Will Wilkinson socks it to Americans whining that the new era of relations with Cuba is going to junk up the island with Mickey Dees and Starbuckses. Sic ’em, Will:
Cuba is a showcase of dilapidated anti-commercial mid-century nostalgia, and I too sort of wish I had gone to see it, just as I wouldn’t mind having seen Soviet Leningrad. Come to think of it, it would be pretty interesting to see the slave ships coming into harbor in prebellum Savannah. What a scene those auctions must have been! But the human part of me, the moral part, as opposed to the aesthetic and amorally curious tourist part, can only regret that slaving Savannah and communist Russia lasted as long as they did, and today I can be nothing but hopeful that something like freedom is finally coming to the Cubans.
This reminds me of that episode of SNL’s Sprockets just after the Berlin Wall fell, in which host Dieter (Mike Myers) welcomed an East German experimental filmmaker who had come through the open wall to the West. The filmmaker was played by Woody Harrelson, who came out dressed in garish Western tourist clothes, and was wearing a helmet with beer can holders on either side, and tubes connecting to his mouth. Here’s a partial transcript:
Dieter: Welcome to Sprockets. I am your host, Dieter.
It has been a very busy week here in Berlin. Jourgen von Keitel’s exhibit “Scabs On Canvas” opened at the Schussel Calle, the Gertrude Bromf troupe previewed their performance in wax at the Theater of Unhappiness, and the Berlin wall was dismantled. For the masses the wall’s collapse represents freedom and opportunity. But for me, it is a chance to meet the most brilliant countercultural filmmaker in the East, Gregor Voss. Seen here on East German television last year, Voss, the suppressed visionary whose films include “The Dead Coat”, “Irritant Number 4”, and “Here Child, Finish Your Nothing”, he entered the West three days ago, and has agreed to appear on Sprockets and speak with me, his greatest fan. Please welcome Gregor Voss.
[ Gregor Voss steps out ]
Dieter: Welcome to Sprockets, Gregor Voss.
Gregor Voss: Whoo! Yah, is great to be here, Dieter.
Dieter: Gregor Voss, your presence intimidates me to the point of humiliation. Would you care to strike me?
Gregor Voss: This is fantastic I can’t believe I’m here! Hello West Berlin! Ich bin ein West Berliner!
Dieter: Tell me, in your film, Irritant Number 4, the only two images were a baby’s head and a toilet. Did you mean for me to scream?
Gregor Voss: Scream, ja, ja, ja. Look at this, look at this, Dieter, I’ve got great stuff here. Mountain Dew! A Remington Microscreen! They tell me it shaves as close as a blade.
Dieter: I see genius. By seemingly embracing the cliches of the West, he is underscoring its excruciating banality.
No, actually, he was having a blast enjoying all the fun consumerist crap that the West had for years. Here’s the whole transcript, which of course doesn’t do the skit justice.
Anyway, +1 to Will Wilkinson.