Leaving Las Vegas



Began this post Saturday

Night-before-last I was lying in a hospital bed after having been under anesthesia twice that day and having a heart ablation. I traveled all day yesterday and now I’m at a Veterans for Peace organizer meeting in Las Vegas. We’re staying in what was the set for MTV’s The Real World, Las Vegas. I have a strange life.

I’ve not had very much experience of Vets for Peace to date except those times when we were fighting along side one another when I was very involved with Iraq Veterans Against the War. I eventually went on to sit on the board of that organization and when that was done, I walked away. I think that’s probably not uncommon. Nothing will burn you out on activist quicker than sitting on the Board of Directors on some Left-leaning save-the-world nonprofit or activist organization. My principle tool as an activist has always been my art and I never walked away from that.

I ran into a fellow activist I knew from “back in the day” at a writing retreat in Philly over the weekend of the Marine Corps birthday and he essentially said, “we’re getting the band back together” and Invited me to join him and the other veterans organized now as Common Defense which got me started flying back and forth to DC bird-dogging Republican members of Congress. There, I ran into Garrett Repanhaggen whom I’d met way back in 2005 while we were protesting outside George Bush’s ranch in Crawford Texas. I spent a month with Joan Baez sleeping in my arms amidst the crosses meant to honor the war dead. Now Garrett has come to head Veterans for Peace. This weekend is my first time sitting in on any Vets for Peace, to be clear, a different organization from Common Defense.

As I’ve come to understand today, Vets for Peace is pretty far Left-leaning outfit, no huge surprise there. The Conservatives are constantly beating the drums of war while true Progressives know the right thing to do is fight that. All the clichés that Righty propaganda tries to make about “The American Left” would probably be a spot-on portrayal of those gathered here. We are extraordinarily sensitive to everyone’s feelings insomuch as would make any of my Marine buddies piss themselves laughing. There are buzzwords like “intersectionality” and “tokenizing,” taken from the current lexicon of Leftist Language, “how to start a revolution without offending anyone.” People often refer to being “triggered” or “restimulated.”
I’ve been trying to get to the blog since I arrived and I leave tomorrow for Salt Lake so that means it has taken me the four days I’ve been in Vegas to write even this much.
Las Vegas is it’s own thing. I can plainly see why so many filmmakers have chosen this most bizarre place as a backdrop for their stories. We’ve spent most of our time here in meetings, two four-hour blocks each day with a two-hour lunch in between which the organization pays for. It’s things as they would be if there were an activists union because, well, you know, these are the type. The topics of ending current wars and avoiding nuclear war and ending war in general as a failed devise of conflict resolution are occasionally mentioned in passing. We are here to talk about systems of oppression. We are here to make absolutely positive that every queer person or person of color or trans or female of gender non-conforming or anything else, that all these people must feel 100% safe and that we quickly and sternly punish any (usually old white male) member who does not subject himself to the New Order. The thinking, I believe, is “how can we fix the greater problems facing the world if we can’t manage our own organization so they spend all the time doing that. You hear the word “micro-aggressions” a lot.


Leaving Los Vegas. I started this blog four days ago. I’m on the plane to Salt Lake via Los Angeles. This is my plain for the through so I’ll stay seated after we land until they can get a “through count.” Then, knowing me, I’ll probably ask the crew if I can help tidy up.
It will take a few days to process all that happened in Las Vegas. I basically got up off the operating table to go there. My guess is that a lot of the happenings of the past four days might eventually find its way to a script. For now, it’s “tray tables up” because we’re landing in LA. Anytime I have a layover in Los Angeles I have to fight the urge to stay.


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