“America? Bah! I just don’t understand it, Diego. I’ve outlasted nine U.S. presidents. You would think that the yanqui dogs to the north would have given up. But no, Señor Dubya insists on upholding the concert embargo that has imprisoned our little island paradise for forty years.”

“Give him time, Fidel. His administration is still young.”

“But I am not, Diego. Even while we speak, Ratdog, The Black Crowes and Rex Hobart & The Misery Boys have all announced new dates, but do any of those itineraries include Havana? No, I’m afraid this old Marxist will fade away into the Caribbean sunset, just another despot that never knew the musical joy that is Guttermouth. Madonna was right when she told me that it is a ‘material world.'”

“You knew Madonna, Fidel?”

“Sí, Diego. I met the dancing angel back in her club days. I was begging the U.N. to reconsider my request for a Doobie Brothers concert. After a long day of shouting empty threats and rhetoric, I sought solace in a little nightclub in Soho. That’s where I met my Maddy.”

“I’m sure it’s a good story, Fidel, but the courier is waiting.”

“Oh, how we partied! Every night we sat at my private table at CBGB’s. We were the toast of the town. Even Liz Smith wrote about us.”

“Really? The goddess of gossip wrote about you, Fidel?”

“Sí, Diego. Her columns were filled with items about the ‘dashing dictator,’ and his blond-haired vixen. Oh, how I miss that temptress.”

“Liz Smith?”

“No, you fool! Madonna! She gave me a week of passion no man has ever known. The things that she showed me to do with my beard were truly revolutionary.”

“What happened?”

“We were never meant to be, Diego. She was a budding superstar who wanted it all; fame, fortune, and a movie director husband. While I… I… Well, you know what I am, Diego.”

“Only too well, Fidel.”

“And now I look out over the beach from my hacienda, pining for a good concert like Eric Clapton or the tour. But like that time I invaded Angola, the good years are behind me.”

“Fidel, the courier is waiting. He needs to know what to include in the diplomatic pouch that is going to our consulate in New York.”

“Ah, yes, the courier. Tell him to fill the pouch with dreams of rebellion. Tell him to fill the pouch with the hopes of the proletariat. Tell him to fill it with revolution, glory and the cries of the workers who long for Marky Ramone and Judas Priest to come to our sun-drenched shores.”

“Yes, Fidel.”

“And, Diego?”

“Yes, my presidente?”

“Tell him to include a basket of our best fruit. Once the pouch arrives in New York, have our people redirect the fruit, along with a get-well card, to A.J.”

“A.J.? The boy-band heartthrob who recently checked himself into rehab? But why, Fidel?”

“Because I understand what it is like to have everything, yet be lonely. Because I, too, must carry the burden of the people’s expectations. But even more importantly, send it because…”

“Yes, Fidel?”

“Because all us great world leaders are Backstreet Boys at heart.”

“If you say so, Fidel.”