HAVANA and MIAMI – Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has become a capitalist, close aides report. Lying on what appeared to be his deathbed, the former communist dictator reflected on his days on earth and came to the conclusion that it had been a life misspent, the aides said.
"It was as if a light came on in his head," reported one aide who asked to remain unnamed. Castro realized, the aide said, that the best thing that had ever happened to Cuba was the bed he was laying on -- a space-saving convertible sofa bed imported from New York in the mid-1950's.
"Only capitalism with its system of monetary incentives and rewards could have brought us the Castro Convertible," the dying dictator said. "Why couldn't I see this before?" he asked.
"Of course, furniture that could switch between sitting and sleeping modes existed before the Castro Convertible Couch," noted Castro. "Such convertible furniture had been around at least since the 1600’s -- but it was usually expensive and clumsy," he said.
"The davenport, which was still somewhat popular in the late 1940's, was difficult to open, and it looked like a bed even when folded up. But the Castro Convertible Couch, which unfolded to become a bed with a strong but light metal frame, featured a 'featherlift' mechanism that made it much easier to operate," he observed.
"It's Bernard Castro who will be remembered by history, not me," Castro sighed.
Even as demonstrations celebrating the greatly exaggerated reports of his demise continued in Miami, Castro's conversion confounded his critics, deflating their joy at his impending death.
"That infernal deuce!" said one Cuban expatriate carrying a placard which read, "Better Dead and Red." Another protester groused, "His death now will be no more satisfying than Ken Lay's" [referring to the chairman of the board and chief executive officer for the now-defunct Enron who died before being sentenced following a securities fraud conviction in 2006].
Crowds of confused men, women and children wandered the streets of Havana upon hearing the conversion report. One little boy asked, in Spanish, "Will we still be allowed to go barefoot when shoes are available?" No one could answer.
UNC's Sullivan to have jersey honored
CHAPEL HILL -- Former University of North Carolina basketball player Pat Sullivan will finally have his jersey hung in the rafters of the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center, the place where he spent so much of his life.
"We had to alter the criteria somewhat to include Pat, but we felt his longevity, if nothing else, merited recognition. When we looked closer, we saw that a great injustice had been done to Pat not honoring his long service to UNC's storied basketball program," said UNC's athletic director Dick Baddour.
Sullivan is to this day the only player in NCAA history to have played on three national championship teams in three different decades.
Sullivan, a 6-8, 220-pound small forward, was a deep reserve on the 1957 team which beat the Wilt Chamberlain' Kansas team in double overtime. He was a sub on the 1982 team with James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Michael Jordan. And Sullivan was the player who missed the free throw that set up Michigan's Chris Webber infamous time out call at the end of the 1993 national championship game.
The jersey-raising ceremony will take place on Sullivan's birthday, February 29, 2012, during the halftime of the Clemson game, over half of which's record 55-consecutive Chapel Hill defeats occurred during Sullivan's tenure with the Tar Heels.
Gary D. Gaddy thinks he remembers seeing a billboard promoting the Castro Convertible when he went with his family to New York City to the 1964 World's Fair.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday April 22, 2011.
Copyright 2011 Gary D. Gaddy