CUBA, CUBA CUBA
Say what you want about Castro—(we CAN, after all, Cubans not so much)—he managed, through design or neglect, to keep Havana beautiful. Run down, crumbling, many buildings barely habitable—even the national baseball team has to play during the day because their stadium lights are broken and the country is too poor to fix them. Where things barely work, where time is arrested, where a failed ideology wheezes along on life support long after its inventors and sponsors abandoned it—at least, at least Havana is un-****ed by time. Where Moscow and St Petersburg brim with newly uglified buildings, malls, and the old cookie cutter concrete blocks leftover from the workers’ paradise, Havana looks like a shabbier but still gorgeous version of its older self. When it all changes, as it surely shall, I hope Havana’s waterfront, the malecon, the old hotels, the facades, the Nacional, the Tropicana, the cars—they remain—at least in appearance and design—the same. I’d hate to see fast food signs, the boutique hotels, bottle service, frat bars and canary yellow Lamborginis of the douche side of Miami. When everybody’s wired and connected and chatting freely, watching 500 channels of cable and voting their minds, I hope the mojitos don’t start coming in sno-cone form, the old neighborhoods dug up for golf courses or water parks.
It’s easy, I know, to over-romanticize the unspoiled. Especially when “unspoiled” means “poor”. But look. Look.
Whatever your politics, however you feel about Cuba—look at tonight’s show and admit, at least, that Havana is beautiful. It is the most beautiful city of Latin America or the Caribbean. Look at the Cuban people and admit that they are proud and big hearted and funny and kind—and strong as hell, having put up with every variety of bullshit over the years. On these things, I hope we can agree.