They call him Red.
He’s a rooster that’s claimed as his territory the block of Washington Avenue between Baronne and Dryades streets in Central City.
Diamond is one of several people on the block who look out for Red and she chatted me up last week when she saw me taking pictures. She said he recently survived a pit bull’s mangling of his tail feather region. For that, she’s upgraded his name to Gangsta Red.
He has all the chicken feed and water he needs and he works both sides of the divided two way street, though he spends most of his time on the sidewalk and shoulder or perching on fences, railings and garbage cans.
At least four people told me they see Red as “our mascot.” That’s not to say everyone is optimistic about Red’s prospects. Saturday morning a guy at Washington and Baronne said he thought between the dual threats of dogs and cars on Washington Avenue and, obliquely, “the old timers,” Red didn’t stand much of a chance. When I countered that I’d heard the pastor from the Bethlehem Lutheran Church across the street was building a chicken coop for him, he said he didn’t think Red would live to see the coop finished.
But this guy proved unreliable when I pressed him about how long Red had been around there. He suggested “a couple years,” an answer that prompted derisive laughter from the other people at the corner.
The consensus opinion is that Red claimed the block in October, just three months ago. One person speculated Red fell off a chicken truck. Rosalyn, who lives on the block and can often be seen walking her little dog Fonzi, contends Red wandered away from a chicken coop at a house near Sixth and Dryades streets. “He just went off on his own.”
Rosalyn said Red seems to regard Fonzi as something of a peer because he’s the only dog she’s seen he’ll willingly tussle with. All other dogs he smartly flees.
My questions led to a lot of chicken talk at the corner and at one point an annoyed woman complained: “Y’all keep calling him a chicken. He’s a rooster!”
“A rooster is a chicken!”
“He’s a rooster! Rooster Red.”
Red. Rooster Red. Gangsta Red.
He’s the people’s chicken.
Update: Red has survived another dog attack. Two dogs this time.
Diamond said Red got away from the dogs by taking refuge under a house. Another woman in the neighborhood has taken Red to a veterinarian.
There is talk of relocation and the shaking of heads.
It looks like Washington Avenue has lost its rooster.