At the end of July, our plan was to go back to our home in Celina, and start living there only coming to New Orleans for no more than 10 days at a time. We didn’t want to spend any more time in New Orleans during hurricane seasons than was absolutely necessary. We weren’t planning another long stay here until starting at Halloween through early Christmas season. We went back to Celina, and then on to Amarillo for the first Amacon. On the way back from Amacon, we got a phone call that we were losing our home in Celina. We called back to San Leon to find that our former shop had been rented out, and in a week, we were going to be homeless.
We had an inner crew meeting to discuss what to do. We didn’t have a lot of options. Ultimately, we decided that we were going to move permanently to the shop in New Orleans. Delacru could not see himself moving to New Orleans and opted to stay in Dallas. The rest of us packed the entire shop and our belongings into a 24 foot uhaul, a borrowed trailer and the van, and headed for Louisiana.
The air conditioner had been broken in the house in Celina so it was too hot to sleep, and what sleep people had gotten was fitful with all of the stress. So when we left, people had only napped for four days. We were exhausted. As we pulled up to the first gas station at 10pm, we got a phone call that Delacru had announced he was leaving the crew. We spent the next three hours in that parking lot, 5 minutes from our start point, on the phone. But in true ASI fashion, we kept going. We stopped in Shreveport to rest, and everyone but me did. I couldn’t sleep. I spent the time comforting some of our members who were out of the loop, worried and upset. We arrived in New Orleans at 2am the next day worn, beaten down, confused and broke. When we got here, we realized that during the massive rain storm that happened while we were gone, the roof inside the shop had actually collapsed and was separating at one of the rafters. That was it. It was all I could take. I hadn’t slept in 5 days. I’d lost my home. I’d lost a friend. And the only place I had to turn, had literally fallen down. Understand, that in the entire history of ASI this was the first time I had broken down. The only time that I felt truly lost since I had embraced the idea and run with it. The guys that were there were very understanding. They pulled me up by my boot straps and made me help unload the truck in the middle of the night while I was a blubbering idiot. By 4am we were done, and I fell into my bunk and slept for the first time in almost a week.
There was no time to wallow in sorrow. We were leaving for a three week run in less than a week. We had spent every dime we had to move. Rent was due. Electricty was due, and we had to drive to Arkansas on Thursday. We spent exactly one day sleeping, unpacking, and building merch and went directly to the market. Somehow we managed to make enough money to cover our expenses, and we headed out again.
We went from Bentonville, Arkansas to Dallas, from Dallas to San Antonio and then from San Antonio to Kileen. Andy’s Aunt Connie, graciously offered up the use of her home as our designated “honeycomb hideout” for stopping points while in Texas. It went off without incident, and at the end of August, we returned home. We had been home less than a week when the hurricane warnings started coming in.
On the seventh anniversary of the landfall of Katrina, Isaac came ashore in Louisiana. It ran right over the top of us, and took two full days to completely pass. It was a small storm, and the damage to the actual city was minimal. But we didn’t have electricity for a week at the house we sheltered at. We couldn’t stay in the shop because the roof had just gotten shims put in but the short time frame, didn’t give enough time to actually repair the roof. And the shop didn’t get electricity back for about 10 days. We had some funny moments and some scary moments. We played Apples to Apples by candlelight, and laughed at our absolutely unbelievable bad luck. But we made the best of it, and helped out in the neighborhoods where we could. Our friends in town helped with keeping an eye on the shop and with replacing food. But the worst was the tourists didn’t come back until October. Times were tight, and the fallout from leaving Texas was becoming overwhelming.
In September, on a particularly hard day, our friends took us for a drink on the way back from our shift at the market. We talked about what we could do to reduce the stress in the shop and to help us heal from a really hard year. I responded immediately. Give SCARS to the community. I couldn’t take care of it anymore, and they needed the opportunity to grow with out us. So that night, Cedric set in motion the transition. By the next day, we had bowed out to focus on healing and moving forward with our goals. We still wanted to promote creativity and inspire people to find their own muse, but working at the market had made us realize that there were ways to make enough money to survive on our own as a collective. We wanted to move from that to making enough for each of our artists to be able to strike out on their own as well. For that to happen, we had to start thinking bigger and focusing more on the financial side of the business. We made a new game plan, and started working towards advancing in new directions. In the process, we lost a few more people from the part time crew. While losing crew is hard, this time we were ready and had new people already lined up. We booked a few television appearances, and started putting feelers out to the movie industry. One of the first things we realized was that to make this transition, we needed to widen our base. We needed to branch out of steampunk and show that there were other equally valid avenues for creativity. That October we did our first Endless Night Vampire Ball in New Orleans, and met Sebastiaan Van Houton, aka Father Sebastiaan and his krewe.