Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Congratulations to "Black Sheep of Exile"

Black Sheep of Exile is Killcastro's younger and cheekier sister , and on March 30th it turns one. We will always remember that anniversary because Black Sheep and RCAB were born a day apart. Killcastro and Black Sheep of Exile were not only the first blogs to welcome us to the blogosphere (Black Sheep with its first post), but the first to link to RCAB. In the beginning, most of our referrals came from Killcastro. It is well-known that that the Babalunians, when they want to know what is being said on the street or the secret councils of power in Cuba, recourse first to Killcastro, which has a network of informants in Cuba in the most unexpected places. And there they found us, too. The boycott against us initiated by Val might have succeeded but for Killcastro's spontaneous offer of assistance.

It should be noted that our respective blogs, though pursuing the same end, do not always take the same roads. Unlike the Babalunians, we do not want the whole Cuban-American blogosphere to speak with one voice. Such artificial unity is the hallmark of totalitarian states such as Communist Cuba. Nevertheless, the respect and faith which we both have for and in our countrymen on the island, our refusal to let others demean them by questioning their courage and dignity when it is theirs that is in doubt, binds us in common cause.

Moreover, we are not Miami-centric blogs. To turn Cuba into Miami II is not our aspiration, nor to turn Cubans into Americans. We know too much Cuban history and have lived more than enough to ever entertain such notions. We do not dream of rendering the Cuban nation in a pressure cooker, nor of rivers of blood, once congealed, providing a carpet for our return. We are not willing to starve our mothers (or anybody else's mother) in order to spite Castro. We believe that the Cuban people have suffered enough and do not desire to add to their sufferings. Cuba without Cubans is not acceptable to us though it is some kind of ideal for those whose patriotism is more concerned with preserving our country from our people than preserving our people. We are not alone, of course, though the other tendency is well-established in the Cuban blogosphere.

Here is the review that we published of Black Sheep of Exile on May 28, 2007:

This blog is older by one day than the Black Sheep of Exile. Our seniority allows us not only to review but to welcome to the Cuban blogosphere this latest and most interesting addition to it. Those familiar with the incisiveness and brazen originality of Killcastro, which is really sui generis among Cuban-American blogs for maintaining active contacts in Cuba and reporting firsthand on the quehacer cubano, will find the same and more at the Black Sheep of Exile, which draws with even a more personal and nostalgic brush the realities of life in Cuba as seen from the unique perspective of Killcastro and Charlie Bravo, who actually lived there for most of their lives and experienced in the only way they can be experienced the horrors that they report. That fact also has made them more understanding and compassionate towards those left behind, though not to the extreme of justifying conduct which should be censored here or there.

They are both formidable writers and both use English in the new and innovative ways pioneered by Cabrera Infante but taking him up a few notches. Their cubanization of English does not usually sacrifice correctness, but does make it do things that one would have thought impossible in this staid and emotionally-constrained tongue. This, of course, is a very different approach from my own, which is to out-English the English (I don't even think about the Americans). Two different approaches to English but both informed by the same Cuban spirit of rebellion which can manifest itself either by expanding the original (their case) or restoring it (mine).

Really, as most of you know, because you come in droves from
Killcastro, Charlie and Killcastro are a joy to read, both for content and delivery, but, above all, for that in-your-face originality that both captivates and instructs. After a visit to killcastro or the Black Sheep of Exile one feels as if one has partaken of a hearty and substantial meal, a sensation altogether different from the lighheadedness that follows after sampling the fluffy and watery fare at other Cuban-American blogs. The difference, of course, is genuineness: the fact that one is and does not merely aspire to be. But let me stop here before this turns into another review of Babalú.

Those familiar with
Killcastro know that I have differed with its editors on several issues in the past, but it has always been possible for us to reach consensus. When I think that there must be millions of Killcastros and Charlie Bravos in Cuba, it greatly consoles me. Without them, I would have no such consolation.

I urge you to read the following recent posts on the
Black Sheep of Exile:

El hebreo (memories of an elderly Jew in Havana who taught Charlie Bravo the meaning of fascism and communism and how Castro was the fusion of both sides of the same totalitarian coin).

Momias Gallegas (On Charlie Bravo's boyhood excursions to Colón Cemetery, the Chinese Cemetery and the Protestant Cemetery).

Sí, España (a touching tribute to the mother country and a necessary tonic for those who think that one can possibly affirm one's Cuban identity by hating her).

A Voluntary Buzzcut (which Charlie and his friends got in Cuba to show their solidarity with U.S. troops in Kuwait during the First Iraq War).

The Switch (about the bittersweet love affaire between Cubans and their cars).

I know you don't need an invitation or further inducement, so go there:


Ms Calabaza said...

Thanks for the heads up. I've already gotten hooked on Kill Castro blog and I agree that it is top notch. I'll have to check Black Sheep.

Charlie Bravo said...

Thanks Manuel for all the undeserved praise....
We just try to put our ideas forward, and help the people of Cuba to shake off the yoke of tyranny from once and all, in their own terms.
As per the "centrism" of our blogs.... well, the center is in the island. What can I tell you, the ones who would love to see a Miamization of Cuba are the same ones who cringe at the thought of the Cubanization of Miami, i.e., the politicos who do nothing to eliminate the inhuman dry foot wet foot and all who agree with them.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the Babalunias and their ilk will keep learning from MAT, Charlie Bravo, and Killcastro, that "...the center is in the island." Indeed.


Fantomas said...

"the center is in the island"

The center has always been in the island never outside

Los falsos profetas no cuentan

Vana said...

Good review Manuel and very much deserved for KC and Charlie, like you they work hard for a better future Cuba.

BTW Val went to Killcastro and insulted KC, he just can't help himself can he? I would say he needs anger managment.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


One thing's for sure, somebody didn't take his Prozac today, and neither you nor I can write him a prescription.

Vana said...


Val could get his very much needed medication at The Madhouse where he surely

KillCastro said...

Ah Mr. T. I somehow missed that post about BSoE. It humbles me, and I know it does CB. To quote an old Bee Gee's song "Words are all I(we)have" and when one tool is all you have , you better learn to love it, caress it, improve it , nurture it and when someone like you comes along , we sit in awe because YOU dear friend have been able to capture thoughts that require a much longer acquaintance to this most beautiful of all things. language!
I admitted to you once that our use of the language (whether English of Spanish) is mostly streams of consciousness (unless we have a critical subject from the Island) but we both write with the same zeal, we have been told that if we toned down the expletives, we would be a lot more popular. The press has contacted us asked for an interview of some sort with the provisos of "watching the language".
“Yeah go sit on something sharp lady!

English is an arid language, quite convenient in matters of business dismal in matters of creativity, so without getting into a spanglish which we both abhor we have been able to bring a chunk of LA’BANA toour work.

Some things can only be delivered via a well placed "FUCK YOU" and so we have not changed, and will not change regardless of how many opportunities are given to us to come to the fore but "watch the language"

You have become our intellectual leader. We read you with profound respect (and FUCK everyone who thinks this is an ass kissing shuffle, this is called LEARNING, LISTENING, ADOPTING and as lovers of words admiring your facility of prose while delivering the deadliest of blows.

It doesnt take talent , it takes a divine gift to use language the way you do. It takes courage to have undertaken the task of revealing the liars, the posers, the hypocrites, but you do it always in a way that could very well be interpreted as the highest of praise. Our blows are machete driven, learned in the guts of the Beast. Only a machetazos , could you survive that so called life. But we read you and without sounding overly dramatic, many have been the times when a tear has fallen and the tear is followed by an impetus of power. "THAT is how it is done, GOD DAMN IT". USE THE SCALPEL!
So you may have not noticed but our work has borrowed extensible (Okey we ripped ya off , ok?) from your experience and your wisdom.

Today *I* experienced the most insolent of experiences , where a blogger who has become an enemy because his total disdain for the people in the Island, came to our blog and not only insulted me but exposed my identity, knowing damn well that was a sacrosanct issue, because our sources and family in Cuba could very well suffer tremendous reprisals . But there you are. As you say;
“Some are some whish they could be”
And when they feel trapped they reverse evolution and become the lowest of animals.

This individual must be befuddled by the fact that his leadership as DaddyBlogger has turned into a circus, where noone respects, or believes anything that is written in what once was THE Cuban/American blog. Most of this comes from his innate inability to speak or write in either language and your strikes towards this lizard are always impeccably surgical. Not one word out of place or a letter than could be consider extraneous or missing.

We have learned Mr. T, Our personality and that of our blogs reflect who we are, our lives may have been cast in hell and so we bring that with us, the roughness is part of who we are and damn be those who feel we break some sacred covenant amongst Cuban/Americans. We have not because we do not consider this scum Cuban/American. They are lousy AMERICANS looking at Cuba through very tainted spectacles.

We thank you Mr. T and we admire you. We are proud you approve of our style, because approval from a teacher is the goal of any pupil.
Thank you sir.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I am profoundly moved by your words and humbled by the thought that I have done so little to deserve them. No one has neglected more than I the great obligations incumbant on such a talent as you ascribe to me. I am glad, however, that I have found a useful application for it, for though the tableau is small, the cause is not.

Although it may not seem so now, some day we will look back with satisfaction on these days because we did not obstruct the march of freedom and may actually have cleared away an obstacle or two of the thousands that lay in its path. Those who vainly seek, from either side of the Florida Straits, to separate the Cuban family, will live their worst days then.

I had thought that Val could sink no lower, but his wilful attempt to reveal your identity on your own blog, knowing, as he does, that you have vulnerable family on the island, surpasses even my worst expectation of him, plumbing a depth of inhumanity which only the most ruthless chivatos have ever reached. Despicable as Castro's minions are, they can, at least, plead that they are also his subjects. Val has no such excuse. He is not Castro's subject, though at times he acts as if he were his disciple.

Ana said...

Dear Mr Tellechea,

This is the first time I've posted on your blog though I've been here often.

I agree wholeheartedly about KC and CB. Back when I used to have a blog I received such warm feedback from them that I secretly felt that they were my brothers.

I love their blogs just as much as I love yours. I agree that the KC blog is linguistically inventive and manages to deconstruct the fascist discourse coming from the BBs and Castro (and I'll say it again: both are two sides of the same coin).

But your writing reminds me of the orality of Cabrera Infante; you certainly have a way with words. Many times I skip the BB critiques because I'd rather read your essays on Cuba.

Those of us who still have family in Cuba and want to protect them and ourselves don't need a Miami chivato trying to act like Castro.

Keep writing, please!

Charlie Bravo said...

Thanks Ana, for your kind words.... I feel honored that you feel that we were your brothers.

Charlie Bravo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leftside said...

I love to hear Val talk about censorship (which is not what is happening to Yoani). He has censored more smart people from the bandwidth of Babalu than MINNIT could ever hope to.

Yeah, turns out it takes MSNBC to get the story straight. ENTECA has been hearing reports of slow and bad connections for the last few days. The added traffic to Yoani's site, can't help her upload times. But people in Havana ARE and HAVE BEEN getting through (Cuban Triangle).

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I welcome you most cordially to RCAB and hope that as you have been a frequent reader in the past so too will you be a frequent commenter in the future.

I am also indebted to you for your kind words. Cabrera Infante, shortly before his death, wrote me a gracious letter praising my translation of José Martí's Versos sencillos/Simple Verses. His English is very richly layered with "cubism" and reminds me of Charlie and Killcastro's.

I pray do not skip the BB critiques; there you will find the greatest concentration of wry humor (choteo a lo cubano). This is indeed a genre that has few practitioners in English.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


The most foolish thing that the Castro regime could do is censor Yoani. But totalitarians have always done foolish things. Recall the persecution of Emile Zola persecution for his defense of Dreyfus. As in that case, the outcry against the state's proscription of individual expression has been more far-reaching and injurious to the regime than would have been allowing Yoani's voice to be heard.

You are right that Babalú's abuse of its commenters is without parallel among Cuban-American blogs. Perhaps that is the reason that a blog that claims more than half a million readers annually now has only a handful of commenters (and many of these "inhouse"). If Val doesn't start seeding the ground soon rather than "pruning the weeds" he will soon find himself in fallow ground.