“Bah! I hate it when that happens.”

“What is it, Fidel? Did the laundry put too much starch in your fatigues, again?”

“If only it was that simple, Diego. No, my anguished cry of futility comes from the fact that another one of my posts on the VelvetRope has been deleted for being ‘inappropriate.'”

“Oh, Fidel, you weren’t arguing with Courtney Love, again, were you? You know what that does to your blood pressure.”

“I was merely pointing out that the capitalistic conglomerate known as the United States music industry is merely a front for the bourgeois powers-that-be that wish to strangle our island paradise by refusing to lift the concert embargo that has prevented acts such as Hatebreed and Toby Keith from playing our shores for so many years.”

“And the VelvetRope had a problem with that, Fidel?”

“Sí. That’s the fourth deletion this week, along with my critique of Eminem’s upcoming album as well as my comments on how radio festivals are booked and my suggestions on how to improve the routing of this year’s tour. No one appreciates the truth, Diego.”

“Perhaps our visitor from the United States can help. After all, he was the Yanquis’ presidente at one time.”

“Ah, yes, Señor Jimmy, who ruled after Ford and before Reagan, or what I fondly remember as the Supertramp years. Aye carumba! What teeth that man has. I could have used choppers like that when I was but a young boy neutering sheep on my uncle’s farm.”

“He is waiting outside your office right now, Fidel. He says he wants to talk to you some more about human rights.”

“Human rights, Diego? When it comes to establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Americans talk of nothing but human rights. But what about my rights? Even as I speak, music fans the world over are buying tickets for The Hellacopters, Neil Finn and Cher, yet I who have my own dungeon, torture chamber and Bose stereo system, cannot even get a nosebleed seat for Rush.”

“He says he has a gift for you, Fidel.”

“Ah, yes, the gift exchange. It is customary after a meeting such as the one I had with Señor Jimmy, to exchange gifts. But what can a former president give me, the aging despot of the Caribbean, the last indie communist on the planet? Can he give me the will to carry on? Can he give me the strength to fight the good fight, so that someday the children of Cuba may experience the joyful sounds of Indigo Girls or Pete Yorn playing their hits in the Havana moonlight?”

“Then should I send him back to America empty handed, Fidel?”

“No, Diego. Prepare a basket and fill it with our finest fruit, our best cigars and our smoothest rum. Fill it with my hopes and dreams for a better future for Havana’s waning box offices. Fill it with the people’s desires for Pam Tillis and Blues Traveler. Fill it with the workers’ cries for a concert revolution. Fill it with the strength and pride that is Cuba!”

“Consider it done, Fidel.”

“And when you finish filling the basket, Diego, put this in it as well.”

“Your bootleg copy of The Allman Brothers Band playing at Señor Jimmy’s 1976 fundraiser? But, Fidel, that is your most prized possession.”

“Sí. Perhaps when he’s arrives back home on his farm in Georgia, he’ll eat a peach and think of me.”

“As you wish, Fidel.”

“And cancel the rest of my appointments for today. If you need me, I’ll be in my dungeon.”

“But we have no prisoners in the dungeon, Fidel. Human rights, remember?”

“I know that, Diego. But when I’m in a melancholy mood such as this, I wish to sit back and remember the good old days.”