Ed Hamell’s Letter From New York
Ed Hamell – aka one-man folk-punk-poet-rock’n’roll protest singer Hamell On Trial and Uncut’s man in NYC – on the Republicans in New York and wild scenes in Alaska.
Of course the big news here in NY after Little Steven's Underground Garage Fest was the Republicans coming to town for the big National Convention. Which meant much stress and tension in light of security measures, 60 million dollars worth. There are terrorists lurking in every nook and cranny according to the media, and many would like to get their hands around George Bush's neck and strangle the life right out of him. And that's just the Americans. Can only imagine what the foreigners feel.
To pacify the locals Mayor Bloomberg issues a "Peaceful Protester's Discount", (I'm not kidding here), and in select retail outlets if you have your officially issued card you'll receive a 20% discount. As you know, I sell CDs at my show but I won't be honouring that card. If you have your Malcolm X "By Any Means Necessary" card, I'll be giving a whopping 50% off. Jakey enjoys protesting at the convention for a couple of reasons - he's no fan of the current administration and he likes meeting the militant babes. Particularly the Pro-Choice ones, because as he says, "You know they're fucking."
I meet Jakey at the tattoo parlour. Times have been tough for Jakey lately, because he's constantly having his Libertines tattoo changed depending on Pete's status. He's in, he's out, he's in, Jakey’s arm looks like raw hamburger. He's in a foul mood and wants to spit on riot gear. Pockets bulging with smoke bombs, stink gas, a laminated "Bush's head on a pole" sign, flare guns, we head to Madison Square Garden but get as far as 14th Street where we're herded to the sidewalk.
Jakey starts yelling "Kill the Pigs" which does not ingratiate him to the gendarmes. I manage to escape and watch Jakey get hauled off with a few hundred others and charged with "civil disobedience". I see Jakey later on the news, handcuffed to a beautiful brunette college student so I figure he's okay.
More surreal than that was seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger during his speech credit Richard Nixon for inspiring him to become a Republican. You know, the same Richard Nixon that disgraced the office of the presidency and sent thousands of innocents to their death during the Vietnam war. Needless to say, the Convention erupted in cheers. "If Adolf Hitler flew in today, they'd send a limousine anyway," as Joe Strummer sang. Yeesh.
I fly out the next morning for a tour of Alaska. I wasn't aware that Alaska is a Republican state, but as I'm told: "It's always been a rape and run place." As usual, I preach to the converted - but Good Lord, they sure are enthusiastic. Kodiak particularly was like a scene from a Wild West movie. It was their first day off in 47 days and from the first chord they went bullshit. It was good to get away. I brought my new Lenny Bruce box set and I remain amused, optimistic, fearful, energetic and disgusted.
You know, like our favourite rock music.