27 05 2012

For MT and MJ
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

In the nineties, there were the great gay birds and they respected her mystical magical aura, as if she were a diva on Cuban television, a marionette of Marie Antoinette. They even went to her mansion in El Vedado to daydream together in that aviary in ruins at the edge of the Revolution, imperial eagle and all. They went without reading her or they scanned her lightly (gracing the text with a snobbish glance), dazzled without cause, homeless dilettantes, with their applause of illiterates who are the worst ostracism for an author. They went, also, to steal a luxury rag worn by her, to scratch some anecdote playing off her cachet, to get an autograph marketable in dollars, geriatric fetishism with the rheumatic remains of the Republic. Me, no, I wanted to but never went to the non-existent house of Dulce Maria Loynaz.

In fact, I had confused this mansion. As a boy, my father showed me a farmhouse very near to the sea, and I don’t know why, in reading her I assumed that she still lived locked up there (to complete the phantasmagoria, it was in effect the decrepit mansion from her novel Garden). As a teenager, my mother Maria liked the Nameless Poems of the elderly Dulce Maria: enjoyed her soft religiosity, her rash fear of God, her desolation as a childless mother under the proletarian Cuban skies. As an adult I’ve never returned to her verses, I’m only interested in what Cubans say in prose now.

When I studied Biochemistry at the University of Havana, Dulce Maria Loynez del Castillo, at the height of her powers, was passed over for a Cervantes Prize between the crown of Spain and the post-Marxist hand of Lisandro Otero. Her little poems, previously branded decadent and bourgeois, a ridiculous throwback** according to the Communist critique (including its Catholic counterpart in the Survivor in Chief of the group Origins***), reissued or brought to light for the first time in the country. They shot the worst documentaries, but with two or three close-ups where her tears crystalized the face of eternity, her equable desperation, her fortitude before the horror of a flesh now lacking hormones, her unspeakable sadness on being the final witness of a family from another world, another Cuba. Letters appeared shamelessly, as is the custom postmortem. And also some pertinent relatives. Plus the Historian, or perhaps the Hoarder, of the City. And in passing a moving autobiography came to light, and came to nothing, by the greatness of the faith with which she addressed her own debacle, and by the loyalty with which she knew how to be silent about the dirty laundry of those close to her (eccentricities, homosexualities, elitism, adultery, exiles and other et ceteras with ideological problems).

The big house at 19th and E is now a bastion smoothed down by the plane of governmental culture, including my readings and publications there, when OLPL was a writer palatable to the Talibans of the Ministry of Culture and the Cuban Book Institute. Had it not been remodeled/seized, today it would be a tenement vandalized by a mob of pánfilos who would auction even its bricks to the illustrious in exile (it is known, however, that some sacred manuscripts fled, together with certain statuary beyond any inventory). In any event, what does it matter, after all, Dulce Maria will never again be there. Her death has the gift of being an unmythic death. Her glory will pass through mummifying the memory of some little bones that were born and died with the century. What’s written (for her and for me), is written, now and until the geopolitical end of our Island.

My mother Mary snores sweetly in her emphysema. She also writes, guajira decimas that are pure platitude (and that is why I feel so much pity and so much compassion; I know I will never forget them). My Maria today, Friday, April 27, has survived by writing fifteen years to our other Maria. The two sleepers, one like the other. Toothless mouths, puckered lips like lilies,  Cubanitas plunged in that nightmarish anguish of old age, where we, their children, will not come because we have been kidnapped by the unjust human season of our nation. The perplexed eyelids, the silver hair (obligatory metaphor), the emaciated body seeking its measure in a box, with or without the national tricolor shroud (that heroic rag).

And it is night out there again, with its noises of smokestacks, alarms, barking. Morning in the 21st century with its stones and stars. With its Almendares River a meek sewer. With its gay birds of no omen at this point in a histology-less history. The inconceivable Cuban night. Sisters turned into cadavers, unnamed now, undated: motherless, womanless, deathless.

Without Marias.

Translator’s notes:
Changes in this text relative to the original were made in consultation with the author.
*Dulce Maria Loynaz lived from 1902-1997; Orlando is referring to the period since her death.
**The original word in spanish is
torremarfilismo which has been defined as follows: “Variously called torremarfilismo, cosmopolitismo, or decadentismo, the movement of modernismo has been criticized as an aberrant faction of escapist writers who would not accept their immediate environment nor reflect it in their poetry.”
***Published from 1944 to 1956, Orígenes was an influential Cuban cultural magazine.

April 27 2012

Official Proof of Censorship Against My Book “Boring Home”

26 05 2012

In 2008, my book of stories Boring Home, was ready to be published by the State publisher Letras Cubanas (the cover was one of my photos). It was censored not for its contents but from the idiocy of Iroel Sanchez, with the permission of Abel Prieto and the traveling salesman Miguel Barnet from the United States, all because I published critical columns in blogs such as Fogonero Emergente and Penúltimos Días.

Go fuck yourselves… functionaries!

Link to article above: www.cubaliteraria.cu/revista/laletradelescriba/n68/articu…

Translator’s note:
The image above is from a Cuban government website and is a story by OLPL from his book, Boring Home. The introductory text says that the book is in the process of being edited for publication by Letras Cubanas, a Cuban government-owned publisher. The book was never published by Letras Cubanas, however readers can download it for free, here, as OLPL self-published.

May 26 2012

The Inspector

21 05 2012

Down San Miguel. Up Guines. Walking between the suburban hills and the uncivil garbage at every corner in the neighborhood. With his pristine guayabera and his black briefcase as ridiculous as his dyed mustache.

He’s the restaurant inspector from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health. The Chief Inspector who oversees the private businesses of this whole municipality, who imposes fines and takes away licenses in bulk.

For this he prefers to go in the mornings. For this he inspects. For this the Revolutionary State of the 21st century island pays him. Everything in order, it seems. And for this, too, before continuing his tour as amateur rip-off artist, he brazenly asks for a little bill of 50 or 100 (in “National Money” of course, no one should be scandalized: it is said, even with gratitude, that the tariff is almost a royal prerogative for what the new national entrepreneurial class earns).

Fidel Castro was right, damn it, At this point in a history without histology, we Cubans should no longer have the right to “play at capitalism.” At the first opportunity, we turn ourselves doubly into vermin: we embezzle the dinosaur State tax, and extort the poor idiot proprietor, incapable of protest from panic over not being able to extract himself from his solvent misery.

The same mafia scene is everywhere, except in the media of the Island of Freedom, terrain that is going to swallow the trance of transition or perhaps the Raul regime transaction. Meanwhile, the larger and more glamorous the business (the dreamy private restaurants of Brave New Vedado, for example), the worse the dark drinking binge, reflection of the secrecy we as a nation are used to. It’s already been said by Marti, The Great Moralizer (or was he The Little Prince, this story straight out of the The Golden Age): in politics what matters is invisible to the eyes, it can’t be seen well if not with the heart with which we survive. If the Cuban Parliament is silent on questions of major significance, why opportunistically denounce a Kafkaesque bastard inspector?

Then come the close bribes of the second kind. I will pay you not to fine me, and on top of that I will pay you to fine my neighbor so I will win customers in the competition. And, if in the midst of this labyrinth of hidden corruption, I can complicate it for you with a little Cannabis or Yankee cable TV or Pornography or Counterrevolution (The Four Horsemen of the ApoCubalypse), all the better!

Of course, we should speak elsewhere about the posts purchased in the hard currency market of CUCs. We should be addressing the issue of the tariffs privileged workers must pay daily to their managers (in stores, banks, gas stations and other deliverers of delicacies), to avoid being fired or implicated in a legal case (of those that exploit the internet and make them think that now is really the fabled end of the Revolution, when we are only at its beginning).

Better we not speak of the labor unions of organized cadavers. Let’s not go all Latin Americanista, please. Every daybreak takes its time, according to the period of radioactive decay of certain isotopes of presidential clinical use. The capos of our narco-heaven could sit and wait for new measures of economic liberalization, as well as for the dripping contamination of the security organs. Cuba falls, but calmly, gentlemen. Let’s not put the barbarity in front of the mask (the permanent utopia is a question of image). For now, he’s barely a pocket swine with his little neighborhood billfold of 50s and 100s in local currency.

April 26 2012

Critical Observatory on 12M/15M Cuba

21 05 2012

Translator’s note: This is the electronic poster advertising the event several bloggers wrote about last week.

May 10 2012


15 05 2012

And the Police Came, Yes Sir

While I’m a Cuban author, sometimes I would love to be the political police.

Only they have all the information, omniscience obtained by legal means, or through crime under contract. Only they have absolute operability, all-powerful regardless of the mediocre bureaucracy and the little national swamp of ministerial resolutions. Only they have the diegetic sense in the midst of the chaos of has-beens crowing for or against the Revolution. Only they have, in consequence, imaginative impunity when the time comes to sweeten or destroy the fate of the Other (in fiction, these motivated lies are a source of verisimilitude).

As a Cuban author, what more could one ask for, with a literary tradition of a thousand and one mechanical unreadable realisms?

I would have loved, for example, to cite the painter Luis Trapaga for deceptions on Friday May 11th, cooking or coercing him with questions at the police station at Zapata and C (me out of uniform, an informal dialog between citizens), and then obliterate his work and his home with a future threat (a real official time machine): “If you show these pictures on your walls, the Ministry of Culture — and so says an agent outside the institution — will take drastic measures against you.”

I confess that with Guillermo Portieles and Nestor Arenas, his co-exhibitor colleagues of the space Open Studio The Circle (in the home of Trápaga: 10 # 316 (upper) between 13 and 15, Vedado), both fellow residents of the USA, the forecast for these experts was much bolder, with a gun: “Never again set foot on the land that bore thee, to collaborate economically with a counterrevolutionary leader…”

To the critics of Cuban art who, from an insolent intellectualism, privately make fun of the cops brought from the interior (hence the name of the ministry of the mysteries: Interior), I remind them that it would not be surprising that most the works of the Eleventh Biennial of Art in Havana have been negotiated in advance between the creator and security agent in charge of them (who treats them like a child or a patient or both). Without ruling out the possibility that the most controversial pieces are, in fact, conceived by the political police themselves (the Bruguera operation in the Kcho case could easily converge on the table of the same cultural commissar).

How not to envy the high degree of freedom, regardless of all ideology, religion and morality? Today, there is no more Open Studio in Cuba than that of the offices of Villa Marista, factual Alpha of the Cuban nation, Bible of  actions, Genesic navel of the short circuits about what is or is not Real.

Dealing with rebellious artists who in the end always throw a fit about what appears in the catalog (and sell, of course, the law of laws of the Truth). Appeasing self-managing anarchic-unionists who worship a bust of Havana during two stanzas of the badly memorized Internationale (perhaps the Indignationale). Barring women dressed in white so they cannot prop up the skies of Cuba with their flowery swords. Savoring the rhetoric of repression with none less than the purple-robed Cardinal of the perennial smile. Denigrating the dead who stopped eating to escape the ubiquitous cruelty of the prison cells. Tapping the phones of foreign investors and of the entire Council of Ministers. Operating the internet with a private cable of optical fidelity. Annexing yourself to Venezuela like another special municipality while buying food on the sly in the USA (where Guillermo Portieles and Néstor Arenas are deported, while sequestering the canned body of Alan Gross).

What spectator of the country could resist such a package of spectacular paradoxes? Please, let’s not be hypocrites or excessively modest. The only excited official in the midst of the professional apathy of this Island bears the boastful initials of State Security.

Anyone now passing by the little Art Deco apartment at 10 # 316 (upper) between 13 and 15, Vedado, will not find the remnants of the group exhibition: the only things hanging are the old canvases of Luis Trápaga, abandoned to his fate of autistic artist by Portieles and Arenas,who, instead of burning their ships (or their canvases as a performance in the Plaza of the Revolution), preferred an untimely withdrawal that, just the same, can no longer save their passports from ostracism. Instead of going to authorized galleries and reclaiming their works (still frozen at airport customs), better they might take advantage of these days to go, saying goodbye to Cuba, until the end of the Ministry of the Interior: that is, until the State eternity, because our first anti-democratic capitalists can’t allow themselves the luxury of giving up this organizing organ.

As long as there is this marvelous narrative technique called the Permission to Enter and Leave (the pinnacle of governance over the characters of our national novel), we Cubans will be puppets without credibility: art and love and friendship and family and work and creed and all the rest will be no more than a stupid et cetera. That is why, in these kinds of sub-socialist Cuban-style TV series, State Security’s is the only one that can count on an audience for a great many more seasons to come. And isn’t that precisely any author’s dream of a best-seller?


May 15 2012

Meow No More

15 05 2012

How does a cat die?

Rasping, stiffly, gasping for air, looking into our eyes, incredulous at our inability to help him to live his time in this world of mortals, bewildered by our stupid betrayal of a life far more beautiful and true and good than ours.

Adults die, although they have only weeks.

Without a human complaint. With the honor of the fallen gods.

Suffering, and that’s the worst. It is obvious they die in pain. Somehow, we, their poor owners, we put them in the hands of bad Cuban veterinary system. Consisting of fine Cuban veterinarians. Who save a thousand pets, but always fail in one. In the indispensable, in the most feline link in the chain. Intuitively prescribing statistics or maneuvering in very bad guts.


What does it cost the State, the death of a cat?

Cat. Trash with eyes.

In a time not so remote I believed in spontaneous generation (I am biochemist and in 5 years of college no experiment read convinced me otherwise). I thought that the garbage cans, for example, those plastic pots imported from Andalusia I believe, or the Basque Country, each bred their own cats. Their lycanthropic larvae that is licked and makes meow meow …

I called them “trash with eyes.” I told them of love, petting, collecting, bringing their bacteria and gross earthworms home, making the bed an unbreathable zoo, because the kitty cats shared with me the unspeakable fate of the discarded Cuban people (“mind of trash,” it would be me). And never throw them a wild space where they can compete for food and eventually found their litters. No. The neighborhood of the Island boots them religiously there in the plastic, post-terrorist Spanish garbage, among papers of shit and insignificant cum and rotting remains of the half-rotten food we swallow daily.

How does a cat die, Miss Cuba? He dies at birth, unlike the pathetic kicking humans.

And his august body goes so rigidly into a nylon shopping bag, the greatest exponent of what despotic capitalism accomplished in the lands it will manage to develop.

The deformed jaw, eyelids open wide, the pupils on the verge of exploding, fleas fled just in time from the debacle, claws out to scratch the killer robe of God (no one has killed so many times to all humanity and emerged absolved, save He).

They die miserably, of misery, for our guilt and complicity. But they die without being miserable creatures like us: pagan felinephages that we have usurped the position of planetary princes of its species on Earth, incapable Cubans who do not connect ourselves at all with the cosmos and yet who lay waste to anyone who connects and looks and licks and knows all and dwells in the invisible and to top it off comes out with the miraculous music of a meow meow …

So cats die. Without death.

Death is social ownership of the humans unmercifully left.

May 11 2012

Critical Observatory on the Loose

15 05 2012

Translator’s note: OLPL developed these guidelines to help State Security do their job.  It’s not known if they took his advice.

I propose three security cordons:

1 – At the home of Morua Delgado and Antonio Rodiles, so they can’t go out on Saturday.

2 – At the principal access points in the operative area where the protagonists of the Revoluzzionary Ozzervatory of Cuba will pass, Erasmo, Elaine and Eugene (being a Mason he stays in front), but no one else from the Havana Times, nor from Bloggers Cuba, and much less from Cuban Voices.

3 – In the occipital of Karl Marx who could have his eyes bandaged for the occasion, placed by the Moulin Rouge technician, and 50 or 55 Rodney agents with the rhetoric of the left.

Don’t rule out the conga of industrial design nor the concert of Berezain, son of Professor Berazain.

Read verses of Das Kapital, of Carlos Alberto Aguilera, for being a book from the UJC publisher, April.

Undertake prophylactic interviews in the home of the most prominent theorists.

Put the ones against the penultimates.

Exemplify “giving arms to the enemy” with this commentary.

Propose undertaking an institutional outraged act at the site of the Cuban Workers Union Theater, right there (strategy TwittHab).

Have the wife of MH Lagarde film the whole thing, with a paleolithic camera which is the touch of official humility.

Block the implicated cell phones.

Sell un-rationed potatoes from the kiosk out front.

Footnotes: The footnotes would have to be longer than the post. And in any event, jokes that have to be explained are never funny.

May 11 2012