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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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2012.MM.DD - ESPN - Playbook Sounds (Duff's sports column)

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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 10:56 am

Bored with all these unnecessary bowls

January 4, 2012

So, in the long run -- and to be honest about it -- I was glad that my Washington Huskies football team made a bowl game. If you are an old-schooler like myself, well, then you will remember the time in the not-too-distant past, that an unranked 7-5-ish team would in no way make a bowl appearance. That would have been crazy a few years ago.

But geez. We all are aware of the money that even the smallest collegiate football postseason appearance will bring in. Hence, we have what we have now. Bad teams, and sometimes even awful teams (with sub-.500 records, to boot?!), are playing games well after the time that those student-athletes' regular season ended.

It's almost like nowadays the modern Little League tenet of "everybody gets a trophy," has somehow spilled upwards to the collegiate field. Well, at least where collegiate football is concerned. Whose parents' turn is it to bring snacks after the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl?

The pairings of some of these matchups are awful too. As in a "who-the-hell-cares-that-UCLA-is-playing-whoever-the-hell-they-played" kind of way. Two teams that were so bad that their coaches got fired, and the bowl game featured two interim coaches. Eesh!

But the pairing of Baylor vs. Washington did have an interesting sort of sub-story. Great offenses. Horrible … no … abysmal defenses over the season. Baylor, of course, deserved to be in a bowl game at 9-3. Against the Huskies, though? I dunno. I betcha Baylor fans felt a bit "passed over."

I am a lifelong Husky football fan. From the days of Sonny Sixkiller until now; I have hung in there through all of the bad, good, bad, good and then bad again. That is what we do, right football fans? Well, of course!

But I must tell the truth here. It is the holiday season, and all of us to some degree or another, might just have an out-of-town friend or two visiting, or we might be the ones doing the visiting with other hosts. In my case, to explain how low my expectations for the Huskies were, I had made a dinner reservation for my family and a friend's family from out of town to go to dinner at 6 p.m. PT on Dec. 29. Er, the exact time that the Baylor-Washington Alamo Bowl game was getting underway …

The heck with it, I thought. I can't cancel dinner now. I mean, let's be honest; the Huskies would get demolished, right? We'd be playing No. 15 Baylor, with their dominant Heisman Trophy-snagging quarterback, Robert Griffin III. Besides, the restaurant we were going to has a bar in another part of it that would be airing the game. I could just act like I had to go to the bathroom a few more times than usual, and check on the score (my wife, Susan, was not fooled in the slightest).

If any of you know about this game, in fact, no defense was played but the Husky offense actually showed up in a BIG way in that first half. As I rushed the dinner along so I could get home for the second half, my Huskies were up 35-24 at the end of the second quarter. What the …? Could this be the game that gets our team pumped for next year? We'd certainly grab national headlines, right? Heck. Maybe we'd even get some kick-ass recruits because of our impending domination of that Heisman dude's team. Right? Right?

I guess I forgot about our sieve-like defense …

I got home, and settled myself in for a "great" second half of Husky football. As we went up 42-24, though, there was just something in the air that never let me get cocky with the notion that Washington might win. It was the worst defensive game I have ever seen. (And that dates back to the 89'ers league I played in -- 8- and 9-year-olds). It wasn't fun football to watch. You just knew that each offense would score in literally one or two plays, and then they'd switch sides and do the same.

When the Huskies lost 67-56, I knew instantly, that a defensive coaching change was imminent before defensive coordinator Nick Holt was fired Saturday. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has a Husky Nation believing again, and he knows he cannot just lay dormant with a subpar or under-achieving staff and still get the support he needs to take this program to the next level.

Washington sophomore quarterback Keith Price is the best we have seen here for years (sorry, Jake Locker). Our O-line and receiving corps are afraid of no one. And before his announcement Monday that he'd enter the NFL draft, I was still hopeful standout running back Chris Polk might stay for another year.

But now, we have to get that "it" defensive coordinator, that can turn things around in a hurry and get those kids to believe in themselves again.

I am sure that this extra game was great for a team like the Huskies. A sort of year-end "shake-out." But these non-consequential bowl games do nothing for the rest of us, if you ask me. There is no allure. There is no playoff next step. I guess they are good for recruiting, and good for those boosters and fans who want to go somewhere for a vacation around the holidays.

Other than that? Bah humbug. Most of these bowl games are a pure bore.

*

McKagan's Playlist

The Life asked columnist Duff McKagan to give us some music recommendations. Here's what he had to say:

Sure, we all know Nazareth as the band who did "Love Hurts," but have you ever delved a little deeper into Nazareth's catalog of kick-butt songs? Let me help y'all out. Thank me later.

"Miss Misery" from "Hair Of The Dog" (iTunes | Amazon) -- Old school slide guitar and razor-blade vocals. Not many did it much better.

"Beggars Day" from "Hair Of The Dog" -- Crank this. Just crank it!

"Whisky Drinkin' Woman" from "Hair Of The Dog" -- This may be a version of an older blues song, but it almost sounds like some lost ZZ Top track.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120114061619/http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7420779


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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 10:59 am

Now for something completely different

January 11, 2012

For a writer like myself, there doesn't seem a way to add much to the written drag and hum that has come as a result of this past weekend of excellent playoff football in the NFL. It was epic. It was surprising. It was just good (unless you are a Lions, Falcons, Steelers or Bengals fan).

I received an email, here at ESPN, from a fellow I had a chat with whilst I was in Brazil last November. This guy (Pete, below), is a lion of a man -- a badass who has traveled the world and been very successful in myriad industries. Pete is a sports fan. Pete is a British expat living in Brazil. Pete is a father. To put it bluntly, Pete is smarter than me -- and we ended up talking about books that we had currently read.

Since a lot of you reading now also fit the profile of Pete (the "being smarter than me" part), I thought it might be a good time to perhaps pass around a few good ideas about the books that we read. I will start by simply answering Pete's email. As follows …

(As a side note: When I suggest a book, I will simply inform about the subject matter. Take it as a given, from where I sit, that these books are well-written and truly engaging to read).

Hi, Duff. Had a pleasant conversation with you over breakfast coffee outside the hotel in Curitiba last week. (I was Pepper's guitar tech on the Down tour … Brit, Brazilian wife.) You promised to send me some interesting book titles, so whenever you get some time off I'd love to read what you recommend. My hot tips are (1) "One River: Science, Adventure and Hallucinogenics in the Amazon Basin" by Wade Davis. (2) "In Patagonia" by Bruce Chatwin. (If you like Chatwin's style, then his best book is called "On the Black Hill.") You were right and wrong about Phil Anselmo and the sports bar in the Buenos Aires airport; no TV pictures, so Phil was listening on his iPhone giving a running commentary for the whole bar, most of whom, being either Argentine travelers or Brit road crew, hadn't the faintest idea what he was talking about. Luckily the Saints won. We live in Maceio, Northeast Brasil. Anytime you're passing drop us a line.
Pete Beresford
Maceio, Alagoas, Brasil


"Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy: Those of you who already might read me over at the Seattle Weekly know by now that I am a big fan of the prose and rhythm of Mr. McCarthy. "Blood Meridian" takes the reader through a relentless and bloody campaign of revenge between a Mexican army-U.S. cavalry mashup of figures, and the Comanche band they are after. This is a book for men!

"The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien: Maybe the most poignant book written about the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. O'Brien was a 19-year-old kid when he went to Vietnam as an Army enlistee -- with a huge talent for writing and observation -- all the while being scared to death for his own life. This is a "must-read" for anyone with an interest in reading about war.

"Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose: Ambrose is probably most famous for his book "Band of Brothers," which in turn was turned into the epic HBO miniseries. But Ambrose was a prolific historic writer, and his interests and expertise were wide. "Undaunted Courage" unravels the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition of the uncharted parts of the U.S-owned parts of North America circa 1805. Ambrose is perhaps the best American history writer to come along thus far.

"The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair: A lot of you probably already read this in your senior year of high school. I didn't have a senior year in high school and thus didn't read Sinclair until just a couple of years ago. A genius. "The Jungle" is one of the darkest accounts of industrial early 20th-century Chicago that we have. It'll make you think twice before you eat that next ballpark hot dog!

"Lamb" by Christopher Moore: If you like Jesus and adventure and Kung Fu and hookers, please read "Lamb." If you have no sense of humor, and follow religion blindly, this book may or may not be for you. As a student of theology myself, at a fine Jesuit university in Seattle, I found "Lamb" to be brilliant, well-informed and genius. And, funny as hell.

"The Devil All of the Time" by Donald Ray Pollack: If you are from somewhere around Knockemstiff, Ohio, you may find this book too close to home. But for a good ol' peek inside the underbelly of America, try anything by Pollack.

"Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand: The best nonfiction book of the past few years. If you haven't read it yet, just go do it now. A very fascinating story of an Olympic runner who found himself shot down in the Pacific and as a result, an eventual prisoner of the Japanese. An epic adventure.

*

AIC&FFFCL; Auction Launches

Auction items You can get an autographed Duff McKagan Fender bass if you have the winning bid in the Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League's postseason auction.

Click here for more information and place your bids on other cool items, such as guitars, drums and a gold record, before the auction closes Jan. 23. Net proceeds go to the Boys And Girls Clubs of America.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120114084617/http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7443275
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:04 am

Eli Manning: The silent, confident winner

January 18, 2012

For how goofy and uncomfortable Eli Manning looks to be on the field, that dude has got to win the award for Most Quietly Confident for this entire season.

If Manning were a singer in a rock-'n'-roll band, he'd be the type that would be doing just strictly studio work. There would be no way that an always-image-conscious audience would back a singer as ungainly on stage as Manning telegraphs to us all from the field.

But he doesn't care. That is what I really like about this guy.

He is what punk rock was to mainstream rock in the '70s. What "grunge" was to hair-metal in the '90s. What old-school country is to modern country music. A punch in the gut.

No makeup and no offstage gimmickry. No B.S. and no frills. Just results and elation.

Eli. The "other" Manning. The one without so dang many commercials and way less national coverage. I sense that not having all of that big-time attention, in the end, is just fine and dandy with him.

*

You're welcome, New York

If you're a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan (as I am), then you too grimaced at the loss of our exceptionally talented young right-handed pitcher, Michael Pineda, in a trade to the New York Yankees. If you are like me too, all thought of logic went out the window as we watched another good one get away.

But after the dust has settled, and our emotions have calmed, this may have been one of the smarter moves this whole offseason. This is a move in which seemingly both teams simply got better. Of course, we Mariners fans only want our team to get better.

I haven't seen or heard much being made of this trade, and wonder aloud, if the fans of the Yankees really know just how good Pineda is? You'd never know from his win-loss record (due to the M's anemic run support), but Yankees fans ... you guys just completely scored. The M's gaunt offense just could not produce much of anything for either Pineda or King Felix.

Pineda is going to win a ton of games this year. Quote me on that.

Now: Who is this 22 year-old catcher Jesus Montero? This player we traded Pineda for. Does he have the offensive upside that the Mariners so direly need? Is Montero really the second-coming of Edgar Martinez?

Yes, yes. That is what they're saying, and that is what we are all waiting for. We've even named a street after old Edgar up here, you know.

The Mariners had to do something this offseason. This does seem drastic and not thoughtout completely, but what the hell do I know about a guy (Montero) that has only played in 61 MLB games? There is a collective expectation and fingers-crossed in the Northwest.

Tell me something good, Yankees fans. Tell me something good.

*

ROAST: I've been asked to take part in a Revolver Magazine roast of the virtuoso Black Label and Ozzy Osbourne guitarist (and heavily bearded) Zakk Wylde on Thursday night. The thing is, I need some help. I don't have a lot "on" old Zakk. Surely some of you have a story or two that I can use on Thursday? If you do, please reply with said story. Don't be shy.

*

MUSIC: The Parlor Mob are a great young rock band that hails from New Jersey. Seeing as Zakk Wylde also calls Jersey home, I thought I'd tie the two in, and turn you on, to what I know about The Parlor Mob.

In 2008, it released a record called "And You Were A Crow." This record became my soundtrack of that summer, and I got to see the band live while on tour in UK the following year. These guys could very well be the saviors of rock!

Here are a few of my favorites:

"Hard Times": Lo-fi rock 'n' roll. The way it should be done. Great riffs. Great players.

"Everything You Are Breathing For": Led Zeppelin-esque backbeat, and Plant-like vocal range. The riffs, again, are monstrous.

"Take What's Mine": The Parlor Mob just released a new record, "Dogs," a few weeks ago. I love it when a good new band shows signs of just plain getting better. It is a rare thing. Bands these days seem to break up if they don't have that "hit" on their rookie record. The Parlor Mob, hopefully, is here to stay for a while.

https://web.archive.org/web/20121107063941/http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7473523
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:06 am

Can Colts sustain two rock-star QBs?

January 24, 2012

I know we are all in the midst of thinking about the Super Bowl. But it can be assumed that most of us who aren't from Boston or New York are already thinking about what their team is going to do next season.

And more to that point, what is going to transpire in Indianapolis with Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning?

It is most likely, of course, that Luck, the Stanford quarterback phenom, is headed to the Indianapolis Colts, who have the first pick in this year's NFL draft. Nobody knows how Manning is going to heal and etcetera, but in the hopes that he is all good for next year, what is going to give here? And how will things play out between these two?

Being a starting quarterback has got to be a lot like being a lead singer for a successful rock band. You are the center of attention and sometimes even the shot-caller and smartest guy in the band (or on the team).

But what if you have two successful singers in one rock band? That rarely works. So you think of the next fiery combo; the singer/guitarist that are both vying for the spot of "top dog." The Rolling Stones quickly come to mind. Mick and Keith, anyone?

Luck could start for most NFL teams next season -- you may even assume that he would expect to start. He is a top-shelf competitor, and should be thinking in this manner. But if Manning has a modicum of a chance at regaining his health, of course he will expect to start, as he should.

But where are the egos going to land?

I've been privy to a few situations in rock and roll, where the ego war between two guys can be hell in the "locker room." But the tension can create enough friction that the end result is a better and more vicious live band. I'm not just talking about bands that I've been in. It seems to be a chemistry that has been around since Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards. It can be combustible and break up a band, or magical as the band learns to harness and deal.

One of my brothers is a huge fan of Manning and the Colts. (Yes, we are from Seattle. And no, I don't know what the deal is with this brother of mine.) We watched the NFC and AFC championship games together last weekend, and began a conversation about this potential Manning/Luck situation.

Most people, like my brother, may think that Andrew Luck will have no problem sitting with a clipboard and learning from the master next season. I'd be inclined to agree. But I have also seen another side to this, and that side could perhaps cause drama in the locker room. It shouldn't, but it could.

The argument could be that Aaron Rodgers did very well under the tutelage of Brett Favre. Yes he did, but Rodgers wasn't Luck in college. Rodgers needed the extra time perhaps, and Luck doesn't seem to at all. And to add more intrigue to the mix, Indy will be introducing a new head coach into this potential drama.

These are two Type-A, center-stage guys vying for the same job. But Manning has proven himself to be a leader of men. We hope to see him healthy and taking charge again. We also hope to see emerging NFL greatness in Luck. These are all stories that add to the intrigue and drama of this game.

When you go see a Stones concert, you go firstly for the music, but there is also the pull of the drama and back story of Mick and Keef feuding and jockeying. It has made them better, and they have learned to deal. The "harnessing of the rub" can make for greatness.

*

McKagan's Playlist

The Life asked columnist Duff McKagan to give us some music recommendations. Here's what he had to say:

While we're on the subject of the Rolling Stones, here are a few favorites:

"Hand of Fate" from "Black and Blue:" (iTunes | Amazon) When trying to write about the Stones, the words seem to fail the subject. That's what great about really good music. I'll just shut up and listen.

"Happy" from "Exile On Main Street:" (iTunes | Amazon) A Keith Richards classic.

"Short and Curlies" from "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll:" (iTunes | Amazon) We've all been there...

https://web.archive.org/web/20121107063834/http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7499691
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:09 am

The money struggle for athletes

February 1, 2012

This free-agent season in MLB has once again raised the bar for just how very sky-high the dollar amount some players will be making. Outer space high, actually. With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder both getting new contracts of something way north of $200 million, we can all muse and even grumble at the fact that these guys will never know for want ever again.

Probably true with these two.

I have been thinking about the contracts pro athletes get, and our perception of how they must live for the large part.

Allen Iverson reportedly made $154 million in the NBA and was sued by a jeweler for $375,000 he still hasn't paid. Terrell Owens told GQ that nearly all of the $80 million he made in his career is gone.

Even superstar agent Leigh Steinberg filed for bankruptcy.

We all too often hear of athletes (or musicians for that matter) going broke. How the hell does that happen?

I have ended up on the other side of the money equation myself, and hence may be able to shed a little light on the hard realities of what a lot of dough all at once really means.

Now, to be sure, we all dream that one day a whole windfall of cash just comes cascading in. Like winning a lottery. Like finding a whole suitcase bulging with dollars. Or, getting a pro athlete-size signing bonus and contract.

But here are some factors that are not often discussed:

• A lion's share of athletes don't come from upper-crust families where money in large doses is status quo. Heck, a lion's share of everyone doesn't come from that background.

• Investment, risk, reward and money retention are thus foreign terms.

• Taxman takes half.

• Agent takes 10 percent or 15 percent.

• Lawyer takes 5 percent.

So at this point, instead of $10 million, the athlete may be looking at something more like $2.5 million. Still not a bad payday, eh?

But put yourself in that situation. You've got some of your boys you wanna take care of, right? Maybe put some of your buddies on a payroll? And you gotta take care of your family, and especially your mom, right? OK, So buy her a house.

And what about a car and house for yourself? You might as well get that Mercedes AMG for $200K. The house on the water on the good side of town will work ... and you need a condo in the city that you are playing in, too.

All of a sudden, that $10 million is gone, and you are signing playing cards at a convention just to pay down that car that is now six years old, dented and worth about 30 grand. And now maybe the real estate market has taken a nose dive.

But everyone expects you to be rich and flush with cash, and so, to stave off embarrassment for a while, you still try to look like you are living like a king. Until you are in debt and filing a Chapter 11 for relief.

Those be the grim and cold hard non-pleasantries. Those things we don't think of when we blankly daydream of a bag of signing day cash.

*

McKagan's Playlist


The Life asked columnist Duff McKagan to give us some music recommendations. Here's what he had to say:

A few tunes inspired by this week's topic:

Aerosmith, "Make It" from "Aerosmith:" (iTunes | Amazon) These guys have admittedly made and blown a few fortunes in their time. "Make It" was written when those dudes were young and full of aspirations. Cute. Song kicks butt though...

The Beatles, "Taxman" from "Revolver:" (iTunes | Amazon) Self explanatory.

Black Flag, "Beat My Head Against The Wall" from "My War:" (iTunes | Amazon) On of the most epic punk explorations of angst and the human condition in a sucking drain.

https://web.archive.org/web/20121011062052/http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7527821
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:12 am

Seattle shouldn't steal the Kings

February 8, 2012

If you live up here in the Northwest and are a sports fan, there is no doubt then that you probably became very aware of the news that The Seattle Times broke on Saturday -- that secret talks have been under way since last spring for a new downtown NBA/NHL arena.

Yes, Seattle, it looks like we might be closer to getting our Sonics back than we had previously thought. At least, this is what the talk and Monday sports-radio chatter suggested -- that we are suddenly ecstatic at the thought of having the NBA back to its rightful place … up here.

But later in The Times piece, there seems to be a hint that the Sacramento Kings are being watched closely -- the organization might not survive financially -- and thus be a natural contender for a move.

Oh. Now that changes things a bit.

Look, Seattle was treated extremely poorly in that brutal Clay Bennett takeover and eventual straight-up hijack of our beloved NBA franchise. The Sonics are Seattle. The team is now dressed up as something called the "Thunder." There is no hiding that Seattle got completely blindsided.

I could never in good conscience or with a modicum of smarts blame the average OKC resident and fan of basketball. They have showed they are good fans of the game -- and I bet some even have a little regret about how they came about their NBA franchise.

Last spring -- when Anaheim was making a sort of play to get the Kings -- I wrote about how I thought this was a raw deal for fans up there in the Central California Valley, and that Sacramento supporters should fight hard to somehow keep their team. I also believe that fans should be given a say in what happens to their teams. We do, after all, finance the whole dang deal -- don't we?!

Ah, but now, we here in Seattle have a real chance at getting a team to come play here as soon as the beginning of next season. It seems that all thoughts of justice toward other cities, and their cherished fandom, could now be thrown to the curb. Yes, in the interest of me getting what I want, I could very easily just have a short and limited memory of that column from last spring.

But I can't.

I don't want Seattle to "Bennett" Sacramento. I don't want it. I could venture to guess that the average NBA fan up here -- while still smarting from our recent burn -- doesn't want another NBA city to feel the despair we just went through. It sucks. And we are the thoughtful sort up here, after all.

But we are excited about this new arena. We get excited with any sort of talk about our beloved Sonics. It is a way of life up here -- and whatever team we eventually get up here will be honored in the best of ways.

Hell, Los Angeles has two teams. We would gladly take the Clippers up here. (Plus, Blake Griffin loves the rock music -- a known fact, BTW!)

Now that is an idea.

*

McKagan's Playlist

The Life asked columnist Duff McKagan to give us some music recommendations. Here's what he had to say:

L.A. punk rock heroes Adolescents were one of the very best of what they did some 30 years ago. A few of their song titles from their debut album, "Adolescents," may be apropos for this topic:

"Losing Battle": This is not meant as a slag to Sac-Town. No, it is just how we fans sometimes feel as a whole when we want our voices heard.

"Welcome To Reality": More of the same.

"No Friends": How I may end up after writing a column like this!

https://web.archive.org/web/20120507221635/http://espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7630413
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:20 am

When everyone suddenly loves you

February 15, 2012

Since I am not your usual type of writer here at ESPN (read: not a sportswriter by anyone's wildest imagination), it has been my mission to try to equate a sports story here or there to something perhaps that I have experienced. McKagan has seen some @$#*. McKagan is a sports fan like all of y'all. McKagan got himself a column. Period.

I am from a city (Seattle) that has lost its NBA team. Since that loss occurred -- the NBA itself and as a whole -- has been sort of "dead" to me. Oh, I sort of still follow in the most shadowy of terms (Blake Griffin has inspired a certain modicum of fandom); but for the most part, Seattle basketball fans are like the proverbial "man without a country."

But this past week it seems, something now dubbed "Linsanity" has swept us all up into a lather. Yes. Jeremy Lin, that normal guy who could in many ways be you or me (well, if you or I could go to Harvard and play excellent basketball and still be an unnoticed hoops asset on par for the next level), has absolutely and out of nowhere just been crushing it in the past six games for his New York Knicks. He did it again Tuesday night, scoring 27 points and hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.5 left at Toronto. It is fun to watch. It is exciting, and it piques our collective imagination of the underdog. Davey has been stomping on mean ol' Goliath as of late. It has become a daydream story of what "could be" in our own lives.

So now, to a side of this story that I can sort of relate to from something that I had experienced once upon a time, when shockingly, my rock band GN'R suddenly and overnight went from thought-of street urchins whom no one gave a real chance of surviving to Cinderella-like success. From your own perspective inside the goldfish bowl, you don't sense a change in yourself. But from the outside -- that is, how other people are suddenly treating you because of the success -- one can get confused and think that perhaps you might be a bit more grandiose and kick-ass.

For about the first six months after our first record "Appetite For Destruction" finally took off, I really thought that I was maybe a little better-looking and funnier than I had previously been given credit for. I mean -- heck -- people were laughing at all my jokes and telling me how funny I was, and the opposite sex was suddenly all up in my business. I was the "it" guy. People finally understood just how dang cool I was. It was about time, after all!

I say the first six months because, right about then, one of my older brothers came down to visit me in L.A. After a couple of days of staying with me and witnessing firsthand all of this buffoonery, my brother sat me down and gave me the "you-know-these-people-just-want-to-hitch-themselves-to-you-and-your-band-and-could-really-give-a-damn-about-you" talk. I suddenly woke up. I had been drinking the punch, and he was dead-on right.

Jeremy Lin is no doubt experiencing some of these same sort of butt-smoochers right now. He seems like a guy who is pretty damn grounded, and has a good family around him. I wonder if that brother of his on whose couch he currently sleeps gives him that same talk that I got from mine. But for the time being, Jeremy, the opposite sex can be fun, too!

https://web.archive.org/web/20120219054522/http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7579542
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:23 am

Arena deals aid civic pride, economy

February 22, 2012

It seems that our society as a whole has become much more aware of our local economics. When your state, county and/or city is going broke -- like what has happened to so many here in America the past few years -- we become more aware of the whats and wheres of how we are paying our taxes. We have also become ultra-aware of new taxes. And most all of us have had a tough financial fight over these past few years, to coincide with our local government's malaise.

Sports seem to be a two-fold remedy for all of this. These games can make us forget, for a while, all of our daily pressures and worries. Secondly, restaurants, clothing shops and arena/stadium/parking facilities, all thrive from the onslaught of people in attendance.

It seems like a no-brainer. Even in the worst of financial times, people will spend money for sports. Local economies win. Right?

In 2006, Seattle voters voiced their collective opinion. They believed that any new arena that was "paid" for by the taxpayers must show a profit after the bonds were paid off. I think they were dead wrong.

The area in the lower Queen Anne District of Seattle (where the previous home of the Seattle Sonics, Key Arena, still sits pretty much empty) has never quite recovered economically from the loss of its NBA team. Restaurants and stores had to close. Scores of arena employees lost their jobs. Hotel rooms that would have been utilized for at least 41 nights of the year were now vacant. On top of that, the rather large sports community in the Northwest went into a major NBA-specific funk.

That "profit" on an arena initiative now seems like a short-sided and uninformed decision.

Sacramento is going through this same deal right now.

And Seattle, it seems, is now ready to reconsider the decision of six years ago. There is an investment group in place that is ready to get its hands dirty with a new arena. They are ready to get some NBA back in town, and even going as far as exploring the possibility of bringing an NHL team to Seattle.

The new Nets arena in Brooklyn (Barclays Center) will presumably put some economic influx into that area. The buzz around the team moving to Brooklyn can do nothing but create more buzz, love and money for the team and for Brooklyn.

Dallas was awarded its Super Bowl only after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones construction began on Cowboys Stadium. Big revenue. Ford Field has almost single-handedly brought a robustness to the downtown center of Detroit. Petco Park has done the same for downtown San Diego. Big-time change.

But am I missing something? Are people like me way too "sports-centric" to see the financial forest through the trees? Are people like me wrong in just assuming and hoping that a new arena in their town will benefit the whole area economically? Or is this just another tax burden that municipalities should not undertake?

I dunno. If it is me you are asking, I believe college and professional sports teams also do so much more for a city than just bring in the dollars. City pride can do wonders for the worker bee. It just seems easier to get more done when your chest is all puffed out and your head is up.

*

McKagan's Playlist

The Life asked columnist Duff McKagan to give us some music recommendations. Here's what he had to say:

I'd like to send my condolences to the family of MC5's Michael Davis -- a brother gone too soon. Here are a few of my favorites from MC5:

"Kick Out The Jams" -- off "Kick Out The Jams." The prime mover song, for what would later become known as punk rock angst.

"High School" -- off "Back In The USA." Everyone else was getting all psychedelic in the late '60s. Thank God for the MC5.

"Ramblin' Rose" -- off "The Big Bang -- Best of MC5" Time for a revolution! You will be missed Michael Davis.

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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:26 am

Athletes, musicians and 'controlled rage'

February 29, 2012

A lot has been made of the parity between musicians and athletes. The question is often asked of a musician, "Wow! I didn't know you were so into sports. How did that happen?" The very same surprise can chase around pro athletes when they are heard blasting hip-hop music in the clubhouse, or when they attend a rock concert.

The arenas of playing sports and playing live music are not that far apart, after all, if you take a closer look into the two things. It comes down to what I call the "rage factor."

An inside force, such as rage, can make a person try to be the best they can be at what they do. Controlled rage can then be turned outward in a performance, whether it is on the field or on the stage.

Rehearsing for countless hours is not something one just does; there has to be a type of person who will do this thing. The same can be said for athletes. Sure, some have a natural talent -- but most simply have to work their ass off to just keep getting better.

Another similarity, from what I have observed, is that great athletes and successful musicians have a very strong tendency to be Type A people: real go-getters who don't have to be told or forced to practice or perform at the highest level of human endurance and aggression. Again, this is a general view, and there are definitely outliers to this train of thought (Allen Iverson comes to mind, I suppose). And yes, aggressiveness is key to both the musician and the athlete.

And what about the adulation?

Most of us who are breathing and making our own financial way in life (whether you are a truck driver or cook or bank teller) work our damn tails off, and most people will never know how hard you work. But imagine toiling away, with the hopes that it someday will get recognized by a room packed with people screaming your name? It might get you to work even harder if you know it will go public in some way, shape or form. That is just human nature, right?

Musicians and athletes also both operate outside of the norm. If you ask top athletes or musicians, I bet you neither group would say they were slated for the 9-to-5 skullduggery. They feel somehow different than most. Not necessarily better, mind you, just different. It's a road where failure is not an option, because if there is failure, there is often no backup plan.

Over the years, I have seen everyone from John McEnroe to Dennis Rodman to Raul Ibanez at rock shows that I have been a part of. There seems to be an unspoken understanding. We know every airport. We know the elation of victory. We know the downside of being away from those we hold close as family and friends. We know defeat. Your careers have their ebbs and flows, and never does there seem to be any real stability.

There is a big difference between the two groups, however. So far, there are no random urine tests in rock and roll, for "performance-enhancing" drugs. Unless, of course, there is a court order, but that is another story ... for another day.

*

McKagan's Playlist

The Life asked columnist Duff McKagan to give us some music recommendations. Here's what he had to say:

Minor Threat, "Out of Step," off "Out Of Step": Minor Threat leader Ian MacKaye has led a life of risk, chance and aggression. His success cannot be measured in dollars, but in just plain being a badass.

Killing Joke, "Wardance," off "Killing Joke": A great and epic musical passage that will make you do anything harder and better.

Refused, "New Noise," off "Shape Of Punk To Come": With these guys getting back together this year to do a few chosen shows, we will all get at least a chance to see a band that truly did things their own way.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120507221635/http://espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7630413
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:27 am

Remembering a legendary WWII hero

March 6, 2012

Most times, I would say that bringing light to the passing of someone outside of sports would be out of form here at ESPN.com. But sometimes there are just excellent people who walk this planet who sort of transcend everything. Lt. Lynn D. "Buck" Compton seemed to be one of those.

Buck Compton died last week at his daughter's home in Burlington, Wash., at the age of 90.

I would assume that in this male-dominated realm of professional sports that we like the idea of our "man" stuff. We like to watch MMA fighters ground-and-pound with impunity, or NFL wide receivers going over the middle, taking great risks to hopefully gain great rewards. They all make it look so easy, and maybe a small part of us lives through this grandeur of athleticism. Man stuff.

We like to transpose our real-life frustrations into the grace, ease and hardcor-ness of our heroes on the court, pitch, gridiron, ring or ballfield. Hell, half of us think we can do that stuff, given half the chance -- especially after a couple of beers.

A lot of you know of either Stephen Ambrose's book "Band Of Brothers," or have seen the HBO miniseries. The subject matter of 101st Airborne's Easy Company, and its epic journey from the beaches of D-Day Normandy to Hitler's Eagles Nest, is pure man stuff too.

Buck Compton played a pivotal real-life role in Easy Company's long and arduous campaign from D-Day to the brutal Battle of the Bulge, and the parachuted-in-behind-enemy-lines Operation Market Garden to the brutally freezing Ardennes. After coming back from the war, he went back to school and earned a law degree. He became a Los Angeles cop and rose to Los Angeles County deputy district attorney (successfully leading the three-man team that convicted RFK's assassin, Sirhan Sirhan) and eventually went on to become a judge in the California Court of Appeal. He was a college standout in baseball and football at UCLA before the war, playing with Jackie Robinson on both Bruin squads to boot!

Two years ago, my band Loaded had the honor to play halftime at a Seattle Seahawks game on their Veterans Appreciation Day. The raiser on the 12th Man flag that day was none other than the infamous Lt. Compton. If you have ever been to a Seahawks game, you would know of the honor bestowed on the flag-raiser. Local heroes from Felix Hernandez, Nate McMillan, Bill Russell and Ken Griffey Jr. have all gotten the 70,000 fans there on their feet before the game. But when they introduced Compton, the roar was something otherworldly. It was a sound that passed beyond the appreciation of a typical sports crow, to something that was one part patriotic, another part awestruck and yet another part historic. Buck Compton was a man's man among boys. We all thought we were tough and bad-ass until he -- even at 88 years old -- stepped up to that flagpole.

Compton did a few speaking appearances after the HBO series came out. As a longtime lawyer and judge, you could imagine that he was an eloquent speaker and could hold his own in public. The man never made his story seem any more important than any other combat soldier's story. As a matter of fact, he came off as a little embarrassed as to why his Easy Company was chosen to be put under such a public microscope.

We lost a good one. Those WWII vets are far and few between these days. If you get a chance, stop one of those guys next time you see them wearing one a "WWII Vet" baseball caps. Get their story … and talk to a real-life hero.

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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:31 am

'Blues Funeral' a lasting effort

March 13, 2012

And now, for a break from all of the coverage on just where Peyton Manning is going to shot-call next season and who should or shouldn't be seeded No. 1 in NCAA men's basketball; here is a music suggestion that has some depth. Come along with me as I scratch beneath the surface of commercial rock music -- and mine a gem of an artist.

Growing up a kid in the '70s, it seemed that the deeper personal story of an artist would resonate with my child psyche. Artists like Sly Stone, the Clash, the Rolling Stones and Johnny Thunders would register on my anti-B.S. gauge much higher than, say, something more commercial and made for radio.

In the early '90s, a whole new generation of rock 'n' roll truth became de rigueur. The rock scene in Seattle started getting worldwide attention, and the players in this revolution all seemingly had a different angle on the mostly truer and less comfortable edges of life.

One of those players was the band Screaming Trees, led by the gnarly voice of one Mark Lanegan.

During Mark's tenure in the Trees, he began making his first solo records -- a more stripped-down affair that spoke more to the human-nature side of Mark and the trouble and strife that were saddled up next to him in his life then. We all go through our own crap in life, and records like the ones Mark was making then seemed to speak to many of us who listened.

After the Screaming Trees, Lanegan made the now infamous LPs "Field Songs" and "Bubblegum," all while doing singing duties as a member of Queens Of The Stone Age. He then joined alliances with Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli to form The Gutter Twins -- maybe one of the best live bands to tour ... ever.

And that -- give or take a half dozen other endeavors -- brings us now to the long-awaited solo follow-up to "Bubblegum."

"Blues Funeral" by the Mark Lanegan Band came out last month, and it is a searing look into genius songwriting and performance. It is also a deep and experience-filled ride through the head space of a dude who has been through particular life torture chambers and survived through it all to tell us the truth. He has lived and died and lied enough that being straight-up these days is even more profound because of the trials of it all. These are the kind of records that stay around for a while.

*

McKagan's Playlist

ESPN Music columnist Duff McKagan has had "Blues Funeral" by the Mark Lanegan Band in heavy rotation. Here are a few of his favorite tracks:

"The Gravedigger's Song" -- Crypt-keeper party rock. Play this song loud or at low volume. Doesn't matter when a song is this good.

"Ode to Sad Disco" -- Only badasses can get away with starting a song with an electro beat like this.

"Harborview Hospital" -- A reckoning of those close to the edge.

"Leviathan" -- This song will make you swear off the more commercial offerings made by "artists" these days.

"Tiny Grain of Truth" -- A bit of '70s-era German electronica. Now be off with ya.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120504012813/http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7683740
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:35 am

The NFL QB carousel in a word: Meh

March 20, 2012

I love the text message expression that often pops up on online forums. It is spelled "meh" and, practiced in real life, can be accompanied by a shoulder shrug or a snarky sneer. Meh, simply put, means "average."

Meh seems to be more often used within online music forums, as in:

User 1: "I really loved that new Skrillex jam!"

User 2: "'Really? I thought it was a bit meh."

This rather epic NFL quarterback shuffle saw a ton of teams mega-jockeying for the Great Manning Prize. The Niners went sort of sneakily all-in with the acquisitions of wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, and letting QB "one-play-away" Alex Smith go talk with Miami, all in the hopes of getting Peyton Manning.

The Denver Broncos, of course, did secure Manning on Monday morning, and that left the brass there in Denver with the decision to let fan favorite Tim Tebow go. But let's be honest here about Tebow. He seems like a GREAT locker room guy, with a work ethic that never seems to quit. He is as strong as a damn bull. He is a rah-rah guy. But he could never run the type of offense the Broncos now will be setting up at Mile High for Manning. Two completely different skill sets. Thus, Tebow could never be a viable backup to learn from a sage who would be running an offense that is the polar opposite of what Tebow does.

And now, Tebow without those Broncos who rallied around him last season, might be one of those QBs who is just sort of meh. Sorry, Tebow Nation.

I hear on the sports radio that Chad Henne is making the rounds, too. Total meh.

And back to Alex Smith. We all thought he was a very average and underachieving QB until Jim Harbaugh took over the program in S.F., and gave Smith his trust and a pat on the back. Despite securing a new deal with San Francisco, will he be too bitter after the Manning pursuit? And could he go back to being just meh again?

And finally, what of my beloved Seattle Seahawks? Hell, Manning wouldn't even get on the plane Hawks owner Paul Allen sent down to Denver last week. We are a sort of funny-haircut-wearing, coffee-fueled stepchild as far as dream destinations for top-tier NFLers. But we did well with a potentially meh Green Bay backup to Brett Favre in Matt Hasselbeck. We give average a chance because we have grown accustomed to wearing rose-colored glasses. We have to. Look at the Mariners. We lost our beloved Sonics. Do I have to continue?

But now we have Matt Flynn, another Green Bay backup QB to another great Green Bay QB. We've had luck here so far. But Flynn is largely unproven (except of course, for that meh-velous six-TD game he had last year against Detroit). He could be that great again, one assumes, or ... he could be just meh ... and we already have average in Tarvaris Jackson (he does show signs of semi-brilliance once in a while, though).

The Seahawks had a big fat meh in Charlie Whitehurst. Jackson seems like Johnny dang Unitas in comparison.

But alas, besides Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning perhaps and maybe Michael Vick ... we all might be looking at a bunch of meh this season ... again.

https://www.espn.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7714672
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:38 am

A big step into Jim Rome's jungle

March 27, 2012

Most of you may know of my personal story. You know: rock guy, booze, drugs, more drugs, yet more booze ... and then the eventual fall into the hospital. The hospital was a brutal chance for me to get a peek inside my mortality. Hello, reality. Hello, fear. And hello, trying to figure some stuff out, without the bottle and the powder and the pills.

"You drink, you die," said the doctor, after I got clear of the possibility of actually expiring there in that triage ward in a Seattle hospital. OK. What now?

I got back to Los Angeles a shaky, terrified mess. My body was beat up, and my mind was racing a million miles an hour. Panic.

One of the first things I tried was to wake up at a somewhat-normal hour. Say, 7:30 a.m. I mean, what does everyone else do? They get up early and do stuff, right? Except my workday didn't really start until 9 p.m. Oh, well, I'd get to that later.

One of the things I did to stave off the shakes from the get-go was to get on an old and rusted mountain bike that was somehow in my garage and just ride. Because there was fear of what I'd do to myself if I wasn't riding (i.e., drink!), I thusly rode for eight freaking hours a day until I was just too exhausted to do anything but eat some food (a novel idea) and drink water (something I hadn't done EVER for the previous 10 or 11 years). I was 30 years old and starting from absolute scratch.

In my quest to be "normal," or at least try, I began to listen to this sports radio show with some dude named "Rome." I have always been a huge sports fan, but more of the pedestrian and "homer" sort. Jim Rome brought a style and youth to sports talk down there in L.A. It wasn't provincial, and he took no prisoners. It was "punk rock," if you will. This show became my focus of those first days and months of sobriety. I'd be entertained by the "clones," as Rome's loyal listeners and callers are known, and riveted by Romey's guests. The show became a clarion safe place to temper the pain and struggle of what I was then going through.

As a result, I still listen to the show some 17 years later and hold it in high regard for something much more than just sports. Rome gets us through things. Things like having kids. Things like putting up with dummies in our daily lives, with a whole, heaping truckload of humor and innuendo. Thanks, Jim. Thanks, dude.

And thank you for getting us through 9/11. Sure, media of all types swerved away from their usual programming for those days and weeks following the attack, but Rome brought a humanness and emotion that spoke seemingly to all of us. It was real and brutal and deep. Those pregnant radio pauses when Rome had to gather himself were poignant beyond words.

And more to the point of why I am writing all of this stuff right now: As it turns out, I have been on a sort of media blitz for my book as of late. I've done "Good Day LA," KROQ (and about 30 other FM rock morning shows). I've done newspaper interviews and weekly newspapers interviews.

But it wasn't until I was confirmed to do the Jim Rome Show last Thursday that I kind of "gripped." I mean, hell! What if I was one of those unfortunates who froze up and Rome gave the buzzer shutdown to? What if the "clones" piled on? I was going to do this thing no matter what and at least try to convey to Jim what his show has meant to me.

We ended up having a great conversation, and he gave me the time to settle down and just talk. He made it feel like I was talking to an old friend, which is how I saw it, anyway.

My wife told me later that day that I had gotten, like, "a billion" new Twitter followers. When I went online to see for myself, I was overwhelmed by the "clones" of Rome's show. Dudes (mostly) who were all pulling for me to some degree. It's pretty cool to have "Jungle Karma" now. It makes me feel a bit more comfortable writing about sports here.

Ah, hell ... who am I kidding? I don't write about sports here. I write about that other stuff. The heroes. The in-between stuff. And yes, my Seattle teams ... which could use a little Jungle Karma themselves.

*

McKagan's Playlist

Jim Rome has always referenced cool music in his shows. He is a huge fan of the Replacements, a Minneapolis band from the '80s, that for all intents and purposes, were really slated to be America's answer to the Rolling Stones. Rome also has some cool bumper music:

"Welcome To The Jungle," Guns N' Roses, off "Appetite for Destruction:" Er, yeah... I know a thing or two about this song.

"Lust For Life," Iggy Pop, off "Lust For Life:" One of the finest rock songs ever written. Iggy is the real deal. Always has been. Always will be.

"Bastards of Young," The Replacements, off "Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?" If you haven't checked out the Replacements' rich catalog, it is never too late!

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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 1:05 pm

Music's newly discovered territory

April 4, 2012

We've established that this space sometimes covers the "in-between stuff" for music and sports. Today is one of those days, when I'll be offering up a little rock history lesson.

I've been following the busy sports schedule. But I got my information from rain-fogged Twitter feeds on my BlackBerry, in the dense Costa Rican rainforest.

The reason? Much like sports teams play far-flung games (like the Mariners and A's in Japan recently) and have to adjust to a different atmosphere, rock bands sometimes tour outside their comfort zone to find their fans. It's just part of the business, in music and in sports.

In the past, South America was a destination that barely registered. In the first few decades of rock and roll, pretty much no band would go all of the way down there to play. And Central America, too, might as well have been on another planet; one without British or American rock bands.

Queen was really one of the first bands to venture south. Sometime in the 1980s, Freddie Mercury & Co. took the bold step to tour Brazil and Argentina. One must say it was a bold step because, really, there was no infrastructure down there to put on monster gigs. No stages. No P.A. systems. No real promoter who could be counted on. But Queen did it, and they did it right, and thus opened up South America to bands like Judas Priest, Duran Duran and Guns N' Roses.

Yes, by the time GN'R went there for the first time in 1991, Brazil and Argentina were starting to really get it together, and Columbia, Chile, Venezuela and Paraguay were all putting in bids to bring rock shows to their countries. In turned out that rock and roll was nearly as big and beloved as soccer down in those parts of the world.

Now, these 20 years later, South America is a tried and true stop for really any band that does real tours these days. Brazil is a rising economic power, and things like graft and collusion between police and government are things that come off as archaic. Argentina is solid. Chile has a few world-class rock festivals throughout its summer. Columbia and Venezuela both have solid big-gig infrastructure. Peru, too.

But what about Central America?

South America is one hell of a long way to go from the U.S. or Europe. A flight from Madrid is 13 hours, and from Miami to Rio, flight time can be up to 10 hours. A long, long way. If you are going to Asia to play shows one has to expect to take these long flights, because, of course, there is nowhere in between to play. But South America has land above it -- Central America.

Central America, of course, has had its fair share of political turmoil. Panama had the whole Noriega thing. Nicaragua has been embattled internally for years, with violence spurred by economic and political one-sidedness. El Salvador has experienced a bit of an economic turnaround over the past 20 years, and Guatemala, too, has seen positive changes.

But of all of these countries, Costa Rica has been a sort of favorite go-to place for the rest of the world to vacation, and now Costa Rica is fast becoming a favorite stopover for rock bands, too.

April is a big month for me in a hell of a lot of ways. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing in Cleveland on April 14. An "It's So Easy (and Other Lies ...)" book reading at the Cleveland House of Blues the night before. I'm going on a tour of South America just after that, too, for 20 days. But before all of this, it was time for a couple of rock shows down here in Costa Rica this past weekend. A sort of rock and roll spring break for my wife, kids and me ... along with my band Loaded and Shadow, the old band (which he recently revisited) of Mike McCready of Pearl Jam.

This trip to Costa Rica would be a first for me, and would also serve as a great chance to see how the local infrastructure -- for getting rental Marshall amps and rental drums and whatnot -- would hold up in real time. I'd like to cut down on flight time to South America on future tours, and actually picking up more gigs on the way is just good business.

The big question, however, was: Would anybody show up? Do the ticos (slang for Costa Rica natives) like the rock music?

Answer: Yes. The proof was in the line around the block as our van pulled up to the side of the club. This is always good, when you see a "SOLD OUT" sign for two bands that no one really knows too much about. Like me checking out the scene, these ticos were just excited to get a chance to see what we were up to.

Next week? A report from Cleveland.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120509073152/http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7775840
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 1:08 pm

Guns N' Roses: Appetite for induction

April 11, 2012

Editor's note: This column was published prior to Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose's statement that he will not be attending the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, and is declining induction.

Some of you may know that my band Guns N' Roses will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this weekend in Cleveland. My editor has been hoping that somehow I could write about what this whole thing is like from the "inside."

Truthfully, it has been hard for me to find a good place from which to start and write such an article, head-space wise.

We are not a band anymore, and haven't been for some time. We are all still alive and well, but there has been some muddy water that has gone underneath the bridge. But water, muddy or otherwise, does indeed flow past and forever away, and I have nothing but the best of memories and highest level of love and admiration and feelings of brotherhood with all of those dudes. Seriously.

I was sent a sort of open letter addressed to us guys in GNR from a fella named Chris Gehert on behalf of "Worldwide Guns N' Roses Fans," and it sort of stopped me short. I will run it now in its entirety:

"Dear Guns N' Roses,

On Saturday April 14th 2012 you will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This gave a great hope to every GNR fan on the planet for a one time reunion show. Our one and only chance to see the original lineup on stage together again, if only for five minutes. Something we've been told for years would never happen. Rumors swirled, the band denied, and the fans prayed. It will always be okay because you never promised us anything.

With less than 2 weeks before the induction, the fans are watching as our reunion hopes start to disappear like Marty McFly's family in a polaroid picture. Each day it seems like there is some new story about how there has been no communication, nobody knows what is required of them, nobody's talking, and nobody really seems to care.

We care.

It would be easy for you to just show up, accept the induction, spend a few awkward minutes together at a podium and not talk again until somebody's funeral. But this time we need more.

We are not trying to be selfish, God knows you have given us plenty of legendary songs, spectacular shows, and classic rock moments. You are sincerely the best rock band in the history of the world. All of your solo efforts and reincarnations of the group are awesome too.

Your music has inspired billions of people. Each one of you is still a fan inside. You loved Elton John, Aerosmith, Queen, Kiss, The Misfits, ELO and more. Please remember how great it feels to see your favorite band play.

We beg you to pick up the phone, grab your instruments, drag Izzy to Cleveland and play together.

You can make music history. Please do it. Give us one more memory. We deserve it.

We will continue to support you no matter what, but at the end of each concert Axl tells the crowd to "Not take ... from anyone." And that means ANYONE!

Sincerely,

Worldwide Guns N' Roses Fans."


And to this point: The one reason that I am going to Cleveland this weekend is not to savor in some polite accolade or because an award show is that important to me. I am going because I have realized how important this is all to those many, many fans that supported us and believed in us, and showed up for us in droves.

Music is not like sports, and hence, a Hall of Fame in music is almost a false pedestal to sit upon. There are no statistics in music and art. No band or artist is "better" than another. Music comes from a primal place. Thin air. Dreams. And a lot of really hard damn work.

No one worked harder than us back then, and we were very fortunate to have met each other in those dirty back alleys of Hollywood sometime in 1984. We meshed and wrote, created thunder and beauty, and parlayed our real-life experience into an album that somehow related to a whole angsty world that felt just like us right then and there. It was a brilliant time.

I, too, now hope that we can just play a couple of songs there, and just sort of throw the microphone down on the stage and walk off. The rock-and-roll world would be set ablaze once again ... and we could make a bunch of fans happy and sated to some degree.

But alas, I am only responsible for me, and can only speak for me. I have forgiven and forgotten. I have grown up and manned up. Part of me growing has been to realize I am powerless over others.

This whole deal, I hope, goes off without a hitch. I do hope we can achieve some grace in our acceptance. And I hope this grace, is enough, in the end, for the best rock and roll fans in the world. The Guns N' (f---ing) Roses fans.

-- Duff

*

BOOK READING IN CLEVELAND

On Friday night, Duff McKagan will celebrate the paperback release of his critically acclaimed memoir "It's So Easy: And Other Lies" with a book reading/punk revue at the House of Blues in Cleveland.

"It's a 3-D version of the book," says McKagan. "It incorporates pictures and video and I'll have a bassist (Jeff Rouse), pedal steel (Paul Huxtler) and mandolin player (Mike Squire) behind me while I read, all of which helps to set a mood and bring the book to life."

"I'm a book nerd," McKagan told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I've been to readings. Henry Rollins, for example, is a great reader, but I'm not that intense. When I read Upton Sinclair's 'King Coal,' it's a 3-D story. You're on that mountain. And you're in that coal mine. And you smell the mules. I thought, 'How do I do this?' So I got this band behind me. These guys are amazing and they play unique versions -- song snippets -- from my whole career."

"It's So Easy: And Other Lies" chronicles the unlikely story of the formation and rise of Guns N' Roses to the pinnacle of fame, fortune, and excess. Duff details his twelve years as the bass player for GN'R as well as his nearly fatal struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction, his unusual path to sobriety, and his success as a savvy business investor and husband and father.

You can order the paperback version here. The hardcover, which came out in October, is available at Amazon.com. You can also check out an excerpt by clicking here.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120413210955/http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/music/news/story?id=7799013
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:33 pm

Duff: An all-star tour of South America

April 25, 2012

To start off: You will read that I am far away and on the move, and it is tough for me to keep up on American sports, or really anything else for that matter. But I did see that elbow that Metta World Peace threw on James Harden. Dude should be thrown out of the league. If that elbow made contact with Harden’s temple, he very well could have been a dead man. There is just no room, nor should there be temperance for this. Period.

And yes … I saw that the Mariners had a perfect game thrown against them. Here we go, Seattle baseball fans. Dig in. Ugh.

On to the current road trip:

About three months ago, I received a call from [Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver] drummer Matt Sorum, about me possibly doing some gigs with him and some "other dudes" down in South America in the spring. Matt seems to always have a few balls in the air, and I sort of chalked it up as something that only might happen.

Spring is here, and I am indeed in South America with Matt and those "other dudes."

In Los Angeles, there is a rock band called Camp Freddy. It is actually more of a collective, if you will, with a core band of Matt Sorum, Dave Navarro, Chris Chaney and Billy Morrison. Camp Freddy specializes in getting big-name guest singers -- from Ozzy to Lemmy to Elton John, Iggy Pop and Steven Tyler. It’s always fun to see one of your rock heroes just kind of get up and jam with Camp Freddy. It's raw and refreshing, and some of you reading this have most likely been to a CF show somewhere or another.

Sorum had the idea to kind of take this collective idea and make it a huge touring beast. But how? Everyone is always on their own tours, and it would be tough to find guys who were all off of a tour at the same time. But he did it, and I am now down in South America with:

   Billy Duffy (The Cult)
   Ed Roland (Collective Soul)
   Steve Stevens (Billy Idol)
   Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple)
   Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)
   Joe Elliott (Def Leppard)
   Mike Inez (Alice In Chains)
   Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses)
   Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses)
   AND … Gene "God of Thunder" Simmons (KISS)

I thought I was going to have some really good and snark-filled material from this tour, as some fodder for my columns. But something happened on the way to South America. You know what? This thing actually REALLY kicks some ass. You kind of forget how good it is to see really good players do their thing. And the set list is pretty unstoppable. It goes something like this:

   "Welcome To The Jungle" (Guns N' Roses)
   "It’s So Easy" (Guns N' Roses)
   "Youth Gone Wild" (Skid Row)
   "Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin)
   "Wildflower" (The Cult)
   "Highway Star" (Deep Purple)
   "Burn" (Deep Purple)
   "Firewoman " (The Cult)
   "Tie Your Mother Down" (Queen)
   "Animal" (Def Leppard)
   "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (Def Leppard)
   "All The Young Dudes" (Mott The Hoople)
   "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (Bob Dylan)
   "Paradise City" (Guns N' Roses)
   "Love It Loud" (KISS)
   "Deuce" (KISS)
   "Rock And Roll All Night" (KISS)

There are a few more songs in the set, but you get the general idea. It’s a mixture of songs by the actual artists who are here, and a couple of tunes that someone or other just simply wanted to play … and it is an absolute barn-burner of a set.

It’s a great experience to go out and play music with guys in other bands. It’s like an NFL All-Star weekend, but on tour (well, to be fair, it’s like being the old guy at NFL All-Star weekend). But none of these guys play like old guys, and this music seems fresher and somehow relevant to what is going on right now. I’m sure it is probably just the excitement of playing a KISS song, or a Deep Purple song that makes everyone else play better and a bit harder. And down here, the classic music is huge with the younger set.

Of the 20,000 people who showed up at the first gig in Paraguay, you would’ve been hard-pressed to find anyone over the age of 25.

ROCK HALL NOTES

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame happened a couple of weekends ago, and it was cool to see some old-school, longtime-together bands get their props.

On a personal note, I had a really great time. We weren’t really quite sure if we were going to play, until about 24 hours before the actual show. It was really great to play with drummer Steven Adler again after some 20-odd years. Sorum crushed it too, and Slash just gets better day after day. Gilby honored us with his presence and he has a "feel" that fits, and once again saved GNR’s ass. Myles Kennedy came in to sing, and the dude has class and a ton of respect and humility. I like those qualities in a guy. Humbleness can let real inner strength breathe.

It was really fun to watch the old footage of blues legend Freddie King. Those guys who have that much dang raw talent, are from some other world -- musically speaking.

*

McKagan's Playlist

Playbook Sounds columnist Duff McKagan remembers some of his favorite songs by fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees:

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS "True Men Don't Eat Coyotes" I remember hearing about some weird L.A.-based skate/punk/funk band in the early '80s. We kids in Seattle just couldn't understand how these white dudes was just so damn funky. Congrats, my friends.

BEASTIE BOYS "Sabotage" These were the tough guys from NYC, when GNR were perceived as the tough guys from L.A. It was cute to be dumb and young. The Beasties are going to be around for a long, long time. Get well soon, Adam!

FREDDIE KING "Going Down" Listen to that ratty guitar and pristine vocal. Freddie was THE man!

https://web.archive.org/web/20121218000235/http://espn.go.com/blog/playbooksounds/post/_/id/533/duff-an-all-star-tour-of-south-america
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:35 pm

Duff: Seattle goes weird with Irvin pick

May 2, 2012

We do things a bit differently up here in Seattle. We built a building in the shape of some weird needle as our major landmark. We have houses that float. We drink too much coffee, and name our NFL football team after a bird that none of us has really ever seen.

There are plenty of see-able birds up here, but the "Eagles" was taken, and the "Robins" would be too wussy ... the "Geese" would just be plain silly.

We do things in an odd manner. Our homegrown coffee-baron buys our local and beloved NBA team, to supposedly be of "service to the public." This same wacky coffee CEO sells the team a few years later, to an extremely transparent and outside-motive-driven Oklahoman, who moves the team at his earliest chance. The "public" that this coffee baron served were the ones he tipped poolside at some fancy and sunny resort somewhere with the cool $90 million profit he made from the sale of our team. (Watch "Sonicsgate: Requiem For A Team").

We do things that make people just scratch their heads. We build a state-of-the-art MLB baseball stadium, arguably the "crown jewel" of all baseball parks in America, and then trade away our studs -- Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Cruz Jr., Jamie Moyer and Raul Ibanez -- who helped to get it built in the first place. Johnson and Moyer went on to win World Series rings after their trades.

What do you expect when you have a team owner who has never seen his team play?

Ah, Seattle is a funny little town. Our football team will draft players with no real eye toward what other teams are doing or how their competition is maneuvering. No. We will pick a clear second-rounder in the first round just to show everyone else that we do what we want up here. Sniffing glue may very well be one of those things.

I love my Seahawks, and will for life, but Bruce Irvin? Sure, sure, we are often proved wrong with many of these college studs that we all deem as surefire NFL bets -- but give me a chance to at least get excited first. Bruce Irvin? Really? Well, OK, Pete. I got faith in you, dude. Remember, Carroll, our coffee IS really strong up here. Drink a little less before next year’s draft, maybe?

Yes, we do things a bit odd up here. Sacramento Kings fans: If your team ends up here for some reason or another, please have patience with the way that we roll. It is a funny town, but we do honor our teams, and our fandom is second to none. Yes, we drink too much coffee and perhaps too many microbrews ... but we cherish our teams.

"H-O-P-E" is another four-letter word that we mutter and hang on, right along with all the other four-letter words that we mutter when it comes to our beloved sports teams.

https://web.archive.org/web/20121216220848/http://espn.go.com/blog/playbooksounds/post/_/id/726/duff-seattle-goes-weird-with-irvin-pick
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:43 pm

Struggling with life after stardom

May 9, 2012

With the much-too-early passing of Junior Seau last week, we lost a giant of a football player. We lost a guy who was good outside of football, too. A mentor. A philanthropist. A good human being. At 43 years of age. We all probably looked at Seau’s life from the outside as one that was just beginning.

Of course, none of us can be certain of the reasons for a person’s suicide. Once in a while there is a note. Once in a while, there are clear-cut reasons that will inform us. But in Seau’s case, there is just the blank emptiness of sudden loss, with no real answers.

It’s a far stretch for me as a writer to try to bring anything more than assumption into this conversation. At this point, I would never want to try anything so base. Seau has a pristine reputation that he earned in his short life by being a stand-up man -- both on and off the field.

But something that really must be paid attention to now is how a player is supposed to transition into "normal" and civilian life, after the weekly rush of the game, and perhaps even undiagnosed brain trauma.

I can speak a little bit about the "rush of the game" part.

Personally, I had to get out of the "game" for a minute back in the '90s. In my case, drugs and the Devil’s juice were destroying me, body and soul. It was time for me to make a change, and so I sobered up and went to school.

But as I soon found, even in the very positive environment of a college campus and having a brand new daughter and excellent wife, was that you can’t just suddenly stop doing that thing you have such a passion for. That thing you get such a rush from (I’m talking about playing music ... not the drugs and drink bit).

No, as I matriculated through school, I found that the urge to go out and play live again simply overwhelmed me. It was like I was missing a piece of my biological makeup. This is not an overstatement, either.

But musicians only really need to keep their musical "chops" up. We don’t need to be in the primest physical shape of our lives. Our careers can go on for a long, long time. And even if you are not playing the biggest places anymore, a musician can still get that rush and contact with an audience.

But pro athletes have a whole other dilemma. When the game is done for them, it also ends a lifetime of being the top dog. From Little League to high school, and college to the pro ranks, these guys were always the best, and touted as such. It has to be unthinkably tough to suddenly get cut or be put on an indefinite injured reserve list, or just simply retire. There is no NFL for old guys.

And even though many pro athletes have a college degree of some sort, it is not so easy to have a second successful career, and especially one with any hope of near parity in pay or lifestyle. No more free trainers and support staff. No more weekly "rush of the game" and urgency in life.

According to a 2006 USA Today article, there is more bad news:

Experts say a high percentage of those men will be thrust into the so-called real world with few marketable skills to increase their wealth and serious self-identity issues that often make the transition from the game a perilous one.

In fact, 78 percent of all NFL players are divorced, bankrupt or unemployed two years after leaving the game, according to Ken Ruettgers, a former player and current advocate for NFL players transitioning from professional sports.


We should all probably hope that it is time to find a better way to ease our players into the afterlife of pro sports. It means that there should be better preparation along the way taken into task by the teams and NFL Players' Association.

But can you even speak to an alpha dog about such things while he is in the midst of the killing season? I don’t know. Let’s hope for the best here. These guys give us so much from the field. They could probably have as much to offer, or at least feel as valued, after the game is done.

https://web.archive.org/web/20151224203721/http://espn.go.com/blog/playbooksounds/post/_/id/1009/duff-struggling-with-life-post-stardom
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:45 pm

A big win for Manchester City, Billy Duffy

May 16, 2012

In August 1987, I was headed out to play my first-ever arena tour. The Cult gave GN’R the opening slot for a tour that would cross Canada, come down the West Coast, and then shoot across to the Southwest and finally end in New Orleans.

I met Cult guitarist especial Billy Duffy on that first night in Halifax, Nova Scotia -- that was nearly 25 years ago now -- and even way back then, his soccer team Manchester City was on an epic losing streak of 20 or so years.

I could empathize. I am, after all, from Seattle.

You can’t mess around when talking or writing about English football. If you are an American, and don’t know much about that whole scene over there, be careful about saying such throwaway things as “I think I’ll pull for Liverpool this year.” I did that once in an interview with some UK magazine. I mean, why not? The Beatles are from Liverpool, and I thought it was a fairly innocuous and tame thing to state. No. I caught a whole rash of crap from each city I went to in England after that.

Manchester, England, is a city about the same size as Seattle or, say, Cleveland. Imagine if Cleveland had the Browns and the Steelers both hailing from the same city? Or if Seattle had the Seahawks and the Raiders? And both teams had originated from different sides of town, and had somehow split the fandom somewhere right down the middle of town.


I went to a friendly between the Seattle Sounders and Manchester United last summer and was quickly made aware of just how huge and dominant, worldwide, Man U was. The merchandise factor alone for that team is that of the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers combined. Being the underdog fan that I have become from being a Seattle fan, I had a decidedly angled mistrust of that Manchester United machine. But they had all of the appearance and strut of a machine that expected to win.

Billy Duffy and I have remained good pals over these years. We just did a trip together to South America. When you are together with dudes for a long period of time, the topic will inevitably lead to sports. This where I started to get the full (albeit slanted) story of what was going on in the Premier League this season. Manchester City was then eight points out of the lead against Manchester United, but City had a real chance at last, after 44 years of sucking pretty valiantly.

A lot has been made in the Premier League this year of how Manchester City “bought” an all-star team. This kind of stuff happens, of course, all the time here in America. It has worked out for some (’97 Florida Marlins, for example), and hasn’t worked for others (the yet-unproven Miami Heat). You do still have to win the games, and a team -- all-star or not -- has to learn how to play and win over a full season.

As this Premier League season came to an end, Man City won the games that they had to, and Man U lost the games that they should have won, and those two teams were neck-and-neck coming in to last weekend. Do-or-die time. A good sports story. If City (basically) won on Sunday, they would win the Premiership for the first time in 44 years.

Last week, the Los Angeles-based Mancunian Billy Duffy could take it no more. He had to get back home and see this last game for himself. I got a call from him. He asked if I thought he’d be jinxing his team. He told me about all of the games he went to with his dad when he was a little kid. He told me about the horrible fields that City had to play on when they were relegated down two whole leagues (Relegation would be a whole other topic to write about, eh?). I have seen first-hand how Billy Duffy has suffered year after year for that team. “Dude. You should go!” was my answer.

He went.

They won.

Whether Man City was a team put together by large amounts of cash or not, they still had to win. That is perhaps a harder thing to do when you are just not at all used to the upside.

So, to Chelsea, and Man United, and Everton, and Liverpool, Arsenal (best team name in all of sports), Newcastle, Aston Villa, Stoke, and all of the rest: Good luck for next year, and at least you didn’t suffer the fate of poor old Wolverhampton ... a relegated team this year.

Congratulations to all of you fans of Manchester City. It is a great story for your lot.

Now, if only the Seattle Mariners could get Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Stephen Strasburg, CC Sabathia, and Roy Halladay on the team for next year.

*

McKagan's Playlist

Another thing that we dudes talked about on that South American tour was The Cult's new record "Choice Of Weapon" (iTunes | Amazon). It is sometimes hard to be stuck on a trip with someone, and they ask you to listen to their new record. What if the record isn't good? Or, what if you can't stand the band already?

Luckily, neither were a factor when I did get to listen to this epic and ferocious new Cult record. Billy and Ian are kicking ass, and this is the freshest rock record that I have heard for quite awhile. Catch the Cult on tour this summer, and get this record! Out May 22.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120520224337/http://espn.go.com/blog/playbooksounds/post/_/id/1163/finally-time-for-billy-duffy-manchester-city
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:47 pm

Sports notes, talking new Slash album

May 23, 2012

There seem to be so dang many sports topics over the last week that it is now too difficult for me to choose only one to write about. I will just shoot from the hip here:

• The Oklahoma City Thunder trounced the Lakers in five games. It didn't ever seem close, as far as knowing who really had the energy to win it. Being a lifetime Sonics fan, it was a strange thing trying to take a side in those five games. The Lakers are longtime rivals -- that just goes with being in the Pacific Division (even though the Sonics are gone; old habits die hard, I guess). But it seems I despise the owner of the Thunder even more ... and I found myself rooting for the Lakers on Monday in Game 5. Weird, for sure.

• The Bayern Munich stadium is ridiculous. I went to my pal Steve Jones' house Saturday to watch his Chelsea team upset the favored Munich team, whose home stadium is one of the most grandiose-looking arenas out there. State-of-the-art on steroids.

• The old Dallas Cowboys stadium, Texas Stadium: Yes, I know it had a hole in the roof so "God could watch his favorite team," but GN’R had its worst-ever gig there in 1988. We sucked it up pretty good. Thank god for Iggy Pop that night. He saved it all.

• It may be an obvious point to make now, but the L.A. Kings’ story is kind of ridiculous. They are dominant and completely self-assured. All of this out of an eighth seed?

• John Clayton is already talking NFL on ESPN. Man. Let’s get some football going! I’m down.

• The San Antonio Spurs, while perhaps long in the tooth and not as glamorous as the other teams in the running, seem to be the silent assassins of these NBA playoffs.

• Dude from the Detroit Tigers (Max Scherzer) had 15 strikeouts the other night. Unbelievable.

• Jamie Moyer just pitched at his 50th MLB ballpark. The man is a hero, all the way around. Check out the work he does with his wife Karen at The Moyer Foundation.

• Note to the rest of the country: The Boston Celtics don’t seem to be done yet.

• Saw Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready the other night. His cover band of '80s group UFO called Flight To Mars is one of the best rock bands out there. Seattle dudes know how to rock. Period.

• L.A. traffic was hell last weekend. You had the Kings, Lakers and Clippers playing at Staples. You had the Dodgers in town, and there was a bike race downtown. Imagine what it would have been like if everyone actually showed up at tipoff? Good thing they like to be fashionably late for stuff down there. Being blasé is cool, and has the added benefit of staggering traffic …

• I don’t have a favorite English Premier League team, but the story of Chelsea beating the favored Euro team in enemy territory is just a good sports story (yes, yes ... I know they have deep pockets, etc.). And PS, English football fan, it has been noted that your author doesn’t really know what the hell he is talking about. It’s fun to watch all the hullabaloo when I do write about it, though.

And back to the point of that old Texas Stadium gig being GN’R’s worst ever; I don’t think my pal Slash has had a bad one since then.

Slash has been playing guitar harder and faster and meaner every year since 1988. He has a great group of guys he is playing with right now, and singer Myles Kennedy is a class act who works as hard as anybody I have ever met (he represents the "509," to boot).

These fellas just made a new record, and I am here to tell you all that it kicks butt. If you like the rock music, just click here. (iTunes | Amazon)

https://web.archive.org/web/20121218235926/http://espn.go.com/blog/playbooksounds/post/_/id/1270/duff-sports-notes-talking-new-slash-album
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:56 pm

Heroes Project cause worth following

May 30, 2012

This past Monday was Memorial Day, of course, and most of us got to see or experience a moment or two that commemorated our Armed Forces veterans.

From the Indianapolis 500 prerace spectacle to the Minnesota Twins’ epic effort of bringing a soldier home from Afghanistan to surprise his two daughters at the game on Sunday, sports helped us remember to appreciate our servicemen and women.

I’ve written before of my mountain climber buddy Tim Medvetz and his Heroes Project. Tim has made it a personal mission to meet and train wounded veterans for big mountains. Big mountains like Kilimanjaro, Denali, Erebus and up. Big mountains personify life's obstacles to Tim, and getting wounded vets to face these obstacles is a service that he can single-handedly help them tackle, one veteran at a time.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Mark Zambon has six deployments under his belt -- three in Iraq and three in Afghanistan. When Mark had seen all that he could see as a foot soldier, he chose to challenge himself in explosive ordinance disposal. In plain English? "The Hurt Locker."

On Mark’s fifth deployment, he lost three fingers of his left hand when a bomb he was trying to clear went off. He got himself healed up from that and opted to go back for a sixth deployment. Mark knew that he could help save lives, and he saw no personal heroics in going back in after losing half of his left hand.

On that last deployment in Afghanistan, Mark got a call to clear a bomb found in the field. On his way in, a secondary and unseen bomb went off when he stepped on it. Mark lost both of his legs above the knee.

Mark Zambon has not lost a step, though you would think being a double amputee would slow him down. No, Zambon met Tim Medvetz and started training his body and mind for high-altitude mountaineering. These dudes are climbing the tallest mountain in Africa (Mount Kilimanjaro) in four weeks’ time.

It hasn’t been easy for Mark. I have followed his physical training regimen as much as possible. Swimming, yoga, climbing, biking … and pain. Where Mark’s legs were amputated, they are now pulsing with big bunches of nerves healing together. The only way for Mark to get past this mind-numbing pain is just to basically beat the hell out of those spots.

Mark has had the help of friends and fellow comrades. The community around Camp Pendleton has shown up for these wounded warriors. Meals for SEALs has fed him through this training. Full Circle Yoga, a San Diego yoga facility that donates its time to fallen heroes, has been Mark’s mind and body dojo. And Medvetz has been the man with the plan. Tim’s undaunting search for fallen veterans, and one-on-one mountain training and fundraising, are actually quite breathtaking to hear about. But his fundraising always needs a lot of help.

If you are looking for a way to help veterans and are unsure of how to go about doing it, may I suggest Tim’s Heroes Project, or Full Circle Yoga or Meals for SEALs.

Follow Mark and Tim’s Kilimanjaro climb through The Heroes Project website.

This is man stuff, people.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120628195257/http://espn.go.com/blog/playbooksounds/post/_/id/1436/duff-heroes-project-cause-worth-following
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:59 pm

Kings rise, Justin Blackmon stumbles

June 6, 2012

This past Monday was Memorial Day, of course, and most of us got to see or experience a moment or two that commemorated our Armed Forces veterans.

From the Indianapolis 500 prerace spectacle to the Minnesota Twins’ epic effort of bringing a soldier home from Afghanistan to surprise his two daughters at the game on Sunday, sports helped us remember to appreciate our servicemen and women.

I’ve written before of my mountain climber buddy Tim Medvetz and his Heroes Project. Tim has made it a personal mission to meet and train wounded veterans for big mountains. Big mountains like Kilimanjaro, Denali, Erebus and up. Big mountains personify life's obstacles to Tim, and getting wounded vets to face these obstacles is a service that he can single-handedly help them tackle, one veteran at a time.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Mark Zambon has six deployments under his belt -- three in Iraq and three in Afghanistan. When Mark had seen all that he could see as a foot soldier, he chose to challenge himself in explosive ordinance disposal. In plain English? "The Hurt Locker."

On Mark’s fifth deployment, he lost three fingers of his left hand when a bomb he was trying to clear went off. He got himself healed up from that and opted to go back for a sixth deployment. Mark knew that he could help save lives, and he saw no personal heroics in going back in after losing half of his left hand.

On that last deployment in Afghanistan, Mark got a call to clear a bomb found in the field. On his way in, a secondary and unseen bomb went off when he stepped on it. Mark lost both of his legs above the knee.

Mark Zambon has not lost a step, though you would think being a double amputee would slow him down. No, Zambon met Tim Medvetz and started training his body and mind for high-altitude mountaineering. These dudes are climbing the tallest mountain in Africa (Mount Kilimanjaro) in four weeks’ time.

It hasn’t been easy for Mark. I have followed his physical training regimen as much as possible. Swimming, yoga, climbing, biking … and pain. Where Mark’s legs were amputated, they are now pulsing with big bunches of nerves healing together. The only way for Mark to get past this mind-numbing pain is just to basically beat the hell out of those spots.

Mark has had the help of friends and fellow comrades. The community around Camp Pendleton has shown up for these wounded warriors. Meals for SEALs has fed him through this training. Full Circle Yoga, a San Diego yoga facility that donates its time to fallen heroes, has been Mark’s mind and body dojo. And Medvetz has been the man with the plan. Tim’s undaunting search for fallen veterans, and one-on-one mountain training and fundraising, are actually quite breathtaking to hear about. But his fundraising always needs a lot of help.

If you are looking for a way to help veterans and are unsure of how to go about doing it, may I suggest Tim’s Heroes Project, or Full Circle Yoga or Meals for SEALs.

Follow Mark and Tim’s Kilimanjaro climb through The Heroes Project website.

This is man stuff, people.

https://web.archive.org/web/20121218235430/http://espn.go.com/blog/playbooksounds/post/_/id/1575/duff-kings-rise-justin-blackmon-stumbles
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Post by Blackstar Wed Jan 19, 2022 3:27 pm

A Mariners no-hitter among friends

June 13, 2012

Not being able to attend a game of your favorite MLB team until June can be a bummer. If you travel or otherwise have work commitments like myself, this will be the case some years. Sure, you follow the team online or with a Slingbox or by Twitter.

But, of course, there is nothing that comes close to actually going to the ballpark.

I still have my three best friends with whom I grew up. We’ve known each other since we crawled underneath church pews or played pee wee football together. We all were playing little league baseball when the brand-new Seattle Mariners franchise came to town in 1977. It was an epic event for us, and we all have grown up as first-generation M’s fans. It has been a cool extra that will draw us four dudes together for a night out as pals. Of course, we revert right back to our kid selves.

Last week, I finally came home to Seattle. One of the first orders of business was to go to a Mariners game with my pals. Interleague play was happening, so we found ourselves at Friday's Dodgers-Mariners matchup.

All right ... what the hell! The Dodgers have the best record in baseball right now, and I thought they probably would beat up on our overmatched Mariners ... but still, it would be fun to get to a game.

As the game got under way and quickly progressed through the first five innings, my buddies and I settled in for what was another game with a drought of Mariners hitting. But that night, no one from the Dodgers seemed to be hitting, either. We spent that time catching up on general B.S. that included bemoaning Seattle sports (that’s what we do up here).

Being as there are no play-by-play announcers at MLB parks, you are left to your own devices to sort out what is going on. In the fifth or sixth inning, my buddy Andy suddenly interjected into our conversation that no Dodger had a hit off Mariners pitcher Kevin Millwood. Sure enough, under the "H" on the scoreboard, there was a big fat zero.

But then they pulled Millwood, and we assumed he must have gotten injured or sick. We didn’t know anything really, but pitchers Charlie Furbush and Brandon League came in and continued to no-hit the Dodgers. We wondered, as closer Tom Wilhelmsen finished out the game, how the league would count this game (the Mariners had scored one run in the sixth).

A combined no-hitter it was, and for us it didn’t matter how it was counted or what other fans around the league thought. Some tough guy from L.A. tweeted me about my team's "punk-ass" no-hitter, and I was left sort of scratching my head.

A no-hitter is a no-hitter, and my pals and I got to witness it.

Sure, it would have been more pristine if Millwood had stayed in, injury-free, and gotten a no-hitter on his own. But it was great to see that whole pitching staff come together and just simply throw hard for one in the W column.

That is what you go to the games hoping to see: your team winning through a struggle. Your team rising up once in a while, and making you and your lifelong pals feel good about going to the ballpark that night.

https://web.archive.org/web/20121225082512/http://espn.go.com/blog/playbooksounds/post/_/id/1697/duff-a-mariners-no-hitter-among-friends
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Post by Blackstar Tue Feb 01, 2022 1:16 pm

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