Friday, March 30, 2007

Henry Gomez Is No Machiavelli

"Let's not give them [the Estefans] credit for being so smart, if that's the case. They should be represented by some real folks that know about reputation management, not some kid that sounds like he just got out of Miami-Dade Community College. " Henry Gomez, comment on Cuban American Pundits, March 29, 2007

Henry Gómez, who splits his time on 5 or 6 blogs, and has performed a great public service on one [Herald Watch], is principally in residence at Val Prieto's blog, where he exerts more influence over the volatile Val than any other non-Val valalusian. From the time Gómez wrote the original post on the Estefans and Carlos Santana precipitating this controversy, Henry and Val have admitted publicly on the Babalú Radio Hour to having engaged in shouting matches over the phone. Henry, who once met Santana and was scarred for life, cannot overlook or forgive Emilio and Gloria's "faux pas" and takes Val to task often and forcefully for his chronic and incurable estefanphilia. Still, it is Gómez who always seeks common ground, finding it perhaps uncomfortable to challenge the uber-colleague on his own blog. Indeed, when anyone challenges Val on Babalú, the hordes of the faithful immediately commence an auto-da-fé, where staffers and fans pledge their unconditional loyalty to him. This is the closest that anyone has ever come to a personality cult on any Cuban-American blog.

It was, therefore, up to Henry to seek consensus on this issue and pull Val Prieto's ass out of the fire where Val had comfortably sat because it had been lit by his friends the Estefans (Emilio phoned him personally, or haven't you heard?) It ocurred to Henry that perhaps all this dissension could have been avoided if only the Estefans had offered a more deceptive explanation of their acts than was originally profferred. Now that's quite a challenge that Henry undertook, for which his background in advertising and public relations should have served him in good stead. So here is Henry's version of what he thinks the Estefans should have said and would have said if Henry Gómez were their head PR guy:

"Carlos Santana has been a friend of ours since long before the 2005 Oscars. While we were saddened, at the time, by his decision to wear Che Guevara t-shirt to that awards show we forgave him because we don't think Carlos necessarily understands what Guevara actually did, as opposed to what he is believed to have done. When Mr. Santana learned of our project, 90 millas, he asked if he could participate. Of course we jumped at the chance to have a musician of Carlos' stature participate on our project. And our friendship had always remained in-tact despite the incident at the Oscars. We simply didn't realize that Santana's appearance on 90 Millas would inspire such a visceral reaction among our friends in the Cuban-American community and, for that, we are truly sorry. But the fact is that Santana is going to be on this album because to remove his work now would be a betrayal of an old friend. We understand that this will alienate some of our fans, and again we are truly sorry. The only thing we ask is that we be judged by the whole of our actions in public life and not by this decision that was based on personal friendship and not intended to be a slight to anyone in the Cuban American community."

My reaction after reading Henry's "explanation" of the Estefans' actions is that they definitely should not hire him as their PR guy. He would be an even worse representative than me (though better than Val). I think that in order genuinely to represent somebody else's position one must have at least a modicum of sympathy for that position and Henry clearly (and rightly) does not. Henry is without guile and I am sure believes that he did the best that he could by the Estefans. But it is impossible for anyone to write convincingly against his own convictions unless one has apprenticed at Granma.

Henry's hypothetical "apology," which should keep uppermost the Estefans' concern about losing their fan base, begins instead with an affirmation of their friendship with Carlos Santana, which would be calculated to enrage rather than placate their Cuban-American fans. It states that the Estefans were "saddened" to see their friend wearing a "Che" t-shirt at the Oscars. "Saddened?" Not hurt, incensed or offended, just "saddened." "Saddened," no doubt, because they love their friend so much that it grieves them to see him make an ass of himself (his natural condition). Their concern, then, is not for those whom Santana offended or misled by his shameless public adoration of "Che" Guevara and implicit support for what Guevara did, but, rather, their hearts bleed for what may befall their friend Santana because of his unredeemable stupidity, which the Estefans accept as innate and incurable.

Henry next proceeds to explain how their collaboration on the album 90 Millas (90 Miles) originated. Supposedly, Santana approached them, and, of course, who could turn a friend away? Their community they could dismiss out of hand; but a friend, never! In fact, it was not just friendship that they were upholding but their personal interests (which happily coincided with Santana's): "Of course we jumped at the chance to have a musician of Carlos' stature participate on our record." More talent, more sales, more money. Now that would hardly seem the kind of confession that the Estefans would make however true. By now, Henry feels that the Estefans should re-affirm their friendship with Santana once again and so they do: "And our friendship has always remained intact despite the incident at the Oscars."

Next Henry has the Estefans express their total bewilderment at the Cuban community's "visceral reaction" to their collaboration with Santana. If you are trying to placate somebody, you definitely don't call their reactions "visceral" (not intellectual, unreasoning). But that's not the worst of it: Henry has the Estefans address their fellow Cuban exiles as "our friends in the Cuban-American community." So the Estefans no longer consider themselves part of our community; they now only have "friends" in that community (he must be thinking of Val). And the Estefans are "very sorry" because their disconnection from those people led them to misjudge how they would react to this open provocation. Still, they don't give a damn about what their "friends in the community" think, as they make clear in a third and unconditional affirmation of their friendship with Santana: "But the fact is that [he] is going to be on this album because to remove his work now would be a betrayal of an old friend." So Santana is "an old friend" and their fellow Cuban exiles are just "friends" and betraying Santana is inconceivable, but betraying their Cuban friends is not. They do this fully conscious that it will "alienate" some of their Cuban-American fans (who are already aliens to them), but they don't give a damn (although they are "sorry" for the record sales it might cost them, presumably).

Finally, the Estefans reaffirm yet again their "personal friendship" with Santana (as opposed to their impersonal friendship with their fellow Cuban exiles) and conclude with the affirmation that they did not intend to "slight" those whom they have just slighted.

Again, I do not think that Henry is a Machiavellian and I do believe he offered this prepackaged apology to the Estefans in all sincerity and in the belief that it would "do the trick" and restore the status quo ante. But, sadly, Henry fails abominably, because his personal repulsion for Santana makes it impossible for him to be a voluntary mouthpiece for the Estefans like his friend Val.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Biggest Cocksucking In Cuban-American Blog History

I Hang My Head in Shame [As Well You Might]
by Val Prieto (as annotated by Manuel A. Tellechea)

The majority of the time I live my life with the utmost pride that I am a Cuban exile, [you mean that there are times when you have not felt proud to be a Cuban-American?] and that I have never been and never will be part and parcel of that communist scourge that plagues the island of my birth [having left the island at age 3 that would hardly be possible and whatever credit is owed in that regard belongs to your parents]. Yet there are moments, very few and very far between, that a profound and all encompassing sense of shame of being a Cuban Exile envelops me [yes, we know, you have already unbosomed yourself].

As I type this, I live in that envelop [envelope?]. Never have I ever felt such embarrassment and such remorse and self-disgust [at being a Cuban-American, again].

I just got off the phone with Emilio Estefan [some people feel enriched just talking to a semi-billionaire] and I will state here publicly [is there any other way?], in no uncertain terms, that he and Gloria deserve an apology from each and every one of us [you don't say?] for our trampling of their reputations [do you speak for yourself or everybody else?] vis-a-vis their upcoming album 90 Millas [so which has been trampled, their reputations or the album? Their album is an unknown quantity and the Estefans themselves will shortly prove one too]. I feel ashamed simply for even having the slightest doubt as to their convictions, whether or not I stated these publicly or not [so you are apologizing for what was in your heart, the secrets of which only you know, like Jimmy Carter?].

So here it is, like it or not:

I support Gloria and Emilio Estefan's new work 90 Millas completely and wholeheartedly [although you have never seen it nor do you know its contents] and I will not allow [even if I must resort to censorship] any further slander of their persons [if published it's libel, not slander] or conviction [?] on this blog. It seems, my first instinct were 100% correct when Henry posted on this subject last week [really, 100%! That's infallibility. I think you may fall a little short of that].

No one here knows what is exactly on that album [and neither do you].

No one here knows what conversations the Estefans had prior, during and after the recording with Carlos Santana [and neither do you, except on Estefan's authority, which for you is vox dei].

No one here knows what the album is truly about [you said that already], who else is featured on same and what the accompanying documentary features and focuses on [but we do know that the "Che"-loving Castro (p)sycophant Carlos Santana will be featured there].

Moreover, you can criticize their music til your hearts content [no, that's what the critics do], but as I've stated here and elsewhere, the Estefans have been impeccable examples of the Cuban exile community their entire lives [yes, the Oprah and Stedman of Cuban-Americans] and have represented our community and its convictions with dignity, class and honesty [and don't forget altruism], with little or no thought to their professional careers [is there even one minute in the last 30 years that their careers have not been at the center of their thoughts and lives?] and despite being in an industry where their particular views - our views - [are you sure their views are our views?] are less, much less, than popular and constantly criticized and denigrated [the Estefans are Democrats, friends of Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela and champions of all the liberal causes; their liberal political allies have certainly never denigrated them].

There are some folks out their who are of the belief that the Estefans dont do enough for the freedom of Cuba given their public exposure and notoriety [in fact, they do nothing for the Cuban cause compared to what they do for liberal causes]. To those folks all I can say is you are dead wrong [about what? The Estefans have never contributed anything but lipservice to any Cuban cause, including Elian]. While they may not be constantly in the news spouting the evils of fidel castro and his regime, they have taken on industries, kings, presidents, the United Nations and countless other people and entities ["taken them on," you say? That means that they have met with world leaders who were sympathetic to Castro. Well, one, at least, Nelson Mandela and they didn't "take him on"]. That implies that they have met enemies of [what?] and are always fighting for what all of you here and I are fighting for on a daily basis, only they have been doing so their entire adult lives [oh, the Estefans not only fight more than us but they have been doing it longer than any other exiles. Imagine, two people doing more than 2 million, and still managing, in the process, to make a half-billion dollars!].

Our passion sometimes get the better of us [you don't say?] and when we jump the gun [yes, a very apropos phrase, that about 'jumping the gun'], as in this case [really?], we only hurt ourselves and our cause [you are right there]. And then we certainly live up to that stigma that we are always trying to rectify [how can one "live up" to a "stigma"? Do you mean that we deserve the "stigma"? You must because you say we are trying to "rectify" it].

In the words of Emilio: "Some of the comments directed at me and Gloria questioning our convictions as Cubans and as exiles are like mentandome la madre" [no they are not. Besides, why should it matter to Emilio Estefan if any of his compatriots "question his convictions" if he and Gloria actually lived up to them? What, they haven't gotten enough of their usual brown-assing quota from the community this month? Well, you've just got them over that hump.].

I apologize to Gloria and Emilio, personally [that is your right], for any discord or detriment this blog may have caused and I hope you all will do the same [yes, sir, with all deliberate speed, let all of us bow before their power and wealth as you do].

Update: I forgot to menton that Emilio will be issuing a press release tonight or tomorrow regarding this which Ill post as soon as it's recieved [that is true and to your credit].

Someone [Henry?] mentioned to me that perhaps Emilio may be doing some PR damage control and that perhaps the call and the subsequent media appearances - Emilio was on a phone interview on TV just after speaking to me - are an attempt to diffuse waht could be a major issue regarding 90 Millas. That may be so [what else could it be? Does Emilio call you everyday?], but from my conversation and what I took from it, he is more angry about criticisms regarding their convictions from their own community. That said and my conversation being off the record, time will most certainly tell [and within the hour]. Should I have been duped or be wrong, Ill be the first to publicly eat crow [while still continuing to defend them].

Posted by Val Prieto
Babalu Blog
March 27, 2007