Where you been, Cuban Cowboy?
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The Cuban Cowboys are back in true Rock’n’Roll Style. Read what Jorge has to say about their disappearance.   Where you been, Cuban Cowboy? November 13, 2013   I’ve been nowhere and Everywhere.  “Nowhere” speaks to the fact that TCC’s only played two shows this year. It also refers to our relative radio silence over the past two years. No new albums, no email blasts, no press, etc. Joo get the picture. We released our last album in 2010, toured a bit, got featured on NPR, then poof.Nowhere. “Everywhere” speaks as much to where I’ve been (Spain, Morocco, Cuba, Mexico) as it does to the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual ‘places’ experience has brought me to since last we spoke. “Everywhere” refers to the fact that life happens. For an artist, life’s happening impacts art-making by influencing the emergence, kinds and intensity of inspiration that make the art possible to begin with.   Art springs from life. Moreover, and with apologies to John Dewey for my clumsiness herein, experience can itself be art. Expressions like “live an artful life,” and “living artfully” come to mind. They convey a sort of grace upon everyday life, elevating it from the ordinary and toward some higher form or purpose. Put in a deeper or more rigorous way, the work of philosophers like Dewey and William James (you should check that shit out, yo.) argue that the lines between Science, Art and Experience are blurry and arbitrary. What I’m getting at here is that by saying […]

Havana’s lefts…
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One of Havana’s left-handers being enjoyed by one of Havana’s local surf and skate freaks Humberto…   Footage by Standby Collective, La Habana, Cuba

Will the real terrorist please stand up?
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Will the real terrorist please stand up? by Saul Landau “Will the real terrorist please stand up” chronicles half a century of hostile US-Cuba relations by telling the story of the “the Cuban five”, intelligence agents sent to penetrate Cuban exile terrorist groups in Miami and now serving long prison sentences. The film highlights decades of assassinations and sabotage at first backed then ignored by the very government that launched a “war against terrorism.” In the film, viewers see leading terrorists, now in their 80s, recounting their deeds, and Cuban state security officials explaining why they infiltrated agents into violent Miami exile groups. The film, featuring Danny Glover and 84 year old Fidel Castro in key scenes, raises and tries to answer the question: what did Cuba do to deserve such hostile treatment? It traces key events from the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis, through multiple assassination attempts on Fidel Castro’s life. This documentary reveals a story of violence that also echoed on the streets of Washington DC, New York and especially Miami where Cuban American critics of the bombers and shooters also wound up dead.   A must watch…   Please check out these sites and support Cuba’s innocent heroes http://realterrorist.wordpress.com http://www.freethefive.org http://cubanfive.ca

Santaria Surf, A Cuban Surf Story.
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Imagine 30 days in Cuba with no swell and a heat even too hot for the devil…    Eduardo Valdes, President of the Cuban Surfriders Association leaves me on the porch of his house in the suburb of Playa to take a phone call. It’s 4.30pm on a boiling hot summer afternoon in Havana and I’ve been stuck here now for nearly a month. The days are unbelievably sweltering, the nights even worse; muggy and sticky beyond belief. You don’t get used to this kind of heat. You only learn to deal with it. Before the trip, Ed warned me not to come to Cuba in summer, they say not even the devil would visit during summer. I never listened, but every minute I spend in this heat I wish I’d heeded his advice. The power has been out all day around the neighbourhood because of the heat. It’s not unusual. Cuba’s electrical grid struggles to supply the people.   As I wait for Ed to finish the phone call, a few local surfers gather on his porch, as do some neighbours. Everyone’s talking about the power outage; they are over it. No-one slept last night since there has been no electricity since then. You can’t survive a night here without air-conditioning. Cubans speak fast and I lose any hope of understanding what is creating the bursts of laughter among them. Despite the language barrier, I struggle to imagine leaving this hell I have grown to love with all its […]

A step forward…
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Cuba will increase salaries and benefits in its sports sector, a decision adopted by the Council of Ministers as a necessary step, despite the difficulties that the country is undergoing which have been worsened by the current world economic crisis. According to the Granma newspaper, this measure has as its essential objective an improvement in current salaries for personnel connected to sports and will come into force in January, 2014, although in the case of baseball, it will be implemented when the National Series begins in November, 2013. New steps will be taken in coming months to improve this sector, generate income sources, seek quality and rigor in competitions, increase salaries gradually and guarantee that everybody receives what they deserve, according to the work they perform, Granma said. A high-performance athlete is one that is entirely devoted to practicing a specific sports discipline and his/her income depends on the results attained. In the case of work abroad, participation in the main yearly competitions held in Cuba would be taken into consideration, the newspaper says. Monthly payments in CUC, “foreign currency or convertible pesos, currently received by active and retired coaches, for medals won” and other payments in CUP (the Cuban peso, national currency) will be added. Granma also says that this way, retribution based on the socialist principle: “from each according to his/her capability and to each according to his/her work,” will reach its highest expression after competitive results, as agreed to at the 5th Conference of the Cuban Communist […]

silence is golden… CIA VS Cuba’s SURFERS
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The story of CIA-backed Freedom House and its attempt to smuggle illegal satellite dishes into Cuba disguised as surfboards/bodyboards has again been revisited. This time by blogger Tracey Eaton in Havana Times. However, in the interview both Barry Fink and Robert Guerra declined to give details. Check out the story at http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=93369  Since Fink and Guerra have decided not to comment about the incident that occurred in 2008, we thought we’d  fill in a few blanks to help them remember. Fink entered Cuba with the intention of filming a documentary about local surfers. He brought with him 12 surfboards into Havana, surfboard accessories, tools for board shaping, plus filming equipment. While Fink and the Cuban surfers travelled around doing the odd bit of filming, during this period Fink also spent a lot of time splitting up technical items he had with him and dropping off packages in odd locations – such as in bushes and under bridges etc. The original Granma newspaper article states that a black bag which was to be dropped off under a bridge was not found at its location. The intended recipient was Cuban electronics technician Dalexi González Madruga. The reason the package was not found by Madruga was because when Havana’s surfers realised what was going on, they dumped the black bag in a neighbourhood rubbish bin. Perhaps silence isn’t so golden after all, but the truth undeniably is. Photos : Havana Times

Like the Revolution…some things never die
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Like the Revolution…Some things never die. “I will always remember the drive from the airport to Havana. The cars passing by, the people dancing in the streets, the Che billboards, and all this in the sunset light”  – Ozzie Wright (Sipping Jetstreams) On leaving Cuba, Ozzie left his board with the Cuban surfers. Many years have passed and the board still lives on in Havana. Now stored in Cuba’s national aquarium it is used by local kids who do not have boards of their own to surf.

“Hold a true friend with both hands.”
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Chantelle “Channy” McCoy is a Sydney Northern Beaches surfer, graphic artist and freak, who is about to give her heart and soul to South and Central America. On her travels, Channy will be heading to Cuba to spend some time with Havana’s Cubanitas, a few bottles of Havana Club and a handful of Cohibas. Cuba is visited a lot by both pro and amateur male surfers, so it’s about time Havana’s small community of female surfers are blessed with support from the likes of Channy. Check out what goes on in Channy’s head by checking out her Tumblr at www.http://wheat-barrel.tumblr.com  

Destination Havana – Surfer Magazine.
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Only 90 miles separates Cuba from American soil, but immeasurable ideological differences have kept Cuba a relatively untapped surf destination for American surfers. Last December, in the midst of peak Hawaii season, Ian Walsh traveled to a small village on the northeast tip of Cuba. Not knowing what to expect, Walsh discovered an empty cobblestone pointbreak and that the universal appeal of surfing can transcend politics. Not many people can say they have surfed Cuba, or even traveled there for that matter. Can you give us a little background on how this trip came about? The idea for the trip had been floating around for a while. When it started coming together, it began to look like a real possibility that I’d be able to get into the country. I went in December, which is a good month for waves in Cuba, but a time of the year that I am not used to leaving Hawaii. The timing was cutting it close with the Pipe Masters and Triple Crown. Luckily, the Pipe Masters ran within the first few days of the waiting period and I was able to get a flight the day after it ended to Mexico City. From there, I flew to Cuba and drove across the whole country in a couple of days. I ended up at a tiny village where these kids surf and make their own equipment out of refrigerator foam, resin, and fiberglass from the boatyards. They’d also piece together their own surfboards from […]

Surfing to Baracoa – A Red Bull film.
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Surfing to Baracoa is a beautiful little film that features Royal 70’s Cuban family and Havana’s surfing community. Featuring Arnan Perez Lanigua, Cuba’s first surfer to compete internationally, and US big-wave surfer Ian Walsh, it takes a look into the lives and struggles facing Cuba’s surfers.

Ola Libre – A Waterlust film about surfing in Cuba
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It’s an amazing feeling when your footsteps are noticed by others and someone chooses to walk beside you. The New York Times story ‘Before the waves, the hurdles’ helped to create some much-needed awareness for the Cuban surfers. One person who was moved by  the story in the NY Times and felt compelled to help was San Francisco’s Mike Gibbons. He packed his bags and headed to the island to educate himself first-hand on the struggles facing Havana’s surfing community. He documented his journey on a GoPro. Check it out… Ola Libre – A Waterlust film about surfing in Cuba A film by Mike Gibbons & Patrick Rynne aimed at exploring and supporting the emerging surf culture of Cuba. The non-profit organization Royal 70 (royal70.net) works to create opportunities for Cuba’s youth through extreme sports, music and art. Made possible by Jimmy Lewis Surfboards (JimmyLewis.com), StayCovered surf equipment (staycovered.com) and GoPro cameras (GoPro.com)    

The Last Cubanitas…
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On Cuba, Christopher Columbus was said to have described the island to be full of ‘Mermaids with men’s faces and roosters’ feathers’. Tia Calvo is an Aussie writer, surfer, adventurer who recently travelled to Cuba to spend time with Eduardo and the rest of Havana’s surfing community. Like us, she fell in love with the island and its beauty. What came next was an honest, heartfelt piece of journalism about the last of Cuba’s mermaids. Check out Tia’s amazing story here: http://www.theinertia.com/surf/the-last-cubanitas-womens-surfing-communism/2/

Educating Cuba’s future grommets…
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Something that is very important to us at Royal 70 is the education of Cuba’s surfers and kids on protecting their ocean environment. Having spent a lot of time on Havana’s beaches and waterways, we decided to work with local surfers to achieve this goal. For this on-going project, the children’s book, All The Way to the Ocean, is helping us to convey important messages about environmental conservation, with the permission and support of its author, Joel Harper. All the Way to the Ocean is an amazing book that sets out to teach kids about the damage caused to our oceans and environment through the rubbish that enters stormwater drains. Written by musician/author/surfer Joel Harper and sweetly illustrated by Marg Spusta, the story is about two young skater friends, Issac and James, who become aware of the effect we have on our planet’s fragile eco-system when one of the boys innocently tosses away a candy wrapper. While this book is a delight to look at, thanks to Spusta’s illustrations, it also reminds us to be more responsible when it comes to protecting the planet for future generations. It’s educational reading for kids and a solemn reminder for adults that the protection of our oceans and environment is an important lesson for us all to heed. A portion of the funds from the sale of the book will also go towards helping the work of the Surfrider Foundation. You can check out and buy the book at www.allthewaytotheocean.com    

Surfing + Cuban Kids = Smiles
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Gathering a few of Havana’s surfers together and making our way east to Megano beach just out of Havana, we spend a day pushing  kids onto waves. Many of these kids hadn’t even swam in the ocean before, let alone attempted to surf. The smiles and laughter from these kids blew our minds and reminded us just how much happiness surfing can bring to the world.

Who the F#@k are The Cuban Cowboys?
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They are the world’s greatest Cuban surf rock band and have supported Royal 70 and the Cuban surfers from day one…   Que es/What is un Cuban Cowboy? A berry good question. The Cuban Cowboy is not a tipico cowboy in the mold of a cheesy-quesoso Hollywood Western. Horses? He has none. His bovine encounters are limited to the meat aisle. He (or she) sleeps on a mattress, rides a subway train, and owns no rifle. The Cuban Cowboy is a breed apart–a hy-breed. The tools of his trade are a musical instrument, a silvery tongue and a pair of twitchy hips. He is the bastard love-child of Ricky Ricardo and Tom Waits, Elvis eats azucar. The musical estilo of The Cuban Cowboys is as itinerant as the elusive creatures who spawn it. A capricious mixture of tradition and revolt, it features tasty rhythmitos ofMontuno and Guajira served up under swooning surf guitar and dark post-punk power chords. An occasional hillbilly root thrown in the pot not only justifies the wearing of cowboy hats, but also makes an excellent garnish. Armed with intelligent lyrics and catchy mambo riffs The Cuban Cowboys swivel forth to enclose their audience en un rock ‘n’ roll abrazo: suave, firme y muy—¿como se dice?—SEXXAY. Today the band is busy wreaking havoc on cultural assumptions and rocking their culos off along both U.S. coasts: spreading the word, playing the tunes, and promoting the traditional Cuban values of Ritmo, Amor, y el Consumption of Pork Products. The Cuban Cowboys may not know joo yet, but already they burn with lob for joo… […]