You say you want a Revolution?

Cowgirls_19591My cousin Maria and I were inseparable as little girls in Cuba. Inseparable.
We spent summers together on Varadero Beach in Cuba.
We spent most weekends playing together as our families were very close.
We celebrated every birthday together.
We celebrated every Christmas.
We were as close as sisters.


And then the world turned upside-down.
And the bearded rebels rolled into our hometown and changed both our lives forever.
My family left on a three month trip that turned into exile from everything we knew and loved.  Her family stayed and made a life under a stalinist regime.

We were ripped apart. Inconsolable. Sad.

And we grew up three thousand miles and forty five years apart.
We had not seen or spoken to one another in that lifetime.
That is soo NOT OK.

She and her family have been living in Miami for about the last ten years.  We speak often on the phone, send emails, and we spend as much time as possible together when we are in Miami.

Pb060102 So when she and her husband recently visited and we were driving home from Vegas we had a lot of catching up to do.  A four hour drive through the dry California desert is strangely conducive to truth telling.  We were talking about so many things, jumping to topics here and there, sharing our stories, our lives and finding common ground again.  It was then that the familiar music started playing, "You say you want a revolution. . ."
I was surprised to find they knew every lyric.  They are still both struggling to speak English but they can sing every lyric to every Beatles song ever recorded.  How did that happen?  The Beatles were definitely part of the music of the time that was banned in Havana. 

She told this part bitterly:

They listened clandestinely, behind locked doors and with ears pressed to the stereo.  Some friend would get a record and they would meet together to listen.
And the music was compelling, but it was dangerous. Because it put anti-revolutionary thoughts in their heads. But it felt so freeing to listen and dance to.
It was so wonderful and they were not immune. 
The Beatles.  Singing about peace and love, not motherland or death. 
"All you need is love" being much more appealing to the youth than their everyday "we will be like Che" catechism. 

In fact, you could be jailed for being caught with anti-revolutionary music! Imprisoned. Imagine! ("Imagine all the people, livin' life in peace. . .") Hard to imagine in Havana of the 60's.

But, life finds a way.   And the ridiculous revolution could not keep the message of love out of the hearts of the youth.

So, on hearing about her having endured all this repression growing up, I was surprised to find that in the year 2000, fidel castro himself unveiled this statue in a park in Vedado (my old neighborhood):

John_lennon104 That's my uncle sitting with John Lennon.

There is a statue of John Lennon casually sitting in a park in Havana.  (to me this is completely surreal)

You could be imprisoned for playing his music for years, and then, suddenly, oh, gosh darn it, we just changed our minds about the whole subversive lyric thing and now we want to do something to honor him!  [Note to those rotting in prison for the crime of having been caught with his damning music - too bad for you!]


I'm not okay.
I want stuff.

I want CHANGE in Cuba.
I want the insanity to stop.  I missed out on a lot of years with my cousin and frankly I'm mad as hell about it. I'm mad for all the families this happened to. I'm mad for all the disaffected youth.

I want the world to know about the destructive apartheid system that is in effect today in Cuba. I want the mainstream media to WAKE UP and smell the Café Cubano.

Today is  INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY. And I believe in God, so I am praying. Praying specifically for the protection of Dr. Darsi Ferrer Ramirez, the Cuban dissident who is leading a peaceful demonstration in Havana today at 11:00 am. Whose life and family are being threatened in multiple ways to keep him from demonstrating.  I'm praying for them.

And I'm wearing a white bracelet on which is written the word CAMBIO. It means CHANGE. (thanks Claudia!)  Real Change. Not just as in Hey-let's- change-our-minds-about-John-Lennon-and-the-Beatles today."  But as in apartheid is evil and it must stop.  Wearing this same bracelet in Havana will get you arrested. I wear it in solidarity for the brave Cuban young people who are not afraid of arrest or torture for wearing theirs. They deserve to be heard.

Sadly if the hard-nosed communists had only been listening to the actual lyrics of the Beatles, like most of the kids were, they might have found some hidden meaning in the song REVOLUTION.  (yes, hidden and written backwards you'll find the word LOVE.)

Coincidence? I think not.  I believe LOVE conquers all.  I'm optimistic that way and oh, yeah. . .

I believe in God.




You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
Alright Alright

You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know
We're all doing what we can
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be alright
Alright Alright Alright

You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know know it's gonna be Alright
Alright Alright