“I Am the Son of My Son ” Photos by Robert Birnbaum

25 Mar

| (originally published January 11, 2001 at Identitytheory.com)

My lifelong fascination with Cuba took a significant turn after my last voyage there in the Spring of 1997. Influenced in an indeterminate way by some delicious 7 year Havana Club anejo rum—as best as his mother and I have determined—our three year old son Cuba was conceived on that night of my return. That’s part of the reason we named him Cuba.

My interest in Cuba stems from my first sight of Fidel Castro and his bearded cohort during the early and triumphant moments of the Cuban revolution. These images coupled with my then recent introduction to Afro/Cuban/Latin Jazz seems to have sparked an interest that has stayed with me through the ensuing years.

There is something that I am certain a lot of people find obvious that has only recently become obvious to me. There is magic to be found in this life—sometimes it even finds you—and there is an ineffable benefit to that. Both Cuba the place and Cuba my boy have given me a taste for evidence of things not seen—as the revered Cuban poet once observed, “I am the son of my son.”

Lots of people think pictures speak for themselves. I don’t. I think they usually need a little help. The Cuba fotos were taken during two brief visits in the ’90s, most in Havana and some out in the country side. As the fotographer Marc Riboud once remarked, “The tourist sees what he wants to see.” And so, these are images of my Cuba.

57 Chevrolet




Billboard III


Ceiling Detail



Che Iconography I



Che Iconography
Che Iconography II


Che Iconography III
Che Iconography III
Che Iconography IV
Chinese Barrio
Corner Building
Cuban Boxing Crowd
Cuban in Striped Shirt
Cuban Waitress
Cuban Worker Resting
Cubana in Striped Blouse
Downtown Smalltown
Fidel Poster
Havana Club Billboard


Havana Club Billboard
Havana from the Rooftop I
Havana from the Rooftop II
Havana from the Rooftop III
Havana from the Rooftop IV
Instruments without Players
Kid Chocolate Boxing Stadium
Man w. Accordian


Man w Accordian
Man Waiting
More Small Town
Ordinary Scene
Ornate Facade
Pepsodent Billboard
Rickshaw Driver
Rickshaw Driver II
Rickshaws on the Malecon
Rural Cuba Small Town
Side Street
Small Town Cuba
Street Scene
Two Guys Sitting
Tourist Police
Urban Decay
Cuba Maxwell Birnbaum (circa 2002)




Cuba Maxwell Birnbaum (circa 2016)



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