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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February 21, 2019

Maceo In Havana: A Movie - Part 1

Antonio Maceo
The Screenplay  

Shortly after the panic and celebration that marked the new millennium nearly two decades ago, I wrote a screenplay about Cuba’s iconic Antonio Maceo.
Maceo In Havana: The Life and Wars of Antonio Maceo” took me nearly three years to complete, including long-periods in which I could hardly think or talk about anything else.

Seen from afar, Antonio Maceo’s life was the most natural 3-act play.
Act one. Maceo is born (June 1845, Santiago de Cuba) and grows into a strong and healthy young man. He marries María Cabrales and shortly thereafter the Ten-Year War begins (1868). This can be seen as the beginning of Cuba’s civil rights period and Maceo grows into a loved and respected military leader. As he rises through the ranks, he loses his father (Marcos), his two daughters and two brothers to the war. Sadly, the war ends in stalemate (1878) and many Cuban rebels are forced into exile.
Act two. Maceo in exile. In Santo Domingo, he’s ambushed and forced to fight for his life… in Costa Rica he becomes a successful farmer… yet he continues to actively plan the next war for Cuban independence; but the rebels suffer set-backs and frustrations and he almost fights a duel with friend and compatriot Flor Crombet. He visits New York and is shocked at how black people are treated. He meets Martí. He visits Cuba with permission from the Spanish Empire (1892) during which he shares a civil moment with Spanish General Fidel Vidal de Santocildes.
Act three. In 1895 Maceo returns to Cuba for the Final War for Cuban Independence. Marti and Jose Maceo (Antonio’s brother) die in battle early on. The battles are fierce, and war historians claim the bloody Invasion of Cuba’s Western provinces to be one of the great military feats of the 18th Century. Maceo dies in battle (1896), but his name has already become the stuff of legends.
The Western Invasion, led by Gomez and Maceo, is said to be one of the great military feats of the 19th century.
Map of Cuba with route of Western Invasion, 1896
Route of The Western Invasion, 1896
The title, Maceo in Havana, reflects the hope and aspirations of the Cuban rebels at the time. It meant that the rebels had reached Havana, which had not been the case in previous wars (The Ten-Year War and The Little War). Havana is where the island’s power-base was situated. Fidel Castro’s celebrated arrival in Havana (January 1959) owed much of its momentum to Maceo and the Generation of ’95.
What happened to Cuba after Spain left the island is not what the rebels fought for.  U.S. intervention (1898) forced Cuba into a U.S.-style government.   
Eventually I realized that my story had too many characters… that my script was strictly following Maceo’s life as documented in the Antonio Maceo Timeline, at,  ( And since so many of those close to Maceo died in battle… it seemed that characters were introduced in one scene and killed in the next… I had to do something about this, but I didn’t want to short-change history for the sake of expediency.
A movie is different than an academic timeline. A movie is not a history book… but a movie should stick to the truth of its subject.
Maceo and the Cuban Rebels cross the TROCHA into Havana in 1896

I noticed some abstract similarities with Mel Gibson’s Braveheart… specifically how in both stories the wealthier classes opposed the popular leader for fear of their support among the lower classes. William Wallace spoke truth to power in a way that power didn’t want to hear. “You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position,” said Wallace, “I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom.”
You can find the script for Braveheart here, though I suspect this isn’t the final version.
Braveheart banks on the word “freedom,” to make a point not strictly based on an academic timeline… but we tend to know much more about Maceo than we do Wallace, if only because we have more recent evidence of Maceo’s life, which was yesterday by comparison.
The Ten-Year War might have ended differently if the Havana-Cubans… the owner class… had not feared Maceo’s popularity. Some of this complexity is hinted at in a first-act letter that Maceo writes to the Republic’s first Cuban government (in arms). The letter is almost exactly as it appears at  But ours is mostly an action movie that just “happens” to be a true story.
Still, in the end it may turn out that Maceo’s fiercest enemy was not the Spanish Empire, but the idea, held by some influential Cubans at the time, that Cuba should become a U.S. state.
A Southern state.
A slave-holding, Southern state… though, by the time of the third and final war against Spain (1895) the thought of “slave-holding” had evolved to “U.S.-style racism.”
In his battles for Cuban independence, Maceo survived 24 battle wounds, coming near death on several occasions. He achieved unprecedented military victories against superior forces and survived numerous assassination-attempts from a declining empire that claimed the right to control Cuba and Cubans. Can you imagine a more outdate idea?
In his time, the Spaniards called him The Lion. Today, Cubans still call him Maceo.
NEXT: Who could direct a movie about Maceo The Lion?

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January 29, 2019

José Marti’s Song for Freedom

A day after I should have celebrated Marti’s birthday (1/28/1853) it seems obvious that even I can’t think about Cuba all the time. It would not be healthy. But in spite of seeing connections to Cuban history in strange and obscure places, there are still many other things in life that interest and distract me.
Sometimes the best way for me to deal with the meanness and unfairness we regularly push towards Cuba, is to escape into Photoshop, with headphones and suitable music.
But with the possibility of our beloved Democracy crashing to a fiery end in the hands of a spoiled-rich racist child with no manners and a Congress confusing the meaning of the word “president” with the word “king,” my Cuban family seems safer than my American family.
A book for children
Today, as I look back on José Martí’s 185th birthday, I want to tell you about a recently published book: Marti’s Song for Freedom, written by Emma Otheguy, beautifully illustrated by Beatriz Vidal and published by Children’s Book Press. It’s a bilingual children’s book that should be available in public libraries and schools… (buy it here) and perhaps your own child’s library.
Vidal’s images present Martí in his most ideological and humane … he appears in his chosen black suit (not in that Spanish garb that some TV-Marti supporters want to dress him in).
Vidal also shows, in the last image, a diverse Cuban population that could easily represent the American trend that White Nationalists oppose; black and white Cubans, brown Cubans, and coffee-colored Cubans with different levels of cream and sugar…
Aside from being a writer, poet, revolutionary organizer and visionary (of a race-less society that values peace and education) Martí was a spiritual leader… one that we can still employ to help us crawl out of this destructive moral and spiritual quicksand we’ve fallen into.
Our country, sadly, was never allowed to grow its own Martí. Either through White Nationalist intimidation or assassination, our potential Martís are murdered, and our education system actively blocks their contributions from entering our culture. It keeps things from changing. It stunts growthful evolution.
Martí died in battle in 1895, but his spirit lives on. A beautiful image near the end of the book depicts the Maestro in battle, shortly before he was killed.
If there’s one thing that I would criticize is that Martí is referred to throughout the book as José, not Martí. This isn’t a big deal. The name José is popular in our reality (Conseco, Calderon, Velasco, Reyes, Antonio Dominguez Banderas, Ferrer, Fernandez, etc.) but only one Martí. Even the Mexican parrot from Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room is named José.
Still, this new children’s book could be the start of a journey to help us find the beloved maestro. To share him. To let his love and humanaity warm our hearts. It is also the ideal way to introduce a young child to the issues of our past.
Que viva Otheguy and Vidal!

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December 30, 2018

Mariana, María and Antonio Maceo

[What follows is a fictional account of one of the greatest chapters in Cuban history. It was created for a writing class at the California Institute of Integral Studies about ten years ago. Although it is a true story, some of the facts have been pulled out of thin air. Essentially that’s all that the Cuban rebels had in the mid-19th century. All dates given are as accurate as history allows.]

In his battles against the Spanish Empire, Cuban leader Antonio Maceo suffered 24 battle wounds, some of them nearly fatal. But this is not a story about him, although he features prominently in it. This is the story of how his mother, Mariana Grajales, and his wife, María Cabrales saved his life repeatedly during the Ten-Year War (1868-78).
Add caption

When María Josefa Eufemia Cabrales
y Fernández was born in San Luis, Oriente Province (March 20, 1842) the idea of a free Cuba was growing quietly among the black and white people of Oriente Province.
The following year Marcos Maceo and Mariana Grajales y Cuello entered into a common law marriage. Their first son, Antonio, was born two years later.
The Maceo family ran a couple of farms and generally stayed out of the way of politics and controversies. But Antonio had a natural curiosity and an easy ability with people, and there was no way to escape fate.
On February 16, 1866, just less than two years before Cuba’s first war for independence began, Antonio Maceo married María Cabrales. They moved into a house in the Maceo family farm (La Esperanza), and their first daughter was born in November of that year.
Like many free black Cubans, the Maceo family lived what we’d now call a multi-racial existence, with black and white friends and the bonds that came from opposing the Spanish Empire and dreaming of a free Cuba, where Cubans could decide their fate and finally eliminate the imposed racism of an aging empire.
The war began with the Grito de Yara (Cry of Yara – on October 10 1868), in which Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and other landowners in Oriente Province freed their slaves and declared their freedom from Spain.
The first clash with Spanish troops came two days later, at Yara. The rebels were victorious, and that night they had dinner at the Maceo home in Mujabuabo. The family was all there, including María and her newborn daughter, Maceo’s mother (Mariana Grajales) and father (Marcos), five brothers, two sisters and various children.  
Before most of the Maceo men left with the rebels to fight for Cuban independence, Mariana spoke; “Everyone, parents and children, kneel before Christ, the first liberal man who came to the world, and swear to free the country or die for her.”
In A History of Cuba and its relations with The United States, Volume 2, historian Philip S. Foner wrote: “Indeed, as a passionate patriot and foe of the Spaniards, this Negro woman, Mariana Grajales, one of the outstanding women in Cuba’s revolutionary history, swayed her entire family to the cause of independence.”
As the rebels rode away, Mariana looked at her daughter in law María, who held her newborn baby as her husband faded into the distance with the other black and white Cubans. The women shared a sad look. “I’m not as tough as her,” thought María.
The Spanish Captain General (a combined military/civil title for the ultimate ruler of the country in the absence of the Spanish king or queen) was surprised that the Cubans were able to put up such a good fight.
The Cubans were unstoppable, even with limited weapons, untrained soldiers and a largely inexperienced leadership. Once the rebels began to distinguish themselves, the Captain General began to pay close attention to the insurrection.
One man in particular had begun to stand out on the battlefield because of his courage, intelligence, and knowledge of the terrain. As a result, Antonio Maceo’s family had to leave their property and join the war effort. The youngest brother, Rafael, became the first casualty. He was captured and quickly executed.
María and Mariana soon found themselves in the roles of impromptu nurses and doctors and all around medical troubleshooters in the battlefield. As soon as the rebels could assemble a hospital, both women were among the most principal members.
Mariana stood apart as being particularly tough and solid, and María maintained as best she could, holding in her emotions and getting the job done.
On May 22, 1869, Antonio Maceo received his first of 24 wounds. María and Mariana were surprised to see him, but they nursed him back to health and he returned to action within a week. Maceo and Maria’s two daughters died a few weeks later of cholera. The long war was just beginning.
The Maceo brothers received their share of wounds during the first five years of the war, and many would joke that Antonio’s heroism was due to the fact that he could spend time with his wife when wounded. It wasn’t a particularly good joke.
One rainy afternoon there were many more wounded and dying coming in to the makeshift hospital than they could care for. One of the young wives could not easily accept her role as nurse. “He was just alive,” she cried. “He was just alive…” Frozen from the sight of a dead young man in front of her, another woman cried that she knew the deceased.
María approached the group. “This one’s already dead. That one needs your help, now.” The woman hesitates. “I know this man… I know this man…”  She’s frozen. Mariana steps in. “There’s no time for tears here. If you skirts can’t handle it get out and let the rest of us do our jobs.” She turned towards her daughter in law María, who was already attending to the wounded soldier. “That’s my girl,” she thought secretly.
The war got rougher, and many rebels died. The hospital had to be moved frequently, as the Spanish Empire was not about to easily let go of her one remaining foothold in the new world.
María and Mariana were proudest of their men when they were freeing slaves.  They heard the stories from the wounded soldiers they helped heal.
Being a free slave in Cuba wasn’t an easy life. Their choices were to join the rebels in battle, or to run and hide in the hills. Many slaves had never held a weapon in their hands before. Many of the women served in hospitals, others were runners, or carriers, able to blend into a city or town, bring or pick up rebel news, and move on. Those who were captured in this capacity were tortured, raped and killed.
The war didn’t get any easier for María, who felt that she could not handle things as well as her tough mother in law.  But everyone else seemed to think that she handled things well enough. She could be counted on to do the things that today a trained and well-equipped professional would do. And the few times when she had to pick up a rifle and fight for her wounded, she did that too, quite well.
It is said that on more than one occasion the women treated the very Spanish soldiers they had fired at in battle.
But it was Mariana’s name that was becoming legendary, although few outside the rebel circles could identify her. She was often described as the mother of the bravest soldiers the island had yet produced.
After her husband (Marcos Maceo) was killed in battle (his dying words to his son Antonio were: “I hope I’ve been good to Mariana…”) her bravery and devotion became legendary.  Historian Philip Foner, in his book, Antonio Maceo, describes the scene of Marcos’ funeral; "Mariana Grajales, living incarnation of Cuban patriotism, cried out to the youngest of her sons, still a little boy: 'and you, stand up tall; it is already time that you should fight for your country.'"
On August 6, 1877, Antonio Maceo received his most serious wound in the war so far. His close friend and doctor, Félix Figueredo, did not expect him to survive. General Gómez asked for volunteers to take care of Maceo. Antonio’s brother, José, and Dr. Figueredo were the first to volunteer, and soon they picked about a dozen others from a much larger share of volunteers. Their mission was to move Maceo to safety and guard him during the recovery period.  The first task was to stabilize him on a stretcher and move him away from the battle.
Within a few days, María joined the small band of rebels, and at about that time pursuit from the Spaniards began.
The word had spread among the Spanish troops that Maceo had been killed in battle. But eventually they learned from a re-captured slave that he was being treated in the hills. The Captain General ordered that Maceo’s death was the highest priority, and his capture, if possible, would be the second priority.
A frantic search began, with Spanish troops forming small bands of soldiers that could move easily through the hills and mountainous terrain of Oriente Province. They were so close during those hot days of mid-August that the rebels were unable to start fires for cooking, and could not trust anyone they met, as Spanish spies had been promised gold and other rewards for Maceo’s death.
On various occasions María and Chucha, an ex-slave who had known the Maceos since before the war, had to carry Maceo’s stretcher while José and Felix fought off the enemy hand to hand, preventing them from firing the weapons that would warn others.  Sometimes bullets would whiz by, and other times the hand-to-hand combat came close enough to touch.
On August 13 Dr. Figueredo wrote to General Gómez that in spite of his earlier estimate that Maceo could not survive, he now appeared to be out of serious danger. That was a completely medical assessment, not a military one.
The Spaniards were closing in, even as the rebels went deeper into the woods, or higher into the mountains. “We could hear them breathing,” wrote Figueredo. Maceo was still on a stretcher, and had to be carefully moved by two people, generally María and one of the other freed slaves.
On one sunny morning Chucha gave everyone a hug, said goodbye and left the camp. It didn’t take long before a Spanish guard stopped her. She pretended to have been frightened by the rebels and gave false information which would lead them away. It was a dangerous move; if the Spaniards had not believed her, they may have killed her on the spot, or they might have brought her with them to make sure she was telling the truth. She was lucky, and they let her go.
They must have believed her, because for the next few days the rebels were able to enjoy the kind of peace and quiet, they hadn’t seen in a while. Some of the locals brought them cooked meat, bread and beans, and news that Captain General Martínez Campos himself had ordered a column of 3,000 men to surround the area. They wouldn’t be able to stay there much longer. The locals promised not to disclose Maceo’s location.
María cried in secret. There was no way they could outdistance a mobile army of 3,000 men.
The siege began within a week, and for a two-week period the chase was relentless, as a small group of soldiers that included 2 women (María and an ex-slave girl liberated by Maceo) fought a running battle that almost devastated them. Some historians, Foner included, have referred to this as one of the greatest moments in Cuban history.
At the end of this period, it was María and the ex-slave girl who suggested a Cuban version of the “Kansas City Shuffle.” Dressed in the rags of slave women, they ran towards the Spanish forces and warned them of “wild rebels” in the area. They described larger forces than were actually there and suggested a direction they might take.  This was a similar “story” to what Chucha had done a few weeks earlier, but the troops were different. The women were escorted off the hills to the edge of town and released.
On September 27, less than two months after receiving his terrible wounds, Maceo was able to mount his horse (Guajamón) and gallop away in a "cloud of dust and smoke."
Three days later he was safe in San Miguel with María, Marianna, his brother, and other members of his escort. It was one of the few dinners they were able to have together in about a decade.

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November 14, 2018

Master-Blaster Runs Bartertown

Sometimes I see Cuban history everywhere I look. Lately I’m also finding present-day gloom-and-doom in the sci-fi films of the past.
In Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome (1985), the third installment in the Road Warrior Film Series and the least popular of the four, a two-person-bad-guy known as Master-Blaster calls for an energy embargo on Bartertown. Blaster turns a lever and the electricity stops running, sending the town into instant darkness.

Master is the brain of Underworld, an underground energy plant that harnesses methane gas from pig shit and converts it into the town’s electricity. Blaster is the body; a muscle-bound monstrosity “driven around” by Master, a short, disfigured man of unusual intelligence and unlimited cruelty. Together they’re undeniably powerful and inhumane, somewhat like a ruthless President with puppet-like control over a wimpy Congress.
Master wants everyone in Bartertown to know that HE’S in charge, that HE’S smarter than everyone and, with Blaster at his command, stronger. Together they symbolize the high cost of rebuilding a civilization that’s already been destroyed once by human conflict.
Who Runs Bartertown?
When Tina Turner’s Aunty Entity is forced to admit over loudspeakers that “Master-Blaster runs Bartertown,” Master is pleased.
What there is of civilization returns to the dusty dessert town only after Master chooses to lift the embargo. And that’s all it takes to soothe a madman and the monster he controls; acknowledge his grandness. Bow to his authority. Let him know he’s “the best.”  If only for the moment.
Master’s reason for making Entity grovel in public is to show Max that he must follow orders or Blaster will crush him with total impunity; Max is told to disable the explosive device in the vehicle stolen from him, now in Master’s possession.
Max is new in town, but he soon realizes that Master-Blaster runs Bartertown the same way Trump runs Congress and the same way that past U.S. Presidents used to run Cuba. They do what they want. They don’t understand the meaning of “no.”
Aunty Entity knows that without the big Blaster, the small Master would be easy to control. And it just so happens that Max could use a job.
The dice… are rolling!
For those of us that pay attention to the news, those that vote and those that refuse to, the dice ARE rolling right now. We can see it in the many distractions and political side-tracking… The pig-killer serving a life-sentence in Bartertown’s energy-producing pig farm recognizes this in Max; the dice are rolling.
After Max refuses to kill Blaster in Thunderdome, the power of Aunty Entity and her supporters turns against him.  Deep down they’re just as brutal as Master-Blaster but subtler and more resourceful, and they can’t allow Blaster to live another day.
Now Max must face their impartial wheel of justice.
Bust the Deal, Face the Wheel
It’s almost as if writers Terry Hayes and George Miller channeled a future President’s divisive slogans and simplistic legalisms… if it works in 2018 to control the masses, why wouldn’t it work in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by an ex-hooker?  Will a near-future Supreme Court approve of a Bartertown-style wheel of justice for enemies of King Trump?
After the wheel condemns Max to “Gulag” he’s fortunate to find himself in Cuba… I mean he’s fortunate to be discovered dying in the vast dessert by a community of idealistic children bound by hopeful dreams of peace and survival.
In Bartertown, immigration priorities were articulated early on by The Collector: “People come here to trade, make a little profit, do a little business. If you have nothing to trade, you’ve got no business in Bartertown.” They could have been spoken by Jeff Sessions around the time of the border-child heists of 2018.
The young Cubans, however (I don’t know what else to call these children of the desert) share whatever vaccines and locally-grown veggies they have on hand and nurse Max back to health. He doesn’t realize immediately that this is what he’s been looking for since he lost his family in the first movie; a reason to live… something to care about.
These young Cubans may not have a record-player on which to play their one record, but they have a caring and nurturing culture that Bartertown could learn a thing or two from.  They think that Max is their Fidel Castro… or, as they call him, Captain Walker.
Max tries to explain that he’s not their Captain Walker. But maybe, in the end, it will turn out that he is.
If only we could find our Captain Walker (John Kerry? Elizabeth Warren? Joe Bidon? Person to be named later?) before our country becomes the Bartertown it’s headed for… If only our Captain Walker could pop his head out of the fog and say to us; “don’t worry, young Americans, I’m here!”
Learn More About Bartertown

March 27, 2018

FrankenBolton, Man of Action

John Bolton was played by the Son of Frankenstein. 

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March 21, 2018

John Bolton is Back - Be Very Afraid

On May 6, 2002, less than a year after 9/11, Undersecretary of State John Bolton embarked on a campaign that claimed Cuba was developing “bio-weapons” to use against the U.S.  
In the same speech, at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, he linked Cuba to countries such as Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran and North Korea, and suggested a cooperative relationship between them. He offered no additional details about the types of weapons in question or timeline.
This was, of course, a giant lie with no basis in fact. No documents or photographs, or reports of any kind. The latest State Department report on global terrorism, issued the previous week, included 47 lines of text on Cuba, out of 177 pages. The section on Cuba did not include one word about bio-weapons or biological warfare.
Bolton just pulled the idea right out of his ass and threw it in the wind.
At the time, many feared that President G.W. Bush was about to take a more accommodating stance towards Cuba, and ex-President Jimmy Carter was about to embark on a historic visit (May 12-17) to the island. The first visit by a U.S. President since 1959.
For what seemed like long weeks, Bolton kept pushing the idea of Cuba’s collusion (my word) with other terrorist-friendly states against the U.S.
When members of the State Department refused to sign off on Bolton’s statements, he went after them personally and fiercely, which had not been the norm at the time and created an “unsafe” work environment. But he persisted in repeating and expanding the statement.
Eventually, President G.W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell ordered him (several times) to stop making those unprovable statements about Cuba.
I can imagine G.W. on the phone: “Shut up, Bolton. Just shut up! You’re embarrassing us! Everyone knows you’re lying for God’s sake! There is no evidence OR suspicion. You don’t know how to do this. You should just let our Cubans and the CIA handle this sort of thing. They’re good at it. Been doing it since Bay of Pigs…” Maybe it’s Josh Brolin I’m imagining.
The main goal of the anti-movement continues to be a “rear-guard action” against the possibility of dialogue between the two countries. Dialogue is a frightening thing to a hate movement. It can lead to clarification and understanding and the discovery of common ground.
This was simply Bolton playing a “terror card” against Cuba. No truth required.
The recent “sonic attacks” seem like another timely maneuver. The State Department has issued a travel warning even though no tourist has ever been harmed and Cuba is still considered one of the safest places in the world for Americans to visit.
Prior to the Cuba statements, Bolton was “certain” that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” even after it was proved that they didn’t have any. It was later reported that he had more than a willing hand in our misunderstanding of collected evidence.
And yet on May of 2005, President G.W. Bush nominated Bolton for U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., but a Republican-majority Senate refused to confirm him, TWICE! (2005 & 2006)
At the 2nd hearing, high-ranking State Department officials testified about Bolton’s abusive behavior and his insistence that they support his point of view regardless of the facts. An open letter from a contractor claimed aggressive and sexually insulting behavior. When she was brought before Congress for an interview, she said Bolton even insulted her weight.
Still, days after Congress adjourned for the summer in 2006, G.W. appointed him to the job regardless of Congressional approval. A bold Trumpian move from Jeb’s little brother, a man that can no longer be identified as the worst U.S. President of modern times.  
Way back in 1994, Bolton showed us his true ideology; he joked about knocking down the top 10 floors of the 39-floor UN building, claiming that it wouldn’t make “a bit of difference.” In the same speech he said, “There’s no such thing as the United Nations, just an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that is the United States.”
Imperial enough for the U.S. of Trump?

And now he’s back, folks. And he may be our next National Security Adviser. Imagine the options he’ll present to the President.
Is there a better fit for the Trump White House? Aside from the fact that Trump is on record as disapproving of Bolton’s gentlemanly moustache, (warning: That was not a joke.) they appear to have much in common.
Trump, Bolton and the anti-Castro movement make an ideal threesome; they improvise their facts when existing ones don’t support their plans. They invent willful lies with no shame. And all easily resort to abusive verbal insults:
·       Bolton called the State Department analyst that would not sign off on his claims a “Munchkin” and tried to get him transferred.
·       Anti-Castroistas still call everyone that disagrees with them a variation of communist. Consider the may words used constantly to describe Castro: despot, tyrant, etc.
·       Trump is the undisputed insult King, with classics such as Little Marco, Crazy Bernie, Mr. Magoo, Lying Ted, Crooked Hillary, Low Energy Jeb, Crazy Jim Acosta, Crazy Megyn, Psycho Joe, Little Rocket Man… Here’s a Wikipedia page that lists most the President’s nicknames for his opponents: ( ).

After leaving the Bush administration in December 2006, there was no place in politics for Bolton. I still recall that Bill Maher was kind to him (May 29, 2009 –Unfortunately I couldn’t find the show on Bill Maher’s You Tube page). Eventually he started showing up regularly on FOX News as a commentator, where he’s advocated a military first strike against North Korea.
Much like President Trump, Bolton is an old-fashion male. He enlisted in the Maryland National Guard in 1970 (to avoid going to the war in Viet Nam) but has always supported wars as a way to solve problems and further his agenda. Especially wars against non-whites.
In a COMMENTARY for the Wall Street Journal (February 28, 2008) Bolton wrote, “It is perfectly legitimate for the United states to respond to the current ‘necessity’ posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons by striking first.”
In December 2013, he suggested on FOX News that Edward Snowden “should swing from a tall Oak tree…”
In a New York Times editorial (March 26, 2015) Bolton said, “The inconvenient truth is that only military action… can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”
Do you think he would support a military invasion of Cuba if it was brought before him as a possibility? Or a new massive campaign of targeted sabotage and murder?
As people with brains and conscience leave the White House at high speed, the Year of Bolton seems to be looming...
Time to be very afraid. The dark ages are crawling back, right into the digital age.


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