Thursday, January 04, 2007

The bleakest most existential noir

I have just received some news that makes me absolutely sick with sorrow and despair, so much so that I hesitate even to write anything here. I will write properly about it later on, but here are the essentials.

Ever since 1988 I have had a very dear pair of friends, Paul Gailiunas and Helen Hill, the best people in the world (now with a little boy also): both wise innocents, extraordinarily generous and self-abnegating, absolutely lovely in their temperaments and deeply creative also, genuinely devoted to the good of their community in a way that can be said of very few people in the world. They had been living in New Orleans for quite a long time, Paul working as a doctor in a clinic serving low-income patients and Helen making experimental animated films. They had to evacuate to South Carolina after Katrina; they moved back to New Orleans in August. And early this morning someone broke into their home and shot Helen dead. Paul was shot also, but he is in hospital in stable condition, I gather; their little boy is safe.

Here are the reports from the Times-Picayune and the Associated Press.

Just yesterday I received my copy of Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?. I stayed with Paul and Helen in New Orleans in the spring of 2003, a visit that I have often already looked back on with elegiac spectacles, but now it hardly bears thinking about.

19 comments:

  1. So horrible, Jenny. Is there anything that folks can do to help? Maybe there is a fund set up?

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  2. Yes, Tayari, thank you: I know there will be something we can do, and I will post once it's figured out.

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  3. I am so sorry to hear about your friends.

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  4. This pisses me off big time. I'm very sorry to hear about this, Jenny, and I hope that you and anybody else who is grieving is okay.

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  5. That's asolutely horrowing Jenny. I knew somebody whose best friend, a young woman at the time, had her face blown off point at point blankr range by an enraged and insane boyfriend.

    These tragedies are incomprehensible. I'm sorry.

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  6. Dear god, there are no words.

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  7. Jenny, if you find out anything more, could you please email me at phantomscribbler AT gmail DOT com.

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  8. So, so sorry Jenny. You and all related friends & family will be in my thoughts.

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  9. I was just writing an entry about the five murders in 14 hours in New Orleans when I ran by your site and saw that one of them was your friend. I'm so so sorry Jenny - as Sarah wrote there are truly no words.

    I will certainly get something up at Voices as soon as you know about a fund.

    I posted a video over there of the Neville Brothers singing "Amazing Grace" - for all of you who lost someone in this most dreadful day.

    Colleen

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  10. some of us who knew her in college and grad school are setting up a website in her memory, href="http://www.helenhill.org">helenhill.org

    please, if you have photos and memories, send them to memory [at] helenhill [dot] org

    as soon as I can actually think about this without crying I'll start putting them up and organizing them.

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  11. I'm so very sorry. It's such a senseless tragedy and I'm at a complete loss as to what to say apart from offering my sympathy to you and my deepest condolences to your friend and family.

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  12. I am so sorry. I was there over the holidays and my whole family were freaking out about the crime wave with me arguing them down and trying to rebut statements like "you just can't go to New Orleans any more." Your friends were people who would have those arguments too, I'm sure. It's so infuriating and disheartening to see this happening. I'm so sorry. --Christine

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  13. Dear Jenny, I'm so sorry you lost your friend, and in such a tragic and shocking way. I'll be think about you.

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  14. Oh, Jenny. I am so sorry to read this terrible and sad news. They sound like wonderful people. My condolences to you and Helen's family and friends. I hope Paul continues to recover well.
    — CAAF

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  15. Jenny, I didn't actually know Helen, but I have a lot of friends who did, and I heard so many great things about her over the past decade or so that I've always felt like I've known her. The news of her death is national news in Canada (she and Paul lived in Halifax for a long time) and I heard about it on the radio this afternoon and it stopped me in my tracks. I can't believe it. I am so sorry that you've lost such a dear friend.

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  16. I'm so very sorry, Jenny. We began last year with a horrific, senseless crime that rocked our neighborhood. Your loss, and her family's, is unbearably sad.

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  17. sandra l. smith-grand island, new york3/19/2008 1:16 PM

    This is a repeat (as best I can remember it ) of a partial comment that somehow was lost. I had the pleasure of viewing a documentary on Helen Hill last night. She and her art were so unique. Her internal beauty was highlighted further by the loving comments of her husband after her death. Not only has he and their little boy lost something rare and precious but, so have all of us-even those of us who did not know her personally . I am comforted however, in the belief that she lives on in her art and in the minds and hearts of those who knew and loved her. I also know that she is with her beloved "Pop" now and forever.

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