Tag Archives: Mariano Vidal

July 26th, a significant day

By Mariano Vidal

20110727-110448.jpgToday, July 26th is a significant day for me.

For instance, Hoyt Wilhelm was born on this day. Not too many people know that the arm of this knuckleballing pitcher was actually deformed from throwing the weird pitch that relies on no spin and no wind.

Two favorite poets were born on this day. Although not that far away from each other, their native languages could not have been more different. This is where being bi-lingual is a joy. One was the Irish George Bernard Shaw, and the other was Antonio Machado, who although born in Andalusia, did most of his work in Soria, one of my favorite Spanish cities, where black truffles grow. He wrote:

¡Chopos del camino blanco, álamos de la ribera,
espuma de la montaña
ante la azul lejanía;
sol del día, claro día!
¡Hermosa tierra de España!

(Poplars upon the white path, riverbank elms
Mountain haze
Before the blue beyond;
Sun of the day, clear day!
Beautiful Spanish land!)

Jean Shepherd, the American writer, was born on July 26th. His radio show in the early 70s, kept me both amused and awake while I was doing my architectural school homework. I learned how to play the kazoo by listening to his rendition of “The bear missed the train” (a variation of “Bei mir bist du shoen”). You may be familiar with “A Christmas Story,” a movie based on one of his books. It’s about the kid who wants a Red Ryder BB gun and the mom who worries that he is “going to shoot his eye out.” I had a BB gun just like that when I turned nine years old. The movie narrator is Jean Shepherd himself.

Vivian Vance was born on this day. She played Ethel in the “I love Lucy” TV program. She came from a wealthy family and didn’t have to do the show and battle Fred, who was an ornery alcoholic. They hated each other passionately, but managed to make me laugh, perhaps even more than Lucy and Ricky.

Sandra Bullock was also born on this day. If she alone does not make you forget Castro’s 26th of July Movement, nothing will.

Photo: Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Fred and Ethel Mertz in “I Love Lucy.”

Why Cubans don’t play golf

Golf is the sport of Kings, or at least one of them. You don’t even break into a sweat. You can’t even get your clothes dirty even if you tried. One can have a caddie, which is just another word for a butler. If you can afford a caddie, then you opt for something that you can’t afford, like a golf cart. You walk around manicured green lawns and ponds. You’re out there exposed to the elements, but not really roughing it, unless you hit the little white ball into the area they call the “rough”. The forest is really more like an arboretum, each tree placed perfectly – in fact, most golf courses from around the world have been designed by a famous player.

Cubans don’t play golf. It’s as simple as that. I’ve tried, but quite frankly, I found it boring, like watching grass grow. Unfortunately, the folks that run golf courses don’t give the grass enough of a chance to grow, so you can’t even derive any pleasure from that.

Cubans don’t see the point in hitting a little white ball around with clubs and making “birdies” or replacing “divots” (thank God for spell-check). They much rather prefer to do that at home. They can’t see the fun in following after the ball with group of (usually) guys, especially when there is no music to be heard, with or without conga drums.

What got me thinking about golf and Cubans is that I just heard that the Castro regime, after many years of prohibiting golf courses on the island, because of the capitalistic, elite and regal connotations associated with the “sport”, has finally succumbed due to its desire for even more tourism.

So if anyone has an inkling of going to Cuba for a round of golf, keep in mind that the incredible fertile soil of Cuba, which can grow anything from a chirimolla to a watermelon, is going “green”, in the sense that thousand of acres of potentially cultivated land that would otherwise feed the hungry, will be converted instead into manicured golf courses which will be frequented by clueless foreign tourists.

Cubans don’t play golf. It’s both boring to somebody like me, who has been away from the island for almost 50 years and unavailable to those there, since they are not permitted to enter the resorts, except with an “escort” – but we’ll leave that discussion for another day. No food, no liberty, no Coca-Colas, no free press, no free elections — and worst of all, no golf.

Ah, Cuban ingenuity! I can just picture golf carts transformed into taxis all over Havana.

Mariano Vidal

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