Friday, September 26, 2014


There is nothing more decadently capitalistic than wearing an expensive fragrance. Chanel #5 the iconic perfume of the rich is now being challenged by a Cuban company's answer to smelling good. Fidel may have a closet full of thousand dollar suits and bottles of Pour Homme, but the people of the island have been on their own with their stank since 1959, when the perfume pipeline was cut off. Never fear. Taking a cue from the Chinese, the Cubans are forming their own version of market capitalism. If Alibaba can float one of the hottest IPOs in recent history, Raul can loosen the rules enough to allow a company to develop two fragrances (I think for men) called HUGO (as in Chavez, not Boss) and ERNESTO ( as in Guervera). I may have watched too much MAD MEN, but wouldn't CHE have been sexier?
   Although they are calling this a perfume, I think it's more of a cologne. But I'm sure it's just a start. My vote would be LUCIA (after the famous film) for the femalecentric scent. Having visited the Museo de Revolucion in Havana, i remember many women martyrs of the Cuban struggle.  Pick one. Combining politics and smell seems a natural. But beware companeros, it is a slippery slope. One of the things that is so beautifully apparent when visiting Havana is the lack of advertising. The only billboards one sees are devoted to Camillo, and Che and la revolucion. It's such a breath of fresh air. You would never think a lack of something would be so beautiful, but it is. I haven't been back since '03 and I know things have changed. Raul allows car and real estate ownership, internet, easier travel, etc. But the problem remains that the average Cuban can not afford any of these things. Economy is still the big issue.
  The Cubans I know are successful artists with deep pockets. They are not affected. They are the true avant guard for a society in flux. Most come and go from island for either Spain or the USA with credit cards and bank accounts. One of these days I will get back to Cuba, maybe get a little time share for February, when the hawk is at the door here on the mountain. By that time, the rules may be loose enough for a gringo like me to set up a little shop selling toilet seats and skateboards, or maybe even perfume. Smells like revolution to me.


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