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Jeremy Hogan

“You are a guest … Bush is our neighbor”

(Page 3)

A few weeks ago Sheehan had started a movement by sitting in a ditch and refusing to leave until Bush could come out and explain in her words, “Just what Noble cause did Casey Sheehan die for?”

But, the president never did come out and word spread out across the land that one woman had refused to bow down and accept the official truth about why we are fighting a war in Iraq.

I arrive at Camp Casey II in a daze … like I said I had three hours of sleep. So the whole scene was on the surreal side and there were about 2,000 Sheehan supporters under a huge tent that had only weeks before been used for a Bush fundraiser. Now there was a folk singer under the tent, James McMurtry … singing a song, “You can’t make it here.”

Camp Casey II is under a huge tent that had been used weeks earlier for a Bush fundraiser. This is no ditch. A local loaned the land, where Camp Casey is located, to the movement. In an example of how divided this nation is the man’s cousin had been the one who fired a gun near the Vigil in opposition a few days earlier. I’m sure Larry and Fred Mattlage will be anything but kissing cousins when this is over.

The mood had changed … Cindy is in her special trailer. And there are so many people. There were fewer people when Cindy was gone and somehow things seemed more personal. Last week was like summer camp, everyone got to know everyone, but this feels more like some sort of rock concert on the edge of a city between downtown and exurbia … it’s hot out here, impersonal and people are in a bad mood. Besides, its completely obvious … Bush is not going to meet with Cindy.

I still need that interview with Cindy Sheehan, it’s why I’m here … but this is a major production now. I don’t think she spends much time at Camp I anymore. This is the second location of a franchise about to go national … hitting towns across the country with a new flagship office somewhere near the White House.

Cindy has PR people now just like the big politicians and I am looking for her press handler. But the press handler is nowhere to be found and “all interviews must be approved” by the handler.

I guess it makes sense … the right wing media has skewered Cindy during the last couple weeks … lets see … she’s been called a traitor, unpatriotic, a media whore, someone who is trying to gain for the left by use of her son’s death, oh yeah … she’s been called a terrorist … “the world’s biggest terrorist” and who knows what else … they say her cause has been hijacked by other leftist causes too … like PETA for instance. Hmmm … to listen to the right one would believe Cindy is everything that is wrong with the world. I don’t know how this logic works but the machine had worked to discredit Sheehan and her cause … besides they say the president has already met with her and anyway Casey volunteered.

I’ve just found Alaska Gyrl who came down all the way from Homer, Alaska and the sky is turning gray out west. The internet weather pages say there will be a severe thunderstorm … and now there is lightning on the horizon … a cool wind begins to blow and the sky is bleeding in the distance where the sun is setting.

A few minutes later wind whips in and blows away tents. An anti-war protester and Vietnam Vet prays for god to spare the camp and his prayer is answered finally answered … the wind stops here but the lighting strikes down in the vicinity of George W. Bush’s ranch and off the other direction of the horizon … The storm goes around Camp Casey II.

Later that evening when the folk singers have stopped playing and most of the bad energy is heading back to Dallas or wherever it came from Jeff Key … a Marine who served in Iraq plays taps for all the fallen and the night creates an ocean of darkness that is both real and metaphysical. Then later I go to the peace house and get my rental car, drive back to Camp Casey II and park. I fall into a deep sleep.

Day 2

The rain falls on the window and the morning’s sun makes the windshield into an abstract painting that is alive as the water flows in undulating patterns. Finally, I stumble down the road half between the dream world and the so-called real world. I go under the tent.

I meet a photographer from Los Angeles who was here last weekend and later I find Seed … the hipster woman from Austin who is also working on a film. None of us could stay away … this is clearly history … although the right would say we are documenting infamy and shouldn’t be here.

Cindy Sheehan was nowhere to be found yesterday. And now there will be an interfaith service. Someone calls the press a bunch of vultures … I guess that’s me. Well I wish I could fly … I could get a better angle on what has become a media circus.

Sometime between the first song and the final prayer … Al Sharpton Jr. shows up. And he makes a speech, people clap and Cindy Sheehan cries … and she looks like she does in all those AP photos. But she is right in front of me and I don’t think I am awake yet.

Al Sharpton leaves the tent with her and I am nearly trampled by all the journalists. Fuck this. So I make my way out of the tent in my own time. I look out across the crosses that have come to symbolize so many lives cut short and the picture isn’t Cindy at all but the 50 or so journalists, bloggers, photographers, television, radio …workers surrounding her. I make a picture from the other side of the media circus this has become.


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