Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Mean Drum

Most nightclub music pros can tell you about gigs where the crowd is large, the drinks are flowing, the dancers are frenzied and heat and humidity push them all to a sort of madness. At that point, a band can choose to mellow them down for the trip home, or push the beat harder and louder. I call that pumping the Mean Drum. The drummer snaps as hard on the snare as he can and we play sounds that are as raw and fierce as flesh and electronics can emit.

If we play the Mean Drum, fights break out either on the dance floor or in the parking lot afterwards. Experienced bands don't do it. They've paid the price for it in smashed gear, broken jaws, and occasionally sending a mate or friend to the hospital or the morgue. At the point of that kind of crazyiness, we play ballads, turn down, or end the performance. It's just smart.

In America, for the last eight years, we have been pumping the Mean Drum. Yes we were attacked on 9/11, but it started before that. It's been a dominant beat in American society for years.

If we continue to beat the Mean Drum, mean is all we will see and experience.

Look at the rise in social violence lately. Society resonates like a drum head and all of the other drums in the kit resonate with the snare if it is pounded hard enough. This pushes the edge cases closer to and off the edge.

Then students shoot principals, psychopaths shoot young students, and so on. We saw this same movie towards the end of the Vietnam era as the political rhetoric ratcheted up the 'us OR them' thinking. Accepting it as a norm of modern politics as both Cheney and Clinton suggest we do in the Washington Post article is not only dumb, it is social suicide with the innocents sacrificed first on the altars of egomania and the lust for power.

It is time to quit beating on the mean drum. As we learned from the early years where all we used were email lists, ignore trolls and they go elsewhere. Laughter is still the best medicine. That is why the most important political pundit for today's youth is Jon Stewart. That's a clue.

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