On the first of this month, I received an email from my friend Kate. She was upset over the death of her friend Brad, an activist who had been murdered by a paramilitary group in Oaxaca, Mexico. Brad traveled around the world for Indymedia documenting political and social struggle in areas ignored by the mainstream media. He was on the lines of a teacher's strike in Oaxaca when the military opened fire, and was killed by a single shot to his abdomen.
Kate had included a picture of Brad with her email and after clicking on the file, I thought "My God, he looks familiar. I think I met him." I got my current apartment through Kate. There was a birthday party for her the last December she lived here...three years ago? Four? (At what point did time begin moving so quickly?) Anyway, it was at this party that I met Brad. I had a nice conversation with several people there but can't recall if he was one of them. It may just be that his presence was noticable whether you spoke with him or not. He was tall and lanky and cheerful.
The cover story of the Village Voice this week is about Brad's death. Appearantly he was well known enough and his work was respected enough within progressive circles that his death has been quite a shock to that community. I emailed Kate to warn her that she might want to avoid the Voice this week. Losing someone you cared about is difficult enough without having to be reminded of their death every time you pass a newstand. I also understand that grief, despite how it feels at the time, is not eternal and told her I would save a copy of the issue for her. It is something that she may want one day and this is a case where reading paper is more satisfying than reading online.
The cover of the issue is a painting of Brad but you don't have to be a lapsed Catholic to recognise it's also a Christ image. I put it on the pile of things "to be read" in my kitchen, but I find it too eerie and heartbreaking to have the paper facing up in the same room where Brad relaxed and laughed with friends just a few years ago. I turned the paper over and lit a candle.