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martes, octubre 27, 2009

Celia Cruz, The Times, The Macabre

I know el dia de los Muertos is coming soon, but holy smoke, this has to be the most macabre posting in the NY Times is a while. It begins with a picture of Celia Cruz's tomb in Queens:

And then there's this bizarre text by David Gonzalez:

Celia Cruz’s mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx looks downright homey. Colorful plants flank a modest walkway, and clear side windows let visitors peer inside, where family photos, a rosary and a Cuban flag rest atop the singer’s tomb, along with a framed magazine clipping about “The 10 Unbelievable Wigs of Celia Cruz.”

While titans of industry and government spend eternity hidden behind thick granite walls, there’s a reason her final resting place is so inviting.

The Queen of Salsa is still holding court.

“It was specifically designed so the fans can look in,” said Susan Olsen, the historian for the cemetery. “Someone comes in on a regular basis, cleans it out and changes the photos so there’s always something for the fans to see. It was totally thought out.”

And then there's this riff on royalty, Cruz being the Queen of Salsa and all:
There is enough jazz royalty buried near the Queen of Salsa to form an impressive backup band: King Oliver, Duke Ellington and Sir Miles Davis (the title was bestowed on the trumpeter by the Knights of Malta) among them. And the commoners are not too shabby either: Illinois Jacquet, Max Roach, Coleman Hawkins and W. C. Handy.

Granted, Ms. Cruz might have been royalty only to her legions of fans. But there are a good number of countesses and princesses at Woodlawn.

“During the Gilded Age you had many of these women who had parents with great money,” Ms. Olsen said. “They did the tour of Europe, and of course they wanted to get a title. The American bride brought the money to the table, and the royalty, a bit worn out, brought the title. Then they end up coming home and being buried with the parents.”

Good luck finding them.

Maybe it's just me, but there is something really off putting, really weird about this. I just cannot imagine the same article being written, for example, about a departed poet laureate of England, or a deceased French imperssionist painter, or a famous Italian soprano. It's the tone. Is the dissonance because Celia Cruz was Cuban? Or is it because she was a salsa star? Or is it because her fans tend to speak two languages?

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