Three Questions with Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera
Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera joined KUT this summer as an assistant digital editor at KUT.org. He previously worked as a breaking news editor at the Austin American-Statesman and content editor at the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at The University of Texas at Austin. Before that, he worked for several English- and Spanish-language publications covering the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, technology and public safety.
He grew up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.
Connect with Alejandro on Twitter @AMC_KUT.
What are you listening to these days?
I’m currently binging on a fantastic podcast in Spanish called “La Verdadera Historia de México.” I went to school in Mexico and history was mostly a boring subject from 1st through 12th grades, focusing too much on the dates and a seemingly endless parade of names and places. But it’s so different when you focus on the stories.
This program is produced in Mexico City and features Francisco Mendoza, the psychology and history professor in charge of researching every episode and, as he puts it, removing the bronze from the statues of Mexico’s historical figures. Mendoza’s retelling of Mexican history humanizes its major players, helping resurface their virtues and flaws and making them more relatable.
I’m about to finish the 31-episode series on the Mexican Independence and have learned a lot about the accomplishments of well-known heroes (Guadalupe Victoria, who would eventually become Mexico’s first president, hid in a mountainous region for two years and survived on his own to avoid being captured) and some lesser known individuals (Pedro Ascencio, a top lieutenant in southern Mexico, once was outnumbered and surrounded but made his enemies flee by having his troops light fires in caves, dress up as devils and emerge cracking whips). The podcast is full of tidbits like these.
Read anything interesting lately?
I’ve been working my way through Neil Gaiman’s most famous work, “The Sandman.”
When I started reading it, I was curious about how someone could write an entire comic book series about a nearly omnipotent protagonist and make it interesting. Gaiman did and it’s been amazing. The series tells the story of The Endless, siblings that represent concepts that will always exist as long as creatures live, die, desire, despair, destroy and dream. It’s also a marvelous attempt to imagine the world’s different mythologies as part of a single shared universe and extend their stories to modern times. Gaiman was once asked to describe what Sandman is about in 25 words or less and he answered: “The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision.” I just recently learned this and might have to reread the whole thing to appreciate it in this light.
What are you loving about the ATX lately?
Tennis courts! Last year the pandemic had all of us figuring out new things to enjoy while large gatherings were discouraged, and tennis was at the top of the list of safe activities recommended by infectious disease experts. It turned out my girlfriend used to play tennis so she has been – with infinite patience – trying to teach me how to aim my shots at the Austin Tennis Center on Johnny Morris Road. She hasn’t had much luck but it’s still been fun to try. Anyway, my point is, enjoy the city's amenities.