BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Former East Village rabble-rouser John Penley is rolling his dice on Las Vegas.
For around the past eight years, Penley had been living in Asheville, North Carolina, where he grew up. He had participated in the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan in 2011, but then, unfortunately, found himself priced out of the city. So he decided to head back Down South.
Recently, after a family dispute over his late parents’ house — his sister wanted to sell it, he wanted to keep living in it — he again found himself on the outs.
“My sister evicted me,” he said.
After doing some research, Penley decided Vegas would be his next stop.
So he packed up his stuff, rented a U-Haul, got a driver and headed out West.
As for what made up his mind about moving to Sin City, he said, “Honestly, it was cheap rent, and it was a city that had stuff going on.
“For $1,150 a month, I’ve got two bedrooms, a big living room, a bathroom, two big walk-in closets, with utilities, everything included.”
He’s been going through some serious health issues lately, but the Vietnam-era veteran is re-upping with the Veterans Administration in Vegas for his healthcare.
Although he picked up stakes and relocated, Penley — a former New York City news photographer in the 1980s and ’90s — didn’t leave behind his urge to document events, especially political demonstrations, one of his specialities.
During the recent Nevada caucuses, he snapped photos of white Trump supporters who, he was incredulous to see, were toting “Black Voices for Trump” and “Latinos for Trump” signs.
Talk about “fake news”!
Two-and-a-half years ago, he documented the clash between the alt-right and antifa at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville where a woman was killed by a white supremacist who plowed his car into a group of antifa marchers.
Another benefit of moving to Las Vegas for Penley is that, as of three years ago, recreational marijuana has been legal there. All those years of fighting to legalize pot, he mused with a chuckle, and now he is, at last, living in a state where the weed has been freed.
Thanks for covering Penley’s move to Las Vegas, Lincoln. Glad he has an extra room in case the Cubans ever stage another big cabaret show there – or SeWagE plays another Vegas punk gig! And it’s a diverse stronghold of progressive democratic socialists… Woo hoo!
Vegas is a unionized town thanks to the Teamsters and the Mob. Who could have known that this would result in Nevada going for Bernie Sanders in 2020 ?
Leftover Crack who are from NYC East Village and played at the Donut Riot at the 9th Pct. that I organized with Jerry the Peddler and Bill Cashman of C Squat a long time ago will be playing Vegas this spring on a new tour. Surprised to find that Vegas is a big Punk music stronghold and has bars and casinos that book lots of big and not so big punk bands. Oh and FYI I now have 2 bathrooms and a large kitchen too. Also…Thank you Elizabeth for the kind words.
Love you John and love that you are still making waves!
John has certainly been hardcore on the activist trail for decades. No question he has earned his place as an LES legend. Disappointed, after all he did to fight for the squats, he was never offered a place. He spilled his blood for that cause. I wish John the best and thanks to Lincoln and the Village Sun for writing this and keeping us in the loop how John is doing,
Overheard on a Vegas public bus [IT SUCKS] here and wanted to pass it on…..Get as much credit as you can and buy event safety and security with nonperishable food items and if it all melts down [I really hope that DOES NOT HAPPEN] you will be ahead of the game of survival and life. PEACE Thanks Clayton glad we are both still alive.
Asheville NC radio show host Russell Johnson drove me out here all the way from West Asheville. Russell was brutally beaten, injured and arrested 2 times for protesting police brutality around the country with Veterans For Peace and I love him for bringing me to Vegas and he now has a Vegas vacation apartment any time in my hood.
Love ya Johnny, and glad you feel safer in a more friendly environment. Keep it up comrade, we will share space again. ✌???? ???? The Last Pyrate
ty, Village Sun, and Lincoln, for spot lighting the amazing 30-some year stretch of time that straddles the millennium divide, when John Penley captured so many amazing moments that define our generation.
bp, VET for PEACE
And to think first time i met him I took him for a narc/undercover. Been proven wrong several times since!
Thank you John! May the dice roll in your favor all the time!
Peace and Loce
There’s so my sweet thankful about you John I think the best part is your sense of humor thanks for keeping it alive love you,
*There are so many
Wow, what a legend. Great to hear John Penley is doing well. I used to live below him on Avenue D and he shared many of his incredible stories with me on the fire escape. I even wrote about him for a project I did at Hunter College. Not many left like him Downtown!
Thank you John Doe for your kind words. I also add here that Tom Palumbo died, of cancer, soon after he made his comment. We were very close and both supported Veterans For Peace. I think of him often.