Pledging Allegiance to a New Flag

Opening for Ani DiFranco on Wednesday was an ageless, potty-mouthed bald dude with an unstoppable guitar and an undeniable voice. His goes by Hammel On Trial and he is… an experience. I think I remember being incited to join a chorus of “F@*$ YOU!” in the distant past, and I assume I joined in with gusto at the time. Expletives generally have a way of being more cathartic than belting out a good “Om,” but I only offered a half hearted contribution this time around.

Have I stifled my primal need to curse with a crowd under a sheen of gentrified repression or have I reached the point where that throwaway term that can be everything from a threat to a verbal comma no longer holds the same kind of power for me?

He occupies a necessary place in music and society – to hold up the mirror to our world’s racism and homophobia, the general fear of sex and rebellion, our inability to stomach some essential ugly truths. This is not to say that I want to play his CDs when I wake up in the morning or that I could have handled much more than his thirty minute warm up set (though warm up the place he certainly did), but I have respect for what he does.

I say that especially because even after all the anger and deliberate attempts to shock, which I have limited attention for, he offered this bit. It’s his new stab at the pledge of allegiance, written in response to his six year old son’s lessons in the age old recitation:

I will pledge allegiance to no more flags until they come up with one for the earth.

A republic of humans all races and colors for which they stand. One planet in an endless sea of other planets.And if they discover life on those, I’ll pledge allegiance to those too.With respect to your religion as you respect mine. Where liberty and justice is not determined by how much wealth you’ve accumulated,or your political or military power,or your sexual orientation, or how you control the media. Where no one can maintain their wealth as long as one person on the planet doesn’t have adequate food or shelter or health care or educational opportunity.


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