Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ay, Cuba! Ay, Detroit!

Started in on Andrei Codrescu's Ay, Cuba! A Socio-Erotic Journey (with photographs by David Graham; New York: St. Martin's Press, New York and London: Picador, 1999, 2001) . Here's a book that remains timely and relevant -- it should be re-issued in digital format along with Road Scholar (1992-1993).

Codrescu's trenchant observations are refreshingly precise and "non-aligned." Having spent nearly two decades growing up in Romania/Roumania during the Cold War, he is a keen detector of dogma and BS, preferring to cut to chases on his own. "I wanted to go to Cuba," Codrescu attests in his prologue, "because I wanted to see for myself a decomposing ideology before all of its elements transmuted into the noxious gases that gag Eastern Europe now: the secret police turned mafia, the ripoff of state property, the nationalism, xenophobia, fascism, savage capitalism, media kitsch, prostitution, and tragico-hilarious parliamentarianism. If all these elements were already visible in nuce in Cuba, then surely one could see how and why they so quickly metastasized in the ex-commie fiefdom" (p. 8).

Back in 1966, Codrescu lived in Detroit, specifically near Wayne State. He mentions this in Ay Cuba!, living near "The Fifth Estate, still the only continuously published anarchist newspaper in the United States . . . (p. 10). And he mentions other Vietnam War protester neighbors.

Before I post any more on Ay Cuba!, a time out to note contact/internet information about said anarchist publishers -- in case anyone wants to read more and perhaps send in something for their consideration:

Fifth Estate
P.O. Box 201016
Ferndale, MI 48220

The Barn and Fifth Estate Books
P.O. Box 6
Liberty, TN 37095


Also, Andrei Codrescu's website:

Today's Rune: Defense. Ciao, Detroit!


Charles Gramlich said...

I just started reading "Requium for a dream." Ever read it?

the walking man said... <===Codrescu's web magazine...He chucked Detroit for the NO college profs life eh?

"...he emigrated to the United States in 1966, where he immediately sought out Allen Ginsberg and was part of the East Village art scene."(wikipedia) The poet must have only had a brief visit in Detroit before deciding that the upcoming politic had already gagged on the vomit of the revolution.

Erik I haven't even thought about the Fifth Estate in thirty did it become a part of chi chi Ferndale? Strange home for anarchy.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks for the comments, dudes!

Charles, Hubert Selby, Jr. is harrowing, to say the least. That and Last Exit to Brooklyn.

I aim to see the documentary HUBERT SELBY JR:
It/ll Be Better Tomorrow
at some point.

The movie versions are harrowing, too.

Mark -- that must have been something, mid-60s Detroit. The Ferndale p.o. -- not sure if they are still in Detroit proper, too, anymore.


the walking man said...

It all started with the MC5 and got progressively stranger from there.