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23TH April 2020

Adventure - Cuba - Culture - Geopolitical - Timeless - Timely

Back to Havana – wrapping up

So that was 32,000 words about visiting Havana, for those that may not have seen it yet. The Table of Contents is here, BTW. In the time I was there, I met a lot of memorable people. I also learned a lot of the amazing history of the Island; some from my friend and partner John Caulfield, some from the seminal book Havana Nocturna, and plenty from just casually observing the place that hasn’t changed much in 60 years. It is as close to the “Land that Time Forgot” as anything I have ever visited. The idea for time travel came from a lunch at 304 O’Reilly. While everyone at the table wanted to imagine what the future of Cuba held, we all agreed that it would be much more […]

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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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13TH April 2020

Creative problem Solving - Cuba - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 13 – Back to Havana

Chapter 13 – 100+ mph. Midnight. Havana Illustration- The final turn at Presidente- Ermitas Blanco, Havana. Vinnie was nearly the first casualty: McQueen had a rear view mirror on the driver side that hit him squarely in the nuts and Fangio’s bumper banged him onto his ass as the drivers exploded off the starting line. Ralph was there with his new beau, helping Vinnie to his feet and ready to escort Fangio and the car back to the garage after the race. A few of the Maserati and Ferrari guys were there as well, probably wondering where Nina went. The race was due to last just over a minute: 2.16 miles, up to 150 mph, only two turns. Still, it would seem like eternity for anyone in town that knew […]

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10TH April 2020

Adventure - Creative problem Solving - Legends and tales - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 11 – Back to Havana

Chapter 11- The Bet   Illustration – Fangio and Esteban seal the bet and shake hands amid the garage gang – Blanco. This was no ordinary garage that Jorge and Ralph were pulling into: bays of McLaren, Lotus, Ferarri and Maserati were divided by immaculate tool sets, superb lighting, and staffs of jump-suited attendants cleaning up from the day’s work. It looked like the pit of any other race on the Grand Prix circuit, but all compressed into one spot. Ralph still had not put it together that he was in late 1957, and as the Buick came to a halt he assumed he was in another classic garage of another rich patron who needed a special part for a tune up. Jorge had never seen a time-traveller be so […]

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10TH April 2020

Adventure - Legends and tales - Timeless - Timely

Shelter(ed) Day 10- Back to Havana

Chapter 10 – Dream a Little Dream of Me TBD Illustration- Genetta and Nat singing in Club Room Genetta was wrapping up her modelling shoot as the sun set over the Malecon. The last shots were usually what the photographers waited all day for. She was modelling for a Cuban dress designer named “Salome,” who had this wonderful knack for dressing Havana’s most stylish women in the sheerest of materials while maintaining a simple iconic look.  The jewelry was from an avant garde designer named “Rox,” and the pieces were big, bold statements that started conversations without being ostentatious. They went well together. As the “magic moment” approached, Genetta positioned herself on a large rock in the garden overlooking the Malecon, framed by the setting sun but nevertheless visible to […]

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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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