"People need anything made of rubber here. People need anything made of plastic. People need Tupperware boxes and Ziploc bags and coated rubber bands for hair, Brooklyn Bridge cable kind of hair. People need Rubbermaid dish drainers - the metal kind, coated with rubber, and the rubber trays that go underneath them - so that the wooden counters on which dishes drain down don't stay perpetually humid and rot. They need solid Rubbermaid garbage cans, with snap-on lids to keep rats away. People need things to stack, conserve, preserve, classify, label, repair. People need things to make the things they already have, last; to repair them and organize them, for two-thirds of the population of Cuba was middle class and has devolved. If a Rubbermaid store opened in Cuba, people would be lined up around the block six lines deep. People need ties for plants. People need tomato stakes. People need gaskets. They need gaskets very badly. They need the thick gaskets that go around refrigerator doors and insulated gaskets for oven doors, and they need the rubber rings for espresso pots and canning jars. People need coated wire that bends. People need golf tees to pound into worn screw holes so that they can insert screws again, and the springs and the tiny screws that go inside locks and door handles and window locks so that the rain doesn't come in more than it already does. People need sheets of expanded metal to repair the seats of broken outdoor furniture so they can sit and play dominoes and wait for things to change, and they need Rust-Oleum so that the outdoor furniture doesn't rust through again. People need Thompson's Water Seal. People need burner parts for gas stoves, and new burners for electric stoves, so that they don't have to cook over fires in their own backyards and cut down more trees and make their asthma worse than it already is. People need asthma medicine. Cuba has the highest rate of asthma in the world, from the dust and the mold and the humidity, which they can't get rid of or escape from, for lack of parts".

- Isadora Tattlin (Cuba Diaries*)

* Quietly painful. One of those books that justify sometimes just buying a randomly picked-up book. And the violent critical reviews on Amazon...whooo. Some people just can't look beyond their own romantic notions, and hate anybody who dares puncture through and show them a glimpse of reality. These are the same people who probably still wear Che t-shirts. Doof-asses.


Anonymous said...

I agree. Some of it might be real need, as in I can see the need for burner parts for stoves. But do people really need tomato stakes - sticks won't do? And Rust-Oleum? Is that the most essential thing one can think of?

??! said...

I think it's just everything, all the little and absurd things piling up. A lot of the book is quite eye-opening, simply from the point of view of someone who actually lived there, and despite having the money had to scrounge around.

km said...

Hello! I owned a Che t-shirt.

//I said "owned".

Space Bar said...

with km on this: i don't own a che t-shirt but i would love to.

does that make me a doofus?

km said...

sb: Doofus, no. But doof-ass, yes. ??!'s words, not mine :)

/I still think the Che shirt is cool, only now it must be worn with an acute sense of irony. ("Look at me! I am an Indian guy, pretending to be a white hipster pretending to be a revolutionary badass pretending to be a country's savior and this is meant to be funny")

//this shirt will NEVER go out of style.

Veena said...

I owned a Che t-shirt. Like km, I said "owned"

And Bill owns a thinkgeek Che t-shirt which is really an Einstein t-shirt which says Viva la relativity. I think he is the real doof-ass.

??! said...

ahh, touched a nerve there, I see. I think km's closest to the way I feel about it.

As a piece of iconic art, I have nothing about it.

But wearing it as a tshirt, which by implication tells the world that I support/admire/follow the man or his principles - that's not on.

I may not agree with people who wear Che tshirts knowing just what he stood for, and did in his life, and who happen to think he was a hero. However, I at least know they wear it for a genuine reason.

But people who wear the tshirts just because he looks so...well, let's face it...hot, and because they have some romantic notion of him as the ultime revolutionary, "never stop fighting", I-gave-up-my-plush-livelihood-and-a-doctors-career-to-fight-for-the-poor, those are the ones I have a problem with.

You want icons? Wear a Mandela tshirt. Wear a Tshirt with the Gandhi spectacles and dandi. Wear a tshirt of Robin Hood's little hat, for all I care. But for crying out loud, don't strut around wearing a Tshirt emblazoned with the face of a man who was fixated with only the concept of overthrowing things and did not see the irony of swanning around in cars and planes while the citizens...comrades that he "freed" were starving, just because it looks cool. And/or because he's...well, hot.

??! said...

And space, you could never be a doofus. Doofy, perhaps, never a doofus. Sillybilly.

??! said...

Kya unkelji, guitar-shitar, Che tshirts...next thing we know you'll be talking about your leather pants and white shoe collection.

km said...

That is the most serious critique I've ever seen of a Che shirt.

//I'd rather people wore Che shirts because he looks like a rock star than for his ideology. But then, that's me.

??! said...

I'd rather people wore Che shirts because he looks like a rock star than for his ideology.
I'd rather look like a rock star myself, than wear a tshirt of someone else who does :)

Space Bar said...

Oh, and while on the subject, see this.

(there is a point to saving all those posts, after all.)