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Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Mamborama European Tour Announcement!

I am really pleased to be able to announce that Mamborama will tour Europe beginning February 19, 2005 in Zürich, Switzerland at the 3rd Annual Salsa Festival Switzerland. The tour is being booked by German based Unlimited Sounds & Musiq. Their contact info is here. More details will be posted as they become available. Stay tuned...
Saturday, September 25, 2004

Director Wim Wenders has a new film about Cuban Music opening in Europe at the end of this month. He's producing this time, with the direction handled by German Kral. I can't really tell what it's all about, but judging from the trailer, it looks like a Havana taxi driver gets 85 year old Buena Vista Social Club singer Pio Leyva to put together a band of the "next generation," called the "Sons of Havana," or something. It's good to see my friends Mayito, Julito Padrón, and Feliciano Arango in there, but the premise of the film seems goofy to me. I doubt that this is going to have anywhere near the impact that Buena Vista Social Club did, but still, I just wish someone of Wenders stature would present the music of Cuba as it is today, without contriving some imaginary band. One thing not lacking today in Cuba is bands. One could make an interesting film of any or all of them. Still, I'll reserve judgement until I've seen the thing, though. Here's some more info on the film, and if you don't speak German (I certainly don't), here's a Google translation.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
This has nothing to do with music, but I find it amusing. Bear with me. From time to time I need to ship items overseas, and it's very helpful to estimate the cost with the web sites of the various freight companies. I was looking up the cost of shipping a small parcel to Italy on the US Postal Service web site, when I noticed a link marked Prohibitions at the bottom of the page. Clicking that brought up a laundry list of items that are not allowed to be shipped to Italy. Most of it is the usual dangerous stuff that you don't ship anywhere, such as radioactive materials, infectious substances and weapons. That's all quite reasonable for civilized people. But why is it prohibited to ship "Playing cards of any kind" to Italy? What are they afraid of? "Toys not made wholly of wood" are prohibited, as well they should be. Dangerous items such as "Footwear of any kind" and "Haberdashery" are out of the question. As are "Bells and other musical instruments and parts thereof."

I don't know about you, but I found this all rather odd, and a bit puzzling. Whose restrictions are these, the US, or Italy's? I clicked on postal estimates for other countries, and found out. They all have different goods that are considered dangerous or subversive.

Albania strictly forbids "Extravagant clothes and other articles contrary to Albanians' taste." No "Used articles," either. "No, no, I'm sorry, you can't ship that. No Albanian would be caught dead wearing that."

Germany also has a fear of "Playing cards, except in complete decks properly wrapped." Don't be sending them any Pulverized coca beans, Human remains or Absinthe, either.

Israel doesn't want your "Agricultural tools," "Games of chance," or "Used beehives," thank you very much.

"Unstamped cigarette paper" is verboten in El Salvador, "Police whistles" in Nicaragua. Bulgaria and Cuba prohibit "Musical letters or cards that play a sound recording when opened." Can't say that I blame them. England bans "Horror comics and matrices," (whatever those are) and "Seal skins except those from an accepted source." Hopefully the clerk will be properly trained to recognize seal skin that is from an accepted source. Don't even bother with North Korea: "All merchandise is prohibited."

I could go on and on, but there are hundreds of countries listed on this site, many of which I've never even heard of. Greetings to our readers in Gozo Island. Fear not, I'll not be sending you any "Lottery tickets and advertisements thereof." And you good citizens of Yap rest easy, as you will receive no shipments of radioactive materials from me.

To me, the strangest thing about all of this is thinking about how each of these countries must have their own "Ministry of Forbidden Goods," with pointy-headed bureaucrats hunkered down arguing over what items threaten their nation's security. "Don't forget to put down 'Hair and articles made of hair.'" "Okay, but what about the Leeches and silkworms, what did we decide about them?"

I'm glad I'm just a musician. I don't have to make these monumentous decisions.

Mamborama news and the world of Cuban music, accompanied by occasional self-indulgence.

Extensive Cuba trip report now online.

Here's an online scrapbook of photos of La Habana and some of the recording sessions for the new album.

August 2003 / September 2003 / October 2003 / November 2003 / December 2003 / January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / April 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / February 2005 / April 2005 / June 2005 / December 2005 / March 2006 / April 2006 /

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