Updated: Apr 11, 2021
Howdy, Hola, and Happy Holidays from San Francisco!
It’s been a helluva a year, no? I’m glad we made it. And here’s to 2021; the new year can’t come soon enough!
It took me 7 years of extensive travel throughout the Middle and Near East, 4 years of a Donald Trump presidency, several years of intense, personal-family issues, and civil unrest the likes of which haven’t been seen since the 1960’s (if ever) to get me off my ass and back in the Cuban Cowboys’ saddle. It’s time to ride again.
Toward that end, I’ve started writing and releasing new music. “Our Call to Prayer” and “Gaviota” came out this fall. The former is about love, the greatest, and the latter about our tendency to stay in- or cling to shitty situations even though we can leave them at any time (really), as seen through the lens of seagulls flying around Cuba’s famed Maleco॔n. Both songs come from a place that I am only now beginning to better understand and listen to: my heart.
It feels good to be back. Now more than ever. Over 70 million people voted for Donald Trump in this last election. Think about that. Nativism, ‘America-First,’ anti-immigrant, racist vitriol abounds right alongside income inequality, climate change-doom, and a global pandemic that continues to upend lives, livelihoods and oh so many things we took for granted (e.g., live music, restaurants, etc.).
I first wrote “Rococo People” nearly 30 years ago, having grown up Cuban-American in Miami (aka a “Miami Cuban”), and just looking to call out Miami for its superficiality (which at the time, during Miami Vice’s tv heyday, was a pretty easy to do). This year’s re-write, however, is decidedly more pointed.
Miami Cubans’ apparent, chronic willingness to be pandered to in exchange for their vote has angered me for years now. Just mention any combination of “Castro” and/or “Socialism” in regards to Candidate X, being ‘pro’ or for either, and Candidate Y is guaranteed an election victory. That part of the pandering typically includes continued support and 'strengthening' of an 40+ year Embargo that has only wrought continued hunger and poverty on their beloved home country (Cuba) -- this only angers me more. And this is precisely how Trump and the GOP played the Cuban-Americans this year. I call bullshit.
I'm a Miami-Cuban who takes exception. I’m pro-Cuba (NOT pro-Cuban government; but definitely pro-Cuban people’s right to self-determination), and anti-Embargo. I am in no way a fan of Trump's America and “Rococo People” speaks to said Trump bullshit. Even though I knew it would be so, I couldn’t believe that any intelligent person in South Florida - particularly my own people, would vote for such a fraud and autocrat. It was as if they decided to elect an orange version of Batista: a bought-and-paid for, dick political move that had nothing to do with making anything greater, rather maintaining a status quo out of greed and fear. Fuck that.
By way of brief history, the Cuban vote in Miami has always, always swung Right. Most Cubans will absolutely never forgive/forget what Kennedy did to them back in the 1960’s. the Kennedy boys failed to authorize air support for ‘La Brigada’ during the Bay of Pigs invasion, instead capitulating to the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
When I was growing up in Miami, the only Cubans that registered as Democrats were those hellbent on voting against any Kennedy running in any Democratic primary. If anything, this Presidential election’s comemierderia (shit-eating fest) serves to remind us y los blanquitos (and Whitey) AND our oligarchy-serving political parties (as Democrats and Republicans are really two sides of the same Corporate Coin) that the so-called Latino Vote is far from homogenous; that evangelical Christians therein can be swayed with talk of abortion, and that Cubans can be swayed by a mere whiff or threat of socialism … as well as dollop of increased-restored sanctions against Cuba (i.e., apoyando El Bloqueo de Mierda … supporting the the Embargo of Shit). Also, and again in regards to the vaunted Latino Vote, that men tend to favor asshole “strongmen” bluster the likes of which Trump offers up on a daily-hourly basis via Twitter alone (a la Brazil’s Bolisinaro and a legion of idiots before them).
I’m to the point that I believe that the Progressives (re: Bernie Sanders and acolytes, folks pushing for a Green New Deal, et al) are the United States’ only hope — and the only tent big and moral enough to garner broader support across both ‘slashes’ of the Latin “X.”
In the meantime - take a stroll along Miami’s South Beach, lose yourself among all the Rococo People. And give thanks that you’re not one of them.