A street performer friend of mine will be exercising his First Amendment right to busk (street perform) his act tonight on The Las Vegas Strip. Given the current environment, he expects to be ticketed and possibly arrested. That will provide him the legal documentation he requires to defend our freedom in court. In his words:
“I’m performing on a public thoroughfare and establishing my rights in accordance with Venetian v Culinary Union and a 2010 memorandum of understanding between the ACLU and LVMPD.”
My friend is putting himself out there for all of us who value art and our rights in America to express and enjoy it. He’s a human being for whom I have great respect. He’s a street performing artist, just like Robin Williams, Rod Stewart and Penn & Teller once were. He doesn’t yet enjoy the resources or influence they’ve had and still have. I know just a bit of his personal story, enough to appreciate how vulnerable he is, which only amplifies his personal courage and sacrifice for the sake of all those who perform and consume art here in the United States.
Just yesterday someone was asking me why a Robin Williams would take his own life. Who knows exactly? Clearly he empathized more than most. He felt. Deeply. He observed the horrors that humanity commits daily and he struggled to survive that knowledge through humor. His desperate coping mechanism became art we continue to enjoy to this day. Perhaps after a while it just became a bit much. For him.
I’m an artist who pays attention to the news. About Ferguson, Baltimore, Syria. I notice the difference between being a white male who speaks English in Las Vegas … and not. In 2015. Decades after Sinatra forced the casinos to admit Sammy as a guest. I’ve experienced and observed how so many producers, businesses and government entities use, persecute and abuse the more vulnerable artists in Las Vegas. I’m waiting for someone to make the valid case for how Corporate America has done a better job than The Mafia with Las Vegas. I feel I grasp a slight glimpse of how overwhelmed even a master Jedi like Robin may have felt. To just get through the fucking day.
I don’t know Rod Stewart or Penn & Teller, so I can’t reach out to them and encourage them to do the right thing and show support to my busker friend. Perhaps you know someone who does.
I made sacrifices to defend a free press in college, sacrifices I pay for to this day, so I appreciate what my friend is doing for all of us. The timing really sucks for me to do more to support him, as some lingering personal and professional challenges have suddenly accelerated the timeline, requiring me to work and earn as much as I possibly can right now. And I just moved. Yesterday. Boxes waiting to be unpacked.
But I can write. I can post this, reaching out to you, my friends on the Internets, this hot tub stew of trolls, stupid pet tricks and parents amazed by the basic motor skills of their not so extraordinary children. Here’s a chance to possibly actually make a small difference. To perhaps make the world a slightly better place. To maybe give a Robin Williams the one reason to endure just one more day. Before it is too late. To be a decent human being. Because so many people you don’t even know are watching your human behavior. People like your kids and familiar faces to which you’ve yet to attach to a name. Not just the government, Fortune 500 companies, some Imaginary Big Angry Father in the Sky or other professional creepers.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
My friend is asking for help from concerned citizens to video his encounter with the police. If you know anyone who will be in Vegas tonight, in the next few hours, who’d like to help, especially any media or constitutional attorneys, please message me for more details. That means you, BBC and Al Jazeera! Even Anderson Cooper’s hair. Through small steps, together, I believe we can make the world a better place. Thanks!