distasteful, and frequently involves prevarication if not outright fraud. But this, your Bloguero assures himself and you, is a different matter. This is something else entirely.

After all, your Bloguero is not going door to soon-to-be-slammed door trying to sell encyclopedias or Bibles. He’s selling fiction.  Magical realist fiction. He’s selling a book he wrote. What, you might ask, is so hard about selling fiction? Isn’t most political speech in the US just selling fiction? Isn’t most advertising just selling fiction? My goodness, your Bloguero hears you saying, in this season, the season of vast capitalistic excess and unnecessary expenditures, isn’t the main activity selling fiction of various sorts? All right. You’ve got a point there, but your Bloguero will not be diverted by it. Your Bloguero is selling only his new novel, Tulum. And he’s not at all that committed to doing that in the tradition, shameless, well worn way.

There are obvious problems with your Bloguero’s selling this book. Your Bloguero thinks of himself as a writer (he hopes that is not offensive to you for him to say it).  And he thinks he is a terrible salesman. He doesn’t like selling.  At all.  He has little or no positive experience with it.  And to make matters worse, your Bloguero’s psyche screams vociferous objections to tooting his own schnozz.  In other words, your Bloguero doesn’t want to pimp his book. Or himself. Or his “abilities.” That seems unseemly. And as if that weren’t enough, there’s your Bloguero’s fabled and oft practiced sloth and indolence. These subvert selling and all other commercial activities. Put it this way to keep it simple: Your Bloguero thinks that if his book is any good at all, it should simply sell itself while your Bloguero returns to daydreaming and making up his third book. Your Bloguero shouldn’t have to occupy himself with the physical activity and mental exertions involved in selling his creation. Look. Your Bloguero writes magical realism. So if this book is going to sell, it’s logical, isn’t it, that it should only be sold magically.

Do you hear your Bloguero whining? Making excuses? Walking back the expectations? Your Bloguero is more worried that he sounds a lot like Ignatius Reilly. But no matter. Your Bloguero would like to sell many thousands of copies of his book through the magical reality of the Internet and through the magic of word of mouth. That is the sum and substance of your Bloguero’s sales business planning. Magic. When one writes magical realism, one doesn’t complete the book and then suddenly act like one just spent 5 years writing financial non-fiction. No. There has to be some consistency between what’s in the book and how it exists in the world, doesn’t there? So if the book is magical realism and fiction, it has to be sold magically. There. Your Bloguero said it. Your Bloguero doesn’t want to hear anyone criticize or analyze his motivations in making this assertion.

Anyway, that’s where you come in. This is really simple, and a solution beautifully fitting your Bloguero’s laziness and magical thinking.  It is not a linear solution. It is not logical. But, alas, it’s your Bloguero’s magical solution. And his magical solution is his only one.

Here it is:  your Bloguero wants you to buy a copy of the book (or more if you feel called to do so), read it, and write a short review at Barnes and Noble, or Amazon, or iUniverse, or on the Blogs or Facebook or wherever, and, whether you liked it or not, though the thought of the latter possibility disturbs your Bloguero’s feelings, tell your friends and family about it.  And soon it will be, as Arlo once sang, a movement. And then, after a very short while,Tulum  will magically be ubiquitous. Think of this: Your Bloguero will be lying on the floor with his faithful dog and staring at the ceiling and dreaming up something new, and as he does this, the book, this very book, will be selling effortlessly. Magically. Thousands and thousands of magical sales. An avalanche of books. And you dear reader will have made this possible.

One last thought. Your Bloguero would also like you to realize that no Christmas or Channukah or Solstice stocking is complete without a copy of this book in it.  Yes, yes, your Bloguero knows that there are no Channukah stockings. Not yet. But he thinks there should be.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Usually, it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles.  And it’s not yet Friday. For the essays you have to visit The Dream Antilles.

This Week In The Dream Antilles: Lester Maddox Edition

Oh please forgive your Bloguero his excesses and tantrums.

Yesterday your Bloguero was vexed and found himself exploding when Noot Gingrich proposed yet again that poor children (read: poor, urban children of color) work as assistant janitors and that they mop floors and clean bathrooms. These children, Noot told us, don’t have good work habits, and neither do their parents. They need to learn them, he opined, and that dollars must be earned solely by the sweat of their brows and not from engaging in the illegal activities that are so very pervasive in their neighborhoods. Your Bloguero imagines that this “idea” will eventually emerge in Congress as the “Poor, Urban Children’s Mandatory Work Act of 2012,” and that it will void child labor laws and make degrading manual work a pre-requisite to receipt of school nutrition programs if not elementary school attendance itself.

When your Bloguero was a child in Newark, his school didn’t have a course in brooming so that he could be channeled into a life of required, permanent manual work, showing up on Monday mornings for inadequate pay, and submissive obedience to the straw boss. Your Bloguero wasn’t asked to trade his pens and pencils and crayons for brooms and mops. No. Back then, it was a world of upward mobility. For everyone.  And it was fervently asserted, everybody could become President, and the elementary school was everybody’s first station on the trip toward a good life. The good life, your Bloguero was always told, was built on merit. And education. And hard work. And desire. Your Bloguero notes that there could have been far worse things to tell him, including that he should start sweeping now because that was his station in life.

Noot is an experienced politician. He is far from congenitally tone deaf. And he knows how to whistle for the dogs. Let’s recall that he’s from Georgia. And let’s also recall that it wasn’t that long ago that Governor Lester Maddox was passing out ax handles in Atlanta. And so, dear reader, this ain’t no dog whistle. It’s blatant racism.  Just look at Noot’s characterization of the neighborhoods in which poor children are raised. This isn’t code; it’s Noot mashing the black keys on the electoral piano with his elbow.

These neighborhoods and their residents, Noot would have us believe, are dominated by shiftlessness, by drug dealing, by welfare queens, by benefits fraud, by crime, by illegal activities of all descriptions. Your Bloguero spares you a repetition of the litany of historic grievances against the urban poor encapsulated in Noot’s remarks. So Noot’s resurrecting the pre-integration Georgia of 1953. And he’s saying that the children who are raised in these ghetto neighborhoods need to be put in their place because their families won’t do it. And the rest of the populace shouldn’t have to pay for it. And the place where these children belong, less you forget it, is as assistant janitors while they are in elementary school. Who are they to aspire to be president?

Your Bloguero is enraged. He notes in passing that this isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time that a presidential candidate plays the race card before November, 2012. Your Bloguero just wonders why there is a storm about Herman Cain’s affair and his serial sex harassments, but so far blatant racism seems to be getting a hall pass.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visitThe Dream Antilles.

This Week In The Dream Antilles

A Friday that feels like Sunday. Unless you’re engaged in the widely hyped capitalist feeding frenzy called “Black Friday.” Or some of the many other activitie your Bloguero disdains. Today your Bloguero’s world is divided into only two parts, day and night, the 1% and the 99%, those who think today might be Sunday and those who think it’s for filling up the credit cards, those who are hung over from tryptophan and wine and those who are not. This way of experiencing the world, sharp, high contrast dualism, is disturbing to your Bloguero. But what can you expect when the first meal of the day is left over turkey and chocolate cake?

A day to make the crooked straight and the rough places plane.  And for this:

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles.

This Week In The Dream Antilles

Well, well, well.  And tut, tut, tut.  Your Bloguero feels ever so sweetly but wrongly chastened by a Maddow Blog article by Kent Jones on November 9.  A taste of this article about referring to one’s self in the third person, if you really insist on it:

That word is illeism. The act of referring to oneself (often habitually) in the third person.

According to Wikipedia, illeism has a variety of uses including self-promotion, to give the speaker lofty airs, to illustrate the feeling of being outside one’s body and watching things happen, as a form of sarcasm or as a way to show dim wittedness, such as when the Mongo in Blazing Saddles declares: “Mongo only pawn in game of life.”
So why does someone become an illeist? According to Yahoo answers:

Because when you do that it makes you feel like you’re not so alone. It’s a psychological way of making yourself feel like there’s someone with you, even if it is only yourself. He was probably picked on as a child, that usually being the cause for this behavior. On the other hand if he’s doing this in a joking fashion, its just that, a joke.

Aha! it could be a joke. That backs up Rachel’s Herman Cain is a Performance Artist theory.

Wait a second.  Wait one forking second.  On this pop psychologizing and its implicit fault finding of your Bloguero and negative judgments about him, your Bloguero, who almost always refers to himself in the third person in these Friday posts, calls, to adopt one of Maddow’s pet phrases, “Bull pucky.”  That’s right.  Bull. Forking. Pucky. Bull Pucky, you hear?  Bull pucky.  Bull pucky.  Bull pucky.  

Let’s look at the facts.

Is your Bloguero trying self promotion in this post?  Right, like your Bloguero is the Deion Saunders of the small blogs, on some of which his Friday posts get, oh wait for it, two, count them readers, count them, two reccs.  Or giving himself lofty airs?  Right, like your Bloguero is some kind of authority on something or claims to be?  Seriously.  The only thing your Bloguero is an authority on or has even claimed authority about are his own multifaceted idiosyncrasies.  And those, to his sincere regret, are many, but he knows them intimately.  Or, did you check this out?  Your Bloguero is outside his body?  As if he were Emanuel or some other channeled, discorporate being?  Not so.  Totally untrue.  Your Bloguero is living in his body as he types this out.  His fingers are cold.  One does not have cold fingers unless one has a body.  QED. And is your Bloguero sarcastic?  OK, ok, ok, ok.   Well, all right.  Sometimes he’s sarcastic even when he uses the first person.  If you grew up in Newark like your Bloguero and spent some of your waking hours at the local courthouses observing what passes for justice in America, you’d be sarcastic, too. You might even be more than sarcastic. You might be postal.  Not your Bloguero.  Your Bloguero is a pacifist of sorts.

Look, you don’t have to write in the third person to be disillusioned and to lash out in sarcasm or rolling eyes or making faces.  C’mon, admit it.  And is your Bloguero, heaven forefend, dimwitted?  One, even if that one is solely your Bloguero, hopes not.  What an insult.

And then there’s the hardest question.  How can you even ask it?  Is referring to one’s self some kind of joke?  Is this a joke?  Is your Bloguero making a joke? Your Bloguero takes umbrage at the suggestion.  And also a double martini.  With two olives.  It’s not a joke.  No joke.  It’s life itself.  If life’s a joke, it’s not your Bloguero’s fault.

No.  Why does your Bloguero have to explain himself to smart people like Rachel Maddow and Kent Jones?  Look.  Writing in the third person at its very worst is a pose taken by the eccentric (there’s that word again), offbeat narrator of these Friday post.  That’s who shows up every Friday.  The Bloguero. That’s who’s been showing up every single Friday since February with this digest.  If you were Deepak Chopra you’d note this bizarre, quantum equivalence:

weekly digest = the Bloguero


Anybody who thinks this is wrong, or a problem, or weak physics, or has some other wisecracks or criticism about it, just raise your hand.  Go right ahead.  Raise you hand.  Right now. Your Bloguero will now ignore all that snickering and the waving hand too.  Nobody, including especially your Bloguero, has to put up with these indiscreet, prying inquiries.  The idea of asking for an explanation. Humpf.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles.

This Week In The Dream Antilles



Your Bloguero is embarrassed.  He was going to tell you that the dog ate his homework, so there was no “This Week” this week.  He even discussed it with the dog.  Would she be willing to take the blame for this week’s soon to be nonexistent post?  No, she would not.  Speaking as a 10-year old, experienced Golden Retriever owned by someone who claims to be a writer, the dog says only this: “Give cookies.  And, by the way, suck it up, hot shot.  You’re the one who’s supposed to be the writer.  Not me.  Stop complaining.  Just hammer it out.”  That is cold.  Very cold.  But good advice.  And to think that your Bloguero thought the dog was going to help.  And provide an excuse.  Alack.  What a disappointment. Your Bloguero also thought there was some drug he could ingest that would get him to write the post, but alack and alack, he confesses he can’t find it.  

Your Bloguero’s desperation runneth over.  Every Friday.  Without fail, your Bloguero has committed to post on four group blogs and his own blog.  Like clock work.  No matter what.  How, your Bloguero wonders, can he explain that this week there just is no “This Week.”  It’s just not there.  It wasn’t written.  It wasn’t posted.  Poof.  It’s gone.  Probably, he can’t.  Probably, you, dear reader, don’t want to hear the whining, excuses, lies, and assorted, inventive short fiction about your Bloguero’s lack of output and the claimed “reasons” for it.  Know what?  Your Bloguero is not exactly captivated by inventing excuses either.

So perhaps a confession will suffice.  This week your Bloguero was obsessed with something.  And he didn’t do much writing because he was totally obsessed with this and he doesn’t write when he’s obsessing.

A bit of probably unnecessary background: your  Bloguero has now reached a certain age.  It’s the age at which the Government is supposed to provide Medicare. But.  And this is a very big but, your Bloguero is so far from retiring that that “R” word is not a regular part of his regular internal discourse. No. So he’s not getting a gold watch.  And he’s not moving to Arizona.  Or Florida.  And he’s not departing on his Spiritual Journey to Benares.  Or even Benares on the Atlantic (Palm Beach).  Or buying an RV.  Or a boat.  Or a vineyard. Or a trophy wife. Or a set of golf clubs. Nope. Nada.  None of the above. Not one of them. Your Bloguero has other concerns, concerns that are more important to him.  Specifically, your Bloguero wants to know what he has to do so that he will be referred to by others as “Don David” or “Don davidseth” or “Don Bloguero.”  

Maybe that’s not a big deal to you, especially if you live in one of the many Gringo parts of the world where honorifics and polite address are utterly irrelevant.  But let your Bloguero assure you, this is a big deal to your Bloguero.  A very big deal.  One he has relentlessly been obsessing about for a week.  One that has become a consummate distraction.

Look.  Being called “Don [insert first name]” is a very big deal to your Bloguero:

Although originally a title reserved for royalty, select nobles, and church hierarchs, it is now often used as a mark of esteem for a person of personal, social or official distinction, such as a community leader of long standing, a person of significant wealth, or a noble, but may also be used ironically. As a style, rather than a title or rank, it is used with, and not instead of, a person’s name….

Today in Mexican-American communities, the Don or Doña is used in honorific form when addressing a senior citizen.


Right.  It’s an honorific.   For people of esteem.  For senior citizens.  Your Bloguero consulted with his usual, expert cultural consultants about this, and they each told him uniformly that he was old enough, yes, that he didn’t need to have any grandchildren to merit the title, yes, and because he was a nice guy and held in esteem generally, he could properly be called “Don Bloguero.”  Right.

But why then, your Bloguero wants to understand, is he NOT called “Don” anything?   Ever.  It has never ever happened. Surely, it is not your Bloguero’s obligation to tell other people that he has now assumed the rank of Don by virtue of his age and being an esteemed and great person, so, therefore they should now begin to address him as such.  No.  It is not your Bloguero’s function to demand this title. Instead, what is required, your Bloguero thinks, is for the large community spontaneously, without prompting, without coaching or wheedling or paying of mordidas, to confer the title, to begin to call him Don.  All on its own.  Spontaneously.

That is what your Bloguero has been obsessing about.  Can’t your Bloguero pick up this title?  And if he can’t, what exactly has your Bloguero done so that he does not merit being called “Don Bloguero?”  And what, pray tell, does your Bloguero have to do to be referred to by his important honorific.

If you know the answer, please write it on a $500 peso bill and mail it to your Bloguero immediately.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles.

This Week In The Dream Antllles


These days your Bloguero isn’t much of a baseball fan.  His current team of choice, the Mets, flamed out early in the season.  They were so bad that your Bloguero pronounced their season over on April 21, 2011.  After that, your Bloguero treated the Mets with the revulsion he usually reserves for serious hangovers and the less benign forms of dentistry.  Something to be given a very wide berth. Something to be avoided at all cost. But tonight is the climactic Seventh Game of the World Series.  And last night’s Sixth Game, so the Trad Media inform, was a wonderful game.  So maybe tonight’s game might be worth watching.  Right.

It’s never that simple.  There’s always the past to consider.  And matters of the heart.  When your Bloguero was small boy, he was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan.  He loved the Dodgers.  He loved “dem Bums.”  He particularly loved Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Carl Furillo, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges and Duke Snyder.  And others. All the other baseball cards were meaningless; only the Dodgers counted.  The Giants and Yankees were obviously teams of spoiled patricians; the Dodgers were the people’s choice.  Hell, the Giants and Yankees were probably Republicans.  Or worse.  They certainly weren’t the lovable underdogs. How could any self respecting kid like teams that always won? Or pretended they did?

Yes, the Dodgers lost almost all of the important, big games back then.  To the Yankees.  To the Giants. It was a tradition. But that didn’t matter.  The Dodgers were great players, and they were a great team.  And there was always next year.  Your Bloguero loved that they might lose, but that they tried hard not to.  And he knew they were trying hard.  What else was there, other than to show up and try hard?  Your Bloguero liked the innocence and simplicity of that.

One morning your Bloguero awoke and learned that his beloved Dodgers had decided to abandon him.  They announced they were pulling up roots in Brooklyn and heading to Los Angeles for the next season.  Just like that.  Poof.  Here at Ebbets Field today, gone to LA tomorrow.  Loved today, leaving behind your Bloguero, heart broken and abandoned tomorrow.   And why?  There was no reason your Bloguero’s 10-year old brain could understand.   Ten year olds in love with a team don’t care about finances.  Or revenues.  Or anything else. They care about the game.  They care about balls and strikes.  Your Bloguero was stunned.  And hurt.  And perplexed.  Asked your Broguero to any who would listen, to any who might be able to explain it to him, “You mean that the team I love is leaving me and going to the West Coast, to California for reasons I don’t understand?”  Your Bloguero could not forgive that Sandy Koufax, the greatest pitcher ever, your Bloguero’s favorite pitcher, would not be throwing in Brooklyn but in LA.  And that the home games would begin because of time zones at 10 pm in New York, past his bed time.  He’d never see his first love again.  There was no justice in that.  At all.

So it’s the Seventh Game of the World Series tonight.  And it might be interesting baseball to watch.  But it’s also irritating the small, old scar your Bloguero has on his heart, the one that marks where the Dodgers were yanked away from him half a century ago.  And your Bloguero wonders whether like him, all of the men of a certain age who used to be Brooklyn Dodger fans when they were kids, have the same small scar that marks the very first betrayal of their most avid love.  And whether the World Series makes it ache.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles.  For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles.


cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

This Week In The Dream Antilles


Your Bloguero was awakened shortly before dawn this morning by the persistent dinging of his Blackberry.  About 24 dings in rapid succession indicating the receipt of emails.  Your Bloguero imagined that he had somehow, despite his best efforts to the contrary, achieved minor celebrity status.  He was not sure how that could be, or what he could have done, but what else could have him receive 24 emails one after the other?  Today, after all, is Friday.  Friday is auspicious, your Bloguero thought.  It’s a great day to open the floodgates of fame and adulation.  Why not?  No such luck.  Opening one eye, your Bloguero discovered to his annoyance that the 24 messages were emails from his automated friends at Yahoo telling your Bloguero that he had sent email to a bad address, and that the email had been rejected by the recipient’s ISP.  Your Bloguero opened his other eye.  There was obviously a problem.  Your Bloguero had not sent any emails to anybody on that account.  So, your Bloguero’s razor sharp wit figured, somebody else had sent them.  How very disappointing.  It wasn’t fame that was dinging so insistently. It wasn’t adulation, praise, recognition.  It wasn’t anything good. No. It was hackage. Plain and simple.

And who, your Bloguero wondered, might have decided to hack this account?  This was the account associated with your Bloguero’s postings on various group blogs.  Had your Bloguero so enraged someone with something he had recently written that he provoked such a hack?  Your Bloguero could only hope.  Was this pay back of some kind?  Your Bloguero should be so lucky.  Who would have done that?  What followed were the kind of pre-coffee conspiracy theories reserved for such abrupt, early wakings.  In two words, incipient paranoia.  But alas.  Even this was too puffed up, too egocentric, too self important.  Your Bloguero wasn’t being treated to well deserved, well earned attack.  No.  Nothing that good.  Nothing that heroic. The email had a link in it.  It was commercial spam from Romania for erection enhancement.  If you will pardon the pun, how very deflating.  How contracting.  What a lame way to start Friday: changing the password so it won’t happen again.

The next thing will doubtless be responding to the numerous emails – your Bloguero received one while writing this — telling him he has been hacked.   And telling the recipients, that yes, your Bloguero knows and he’s changed his password and he regrets any inconvenience.

How disappointing.  From web hero to complete sucker in a nanosecond.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles.  For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles.

This Week In The Dream Antilles



When I arrived in late afternoon, La Bahia was asleep.  I tiptoed up to her. She was only partially covered by the white and grey cotton blanket, frequently used, often washed and very soft. I could see her bare back as it rose and fell with her breath. I watched her sleep.  I listened to her breathing. I did not wake her.

As I think about this and try to write it down, I know that this is what love feels like when it is raining.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles.  It is something else.

This Week In The Dream Antilles: Not Columbus Edition

Once again, your Bloguero notes that it is Columbus Day Weekend.  Your Bloguero often takes ten days off at this time.  Why?  Funny you should ask.  Your Bloguero has short answers: it’s his Birthday.  Your Bloguero was born exactly 399 years after the christening of Cervantes in 1547. Also, it’s a weekend he takes off to help facilitate a Shamanic Men’s Retreat.  This year will be the second wonderful year of that gathering. And finally, your Bloguero cannot abide the celebration of Columbus Day, which he sees as the beginning of the subjugation of this hemisphere. The last is best expressed in this 2008 post:


The Church In Baracoa, Cuba

Across the Caribbean from desde Desdemona is Baracoa, a small town inaccessible by land from before 1500 (when Columbus first landed there in 1492) until the 1960’s. In 1512 Baracoa was the first Spanish settlement in Cuba. It’s like Macondo. The lush forest of the Sierra Maestre and El Yunque, the tallest peak in Cuba, tower over the town. The town is nestled against the warm ocean. North of town is Maguana, a beautiful, white beach, shared by tourists and occasional foraging pigs.

Join me in Baracoa.  We can celebrate Not Columbus Day together.

In the church in Baracoa is a part of one of the original crosses that Columbus planted in Cuba when he first landed there. It’s not under guard. To see it, you knock on the back door of the church. Nobody there? Go across the street, as Bardo did, to find someone in the Parochio to let you in. Bardo goes and asks to see El Cruz. The woman behind a counter says ok, let us find the key. She takes Bardo across the street, opens the back door, enters the silent, dark church, and in the nave there it is, in a glass case with no security at all, El Cruz de la Parra . The cross’s 500 year old wood (it’s been carbon dated) is held up by a metal holder (which is from much later on).

In many ways this is the most important relic, and maybe the most important marker in the history of the Western Hemisphere. It represents the beginning, the zero mile marker on the highway from then to now. If Columbus, instead of planting a cross and taking on the conquest and/or conversion of indigenous people, had said, “This place is really great so let’s hang out here and enjoy it with the locals,” the last 500 years would have been significantly, inconceivably different. And maybe, Bardo reminds us, a whole lot better. Bardo cannot believe what he’s looking at. He makes a small donation to the church, and wanders off into the heat of the day. The woman closes up the church. Nobody else is waiting to see the cross.


If the Cruz were in New York or Madrid, it would have laser Mission Impossible security, armed guards, and lots of publicity around it. Lines of buses of tourists. Souvenir shops. Air conditioning. T-shirt sales. But there’s none of that in Baracoa. Just the cross and the empty church in the middle of Baracoa.

Bardo buys a bottle of Habana Club rum ($3.25), sits on the roof of the Casa Particular where he’s staying, and wonders if Macondo could be any more beautiful. He decides Baracoa is perfect and beautiful. He loves the way the mountainous jungle cascades to the town at the edge of the ocean. Columbus, he thinks, was right about one thing: Baracoa is one of the most beautiful places Bardo has ever seen.  About everything else, he decides, he’s with Alejo Carpentier, Columbus was dead wrong.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles.  Your Bloguero regrets that this week because two of his recent posts, one from this week and one from last week, are among the best he has written. Regardless, please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or click the “Encouragement Jar” if there is one. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.

cross posted from The Dream Antilles

This Week In The Dream Antilles

Your Bloguero, as you may have already noticed, is a complete optimist.  He actually believes along with Dr. King that things bend toward justice.  Eventually.  And this drives your Bloguero to be extremely persistent.  He wants to do some serious bending.  You might even think of him as obsessed.  And nothing drives your Bloguero more than the plight of those who are always screwed.  There are a number of subtopics to this, ways that this happens, but somehow for your Bloguero it always eventually comes down to state killing, the death penalty.  State killing is always a huge thorn in your Bloguero.

Your Bloguero has been railing against the death penalty for decades. He’s successfully defended people charged with capital crimes.  And he’s been aggravated by and writing about state killing for a while.  In 2002, when there were too many recipients to keep track of, he moved the informal anti-death penalty emails he wrote to a list serve, Yahoo groups.   Your Bloguero started writing those emails in 1999 or 2000.  Maybe it was earlier.  The initial response from some recipients, including family members, was instructive. “How,” some wrote, “Can you get involved in this horror and care about these worthless scum.  Don’t send me any more of this [expletive deleted].”  OK.  Your Bloguero struck their names from the address block and forged on.  “You have compassion for these horrible people.  You should have more for those around you.”  OK.  Strike the name and move on.  Etc. Repeat and repeat again. The complaints were legion.  Your Bloguero, however, knows how to use a delete button, and he did.  Frequently.

When your Bloguero started the Dream Antilles more than six years ago, his initial intention was to promote his 2005 novel, The Dream Antilles. That didn’t last long.  Your Bloguero does not stay on topic well, especially when the topic is commercial.   Your Bloguero doesn’t care very much for commerce. Soon the plight of those who are always screwed became unavoidable.  Of course.  How could it not?  Yes, it was always present in the literature from Latin America your Bloguero loves to write about, but then the Blog swerved headlong into politics.  And of course, as soon as it swerved, along came all of your Bloguero’s many arguments about state killing.  Does the Dream Antilles now have more politics than literature?  Who knows?  Your Bloguero is not the best curator if the goal is to maintain balance.  Yes, your Bloguero wishes there were more about books.  More about Paco Ignacio Taibo II.  More about Skarmeta.  More about Cortazar.  Martin Solares.  The list of authors is enormous.  And there could be more about that if the states would just moderate the rate at which they were executing people.  

When your Bloguero didn’t feel that there was enough readership at The Dream Antilles, he cross posted at other Blogs, especially bigger group ones.  There, particularly at the Orange Blog that shall not be named, your Bloguero was surprised.  There he encountered more people who wrote to provoke your Bloguero and assert that they had no problem with state killing.  Worse, there were some who were actually in favor of it and argued that it was just.  These comments, which your Bloguero generally perceived as the menacing handwork of paid trolls or [expletives deleted] agents provocateurs, who needed to get a life, were always annoying. But your Bloguero knows how to ignore them, and ignore them he did.  Your Bloguero tries not to feed their anger.  Or their wallets.

Fast forward to killing Troy Davis. And this week, the echoes continue at the Dream Antilles, even as they fade to quiet in the Trad Media.

The  Banality Of Death takes note of Florida’s killing of Manuel Valle on Wednesday.  Valle was killed for a crime more than 30 years ago.  He was 61.  The execution was barely noticed. It was the fourth execution of the week.  Your Bloguero believes this is one of the best pieces he has written in a while.

The Shame Of State Killing tells the story of the 1944 execution in Georgia of 5’1″ 95 pound George Stinney, Jr., who was then 14 years old.  Stinney is the youngest person executed in the US in recent history.  It is a story of state killing at its most barbaric.  One wonders whether the US has evolved beyond that.

Banned Books Week noted the ALA’s annual celebration of the First Amendment and provided a list of “challenged” and “banned” books.  Your Bloguero wishes he found it hard to believe that book banning continues in the US.

About That Disaster Aid shows the destruction of a roadway in Greene County, New York near where your Bloguero finds himself and inquires what it will take for Congress to get up some money so that there can be repairs and disaster aid.

Please Sign This Petition promoted a badly written, weakly conceived petition on the White House Web site to ban state killing.  Yes, it was badly written.  Your Bloguero doesn’t care.

The Back B minor Mass showed up at the Dream Antilles.  What a great performance.  Go ahead, click it.  You’ll be happy you did.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or click the “Encouragement Jar” if there is one. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.

This Week In The Dream Antilles



A week of horrors, death and killing.  The death of Troy Davis.  The evaporation of the illusion that justice would somehow be served in his case.  The negation of hope for mercy and compassion and life for Troy Davis. A killing in our names we were unable to stop.  We could not, did not spare Troy Davis.  We killed him.  And we killed a part of ourselves.

We have lost our way.  And we have broken ourselves apart.  We believe in the illusion that we are all separate, that we are fragmented.  We don’t see ourselves as every bit of the entire phenomenon.  But we are all of it.  Every single bit of it.  We are all of it: we are the failed rescuers, we are the victims (Officer McPhail and Troy Davis and their families and friends the homeless man who was shot), and most importantly we are the executioners (wearing a black hood or shooting Officer McPhail or denying the stay). Inside each of us is all of them.  Inside us is the person who killed Officer McPhail.  And Officer McPhail.  And Troy Davis.  And those who killed him.  And those who judged him.  And those who advocated for him.  And all of the families of all of these people.  All of them is inside us.   A huge loud, bloody cacophony.   We truly are Troy Davis.  And we also are Officer McPhail.  And Justice Scalia.  And every single person touched this week by this killing, especially those we most blame for this execution.

But we deny it.  We cannot accept it.  We cannot allow it to recognized inside us, in our hearts, our minds, our souls (if we have them).  It is unacceptable to be all of this.  It is denied.  We consign all of this ugliness to our Shadow.  To the unseen.  To the denied.  To the disowned.  To the unacceptable. We can’t see it in us, but everybody else can.

We are oh so dangerous like this.  We are blinded like this.  We cannot love anything or anyone like this. In our panic to deny and disown all of this and our dread of our own painful, complicated human ugliness, we are filled with fear.  We deny it.  And we lash out.  And we kill.  We kill it outside of us, because we cannot countenance its existence inside each and every one of us.  We kill outside because we cannot love what is inside.

This has to stop.  We are dreaded Angulimala, with his chain of fingers around his neck, whom the Buddha himself told to stop.  But we are also the Buddha.  We need to abolish the death penalty, and we need to accept, in fact love the parts of us that are so invisible, so unacceptable, so horrible.  These parts and our efforts to ignore them are driving us crazy.  And they are making us kill.  We need to stop ourselves.

In Troy Davis’s memory, we need to commit once and for all to ending State Killing.  For everyone.  And part of that commitment, if we are to succeed, has to be to healing this enormous fissure inside us.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or click the “Encouragement Jar” if there is one. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.

This Week In The Dream Antilles

Today, September 9, should be a National Holiday.  Your Bloguero is well aware that it isn’t.  Not yet.  And your Bloguero also knows that you, dear reader, don’t yet know why today should be a NH.  Your Bloguero will explain.  Eventually.  Your Bloguero knows that some day justice will be served and today will be celebrated as a NH.  After all, today is Otis Redding’s birthday.  Had he not died at age 26 (in 1967) there is no question whatsoever that he would have been recognized as the absolute King of Soul Music.  The pinnacle.  The apex.  The zenith.  And that his birthday would, of course, have to be a NH.  At least among people with ears and souls.

Why all this raving?  You need to listen to Otis Redding.  And if you listen to only one song all the way through, let it be this one.   In your Bloguero’s judgment, this 1968 recording is among Otis Redding’s most remarkable recordings:

No, it doesn’t have an exciting video with it.  That’s because it’s pre-MTV, pre-Youtube.  It’s a 53 year old recording, though you won’t believe that if you listen to it.

One of the joys of being your Bloguero is playing songs as wonderful as this.  In fact, playing it over and over again is rewarding, too.  It becomes a kind of mental floss that caresses the heart while it sweeps out all of the contamination and toxicity of the past week. Cataloguing the past week’s  bumper crop of awfulness is something your Bloguero will eschew.  Suffice it to say that replacing all of that with this song is a step in the right direction, a step toward hope.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or click the Encouragement Jar.  Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.

cross posted from The Dream Antilles  

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