Mother, Mother, There's Too Many Of You Crying...
What's going on???
How many murders does it take to kill the hope and spirit of a people? Will 12 in a 7 day period do it? Can 8 murders in the first 5 days of the year accomplish this? How about 6 in a 24 hour period? Does it matter any less if it's a thug with a handful of heroin and crack who's been shot by a rival rather than a young mother who had been asleep in her bed moments before the gunman opened fire? Does it matter if it's a crime of passion? Does it matter if the victim is black or white? Does it matter if the assailant knew his victim or not? Does the victim have to die, or is it enough that he's been shot by someone who had the intent to kill?
I was still stunned and saddened by the senseless death of Helen Hill and the shooting of her husband, Paul Gailiunas. They were good people. I haven't been able to stop thinking about their baby being without his mother. When I rule the world, little children will never lose their parents, especially their mothers, and no parents will ever have to bury their child.
I was still reeling from this when I drove Rachel to school this morning. I took our usual route down River Road to Leake Ave., then left on Pitt St. to Broadway so I don't have to go against the traffic flow when I drop her off at the Garfield St. gate. Except today, I only made it one block down Pitt before I hit a sea of police cars, news trucks and a barrier of yellow crime scene tape.
Woman killed in Uptown home. Why does she get the Metro section and not the front page? Oh, wait. She's black. Forget I asked. Most of this article is an update on other murders around town, and the count is amended from 8 so far this year to 7, since the redheaded woman whose body they found dumped in the Lower 9th appears to have been beaten to death on December 30th or 31st. Do you feel better now that it's just 7 again? (But don't forget to add one more to last year's figure, folks.)
So, in the last week, 3 of the 8 murder victims have been women. That's 37.5%. This really disturbs me --almost as much as the videos on NOLA-dishu's post did. Check out his 2006 and 2007 crime maps while you're at it.
This is a lot to deal with in one big gulp. (But I'm not entertaining thoughts of bailing on this city.)
Death has been an all too common theme.
I haven't been writing about this stuff because it just makes me too sad and I really don't need any more sadness. That's why I didn't post anything when Ed Bradley died. The last time I mentioned him, it was in a post about how out-of-whack my first Post-K Jazz Fest was. My annual ritual of inviting him to dinner was the only thing that felt "normal" to me. Now he's gone and what may turn out to be my last remaining Jazz Fest ritual has gone with him. He was a good man and I'll really miss him. I hope his wife Patricia continues to make the annual pilgrimage. I have a feeling that she will.
Today, Joel Neville died. Joel is Ivan Neville"s mom and Aaron Neville's wife. If you've been reading here for a while, then you know that Ivan and I were involved in the early 1980's, until he sent me on the great rebound into Willie's waiting arms. (Willie was counting on that happening and eventually confessed that it was all part of his Grand Plan.)
By the way, the picture of Ivan is from around the time that he and I were involved. The weird thing is that Alex (my son) looks a lot like Ivan did then, now that he's dreaded his hair. And no, don't get any ideas. That relationship was long over by the time Alex came along. My son got his high cheekbones from me. It just so happens that Ivan has them too (though they're a little harder to see these days.) If I can get Alex to consent to a picture, (which ain't easy) I'll post it and you'll see what I mean about the resemblance.
Anyway, Joel really made me feel like part of the family, and believe me, she had the power to keep you way on the outskirts of the scene if she didn't like you. Despite the fact that Ivan and I never came close to anything resembling marriage, (though we lived together for part of 1983), I once overheard Joel refer to me as "her little ex-daughter-in-law." Did that ever make me feel the love. I have a lot of fond memories of Joel making me laugh and laugh when the "bandwives" would chat it up backstage.
Joel was not a smoker, but she died of lung cancer. I can attest to the amount of second-hand smoke she was exposed to. She never missed a gig. The cancer had gone into remission until The Storm hit and she and Aaron relocated to Nashville. I was told that before she died, she said she just wanted to come home. She didn't make it.
Rest in peace, Joel.
I've got one more sad story that I haven't told, but need to. That one will be next.