I’m not one for nostalgia, mostly because I find looking back is frequently done with sadness; at loves lost, abilities gone, desires unfulfilled, etc. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to encounter things that bring back old memories and feelings. Such was my experience with this wonderful video.
Although I was born in Southern California, of Eastern European Jews, I have developed a close affinity for Cuba over the years. There are two primary reasons this is so; two very deep and well-developed reasons. The first is from the two months I spent in Cuba in the Spring of 1973 with the Venceremos Brigade (La Brigada Venceremos). The second is from the Cuban woman who was my first wife and with whom I spent seven years.
The trip to Cuba was far more than just a two-month experience. It came at the culmination of around five years of intense political activity, beginning with my involvement in the Vietnam antiwar movement, and ending with my evolution into a Marxist. Shortly before traveling I worked at The Ash Grove, which had a long and tortured relationship with anti-Castro Cuban exiles. In fact, it was burned down three times by what Fidel labeled “Gusanos” (worms). It also involved several months of training, without which I would not have been allowed to make the trip. This training was provided by those who went before our contingent (we were the sixth) as well as members of the Black Panther Party, the Brown Berets, and the Los Angeles Women’s Liberation Union. It was the organization’s way of doing their best to ensure we understood racism, sexism, and cultural chauvinism, such that we wouldn’t do something stupid while we were there to make the organization, or the Cubans, look bad.
The marriage was short; actually, we were only married for about three and a half years and lived together prior to taking our vows another three and half years. It ended not so much because we weren’t getting along or compatible, but because our life circumstances seemed to dictate we go in different direction. After we had separated, I bought a dance studio for her in Venice, CA, where she conducted classes and sold some merch. That was nearly forty years ago and I wasn’t involved in the day-to-day business; mostly I just provided money and some connections. I don’t remember what happened, other than that it just wasn’t sustainable and I lost some money. We remain friendly to this day. Not close, but we’re Facebook friends and we have quite a few mutual friendships, so we cross paths occasionally.
So this video brought back some wonderful and some deeply emotional feelings for me. I don’t think you have to share any of my experiences to enjoy it. It is fun and entertaining. Hope you like it.