The Resiliency of Gulf Coast Fandom

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Andrew Fox
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 09:02 am:   

Dara and the boys and I were supposed to be in Memphis this weekend for MidSouthCon, where I was scheduled to be a guest. Unfortunately, last week Dara lost a fight with a child safety gate in our kitchen and ended up with a badly sprained ankle, so we had to cancel the road trip. However, by Saturday she was doing a bit better, and I had discovered that the organizers of CoastCon, Biloxi's annual SF con, were holding a mini-con in Gulfport over the weekend, so we decided to spend the afternoon over there, hoping to catch up with some friends and acquaintances from the Gulf Coast who we haven't seen since Crescent City Con just before Katrina hit last year.

This spring, CoastCon was supposed to have been held at Dara's and my favorite Mississippi Gulf Coast casino resort, the delightfully tacky Treasure Bay Resort. Katrina did a number on the pirates and their pirate ship, however; as the Benny Grunch and the Bunch song goes, Treasure Bay "ain't there no mo'." I figured there wouldn't be a CoastCon this year, not with the few remaining Mississippi hotels still crowded with out-of-town contractors and FEMA officials, etc. However, about a month back, a Holiday Inn just off I-10 in Gulfport came available, and the CoastCon folks jumped on it. They had a month to put together their con, and, given the circumstances, I think they did a marvelous job.

Dara and I got to chat with about a dozen of our friends and acquaintances from the Gulf Coast. Some of them made out okay, suffering only wind damage and having to replace roofs and fences. Others, however, either got completely wiped out by the Mississippi storm surge, a thirty-foot-high wall of water that reduced everything within two blocks of Highway 90 to bare slabs, or by the months-long flooding following the breaching of the New Orleans levees. One older gentleman who I've been seeing at local conventions for years, who used to run the film programming at CoastCon and Crescent City Con thanks to his extensive collection of 16mm prints of classic genre films, lost all of his projection equipment and every last one of his movies. When I asked him how he's been making out, he shrugged his shoulders, smiled, said he wouldn't be running any more film programs, but at least now he could sit back and enjoy conventions and let everyone else do the work. Everybody we talked to was just happy to be together, chatting and doing silly fennish things with each other. Dara and I had a chance to personally thank the folks who organized the care package mailings for displaced Gulf Coast fans and pros. We received a couple of those packages while we were down in Florida, stuffed full of things that had been picked out personally for our boys, and getting them really raised our spirits a lot while we were stuck away from home.

The next Gulf Coast con on the schedule, and the first post-Katrina con to be a "full service" con, will be MobiCon, to be held in Mobile, Alabama on May 19-21, 2006 ( http://www.mobicon.org/ ). Most of the people who attended the truncated CoastCon will make it over to MobiCon, I think, including Dara and the boys and me. If any of you fans or pros from other parts of the country would be available to attend this one, I think it would be a great way to show your support for the fan community along the Gulf Coast. Plus, you'll get a chance to meet and talk with a bunch of great people who have been through a hell of a lot but come out with senses of humor intact. I'd love to see some of you Night Shade Books boards folks in person. Let me know if you think you might be attending. It'll be Dara's and my wedding anniversary weekend, too, so if we could rustle up some baby sitters, maybe we could enjoy a couple of hours together alone(?).

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