Sunday, June 26, 2016

Alejandro Barrios Martinez / Conjunto Casino

Artist: Conjunto Casino
LP: Via Cuba
Song: "Si No Eres Tu (If You Aren't There)" 
[ listen ]

That mass shooting at the gay dance club in Orlando two weeks ago is still weighing on my mind. I bought a copy of People magazine at the grocery store the other day because it features profiles on those who died at the club that night. 

I don't normally read this magazine, and I swear I'll never read it again. It took me a while to even find the Orlando story as I leafed through the magazine's seemingly endless pages of trashy pop-culture reporting. I finally located their headlining article covering the mass murder of 49 club-goers sandwiched between a Trend Report on statement sleeves...

...and a detailed interview with Kim Kardashian about how she got her body back. 

The fact that the featured article about all the people who were massacred was buried beneath so much mind-numbing shit-fluff struck me as callous and offensive. Still, I read through the mini-biographies that People had gathered, half surprised that they didn't include a report on what each of the victims had been wearing at their time of death. The magazine's layout of incredibly brief biographical sketches on the victims concluded with this unsettling footnote: 

I felt terrible for Alejandro Barrios Martinez's grieving friends and relatives who might also have picked up a copy of People at the grocery store. And, of course, I wondered who this guy was. Why had People magazine not been able to find any information about him? Who knows.

Anyhow, according to his friend Sarai Torres who spoke with the Orlando Sentinel, Alejandro Barrios Martinez was a friendly and upbeat young man who came to the USA from Cuba just a few years ago. He was still learning to speak English and he always had a smile on his face. A report in the Bradenton Herald tells us that Alejandro expressed his fear of dying and also swore his everlasting love in the heartbreaking final messages he sent to his partner from the club. 

Alejandro's mother, who lives in Cuba, was swiftly granted a visa so she would be able to come to the U.S. to bury her son. 

The New York Times features detailed profiles, along with recollections by friends and family, of all 49 people who died at the club in Orlando; you can find those here. Conjunto Casino's "Si No Eres Tu (If You Aren't There)" from their 1957 "Via Cuba" LP is my meager tribute to Alejandro and the others who were killed in Orlando, and all those who were injured too, who I'm sure will be haunted by the memory. So pointless, so infuriating and so sad. 

[ Alejandro Barrios Martinez ]

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