New Orleans contains a lot of powerful memories for me, most of them pleasurable but others quite painful, and it's impossible to open myself up to one emotion without a bit of the other seeping in. This December marks ten years since we drove away from New Orleans in Cordell's car, with me sobbing all the way to the Texas state line. Only months afterwards, the house I grew up in in Hudson Falls, where Mom continued to live until she went into Ft. Hudson nursing home, was sold as well, and the fact was that I still owned (but not for much longer) the beautiful Treme home I'd purchased back in 2007, and lovingly restored to its original glory, but that was no consolation. I was also headed to a new, exciting job in southern California, where I'd spent time but never lived, and yet I couldn't distance myself from feelings of failure stemming from the near-collapse of Prospect due to the back-stabbing of former Board members who'd walked out nearly a year earlier, and done everything in their power to prevent us from raising the funds needed to put on Prospect.2.
This is a story that all of us who were there know by heart, but it hasn't been given much visibility, mostly because the wealthy New Orleanians who tried to bring down Prospect are alive & well, and still exercising a lot of clout in the community. It's hard to explain this to outsiders who don't understand how I could have gone from being a local hero to a maligned villain in such a short time, but when I rejected efforts by a handful of Board members in early 2010 to relinquish all executive authority & instead take orders from a recently hired, inexperienced social friend of the most power-hungry trustee, I decided to push back by reminding them that, according to the by-laws, I was still President of the company and they served at my pleasure. Naturally, this was unacceptable to those who wanted to hang Prospect New Orleans on their wall like a hunting trophy, and so frantic phone calls were made during the weekend the Saints won the Super Bowl to persuade as many Board members to walk out of the next meeting. It made for dramatic theater, but since we were still left with more than half the Board intact, Susan Brennan was quickly voted Chairman, and we went on with the business of making Prospect.2, while the disgruntled ex-trustees tried to sabotage our efforts, even anonymously telling the NY Times that Prospect.2 was likely never going to happen.
It was at that point that I made the decision to leave. I'd hoped my beautiful home in Treme would be the place I'd live when I retired, but I had a terrible choice in front of me. I could stay in New Orleans, but I'd be unemployable, Prospect would wither, and I'd probably end up losing the house anyway. The other choice was to turn everything over to the Board once P.2 was safely up & running, and leave town, so that I would no longer be the excuse for why certain locals didn't give money to the 2nd edition as generously as they did they 1st. I'd already been subjected to some pretty ugly character assassination, but nothing could be done at the time to fix that, so clearly it would be better for everyone if I left, which is why I was sobbing in the car all the way to Lafayette and Lake Charles. Prospect would live, but my dreams of a future life in New Orleans were gone forever.
Bronze sculpture gifted to me October 23, 2021 by a stranger, with a note that read "To Dan Cameron, The Oracle of Prospect New Orleans."