Saturday, August 15, 2009

on the links in communist Cuba

A couple days ago Robert Mackey wrote a News Blog Quiz: Revolutionary Golf Edition on the NYT Lede blog. The post, in its current form, gives a challenge and then summarizes readers' responses. It's an engaging instance of historical research showing how facts related by sources — even contemporary, on-the-scene sources — can and do contradict one another.

The piece is an excellent read for these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Although the author summarizes many of them, it's worth the effort to read all the comments; one in particular, toward the end, gives this interesting link: Fidel Castro lives near the 14th hole.

The piece shows these two photos, the first of them being pretty clearly an altered version of the second.

{Che Guevara and Fidel Castro golfing; source:}

{Che Guevara and Fidel Castro golfing; source:}

The blog post explains much about them and the circumstances surrounding them.

The original photo was taken by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda who gained fame for his iconic photo of Che Guevara.

{Korda looking at a 3 Cuban Peso banknote, which also bears his famous photograph; source: wikipedia}

The Washington Post has reproduced a good portfolio of Korda images from a book called Cuba by Korda. It gives the following quote about the Che photo: "At the foot of the podium draped in black crepe, my eye pressed to my old Leica, I was focusing on Fidel and the people around him. Suddenly, through the 90mm lens, Che loomed above me. I was surprised by his look...."

Michael Harder says that Castro thought protection of intellectual property to be imperialistic bullshit and thus Korda's work is routinely ripped off without compunction or acknowledgment. He received very little financial benefit from the Che shot or his other photos.

The Lede blog post concludes with this:
In 2001 Michael Chanan noted in The Guardian’s obituary for Alberto Korda that the Cuban photographer ... had appeared briefly in 1999 in the opening moments of Wim Wenders’s documentary about Cuban music, Buena Vista Social Club. As Mr. Chanan wrote, Mr. Korda was filmed “rifling through photos from the heroic early days,” including one of the images of the revolutionaries on the links that day. “Who won?” he was asked “Fidel,” he answered, “because Che let him.”
A few links:

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