SO MUCH TROUBLE IN THE WORLD

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Goodbye old friend

About a week ago, my next-door neighbor was killed in his apartment.




The door to his apartment is sealed with lime green police stickers, and the outside of the door is still covered in CSI fingerprint dust.




He was one of a small handful of residents that had lived in the building for more than 30 years, and he will be missed by all of us very much.

His name was Jose Raul Prieto, but almost everyone in the building simply called him Raul. Raul, I am proud to say, was much more than just my neighbor in 8ME. He was my friend.





He was a very intelligent man. He could talk to you at length about everything from the subject of Cuban music, to world events and politics. He even shared my left wing slant. On several occasions, Raul made the trip to the polling stations with a few other residents of the building and myself. We enjoyed the fact that we would go together and make our choices in a voting block. It meant very little to us that we were casting our rebel votes in a state as Democratic as Alabama is Republican.

There are two stories that I think best exemplify Raul.

On one occasion, he was playing the soundtrack to Buena Vista Social Club in his one bedroom apartment. He must have really been getting into it, because he was playing it really loud, and it could be heard throughout the hallway. My roommate at the time went to go knock on his door. When he answered, he immediately apologized for playing it so loud. My roommate surprised him by telling him that he had not come to complain, but instead to ask him what the great music was. He flashed a big smile, and proudly showed him the album cover.

A few days later he went out and bought two new copies of the soundtrack. He carefully wrapped them in paper, and delivered them to our door. This was his way of saying “thanks for being the kind of neighbor that instead of telling to you keep it down, tells you to turn it up.”

The second story is a simple one.

Raul would travel to Miami, and the Hamptons from time to time. He would often be away for a week or more. During those trips, he would often ask me if I wanted the copies of his NY Times while he was away. He really loved that paper, and saw his daily copies as prized commodities.




Two things bother me about this.

1) It was his stacked and unclaimed NY Times copies that should have been the first clue that something was very wrong.

2) The reporter that came from the NY Times was the only one I spent some real time talking to. I told her how much he liked her paper, and tried to share with her all the positive details about Raul. Although I am sure her editors were mainly responsible, this tiny article was all that the NY Times bothered to publish about one of their greatest fans.

In fact almost every news organization treated my friend’s death like some sort of three-ring circus. Most news sources found it more important to mention over and over that Raul was gay, rather than cover the feeling of loss within the building. The NY Post, which is best used for picking up piles of dog shit, wrote less than sixteen small lines about him. In that tiny column, they printed the word “gay” twice.

As printed by the NY Post on May 18th, 2007:

THE BODY OF A 'DIMINUTIVE'
70 YEAR-OLD GAY MAN WAS FOUND IN
HIS MURRAY HILL BEDROOM, AND DE-
TECTIVES SUSPECT HE WAS MURDERED
BY AN ACQUAINTANCE, POLICE SOURCES
SAID YESTERDAY.
A NEIGHBOR CHECKING ON JOSE
PRIETO AT 145 EAST 35TH ST. WEDNESDAY
FOUND HIS APARTMENT RANSACKED AND
CALLED PRIETO'S BROTHER, WHO FOUND
THE BODY AT 5:45PM.
COPS SAID THAT IT APPEARED PRIETO,
DESCRIBED AS GAY BY NEIGHBORS, WAS
STANGLED AND THAT THERE WAS NO
SIGN OF FORCED ENTRY TO THE APART-
MENT.

By Murray Weiss and Douglas Montero

This is a really nice job Murray and Douglas. Did you get a secret decoder ring with your journalism degree?

The story was also covered by NY 1, ABC and CBS.

According to news sources, the current theory is that Raul may have met a strange man on the Internet. Because there was no sign of forced entry into the apartment, they believe that he may have invited him back to his apartment where the man killed him.

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9 Comments:

Blogger meesh said...

Hi Peter,

I am so sorry to hear about your friend and neighbor. He was a special person and your heartfelt tribute here is a testament to how much he will be missed. I especially like the story about the loud music and the records. Those are the best kind of neighbors to have.

I don't understand the news media at times myself. I guess it's all just money, money, money most of the time. They will print whatever sensational words will sell more papers. The good news is that tomorrow those papers will be in the trash but your memories and your tribute to Raul will remain strong.

Please take care of yourself during this difficult time and know that this former New Yorker is think about you and the folks in your building.

1:44 PM  
Blogger KleoPatra said...

Wow, i am so sorry that this happened to your friend. How horrifying and tragic. My thoughts are with you and his family and friends, Peter...

9:55 PM  
Blogger the fourth person said...

condolences peter. other than that i'm speechless.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Chris Hanson said...

Peter,
Raul was my friend as well. We worked together at the Port Authority. Our offices were on the 65th floor. The P.A. was an inefficient employer, and we had lots of time on our hands. We raced the NY Times crossword every day...and divided our victories evenly. We never tired of talking politics...and we laughed hysterically alot too.
Raul was a gentlemans gentleman. His dignity, goodness, and elegance of character made me a richer person.
I will never get over this sad event happening to my old friend.
Thank you for your blog Peter.
Chris Hanson

11:54 AM  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

Hey Chris,

I am so glad you found this blog.

As we both know, Raul was an amazing guy. I know he will be missed by people that he used to work with in the WTC and by his long time neighbors on 35th Street.

He certainly deserves more praise than the mainstream press is giving him.

I must say that I am anxious to see the police catch his killer.

Personally, I would like 15 minutes in a room with who ever did this to him. I would be more than happy to make very sure that cowardly piece of shit never has a chance to apply for parole.

12:50 PM  
Blogger admiralderuyter said...

Raul was a kind and considerate man and your tribute illustrates this very well. He deserves to be remembered with dignity --- not in the squalor of tabloid reports.

Having lived once in the apartment he later took over, I find it doubly distressing to think of the circumstances of the brutality Raul must have faced. But I'm confident that he is now in his Father's loving presence. In time, we will continue our friendship. And any tears will be tears of joy.

8:47 PM  
Blogger alex said...

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9:14 AM  
Blogger alex said...

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11:04 AM  
Blogger The Boob Lady said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Raul. He sounds like someone you would love to have as a neighbour. My love and prayers go out to you.

7:25 PM  

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