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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
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2008.MM.DD - Seattle Weekly - Reverb (Duff's column)

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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:30 pm

Duff McKagan: Faith in Rock

Posted Aug. 20 at 11:20 pm by Duff McKagan

Duff McKagan, formerly of Guns N' Roses, plays bass in Velvet Revolver. His column appears every Thursday on Reverb.

A few months back, Velvet Revolver had an opportunity to play a rock show in Dubai as a predecessor to a European tour. Before the gig was booked, I heard all the usual warning hoo-hah that we in the U.S. hear about an “Arab” or “Muslim” country—most notably that Americans are reviled and I should “watch my ass and say that I am Swedish, if asked.” Well, this was my first foray into an Arab or Muslim country post-9/11. Maybe things had changed since I’d toured there in the early ’90’s.

The thing that really got my attention first, however, was an e-mail I received from our tour manager before we left: NO MARIJUANA, NO COCAINE, NO PRESCRIPTION CODEINE, NO PRESCRIPTION VALIUM OR XANAX: ONE YEAR IN JAIL THEN DEPORTATION. Wow, OK. I’ve been clean and sober for a long time but my mind still thinks of an out, like “How ‘bout deporting me first?!” Of course, the next line in the e-mail reminded me of a much larger problem: NO ISRAELI PASSPORTS OR ISRAELI STAMPS IN YOUR PASSPORT: INSTANT DEPORTATION. Really? Is that shit for real?? C’mon people now, smile on your brother—oh yeah, fuck that, it’s a new millennium (read Thomas Friedman’s Longitudes and Attitudes to really bum yourself out on this particular subject).

I have always tried to let my faith in humankind guide me when it comes time for decisions and options in life. Sure, I’ve been screwed a few times because of it, but more often than not this guidance system has strengthened my belief that mostly everyone is born with a ton of good in them, and that it’s not until much later that things like greed and power dilute members of our species into an almost unrecognizable mask of darkness and rage. I am not going to say “no” to playing Dubai or anywhere else because of political or religious beliefs, etc. I believe I can actually do more good by seeing what’s indeed happening than by just sitting back here in the good old U.S.A., safe, protected, and spoon-fed hogwash on the nightly news. Fuck that! I’m going…

The first leg of the flight was from L.A. to Frankfurt, Germany. The second leg, however, really started to pique my interest: Just what is the route from central Europe to northwest Africa? Well, thanks to the massive GPS screen at the front end of our Lufthansa plane, a map was right in front of me at all times. This portion of the flight was mostly at night, so I had to trust the GPS screen that I was indeed over Iran (the desert part) for a few hours. Then, to my surprise, the arrow on the screen had us headed straight to Baghdad! “We must surely be taking a left or right at some point soon…” I asked the next available flight attendant. “Uh, no sir, our flight path is right over downtown Baghdad.” Shit! We’re gonna get Scud-ed, or something! But downtown Baghdad came and went with no incident (by the way, it looked just like that shit on CNN!). Next stop: United Arab Emirates.

I must say, there was quite a bit of bluster at customs when we did finally land in Dubai…the agents were almost embarrassingly polite, but still kept us there for nearly three hours. Before leaving the U.S., I feared they could have found some 15-year-old bundle of drugs lost in a dark recess of a coat pocket of mine (truth be told, because of this type of paranoia, I discarded all my old luggage and most of my old [but killer] rock clothing). I could see it now: calling my wife from some prison holding cell, telling her I’d “be going away for awhile.” Nope, they stamped our passports and wished us a great stay. Onward.

We arrived at the hotel around 2 a.m., but were still met by a small throng of eager fans. “Hey Duff, thank you so much for coming all of this way,” said a teenaged young man to me in broken English. “We feel that we are, like, on Mars over here, but we just want to rock!” I assured him I would indeed do my best to, well, “rock” him. I took note that he didn’t say anything about me being a puppet of Bush, or even a heathen infidel (which I kinda am!). Come to think of it, he didn’t seem to care about that shit at all!

The next day was gig day, and I rode to the outdoor festival sound check with a couple of “rock” writers I knew from the U.K. The scenery was straight out of a 60 Minutes piece; huge paintings of the two ruling sheikhs (pronounced “shakes”) were everywhere. These dudes looked like they must rule with an iron fist…I’m in for some serious shit now; here simply to entertain sons and daughters of the oil-rich elite. We arrived at sound check to see the usual thing—kids, just plain ordinary kids, milling around. (They were all wearing brand-spanking-new black rock shirts they’d bought that day, since there haven’t been that many rock concerts in Dubai. There are no real record stores either. And no Urban Outfitters!) As I got out of the van, a bunch of these kids came running over to see if I had a tail or horns (I think), but as we all started to converse (I had a translator at this point), I realized these fans represented a huge cross-section of that part of the planet: Pakistani migrant workers, Iraqis, Iranians, Indians, and Arabs. Not once did our long conversations veer to the political. No emotion but joy ever entered our little arena, and there was a curiousness not unlike what you see in Dubuque, Iowa or Inverness, Scotland. These people were just like me, they just wanted to rock. The gig that night was full and the weather was beautiful. Just as in any other show, the fans sang along and jumped up and down when prompted by the general mood. The crowd looked like any other crowd from my vantage point, and my vantage point is that of a world citizen…now more than ever.

The next day we flew to Dublin, Ireland. The hotel we stayed in happened to be right next door to a life-size bronze statue of Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott. I am sure some of my Arab brethren would have been just as stoked as I was to see it.

https://web.archive.org/web/20080824034856/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/08/faith_in_rock.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:31 pm

What's Up With U.S.? I Need YOU!

Posted Aug. 27 at 8:53 pm by Duff McKagan

In September of ’04, I had just finished up a stint as a student at the most excellent Seattle University and found myself headed to Europe to do a two-week press tour for the first Velvet Revolver record. On a press tour, you usually have a pretty tight schedule of print, radio, and TV interviews about—as was my case—your latest musical project. What was almost universally different this time, however, was the fact that I was being asked one extra question at every interview: “Do you think Kerry will beat Bush in the upcoming election?”

There seemed to be an almost all-enveloping fear in Europe that September that Bush would indeed get another four years. The thought was that perhaps Kerry may have the peaceful solution and that the Iraq occupation, er. . . War would see some near-future end with him in office. Our bellicose administration seemed to be taking its collective toll on the well-being of the everyday European, and I was now being put in the hot seat.

It seemed that I had somehow gained a new reputation in my “rock world” as someone who could perhaps speak for many. I am not sure why this came to be. Maybe it was because I could now put together a couple of complete sentences without slobbering on myself (I put away my gallon-of-vodka-per-day habit back in ’94). Whatever the case, I had, like every American, thought a lot about this topic as November 4 fast approached. I had a great answer for these people, so I spewed forth my rhetoric for the following two weeks, which went something like this: “I have just finished going to school with some of the smartest kids in America. No way do I think that these intelligent youth are going to idly sit back and allow Bush to succeed. These kids are ACTIVE in seeing a new leader step up and get things straightened out. Damn straight…Bush is going down, HE’S GOIN’ DOWN!” Well, shit, didn’t I look like a damn fool a few short weeks hence…

I’ve realized since then that the kids I went to school with at Seattle University were indeed very smart, but they didn’t represent America, they represented Seattle! A big difference.

OK, flash forward to now. I will again be going to Europe this September, and I was curious if you, the Seattle Weekly reader, had a question for me to ask not only writers over there, but also the common workaday Europeans walking down the street? What are their hopes for a U.S. presidential candidate? Are we beyond repair? etc. I would like a consensus question from you readers that I can ask them this time. While there, I will report on this blog and let you all know how it is going. This could be a really cool way of creating an informative dialogue, if nothing else. And I promise to (try) not to color the response too much with my own personal and political viewpoints and jadedness.

Please pose a question in the comment section of this article, and hopefully we will have enough that I can take to Europe the most common question or maybe the most poignant. I am not sure if this will work, but wouldn’t you like to know what they might be thinking? Wouldn’t you like for them to know that we at least care what they think? I for one am sick of other nations thinking we blindly support whatever is being said on our behalf by a bunch of special-interest old white men in Washington D.C. Am I being too “hippie” in thinking we should at least make an effort? I think it’s at least time to see if we can start cleaning up the mess left by our gigantic bull.

One last thought I’d like to share: Last March I was in England, having a coffee with an old friend there. As our conversation turned to world matters, it inevitably turned to the United States. He told me of a common thread of feeling over there: that no one was actually mad at us, the average American. They could see that the voting process was completely fixed and out of our hands. They were scared. They really think that some diabolical invisible hand controls this country now and that the West as a whole is doomed because of it. My question to you: What are we gonna do about it?

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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:33 pm

Don't Call Me a Rock Star

Posted Sep. 3 at 11:20 pm by Duff McKagan

I read John Roderick’s article ‘Sex, Rock, and Reality’ a couple weeks ago regarding the rock myths and lore that he so astutely dispelled. I’d like to take this opportunity to go one step further and discourse on my utter contempt for the much over-used term ‘rock star’. You may be now saying to yourself “yeah right, the dude from Guns N’ Roses has a beef with a term that probably spells him out to a T?” Let me tell you something, I cringe at this term whenever it is directed anywhere near me and here is why…

I was fortunate enough in my teens to see the Clash on their first U.S. theater tour. This was before the major recognition they received on the London Calling record, but they were still larger than life to me and truly exotic. If the term ‘rock star’ could have been used at any time in my youth-driven lingo, it would have been then and it would have described the true awe that I felt of being in the same room as these erstwhile trend setters.

About 200 people showed up at the Paramount in Seattle to see this gig and it was, simply put, mind-blowing. During the show, a big yellow-shirted security guy up front punched a fan and broke his nose. Blood was everywhere. The Clash stopped the show. Bassist Paul Simonen appeared from the wings of stage right wielding a firefighter’s axe that he must have plucked from the wall. He jumped down in the pit and proceeded to chop down the wooden barrier separating the fans from the band while guitarist Joe Strummer dressed down the security gorilla and went on further to say that there was no difference between the fans and the bands…"we are all in this together! There is no such thing as a Rock Star, just musicians and listeners!" That moment remains static in my mind to this day.

Now, when I was even younger, growing up here in Seattle, I was deeply enchanted and mesmerized by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. I do ‘get’ why the term is used and was myself easily smitten by ‘rock stars’- but I was under the age of 12 when these people appeared as gods in my classroom daydreams.

Let us look at the term ‘rock star’ in our current-day common vernacular. I think it was definitely used as noun up until sometime in the mid-90’s. Then, for some inexplicable reason, ‘rock star’ became a much over-used adjective. “Hey, he sure does have on some rock-star clothing”. Or, when it is used as a noun, it has become bland and quite ‘vanilla’ as in ‘party like a rock star’ (I once asked a mountain biker friend what he actually meant when he said that he had ‘partied like a rock star’ the night before, “well, I drank like a six-pack of beer!”). Or, in a popular pop song a couple of years ago ‘hey now, you’re a rock star, get your game on…”----please!

I also have a strong dislike for the term because I do actually know some people in ‘the biz’ that I have even worked with (no hints) who do refer to THEMSELVES as rock stars. It is my experience that a low self-esteem and need for skin-deep recognition perhaps spur these unfortunate few forward into actually thinking that they are indeed "rock n’ roll stars". It is my further experience that these people think that they indeed are BETTER than you and me and their fans, not unlike the popular cliques that we all had to deal with in junior high-school. I, for one, find that kind of behavior pretty damn shallow and frankly embarrassing to be around. Furthermore, I have had the distinct honor of meeting some of my boyhood idol’s over the last 15 or so years and have been pleasantly surprised at the regularness of these older rock musicians. I guess the assholes get weeded out and longevity only happens to those musicians who see themselves as ones who simply serve the music….I like that a LOT.

Roderick’s column also highlighted the amount of mind-numbing repetition a musician goes through on the road. What may be little known is the actual work ethic that the touring rock band has. Even if it is a band or artist that can afford to fly to their tour-dates, try going through airport security EVERY DAY and dealing with flight delays and the myriad other snafu’s that may beleaguer the weary traveler….EVERY DAY. On top of that is the fact that you are living out of a bag for months on end and eating whatever you might be able to grab, usually forgoing a warm meal for that same amount of time (my tour diet consists mostly of trail-mix and power bars). Yes, the stuff of the glamorous rock-star lifestyle (ya see, I even use the term as an adjective).

Let us move on to the average rock guy with a family (like me for instance). The sheer amount of logistical arranging that one must do to even see his or her family on a regular basis is fierce. On top of that, the utter humility one feels when ordered to change a diaper right after coming off stage brings a wide smile to my face. Hookers and blow it is not, but I for one, wouldn’t have it any other way. Other touring families and their musician spouse can attest to the fact that it is just a job, really, one that affords, at times, for the clan to see some cool places together…all other times bring forth almost desperate loneliness for all. Those times aren’t very ‘rock star’.

A great humility moment for me came last year right after I played a huge stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was in the midst of finishing an online course at the time and had a question for the professor of the course. I told my wife that I had to call him when we got back to the hotel (we were getting a police escort back because the fans there can get a little, um, overzealous). So we get back to the room and the fans had sort of surrounded the hotel, chanting soccer chants. I had timed my call to catch this professor during his office hours. When he picked up the phone, I said to him “Hi Professor Greene, this Duff McKagan in your Business 330 class and I want to ask you a question about this weeks assignment. I am calling from out of country so I was hoping to make this quick.” Remember, I just played a STADIUM, police escorts, people chanting my NAME! “Duff who?” he replied. I came back down to earth in a hurry. Joe Strummer was probably laughing his ass off.

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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:34 pm

Alice In Chains: I Back These Guys

Posted Sep. 10 at 9:30 pm by Duff McKagan

A couple years ago I received a call from Jerry Cantrell to see if I would be interested in playing rhythm guitar for the revamping Alice in Chains. I had become very good friends with all the guys in the band since they came to Hollywood in 1989 for their first gig in L.A. I knew first-hand of the utter heartbreak these men had gone through (and continue to feel) at the tragic loss of their singer and brother, Layne Staley. If I can do anything, I thought to myself, I can at least show my support for these guys who had become close friends not only to me but to my family. I jumped at the chance to play with them.

I don’t believe these guys ever thought of actually replacing Layne. How could they, really? Their thought process ran more to adding a member who could play second-guitar parts and/or sing some songs, either in tandem with Jerry or on his own. They found the guy in William Duvall. William struck me as a guy who was trying to be no one other than himself, and he oozed an air of “cool” that, frankly, one either has or doesn’t have. The band was in a stage of self-doubt regarding the perception that their longtime fans would have of them going forward after the passing of Layne. For me, the choice was clear: These guys had to move on and they had way too much to offer the rock-and-roll world. Yes, in this day and age of paint-by-numbers formula corporate rock…we fuckin’ NEED Alice in Chains!

My opinion may not be a popular one, especially here in Seattle. There seems to be an attitude of “Who the hell do you guys think you are? You can’t go on without Layne!” While his death was heartbreakingly sad and needless, does this mean we all must shut the door on this band that changed the landscape of modern rock? Does this mean we all must suffer the elephant-sized monkey that rode Layne straight to his tragic end? Shit, did anybody think that Layne himself could very well have wanted his brothers to carry on? I for one believe that he in fact did. Alas, in the end, this is a can of worms that I should shut at this point because speculation on what he may or may not have wanted to happen after his death is pointless.

So now back to me playing guitar with these guys. I dove headfirst into a crash course of the whole AIC catalogue. My critical peek inside these songs, riff by riff, opened my eyes to what truly amazing song craftsmanship went into all of them. I began to feel truly honored to be included and connected in any way to this lush musical history. Playing the songs live with them are some of the most treasured moments that I have experienced as an artist, PERIOD!

In the summer and fall of 2007, my band Velvet Revolver did a co/headlining tour with AIC. At the risk of sounding too dramatic, seeing the crowd’s reaction to these guys night after night was analogous to seeing a loving mother’s face welcoming home her beloved son from war. As the band’s confidence grew with William as a new member and Mike Inez laying down his all-too-familiar low-end growl, you could almost see new life being breathed into the music. Jerry, as a guitar player, was finally being recognized for the true maverick he is. Sean Kinney’s unique, inventive, and powerful drum stylings set him apart from the pack, and this tour settled any questions of why and how. It was a truly moving sight to see, gig after gig.

I am indeed a fan of all sorts and genres of music and I find myself on a high when I see an inspirational live show. This feeling can sometimes carry through for a week or more. In saying that—and maybe it is just me—finding an awe-inspiring rock show these days gets harder and harder. Somewhere in the mid- to late ’90s, there was seemingly a sea change in the music industry that started to create an assembly line for bland commercial musical fodder. How did this happen? What happened that made honest rock ’n’ roll go back underground? Things just got straight-up gimmicky and processed. When Alice started the process of putting the pieces back together in 2005, it gave me hope. Hope because a whole generation of young rockers would be able to watch and learn and see how this shit is done!

I have had the good fortune to hear a lot of the new music that the guys have put together for their upcoming recording: fucking AWESOME! I believe we need a band like Alice in Chains now more than ever. A band who always has worn their heart on their collective sleeve. A band who couldn’t give two shits about what is “hip” or current. These guys have always set trends. With what I have heard of the new music, they will continue to do so.

Layne, may you rest in peace. Alice in Chains, will you please, again, show us the way?

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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:36 pm

Duff McKagan: Flying On 9/11

Posted Sep. 18 at 1:05 am by Duff McKagan

Flying is something I do on a pretty regular basis. I’ve seen the heightened airport security following Sept. 11, 2001 slowly wane to a point of near-casual ease that, while still rigorous, pales in comparison to the two or three years after the brutal attacks of that black day. But today, I am flying. Today is Sept.11, 2008.

I still kiss my wife and daughters before I leave on any trip away from them. Last night I took my little girls to dinner and a movie, made special since it was a school night. This morning, I woke up and made them breakfast, then walked them to school. I held on to our parting embrace perhaps a bit longer than was comfortable to them in front of all of their cool friends—I didn’t care. I hugged and kissed them like I did on the day the planes were hijacked and met their horrific end. The world’s axis for all humankind seemed to have been put on a tilt that day. My family was young when the Twin Towers went down, and my fear for their future at that time was beyond acute.

I don’t write this particular column for the sake of my fear of my plane to Europe going down. This is not a political piece either. I want to speak about what I witnessed today at the airport, and how my memory was refreshed by this morning’s CNN constant report of near doom that I watched before I left to the airport. I want to remember how that one event changed all of our lives forever. Have we made any real progress since then? I don’t know. It probably won’t show for years to come.

Airport security today at LAX was fierce. Back were the checkpoint security stations at the entrance to the airport. Security dogs were doing their collective best to sniff out bomb material as cops stopped all cars. I don’t mind, and I certainly understand. After ticketing at the airline counter, it was on to the scanner security station where the lines were absolutely ginormous. I don’t mind, I get it. I did get a little freaked out, however, when two obvious meth-head tweakers couldn’t find their tickets or ID’s. They were furiously looking through clear plastic garbage bags that served as their luggage. Tweakers freak me out, and these two, truthfully, unnerved me. God, I hope they aren’t on my plane. The number of TSA and LAPD staff was easily tripled but I sailed through (I’m not sure how my speed-freak friends did). There seemed to be a palpable calm, not only at the security lines but throughout the whole airport. There seemed to be an air of understanding among everyone walking to his or her gates. There was not the usual scurrying, and strangers seemed to be making eye contact with each other, as if to say “Hey, you all good?” Maybe this was all in my imagination, but honestly I don’t think it was.

I boarded my flight, and my first leg took me to London. As I settled into my seat, a family came on at the last minute looking for their rows. A teenage boy found his place right next to me.

“ I am scared to be flying on 9/11!” he said to me.

“Where are you headed?” I asked.

“Back home to Saudi Arabia.”

His name was Saud and he was a Muslim lad, going home after visiting L.A., where his sister attends the Fashion Institute. His family wore the traditional clothing of their part of the world, and you could definitely tell that people on the flight were eyeing them intently throughout. I believe Saud sort of took this in stride. He’s a normal kid. He likes video games, disco, and soccer. He seemed to respect me as an elder. You don’t get that every day. He showed me a program on his computer that can make your head fat or skinny on its self-contained camera. A nice little dude.

Talking to Saud made me realize that we are now all on constant alert. Gone perhaps are the days when there seemed to be a general curiosity about other cultures. We are paranoid now. What do they think of us in Indonesia, where there is a large militant Muslim faction? Who are those Muslim guerrillas who kidnapped the Westerners in the Philippines back in 2003? Is there some geographic line we as Americans cannot cross because of fear for our safety? Was it there pre-9/11?

I remember thinking of all the Muslims that must have lived in the U.S. back then. I remember wondering how many might be Taliban operatives. I don’t think I was alone. Paranoia was on the rampage in the first few months on American soil. Could you blame anyone? No. This was my generation’s Pearl Harbor. We were suddenly attacked by some exotic enemy from the extreme peripheries. Some Americans boycotted or vandalized Muslim-owned and -operated businesses. Others defaced mosques, or worse. Me? I fell into a depression like I had never experienced before, actual clinical depression. Like many of us, I sat and watched CNN for something like two straight weeks. When George W. came on network television and vowed revenge, I whole-heartedly backed it. Let’s fuck someone up! Let’s goddamn roll! There seemed to be no other answer or solution. I wonder now what we in the West could’ve done differently to mend the chasm of misunderstanding that still remains between “us” and “them.” As it turned out, Saddam was probably just another in a long line of tyrannical despots . . . but we already knew that.

Of course I landed at Heathrow Airport in London without incident. I found out that perhaps we all have some form of trepidation about this momentous date. I met a new friend from Saudi Arabia, who shared with me some cool things about his life and upbringing. I probably embarrassed my 8- and 11-year-old girls in front of their friends at school earlier that morning, but I don’t care. I will always remember this date for the way it changed my life and strengthened my love for my family. This date will also remind me of how horrible we as human beings can be and what we are capable of at our worst.

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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:38 pm

Duff McKagan: An Enlightening Trip (Abroad)

Posted Sep. 25 at 3:22 am by Duff McKagan

I want to first state that this piece, while political in nature, is not meant to sway votes. I have an opinion on the Presidential candidates. My views will color my writing at times.

A few weeks back, I posed a question to you, the Weekly reader. I asked for you all to form a somewhat concise idea that I could in turn ask in question form of the average European, to find out what they thought of our upcoming election and even where they thought America itself may be headed in the near future. The response from you all was really quite fantastic. Well, as it turns out, on my current trip here, I am being stopped short before I can even get a question out. Opinions here are rampant and overwhelmingly similar. Our conversations go something like this. . .

My first stop was Italy, and my first real dialogue was with a person from the local press in Milan. I asked him if he knew of the recent developments in the U.S. presidential race.

“Oh, yes,” he replied, “ this Palin woman scares the hell out of me and she must be stopped. It seems that she is for real, right?” I asked what he meant by that.

“Well, she likes to shoot guns and doesn’t believe in sex education?” I said that in fact these were the exact things I had heard in a very simplified way, but yes, these things did actually appeal to a large part of the voting constituency back home.

“Oh, shit,” he said, “they are going to win aren’t they. . .” I said that I did not know.

“Well, this is what I now feel and it makes me very sad.” I left Italy with a sense of embarrassment that I could not shake. (Shame?).

I do realize that every country has its own political and civil issues, and that by no means are we Americans alone in the arena of frustration with empty-promise-laden talking heads, but the world does look to the U.S. for a lead when things like the Georgia crisis happens—that is just the way it is.

OK, then, on to the U.K. The viewpoints on U.S. politics seem to be a bit more keen here in Britain, as our two countries have sort of been in bed on things like the “War on Terror.” I boarded our band tour bus after we arrived at Heathrow, and promptly asked our driver if he was “up” on the current American presidential race. His name is Darren, and his statement went something like this:

“Oh, yes, I am quite familiar with the whole thing. This Palin bird from Alaska quite scares the shit out of me. She is getting a lot of coverage over here for how bizarre she actually is to us. The U.K. doesn’t really understand someone like her.” I replied that the people that I know from the U.S. don’t really understand her either.

Our conversation moved in and out of a bunch of different issues, including his knowledge of the Diebold voting machine scandal in Ohio after the 2004 election. We spoke of the out-dated electoral-college system still in place in U.S. presidential races. He asked me if I thought that if a single person’s vote still really held weight. I explained that I was perhaps skeptical, but had no real evidence to back up my skepticism. I took note that if Darren represented the average Englander, their education of current political affairs was well above average. Darren also informed me of a common opinion on Bush/Cheney.

“We are not terribly frightened of Bush. He just seems quite ‘thick’ [errr, not smart], but Cheney scares us to death. It appears to us that he is running the whole show. If the McCain/Palin ticket wins, we are more afraid of her than him.”

In these days of complete-saturation press coverage, could it be that actual campaign policy is ignored or erased by the sheer volume of “face time” with the camera? On top of that, if some gun-toting Bible-touting right-wing conservative “scares the hell” out of the average European, whom do they appeal to in America? Look, I’m not dumb, and I do realize that there is a major evangelical movement in the U.S. that can sway an election one way or the other. I also know that the NRA carries a lot of weight. But the more people that I speak with over here, the more INSANE it seems that God and guns are such a huge issue in politics. . . what the fuck? Instead of America perhaps leading the way to world-wide enlightenment, it seems perhaps that ideas from the times of Constantine are being drawn on to control what happens within our borders.

A few days later I had an open conversation with a mix of businessmen and women in London. Their concerns echoed exactly those of our bus driver, without really swaying one way or the other. While they have no idea what Obama would actually do once in office, they would much rather take their collective chances with him than be faced with what they conceived as a darker version of Bush/Cheney. These opinions were shared in Scotland and Ireland too . . . exactly.

Well, folks, there it is. Most of you reading this, being mostly Seattleites and presumably mostly Democratic, are probably bashing your foreheads against a brick wall somewhere. I didn’t set out on this mini-odyssey to depress you, the reader. I was rather hoping to get some insight myself, and to share with you. I would rather be informed than walk around in an ignorant haze. I hope at least that this little article will stimulate thought and perhaps even dialogue. I think I will try to find something humorous to write about next week. Remind me to tell you guys about “fart tennis.” Until next week, cheers!

https://web.archive.org/web/20081011092151/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/09/an_enlightening_trip.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:39 pm

Duff McKagan: Fart Tennis

Posted Oct. 1 at 10:52 pm by Duff McKagan

In the last couple of weeks, my blogs have contained some pretty serious subjects that I felt needed addressing. While I love good discourse and intelligent banter, I also love humor, and I believe at times I just take myself too damn seriously. Maybe we all do. I will now step off of the soapbox and unveil another side of what makes my world tick.

If any of you have been reading my last couple of columns, you’ve probably ascertained that I have been traveling a lot. The reason is that I’ve been touring with my most killer band Loaded in Europe. “Most killer band—Loaded?” you might say. Not only do we think we are sexy motherfuckers (um, we may be all around 40 but we do listen to a lot of Prince before we go onstage), but we are great friends and that counts for something even bigger. We are also killer because we have discovered some of the most awesome tour-bus antics and on-board ethics that are second to none.

Touring with nine guys on a bus, playing every night, and booking only two hotels during a 15-day stint could and does wreak havoc on a guy’s personal space. We do our laundry in the sink of the venue after we play and hang it in the bus to dry at night. Personal space gets smaller and smaller. You must be very observant of everyone’s ever-changing mood, in case a possible situation gets blown out of proportion in a hurry. Our way of dealing with these close quarters is humor. A ton of it.

“Ass to ass, dog!” is the saying when two of us approach each other in the claustrophobic aisle between bunks. This saying came a bunch of years back from a huge security guy who got ruffled when a band member (from which band, I do not know) passed him once crotch-to-ass in a space about the same as an aisle on a Southwest flight. This security guy did not exactly dig the fact that his manhood may have been compromised in that flashing instant. He dressed down the young rocker right then and there: “Man, it’s always ass to ass, dog . . . ASS TO ASS!” This incident has become folklore in Loaded-land. On the Loaded bus we practice the ass-to-ass program, unless we might be feeling a bit frisky. One of us might approach with our butt facing in, but with a quick turn at passing, you can surprise your fellow band member with a “junk drag,” that is, crotch-to-ass. It’s really good fun! Hey, I’ve got a college education and I am a responsible father and husband, but hey, you just can’t beat juvenile fun sometimes! My wife joined me in London for a couple of days in the middle of this all-male tour, and I had to quickly break a few bad habits and curb my “F bombs” (although I pleasantly refrained the “junk drag” upon first seeing her!).

The first rule on a bus is, NO POOPING ON BOARD! The toilets on tour buses will not accommodate solids. Well, a tour diet is never very wholesome. In fact, it is downright gross. We eat dinner after we play, and you can only imagine the cornucopia open at midnight or 1 a.m. Pizza? Swarma? We always end up with spicy Indian food (there is always great late-night Indian food in the UK). Remember, nine guys, one bus, few rest stops . . . lots of flatulence. “Evil” Dave is one of our guitar techs, and he is from Sheffield, England. This dude is drop-dead funny. He suggested that we associate a word that sounds like the fart that just happened. Some sound like, say, ”teapot.” The more “throaty” flatus may sound like “HAROLD” or “STREEEETPOST.” This passes time and broadens one’s vocabulary; coming up with new names is almost like playing Scrabble.

This “name the fart” game was challenging enough, when upon reaching London we met Mike. Mike is my wife’s cousin Heidi’s new boyfriend, and I was sort of keen to check him out. Heidi has had a couple of real lulus lately as far as boyfriends go, and Mike was going to get a full going-over by me before I gave my OK. After we played our show in London and the crew had loaded out, we all just kind of kicked back shootin’ the shit (the band, the crew, my wife, Mike, and Heidi). I think that I was trying to see how Mike could “hang with the boys,” so I brought up “name the fart.”

“Oh?” Mike said without the least trace of a flinch, “have you guys tried Fart Tennis?”

“Why, no,” we must have all replied at once, maybe too eager to hear of something more inane than “name the fart” to do with our idle time.

“Service,” Mike said, with a quick burst of brown air; “You must return serve or I win.” Mike became our Fart Sensei at that moment. It was like the world, all at once, had been revealed. Needless to say, I gave Heidi the thumbs up on Mike.

Now that I am back from tour, I don’t have anyone to play Fart Tennis with. My daughters run from me when I suggest we play a few sets. Anyway, my diet is back to normal, so I think my ranking would probably drop like an anchor, as I wouldn’t be as well-armed to return serve. My dog would for sure be our house champion. All I have now is the fond memory of that tour bus and my eight friends, my competitors, and my band, Loaded.

Well, on second thought, we are going to Japan in three weeks. SERVICE!

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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:41 pm

Family, Hold Back!

Posted Oct. 8 at 10:14 pm by Duff McKagan

My parents were born in the 1920’s and lived through the depression. Although I came much, much later (I am the last of 8 kids and we are spread over 20 years), we learned from lessons they were hard taught growing up in a time when there just simply wasn’t any work and therefore money.

If you are at any McKagan family gathering (a large crowd to be sure), try muttering ‘FHB’ and see what happens. Well, I’ll tell you what will happen, you will suddenly see the 8 brothers and sisters taking minuscule portions on their respective plates at the pot-luck buffet table. ‘Family Hold Back’ is a saying that comes from years of simply too many kids and not enough to feed us all of the time. One of us would almost always certainly have a friend over for dinner and this is when the secret code of ‘FHB’ started… make sure the guest had enough to eat, take a small portion, don’t say anything.

I remember my mom telling me stories of what it was like growing up in the depression. Stories of not having enough money to heat the house in the winter and wearing sweaters and coats all of the time. Stories of how her mother would fix a broken roller skate or doll and that would be THE Christmas present. These stories have haunted every major financial decision I have made in adulthood. Fear of ending up in some film-noire- like poor house. My mother I think never quite trusted our government and our fiscal system since. We kids were taught by example, lessons of frugality and thrift. These lessons probably kept us all away from being caught up in the recent mortgage crisis directly; you see, we do not spend beyond our respective ‘pay-grades’. But people from my generation didn’t all have depression-era parents and I think the fear from that era did not a lasting impression make.

The economy seems to be headed into some sort of prolonged recession. If the $700 billion dollar bailout doesn’t see any kind of worthwhile results, we may indeed be heading into an economic depression. Greed seems to be the culprit. We all wanted more and we want it right fucking NOW! We were led to believe that a $400k loan on a $30k a year salary was do-able. Our lust for bigger and better turned us away from thinking logically. The big financial institutions jumped at the opportunity to make the fast buck without thinking or caring about the long-term quagmire that this sort of shallow-sighted banking practice would create. Of course, the people who got fucked by these loans are now being asked to pony up and bail out the same institutions that screwed them. It just doesn’t make any sense.

I think we all now feel a little ‘dirty’ for our high rate of credit card spending in our race to accrue more stuff. Our modern capitalist system is based on an amazing economic philosophy. Adam Smith I believe, never envisioned the sheer greed and corruption that his 18th century book ‘Wealth of Nations’ would eventually be party to.

A Price/Waterhouse employee whom was laid off, killed his family and then himself today apparently over the woes of the stock market slump and his low prospects for any work. It is time indeed to pull in the reigns.

I hear talk on the radio of whomever wins this election having to enact an almost Roosevelt-like ‘New Deal’ program to resurrect our economy. In short, the ‘New Deal’ created jobs through Federal Works, like building highways and dams. While these things did help the country in the long run, they were funded pretty much all by the taxpayer. If it weren’t for WWII, who’s to say if this program would’ve worked. Nothing like a good war to re-invigorate private business. I don’t know that much about economics but it seems to me that we need a fiscal-system mixture of socialism and capitalism. Nationalized health care like England and corporate pride like the Pacific Rim.

I think it is time for us all to perhaps look back and study the history of our country. It’s time to read the testimonials of the depression-era (try David M. Kennedy’s Pulitzer prize winning ‘Freedom From Fear’). If we can just all stop wanting so much from too little, maybe the race to accrue wealth and material will wane. The peer pressure of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ has simply got to stop. FHB!

Personally, I look forward to the prospects of pulling back a bit. Going to Wenatchee for Thanksgiving will provide just as much family time as going to Hawaii. My daughters will have just as much fun. I will do my part and frequent local stores and restaurants as much as is feasible, but I will also be a lot more cognizant of what something costs. I doubt we will splurge on Christmas presents like we have for the past 10 or so years, but hell, we have everything we need and a ton more. Just maybe this whole crisis will bring my little family closer together.

The other night, I was telling my 8-year-old daughter a bedtime story. Usually, these consist of made up lore of how our family dog is a super-hero at night and that is why he sleeps all day. But this night, I decided to tell her of the stories my mother had told me about her growing up in the depression. My daughter thought it was really neat that a doll could be fixed up and re-gifted as a present. It never really dawned on me that perhaps my daughters really don’t need the newest and best things all of the time. Maybe it is time for me to tell them more of the values I was taught growing up in a large family with working class parents. The values that I learned from the depression era. Values that maybe even I have overlooked as of late.

https://web.archive.org/web/20081028154909/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/10/family_hold_back.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:42 pm

What Happened to Our Teams?

Posted Oct. 15 at 11:28 pm by Duff McKagan

Duff McKagan, a Seattle-based musician is the former bassist for Guns N' Roses. His current projects include Loaded and Velvet Revolver. His column appears every Thursday on Reverb.

This may well be a crappy article, but I need to vent. I don’t, however, think that I am alone in my disappointment.

Let me start by stating that I do realize that sports teams don’t always win. I was born in the mid-’60s and I didn’t experience sports excitement in Seattle until Slick Watts appeared with the Sonics in 1975. But the overall drought we have had to endure since the Seahawks’ Superbowl appearance is starting to get depressing, and I for one am starting to wander.

OK, Weekly reader, I am sure a lot of you are groaning at this moment. "SPORTS?! Who gives a rat’s ass about stupid SPORTS! We have a recession on and there is an election on and the world’s resources are being burned up and there is global warming!" Well, my argument would be that now more than ever we NEED a winning team. At least the PROSPECT of a winning team. The Sonics are gone (I will get to that in a moment), the Mariners are in shambles, the Hawks are depleted and Holmgren is leaving, and the Huskies’ football program has shrunk to a mere shadow of the dominance and fear that they used to hold the reins of. Sports are one of the things we in Seattle have been able to turn to in recent years. Sports gave us something to help take our minds off world problems. “One in the win column” is like taking an aspirin; it takes the edge off the pain for at least a little while.

In Seattle we have always had the luxury of looking forward to an upcoming season with at least one winning team, even if another had been failing. “C’mon, Huskies!” (or “Hawks!”) was a common war cry when the Mariners were bad in late summer. The Huskies would always be contenders. When the Huskies got bad, we had the Hawks and the Mariners. The Sonics were a town draw and a subject of much pride until the signing of Jim McIlvane started to tear at the fabric of the unstoppable Peyton/Kemp tandem. The team never recovered its full dominance. Never again instilled fear. And then the move….

I’m sorry, that move was utter bullshit. If anyone reading thinks that Seattle didn’t need the Sonics because of ticket costs or new arena bond issues, they should maybe go ask Seattle-area hotels and restaurants what THEY think. And all the people working at the Key and Seattle Center itself. What about the cab drivers and limo companies? There are, I am sure, myriad other losses that haven’t been calculated . . . but this one is for sure: We don’t have an NBA team anymore. This town at one time was one of the most feared places to play in the NBA because Seattle was such a basketball city. It’s pathetic what happened to us, and embarrassing. We all got screwed. I was down at the Key a couple months back to see a concert, and my heart was broken seeing all the banners still up. I saw framed photos of Gus Williams and Fred Brown. Flashes came back to me of the time my dad took me to one of the games in the ’77 championship series. It finally hit me that my team was gone.

I am not a sportswriter and definitely not an expert on all things sports. I am, however, a fan, and I have some general thoughts on what has been happening:

1. The Mariners’ ownership is based in another country and can’t really be bothered with anything other than the bottom line. As long as we fill those seats and keep someone on the team that Japan will buy the TV rights to, the ownership is happy. I ran into Tony LaRussa at one of my gigs last spring and he was dismayed that the Mariners had passed him over a few months earlier.
“They passed you over?!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, it’s too bad, I would have loved the gig.”
Tony LaRussa had just won a World Series with the Cardinals! We need some good management, and I hope they do the right thing this off-season. If not, I suggest we all boycott. Shit, Sweet Lou left because management wasn’t allowing him to do his thing as he saw fit.

2) Why have the Seahawks already picked a coach for next season? Why did they feel the need to get someone locked in so early? A friend of mine who played in the NFL says that Jim Mora is going to be great for the team. I truly hope he is right (and Mora is a rocker, which is kinda cool!). What if Bill Cowher suddenly wants to coach again, though? I just get confused by a lot of these “front office” decisions.

3) The Huskies. Well, it looks like Willingham will be out. None of the top high-school kids want to come here. We all know they will have to rebuild the whole program. They should find someone who has experience getting a program back on track. As it stands, the Huskies football squad looks like a junior college squad.

4) We have in Seattle probably the best sports radio station in the U.S. The staff is one of the most knowledgeable I have heard (I listen to a lot of sports radio around this country!). These guys should be given a week to try get all our sports programs back on track. What could we lose?

So I have started to root for other teams. I like the Brett Favre story, so I will pull for the Jets. They are winning and that is fun. The Red Sox have been my backup MLB team since the Bill Buckner era (hey, that dude was a solid player). College football? How about Toledo—my wife is from there, so why not? The NBA? I have soured on the NBA and refuse to watch. On second thought, Ray Allen is with the Celtics, and he gave his all for the Sonics.

Hey, wait a minute! I just read that Gary Payton is trying to get an investment group together to try get the Sonics back here by 2011. I am already starting to get my hopes up. Now if we could get Edgar Martinez and Jamie Moyer involved with the Mariners, Sonny Sixkiller and Don James involved with the Huskies, and . . . well, I think the Hawks are still screwed. That’s all right. C’mon, Sonics

https://web.archive.org/web/20081020030901/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/10/what_happened_to_our_teams.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:44 pm

The Birds, the Bees, and My Daughters

Posted Oct. 22 at 11:15 pm by Duff McKagan

Last week, I was faced with a hurdle every parent must eventually face. You see, my wife and I have two daughters, the older one just entering middle school this year. With middle school comes the sudden pressures of acting “grown up,” looking “cool,” and talking about. . . wait for it. . . SEX. The dreaded moment has come for me as a father: the moment for THE TALK.

Somehow it got back to my wife and I that the kids at school have been joking around about sex. “What the hell does ‘joking around’ mean?!” said I. Well, apparently middle schoolers are getting pretty damn cavalier regarding the depth of carnal gossip. It seems that there is definitely a different paradigm these days, a higher bar set. Our youth are exposed to way more stuff, thanks to the World Wide Internets. Gone are the days of finding Dad’s Playboy under his mattress and getting a five-second perusal of some T and A. To add to the complexity of my personal conundrum, we have been in L.A. for the last few years (during the school year, anyway). My wife claims that the peer pressure on women here is indescribable. This peer pressure absolutely has a “trickle-down” effect on teenage girls, which of course “trickles down” even further to the preteens. This peer pressure has everything to do with outward appearances and NOTHING to do with intellect and soul. . . well, that’s my opinion anyway.

There are so many great kid-friendly Web sites these days that I would find it somewhat archaic to ban my kids from computer usage. Of course the downside is that 80 percent of Internet content is porn, and it only takes one wrong move for a child to suddenly access all kinds of stuff they just shouldn’t see. My kids use the computer to do homework, communicate with their friends, and access all kinds of new music on YouTube. But again, how does a parent keep on top of everything they see? The new unspoken parenting rule is to only let your kids use the computer when you are in the same room with them. . . it’s just not possible, though. My girls are really awesome and kind and would really feel embarrassed to see anything they shouldn’t on the Web, but how do I REALLY know what they have already been exposed to? In my day, you had to show ID to purchase an adult magazine. Now? It’s just a click away!

I don’t know how many people read this column, and I also don’t know if anyone who reads this is a parent, but let me tell you guys something: Apparently, oral sex in middle school is approached as nonchalantly as maybe kissing was back when I was that age. There is no way my two angels are gonna be ANY part of that nonsense, believe you me! If iChat and YouTube are the new hiding places for extracurricular activities such as this, how do I find out? Fuck, my mind starts to go a million miles an hour thinking about the responsibilities and safeguards we “information age” parents have to juggle. I don’t want to spy on my kids. There HAS to be trust. They are dealing with so much more data than we did at that age. I will, however, shut down anything that brings harm to my daughters. If I were to find out that anything bad was happening, all of my Utopian hubbub would go out the window, and it would get real 1950’s in the McKagan household, and in a hurry. On top of that, I’d have my shotgun at the ready and you’d better bring an army! But I digress.

Of course I knew the day would eventually come when I would have to face the reality of my girls growing up. I really try to have an open and non-judgmental relationship with my daughters, and my goal is for them to ALWAYS feel safe coming to me with any problems or ordeals. The time, alas, had come for my wife and I to sit down and speak somewhat candidly about the “birds and bees” with our 8- and 11-year-olds. I started to sweat. “OK, McKagan family conference!” is how I always start our team meetings. The girls always get excited at the prospect of some unknown outlier that my wife or I might have in store. This time, however, when I started with “You know that you girls can tell us anything. . . ,” a slight look of dread started to spread across their faces. When I said the word “sex,” my 8-year-old started to bawl. Oh shit, this isn’t going to be easy. Things did get settled down once it was understood that no one was in trouble and that this wouldn’t be an inquisition. My older daughter really stepped up, as it were, and actually put the conversation at ease with her candor. “Yes, Dad, the older girls do talk about all of that stuff but I think that it’s pretty silly. . . they are just trying to act ‘grown up.’” The mood of the talk became lighter and our family bond became a little tighter that afternoon.

This past weekend, my wife and I had to go away, and I brought my new laptop with me. The old one is now my older daughter’s, but I haven’t gotten around to resetting any of my profiles on it. My AIM and iChat profiles show and “transmit” from both. As I was sitting down to look at some e-mail (and sports scores!), my AIM box popped up and a conversation was in full swing. It was my daughter and a bunch of her friends, completely aloof to the knowledge that I was reading their conversations from 5,000 miles away. I felt sure that I was going to see something I wasn’t supposed to, some alter-world of middle-school girls. I envisioned myself calling home to their aunt Heidi (who was staying the weekend with them) and grounding my daughters for something that I was certain to see from my newfound instant-message spy spot. The IMs remained innocent and sweet, speaking of nothing more bawdy than how cute so-and-so’s new puppy was. Boy, did I feel guilty. On second thought, maybe not guilty enough to perhaps keep my profiles in sync, for the next few years anyway.

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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:45 pm

Duf McKagan: Get In The Ring!

Posted Oct. 29, 2008 at 9:04 pm by Duff McKagan

My column from last week was a little story about me and my wife’s first experience talking to our daughters about sex. The response that this column received was amazingly varied and also overwhelming (I was even called a queer and told to go to therapy! Killer!). The good news is that most people were writing back with their own experiences, lending weight to the fact that it does “take a village to raise a child.” There were, however, some responses that I feel needed addressing.

This is a public forum and I do know that whatever I may put forth will come under scrutiny. That is absolutely cool with me. Know this, though: This is not an advice column! These are simply stories or observances that I have made from my distinct vantage point. This will be my 11th week, and I feel it is OK now to tell you my side to a couple things.

First off: To you other parents and readers that read last week’s column, thank you for all the good tips and kind words. This parenting thing is a trip! You definitely learn something new every day. I am lucky that I had a mother who taught me some really virtuous lessons from things that happened in her past. I use a lot of these lessons today in raising my own kids, and I need them because there is no “how to” guide when it comes to raising your own. You have simply got to “put in the hours” and pay attention. I tell my girls every night that I love them, but I know that I have to do much more. That “much more” is what NOBODY can school me on. My wife, our two daughters, and I have our distinct footprint, and no generalization quite fits our story. I don’t think that I am alone on this. Are you hearing me, parents? We kind of make it up as we go, don’t we?

For instance: Call me uneducated if you must, but I did not really understand what a “progressive” education was until my older daughter got into fifth grade at her “progressive” school! It took me that long to figure out that there were differences. How was I to know? Well, you just learn as you go, I guess. I had no idea how to change a diaper until I had to change my own child’s on her first day home. That’s the way it is. There are, however, things that are somewhat innate. Knowing what is appropriate, being a father to girls, gut feelings guide me on this journey.

There was one response to last week’s column that sent up red flags for me, and I will paraphrase. The reader stated that he showed his 9-year-old daughter porn to illustrate his “sex talk.” Hey dude, NOT cool and NOT OK! I believe that a father’s job with daughters is fraught with enough challenges and tightrope walks. A man should show his undying love and support for his girls, and be a strong and understanding shoulder and sounding board (among many other things!). “Visual guides” simply cross what I for one at least think are appropriate lines… to say the very LEAST!

OK, there were also a couple of quandaries about whether I thought modern rock music, and more pointedly, my old band Guns N’ Roses, were partially to blame for some of the problems in our society today. Were some of the issues that I spoke of with my girls (sex talk at school, etc.), partially provoked by GNR? As an artist and part-time historian of music, I have a few things to say on this:

1. I remember being somewhat amused in a Seattle U. philosophy class when I learned that the saying, “What’s the matter with our kids today?” originated from a quote by an ancient Greek philosopher—my point being that the question of society getting worse and worse and our kids responding in a more and more negative way has been going on for a long time. I don’t think our kids act worse than kids of the 1940s or 1840s or 640s. If anything, modern-day parents are probably more on top of things because we can instantly communicate with each other by phone or text-messaging. I get calls from other dads at school to give me a “heads-up” on school dramas or overheard conversations all the time. Also, I think parents are more educated on what signs to look for to spot abuse in other kids. We are educated because of modern-day communication.

2. Music has been the fall guy for sexual deviancy and social outrage for a long time. Music is an expression of feelings. Music can be social commentary. A band like GNR let the world into the life of five 21-year-olds who lived a somewhat wild and unedited existence. Period. Ravel’s orchestral piece, Bolero, from around 1920, got denounced because of the snare drum solo’s cadence. It was criticized for being the same cadence as fornication. We can say now, “So fucking what?” But it was believed then that society was indeed in danger because of this. We all know that the word “jazz” meant “fucking” back in the 1910s and 20s, but we don’t care, because we see how ridiculous it was that there was any outrage at all to jazz music. It’s just music. Turn your FM dial left or right in any U.S. city and you will find a smooth jazz (smooth “fucking”?) station. Personally, I like the sound of that! (I meant the music, you pervert!).

It was also asked if I had in fact filled my daughter’s in on my own past. I assume that this means my World Championship run at drugs and alcohol. The answer is, yes I have. In fact, in about the 3rd grade, my oldest daughter queried me on why I never drank wine with the other adults. I just sort of launched into my story with her. I told her that I am an alcoholic and that if I drank one beer that I probably wouldn’t be able to stop until I went crazy. We have this talk about once or twice a year now and I remind them both that they will have to watch themselves when drinking comes around them in their teen years. They are healthily horrified by my stories and I will keep telling them in more detail as the girls mature.

Well, I am glad that the editors at the illustrious Seattle Weekly were kind enough to let me rant and call it a “column.” I hope that perhaps someone reading this has something else to add. I have just received word that I will be covering our presidential election results for next week’s column. Oh, Sarah, you’ve been a bad girl…it’s time for some detention!

https://web.archive.org/web/20090124034441/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/10/get_in_the_ring.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:46 pm

Obama Kicks Some Ass

Posted Nov. 4 at 11:17 pm by Duff McKagan

Wow, what a relief. We all were ready for this and now it has happened…and in our lifetime. We may have had some doubt along the way, but people, we have succeeded in having our voices heard and our concerns harnessed. McCain conceded by 8:30 PST and if that ain’t a landslide, I don’t know what is.

When I was initially collared to write this particular piece, I knew that my writing speed and style would be extremely challenged by the sheer amount of information that I would then have to assimilate and then make somewhat readable for the Weekly’s readers in just a few hour period. I found a way to overcome some of that in the way of penning a somewhat ‘Dewey-esque’ jumpstart- yes, I pre-wrote most of this piece. I have been an Obama supporter from the moment that I saw him speak from Iowa last January during their caucus. Something is his message and delivery that night actually MOVED me. I was born 3 months after JFK was assassinated, and in my 44 years I had never witnessed a politician that actually inspired…until I plunked down in front of my TV to watch Barack that night. I believe so strongly that the rest of us are ready for a fresh direction and hence voted this way that I will only write this victory summary of today like this; Barack Obama is the new President of the United States!

This last couple months of campaigning has been nothing short of high drama. When Sarah Palin was chosen virtually out of nowhere to be John McCain’s running mate, we all scratched our head and hoped that Hilary’s massive contingent of followers wouldn’t make the knee-jerk jump to that camp. When Sarah immediately got on the soapbox to spew forth her extreme right-wing views (Bible-thumpin’, gun-toting, she-devil that she is), the rest of us teetered between a feeling of fear and the knowledge that Hilary’s backers were not going to go Palin’s way after all. How could they? She is for everything that Hilary Clinton is against. The drama escalated after we saw her absolutely fall flat and freak out on her interview with Katie Couric. We were enthralled by Tina Fey’s supposed parody of that interview on SNL…but it was an almost exact word-for-word re-enactment!

We here in Seattle live in a somewhat liberal bubble (or are we now the norm? Has the bubble popped?). Today at my local polling station, confidence for America’s future abounded with every ‘I Voted’ sticker being passed out. The ‘feel’ of this election is indeed far different from any I have taken part of in the past. The dividing line between Republican and Democrat seems to be an angry and gaping chasm. This time, the awkward friendliness of the election appears more than just cumbersome. This country needed to draw a line in the sand within itself. Like sand, this line will wash away once we see that we are all better off united, with one intended goal. Or, so I hope.

I want to now say congratulations to us all. We have collectively taken part in pushing for something different and outstanding. America can perhaps be glimpsed upon again as a place for forward thinking and democratic ideals. I am not saying this because we elected a young, black President, but because I think we all realized that Obama is the guy who will try the hardest with the freshest ideas. Ideas on how to get us out of all the holy hell that America holds in tenuous balance. The economy, the ‘war’ in Iraq, the Afghanistan hullabaloo, global warming and our utter dependence on oil….just to name a few. He has got his work cut out for him, and we have let him know that we have his back. This is cool. I am not saying that he is the answer to all of our problems, only rather that we made the wisest choice to get us moving in the right direction.

We are at a time in history that the political ‘center’ has perhaps shifted towards the left. We are not Europe, but tipping our hat to them for helping to shine a light on thinking and acting globally is what we are now doing. Government doesn’t have to step in for everything, but health care issues and Wall Street's overindulgence need some sort of tough Big Brother. I think Europe and the rest of the world are breathing a sigh of relief at the simple fact that we didn’t elect an outdated antique and his scary, hapless sidekick. With our political ‘center’ being re-aligned, we will now hopefully be seeing the end of days (pun intended) to our freaky Evangelical right and the Republicans' shameless kowtowing to them and their ilk. I try not to live in fear and/or voice bad thoughts or intentions. Hear me now though; whatever happens, Sarah Palin’s political career should come to an end. She is straight-up dangerous. Enough said about that.

Now, let’s fix some shit!

https://web.archive.org/web/20081208181000/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/11/obama_kicks_some_ass.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:48 pm

Look What Happened On The Way to Obama

Posted Nov. 11, 2008 at 7:52 pm by Duff McKagan

It may be suggested to enter this read under 'RAMBLE' in your file of an already busy and confused Web world. The point, I am afraid, never becomes crystal clear in this piece. I hope only that it provokes some thought.

I said in last week's column that we had made the wisest choice in Obama for our next U.S. president. In saying that, I also meant that we weren’t just voting for social change, we were putting the right man in office, period. I would be remiss not to mention, however, some views that I believe are shared by many on race relations- and the evolution thereof- in our country up to this point.

In 1969, I started kindergarten here in Seattle, and it happened to be the same year that desegregation started in our public school system (also known as ‘busing’). Now, all I knew was that black kids from Madrona Elementary got sent to my school (Bryant), while white kids from Bryant got sent to Madrona. The kids who got to ride the bus were seen as ‘cool’ and grown up and that was the end of our ‘little kid’ conceptions. You see, we were far too young to have any racial stereotype preconceptions. The kids that I matriculated elementary school with stayed pretty much the same through Eckstein Middle to Roosevelt High. We would hear of race ‘wars’ in the upper schools but we younger kids were largely aloof and mystified by them (try being 6 and hearing of something called "White Rabbit” day, a pre-set race rumble at Eckstein! We actually thought it was a running race!).

I think when forced busing started in the upper schools that year; the older kids already had started to form their thoughts (or, more likely, their parents’ thoughts) about racial hatred and the like. On top of all this, one of my older sisters, Carol, had married a black man in the mid-sixties and had their first son (my first nephew) when I was two years old. They had a daughter 2 years after that. Furthermore, my brother-in-law, Dexter (their dad), was the coolest guy around and I wanted to be like him. I knew that I would get angry when someone used the ‘N’ word around me, but I wasn’t sure why. (Years later, when Axl used it in a GNR song, I would however defend his artistic freedom as he used it in a wry and 3rd person context. It was, for me, ironic to say the least). I certainly didn’t understand that a civil rights movement was taking place. I only marched with my mom in the “Martin Luther King Peace March” when he died because I knew that I would get to miss school that day!

Racial borders meant very little to me. It was only in the 6th grade that some real bullshit entered my world. I had a friend named Willie and we were goofing around at our lockers. Some hard-ass school counselor came around the corner and caught us. We were both taken to the office and our parents were called. My mom left work to come to my school and talk to the administration while I was kept in another room by myself. When it was over, I was kicked out of school for 3 days due to, get this, a racially motivated fight! Willie and I were stunned and ashamed. My mother said that people were still stuck in old ways of thinking and that they didn’t have the means to just see two kids ‘messing around’, they could only see a ‘black’ kid and a ‘white’ kid fighting! It was like a veil has suddenly been lifted for me and I could see for the first time, bigotry and ignorance, both black and white.

We kids, however, still had each other, and we all tried our best to block out the grown-up world and their old ways of thinking. There were younger kids now coming up behind us with still younger parents. It seemed that by the time the kids from the mid to late 60’s started to have kids of their own, starting in the early Eighties, bigotry from parents really started to fall off. There were more and more inter-racial parents and therefore there were more and more racially mixed kids popping up. America was truly becoming the melting pot.

There was still an "old guard" if you will. Men and women from our "Greatest Generation" that could not get out from under their old ways of thinking and the stereotypes that they were raised with. It is and was not their fault. Babies are not born with hatred or bias. It is taught. This is not just a white thing, either. The older black generation have and had such mistrust and fear of the white man and their apparatus that they in turn taught this to their young. These generations are now dying off. It is our turn to stem the tide and forget the past. Am I asking to forget that this country of so-called ‘liberty’ was started with slavery intact? No. But we, of this generation have started to simply move on. Is there total equality at the workplace? I certainly doubt it. Again, our generation is doing better than the one before it.

One of my great-nephews (a wonderful mix of intelligence, poise, humor, and race) attends Kent-Meridian High School. It is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse schools in the Northwest. I asked him what it was like and how well kids mixed together there. “Well Uncle Duff, what do you mean?”

“I mean, do kids from different races and ethnicities hang out together?” I said.

“Uh, yeah, we go to the same school and if you come down here looking for different colors and such you will get confused”

“Confused?”

“Yeah, it’s like a rainbow, we all hang out together”

“Well cool” I thought to myself. Just as we were about to hang up, he chimed in with a parting warning.

“Its not like this everywhere” He went on to tell that one of my other great-nephews (who is also ‘mixed’) gets stares and glares at his high-school on Camano Island. I guess our rural hinterland is still catching up. It kind of bummed me out.

Sometimes I feel that friends look at me as an idealist. I sometimes hope for more than is actually ‘practical’ to hope for. Obama came into our collective vision at the right time. Our economy is in shambles, we are fighting TWO wars, oil prices reached all-time highs, and new clean energy sources were not getting looked into. We needed something fresh. I also believe that the days of out-of-touch old guys in politics are coming to an end. I just hope other out-of-touch ideas and biases will also soon come to an end.

https://web.archive.org/web/20090124030740/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/11/look_what_happened_on_the_way.php


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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:49 pm

Why My Wife Still Thinks I'm a Badass

Posted Nov. 19, 2008 at 5:08 pm by Duff McKagan

I am the father of two girls. Our dog Buckley and I are outnumbered at our house, but at least I can say “No!” when my girls try to put pink ribbons in my hair. Buckley, of course, does not have that option. I have entered an age grouping that has had the name ‘crisis’ after it much too often for my liking. There is no way you will see me driving around some new yellow Corvette just to relive my 20somethings. No way, man! I am edgy and ‘street’ and have an image to uphold. So I chose a more macho new hobby to combat escalating estrogen at my home and deflating testosterone, also um, at my home…I’m a Harley rider. I’m a BADASS!

Two summers ago, I acquired a brand-new Harley Davidson Road King. With an 1840 cc engine, it IS the biggest motorcycle that one can buy stock from a manufacturer. Why would I get a bike that is so big? To make up for my long legs of course. (There is another thing big machinery helps to accommodate, but it slips my mind at the moment-maybe it’s time for Ginkgo Biloba).

There was a tiny hurdle between me and my Harley, however. In the State of Washington, a new rider must complete a 16-hour course to get a motorcycle ‘endorsement’ on one’s drivers license. So much for me learning to ride this monster at the U-Dub parking lot and letting the wind direct my next move. So much for me rumbling up to my neighborhood Starbucks and ordering my vanilla latte. All of those babes on the street would get a few week reprieve from going to the chiropractor to fix their necks from craning. No worries, ladies, I’ll be out there soon. I had to sign up for a course first. This isn’t so easy. As we all know, summertime in Seattle bustles with outdoor activity and I found out quickly that motorcycle class is one of them. I would have to wait 4 weeks…

Class is what you might imagine; some teenagers, some adults just trying to get out of a moving violation or two, a lonely, pudgy, middle-aged woman habitually taking this class to meet a potential ‘hook-up’ (I’ll call her Sally), and of course, me. No part of this class screamed ‘REBEL’…but I guess I would just have to pay the Man his due here. I find myself saying things like this now that I have my ‘hog’. It was a hot weekend at the end of July and my class started to thin out fast. Everyone would go to lunch but not everyone would come back. By the second day, our ranks had shrunken to half. By lunchtime that day, they got halved again. I was feeling pretty good about myself as I was taking off my required ‘outside’ long-sleeve shirt for the ‘inside’ sit-down test. “Ooh, some eye candy!” I suddenly heard. It was the aging class taker Sally, and I had become the object of her cheap but obviously warranted affection. You see, I still indeed have ‘it’. I also passed the test.

Goodbye all-of-the-time-perfume-scented-home! I’m gonna hit the open road! Put leather on my back and some aviator shades on my face and I am GONE! That is, once I’ve learned to ride this BIG of a bike! The ones at class were much, much smaller and now I have perhaps realized that a Road King is for a REALLY experienced rider. No matter, I’ll just putt around my neighborhood until I get the hang of this beast. I was practicing turns at the end of my street when my bike just sort of fell over. This ‘outlaw’ had to knock on a neighbor’s door to help him get his bike back upright. I went home with my head down.

On day 2, a couple of friends came over on their bikes to take me on a small cruise. They told me to just follow their ‘line’ and do as they did. Now, I live in the city and there really is no rural-ness around me. The ‘California-izing’ of car driver’s attitudes in Seattle has put some daring into our already over-stressed roadways. I’m fine with all of this in a car, but on a bike? Shit, this is like some video game on ‘expert’ level and the consequences are real! Once we got to Lake City Way, my hands were so cramped from gripping on the clutch and brake that I had to tell my friends that my ride was over for the day (I only live about 5 minutes from Lake City Way. But, I digress!). Of course, when I got home and my wife asked me how my ride went, I embellished tales of life on the ‘road’; she said, “That’s nice, dear” and told me to take out the garbage.

As the rest of the summer passed, I got a lot more comfortable on my Harley. It even got to a point that my wife and I would take late night cruises around the city. We even went to a rock show on the Road King…lookin’ all tough, parking right on the sidewalk right in front of the Hi-Dive, me and my ol’ lady. Actually, if I ever called her ‘my ol’ lady’ in her presence, I would probably not hear the end of it for a long, long time, and that would suck.

I have learned to do what makes her happy and take the path of least resistance, and that is one of the reasons we have stayed together for so long. That, and I am a true stud, naturally. Speaking of things that make her happy, it seems these days that she ALWAYS wants to ride on the back of my bike. It’s CRAZY! She asked me if I could get louder pipes (exhaust) for my bike even. I told her that louder pipes would only make the bike rumble and shake more; she only nodded with exuberant approval…even clapping her hands! She really loves that bike. The only time that I’ve ever seen her visibly depressed was when I had to get some repairs done and the bike was gone for a week. She really, really loves that bike I guess! I never would have thought…

So here I stand…the figure of pure bad-assyness, for the rest of you to admire and fear. I am the MAN of my house and I can do as I please. I can come and go as I want, no matter the hour (one day a week- and as long as get home by 11pm- and bring back a half-gallon of milk). My little girls look at me now with awe-struck admiration. My wife looks at me with a strange new lust that I can’t quite put my finger on, but never the less, it IS lust. I’m a biker mofos, and no Johnny Law can keep me down.

If you happen to see a black Road King with a small pink sidecar for a dog…that definitely is not me. It might look like me and he may be as tall as me…but it DEFINITELY is not me!

Ride Free

Duff

https://web.archive.org/web/20090107115825/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/11/badass.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:51 pm

Duff McKagan: Things I Am Thankful For This Year

Posted Nov. 25, 2008 at 10:30 pm by Duff McKagan

It's that time of the year that we all either love or hate. For me, Thanksgiving has always been a special time of year.

Growing up in a family of eight kids—with humor as its main ingredient—has most certainly been exciting and interesting. In my adult years, however, touring and living in Los Angeles has mostly kept me from coming back home to Seattle for this first part of the holidays. The spirit of my family has thankfully always remained with me (even in my 'dark' period!) and this spirit has kept me sane. This spirit gently nudges me to think of how fortunate I am, and how some others may not be. With that being said, here is a quick list of things of some of the things I am thankful for.

Last Saturday I did my weekly grocery shopping at my usual store. This store happens to have a recycling center that will give cash for your cans and bottles. Every Saturday I would see the usual 8 to 12 homeless guys in line there. These fellas go through the neighborhood recycle bins basically to make their living. No big deal. Last weekend though, I saw a rather big commotion at the end of the parking lot where the recycle center sits. When I started to walk past it I saw why; instead of the usual 8 to 10 homeless guys, there was a long line of residents of the area. This is the first time I have witnessed this in the 15 years that I have lived here. I am thankful that I can still provide for my wife and kids this year.

The mornings at my house can be a little hectic and stressful. Getting two girls ready for school while also trying to get yourself ready for the day can be overwhelming at times. My youngest daughter has always had a kooky aversion to footwear-she just HATES putting on shoes. Me on the other hand, cannot really even function before I have ingested two very strong cups of coffee...Daddy has been known to get grumpy. Sometimes REAL grumpy!

My wife is really sweet in the morning, usually getting up earlier than me just to make the toad venom (this is what we call our morning brew). By the time we walk to school together, everything smooths out and our collective stress levels wane. I am thankful that my youngest daughter HAS two feet on which to hate putting shoes on. I am thankful that my wife understands my addiction to strong coffee. I am thankful that my wife and kids love me unconditionally.

The world has been getting pretty crazy in the last decade. September 11, the war in Iraq, and this latest credit crunch leading to recession. America was given a choice a few weeks back and I believe that we were extremely prudent and wise. I am thankful that we now have a President (elect) that I have faith in to lead us out of these woes. I am thankful that we have a president that is smart. I am glad that we made this choice together.

I am thankful that I have a dog (he shows, every day, that he is thankful that he has me!).

A bunch of years ago, I moved to LA and formed GNR. When this band became successful and my world started to spin out of control, my three best friends from childhood would call and/or come down to visit. These visits had the result of keeping me grounded. My best friend, Andy, took me to the emergency room in '94 when I suffered acute pancreatitus, effectively saving my life. I am thankful that I have always had my three best friends from childhood. Andy, Eddy, and Brian, I know you read this column, and I love you guys.

I am thankful that Mike F reads this column and calls me a 'butt-rocker'. I like inter-action with the world, good or bad.

I am thankful to be alive.

I am thankful that Krist Novoselic wrote about 'What Really Happened at the '92 VMAs, because I don't really remember.

Kim Warnick and Kurt Bloch were and are two of the coolest and most informed musical people one could ever hope to encounter on this planet. They are also both my friends. I am thankful to have grown up in an area and in a city that fosters individual thinking and oddball trains of thought. I am thankful for growing up with Kurt and Kim.

I am thankful that there may be a plan to bring our troops home safely soon from Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am thankful that a new season of 'Flight of the Conchords' is almost here.

I am thankful that I no longer have the shakes from alcohol. I am thankful for Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction. I am thankful that I can afford health insurance for my family. I am thankful that I had a loving mother who shared with me, lessons hard taught to her. I am thankful that I had a mom who loved me (she loved me most out of all 8 kids, of course). I am thankful that I have been able to travel around the world a good 10 times playing rock music. I am thankful that I can remember 3 of those trips (the others, while I have proof by the stamps in my passport, must be filed in the "All the Shit I Don't Remember' file).

I am thankful that the Seattle Weekly lets me write whatever I want and that people actually read it!

I grew up under the watchful eye of seven older siblings, a couple of which are more than old enough to be my parents. As a result, I was an uncle when I was 2 and many of my nephews and nieces have been having kids of their own (For a while now actually. My oldest great-nephew, Dexter, is 16, I think!). When my wife married me 10 years ago, she also married into the fact that she was suddenly a great-aunt! My family is huge and varied and we all really love one another. I am thankful to my brothers and sisters for having children, and for their children doing the same. I am thankful and honored that I got to be your uncle Kyle McKagan...

I know that the basis of this holiday is rooted in a fable about pilgrims and native people. Hey, I read 'Mayflower'. I can be as cynical as the rest. The spirit that I feel around the time of this holiday, however, can never be scrutinized. It has been taught to me by loving people. This spirit will be lived THROUGH me to show that love myself, to others.

Happy Thanksgiving.

https://web.archive.org/web/20090123215046/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/11/things_i_am_thankful_for_this.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:52 pm

Duff McKagan: Alternative To What?

Posted Dec. 3 at 9:13 pm by Duff McKagan

I got an email the other day with a question from a friend who was basically trying to settle a bet. The argument was over what actually defines 'Alternative' music and also what makes up an 'indie' band. While on the one hand, I hoped my answer at least put some clarity to my friend's argument, I also knew that my 'answer' would be un-provable. You see, I was around when the term 'alternative' was first used for radio and I was an early advocate, but much of this period in music is now all but forgotten. Rock history will more than likely remain silent as to the progression of radio's role.

Kurt Bloch should have a star. That is, of course, if modern rock music had a street on which stars were placed for its pioneers. If any of you indie rockers are scratching your head now and saying "Who?" well, shame on you. Back before there was Sub Pop here in Seattle, and back before there was any attention at all being paid to the Northwest as far as music goes, there was a scene and it was truly 'alternative' and 'indie'.

In 1978, Kurt had a radio program at Nathan Hale High School and he simply played and did what he wanted to do. Kurt had started a band with his brother, Al, named the Cheaters. The Cheaters started to write songs and play gigs, mostly at parties and mostly for fun, but they were playing their own UNIQUE music. There were no record labels back then other than the Majors, but Kurt wanted to put a single out. He did what, unbeknown to him, other independent bands then were doing in other parts of America; he started his own label.

Understand that if your music is not 'commercial' enough for a larger record company to see a profit in, you are left to your own devices. These 'devices' became THE spearhead for burgeoning individualistic punk rock scenes throughout North America. Rock radio wouldn't touch it because advertisers didn't see the value in catering to a small smattering of punk rock and other 'alternative' styles. These other alternatives were bands like Motorhead, Iggy, Grandmaster Flash, and even AC/DC for their first record at least (the first American press for AC/DC came thanks to 'PUNK' magazine, in fact).

On the far left of your FM dial, you will find the stations that have been given space according to some FCC rule that provides for non-profit organizations with radio broadcast capabilities. In Seattle, KCMU started to play national and international bands like U2, Psycadelic Furs, the Ramones, Iggy, and Souxie and the Banshees while also propping up local acts such as the Fastbacks (w/Mr. Bloch), Solger, X-15, the Accident, and DOA. You weren't gonna like all of it, but KCMU became a radio station that started to expand the local music scenes' horizons. Punk Rock and New Wave gigs began to attract such a large crowd, in fact, that an AM music station (KJET!!) sprang up. Commercial alternative radio had arrived in Seattle.

Indie music comes from a term first used in the early 80's by smaller stand-alone record stores. One could search through records using the alphabetical tags that popped above the 12" height of the rows of records. More adventuresome listeners could seek the harder-to-find bands in the 'indie' bin. Simply put, these were smaller acts on tiny independent labels. Of course, as the popularity of these bands grew, major labels offered up a more lucrative deals to these acts. The 'indie' bin however, remained the place to find cutting edge music, and eventually became a marketing tool for major record companies later in the 80s until this very day. A band would garner much more 'street cred' if they were deemed to be an indie band. Larger labels soon began to form smaller imprint labels to cater to this record-buying street ethic.

Alternative and Indie music became very, very popular. Like all things that become popular, there are those that exploit them for the cash value. This commercialism, in turn, causes a rush to the bandwagon...and this is what we witnessed sometime around 1998. Where once had been originality with the likes of Pearl Jam and the Beastie Boys, now stood watered-down copycats such as Creed and Limp Biskit. Alternative radio had once been a place to find new music and re-visit killer songs by the Stooges and Joy Division. The term 'alternative' was fast becoming the magnet by which audience-seeking advertisers would be drawn to.

Of course with alternative radio becoming so commercial, programmers will eventually do what their advertisers ask...PLAY IT SAFE and don't alienate any part of our audience. Radio has become so damn vanilla that it's a wonder ANYONE listens anymore. I know that I don't.

"Indie rock" on the other hand, has become a catchall phrase for music that must seemingly remain lo-fi. I get it, and I really like a lot of indie music (are Shiny Toy Guns indie?), but when a band like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs claim that they are 'indie' while being signed to the biggest major corporate conglomerate record label (Interscope/Universal), I just have a hard time swallowing indie cred. It just seems like another selling tool and a good one at that. Hey, there is nothing wrong with making money whilst doing your art. The 'indie' moniker alas, just seems to be another contrived piece of misleading word-smithery and low-resolution imagery. Hey, Urban Outfitter's has got the one-stop indie lifestyle thing down to a T!

So, let's get back to Kurt Bloch. In my opinion, the way this guy leads his life and plays his music should be a touchstone for all of us who get too caught up in trying to label art. This dude has never changed his tune. The Fastbacks will go down as a band that kept its integrity, if nothing else. Kurt is still a guy who gets real, real excited about new music (or any music for that matter, he's a walking encyclopedia!). He works at Gibson guitars because, well, he loves guitars! His new band, Thee Sgt. Major III are killer because they are oh so obviously 'in it' for the pure love of playing live and writing songs.

Kurt never took much stock in labeling anything, that's for sure. He is a one-of-a-kind, the kind of talent that makes you forget all about what should or shouldn't be 'correct' in the music industry today.

That's my two-cents, anyway.

https://web.archive.org/web/20081207165708/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/12/alternative_to_what.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:54 pm

Duff McKagan: MALL is a Four-Letter Word!

Posted Dec. 10, 2008 at 7:56 pm by Duff McKagan

I absolutely HATE to shop. There are not many worse ways to put me in a crappy mood than to actually have to go to a mall and browse. I know I'm not alone in this (right, gentlemen?). However, as many of you know, I live with 3 females (my wife and 2 daughters); the mall has become an entrenched battlefield in my existence. Ah, but the Christmas season is here and I will have to put on my armor and charge the enemy.

Some of my earliest memories are of me shopping with my mom. With all 7 of my older brothers and sisters either in school or out of the house altogether, my mom would have to take me along when she went to get one of us new jeans or tennis shoes. I remember playing under the racks of clothes and getting lost. I remember the day care at the Bon Marche downtown. I remember getting dizzy from all of the different colors and fragrances. I remember getting hot and sweaty. One of my first independent thoughts was: "When I grow up, I will NEVER go shopping!"

When I first met my wife, I would grit my teeth through a cheery smile to shop with her. This is one of the things that new couples do. I was a bit sheepish at first to tell her of my shopping phobia. Somewhere around a year-and-a-half into our relationship, I had to finally tell her that shopping just wasn't my 'bag'. We had just gone into some sale at Nordstrom's and it was a fuckin' maelstrom of mostly females, frantically vying for the same low-priced pashmina or some other such trifle. Suddenly, it all came back, the dizziness, the perfume-induced nausea, the suffocating clothes racks. I told my wife that I had to get out of there.

"Honey, I just think you are over-reacting," she replied. I think she was just bummed out that she'd just lost her shopping pal (me). Well, as chance would have it, the two of us were watching the news a few weeks later and a story came on about people just like me. The story highlighted the fact that a phenomenon was gripping America. It afflicted mostly men and this shopping semi-paralysis was even backed by scientific testing. I was not alone! There were other people who just hate to shop. My wife looked at me and said, "Well, whaddya know?" I had my out at last!

I could not be more blessed to have 2 girls, let's get that straight right away. This is not about me wishing for a boy to even things out a bit at my house. I've taught our dog Buckley how to sit next to me when a Seahawks game is on (although he has oddly been throwing up right in front of the TV as of late. I've considered joining him.). No, being a dad oftentimes means to go beyond oneself. For a parent to two girls, self-sacrifice is key, especially if one has a shopping phobia such as me. I've had to 'reach deep inside' and do some serious soul-searching about my current predicament. Either I start to alienate myself from my family and become the grumbling grouch in the corner, or, I can join in and celebrate in the age-old girl pastime...the mall.

The girls know what I mean when I say "Hey, let's go to the blah." The 'blah' is my nickname for the mall. Every mall, every place you go seems to have the exact same stores: Gap, Foot Locker, Williams-Sonoma, Claire's, Victoria's Secret, etc. It's all 'blah' to me. How in God's name is going to the same damn stores in every town in this country the least bit entertaining? Well, to the rest of my family...it is. If you happen to see me at a mall, please engage me in some sort of intellectual conversation (fart tennis, anyone?). I slowly die at the vine at these places. But my girls are happy, so I suppose this is just part of a husband and father's duty. Fuck! I go less and less these days. (I am getting REAL good at coming up with some sort of 'band business' that urgently needs attention!)

I guess at this point, I've given you all a fairly good look into my life-at least as far as where I stand on shopping. Well, now Christmas is here and I DO try to brave at least a part of a day to go out and get my wife's present. She starts dropping hints sometime around Thanksgiving. It is up to me to try and decipher these hints into something that I can shop for. This year, it was a pair of designer shoes. "No problem," I thought to myself. A simple and quick in- and -out of a Macy's and I am home free. Killer!

This last Saturday I prepared myself for quick trip to get the shoes. My oldest daughter asked to go along to help, and I was glad for the company. When we entered the women's shoe department at Macy's however, I was met by a scene of a sort of heightened panic one might associate with the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. I found out quick that a women's shoe department on a Saturday (and a few weeks shy of the holidays!) is not a place for the faint of heart, and definitely not a place for me. There were shoes and boots scattered EVERYWHERE. The looks on peoples' faces were fierce and SCARY. I had to keep pulling my daughter out of harm's way. These women at this place were seemingly completely out of their collective minds! This was not going to work for me.

Lucky for me, I have a few 'go to' people that are willing to help when a situation like this arises. I called my wife's good friend, Nancy, right then and there. I explained to her the situation and she talked me off the ledge. Nancy is a seasoned shopper who had some great tips for me. She told me to just call the store, tell them what you want, give them your credit card number, and they would hand deliver the item right to my house! I did just that . And what do you know? It worked just like she said. Done.

My days at the mall are now all but done. Well, at least until after Christmas. Right, girls?

https://web.archive.org/web/20090123223451/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/12/duff_mckagan_mall_is_a.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:56 pm

Duff McKagan: We've Got It Good (Food)

Posted Dec. 17, 2008 at 10:40 pm by Duff McKagan

I'll preface this column by saying first off I realize these days we all may have a bit less to spend, but secondly, we must at least try to spend a little dough, in our town, on our local vendors.

I am fortunate enough to be able to travel quite a bit. Of course when I do, I must eat. Some cities (like New York and London) have absolutely wonderful choices for good food. Most other cities may have a few good restaurants, but as a whole, suck. We are blessed in this city to have a veritable plethora of really, really good dining spots. You don't have to be independently wealthy to dine out here either; Seattle is the king of cozy, affordable neighborhood fare. I am now going to highlight a few places that I dig. Hey, I am certainly not a food critic, just a dude with a couple of tips...and a column!

My wife and I went and got our Christmas tree this past weekend at a tree lot on 75th and Northeast 25th (by Eckstein Middle School). On our way back, we stopped off at Top Pot Doughnuts on Northeast 25th. Now my wife is a true connoisseur of all things pastry; she now swears that this is the "hands down best" doughnut place she has EVER been to. Loaded's producer, Martin Feveyear, on the other hand, swears by Mighty O's doughnuts near Greenlake. I have tasted both and am quite sure that you couldn't go wrong with either, so have fun and try both...it's cheap and they both have great coffee!

I do all of my recording in Wallingford, and therefore spend a ton of time in that neighborhood. As a result, I have found a few really nice lunch and dinner spots. Erwin's is a great spot on North 40th (four blocks east of Wallingford Ave.) that serves a mean latte while serving up great soup and the best Chinese chicken salad that I have ever had, all at an affordable price and with a great vibe. Sea-Thai on 45th (just west of Dick's) is a new find for me. Four of us had a dinner of excellent Thai food for about $40...with appetizers. Chutney's Indian Cuisine on 45th (across from the Wallingford QFC) is possibly the best Indian food in town. I think that along this stretch of 45th, either a restaurant has got to be outstanding or it will be gone. The competition is just too good. If you are in the area and want Pho, try Pho on the Ave (on University Ave.), cheap as it gets.

Barbecue has long been a favorite of mine, and I would always look forward to playing gigs in Texas, Kansas City, or anywhere in the South. Seattle could never even remotely be considered a top destination for ribs and beans until now: Slim's Last Chance way down past the Starbucks HQ on First Ave. is some of the best barbecue that I have eaten anywhere (but beware of the sassy older waitresses and be careful when you order the "3 Way" from them!). Ro Ro's barbecue on Stone Way in east Fremont is another excellent choice for the ribs and chicken...and sass. (The "hostess" once told me she had a crush on one of the guys in my band. When I asked which guy, she retorted with "The one who wears his little sister's pants!"...priceless.) Both of these joints are REAL affordable, and I guarantee the quality is second to none. Thank me later. A good side note: The beans at both of these places make great ammunition for fart tennis action. And just when you said, "Duff. You've done enough for us already!"

For those of us who have kids and therefore need a high-mess-without-the-guilt place to eat, may I suggest two: The ever-classic Ivar's fish bar off of Northlake Ave. on South Lake Union is of course great. The seagulls will pick up any unnecessary scraps left on the ground. (My brother Matt worked there in the 80's, and witnessed a car come off the I-5 bridge and crash in front of the place. You sick motherfuckers can go down and perhaps wait for that to happen again.) World Wrapps in U-Village has got everything from smoothies to "Thai Bowls"...and you clean up after yourself (and your kids).

Living in L.A. for so long certainly has had its drawbacks (REALLY bad traffic, smog, assholes, fake motherfuckers, real motherfuckers, entertainment attorneys, and more smog and assholes), but one thing is top-shelf there...Mexican food. Seattle never really got it quite right over the years (although Wenatchee and Yakima most certainly did). Well, this has also changed now that Senor Moose on Leary Way in Ballard has appeared. This place does traditional Mexican like I have never quite had. I have a niece from just outside Mexico City, and she swears that Senor Moose has got it right...real, real good. Get there early, as they don't take reservations and there is always a line.

There is a place in my neck of the woods that my wife Susan swears by and goes to any chance she has. Pair on Northeast 55th St. is (I guess) uniquely European. She can't quite explain where the food is traditional from, other than it's a "sort of Swiss Alps" type of food. She said that their potatoes au gratin are absolutely "sick," and that if I were to write on cozy neighborhood joints, I should include this place and it should be at the top. These past few sentences bear witness as a big ol' "yes, dear" from me. I will tell you that she goes to the Duchess Tavern across the street to have a couple of glasses of wine to wash down the aforementioned potatoes....then we get our "jiggy" on. Was that too much information? Seriously though, my wife lived in France and Italy and knows from where she talks when it comes to food!

OK, so now you maybe have a few more bucks to spend after a relative cut you some weird "guilt check" for Christmas (an old aunt of mine did this one year for me; I didn't see what was wrong with me wearing a tuxedo while she insisted I call my dog "Grandpa" while she took a shower...but I digress?). My all-time favorite "fancy" place to eat in Seattle is Wild Ginger on Second Ave. downtown. Order the scallops and you will see what I mean when I say that this place flat-out kicks some serious gastronomic ass. I think it is kind of a "pick-up joint" on weekends, but who gives a crap...it's killer.

So that's it from me. I hope some of you get a chance to at least try one of these places. If it sucks, they must have changed owners, or the cook is smokin' weed.

https://web.archive.org/web/20090207211123/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/12/weve_got_it_good_food.php
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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:57 pm

Duff McKagan: Merry Christmas

Posted Dec. 23, 2008 at 9:53 pm by Duff McKagan

Life just seems to get too damn busy sometimes. I try to take a deep breath in the morning and not take myself too seriously. I try not to get too caught up in all of the crap that just doesn't matter. My work is very important to me, but at what cost? We all deal with things we'd rather not at our workplace. Sure, we try to shake it all off our boot-soles before we come home, but do we succeed? My family is most important, but do I give them enough of my time? Enough of my patience? This is the time of year that I like to slow it all down and take stock of my year and my life. This is also the time of year that I get real thankful for the health and well-being of my kids. When I hear a story like the one I am about to share, I just want to kick myself for "sweating the small stuff" . . . life is indeed a treasured thing.

In Seattle, I live a mere stone's throw from Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House (across the street from Children's). Ronald McDonald House is a place for families to stay while their sick children are getting treatment. Most of these families have come from outside the area, as Children's is arguably the top pediatric hospital in the West. Most of these families have also given up everything in trade for the healthcare of their child. It is also often the last stop. RMH provides a roof and other measures of support, but make no mistake, it is not a place with frills. I have met a few of these parents over the years only because I live in the area. (Last summer I met a single dad from Yakima who was completely heartbroken and alone while his 9-year-old daughter was getting treated for cancer. I don't know what has happened with them, but I think about them often.) Living so close to RMH reminds you of things you don't want to think about, ever.

One of my sisters has worked at Sam's Club for the past 24 years. She is one of those people who intuitively uses great economy when speaking about others' lives; when she finally does have something to tell, it is always of substance. Two weeks ago, she told me of a newer employee at the Seattle Sam's Club whose name is Roger Linn. Roger and his wife have five kids and have moved here from Montana. Their oldest daughter, Ashley, has leukemia and is being treated with aggressive chemotherapy at Children's Hospital. The Linns reside at Ronald McDonald House so that they can all be here while Ashley gets treatment. This is their second stint in Seattle.

Back in 2004, Ashley was experiencing a lot of pain, but her parents were told by a doctor that she was only being "rebellious" and that the pain was in fact all in her head. After seeing a few more doctors, she was found to have leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells) and underwent five blood transfusions. Things got bad fast. On Christmas Eve 2004, the Linns flew to Seattle to get emergency treatment for Ashley at Children's, and set up their first residency at RMH. Roger kept his job and their house in Montana, making as many trips as he could out here. Word got out in Montana that the Linn household was often vacant and the house was robbed (everything being stolen). Ashley, meanwhile, suffered full paralysis.

Ashley now had to deal not only with chemotherapy for leukemia, but also physical therapy for paralysis. Ashley's illness, however, went into remission and the paralysis ebbed. While she still suffered tremors in the right side of her body, leukemia was out of the picture, and the family moved back to Montana. (Ashley taught herself to write with her left hand).

I wish this was the end of the story, but sadly it isn't. Ashley's fight with leukemia is back, and the Linns are back. Roger decided that this time he wanted the whole family together. He has been a longtime Sam's Club employee in Montana, and there was an opening at the store here. Roger's paychecks go to pay the mortgage back in Montana and little else. The Linns are very grateful for RMH. I just can't imagine the stress that must fill that place, living among other families with dire concerns, many of whom have given up everything in pursuit of health for their broken child. On top of all this, Ashley is now experiencing tremors in her left side too.

When my sister told me this story, I instantly thought of writing about it for Christmas, and leaving an address to which we could all send a little money for the Linns. When I told Roger about my idea, he plainly stated "There are a lot more people that have it worse off than us." While he was more than happy to talk to me about Ashley (and the rest of his kids!), he directed me to the side of this story where hope sits, not despair. His steady voice depicts a man whose family has cleared the clutter out of their lives and are now focused on the important stuff. . . each other.

It is now Christmas Eve, and people are scurrying to get home or buy that last-minute present. Other people will be going out to get shit-faced at some bar. This is life and we are all in it. I too will be rushing around and focusing on what "I"(ve) got to get done for "Me"—although this year I will take a second to pray and meditate for the Linns. Maybe writing this article will inspire me to finally take the plunge and donate some of my time to Ronald McDonald House. This article does not really have a point or tidy conclusion, but hopefully it will inspire some of us to gather up an extra coat and some blankets for a homeless shelter or buy a turkey for a mission. Maybe we could just take a second to think about others that may have it worse off than us. Be safe tonight and Merry Christmas.

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Post by Blackstar Wed May 19, 2021 3:59 pm

Random Thoughts (and Experiences) of 2008

Posted Dec. 30, 2008 at 7:59 pm by Duff McKagan

by Duff McKagan

I really don't have a "tidy conclusion of 2008" column anywhere in me. Really, I think I ceaselessly strive for my life to have soft edges as opposed to sharp corners, but it just never works out that way. Instead of actually writing some sort of year-end wrap up, I thought of maybe just blurting out some random things that this year has perhaps influenced in my thought processes.

—Don't smoke crack: This stuff, while maybe getting you off for a few moments, really wreaks havoc on those around you. Enough said on that.

—Write a weekly column: Especially one where you may get instant feedback from readers. This experience for me has been nothing short of spectacular. Firstly, coming up with a weekly topic that others may find interesting is tougher than it may seem, but has kept me on my toes—stimulating, I should say. Secondly, reading feedback to a point (or NON-point!) you are trying to get across really lets me into the mind of others... I especially like the hecklers. The Internet is a place where most of us can remain faceless and shameless!

—Call instead of text someone (better yet, meet for a fucking coffee! OMG): This past year has been "the year of the text" for me. I must agree that texting someone is generally OK, but only if you also TALK to this person (LMAO). I have seen people whom I have known for a long time become socially retarded as a direct result of relying on text-messaging to do all of their bidding. I do believe (IMO) that our younger generation may be headed toward some serious social difficulties as a consequence of this technological advancement. :-) Some of my friends have increasingly gotten better at communicating via text or e-mail, while their people skills have decreased at the same rate.

—Did you guys know there was a members-only sex club in Seattle? Loaded went down to check out a rehearsal place last weekend. The practice place was kind of tucked away in a cozy spot somewhere between, let's say, the Fisherman's Terminal and Safeco. While we were inside talking to the owners, they let us know that there was a "sex club" next door and to not be freaked out by all the cross-dressing semi-truck drivers coming in or out of that place. Sounds like I found the perfect place for me and the Loaded fellas to celebrate New Year's!!

—Go climb a mountain: Well, that is my goal for this next year, anyway. I was offered a spot to climb Rainier for this coming July and I just may finally do it! That fuckin' thing has been looking at me since I can remember.

—Require politicians to read world history before they commit us to war and such: If old George W. had simply read a few history books about tribal warfare in the Middle East, he may have thought twice before stating that "The Iraqi people are perfectly able to govern themselves." Tribal warfare has been going on in that region since before the time of Jesus, and Saddam was just one of a long line of despots who have ruled with an iron fist in that part of the world. I do agree that Saddam and his sons were wicked bastards and should have gotten everything that was coming their way, I just wish a wider berth had been given to the IDEA of a mixed-religion Iraqi senate with real power back before we decided to invade. There was lip-service paid to the defeated Iraqi army that they would have work—that never happened either, and those legions got pissed waiting around, etc. . .

—Give Peace a Chance: Is anybody with me?!

—Don't hear about Paris Hilton and the rest of the Hollywood brat-pack at all this next year: Again, is anybody with me?

—Seattle sports teams on the rise! Well, there is actually nowhere our teams can go BUT up after this past dismal season of darkness. Think of it like this: Get the Seahawks back in the playoffs (totally doable in our crappy division). Get the Mariners in wild-card position (or get us fans to believe that they could get there in yet another year). Get the Huskies to beat ANYBODY! If we achieve any of these things, we will be BACK!

—Seattle is voted Most Literate City in America: This poses a most obvious question: What in the hell is a guy like me doing with a column in the SEATTLE Weekly if this is indeed true?!

—Go see the Gutter Twins: I was afforded this opportunity last September in Spain and it was an almost religious experience. It is not very often these days for me to be completely awed by a band or artist, so I am completely pleased when it finally does happen. The Gutter Twins are not something you can quite put your finger on musically, they are just equal parts "kick-ass" all the way around!

—Guilty(ish) Pleasure of '08: Shiny Toy Guns and their single "Ricochet."

—We elected a President with pecs: When is the last time women have been all aflutter over a politician? I came downstairs the other morning and my mother-in-law was freaking out over a news piece they had just run on Obama on the beach in Hawaii. I saw the piece a little later that same day. I think gym memberships probably saw a spike that day. This will serve as a notice to all you malcontent nations out there—our Prez can beat up yours!

—Don't parody Barack: He CAN kick your ass!

—Flight of the Conchords new season: I was never a TV watcher until TiVo and never generally gave much weight to wasting my time watching crappy swill (just think of all the Melrose Place, Friends, and Dynasty episodes I missed!). Nowadays, however, TiVo has got me hooked on all kinds of good TV: The Office, 30 Rock, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dexter, and yes, a new season of Flight of the Conchords starting in a couple of weeks! Also, try out Spectacle with Elvis Costello on IFC.

—GO AWAY! That is, travel someplace for once in your life. Flights have never been cheaper and the dollar is still quite strong in South and Central America. Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro are two places I highly recommend. Hey, who could go wrong with two places in which the Ramones were bigger than Bon Jovi.

—Learn to put up a windmill: If you got the skills to build these new power providers, the "New Deal"-like programs of the Obama administration could keep you working for about the next 20 or 30 years. If that fails, try to get one of those bonuses they're passing around at those financial institutions that we all just bailed out.

—Look forward to the future! OK, so we all have borne witness to a pretty awful eight years of Bush policies. We have also all seen this credit crisis throw us into a recession that is shaping up to resemble the one we had back in the early '80's. (Seattle is in MUCH better shape now than it was then. Downtown looked like a ghost town.) It will probably get worse before it gets better, but it WILL get better. I am confident that President-elect Obama is "the smartest guy in the room" and will apply lessons from history. We have got the best guy for the job. Now, if he could do something to get an NBA team back here in Seattle.

Happy New Year!

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