Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Getting Back Can Be Tricky

“It’s not against the law for Americans to travel to Cuba. It’s just illegal to spend any money on Cuban businesses,” Michael Dessen says, laughing.

Dessen, trombonist with local avant-jazz band Cosmologic, is talking about his two-week-long trip to Cuba last month. He went to Santiago, with official clearance, to deliver a paper at a conference.

“The Cuban government is fine with Americans traveling there. You fly in through Mexico or Canada — there are few direct flights from the U.S. — so that’s inconvenient. But it’s no problem once you’re there.”

Getting back can be tricky if you’re there illegally though.

“[Americans] just give the Cuban customs official a ten-dollar bill to not stamp their passport. Ever since Fidel, American musicians have been visiting Cuba, and vice versa — it’s not an isolationist culture. The musical scene there is vibrant, contrary to the image you get watching Buena Vista Social Club, which makes you think the music stopped after the revolution.”

What kind of music is popular there now?

“Cuban music is very broad. In addition to their own music, a lot of North American and European music has gotten there. It’s not as easily accessible as it is here, but sometimes I’d hear taxi drivers playing Ricky Martin or Jennifer Lopez. At discotheques they play hip-hop.”

Dessen left Cuba five days before the INS reunited Elián Gonzalez with his father. “You’d turn on the TV, and everywhere you looked, there was another story about Elián. It was like the Monica Lewinsky scandal here — you couldn’t escape it.

“People there were frustrated about how long it was going on. No one understood why it was taking so long for the government to act. They couldn’t comprehend why the INS and Janet Reno wanted the child back with his father but let it drag on so long. When the government there decides to do something, it gets done.… Fidel was unbelievable. He’d step up to the podium to begin a speech, and I’d turn off the TV. I’d come back an hour and a half later, and he’s still delivering the same speech.”

Cosmologic appears with George Lewis at the Athenaeum on May 14.

—Christian Hertzog

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
German tutoring
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 24, 2020
Beverly
San Diego Reader Classified ads
February 15, 2020
Techniques turntable
San Diego Reader Classified ads
April 6, 2020
Memphis 10" automobile subwoofer with enclosure for sale!
San Diego Reader Classified ads
April 5, 2020
Taco Bell $13-$18 an hour
San Diego Reader Classified ads
April 5, 2020
Ad
Previous article

Easter Gospel Show, San Diego School Of Ballet Classes

Events April 12-April 15, 2020
Next Article

Oceanside anguishes over its businesses

"If they fail, will we be suing these people?"
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

“It’s not against the law for Americans to travel to Cuba. It’s just illegal to spend any money on Cuban businesses,” Michael Dessen says, laughing.

Dessen, trombonist with local avant-jazz band Cosmologic, is talking about his two-week-long trip to Cuba last month. He went to Santiago, with official clearance, to deliver a paper at a conference.

“The Cuban government is fine with Americans traveling there. You fly in through Mexico or Canada — there are few direct flights from the U.S. — so that’s inconvenient. But it’s no problem once you’re there.”

Getting back can be tricky if you’re there illegally though.

“[Americans] just give the Cuban customs official a ten-dollar bill to not stamp their passport. Ever since Fidel, American musicians have been visiting Cuba, and vice versa — it’s not an isolationist culture. The musical scene there is vibrant, contrary to the image you get watching Buena Vista Social Club, which makes you think the music stopped after the revolution.”

What kind of music is popular there now?

“Cuban music is very broad. In addition to their own music, a lot of North American and European music has gotten there. It’s not as easily accessible as it is here, but sometimes I’d hear taxi drivers playing Ricky Martin or Jennifer Lopez. At discotheques they play hip-hop.”

Dessen left Cuba five days before the INS reunited Elián Gonzalez with his father. “You’d turn on the TV, and everywhere you looked, there was another story about Elián. It was like the Monica Lewinsky scandal here — you couldn’t escape it.

“People there were frustrated about how long it was going on. No one understood why it was taking so long for the government to act. They couldn’t comprehend why the INS and Janet Reno wanted the child back with his father but let it drag on so long. When the government there decides to do something, it gets done.… Fidel was unbelievable. He’d step up to the podium to begin a speech, and I’d turn off the TV. I’d come back an hour and a half later, and he’s still delivering the same speech.”

Cosmologic appears with George Lewis at the Athenaeum on May 14.

—Christian Hertzog

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Infinity 5.25" 2-Way Car Speakers
San Diego Reader Classified ads
April 6, 2020
Chula Vista room for rent
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 24, 2020
2015 Porsche 918 Spyder
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 24, 2020
Virtual Bachata and Salsa lessons
San Diego Reader Classified ads
April 6, 2020
Bass guitar
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 30, 2020
Previous article

Virus sets up San Diego fight over paying rent

Imperial Beach bans staff travel and training
Next Article

San Diego city council quietly greenlights $525,000 harassment deal

Video-only special meeting vote
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close