Bullet Celebrity

The only person who's ever told me he hoped to get winged by a bullet in the French Quarter was British folk musician Joe Topping who walked from Chicago to New Orleans to raise awareness for our New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund.

Vice President Dick Cheney came to town and shut down Canal Street the day of Joe's second line welcome along the river, so it wasn't the media event one would hope for after a blazingly hot summer walk. The Mayor was supposed to attend - I don't know what happened with that.

So after Joe's three month trek we were taking him out to hear Bob French, but Frenchman Street was shut down when some tourists were grazed by bullets. The next day we went to visit Bob on WWOZ-FM but it was his fall fund drive day off.

"A graze - they'd HAVE to write about that. Liverpool man shot after three month walk across country in support of New Orleans musicians," Joe said. It was probably partly heat stroke and partly wanting to get the mainstream media to notice New Orleans.

They've noticed.

One hundred and fifty shots were fired last night in one bar alone. A friend musing on the beautiful life still available for anyone who carves it out for himself in the French Quarter says, "You have to be pretty unlucky to get shot."

After already having taken a Zulu spear to the head from a balcony during Mardi Gras 04, I'm ready to go to Carnival as a giant rabbit's foot wrapped in four leaf clovers.

The Queen of Bikus this year is the ER doctor who cleaned my head, sutured it by making a mohawk knot, then medically glued it shut. She was dressed as a crash test dummy. After getting a round of applause for being a trouper, my husband pointed out it would be poor form to go home with a split head. So I got back on my bike, slapped on an icepack and kept rolling.

By the end of the day on Frenchman Street, whoever was loaded found it hilarious, and friends who were still sentient were taken aback by my garland of bloody flowers. This town used to roll with anything.

But according to the New York Times, we're a shaken tribe between the crime, the tornadoes and the red tape. After each mainstream article there's a contingent here that says if people would just stop focusing on the crime, tourists and evacuees would come back and we could bump up the police force.

The new New Orleans Recovery Czar could find us a nice Rasputin, and things would get rolling like his bicycle ride through the Gentilly area as New Orleans got the right kind of coverage.

Or someone could wing a folk singer. They're troupers.

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