Saturday, April 11, 2009

Guantánamo, Grandaddy and Kal Penn

I was thinking this week about Guantanamo, not the individuals held there so much but the base itself. How was this, the most controversial 'prison' on the planet actually located on Cuban soil? Given the ongoing enmity between the two nations this seemed a pretty odd state of affairs.

Nowadays you don't have to go too much further than Wikipedia to give the lowdown on such matters, along with links to supporting information.

The story behind the base goes back to the Spanish-American war at the end of the Nineteenth Century. After the war, in 1903, the new American-born President of Cuba offered a perpetual lease on Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. Now since Castro took over, the Cuban authorities have disputed the legality of the treaty and the terms of use on the land.

Only one of the annual cheques from the US has been cashed, apparently in the confusion after the Cuban revolution in 1959. The rest lie uncashed, but the U.S. have claimed that the cashing of the one cheque signified an acceptance of the lease. Guantanamo Bay also has Cuba's only McDonald's but it is not open to the Cuban public.

I am not a fan of Harold & Kumar but I was aware of Kal Penn from watching House. I was pretty surprised to see this week that he has joined the staff of Barack Obama after supporting him vigorously during the election campaign. He left the cast of House to become an associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison with an aim of reaching out to different parts of the American public. This follows on from being a visiting lecturer in Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania last year.

I was also wondering what had happened to the band Grandaddy, this could be a 'beard' connection with Guantanamo inmates.... The album 'The Sophtware Slump' impressed me in 2000, not only for a song that laments the death of an alcoholic robot but the fantastic single 'The Crystal Lake'. You know, the one with the flying house....

Anyway, they broke up in 2007 after the band members wanted to pursue different paths. The frontman Jason Lytle is due to release his own album and you can check his MySpace page here.

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