March 02, 2020

A New Look for The Front Door

One of the most significant changes made on the Home Page (cuba.htm) is the removal of the left side div which, for years, was the place where the logo would hang out. On small screens the div would disappear and the logo would relocate to the very top.
Removing it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but combined with other changes, it allowed for a more stream-lined page.  
The left side was there for over fifteen years, serving the larger screens of the time and going through various cosmetic updates along the way. But now that screens are both larger and smaller than ever, it’s time for an evolutionary change.
This change would invoke CSS grid and Flexbox to power the page. A new version of the home page is currently being developed, tested (and cursed at—in Spanish) for the near future. Here’s a peak, though it’s not quite ready for prime time.
But first, as they say in morning news, a little something about a 17-year-old home page that has recently retired.
Seventeen years is a long time for a home page (the “front door”). Over the years it has featured different looks, and for a brief time at the beginning, it even included pictures of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
Those were the early days, during the Clinton Administration, when I was still in denial about the hate that existed towards the only names and faces widely recognized in the U.S. as “Cubans.” A friend suggested that I use a picture of “Ricky Ricardo” instead.
“You mean, Desi Arnaz?” I said to her.
“Who!? No! Ricky Ricardo. Lucy’s first husband.”
The third most recognizable Cuban at the time was not even remembered by his own name. And the 2nd most recognizable Cuban (Che) was born in Argentina. Castro and Che were evicted off the Home Page and replaced by Martí and Maceo. It didn’t matter that Americans didn’t know who they are. I would gladly tell them.
Eventually, as the site grew, the Front Door and the Timetables became the most worked pages.  

An early Home Page (Front Door) made
with HTML tables
Initially both were built with clumsy HTML tables for layout.  This early screenshot shows a tables layout with a JavaScript gallery showing a Martí stamp. At the top, next to the logo, a mouse-over effect invites you to wave the Cuban flag.
At some point David-Siegel-like single-pixel-Gifs were everywhere. I remember staying up nights with Siegel’s first book considering how to improve the look of the site.
As the specifications for HTML evolved, so did the timetables, though not the Front Door. The new HTML 4.01 pages (on the timetables), built with CSS and embracing floats and positioning became, almost by accident, mobile-friendly. The effort to adhere to the demands of assisted technologies paid off in unexpected ways, though I didn’t really “get it” at the time.
Today, the new CSS Grid frontdoor seems an awfully serious decision. Here’s what’s happening;
While I know what I want the small screen to do and look like (a variation of the current one shown at left, but more streamlined) it’s the large screen that’s giving me trouble. It’s always easier to throw things on top of each other than to assemble them into meaningful coherence.

Background Image

A background “hero” image is loaded with the body, depicting true heroes of Cuban history inone of their most heroic moments;
.bod2 {
background-image: url(;
 background-repeat: no-repeat;
 background-position: center center;
background-attachment: fixed;
-webkit-background-size: cover;
-moz-background-size: cover;
-o-background-size: cover;
background-size: cover;}
   Martí on the left side to greet us, with rebels behind him… this image appears at screens at least 600 pixels wide and disappear from smaller screens.
I used this image because of its “history” with the site. “Crossing of the Trocha, Jan 1, 1896,” symbolizes the relentless struggle for independence inspired by Martí and led by Maceo and Gómez… the image has been desaturated a bit for the front door.
Part of the central image is repeated on the .article2 div (without Martí) that appears on screens 1200 pixels or higher. The image links to the Gallery page in which this image is further explored.
On pages 900 pixels wide, Grid-template areas provide for a 6-column, 4-row grid, leaving the left area open for Martí.

 grid-template-columns: repeat(6, 1fr);
    grid-template-rows: 80px 180px 1fr 90px;
    " . header header  header  header  header"
    " . mainbar mainbar article article sidebar"
    " . article2   . article3 article3 sidebar"
    " . search footer footer footer footer";

The grid-template-areas reassemble themselves d for different screen sizes, leaving out sidebar1 and article2 from the smaller screens.
Firefox screen shot shows grid-template-areas
Various grid items feature semi-transparent colors (rgba) to separate and isolate the section. This includes article3, article, sidebar and mainbar. This is still in the testing stage.


The search window appears at the bottom… I want the visitor to glance through my offerings before they go searching for stuff. On the other places where it is used (contents.htm & content2.htm) the Google Search appears at the top right.
I don’t recall when the Google Search was established, but it must be approaching legal age and it still works like a Laker point guard in their prime.

Screen breaks come at screen widths of 500, 600, 800, 900 and 1200 pixels. Aside from reorganizing the grid-template-areas, they mostly adjust font sizes …
A Chrome screen shot shows the basic idea for the page
Along the way I came across various peculiarities in how the same exact page displays on Firefox and on Chrome…

On Chrome the page lays out as expected… and it shrinks as you’d want it to. The Firefox page is a different story.
Once established, this layout may be used on different menu pages… with slight variations relating to different site topics. I can’t wait to get there.

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February 02, 2020

The Galleries – A Different Challenge

When I began this adventure of “refactoring”, nothing seemed more confusing to me than the galleries. There were many of them in a variety of flavors, from xhtml1.0 to html4.1strict and so on.
On most pages the HTML was a mess, as if different people had worked on them during different stages of psychotherapy with Dr. Hannibal Lecter. There were also JavaScript pop-up galleries, some of which will remain for the sake of nostalgia or because they add something significant.
Clearly those pages were made for a different age. It wasn’t difficult to see that, in an iconic presidential election year, some of these outdated and stubborn galleries had to go.
Here’s the list of “former” galleries:
·        Independence Gallery
·        Early History Gallery
·        Missile Crisis Gallery (JavaScript)
·        Revolution Gallery (JavaScript)
·        Entrance Gallery
·        Loann in Havana (JavaScript)
·        Tina Panziera in Havana
I decided to focus on Entrance Gallery (lagaleria/index.htm) which featured a shitload of thumbnails, two sub-folders and 90 gallery pages (one per thumbnail). Que Cosa!? This was an effort to consolidate the various galleries above into one official… museum but remained incomplete and abandoned (and not used on the Site Count made during the first Obama Administration). The index page was an xhtml1.0 monstrosity, with JavaScript mouse-over teeth and html table spikes. I must have still been high on hope at the time.
For the new Cuban History Gallery, the pages were combined, expanded or eliminated, as deemed appropriate. This gave me the opportunity to make improvements and simplify user options.  Instead of links to specific galleries, the site could provide links to specific topics and personalities from a context-meaningful page…
To enhance the rejuvenation of the site, I created a completely new version of the thumbnails gallery (left) using flexbox. This page would also serve as “Home” for the Cuban History Gallery.
It also seemed prudent to completely remove Independence Gallery and Early History Gallery from the site, both remnants of the tragic version nine. There were many other pages that pointed to these now-defunct galleries… those links will have to be hunted and “taken out” on a page-by-page basis.

Refactoring all these pages would be a long and painful process, so I cheated; I created a new template for a new gallery, and I remade the gallery one page at a time, often keeping the same file name.
Aside from the expected elimination and replacement of neo-lithic HTML with Post-Netflix HTML that includes unordered lists styled with Flexbox, the new design features one universal “look” for all the pages.
After the template was completed, this was the basic process:
1.      Open the new template and open an old gallery page
2.      Copy the title, meta keywords and description from the old page into the template
3.      Copy the desired content from the old gallery page and close the file.
4.    With everything in the template page, save it over the old gallery page, with the old name.
5.    Continue to whatever actual re-factoring remains necessary on the new page.
6.    Make world peace. (I got that one from Martin Rand-Hendriksen. It seemed like a good idea.)
And there you have it. Everything old is new again.
It’s like moving your good stuff into a new apartment, getting rid of the junk and keeping your old address.

Most of the work time is spent polishing the new page, paying attention to new details and, in some cases, adjusting and enhancing the content.
For example, the Martí Gallery now features new artworks and images.  and an additional Martí on  a Stamp Gallery is new to the site, after nearly a decade on the shelf as “something I’ve got to finish…” (the stamps came from my dad, who’s a stamp collector).
One thing still missing from most of the galleries is the brief descriptions that describe the image or personality, with links to additional content. Somehow, within my fuzzy world view, is the idea that these descriptions are less urgent than completing the refactoring for the rest of the site… or am I just customizing the refactoring process to my whims? So be it. The missing descriptions will appear at a later date.
A gallery navigation system allows you to walk the galleries as if you were in a museum.  The NAV BAR appears twice on each gallery page; at the top and at the bottom.
As of now, the total number of gallery files has been trimmed to 30, but a few galleries will be added sometime in the future, such as; Jose Maceo, Jose Maria Heredia, Maceo’s mother, Captain General Martinez Campos and perhaps one or two others. I list them here so they can be a reminder.
The Stylesheet
The stylesheet used on the galleries, galeria.css, was originally made two decades ago just as the Florida Supreme Court hand-picked G.W. Bush to be our next President. Netflix had not started their streaming service yet, but you could rent DVDs by mail (and avoid the useless conversations that took place while waiting in line at the video store).
For a few years the stylesheet just sat there until it was finally used on the new Independence Gallery. By then the site had many more pictures and I recognized the need to show them on their own.
Refactoring this stylesheet was the least bothersome part of working with the galleries. This may be my favorite of the four stylesheets used on… or so it seems, perhaps only because I’ve spent so little time with it.


January 17, 2020

Work Done So Far (on refactoring

As of tonight, I’ve refactored about 75 pages, including most or all the timetable pages that you can click on from the Home Page (, most of the timetables and various others. (Remember, this is not a full-time job with a team of dedicated professionals and free Starbucks coffee… it’s a one-person-operation taking place after hours and on weekends.)
  The tables.css stylesheet was completely redone, and the tags for most of the pages were updated in less than a week. The effort has made a difference in how things work today.
All these pages are now ready for the Super Bowl/Academy Awards season. Whether you’re using a cell phone or pad or the big screen on the Starship Enterprise, you should be able to scroll the timetables, regardless of screen availability. 
[Disclaimer: there may still be a thing to do, or two, on some of the pages.]
Changes made include:
·        Reorganizing the Head section
o   Adding mobile tags
o   Rewriting page titles (when necessary)
o   Removing old META tags that are no longer useful
·        Changing tags to lower-case
·        Removing old/deprecated tags
·        Eliminating most ids – they just weren’t necessary
·        In some cases, copying the page content to a whole new page
·        Adding new fonts (not all pages have them yet)
·        Discarding old JavaScripts – Remember this?
o   ONMOUSEOVER="window.status = 'An alphabetized list'; return true;"
·        In some cases, removing StatCounter JavaScript code from 2002

·        Adjusting shadows and border colors
o   The older borders and shadows seemed heavy and exaggerated.
·        Adding flexbox to the Home Page Elements section
·        Adding HTML5 headers and footers – Sure, the site used divs styled as headers and footers, but they’re just not the same thing.

Because the initial site was built over a ten-year period with some pages still brandishing HTML 3.0 tags, it is difficult to determine how long it will take to complete all the pages waiting in line for an overhaul.
The timetables are among the earliest pages I ever made (they’ve grown over time, like children). Those were the days of DS9 and AOL and square TVs and Billary Clinton. It never occurred to me back then that in 2020 I’d be refactoring the same pages while worrying about the end of Democracy.
On a practical level, refactoring the timetables was easier than the menu pages or the article pages (of which there are still many left to do). That’s because the timetables were refactored once already, sometime around the first Obama Administration. At this time all HTML tables were removed, along with loads of font-tags and other remnants of a brief affair with Microsoft Front Page. These were replaced by teamwork from HTML/CSS.
Maybe it’s the new fonts that make it feel like a whole new web site. But there’s still much more to do… the thought of a “hero” background image occurred to me recently, and I’ll have to give this some thought.

January 07, 2020

Would you like to see a menu?

Most of us can appreciate an attractive menu. They give us the opportunity to make choices and give us a unique way to express ourselves, sometimes serving us happy surprises along the way.  Pages that offer lots of links and few paragraphs of information are vital to I call these Menu Pages.
The Menu page for the José Martí section (, for example, features many articles by and about the “Maestro” as well as related offerings. This may be a user’s first stop on the road to learning about Martí, and it may be the page bookmarked for further exploration.
At least 21 pages (so far) on the site use menu2.css, the stylesheet designated for these pages. They all basically do the same thing, with slight variations due to their specific content.  Their topics include: Struggle for Independence; Antonio Maceo; early history, Cuban sugar; Bay of Pigs; etc. These are not just menu pages, but important topics in a long and complex history.
Most of these pages were made at different times and with different tools, but now that they’ve been “refactored” to use menu2.css, this will be the first time they all march to the same drummer.
Initially I thought of this work as an “overhaul or redesign” but I like the word “refactoring” much better. It sounds like something Scotty would do in Engineering to give Captain Kirk more speed;
“I need warp speed NOW, Scotty!”
“Yes, Keptin, but it’ll take time… I’ll need to refactor the CSS, upgrade the pages to HTML5 and remove tons of analog JavaScript from the mid-1960s… this is delicate work, Keptin. One syntax error and the engines could blow!”
“Make it quick, Scotty, or we’re all dead!”
There’s no way that I can work as fast as Scotty. He had Roddenberry on his side.
But don’t be fooled… lots of what falls under “refactoring” is grunt work that Scotty would have assigned to a first-year cadet;
·        removing hotspots & re-writing links
·        Grouping font styles to eliminate clutter
·        “zeroing out” margins and removing margin measurements from html tags
·        removing old JavaScript
·        change all-caps HTML tags to lower-case
·        replacing or removing deprecated HTML (hspace, vspace, i, b, etc)
·        removing “target=_n” from hyperlinks  
·        sweeping dust under the rug
·        …and making sure pizza is ordered by 6 so it will arrive by 7
But that’s not all. Once the cadet is done, there’s still more to do. Here’s the next challenge;
·        exchanging ids for classes
·        Updating CSS order and reviewing the cascade
·        Removing ids and classes no longer in use…
·        Correcting/updating remaining classes to fit within the boundaries of a new decade
·        Thinking about what this page might be asked to do in the next few years
·        Normalizing “footers” across the pages; all of which have been wearing different shoes until recently
·        Removing outdated/unwanted/broken links
·        Adjusting/updating design elements for different screens: borders, corners, shadows, shading…
And just when you think you’re done with the page you notice something else that must be... refactored.

With the menu2.css style sheet, the first step was to reorganize it into a “mobile-first” model, which meant making some serious order changes, taking a sober look at all measurements provided and “drumming” up some new screen breaks. Once these changes were made, each of the connected pages was tested and adjusted. This is where the major HTML updates took place.
This may not have been the best approach… but I learned my lesson. I did rethink the complexity of the stylesheet and simplified it as much as possible. You would not believe how much crap I threw out.
For the articles3.css stylesheet, which is attached to many more (and more varied) pages, I’m exploring a different approach that I will describe later.

Old Enough to Buy a Drink
Over the twenty-plus year life of the site, the code has been refactored at various times, though back then this process was called “updating.” From HTML 2.0 to HTML 3.1 to HTML 4.1… from no-CSS to CSS2 and then CSS3… things slowed down about then, as my time was challenged by work that actually helped pay my rent.
The site performed well, leading me to think that a transition to HTML5 would be “easier and faster” than it is turning out to be.

Implementing a mobile-first ideology across all menu pages so that they perform in a consistent manner has made a major different in site performance. It has also led to minor cosmetic improvements.
Most of the pages on the site still need a lot of work. And looking at some of that old code feels like traveling back in time.
This “refactoring” mostly involves stuff under the hood… but it has already affected some of the visual elements, though I wouldn’t call it a “redesign” or a “revisioning” but a sharpening of the edges.

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December 26, 2019

How Big is This Site I’m Refactoring?

Last week I began the process of refactoring The need for this had been there for years, but the will to do it was nowhere to be found.
Almost ten years ago (2010) I performed a statistical count of all items included on the site. The count was adjusted and finalized on 2014, and it’s unlikely that the numbers have changed since then.
This is what the count revealed; consists of 1,021 total files distributed among 10 folders and 34 sub-folders. There are 571 graphic files and 450 text files (HTML, CSS, JavaScript).
The history is divided into the various periods, but the content itself is presented as timetables, timelines, articles, menus, image galleries, and book excerpts.
Initially there was only one style sheet for the whole site, but it grew cumbersome and over time I separated it into 4 different files (which will be described later).
According to those measurements, the site features a total word count of 207,097 words. This is actual “site content” and excludes any HTML, JavaScript, CSS or anything not seen by the site user.
The total word count can be divided as follows:
·        Timetables – 50,014
·        Timelines – 29,426
·        Articles -    59,731
·        Book Excerpts – 40,857
·        Misc Hist – 27,051

Counting Methods
A lot of care went into making sure that items were not double counted, as they might belong to different “types” of content. For example, the Martí section includes an article, various sidebars and a timeline. For the word count, the Marti article and corresponding sidebars are counted under “Articles” and the Martí Timeline is counted under “Timelines.” This convention is followed throughout the count.
The Articles word-count of 59,731 includes the history items not counted under Timetables or Timelines. These items include articles and sidebars, notes and abstracts.  
The site also features more than 40 book excerpts from 29 books. These books include: The Man Who Invented Fidel, by Anthony DePalma; Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution, by Louis A. Pérez, Jr.; Versos SensillosA New Translation by Anne Fountain; Family Portrait with Fidel and The Twelve, by Carlos Franqui; Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life, by Robert Lacy; and Kennedy by Theodore Sorensen.  
Another significant “chunk” of content is described as MISC, with 27,000 words. This includes historical documents that have played an important part in the country’s evolution, such as the Teller and Platt Amendments; the letter by ex-President Estrada Palma discussing his resignation from office in 1906; various treaties between the U.S. and Cuba; the proclamation issued by U.S. Secretary of War William H. Taft in September 1906 when he assumed leadership of the Cuban government; Martí’s thoughts on Antonio Maceo, and more.

Largest Content Segment
In terms of word-count, the site’s largest segment is the Timetables, with 50,014 words. Timetable coverage begins shortly before Spanish arrival in 1492 and continues all the way to 2005. Along the way, users can jump to articles, sections and galleries to learn more about the events depicted.
The 2nd largest type of content is the Timelines with 29,426 words. There are seven distinct timelines, the largest of which is the Antonio Maceo Timeline with 14,391 words. In this unique timeline, users can follow Maceo’s life from birth in 1845 until his death in battle during Cuba’s War of Independence in 1896. Other timelines included: the Martí Timeline, Cuban Sports Timeline, Embargo Timeline, Missile Crisis Timeline, Race War of 1912 Timeline and the Che Guevara Timeline.
The Timetables provide a linear journey through five centuries of Cuban history. Here you'll encounter wars for independence, slave revolts and blind-with-power Captains-Generals, conquering Spanish soldiers thinking they’re on a mission from God, and many brave Cubans who contributed to the island’s long and complex past.
The timetables are spread out over 12 HTML files running 50,000 words. (The timetables stop at 2005)
Basic Timetable Organization
Early History: 1492 - 1775
Struggle for Independence: 1776 - 1928
Before the Revolution: 1933 - 1958
After the Revolution: 1959 - 1979
The Eighties and Beyond: 1980 – 2005

 As you might guess, the refactoring of this site may turn out to be more complicated than even I anticipated, but I’m still looking forward to it.

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December 17, 2019

Refactoring an old web site

The process of refactoring has begun.
When I began to code the site way back during the first Clinton Administration, it never occurred to me that one day, in some near future, I would be browsing websites on a telephone… but here we are.

It’s not my favorite way to see something… but you can’t argue with the convenience of finding something you need right now. Still, you won’t catch me watching Star Wars on a phone screen while riding public transportation… I still prefer a big screen most of the times… but I can see wanting to browse the timetables during a long bus ride.
The process of bringing site up to full modern coding standards is not new. Last year minor coding updates were made here and there but had to be set aside… until now. The process seemed too large and overwhelming, since I’m doing everything myself.
This process will include:
·        Update to html5 as needed
·        Update various CSS files
·        Remove old JavaScripts (no firing squads, just a hand-shake)
·        Fixing/updating bad links
·        Perform minor structural maintenance & some file reorganization
·        Minor corrections
·        Review the pages
·        Update NAV systems
·        Re-do the Galleries
·        Re-do some of the timetables
·        Remove ads and old links
·        Implement mobile tech where appropriate
The first phase will be the home page, which is tied to the menu2.css stylesheet. Originally this page was designed for the large screen, but screen-breaks were added for smaller screens.
The first part of the change will be to convert the style sheet into a “mobile-first” style sheet.
Aside from styling the Home Page, menu2.css is used on various menu-type pages, offering brief introductions to sub-topics and lists of related content and topics.
We’ve come a long way since the emergence of the flat screen.

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March 04, 2019

Maceo in Havana, Part 2

The Director
Excited by the possibility of updating and rewriting my screenplay about Antonio Maceo, I began to re-visit books by Syd Field and Robert McGee and others that promised to unleash the secrets of successful screenwriting… I also started reading screenplays with more frequency, even if they had nothing to do with waging war or achieving independence from a mean and powerful empire.
Some screenplays I couldn’t put down, such as Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs.” And others I enjoyed more than the actual movies, such as Steve Martin’s “LA Story” and Tarantino’s “Natural Born Killers.”
Lucky for me the San Francisco Public Library had lots of screenplays I could borrow, and many screenplays were now appearing in book form.
But, even if the screenplay was properly completed and I was to get a producer or agent in HollywoodLand to read it, and buy it, who could direct it?
Tarantino and Maceo are a great match, but Maceo also matches well with African-American directors such as John Singleton or F. Gary Gray or Antoine Fuqua or Spike Lee. These guys may be a better choice, since they’ve not announced a formal retirement from making movies.
Still. Imagine the headlines: “Tarantino postpones retirement to direct a movie about Antonio Maceo.” One thing I like about him is his willingness to remind us of the racist nature of our culture… hidden from textbooks and denied blatantly by its most visible supporters. (I refer mostly to the brilliant dialogue in “The Hateful Eight” and the plot to “Django Unchained.” Yet, to this day, my favorite Tarantino movie may still be “Jackie Brown.”)
One thing I dislike about him is his willingness to change facts for the sake of dramatic accent marks. “Inglorious Basterds” being my case-in-point. The memory of Maceo demands that his story be told with honesty. (Not to blame it all on Tarantino, but there are many that probably believe this is how WWII ended.)
Mario Van Peebles made a Western (“Posse”) that I liked at the time but was panned by critics. It featured a black man returning from the Spanish-American War to seek revenge on the man who lynched his father.  Van Peebles’ film seems much more relevant today, as our President revives the racist feelings America nurtured in private while not saying the “N” word in public. I looked up Roger Ebert’s review from 1993. He’s still one of my favorite film critics. Except, of course, for those times when he’s completely full of shit, as he is with “Posse” (and with “Death to Smoochie” in 2002).
Ebert’s review of “Posse” hints at potential problems with a movie about Maceo. He clearly acknowledges that the story “needs to be told.” “It is a West not often seen in Hollywood movies,” he adds in reference to the presence of black people in the real West but not in the celebrated Hollywood Westerns of yesteryear that came before his time. (I will look up what Ebert had to say, if anything, about those Westerns.) Then he obliterates the film; “Unfortunately, Van Peebles is never able to find a clear story line and follow it.” Ouch… this hurts more because it’s not true. “The movie is action without meaning, violence without the setup that would make it meaningful.”  
Denying our racist history is a well-practiced artform. Now more than ever. We all know its there, we just avoid discussing it. 
I usually enjoyed Ebert’s reviews. But let’s not forget that, like most critics, he was sometimes completely full of shit.
Richard Price’s screenplays were also lots of fun to read, and I enjoyed William Goldman’s as well, including “Magic.”

I began to really think that I could finish my screenplay, that my original flawed attempt was not that far off the mark… that if I abandoned the academic nature of the timetables I could create a film about Maceo that could gain something like the popularity HE had with Black Americans in his time… (some used “Maceo” as a first name for their male children).
Dreamer-logic seemed to be on my side… I was the perfect person to write a movie about Maceo. I spent over a decade researching Maceo and his role in Cuban history… I was a natural movie-lover and story-teller… and I was convinced that Maceo’s bravery on and off the battlefield would inspire new generations.
But simple logic does not a movie make anymore than simple math a U.S. Presidential election decides.
I was warned against a 2nd act scene in which Maceo and Spanish General Santocildes have a brief conversation and Maceo expresses that he would never accept Cuba falling into the hands of the U.S. Empire, which was also Martí’s fear, and what actually happened after their death.
Brad Pitt could act the hell out of General Santocildes, the proud Spaniard who faced Maceo in battle years earlier and has a great deal of respect for the Cuban… and he knows it is almost inevitable that they will face each other in battle again. (Don’t ask me what happens. You’ll have to see the movie.)
In the past decade things have changed in Hollywood, which suddenly seems much more Democratic than Washington. Even if it’s only dollar-Democracy. Suddenly even the Academy Awards seem multi-cultural.
The same world-wide audience that embraced “The Black Panther” would love Maceo in Havana.  
How to sell Maceo In Havana to the public
Today, the world is much more sympathetic to Cuba than our public media would admit.  
And this is where Hollywood’s dollar-Democracy could benefit the memory of Antonio Maceo.
Almost a full century before Castro, Maceo faced the Spanish Empire with fierce devotion and was embraced by Cubans for it. But he became so hated by the Spanish Empire, in that special way that only empires know how to hate, that they wanted to kill him.
In between the failed 10 Year War (1868-78) and the Final War for Separation from Spain (1895-98) the empire sought to rid itself of Maceo through numerous assassination attempts. (Castro still holds the record.)
The natural elements in our story provide an easy “sell” in a post-Black Panther market:
·       Indigenous people fighting for independence
·       Battles on horseback
·       Overdressed Spanish royalty, with black-slaves-dressed-in-white, decrying their God-given right to rule The Pearl of The Antilles ­­
·        Near-naked rebels with clubs and machetes
 Blacks and Whites joining hands for freedom
·        A small but proud neighbor country establishing its own identity through independence from an oppressive regime
·        Lots of bloody machete attacks   
·       Fires, explosions, executions
·       Maceo’s battle call “Al machete!”
·       José Martí’s speech at Steck Hall!
·       More in-house fighting than in all the “Avengers” movies combined
·      The final expulsion of the Spanish Empire from the Americas!
You could easily reassemble these bullet-points into a Marvel 3-D extravaganza that could add billions to Disney’s pockets. (I’m sure there’s still room in their pockets for more.)
Netflix or HBO or Amazon Prime also could score big with this project. Right now, there isn’t a single movie about Antonio Maceo, even though his life featured (naturally) all the things that the top-grossing motion pictures of the past ten years have in abundance: violence, heroics, blood, explosions, romance, betrayals, tragedy, relentless scumbags, traitors and backstabbers, needless human suffering and brief moments of celebratory happiness. And it isn’t fantasy from a publishing conglomerate, but a true story of a people still fighting for their independence.
Can what remains of the traditional Hollywood Studios make such a movie? Or is it up to the new guys?
Will a big-screen film about Antonio Maceo lead to peace and harmony throughout the world? A time of commerce and trading unlike any in history?
Please don’t answer that.
NEXT: Who would play Antonio Maceo?

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