Concert: Buena Vista Social Club

  • Concert: Buena Vista Social Club

1/1/15 (Thurs), Havana

There were several venues advertising shows with BVSC members, who seem to form a large but loose group of son/salsa musicians. These shows have boomed since my last visit 15 years ago, maybe a sign of the expanding tourist trade. Locals didn’t know much about it, so I asked the hotel, which recommended this one. I had imagined a small, smoky, dodgy club, and the location, a decidedly un-touristy and yet-to-be renovated part of the old city, felt appropriate. But the theater was actually quite new and more like a fancy nightclub, with a large proscenium stage and runway. Dinners and snacks were available along with drinks, all of which were served throughout the show by waitresses in retro short lacy skirts.  Continue reading

Palestinians can have their future but not our past

I found this long-ago essay on my PC while rummaging through my files. I had submitted this to the Japan Times in response to some typical twaddle they had featured on Israel; they really should learn to stick closer to home. In any event, the response was never printed, so I thought I’d throw it in here. I must have written this around 2006, when Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat were still on the scene, but it still holds up pretty well:  Continue reading

Electoral system and the united states

I’ve noticed in my travels that when people are asked where they’re from, most will respond “Japan” or “France” or “Kenya” or such. The big exception, as usual, is Americans, who rarely say “America”; instead, it’s New York or Ohio or Tennessee. That is, their identity is tied up in their states. That makes perfect sense, of course, given the huge distances, both geographic and cultural, in a continent-size nation. No one says “Asia” or “Europe” or “Africa”, so Americans are in that sense in line with the norm.

It occurs to me, then, that all this talk of jettisoning the electoral college system for the popular vote is, regardless of last month’s results, missing the point. Continue reading

Hamilton and Pence


I’m a bit late to the Hamilton brouhaha after an out-of-town trip, but: These guys just don’t get it, do they? The actor who called out the vice president-elect seems to think he was being respectful. He is lecturing the new administration not on its actions — it’s not even in office yet — but on information presumably taken in his case from the NY Times and Facebook news posts. What are the chances that he’ll be fair in judging the administration once in office? This is why voters outside New York and California have just stopped listening. I’m sure I’ll see Hamilton eventually, but it’s telling that the creators and others in the show’s bubble don’t think the show itself is sufficient to convey the message. So tiresome.