(OR: I heard you like Sufjan Stevens.)

I started writing something about how, in previous years on the Fourth of July, I would tweet some variation of “Freedom is my favorite F-bomb,” but then I spiraled into a spiel about how everything changed in 2016 and I’m embarrassed to even be an American these days and my diatribe ended with “Fuck this great country of ours.” I was basically your drunk brother giving a toast at your wedding then stumbling over a chair and knocking over a table of desserts; it felt good to air it all out, but what a goddamn debacle.

Anyway, all this to say happy birthday, America. You’ve been a mess for hundreds of years, and I find myself utterly exhausted by how shitty you are right now, but every now and then I catch a whiff of hope from those who refuse to let their own exhaustion stop them from putting up a fight and giving you the fresh hell you deserve; it reawakens my own sense of duty to those who are less fortunate and less privileged. It seems impossible some days, but at least we still have that — a glimmer hope and an inexhaustible fight to right your wrongs.

And now: Please enjoy Sufjan Stevens live in concert performing the most somber and sobering version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that might have ever existed.

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