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On the Street: I Was Cuba, In the Shadow of the Sage of Baltimore (And A Few Basketball Poets), D-Day (SA Style), and The Lesson of Algiers

On the Street: I Was Cuba, In the Shadow of the Sage of Baltimore (and a few basketball Poets), D-Day (SA Style), and the Lesson of Algiers I Was Cuba

I stopped by the newly renovated El Tropicano for an upcoming Bar Tab review.  Though many of my friends have already "snuck" down into Cuba to see the real historical splendor, I've only had films and faxes (facsimilies) to help fill in the gap.




I Am Cuba is one of the great forgotten, then remembered, then forgotten again films that creates a sense of the grandeur of Cuba.  Here is a scene from a popular resort in Havana.  Though the music has been redubbed, one gets a sense of the space and the atmoshphere, even though it's intended to be presented critically, in this version it comes out neutral.



Our local El Tropicano.  Supposedly, 313,000 pieces of tile were used to construct this sign.  For some reason in my mind, when I think of El Tropicano I think of that rooftop scene from I Am Cuba.



I read that when El Tropicano renovated they didn't want to be completely reliant on the original design.  There were inspirations from L.A., which this lobby evokes.  
However, L.A. is very much  enamored with an early and late mid-century modernism, which to my untrained eye seems similar to the era and style of the 1960s El Tropicano. Though I didn't see the original design of El Tropicano, to find outside influence from L.A. could be considered a circular argument, or perhaps it's analagous to Tarantino finding influence from Godard's Band of Outsiders and Melville's Le Samourai, which was a New Wave reinterpretation of previous American gangster films, thereby creating its own loop of cultural history.



The interior and exterior form an unlikey middle ground.  Separate but equal.  Somewhere out that window, I believe is the pool where "Dive In" movies are played, as well as Spurs games when the weather permits for the enormous inflatable video screen to be assembled.



This is the kind of room where in previous years  I would expect to find a monkey in a cage.  I saw a room just like that with a monkey a few years back at a bar in Reynosa.  It was no donkey show atmosphere.  Though man's control of animals is probably whimsical at best when considered from the viewpoint of the animal, this monkey bar was supposed to be classy.

Another clip from I Am Cuba (for some reason embedding was disabled.)  This trailer utilizes Russian Eisensteinian dialectic cutting as scenes of opulence are countered with scenes of protest.  I suppose this puts the resort side of things in a critical light, but I think one is able to mutually appreciate the most poetic propaganda film of all time and architectural preservation, not that anyone is going to be forced to make a choice and decide what side they are on.

                                          *****                                                             

A Return to Past Jetties



And to continue with European New Wavey films, this shot is an excellent reason to briefly return to La Jetee.



This is the opening 1/3 of the film (the rest can be found on Youtube.)  It's unthinkable to consider Terry Gilliam a Hollywood hack but his reinterpretation of La Jetee as 12 Monkeys does qualify, not so much that his film sucks but that he chose to remake the film.  Normally I'm a softliner.



While waiting for a plane in Baltimore, I randomly ran into an old friend from 15 years ago, even if it was someone I only knew for 5 weeks.  Though both of us were flying to Austin, we were on different airlines.  While waiting in my plane on the tarmac for 2 hours for the rain to abate, I looked out and saw what I knew was her plane.  What an odd farewell, I thought.



Above the turbulence of daily life is something grander.  I wonder if airline pilots experience reality differently as they are able to escape above the cloud cover and all the problems below on a daily basis.



Time travelling (Part One.)



Time travelling (Part Two.)

                                         *****

Waiting For Fatherhood (Knocked Up)



Before going to the airport I was able to spend time with an old friend.  He and his wife were expecting a child on the very day of my visit.  Her midwife instructed her to eat curry to induce labor, so we all had Thai food.



It was a full moon, or damn near it on that night.  The lunar attraction towards water was also supposed to induce labor. Later I heard that it was actually a blue moon, meaning the second full moon of the same month.  This is not a typical occurence.



A deleted scene from the new comedy Knocked Up.  I saw it thinking it would be funny but would suck ultimately.  That clips attests to its vulgarity and humor.  The film was better than I thought.  The cheap vulgarity was of a highbrown nature, if that's somehow possible.

                                        *****

Sages and Poets



Though one could never tell, this image was taken from the front gate of a massive cemetery overlooking Baltimore.  From what I gathered and felt in my gut, we were in the Dunbar school district, which perhaps is the most succesful basketball program in the country for converting athletes into NBA professionals.  In fact, two former Dunbar Poets played for the Spurs during the humid but stormy Larry Brown era - David Wingate and Reggie Williams.  Other Dunbar Poets who made it to the NBA include Muggsy Bogues, Sam Cassell, and Reggie Lewis - all had incredible NBA careers.

While doing a turnaround in the cemetery I wondered if I would see the grave of the Sage of Baltimore, but of course not...

                                        *****

D-Day

Though June 6 is technically THE D-Day, as in land invasion of Europe across the English Channel into Normandy, today June 7 is somehow close in historical importance due to the beginning of the NBA Finals.

There has been so much written about it, for some reason I feel like pulling back from the macro interpretations because that doesn't interest me.  However, a reader relayed a story to me concerning seeing the Cleveland Cavaliers at their Marriot Hotel.  He posed for a picture with Coach Mike Brown (former Spur) and said hello to Danny Ferry (also a former Spur, and a healthnut, and I remember seeing him dine at Twin Sisters back after the 2003 Title Run).  There really wasn't anything hugely insightful in the story.  However, he couldn't remember the name of the young Brazilian power forward on the Cavs, so he called him "the raggedy Ann" looking guy.  And, he said that raggedy Ann was walking around the lobby of the hotel like a nervous High School kid.  Somehow, this glimpse into the Cavs mindsight makes me wonder if they are going to totally get their ass kicked in the Finals.  

John Hollinger, a writer for ESPN, made a comment that the Cavs are the worst team the Spurs have faced this year in the playoffs.  I agreed.  And then I turned the argument around a bit and began to wonder when was the last time the Spurs met a team in the playoffs that was worse than the Cavs.  Again, this year they are worse than everybody we've seen.

Last year - the Mavs and Kings were better in my opinion.  The Mavs obviously.  The Kings could go either way but with the dynamic attack they had going I would feel safe in saying the Kings were better.

Okay, back to 2005 now.  Detroit was better.  Phoenix was better.  Seattle was better.  Denver was close.  But again, I'll say Denver of 2005 was still a better team than this year's Cavs.

Okay, even further back to 2004 now.  Ancient history.  We lost to the Lakers who went to the Finals.  The Lakers with 4 Hall of Famers were clearly better than this Cavs team.  In the first round we swept Memphis.  That was the last time we swept a team in the playoffs.  Finally, here is a team that I can say was worse than the 2007 Cavs - the 2004 Grizzlies.  I'm not pulling anyone's leg here.  Consider these opinions as facts.

                                        *****
The Lesson of Algiers

The Battle of Algiers played last week on Tuesday night as part of TPR's Summer movie series.  There was a gruesome torture scene, and then a complicated, scene reversing speech by a former French resitance fighter turned anti-insurgent leader wherein he outlines the need for torture in modern society to fight an uneasy war.  Completely relevant to the debate that's not happening now.

And so goes another week On the Streets of San Antonio.  As always, to be continued...




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