Thursday, February 19, 2009

Visions on Third Avenue

Walking down Third Avenue with Derek and Little T during a photo shoot for the new album we just finished recording. Little T co-wrote the lyrics to five of the eleven songs that made it onto the final master. All of fifteen years old the kid is. Met him in the apartment building I lived in when I first moved to New York five years ago. He was just a little guy back then. We’d hang out. Eat cereal. Watch movies. Play guitar. Who knew he’d end up a freaking brilliant poet by age 12... At least I was smart enough to recognize it. We started co-writing songs together right around the time he turned 13. One day he's sitting there in my apartment fucking around on my guitar bothering the hell out of me while I was at my desk trying to write something. I can tell he's holding an Am chord and just shooting shit out of his mouth. I was used to it though. I let him hang out whenever he wanted to. Things at home weren't easy. I remembered being 12, 13, those years. Shit, I still felt 16, sometimes 18. On good days. I figured better he's hanging at my pad than out on the street getting into trouble. Out of the corner of the periphery of my hearing I hear him mumble something to the effect of “blood runs down pensylvania avenue/and I find myself unfortunately hating you...”
“Dude! What the hell did you just say?”
“I don't remember.... I don't know.”
“You said something like “blood runs down pensylvania avenue. Where is pensylvania avenue? That was cool.”
“Uh, are you serious? The White House?”
“No shit? Man that's cool.”
So I grab the guitar out of his hands and we proceed to write the song “White House Jihad.” Each of us adding lyrics along the way as I flesh out a melody and a chord progression. Five minutes, maybe ten, and we’re done. That was it. I knew. This kid’s got more talent at 12 than I had at 22. “Dude start writing poetry. You ever think about writing poetry?”
“I wanna be a rock star man, not a poet.”
“Yeah. Totally. I dig that. You can be both. But you have a gift for lyrics man. And I got songs coming out of my ears. They never stop. But after thousands and thousands of them, lyrics start to get harder and harder to come up with. But the songs keep coming and coming. Just never ending. It’s the lyrics that hold them back from becoming finished songs. Do me a favor. Just shoot me every poem you write, o.k.? cool?”

So Little T starts hitting the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sitting around all day while he should be in school, sitting there sipping coffee and writing poems. One, two, three, ten, twenty. Pretty soon he's shooting me five songs a day. I never had to do anything but print them out, put them up on a music stand in my room, stare at them for a while, and bam! The melody and chord progression would just flow out. Half the time I never even paid attention to what chords I was playing. It was like the song would just speak to me by looking at his poem sitting there. It wasn't work. It was more like magic. Channeling. I print one of his poems and five minutes later a completed song is out here in the world. Existing. Playing God. Instant manifestation. Just like that. I'd call him at all hours of the night. “O.k. man listen to this one....” Sometimes two or three a day. We easily wrote fifty songs in ’08 in that method. I had found something new. Someone else giving the songs a start by supplying a poem. “Keep them short brother. you're sending me poems that end up being ten minute long songs. Keep them to one page.”
“o.k. man. Sorry.”

And on and on it went. It was a much needed breath of fresh air. I was still writing my own lyrics too. But this really precipitated one of the most fruitful and productive songwriting periods of my life. Notebooks were filling up. And more importantly, the poems he was sending were inspiring some of the most honest and sincere songs I had ever composed, musically speaking. They had to come out that way. The lyrics were just so damn real. Not just throw away stuff. Real stuff. Last forever kind of stuff.

Only thing was that we weren't writing TRANSCENDENCE type material. I still was. But the kinds of poems T would send me weren't inspiring alternative rock or Brit pop styled songs. They were more like old school acoustic singer/songwriter kinds of songs. Simon and Garfunkel or Dylan type of things. What the hell was I going to do with these? I'm in a band. A rock band. What are we going to do with these songs? They're so good. We have to do something with them.

Bunny is hanging in my room. Listening to me play her some of these new songs... “Fishy you know you should cut an album of these songs. I love TRANSCENDENCE but this shit is deep man. It’s way hip. Mad deep. I can feel you more in these songs than in some of the TRANSCENDENCE stuff.” Weather Girl tells me the same thing. So does Britney. So does Catherine. So does Princess Little Tree. There was obvious flow. Always follow flow....

So we decided to make an album. A few investors hear the songs. Immediately step up and offer to sponsor a new album if we promise to keep it just like it sounds with just me on the guitar by myself. “none of that experimental noisy TRANSCENDENCE stuff o.k.? Just this. You and your guitar this time Fishy. Maybe some piano and strings. But keep it simple. Stay true to these songs.

I fly to Miami. Vancouver offers to produce. So its pretty much the same lineup. All the boys from TRANSCENDENCE join in plus a few other notables from the Miami music scene. People popping in to see what’s up. “I hear Fishy’s back in town cutting a new album... is it true? You need backup vocals bro? Just let me know. A real family affair. Ex Norwegian is in there everyday checking up on things, acting as a sort of executive producer. Gene Genie is around us constantly with her camera and video camera capturing the whole affair. The workload is grueling. Ridiculously grueling. We are on the clock like we’ve never been before. Usually we have anywhere from fifty to a hundred thousand dollars to make an album. This time we were told we had five thousand. It was an impossible proposition. To promise to record an entire album for so little. And in so little time. Four weeks. Couldn’t do it. So we got permission to extend it to five.

The schedule was simple. We work everyday seven days a week till we drop. Sick or not sick we work. No breaks. Eat in the studio. No leaving for any reason. Record eleven songs from start to finish AND mix them. No way to keep up that schedule without help. Artificial stimuli. Brutally abusive to the body and nervous system. But no other way to make it happen. Up all night, up all day. No stopping. We got sicker and sicker. Vancouver’s in the bathroom throwing up. I'm running outside to throw up in between vocal takes. We’re getting sicker and sicker everyday. We all have the flu we think. So more artificial sustenance. Push through the pain. Conquer whatever ails us. At least that's what we think is the answer. Use turns into abuse turns into “I don't think I can stand up anymore. we’re going to have to record with me laying down a lot of the time bro. I just can’t stand up anymore. I don't know what's wrong with me.”

I'm chugging eight to ten energy drinks a day and five to ten cups of coffee. Plus various other things. Anything we can do to stay awake and keep the project on schedule. Vancouver is shooting down quarts of Cuban coffee to stay awake. And worse, all we are eating is sugar and fried Cuban sandwiches because that's all we can get delivered to the studio without leaving so we can keep on working. We hadn't had a fruit or vegetable in over a month.

He goes to the doctor. He's got walking pneumonia. He goes on antibiotics. His eyes are all closed up and swollen and he can’t stop coughing and sneezing and hiccupping and throwing up. I can barely stand up. can’t see straight. Can’t think straight. Can’t sleep either. Too tired to sleep. Too worried about the money this is costing. Too worried we aren't going to make the deadline and aren't going to be able to finish the album. So we step it up even further. By week five I'm flat out on the floor curled up on a blanket. Barely hanging on. I need to get to the hospital. First time in my life when I ever had that thought. Up until that point in my life I felt as though I were invincible. I could do anything I wanted to my body, ingest anything, lack anything, take anything, never mattered. I never felt it. Always woke up the next day or three days later and felt like me again. This time was different.

No more pretty little Eddie Darling. I'm starting to look like the old and fat Jim Morrison. Swolen and bloated. Tightened scrunched up face. Too much stress. I don't want anyone to see me. I tell everyone 'no more pictures. no more video taping. not until i get better.' This is pure madness. But we have to finish.

“Are you sure you don't want to go to the hospital Fishy?” Vancouver asks me as I'm laying on the floor calling out mixing ideas to him.
“Dude, what the fuck? Are you freaking kidding me? And then what? And then we wait for me to get better? We don't even know what's wrong with me! It could take weeks. by then who knows what will become of this album. Nah man just keep going. Give me some of that Cuban coffee. Let’s just keep going.” I've been in situations where you start something and don't finish it before. There are many things I dislike. That is one of them. I have always pegged those sorts as weaker people. Not having or doing what it takes to complete a project. See it through. I don't want to hear about your book. I want to read it.

Felt like I had hit a wall. Literally. Only way I can describe it. Felt like my body had hit a wall and no matter what I tried, I just couldn't climb over it. It felt like an invisible wall. Bruised, battered, beat up, busted. I thought about Joe Gideon in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz. That moment when he realizes he's hit the proverbial wall and all the hard living has finally caught up with him. He's going to die. And there's nothing he can take for it. But i remained in complete denial and continued to attempt to take everything and anything to work my way through that wall. Or over that wall. Or around that wall. First time I was ever challenged like that. I was in shock. Where is my inner Dorian Gray? Have I truly lost my invincibility?

Misery is about the only word that comes to mind. But also joy. We knew we were making something special. Something beautiful.

In the long run I did end up in the hospital of course. And so did Vancouver. He on antibiotics for only God knows what kind of infection and me all curled up in the fetal position shaking, crying, moaning in agony for three weeks. Throwing up. In the bathroom every five minutes. Back to bed moaning, crying, writhing in pain. Exhaustion is what they call it. Among other things. There are things we never speak about in rock 'n' roll. That moment in Scorcese's The Last Waltz where Levon looks at Marti and says all seriously "I thought we we weren't going to talk about those kinds of things?" It's true. We never do. Not directly at least. Not until years later.

It wasn't pretty. It was an experience I hope never to repeat. Once is enough. But a funny thing happened. A few weeks into the recovery, my mom God bless her asks to hear the album. “If you got yourself into this bad of a condition let me at least hear why honey. I know you don't like playing your music for people before it comes out. But let me hear it.” She puts the CD on. I'm listening to it for the first time in two weeks after what seemed like an eternity of pain and agony and despair and many more horrible symptoms caused by irresponsible abuse of the human body. I can’t believe what I'm hearing. Vancouver has recovered and he has mixed the album. I start crying. No. More like sobbing. “We did it mom. We did it. Listen to that... wow. we did it. It was worth it... I'm gonna be o.k. eventually. But more importantly we did it... thank God. I was worried maybe that we were kidding ourselves... but we really did do it....” I pass out. I'm exhausted. But I'm happy and relieved.

Derek is all eyes ahead, scouting cool locations for the next batch of photos. Me and T holding back, shuffling along. More like strutting. As one tends to do when all dolled up and dressed to the nines for a photo shoot on a gorgeous though below freezing day such as this one. photo shoot strutting.
“Man I'm really worried,” T mumbles.
“Why what's up bro?”
“When I got the CD with the new songs I was so excited I listened to them everyday for weeks while you were sick. I was really worried about you. But I was so happy about how good of an album you made. And then my mom’s boyfriend heard the songs, and like, every song he had some critique to say. It kind of bummed me out. Why can’t people just like stuff without making some critique, without having to give their two cents?”

I look over at him and smile, “welcome to the art world dog. Get used to it.” You think listening to your mom’s boyfriend’s criticisms are bad? Wait till the album hits the press. It’s hit or miss bro. We could get smeared in the press. Do yourself a favor and never google yourself once this album comes out. If you can’t stomach it then just don't read the reviews... cause it’s a fucking toss up bro. They could crucify us. Easily. We took a big risk with this album. Fishy going all folky and shit. Who knows...”
“if that happens I'm going to get really depressed...” Little T says shuffling along staring at the ground beneath him.
“Listen. T. Seriously. Don't you have opinions about music? about other artists? You like Bob Dylan right?
“But you don't like Fifty Cent do you?”
“Hell no.”
“O.k. then. But plenty of people do. And I bet he likes his stuff. That's why he makes it. I bet he's even proud of it. Just like we’re proud of what we just created. you dig what I'm saying?”
“Yeah. But can’t we just hope that everyone likes it?”
“Yeah sure man. And we can hope that two beautiful girls fall from heaven right now and want to hang out with us and make love to us no strings attached. But chances are that's not going to happen.... hope all you want bro, but we aren't making music to be liked.”
“We’re not? I thought that’s what we WERE doing!”
“No bro. On the contrary. We’re making music because we love to make music. think about it. Think about how you feel when you put that album on in your iPod. How does it make you feel?”
“I feel better than I've ever felt in my life. I can’t believe we turned those poems into songs. I can’t believe we wrote them so fast. I can’t believe how good they sound. Really dude, when I listen to the album it makes my day. I wait all day to listen to it.... is that weird?”
“No little man. That's why we worked so hard to write those songs. And that's why I almost killed myself making the album. Dude we don't make art for other people. We make it for ourselves. We make it because we have a vision and passion and because we are inspired. There are plenty of other people who make music to be liked. Kanye West whines like a little bitch because he doesn’t win a Grammy for his album. As if that's why he makes music. Maybe guys like that make music to please other people, so other people like them. But artists, real artists don't do that. You feel what I'm saying?”
“Yeah. I know you're right. It would just be nice if all that work paid off....”
“Listen to me man. Maybe you don't know this. You met me now. only in the last five years. But the first concert I ever performed was for the Eddie album which came out when I was 18 years old. I played at the Fox Theatre for five thousand people. That year I never played a venue with less than five thousand people. that went on for about a year or two. Then my star died down a bit in the public eye. And its been up and down ever since. I haven't played a venue that large in years man. But that doesn’t stop me from continuing to make music. Why? Cause I fucking love making music. I love creating art. I feed off of it. My brain gets flooded with endorphins when I'm singing man. Whether its to five thousand people, or ten, or just to myself in my room at night. It doesn’t matter. And besides, there's the bigger picture bro....”
“What's the bigger picture?”
“We’re building something man. We’re creating a catalogue. A legacy. We’re creating a body of work. Think about that. A body of work. Of brilliant work that we love. Maybe only brilliant and special and beautiful to us. But still. It’s there forever.”
“I never thought about that...”
“Well think about it. What we do now bro will last forever. As long we keep doing it... the more we create the better the chances that something of it will last. Think Picasso. Think Mozart. Think Van Gogh. We aren't making music for the masses bro. Let Christina Agufuckinglera create music for the masses. We’re creating art for eternity. For our very souls. We’re creating art for our very survival. If we didn't make art what would we be doing?”
“I'd probably be back in a psych ward....”
“Yeah. Exactly. And I'd probably be dead or in jail for going mad and doing something stupid. You see? Our art sustains us. It gives us life and hope and joy and peace of mind.” Little T was smiling.
“You're really on today man,”
“Yeah, thanks. I'm starting to feel better and better everyday.... more like myself....”
“How sick were you anyway?”
“Sick bro. really sick."
"I sort of felt guilty about that. Like it was my fault for pushing you so hard to make the album..."
"Don't worry about that man. It wasn't you. I did it to myself bro. I needed to make the album as much as anything I'd ever done. And it was worth it. We did it. We really created something special. If I had it to do all over again naturally I would have taken better care of myself, but still, I wouldn’t have compromised my intention to get that album done with that ridiculously low budget and in that ridiculously short time frame. I would have done the same exact thing. Why?”
“Because you are insane?”
“Yeah. That's a given. But seriously... we had one shot. A lucky break. A chance to record an album in between deals with a distributor that hasn’t paid us in almost two years for our album sales. Fucking bastards. But you know how lucky we were to get this chance? We got the shot. In cases like that you do whatever the hell you have to to run with that ball and score that fucking TD. Period. If you die, even better. You die proud and happy and fulfilled.”
“You're insane. And morbid. But that's why I like you. You're the only person that understands things like this in my life Fishy.”
“Glad I can oblige little brother. Glad to oblige. But don't go chasing rainbows because of me dog. I've got some sort of voodoo angels protecting me or something. I've cheated life and death so many times... I don't know how I'm still alive. It’s like there’s some sort of magic bubble around me or something. But plenty of guys end up dead a lot younger or worse, they look like shit. All beat up from too much abuse, too much drinking, too many drugs, too much road. Not enough reality.... If I had the choice I'd rather die young and beautiful than live all fucked up looking... luckily I don't have to make that choice. At least not yet.”
“You're crazy! Do you mean what you say? Or do you just say it?”
“Both. I never mean what I say man. Unless I do. You know?”
“Unfortunately I think I do...”
“Good. Look dude. Just to recap so we don't lose track here. Look at it this way. You're a visionary. You're a gifted 15 year old poet with tons of talent. Visionaries create art because they have vision. They don't give a shit what people think. All they care about is fulfilling that vision. That's the goal. Fuck the people. Some are going to dig what you do. And some are going to think you're a total fucking talentless dweeb. Some are going to call you a sell out. And some are going to think you're the greatest thing since who knows what. And what's worse, most of the time you aren't ever even going to know who thinks what about you. And even worse than that, most people are not even going to ever know who you are. So you just hold your vision and stay a visionary. That's our job. That's what being an artist is all about. Success or no success. Money or no money. Sometimes sold out houses playing for five thousand people. Sometimes grungy old bars that stink of booze and cigarettes with no more than twenty people. Either way you're still a genius. A poet. A visionary. That's who you are. Stay true to that and you will never regret your life. Cause a life of regret is not a life worth living. Now let’s go strike some poses, look like the sexy bastards that we are, and take some pictures for this album cover.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Learning About Che

Excerpted from this website:

Nickname "Che" derived from Guevara's habit of punctuating his speech with the interjection che, a common Argentine expression for a friend or hey!

Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born in Rosario, Argentina into a middle-class family of Spanish-Irish descent. Celia de la Serna y Llosa, his mother, had lost her parents while she was still a child. Celia was raised by her religious aunt and her older sister, Carmen de la Serna, who married in 1928 the Communist poet Cayetano Córdova Itúrburu. Guevara's family was liberal, anti-Nazi and anti-Peronist, and not very religious. With Celia's fortune, the family lived comfortably, although Ernerto Guevara Lynch, Ernesto's father, managed to spend much of it in his unlucky business ventures. In his youth Guevara read widely and among his reading list in the 1940s were Sartre, Pablo Neruda, Ciro Alegría, and Karl Marx's Das Kapital. He also kept a philosophical diary and in Africa 1965 Guevara planned to write a biography of Marx.

In 1953 Guevara graduated from the University of Buenos Aires, where he was trained as a doctor. During these years Guevara read Stalin and Mussolini but did not join radical student organizations. He made long travels in Argentina and in other Latin America countries. At the same time his critical views about the expanding economic influence of the United States deepened. In 1952 he made journey with his motor bike, an old Norton 500 single, around South America. The journey opened his eyes about the situation of the Indians and was crucial for the awakening of his social conscience. Like Jack Kerouac later in his book On the Road (1957), Guevara recorded his impressions in The Motorcycle Diaries. "The person who wrote these notes died the day he stepped back on Argentine soil," Guevara wrote in his diary. "Wandering around our 'America with a capital A' has changed me more than I thought."

After witnessing American intervention in Guatemala in 1954, Guevara radicalized and become convinced that the only way to bring about change was by violent revolution. He wrote in a letter to home: "Along the way, I had the opportunity to pass through the dominions of the United Fruit, convincing me once again of just how terrible these capitalist octopuses are. I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin that I won’t rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated." In Guatemala Guevara met Hilda Gadea. They married 1955 and had one child. Guevara was arrested with Fidel Castro in Mexico for a short time. He had joined Castro's revolutionaries to overthrow the Batista government. In 1956 they loaded 38-feet long motor yacht Granma full of guerrillas and weapons and sailed to Cuba, landing near Cabo Cruz on December 2.

They made their base in the mountains of Sierra Maestra, attacking garrisons and recruiting peasants to the revolutionary army. In the areas controlled by the guerrillas, Guevara started land reform and socializing process. In spite of his chronic asthma, Guevara enjoyed the hard conditions and war. Land reform become the slogan, the "banner and primary spearhead of our movement" as Guevara described it in an interview, that made eventually peasants participate in the armed struggle. Guevara was respected by his men, although considered violent - he shot Eutimio Guerra who had cooperated with dictator Fulgencio Batista's army.

In the mountains Guevara met Aleida March in 1958, 24-year-old revolutionary fighter, and she became Guevara's second wife in 1959. He continued to write his diary and composed also articles for El Cubano Libre. A selection of Gurvara's articles, which he wrote between 1959 and 1964, was published in 1963 as PASAJES DE LA GUERRA REVOLUCIONARIA. For the media Cuba was a hot subject - New York Times, Paris Match and Latin American papers sent reporters to the mountains to make stories of the revolutionaries. At the same time when Guevara was in the mountains, his uncle was Ambassador to Cuba.

Guevara rose to the rank of major and led one of the forces that invaded central Cuba in the late 1958. After the conquest of power in January 1959 Guevara gained fame as the leading figure in Castro's government. He attracted much attention with his speeches against imperialism and US policy in the Third World. He argued strongly for centralized planning, and emphasized creation of the 'new socialist man'. In his famous article, 'Notes on Man and Socialism', he argued that "to build communism, you must build new men as well as the new economic base." The basis of revolutionary struggle is "the happiness of people," the the goal of socialism is the creation of more complete and more devoped human beings.

In a discussion on September 14, 1961 Guevara opposed the right of dissidents to make their views known even within the Communist Party itself. However, privately Guevara was critical of the Soviet bloc, but so was also Nikita Khruschev. When the executions of war criminals started Guevara acted as the highest prosecuting authority. The condemned were soldiers found guilty of murder, torture and other serious crimes. Because Guevara was a doctor, one of his friends once asked how he could work in such a position. Guevara's answer was like from Western movies: "Look, in this thing you have to kill before they kill you." In 1959 Guevara adopted formally the nickname Che and was granted honorary Cuban citizenship. He was visited by such intellectuals as de Beauvoir, and Sartre who saw in him the "most complete human being of our age". The most famous picture of Guevara was taken by Alberto Diaz Gutiérrez, known professionally as Korda. He declined to take royalties when the picture became worldwide icon. When a British advertising agency appropriated the image for a vodka ad Korda rejected the idea: he never drank himself," said the photographer, "and drink should not be associated with his immortal memory."

From 1961 to 1965 Guevara was minister for industries, and director of the national bank, signing the bank notes simply 'Che'. He traveled widely in Russia, India and Africa, meeting the leading figures of the world, among others Jawaharel Nehru and Nikita Khruschev. Guevara was also the architect of the close relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union. Although good relationships with Moscow become the cornerstone of Castro's foreign policy, Guevara followed the emergence of the Maoists. In 1965 Guevara made public his disappointments in Algiers and described the Kremlin as "an accomplice of imperialism". Guevara's dismissal from the ministry followed immediately on his return from Algiers.

To test his revolutionary theories Guevara resigned from his post as a politician. He had published highly influential manuals Guerrilla Warfare (1961) and Guerrilla Warfare: A Method (1963), which were based on his own experiences and partly chairman Mao Zedong's writings. President John F. Kennedy had Guerrilla Warfare rapidly translated for him by the CIA. Guevara stated that revolution in Latin America must come through insurgent forces developed in rural areas with peasant support. The is no need for right precondition for revolution - guerrilla warfare can begin the activities. In his last article, 'Vietnam and World Struggle', Guevara outlined his global perspectice for revolutionary struggle, and stressed the dual role of hate and love.

"And he did have a saving element of humor. I possess a tape of his appearance on an early episode of "Meet the Press" in December 1964, where he confronts a solemn panel of network pundits. When they address him about the "conditions" that Cuba must meet in order to be permitted the sunshine of American approval, he smiles as he proposes that there need be no preconditions: "After all, we do not demand that you abolish racial discrimination…." A person as professionally skeptical as I.F. Stone so far forgot himself as to write: "He was the first man I ever met who I thought not just handsome but beautiful. With his curly reddish beard, he looked like a cross between a faun and a Sunday-school print of Jesus…. He spoke with that utter sobriety which sometimes masks immense apocalyptic visions." (Christopher Hitchens in New York Review of Books, July 17, 1997) During his disappearance from public life Guevara spent some time in Africa organizing the Lumumba Battalion which took part in the Congo civil war. He was not happy how Laurent Kabila fought against Joseph Mobutu, although his first impression on Kabila was positive. "Africa has a long way to go before it reaches real revolutionary maturity," Guevara concluded in his diary.

In 1966 Guevara turned up incognito in Bolivia where he trained and led a guerrilla war in the Santa Cruz region. In his manual Guerrilla Warfare, Guevara had stressed that the guerrilla fighter needs full help from the people of the area, it is an indispensable condition, but Guevara failed to win the support of the peasants and his group was surrounded near Vallegrande by American-trained Bolivian troops. "The decisive moment in a man's life is when he decides to confront death," Guevara once said. "If he confronts it, he will be a hero whether he succeeds or not. He can be a good or a bad politician, but if he does not confront death he will never be more than a politician." After Guevara was captured, Captain Gary Prado Salmón put a security around him to be sure that nothing happened. Guevara told him, "don't worry, captain, don't worry. This is the end. It's finished." (from the document film 'Red Chapters,' 1999) Guevara was shot in a schoolhouse in La Higuera on October 9, 1967, by Warrant Officer Mario Terán of the Bolivian Rangers at the request of Colonel Zenteno. Terán was half-drunk, celebrating his borthday. Guevara's last words were according to some sources: "Shoot, coward you are only going to kill a man." In order to make a positive fingerprint comparison with records in Argentina, Guevara's hand were sawed off and put into a flask of formaldehyde. They were later returned to Cuba. Guevara's corpse was buried in a ditch at the end of the runway site of Vallegrande's new airport. "Che considered himself a soldier of this revolution, with absolutely no concern about surviving it," said Fidel Castro later in Che: A Memoir.