Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Saint Valentine's Day Massacre!

Ha! Bet I got your attention. But no, this is not a blog about Chicago, gangsters, gun molls, or "typewriters." Know what a "typewriter" is? This is an update to El Dia de Los Enamorados. A timely one, as it is being written on Valentine's Day.

Remember the painting of Quiroga Hnos. and Los Tiroleses on Calle Muralla, by the Scull sisters? In the back of your blogger's mind, there was a small voice - maybe Cupid's? - saying, over and over: "But you have heard who the owners of Los Tiroleses were...you do know...seek and you shall find." The Sherlock Holmes in my mind awoke and went sleuthing. And cousin Manny came to the rescue. After all, he should know; he was there - and the aforementioned work of art is in his hands.

There is a Valentine's Day story here. The owners of Los Tiroleses were the Abascal family, seen inside their store. The older gentleman in the picture, in the street, to the left, was his wife's grandfather, Jose Maria Fernandez. The little girl was to become his wife although...they did not know each other in Cuba. The little boy was to become Manny's brother-in-law. Manny and his better half met in, and married in the United States, many years later.

Small world...isn't it interesting that all these Quirogas, or Quirogas-to-be, met or "converged" on Calle Muralla? A lovely family affair, to which your blogger owes his very existence. Seems Cupid liked to hang around Calle Muralla, Havana's Wall Street.

And that, my friends, is the whole story. Or, as we used to hear in Havana, growing up: "Colorin, colorao, este cuento se ha acabado!"

Monday, February 13, 2006

El Dia de Los Enamorados

That literally translates to "The Day of The Lovers." Sounds nice, doesn't it? We know it better as Saint Valentine's Day, February the fourteenth. In Havana, "bc" - stands for "before crap," excuse the scatological digression, Saint Valentine's Day was celebrated as "El Dia de Los Enamorados." The rituals were very similar, if not identical, to those followed in the United States - the cards, the flowers, the candies, dinner dates, champagne, soft lights, candle lights...OK, better stop here. After all, this is a family blog. At least, it is intended to be one. Nothing wrong with making it a sweet day for your beloved, however you choose - or chose in those days - to do so.

The stores had their sales and promotions for El Dia De los Enamorados, then as now. If you were looking for something special for your sweetie, you could go to El Encanto, and in one of its many departments, no doubt you would find that special gift.

Unfortunately, El Encanto is no more - consumed by flames April 12, 1961. We won't go into the reasons why, as that would take us into another subject altogether. Suffice it to say the loveless, heartless Un-Cupid of Havana would have destroyed El Encanto as well. It would just have taken him a little longer.

Nevertheless, that was some store, let me tell you - classy, elegant - beautiful. Of course, in those days, as Valentine's Day meant nothing to a certain bratty boy, going, or in his mind, being dragged, to El Encanto was like having teeth pulled...but now, looking back, one appreciates the store's beauty and elegance - the kind of place you would want to go pick up a suitable present for your sweetheart. This brings to mind the very nice gentleman, Benjamin, who worked in the children's and/or men's clothing department. He would cheerfuly help the little grumpy kid's mom shop for suitable clothing, and even take measurements when adjustments and/or tailoring was necessary. We saw him last in an outdoor cafe in Madrid, summer 1976. Cheerful and nice as ever, and joyful at the unexpected encounter. He had not forgotten the grumpy kid.

If not El Encanto, one could head to another nice department store, which your blogger still recalls, as he seems to remember this was his aunt Josefina's - the one who stayed behind holding the fort at Palladium Jewelry, if you recall from an earlier post - favorite store: Flogar. The founder and owner, Florentino Garcia, combined his name and surname to give the store its moniker.

Or maybe I have it wrong and her favorite store was La Epoca, although I can tell you she also loved El Encanto. Then again - is my mind playing tricks? No, just the ravages of time on memory...maybe it was Fin De Siglo. Truth be told, if you could not find something for your wife, girlfriend, "significant other," whatever, in one of these stores for Valentine's Day...you were in major trouble, friend!

Before forgetting to give credit to our good sources, the images above all come from our friend at therealcuba.com - look at the sections called "Cuba B.C." and "Ads from Cuba B.C." for a treat. Get an idea where you could have gone on your Valentine's day shopping and associated outings in the Havana that was - you had many choices then...and while you are at it, check out his Humor Page. Most will appreciate it. I think humor is an expression of love. Have you noticed how the loveless are invariably humorless?

No "malls" or "shopping centers" back then - so you became more intimately acquainted with the neighborhood, the atmosphere, the people, the particular zones where certain businesses were to be found. I don't know - guess am kind of old fashioned, but liked it better that way. There was more life to the process - leading to more love of life; and isn't that part of what Dia de Los Enamorados is about?

If you decided to get the Very Important Person in your life some jewelry, perfume, china, or whatever else inspired you, there are a couple places to recommend...and pardon the fact that you will quickly realize these recommendations fall in the area of The Shameless Plug. Remember, it is Saint Valentine's Day, so forgive the display of pride, love, and affection for these places and the people who made them so special, to your Shameless Plugger, in any case.

You could have stopped at Palladium Jewelry, found on the ground floor of the Focsa Building, 17th and M streets - that's in the Vedado neighborhood. Sound familiar? If you needed directions and picked up a copy of the Focsa Building's in-house publication, "Algo" magazine, around June 1958, Palladium's advertisement would have told you what you needed to know.

Where you would have been ably assisted in your search for just the right ring, the perfect stone, by Mr. Nicanor (Nick) Quiroga, or aunt Josefina, to his left, or their colleague, Migdalia. The photograph was labeled by mother, and it came courtesy of a Dr. Comas, who lived at Focsa and gave mom and dad quite a few photos of the comings-and-goings in the building, including the many business and social activities there.

On the other hand, perhaps you were into fine china and tableware - no problem; Palladium Jewelry has it for you too...
(Promotional/advertising photo - Palladium Jewelry, 1959)

Now, the food and the fine wine to go with the china and tableware - that you must provide.

If you had trouble making up your mind, you could peruse the little figurines and other knick-knacks your heart - or your sweetheart's - could desire...
(Palladium Jewelry file photo - 1959)

If you are still having problems deciding, and want to make sure you get the right gift for the ocassion, you'll be steered to a very nice lady, who is also quite a capable saleswoman, and really knows her stuff...whether the "stuff" is perfumes, china, figurines, knick-knacks, what have you.

Perhaps the face is familiar - have you been at Palladium before? Well, the face is familiar to your blogger - meet Mrs. Teresa Granja Quiroga, or Mrs. Quiroga, if you go with the "American Custom" - of using the husband's surname, that is; and also-known-as...mom. Unlike her boy, she could probably have sold fridges to eskimos.

Well, still can't find that special gift? Want a recommendation? These Quirogas will be happy to recommend another family business - "Quiroga Hnos." What the heck is "Hnos.?" It's shorthand for "Brothers." Quiroga Brothers, that is, situated in the heart of Old Havana, since 1941, at Calle Muralla number 458 - literally, "Wall Street number 458." Did you know there was a Wall Street in Havana? But no stock exchange. Quiroga Brothers is where dad first cut his teeth in the jewelry business, starting February 1934. The Quiroga side of the family had purchased the business from the widow of the original owner, Mr. Charles Irving, an American. Originally known as "Charles Irving & Co.," it naturally became "Quiroga Brothers" in 1941. And here is a love story for you, on this Dia de Los Enamorados: a certain gal named Teresa Granja went to work in the 1940's for Quiroga Brothers...and met a certain Quiroga, known to his intimates as Nick or Nicky, who also happened to work there. And the rest, is history.

Later, dad went on his own, and thus Palladium Jewelry came to be in February 1957.

Now, I truly wish there were some photos of Quiroga Hnos. from those days to share with you now. In fact, there are, in possession of other family members, and possibly some in our Images Vault. But possession being nine tenths of the law, have none to show you yet. However, the memory of the place is captured through the imagination of Cuban artists and painters, specifically, the Scull sisters. Ever heard of them? They specialize in painting, using 3-dimensional techniques, slices and vignettes of Cuban life and personalities "bc." Their work is wonderful and very nostalgic for those of us who "were there" and remember.

Here is Quiroga Hermanos, Calle Muralla 458, through the artistry of Haydee Scull.
This lively portrait of a slice of life in La Habana Vieja - Old Havana - came by way of cousin Manny Quiroga, whose father, Manuel Sr., my uncle, was one of the brothers in Quiroga Brothers. Manuel Sr. is standing to the right, next to the iron security railing - pay attention to that feature and you will enjoy an interesting surprise later. His wife, whom we knew as "tia" or aunt Cuca, is at the wheel of what appears to be a '58 Chrysler or DeSoto. No, must be a '59, because it has twin headlights. His sister, my cousin Esther, is the passenger. The little mischievous blonde boy is Manuel Jr. or Manny.

The store seen across Quiroga Hermanos was "Los Tiroleses," kind of a small five-and-dime store. The owners are depicted inside, although unfortunately I cannot tell you who they were. All the businesses portrayed were real and existed right in the locations shown in the painting. Another uncle, also one of the Quiroga Hermanos, Dario, whom you met in an earlier post, and who was possessed of a photographic memory, provided the details about these locations so Haydee Scull could paint this evocative scene.

Want to know more about the Scull sisters, Haydee and Sahara, and their magic images of a bygone era? Want to meet some of the characters and personalities of the Havana That Was? Link up here:

  • Haydee and Sahara Scull

  • If you visit Joe's Stone Crabs restaurant in Miami Beach, you will see an example of their work. They recreated the foyer at Joe's, portraying the maitre'd who worked there many years, other employees, and members of the owning Weiss family. All real people. Speaking of Dia de Los Enamorados, if stone crabs you and your sweetie crave, this is THE place to get them. OK, it is just this non-gastronome's opinion, but I would take my wife there. And she would love to be taken there, on Valentine's or any other time.

    Oh, I forgot. What would you find if you now returned to Havana and tried finding Quiroga Hermanos, 1958 now a distant, blurry memory?

    You find something akin to an empty, Egyptian tomb. No one there anymore, to help you find that special something for your beloved. And all courtesy of the slowly mummifying and unraveling, moldy pharaoh of Havana. No love left there. Would it do any good to ask Cupid to shoot one of his magic arrows into pharaoh's hardened heart? No - there IS no heart...

    But there is something interesting about the image. The same iron security railing my dad used to raise and lower at Quiroga Hermanos, when he began working there as a 14-year-old is still there. One solitary unbroken link to a time still lovingly remembered.

    If you are curious, the photograph was taken in summer 2004 by a cousin, who made a point, in her travels, of visiting most, if not all, of the places which had meaning and significance to us, during our Havana years.

    Back to 1958, a time when Cupid still shot his arrows into lovers' hearts in Havana.

    If you have finished your shopping, there is still one more thing: don't forget flowers. Go to Jardines Goyanes and pick up some.

    You have seen this ad before - it was printed in Nitza Villapol's cookbook, "Cocina Al Minuto," the 1954 edition.

    And there is one more thing that you have seen, but, since we are now speaking of flowers for Dia de Los Enamorados, this is quite apropos for closing this post, more or less elegantly. You see, there is a special person who also should get flowers in this Dia de Los Enamorados...

    This was a great cover for Zig-Zag in exile, February 1963. Bet Jardines Goyanes would be willing to donate the roses...bet many would be tripping all over themselves for that honor, in fact.

    To Habaneros, then and now, consider this: Perhaps for some, for many of you even, it is not possible to say "feliz Dia de Los Enamorados." But that day, the day you can say "happy Valentine's Day," will come. For in the end, Love conquers all evil.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Back to the Future! Episode 3 - Our Time Travelers ponder navigating Havana sans DeLorean...

    Perhaps for the benefit of those readers who never saw the "Back to the Future" films, and wonder what the heck a "Delorean" is, a picture - worth 1000 words, as has been said, is in order.
    -- But now, let us pretend, letting our imagination fly, since in fact DeLoreans cannot...and are not to be found new either, since no longer manufactured...this magic mode of transport has broken down and because, in early 20th Century Havana, there are no dealers to fix it, our time travelers must find contemporary ways to get around.

    Decisions, decisions. Should we travel by train or trolley car? If we take the Iron Horse, we must head to Villanueva station, pictured here. Our narrator, Pedro Pablo Peralta, annotated the photograph "Villanueva station (today Capitol)." Unfortunately when "today" is or was, cannot be determined - perhaps sometime during the 1920's.

    Here is a closer look at Villanueva station - to the right of the station building, altough not seen very well, is the Centro Gallego. The Centro Gallego, to which my father and many on his side of the family were later to belong, was a club, more than that, actually, which was a gathering place for the many gallegos who made Havana their home.

    Later, the Cuban Capitolio (the Capitol), or seat of government, was to be built in this location. Hence Pedro Pablo's note regarding this site, "today Capitolio." You can see why it came to be called the Capitolio - it is built in the same style as the US Capitol building. The Centro Gallego can be better seen in the postcard, as well as the Paseo del Prado, a beautiful thoroughfare.

    (postcard image from Cubacollectibles.com)

    If we had money to buy the fare, our travelers could hop onto a tram or trolley at Villanueva or other stations throughout the city. The fare was 5 cents, from 1901 onwards, and continued to be the same into the 1920's. The rail lines and the trolley cars were built and operated by Havana Electric Railway Company, or "HER." Yes, her tram, and his too.

    Our tram might have taken us to San Lazaro and Belascoain streets, seen here. The tram, called "La Maquinita," or "The Little Machine" by Pedro Pablo, took you to the Vedado neighborhood. He writes: "To the right, 'Las Cuevas (The Caves)' cafe, where the bus to El Carmelo stopped." Obviously, there later was a bus stop at the cafe, where no doubt waiting passengers would enjoy a little cafe Cubano while waiting for their "guagua." Was the "guagua," Cuban slang for bus, on time?

    Should we have required lodging at the "Hotel de Guinea," we could have gotten there by horse-drawn trolley. "La Maquinita," on the other hand, was steam-powered.

    The photograph is captioned: "Zulueta, Colon (streets) - stop for trolley cars going to Vedado." So, if we needed to find lodging at the Hotel de Guinea, we had to make sure we took the horse-drawn trolley to Zulueta and Colon streets. Simple, isn't it?

    To be frank, the hotel looks a little seedy, but actually better than many of the crumbling structures in the Havana of today...unless, of course, you are a foreign tourist, in which case you get the good stuff. Perhaps today's Habaneros would be grateful for a room at the Hotel de Guinea...and a horse-drawn trolley to get them there.

    The photo is of Calzada (or thoroughfare) de La Reina - literally, the "Queen's Way." It dates to around 1947 - so a time traveler, whether from 1901, 2006, or 1947 would have no trouble finding an available trolleycar - as long as you had the fare, of course. Perhaps we could ask one of the motorists in one of the classy 40's cars to give us a ride? I think that would beat wheelin' in a DeLorean, any day.

    And to give credit where credit is due, this crisp image comes from a wonderful website dedicated to the Cuban tramway system, created by a Col. Allen Morrison - it is well worth exploring if transportation is a subject of interest to you.

  • The Tramways of Havana (La Habana) BY Allen Morrison

  • Of course, you could always get around by "guagua" - as you already have learned, that's the Cuban slang term for bus. You know, that big vehicle with wheels driven by characters like Ralph Kramden. Since father began to use the bus to get around very early in his life, and since he seems to remember everything - whereas sometimes I can't seem to remember where the (censored) I put the car keys...asked him how much it cost to ride the bus in "his time." Well, the fare was also 5 cents. He added that the fare did not change for many, many years, except for the time when an additional one cent "bridge crossing fare" was imposed. "If the bus route crossed the Almendares river bridge on 23rd street, traveling from Havana to the Marianao suburb, Kohly, and places like that, then you paid the extra penny fare. This was kind of a back-door tariff imposed when, as a result of University of Havana student protests, the bus company, Cooperativa de Omnibus Aliados (Cooperative of Allied Bus Companies) failed in raising the general fare." He still remembers taking the "route 30 bus, at 17 and L streets, when I needed to go downtown." That would be to "La Habana Vieja," or "Old Havana."

    The things you can learn from your parents, huh? That is, if you listen. Children: listen to your parents...and make sure you get on the right bus. Come to think of it, I still remember the number of my school bus when I attended Baldor School or Academy: Number 7. Not bad...I may yet even remember where I laid the car keys.

    The Cooperativa Omnibus Aliados - known as "COA" - buses I too recall, since the pleasures of riding these conveyances, and enjoying the unforgettable smell of diesel fumes, your - at the time - pint-sized blogger was not to be denied. He was, usually unwillingly, dragged to Old Havana for some, in his opinion, unnecessary shopping expedition with mother, or an aunt or grandparent, and COA was only too happy to take their 5 cent fare. There were fare takers in each bus, who, if I recall correctly, issued little tickets upon payment. Kids on bicycles would usually secure "instant diesel power," by latching on to the buses with one hand, and letting the bus do the work - an obviously dangerous practice, which I was admonished never to think of doing, under pain of death. I do not know if this sage advice would have been followed, as we left Cuba before I was old enough to try this.

    And this is what the buses looked like, to that kid, and to the other kids in Havana back in the 50s - the diesel ones, and the electric ones -
    Photo from "Carteles" magazine, Sept 18, 1949 - by way of Col. Morrison's "The Tramways of Havana." This is actually one of the electric buses, which drew power from overhead wires; the diesel-powered ones were similar, if not identical. There were British Leyland buses too. These were white. Dad said they were nicknamed "nurses" because of the white color, which I remember was more of a dirty gray-white due to accumulated diesel soot. To hide the dirt, perhaps they should have been done in black, but then probably folks would not have wanted to ride - would have looked too much like giant, wheeled hearses...

    And bus company inspectors would have ensured - or at least tried - things were as they should be - this would have been the job of unknown Inspector Number 725, whose COA badge is depicted. The image is from Cubacollectibles.com

    Of course, if one did not have train, or trolley/tram, or bus fare, or a car - unlikely our time travelers would have even seen a motorcar in Havana around 1900 - one could do what people have done since time immemorial: WALK. So, we head down to Calzada del Vedado, seen in our next image.

    A "calzada," according to the Royal Academy dictionary, is a "cobblestoned way or road, comfortable due to its width." Well, wouldn't think it was comfortable because it was soft as a mattress. 'Cause obviously it would not be, nor would it be very comfortable for your feet. I see no cobblestones in Calzada del Vedado, just packed dirt. No doubt, by the 1950's it was nicely paved, and you could ride comfortably in, say your '57 Chevy Bel-Air, or Corvette, or Isetta, Prefect, MG, Austin, Buick, VW Beetle, Morris Minor, Renault, Cadillac, Pontiac, Studebaker...OK! Enough already! I'll do a separate post later on the cars of Havana.

    Now if you were enrolled in school, in those very early days you would probably have walked there. No doubt some of you readers have heard family stories about how "your father had to walk three miles in the snow to get to school (obviously not in Cuba!)" or your "tio (uncle) Juan had to lug his books 5 kilometers to school over a hard, cobblestoned calzada!" However, there no doubt were other alternatives, such as the one seen in the photograph, the oxen-powered 2-wheeled school cart. Well, in fact it is unlikely the quaint cart was actually being used to transport the children seen on it to the "Escuela Municipal de Ninos," or "Children's Municipal School" building behind them. This vehicle is the typical country conveyance, used by Cuba's "peasants" - no disrespect meant by use of the term - or "guajiros" to transport their harvest, building materials, other goods, as needed. The equivalent of your pick-up truck or rig today, no oxen under the hood, but instead a few "horses."

    The photo is annotated "Calzada de Infanta (Royal Way)." And where did this Royal Way lead? To the University of Havana, here depicted in this postcard from the 1920's. Our "guajiro" pupils could later follow the Royal Way to university. Unfortunately, a certain sinister character also went to said university...one wonders sometimes if higher education in fact is a civilizing influence. Perhaps it teaches barbarians how to hide their true character, and to excel at being cunning, being artful liars.
    Postcard from Hilda's Postcard Museum - cubalabella.net; suggest you take a look as it is well worth it. There is a treasure trove of old Cuban postcards to be enjoyed there.

    Our travelers by now are getting a little restless and tired; all that walking, you know. If they find themselves a little corner coffee stand, they can revive themselves with some good, sweet, strong, cafe cubano. However, they manage to get on another horse-drawn trolley and cross the bridge - the "Puente de Agua Dulce," that is - literally the "Fresh or Sweet Water Bridge."
    Later, the horse-drawn trolley or tram on this route was replaced by an electric-powered one. To quote from Col. Morrison's website: "By 1915, United Railways operated electric vehicles with trolley poles on five routes: from the corner of Zanja and Galiano streets to Marianao, from Central Station to Guanajay, Rincon and Guines, and from Agua Dulce to Naranjito. It also operated local tram services in Marianao and battery-powered trams from Rincon to San Antonio de los Banos. And it controlled the electric streetcar system in Guanabacoa, which ran a line west to Agua Dulce." Now you know the Sweet Water Bridge...led to the town of Sweet Water, or Agua Dulce. And thanks to the electrification of the trolleys, horse poop pick-up patrols were no longer needed - which no doubt was easier on passengers' noses.

    Perhaps our time-travelers decided to cut short their stay at the Hotel De Guinea. "Charming and full of character," they might have piously fibbed to the good propietor, "but we would like to know another part of your wonderful city, and must find suitable lodging." So they find themselves a carriage, which takes them to "Plazoleta de Luz," or "Little Plaza of Light," where they find lodging at the prestigious Ascotte Hotel. And if by now their shoes are worn from all the walking, they will find a shoe store and shoemaker, conveniently located at street level in their prestigious digs, the "Peleteria La Marina," or "Marina Shoe Store," marina here referring to naval (not navel!) matters. Why that name for a shoe store? What has that got to do with the sea, ships, naval matters indeed? You'll see shortly.

    And what sort of store - if a store or business - was "Knight and Wall Co," across the hotel? It appears Knight and Wall was a general store, where the travelers could have shopped for necessaries - long johns, perhaps? Do you know what long johns are? Maybe it was too hot in Havana to wear them, but then again, you have seen men in suits walking about in these quaint photographs, under the tropical sun, no doubt sweating and wondering when fashion will become practical. The era of Bermuda shorts and other casual, practical attire for the tropics is still decades away.

    Back to Knight and Wall. How does your blogger know it was a general store? Well, to confess, there is no ironclad certainty. But curiosity awakened, some searching was done, in the course of which a Knight and Wall was in fact found. The company was based in Tampa, Florida, in the 1880's. Now we can put two and two together, with a bit of logic and common sense thrown in. After all, this is not Mainstream Media. By the 1880's there were already strong connections between Tampa and Havana, as Tampa was home to a sizable colony of Cuban exiles and expatriates. Funny how many times Cubans have exiled themselves in Florida - well, actually, not funny at all. But thank God for the Sunshine State, geographically and mercifully reaching out as if a life-saving raft for Cuban victims of political capsizings...anyway, it makes perfect sense that Knight and Wall of Tampa, a general goods store, would seek to broaden its market by opening a branch - or branches - in Cuba, given the natural geographic and cultural connections involved. This would probably have taken place after 1898. How long they remained in business, in Tampa and/or Havana, is unknown. Perhaps those of you interested in commerce, retailing, cultural connections, geography, Tampa, Florida, Havana, Cuba, will be tempted to weave your way through the web and find some more nuggets of knowledge on the subject. You might want to start here; you may have to read carefully to find out where Knight and Wall fits in the scheme of things, but that is half the fun of research, isn't it? Hint: Look around the widow's photograph.


  • From the Plazoleta de Luz, we would walk or take a carriage to the nearby "Muelle de Luz" - "Pier of Light." Now you see the connection between this and the shoe store name. The pier is close to Plazoleta de Luz. So the owner of the shoe store was thinking about the sea, the pier, marine things, when he named his business. That is my theory, anyway. Perhaps it is full of holes, and will sink for lack of proof. Evidently our imaginary friends have decided to leave Havana by ship. If this was the 1950's, they could have loaded their DeLorean on the Havana-Key West ferry, so as to have "wheels" in Florida. We took our '55 Chevy Bel-Air to Key West at least once - believe that was in 1958. The details of said trip will be saved for another post down the road. Stay tuned.

    If the time-travelers had hung around a few years longer, they might have enjoyed yet another mode of transportation around Havana and its environs - well, truth be told, passenger airships never flew out of Cuba. For that, we had wonderful airplane service from Cubana de Aviacion, Aerovias "Q," Pan American Airways, Iberia, and others.

    (Graf Zeppelin postcard from lindbergh-aviation.de)

    The warped, evil mind of your blogger is at it again. You see, the old, moldy "pharaoh of Havana" has only done one thing well, to my thinking, the past 46 years: spew vast quantities of methane gas out his mouth during his endless, ramblin' and babblin's speeches. Now, given the difficulties Habaneros face these days in securing suitable and reliable transportation, would it not be feasible to build a fleet of airships similar to the Graf Zeppelin of 1938, and have el babbler fill the gas cells with his self-generated methane?? Think of the possibilities!

    Failing in that, perhaps he should be stuffed with a Graf Zeppelin-sized gas bag, which when filled with his own emissions, would make an interesting parade float, perhaps to be entered in the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Why not? El gasso has been to New York before. This would beat the sight of a flyin' DeLorean, any day. And perhaps at the end of the parade, someone would stick a large pin through the green, moldy gas bag, deflating and silencing it, once and for all. Admittedly, the stench might violate USA air pollution and air quality standards, but only for a split second...

    Isn't it fun to let our imagination fly? As I said before: Stay tuned.