A clean, well lighted place.

The title of this post is the same as the title to my favorite Hemingway short story. A Clean Well Lighted Place is basically about a lonely man who has nothing and is looking for a clean, well lighted place to contemplate the misery of his life.

I find that appropriate today, resonant even, given last nights Food Network special on Hemingway’s Cuba. I didn’t watch it. I didn’t have to see it to know that it was going to be another fluff job. Another piece that barely scratches the surface on Cuba and the situation the island is in. I knew it would be something of an infomercial for Cuba.

Apparently, I was correct. Mandingo Jones has written up his take on the show, as has CB at KillCastro’s new blog.

I also received the following via email from reader Ray Sand:

I just finished watching Hemingway’s Cuba on the food channel and I like to share my thoughts on this program with all of you.

To start off, it was nothing more than a travelogue undoubtedly made in cahoots with the Cuban Ministry of Tourism. It had the imprimatur of the Castroite dictatorship all over it. For instance, on several occasions when the camera showed a close-up of a Hemingway book, or a picture of Hemingway on the wall, it would invariably show Hemingway next to Fidel Castro. When the camera showed a close-up of a bartender making a mojito, it would focus on a bottle of Havana Club thus giving Cuba’s rum [Bacardi’s competition] free advertisement. At the end when the program was ending, they played a Buena Vista Social Club song. The Food channel stressed all of Cuba’s selling points!

There was really so much propaganda in this program that it is hard to point a finger at any one thing, but I will do so anyway. Take the Chinatown segment for instance. Cuba’s Chinatown [before Castro destroyed Cuba’s Chinese community] was the biggest Chinatown in Latin America and could rival New York or San Francisco’s Chinatown. That much said, Havana’s present-day Chinatown is kitsch and it has no Chinese people. I think that I saw one old Chinese guy and that’s all. Basically, it looked like a cheap theme park with all of the red Chinese lanterns and ornaments hanging from the buildings, but without any authenticity or legitimacy, the authenticity and legitimacy that a Chinatown populated with real Chinese people would have! By the way, Mariel Hemingway mentioned that you can buy songbirds in this Chinatown. The tragic thing is that Cuba’s songbirds are endangered and these are undoubtedly some of those endangered songbirds being sold in this Chinatown. But HEY, Castro has systematically sold off Cuba’s national patrimony including its fauna and flora, so this should not come as a surprise! What is surprising is that any American program would casually mention the songbirds without taking into regard the harm that is being done to Cuba’s wildlife. Isn’t America’s media politically correct and liberal? Aren’t politically correct liberal Americans supposed to be ecologically conscientious?

Another propaganda point were the paladares which we are lead to believe are all over Havana. In fact, while paladares were flourishing at one time, now they are diminishing. Castro is so afraid of a Cuban middle class that all of the paladares that were making money were so heavily taxed that most of them were forced to close. The owners were also heavily scrutinized and fined for the slightest infraction of any of Castro’s arbitrary laws such as the one where only family members can work in paladares, or that you can’t have more than a certain amount of tables in the paladar. Mariel Hemingway made it seem as if paladares were everywhere and she didn’t even hint at how the owners are mistreated by the government. And talking about food, that farmer’s market that Mariel Hemingway visited was obviously, how shall we put it? Grossly embellished! Yes, there are food markets in Cuba, but the abundance and variety of food that was shown in this program is exaggerated. My mother speaks to her sister in Cuba quite often and she says that there is no food to be had. She says that she is literally starving and often goes to sleep without eating!

Of course, no Castroite propaganda program would be complete without to important things:

Number One: mentioning Cuba’s alleged “excellent health care and education” which Mariel Hemingway did.

Number two: Most importantly NO Castroite propaganda piece would be complete because of what was NOT SAID. As usual, no mention of Cuba’s repressive government, and lack of human rights in all of its manifestations was ever made, or even hinted at. Mariel Hemingway totally [and with flying colors] complied with these two requirements!

It’s sad and insulting that the Food Channel aired this propaganda piece without any regard for the many Cuban exiles that undoubtedly watch it, or most importantly for the dissidents who are still imprisoned and the Cuban people who are repressed.

By the way, what’s with the title? “Hemingway’s Cuba?” Not even ashes are left of Hemingway’s Cuba!

At the end of Hemingway’s “A clean, well lighted place“, he gives us the true unending sorrow the main character lives in. An eternal life of solitude and isolation and sadness. It resembles the lives of Cubans in many ways:

“Good night,” the other said. Turning off the electric light he continued the conversation with himself, It was the light of course but it is necessary that the place be clean and pleasant. You do not want music. Certainly you do not want music. Nor can you stand before a bar with dignity although that is all that is provided for these hours. What did he fear? It was not a fear or dread, It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was a nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee. He smiled and stood before a bar with a shining steam pressure coffee machine.

“What’s yours?” asked the barman.


“Otro loco mas,” said the barman and turned away.

“A little cup,” said the waiter.

The barman poured it for him.

“The light is very bright and pleasant but the bar is unpolished,” the waiter said.

The barman looked at him but did not answer. It was too late at night for conversation.

“You want another copita?” the barman asked.

“No, thank you,” said the waiter and went out. He disliked bars and bodegas. A clean, well-lighted cafe was a very different thing. Now, without thinking further, he would go home to his room. He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep. After all, he said to himself, it’s probably only insomnia. Many must have it.

11 thoughts on “A clean, well lighted place.”

  1. I disagree with part of the article: I believe Hemmingway’s Cuba is still there in parts, the land is still there, the souls and hearts of the Cuban people are still there. It will return one day.

  2. What substains the Cuba commie BS today?: A clown in South America, refugee money and the fraud parroted by America’s intellectual elite…

  3. I just didn’t have the stomach to watch. My husband watched and said it was a travel ad for cagastro’s Cuba. So, I have a question. I’m assuming that the food channel & the shows participants had the proper travel papers. Does anyone really monitor how these licenses are used? This makes me sick. I can just see the hijo de puta smiling watching this. One more little notch on his bloody belt.

  4. I was not going to watch it. But then decided to do so, together with my wife and daughter, and turn the experience into an educational moment, if nothing else, to help my kid learn to intellectually pressure-wash off the BS in order to get to the kernel of truth. As Ms. Mariel would make her points and the pretty images with the happy people were displayed, calmly I pointed out the discrepancies and contradictions to what Mariel was narrating. For example, when she would state that “such and such restaurant was now mostly a tourist hangout,” I would tell the ladies “this is code for only foreigners with hard currency can go to these places – ordinary natives…fuggedaboutit!!”

    When Ms. Mariel propagandized about “Cuba’s excellent health care and educational system,” I referred to the images of roach-infested “hospitals,” as seen in therealcuba.com and other places, and to the indoctrination children undergo in schools. I added that, having undergone surgery and asthma treatments in Cuba bc, “I never had any complaints about the quality of my health care back then. And my parents were not millionaires, government officials, “hot shots,” or members of any ‘privileged’ class, which is in fact what you must be now in Cuba, if you really want half-decent health care.”

    Regarding the paladares, Ms. Mariel at one point stated something like “to promote tourism castro has ALLOWED (my emphasis) Cubans to open restaurants in their homes.” “How would you like it, I asked my daughter, if you wanted to run a restaurant but only George Bush could ALLOW you to do so?” She gave me a knowing look with her pre-teen eyes. I think she’s well on her way to becoming BS-proof…

    By the way, a few years ago, I can’t recall where now, I believe I saw some reference to something “Papa” had said about Castro, sometime in 1960. I believe the word BASTARD was part of Papa’s discourse on the subject. Funny how he’s become an icon in Cuba…not sure he ISN’T rolling in his grave, just about now.

    The Foof (sic) Network succeeded in creating a media Theriesendstadt with this farcical presentation. Prosit! And vomit.

  5. This is like the LA Times fluff piece on North Korea. Any organization with integrity would make it clear before, during and after a presentaiton made in cooperation with a tyrant like Castro that the tyrant had complete control of where the filming occurred, who was spoken to, what was answered to what questions, and usually the places chosen and even who is in the background. It is hard for us in the West to imagine the level of oppression and terror experienced daily. Pretty post cards dressed up as documentaries is a sad thing for western media to buy into.

  6. Good Stuff. Enjoy reading it. I actually visited Cuba in January 2003. I went with the last student study abroad group before Bush cancelled all of that. Beautiful country and people. Check out my site.

  7. Since when was Cuba or any part of it Hemingway’s? The only part he owned was the house that is now a museum that cagastro now owns along with the boat Pilar, both unwilling gifts from Ernest to the maximus lider of communist bullshit propaganda.

    It is untolerable to think that Hemingway’s own daughter has chosen to ignore these facts and has warmed up to the tyrant who stole from her father. It has been said that after cagastro nationalized and seized her Papa’s property, that he became heartbroken from it, not just because of the loss but also from being swindled and doublecrossed from one he extended his symphaties and somewhat supported.

    He was not allowed recourse to his property and never did succeed in returning to Cuba because shortly afterwards he blew the top of his head off through his open mouth with a long gun. This event has been tentatively attributed by “experts” to a type of suicidal depression which is said to afflict some of the male member of the Hemingway family. It is feasible to speculate that the loss drove him to it even though the American media will not mention that small detail.

    My uncle told me years ago when he saw me doing a report on “The Old Man and the Sea” for school, that he used to shoot released live pigeons with Mr. Hemmingway at gatherings which featured tables spread full of hams, meats, cheeses, breads, fruits, breads, pastries, and fine liquor. People like Hubert Humphrie, Allan Dulles, Julio Lobo, John Wayne and such others would attend along with many beautiful women. Handsome bets were made on difficult shots and final scores and great fun was to be had with attending members of the Cuban sportsmen’s community.

    My uncle remembers Mr. Hemingway’s behaviour as loud, boastful and arrogant at times, but never saw him depressed, just drunk and having fun, and at times as we Cubans say “bien pesado”, but never one who would scatter his brains all over a room.

    I guess Mariel does not care to remember these little details and support this favored tyrant along with the rest of Hollywood.

  8. killcastro’s webpage will note open. If anyone has the text, would you please forward it to my email address. Thank you.

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