Comprehensive photography book looks back at Cuba during the 1960s.
Seems everyone's talking about Cuba these days. Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the island in ages, and every megacorporation from Home Depot to Major League Baseball wants to do business there. By any measure, Cuba's is a remarkable story, particularly its educational and medical accomplishments in the face of an economic blockade that keeps out everything from computer chips to breakfast cereal.
Despite that embargo, Cubans can convincingly claim to be better off than residents in nearby capitalist nations like Honduras (highest per capita murder rate in the world), El Salvador (thousands killed each year by rampaging drug gangs), Haiti (59% poverty rate), and even Puerto Rico ($70 billion in debt—an astonishing $20,000 per resident). But one thing Cubans don't have is the opportunity to accumulate wealth. That may be about to change.
At such a moment, then, it seems like a good opportunity to look back at Cuba as it was during the heady days during and just after the Cuban Revolution. Cuba la fotografía de los años 60 is a large volume of images from that time, shot by such figures as Ernesto Fernández, Alberto Korda, and Raúl Corrales. The photos are mostly rare, and the technical quality is consistently high. We scanned the images below several years ago (the book appeared in 1988), but only just got around to sharing them today. As a bonus, there's an eloquent preface written by Roberto Fernández Retamar, which we've uploaded in its entirety.
If you've followed Pulp Intl. for a while you probably know we lived in Central America for some years, spending most of our time in Guatemala, but traveling around to numerous countries on the isthmus and in the Caribbean. So the region is a subject of some interest to us. Cuba will gain plenty from being allowed to reconnect with the world, but it will lose plenty too. It's impossible to know what sort of balance will be struck. Cubans, excited but also concerned, hope for a better one than exists in many of its neighbor countries, but only time will tell.
London drug raid uncovers no drugs but raises serious questions.
Over the weekend, a squad of drug cops raided the London flat of a woman named Natalie Rowe based on what they described as a “tip from a member of the public.” The drug cops found no drugs, no drug paraphernalia, no sign that drugs had ever been consumed in the apartment. Why is this such an interesting story? Because Rowe, formerly a prominent madam who procured women for paying male customers, is mere days from publishing an autobiography in which she details early 1990s sex and drug parties attended by various Tory politicians. She claims one of the politicians was current Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. He appears in the photo above with Rowe, along with what she says is a line of cocaine (in full, fat view between the yellow vase and the wine glass).
After the raid Rowe made an official complaint to police, saying she suspected she was targeted because of her forthcoming book. She was quoted in the tabloid The Sunday People: “I’m not into conspiracy theories. I’d like to think the fact I’ve been unfairly targeted by the police has nothing to do with the fact my book is about to be published, which happens to be very embarrassing for the Chancellor. But it’s certainly made me wonder.” Well, we’re into conspiracy theories and we’ll just come out and say that, especially in light of all the other dubious police activity in Great Britain these days, you’d have to be willfully blind to think the raid occurred for any other reason than at the behest of an influential government official.
Think about it. Would a mere “tip from a member of the public” trigger an expensive full-scale drug raid, with no corroborating intelligence whatsoever, such as surveillance, reports from undercover police, or multiple complaints from neighbors? If so, any Brit with a personal enemynow knows how to ruin that person's day. A single tip will bring a phalanx of police crashing through their door. Does your neighbor's dog bark late at night? Call the drug cops. Did some total ass get a promotion you wanted? Call the drug cops. So, let’s dismiss with this “tip from a member of the public” nonsense. Clearly, a full-scale drug raid that takes place with no corroborating intelligence doesn’t occur because of some random tip. It occurs because someone with great influence wants it to happen.
Were we to speculate, we’d suggest that the cops were searching for anything that would justify serious charges against Rowe and cast doubt on whatever she has written. But it seems they failed to find any leverage. Do we actually care if George Osborne hoovered rails of coke in his youth? Not in the least. It puts him in the same company as many politicians, including Barack Obama, who wrote in his autobiography of how in his youth he did "a little blow.” But the raid, which looks to us like pure abuse of power, is certainly a troubling event in a country that many residents already believe is morphing into a police state. Is some plebe threatening your status and/or power? Call the drug cops. In any case, we’ve got our Kindle charged and ready for Rowe’s book.
We were always against government intervention—until we needed it.
That’s right, we killed Grandma—we had to. At first we were counting on Obama’s health plan to kill her, but when we found out that death panel stuff is just a bunch of fear-mongering wingnut baloney, we had to do it ourselves. We were gonna smother her with a Depends, but we thought that would look suspicious, so we finally staged a fatal Travelscoot accident. But it was all for nothing because the old bitch willed everything to the cat. It’s not fair I tell you. It’s just not fair!
Illinois governor impeached by 114-1 vote.
Rod Blagojevich’s colleagues took turns on the floor of the state legislature and voted to impeach the beleaguered governor, with many also taking the opportunity to denounce him. Rep. Lou Lang said, “Here we are on Nixon’s birthday and the governor sounds a lot like Richard Nixon.” Rep. John Fritchey was more specific, declaring, “My Illinois is not the Illinois of George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, but Abe Lincoln and Barack Obama.” Said Rep. Jack Franks: “The plague that has been brought upon us by Rod Blagojevich will be lifted.”
While the 115 voted, Blagojevich jogged. But afterward, he spoke at a press conference, and had some harsh words for Jack Franks: “Plague? Plague? Fuck you, Franks, I got your plague right here, buddy. I got all seven plagues, you wanna get all Biblical with me. I got a fucking river of blood for you, and some hail mixed with fire, and I got some big fat frogs raining down on your ass, too. How you like me now, tough guy? Hey, tan much, George Hamilton? How ’bout you ease up on the UV bed? By the way, who’s paying for those sessions? That coming out of your pocket? Yeah, fat fucking chance, you hypocrite. Hey Frankie boy, I just remembered, I got another plague too. I got that unhealable boils plague. Yeah, I got a big fat unhealable boil for you right in my shorts, you fucking asshole.”
He tried to auction a vacant Senate seat—with the FBI listening to every word.
In the U.S., Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been snared in an FBI sting operation. His crime wasn’t the usual men’s room sexual solicitation. No, he was caught trying to sell Barack Obama’s soon-to-be vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. Under Illinois law, the governor of the state has the authority to appoint a successor when a Senate seat is vacated. FBI recordings reveal Blagojevich, a Democrat, discussing the appointment with virtually anyone he felt had something to offer in return. What incredible balls.
The conversations apparently were close to bearing fruit. Recordings reveal Blagojevich weighing a $500,000 offer from an as-yet anonymous source. Also on his wish list were such goodies as an ambassadorship, a cabinet post, possibly the establishment of a non-profit foundation in his name, or even an appointment for his wife to some powerful corporate board. President-elect Obama was not involved in these negotiations, it seems clear, because in one recording Blagojevich rails against Obama staffers for refusing to play along with the scheme, at one point declaring, “They’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.”
There seems very little chance Blagojevich can spin his way out of this mess, considering at one point he says a Senate seat is “a fucking valuable thing—you just don’t give it away for nothing.” Sadly, Blagojevich may be more rule than exception in Chicago politics. Slate magazine reported back in 2006 that the region is considered one of the most corrupt on the American political landscape, and has produced more indictments over the years than any area save central California/Los Angeles and south Florida. Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris have been formally charged with soliciting bribes and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
1947—HUAC Hearings Begin
The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a witch hunt that destroys lives, ruins careers, and makes Senator Joseph McCarthy the most feared politician of the era.
1968—Jackie Kennedy Marries
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The marriage comes as a total surprise to the American public, and results in a terrible backlash against her and also makes her the number one target of paparazzi for years.
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