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21TH April 2020

Cuba - Havana Culture - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 18 – Back to Havana

Chapter 18- Before the Music Stops    Illustration – view from the house above of tanks in a tobacco field, rebels streaming out of barns, the Batista surrender. Ermitas Blanco. Havana. The roar of a half dozen Harleys turning off the Malecon and into the Riviera porte cochère was unmistakable. Esteban tossed his keys to the attendant and strode over the terrazo entry into the main lobby. Marlon was just behind him. The others hung back, being just mechanics from the garage hired to bring the [hogs to the party].  Since losing his bet on the Malecon race, Esteban had been hankering to get even. Actually, it was nearly a necessity: his acting career in New York wasn’t all that lucrative. He was caught up in the macho moment, and […]

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20TH April 2020

Cuba - Havana Culture - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 17 – Back to Havana

Chapter 17- Boss, It works. Illustration – Sal Explains iPhones to Meyer in Riviera Lobby- Ermitas Blanco “It works. Whatever the f*ck it is, it works,” Sal began, hardly able to contain his amazement. “How do you know for sure?,” asked Lansky. “Well, here’s a picture of me, on one of those held-held phone computers, with a newspaper dated 2017, by the way. The headline has something about trouble at the American Embassy on the Malecon, which doesn’t exist now, but it sure as hell does in 2017.” “Is the Riviera still there?” “Yes, Meyer. I saw it from afar, but I didn’t have the chance to go in.” “Where was Jorge and the girl at the time?” “We split up, so I could get my papers renewed, and they […]

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18TH April 2020

Cuba - Havana Culture - Legends and tales - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 16 – Back to Havana

Chapter 16 – Jorge …no mas Illustration- Brech bursts into the Miami garage. Ermitas Blanco- Havana. Women often smoked cigars in Havana. Its naughty, sexy and decadent… And that suited Nina just fine.  Jorge walked both Sal and Nina through the Humidor Process, omitting a few key steps that he’d already explained to Nina. This gave Sal the impression he had the full download, without really knowing that his Time Travel Tutorial lacked more than a few pages.  They all lit up, the room filling with blue cigar smoke much quicker with the three of them puffing away. Jorge held a duffel bag of cash in his lap. The timer went off with a “ding.” They waited for the smoke to clear. When they looked out the window toward the […]

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16TH April 2020

Cuba - Havana Culture - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 15 – Back to Havana

Chapter 15- And… they’re Off! Illustration- Wide shot of the Grandstand and horse race- Ermitas Blanco. Havana. It didn’t take long for Finn and Jorge to get a date with Mr. Lansky. The invite was sitting on Finn’s entry table when he returned to the Riviera suite. The entryway was lined with chic shopping bags filled with the best cigars, tropical flowers, his favorite rum, Panama hats, chocolates, Rox jewelry and every other Cuban nicety from the hotel gift shops in town. The note on his writing desk simply said “Compliments of the Riviera Management”, which he knew by now meant the same guy who ran the Nacionale, The Tropicana Tables, and of course the Orient Park Racetrack.    December Grand Jubilee Orient Park, Marianao Until sunset Racing, Gaming, Boxing […]

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15TH April 2020

Cuba - Culture - Good Story - Havana Culture - Legends and tales - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 14 – Back to Havana

Chapter 14- Some Big Fish     Illustration- Pilar Boat Scene with Poppa, Brando, and the BTH Gang- Ermitas Blanco- Havana.       We can talk now.  No one for miles, but blue marlin. And shark.  Marlins and shark.  The Pilar’s owner was among the pioneers of blue marlin angling, using natural baits rigged to skip and swim, sometimes combined with an artificial lure or skirt to make “skirted baits” or “bait/lure combinations.” He found that it worked well along the eastern seaboard of the United States, and in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Venezuela.  “Welcome aboard the Pilar,” he began, “the best marlin boat in Cuba.” He extended a hand to the lady and let the rest settle in. As he cast the line to the trailing dock, he […]

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10TH April 2020

Adventure - Cuba - Havana Culture - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 9 – Back to Havana

Chapter 9 – For whom the Bell Tolls Papa rocks the Floridita. Illustration by Ermitas Blanco. Havana. When the Bacardi tour was over, Pablo sensed Nina had had enough culture and suggested they hit cocktail hour at a little bar down the street: the Floridita.  “Hell, yes — liquor me up in the late afternoon, please,”  Nina thought to herself. “Then do with me what you will. If I’m going to travel 60 years in a day, I sure as hell want my money’s worth.” Pablo wasn’t used to such fast women — in any era. But he was adjusting quickly. They walked the two blocks to the Floridita hand in hand, enjoying the long shadows across the Capitolo and the Opera House before ducking into the noisy bar. Two […]

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09TH April 2020

Cuba - Havana Culture - Legends and tales - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) – Music for Back to Havana

Taking a break on the writing to add some music. I’ve tried to make this experience as immersive as possible, including its soundtrack. I wrote this with Nu Jazz, in the background, using contemporary artists to remix Jazz, Mambo, Bossa Nova and American Standards into a music bed that bridges both periods ‘57 and ‘17. The perfect group to emulate this is De-Phazz, a downtempo jazz ensemble integrating modern turntablism and elements of soul, Latin, trip hop and drum and bass into a lounge music sound. Austin Powers might have loved it. De-Phazz is led by Pit Baumgartner, a German producer who has varied the lineup of artists for every new album. Some regular members are Barbara Lahr, Karl Frierson and Pat Appleton.  Back with more Chapters next week…. ~ […]

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09TH April 2020

Creative problem Solving - Havana Culture - Timeless - Timely - Uncategorized

Shelter(ed) Day 8 – Back to Havana

Chapter 8 – Nicola’s Humidor Illustration- Jorge, the Humidor and the smoking room above the car garage Jorge had slipped back to his garage on Calle 21 without much trouble. He hadn’t seen the mobsters all day, and the agent from the Trop had been in the Riviera lobby — but so what: Havana was full of prying eyes. Sunset would be soon, so if he wanted to get back to “1957” by dark, he would have to hustle. He’d left enough clues for the Americans to pique their interest, should they want to team up in the future (or what constitutes the future).  Still, he didn’t want to move too fast, since they’d just “landed.” Most people took days to orient themselves to this new “time”, then they’d decide […]

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08TH April 2020

Havana Culture - Timeless - Timely - Uncategorized

Shelter(ed) Day 7- Back to Havana

Chapter 7 – The Bacardi Building Illustration- Nina & Pablo and car park outside the Bacardi Building- Ermitas Blanco Nina was thoroughly enjoying the ride into Old Havana — in so many ways.  In just 24 hours – or 60 years depending on how you look at it- Nina had fully accomplished the adventure she and Finn had set out to discover (and then some). She’d spent the night with someone who, as she’d tell her friends in New York, “gets me.” Pablo’s suave demeanor, “fix-it” resourcefulness and knowledge of architecture were such a turn-on. He danced like a gentleman,kissed like a gentleman … he was so much more than the “friend with benefits” arrangement she’d been settling for with Finn.   And Finn, being a gentleman as well, had let […]

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07TH April 2020

Havana Culture - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 6 -Back to Havana

Chapter 6 – Information is Power Illustration- Sal at the phone in the Riviera Lobby- Ermitas Blanco Everyone talked about how “hot” Havana was in the 50’s. The Music. The Cars. The Booze. The Clubs. The Casinos. The Girls. The Celebs. The Money! But no one ever talked about the most saleable thing in town. The Mob wanted it. The Generalissimo wanted it. The Gossip Columns wanted it. The FBI wanted it. Even the Revolutionaries wanted it. And getting it just took a little bit of hustle, and some decent connections… Information. By 1957, Batista’ had formed a secret police ( Buró para Represión de las Actividades Comunistas, or BRAC) to keep tabs on Revolutionaries that threatened to upset his racket. Having endured years of tumult, The General had actually […]

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