My friend Robin Malta from New Orleans has become the latest murder victim in the city. Robin was a much-loved figure in the French Quarter-Marigny-Bywater neighborhoods, a successful businessman and a gentle, sweet soul.
His sister found his badly beaten body in his locked house in the Bywater Monday night after he failed to show up for work. Police found his car hours later, abandoned and on fire near the Superdome.
Here's the latest on Robin's murder from The Times-Picyaune:
New Orleans police detectives questioned a 36-year-old man late Tuesday in the slaying of a French Quarter hair salon owner.
I should be really angry about this - furious about another terrible, senseless loss in a city that has endured this kind of tragedy over and over and over again for more than a decade now. But all I feel is sadness. Sadness for Robin's family, for all of us who knew and loved him, and for New Orleans.
Here's a photo of Robin and his sister, who was his business partner in Salon D'Malta located on Decatur Street in the French Quarter.
I met Robin in the early 1990s when he was a bartender and manager of Cafe Lafitte's in Exile. He soon become my regular hair cutter at Bourbon Cuts, which was two doors from Lafitte's on Bourbon Street. I had a habit of booking the first appointment on Saturday mornings, and I usually had to wait 15 or 20 minutes for Robin to show up and open the shop. He always looked like he had just come straight from the bars, but that never stopped him from being chatty and giving me a great haircut.
Robin was Grand Marshal XXVI of the Southern Decadence festival in 1998. It was my favorite Southern Decadence and the first time that a personal friend of mine reigned over the parade. Robin chose a TV reruns theme and dressed as Barbara Eden from "I Dream of Jeannie." Here is a profile of Robin written after he was named grand marshal.
My favorite memory from that day was when the parade turned onto Decatur Street and ran into a column of National Guard vehicles loaded with weekend soldiers. I remember a beaming Robin in Jeannie garb swinging from the side-view mirror of a camo-green military truck as the soldiers inside laughed their asses off. It was Robin at his finest.
Rest in peace my friend.