Tourist With a Typewriter

Oh, Uncle Adrian, I’m in the reservation of my mind.

Month: September, 2013

Once a Marine

How a Charlottesville veteran is using film to tell the story of a soldier’s transition to civilian life
Printed in C-VILLE 9/17/13

Before and After

Stephen Canty at 17, before joining the Marines (left), and one year later, in Afghanistan (right).

When Stephen Canty watched his little brother leave on his first deployment as a Marine in the fall of 2011, he recognized the grin on Joe’s face as the same one he had worn himself three years earlier. They’d all been grinning then, the guys in 1st battalion, 6th Marines, Charlie Company, excited to be Marines and eager as hell to see combat.

But after eight months in Helmand Province, the excitement waned, and by the time their second deployment came around, the grins were all gone. Before he left, Joe spent most of his time on his parents’ couch, sleeping or stuffing his face with popcorn, so the brothers never really got around to talking about Afghanistan or war. Watching him get on the bus at Camp Lejeune, Canty felt like a parent watching a child head off to college. He knew his little brother was going to go through the same things he did and that they would change him forever, but he also knew that telling him was pointless. War isn’t something you can understand if you haven’t experienced it. It was his brother’s time to grin. His time to lose it would come soon enough. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gun Lobby

A look at the Virginia Citizens Defense League. This was cut from the gun story I wrote for C-VILLE.

guns save lives

The Virginia Citizens Defense League’s April 23 membership meeting starts with a potluck dinner at 6:30, mac and cheese, macaroni salad, potato salad, pie, cake, cookies and donuts all spread out and slowly congealing on a picnic table in the windowless, low-ceilinged main room at the Rivanna Rifle & Pistol Club, off of Old Lynchburg road just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.

After dinner, VCDL president Philip Van Cleave stands in front of 29 people sitting in mismatched chairs at white plastic picnic tables, five of them women and at least five openly wearing pistols, and talks politics and media bias. Behind him, on either side of a big brick fireplace, is an American flag and a Gadsden flag, the yellow banner with a coiled snake and the motto “Don’t tread on me” that’s become the ubiquitous symbol of the Tea Party and their sympathizers. On the wall a poster reads, “Never Disarm. Register to Vote, Your Gun Rights Depend on it.” There is a lot of paranoia in the room, and even more anger; at the press, at New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, at Senator Chuck Shumer, at the general state of things, freedom-wise, in America today.

“Word to the wise,” Van Cleave says, “it’s gonna be a rough four years.” Read the rest of this entry »

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