Monday, April 23 2007
Ralph Nader was appearing this evening in Rosendale to introduce the new documentary of his legacy, An Unreasonable Man. Gretchen was all excited to go, but I wasn't. She still views him as some sort of hero, dismissing his effect on the 2000 election as "not any worse than" all the other factors that contributed to the Bush victory that has done so much for exploitative corporations, Rapture-headed nutjobs, government-dismantlers, and global jihad. For me, though, one doesn't have to go down many layers into my subconscious to find the strata that doesn't bother distinguishing between Ralph Nader and Joe Lieberman. This is our greatest political difference, and it got hours to fester tonight as I stayed at home and Gretchen wrapped herself in a crowd of idealistic Greens who would sooner have President George W. Bush than vote for Al Gore. This particular Nader appearance was something of a fundraiser for Jason West, the Green Party mayor of New Paltz. Mind you, I have no problem with the ideals of the Green Party; I just happen to think that in our particular political system, deeply flawed as it is, liberals end up with the most palatable federal government when they vote for the Democratic Party presidential candidate, particularly when they live in a swing state. Until we can rewrite our constitution to allow school prayer, ban flag burning, and institute a Canadian-style parliamentary system, our elections will always be about the lesser of two evils, and the votes of idealists won't count.
Later tonight when Gretchen came home, she'd completely drunk the Kool Aid on Naderism, and she was resentful of my political stubbornness, claiming that it was I who had drunk the Kool Aid, but of Nader Haterism. She immediately placed An Unreasonable Man in her NetFlix queue so I could be shown the light.
Yesterday I mentioned that I'd been listening to Slayer's more recent work, starting with Divine Intervention. I liked a couple songs on that album, particularly "213," a celebration of Jeffrey Dahmer's life and works. It's a fairly straightforward metal song, and isn't especially fast or genre-expanding. What it has going for it is a wonderfully bent tonality to its electric guitars and melodic arrangement that, for some distance into the song at least, just seems to keep bending more and more until it becomes a work of consummate evil. The song is more than just scary; there is also an unexpected tone of empathetic sadness in there that pushes the whole thing over the top. Jeffrey Dahmer did terrible things, but only because he was so devastatingly lonely.
The other song I like is "Killing Fields," but only for the weird timing changes (particularly as measured by the double bass drums) in the first 1:40 of the song. The lyrics and melodic arrangements (as well as the rest of the song) are utterly forgetable, but it's worth a listen just for that intro.
As for all the rest of Slayer's career, I don't think any of it will find its way into my MP3 player. The songs reminded me of Slayer's early (pre Reign in Blood) period in that they usually run at full-throttle, with few or none of the tempo dynamics I prefer. There was also a quality to the production that I found off-putting, but it wasn't a return to the muddiness of early Slayer. As with many recently-produced CDs, the songs had been deeply-compressed in terms of amplitude, forcing the vocals down hard into the guitar crunch with no room for the waveforms to breathe, all while making diamonds of the drum beats. The effect is music that quickly induces a headache without providing any pleasure at all. And some of the songs, such as "Stain of Mind" from Diabolus in Musica, have a clear and unfortunate Nu Metal quality, stuck somewhere between mediocre Pantera and Limp Bizkit, and I don't mean that in a good way.
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