Would Che Have Skated?

by Steve, March 21st, 2007

I told Wacky Mommy, if Che had been Canadian, he’d have been out at the rink with the guys, smacking pucks around. She thinks I’m nuts.

So I thought I’d make a t-shirt design with Che as a skater. It would say something like “Left Winger”. But it turns out Cafe Press will have nothing to do with selling images of Che, at least not that one famous one in particular. Back in 2000, Alberto Diaz Gutierrez (a.k.a. Alberto Korda) claimed copyright to the famous image which is based on his original photograph. There’s a lot of convoluted debate about fair use, not to mention the fact that Fidel never signed on to international copyright accords. Nevertheless, Korda successfully claimed copyright in British court, and stopped Smirnoff from using the image in a vodka ad. Which I think is a good thing. (Korda said it never bothered him when people used the image in solidarity with Cuba, just when it was used against Cuba or to sell something. Which I guess is what I wanted to do, so…..)

So since Cafe Press said no, and my research made me feel a little guilty about wanting to sell t-shirts with that (ahem) maybe a tad tasteless image, my wacky shirt idea has transformed into a minor site redesign. Hope you like it, and find the irony in it. In case you don’t, here is my Thursday Thirteen, all about irony.

  1. Che probably never played hockey. But he looks good on skates, no?
  2. I am a pacifist, and this is an anti-war site. Yet Che Guevara made his name as a warrior.
  3. I am a vegetarian, pacifist hockey addict.
  4. The longer I live the more I see the pure, unadulterated truth that lies at the heart of every contradiction.
  5. I’m a socialist, yet I sell crap on my crappy Web site.
  6. I don’t think I’m going to make it
  7. to thirteen tonight.
  8. And I hope you don’t care
  9. if I just go to bed
  10. and bid you farewell
  11. and
  12. Good
  13. night.

10 Responses to “Would Che Have Skated?”

  1. Comment from Robin:

    Che as a hockey player – too funny.

    A propos subversive behavior, my TT this week is all about the little oddities of working in Turkey. I wouldn’t have thought that that was subversive, but apparently something in the title tripped the sensors and my post vanished into the void of comment moderation. So, if you want to check out what other strange behavior exists in the land of falling down hockey players you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way – http://aroundtheisland.blogspo.....urkey.html.

    Have a great day.

  2. Comment from Robin:

    Shoot, it didn’t work. Just click on the link to my blog, it’s the top post.

    I’m going to start taking all this personally soon! I think technology is out to get me.

  3. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    Dude, you’re funny. I like the redesign.

  4. Comment from Himself:

    Robin: I fixed the link in your post. Not sure what happened on your first attempt, but I can assure you I have no content filtering (except for spam, and it wasn’t in the spam trap).

  5. Comment from ben:

    I don’t think there is any question that Che would have skated. The question is, how would he have felt about clutch and grab, not to mention NHL sun-belt expansion? On the one hand he was a cultural traditionalist, but on the other hand he believed that all people in the Americas were deserving of the same basic human rights (like pro hockey) enjoyed by gringos. That would lead one to surmise that he would have supported the spread of hockey southward, as it has been wont to do during the past, what, 20 years or so? Then again, pro sports tend to pretty capitalist in nature, and as the recent film depicting Che’s early adult years would surely have explored had he been a hockey player, he would have undergone a personal catharsis regarding the place of the sport in public life. Should there be private ownership, high salaries, and new stadiums financed in part by taxpayer money, or should we envision a new paradigm in which hockey clubs are owned by the regions/municipalities to which they are attached, and staffed only by local players? So this leaves us with the question of how he would have negotiated expansion to places like Guatemala and regions beyond, without accepting any corporate investment and offending the Bolivarian old-guard. Which also leads me to the larger question – much too big to delve into in this comment: where would a putative hockey revolution in the Americas have started? In Europe it started in Russia against all the odds; it was supposed to start in England, or even Germany. One might expect that it would have occurred in Che’s own Argentina, given the advanced post-feudal state the sport would have exhibited there. Yet it could just as easily have cropped up amongst the more transmigratory and almost hunter-gatherer Carib cultures. You never know – the ecstatic truth, as they call it, will often arise in the most unlikely of places…

  6. Comment from Himself:

    Ben… that was brilliant. I’m speechless.

  7. Comment from Neopaladin:

    Don’t feel hypocritical about being a socialist and selling t-shirts….Marx wasn’t against people buying and selling things, he just wanted to make sure that the workers received the profits of their labors, not the capitalist investors who produced nothing. We are conditioned to think of Stalinist state-run economy as socialism, but it wasn’t. Also, I see that a fair number of the cafepress products are made in the USA.

  8. Comment from Matt:

    I stumbled onto your blog by searching “Che” (you should be proud that you were one of the top hits) and found your analysis interesting. I think that he would likely have enjoyed hockey with the following rule changes (per his political views).

    -a handful of fans for the opposing team are shot during each intermission (clearly before the Zamboni so that the ice would be clean for the next period).
    -no lesser-race players are allowed on the ice (particularly Mexicans, American Indians, and Che’s least favorite of all; anyone of African heritage).
    -If all gate proceeds were pooled, with half going directly to him and the rest to be distributed among the remaining players, coaches, vendors, etc.

    I tried for 13 too, but was also unable to hit that mark as I must get back to work. Whether or not Che could skate, he still achieved an admirable (though not on par with other notable 20th century communists) body count during La Revolucion. Oh, I almost forgot…After the game Che’s coach – we’ll call him Castro for the sake of argument – would release him from the team (which is much nicer than when the real Fidel had Che killed in Bolivia). I really don’t want to start an argument; I was just trying to be equally witty. Good post.

    I also don’t think you should feel bad about selling stuff as a socialist. The shirts are pretty clever and that goes a long way.

  9. Comment from Himself:

    For whatever reason, Che has become one of the most polarizing figures of the 20th century. The fact that his visage has become a cultural icon gets the right worked into more of a froth more quickly than anything I can think of. Even gun control, gay marriage and abortion fail to provoke such a response.

    Matt’s comment is pretty representative of this somewhat hysterical, ahistorical take on Che’s legacy. (I know, he’s trying to be clever, and I appreciate the effort.)

    Even though I’m a leftist, I’ve never sought to glamorize the life of Che. I’ve latched onto Che-mania here as an ironic device, since his face has come to represent so many different things to so many people. Stalinist monster, popular liberator, rock band promoter… Why not a star left winger?

  10. Comment from Matt:

    Point taken; I honestly intended very little froth in the previous comment (emotion or lack thereof is often hard to convey in writing). My main point was to emphasize the ahistorical mythology about Che. It seems a strange irony that people like Carlos Santana sports a shirt with the image of a man who was the executioner for a regime that outlawed Santana’s music. Most of the information about Che quoted in the popular culture comes directly from Fidel in Havana. I never meant to imply that you were glamorizing him, I was just trying to add to the dialogue.

    Since I’ve been called out as a right-winger I will say that I care far less about Che Guevara than Second Amendment rights, traditional marriage and the sanctity of life. It’s funny how we change the phrasing of an issue, huh? It seems like we can’t even agree about which issue we are discussing.

    I also want to thank you for your mature lack of froth. Your semi-civil response to my comment has earned you a new reader; a “right-winger” at that.