Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cuba


I found myself in Portland this past weekend, experiencing Wine Bar Month in actual vineyards of bliss. Returning to LA, I longed for this Oregon countryside to be my backyard, but would settle for a lovely glass of red to bring me back to happiness. I headed to Vinoteca Farfalla in Los Feliz, on Hillhurst, in the same neighborhood as recent visits to Ye Ole Rustic Inn and Good Luck Bar. I had just woken from slumber and was very dazed as I entered the bar, ready to loose myself in a haze of wine.

Moving through a narrow dimly lit space between the high tops and the bar, I sat at a stool at the end of the bar on the cusp of their small dining area. I stared at the large board with dozens of varietals written in white chalk and sported a dumbfounded smile. The bartender suggested the daily special, Rossi di Montalcino, and I love a good Sangiovese. I sipped my glass and felt I could spend a good hour relishing in the glass. The young girl near me was sitting alone reading Middlesex and I felt she was a kindred Girl at a Bar spirit, but one that did not want to be disturbed. After a good thirty minutes of watching the words on the board dance around my eyes and contemplating the poetry of Oregon's waterfalls, I was really starting to think that nothing would happen on this blog night besides my own daydreams. As fascinating as my mind might be to myself, I know I must provide you all with something more than my wee little thoughts!

I was then approached by a man and wife and their friend, asking me if you had to ask the hostess to sit at one of the dining tables. I said I was not sure, but if they wanted to sit at the bar, I could scoot down so there was room. They graciously settled into the bar and I joked that they then had to talk with me. Boy did we talk! The couple lives in Oakland with their two children, and were making a pit-stop in LA to visit their friend on the way to Sea World. The wife is a school administrator and the husband is a Grammy nominated Salsa Singer, both of them born in LA and second generation from Cuba.

They told me of the time in LA when school was cancelled due to "Smog Days" and when "NoHo" was just called regular ole, not-trying-to-be-an-arts-district, North Hollywood. I actually felt better about the state of our planet, knowing that LA has made some slight reduction to the horrifying pollution cloud hovering over our city. After a glass of wine, my discussion with the wife turned very intellectual and intense. She expressed how higher education is a true privilege, conquered mainly by the wealthy whites and however sad it might be, our society was designed this way to have functional and repressed masses. I started to feel nauseous considering a purposeful and deliberate dumbing of humanity.

They graciously bought me another glass of wine, which I knew I could not finish, and our conversation led to a commentary on the high level of education held by all in Cuba. The couple explained how all professions are valued equally, from doctors to teachers to musicians. Most directly in opposition to our culture to me is that a person who shows an affinity for music, theater or arts, is employed and paid by the government to take on that profession. I imagined how strikingly different the world of musicians, actors, artists and writers would be in LA, if given a salary to focus and make their dreams come true. The hours of working another job, in order to survive to make your art, would not need to be wasted. Of course, how this aspect of their model affects an entire system and the other differences beyond this singular fact are too many to even begin to attempt to juxtapose. Though, I would not turn down fifteen dollars a month to write this blog. I am contributing to society darnit!

I walked out with the trio as they showed me pictures of their children and invited me to stay with them in San Francisco. I had just had one of the best conversations during this blog experience. I felt enlightened, angry and elated. I am sure they were not expecting to have a random conversation buddy last night, just as much as I was hoping to find that... And now I close this month of wine bars. I fell one night short for you all, but feel I will find more adventure moving on to a new month of Irish Pubs! Even amongst all of the beers, I will probably still order myself some wine.

1 comment:

Melodee said...

seriously awesome! really enjoyed this one and wish I could have been apart of the conversation! I never knew that about the govt. support in Cuba, how incredible and different!