Author Topic: Duff blogging for Seattle Weekly  (Read 57526 times)

Offline duffdiver

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Duff mentioned, during his recent radio appearances, that he would be contributing to Seattle Weekly.  Here's the first installment:

Faith in Rock
Posted yesterday at 11:20 pm by Duff McKagan

Duff McKagan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/08/faith_in_rock.php#more




« Last Edit: August 21, 2008, 06:06:34 PM by duffdiver »

Offline Just_Me

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That's pretty cool. :D
I've always wanted to go to Dubai, my parents are out there right now but I didn't get to go this time. :(

I never thought about the issue of old drugs residue on clothes and things. You see all these TV shows where they find a tiny, tiny trace of something where someone used to have it in their pocket but somehow it never clicked with me that it could still be an issue after someone got clean. I'm glad Duff thought of it though, it'd suck if he got arrested over something like that!

One funny thing, Duff talking about hearing all these horror stoires about Dubai reminded me of a similar experience, except when I was going to America.
When I'd tell people I was going to be living in Georgia I got an endless string of 'advice' on how to avoid getting into trouble with Bible Belters, like no matter what say you're a Christian - if nessesary even go along to chruch with them and act like you do it all the time, do not under any circumstances question anything the government does, don't tell them you like rock music, don't suggesting going to a bar unless someone else does first ect. ect.

As it turned out it was nothing like that. I never actually ran into any of the problems I was warned about at all and everyone was very nice and friendly and accepting. I'm sure there are people who would have hated me for all kinds of reasons, but I never met them.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2008, 04:52:48 AM by Just_Me »

Offline vrfan1234

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When I'd tell people I was going to be living in Georgia I got an endless string of 'advice' on how to avoid getting into trouble with Bible Belters, like no matter what say you're a Christian - if nessesary even go along to chruch with them and act like you do it all the time, do not under any circumstances question anything the government does, don't tell them you like rock music, don't suggesting going to a bar unless someone else does first ect. ect.

As it turned out it was nothing like that. I never actually ran into any of the problems I was warned about at all and everyone was very nice and friendly and accepting. I'm sure there are people who would have hated me for all kinds of reasons, but I never met them.

LOL, I lived in Georgia for a few years also and I think I may have heard the same advice, and also hear warnings every time I get a new manager at work about how strict or mean they are, but I've never had a problem either.  The people/places/rumors are usually not as bad as they get hyped up to be, although my mom told me it's no longer safe for little old ladies to go to malls in Atlanta by themselves.

Offline vrfan1234

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The latest article is up on the blog and Duff is calling for audience participation.  The article is all about how he was doing a press tour in Europe during the last election when Bush was campaigning for re-election and people kept asking him his opinion about who should win, the Iraq War/Occupation, etc.  Now he is doing another press tour and wants blog readers to post questions for him to turn around and ask so as to get an intelligent dialogue started (hopefully) about how Europe sees America and the direction they want us to go in the election/future.  Could be an interesting dialogue if he can get it started and everyone can discuss, not mud-sling.  Here's the link.

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/08/whats_up_with_us_i.php#more

Offline Just_Me

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This is turning into an interesting topic. I'm holding off on suggesting any questions since I'm supposed to be on the answering side but personally I'm interested in what people in the US are worried about people outside the US thinking about them...if that made any sense.

Also pleased to see a comment there from Krist Novoselic. :D

Offline duffdiver

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This is turning into an interesting topic. I'm holding off on suggesting any questions since I'm supposed to be on the answering side but personally I'm interested in what people in the US are worried about people outside the US thinking about them...if that made any sense.

Also pleased to see a comment there from Krist Novoselic. :D

Krist posted a comment on Duff's first blog too... ;-)

Offline Just_Me

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He did? I missed that one, just had to go back and find it now.

Kinda funny that right above Krist's comment there's one saying "On a side note isn't it a tad bit eerie that you are writing for blog on a site which also has collum made my krist novoselic former bassist of Nirvana? I think you know what I am talking about." And then Krist's talking about having seen VR live. :lol:

I'm thinking this blog thing could end up shattering a few long-standing myths. Although personally my mind has already jumped ahead to dream collaborations. (Dave Grohl on drums, Krist on bass, Slash on guitar, Duff on vocals....I'm sure there's some more creative variations but that'd pretty much make me happy for life.)

Offline my3sons

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This is turning into an interesting topic. I'm holding off on suggesting any questions since I'm supposed to be on the answering side but personally I'm interested in what people in the US are worried about people outside the US thinking about them...if that made any sense.

I checked it out last night - the blog is awesome (as is Duff)!  And I asked almost that exact question!!  I wonder if Duff minds if his blog gets deluged with fans from here  :)

Offline vrfan1234

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This is turning into an interesting topic. I'm holding off on suggesting any questions since I'm supposed to be on the answering side but personally I'm interested in what people in the US are worried about people outside the US thinking about them...if that made any sense.

Also pleased to see a comment there from Krist Novoselic. :D

I don't worry about any one specific thing as far as U.S. reputation goes, but I would be interested to know in general what people outside the U.S. believe about the U.S. because I hear a variety of rumors (I live in Florida-tourist central) from the U.S. being the land of plenty for all to the U.S. being this terrible violent place where you have to look over your shoulder no matter where you are (true for some areas maybe, but not where I live) to Americans being uncouth (sp?)/unsophisticated/uncultured/whatever.  I'd simply be interested to know what is the most predominant rumor.  My question that I sent in (has to be approved by blog owner before they post it), however, was about the election process in European countries, how it compares to ours, and how effective it is compared with ours.  I didn't say this when I sent the question in, but I asked that question because I have thought for a while that we should get rid of the electoral college and simply use the popular vote since the popular vote is potentially a more accurate representation of what the American people want, and I wonder whether Europe has a more effective/accurate system than us.

edit: for anyone who maybe/maybe not ever studied what the electoral college is...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_college
« Last Edit: August 29, 2008, 09:05:09 PM by vrfan1234 »

Offline cousin it

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... but personally I'm interested in what people in the US are worried about people outside the US thinking about them...if that made any sense

Personally, I'm embarrassed when I meet Europeans. I've met a few academic types, and I, almost always, apologise for the ignorance that passes for American intellect. Most people recognise that the clusterfuck that is Bush, is atypical ... at least for half of us. So, I hope
« Last Edit: August 29, 2008, 10:41:34 PM by cousin it »

Offline Just_Me

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I've met enough Americans that in general I've given up on stereotypes although for some reason a lot of you do seem to think that something being popular in Europe makes it good but conversely a band has never really "made it" until they're popular in the US, no matter how big they are elsewhere. But some of the most intelligent people I know are American so it'd be a little hard for me to go on believing you're all stupid/ignorant.

As for voting systems I don't know about other European countries but in the UK we use a Plurailty voting system:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plurality_voting_system

It's relatively straight forward, in theory at least: Everyone in the country (over the age of 18, not legally insane ect.) is allowed to vote for 1 party and the one with the most votes will be the head of the government until the next general election (which can happen anytime but at least every 5 years). I think we actually have more than 10 parties but in reality there's only 3 with any chance of winning; the Conservatives (right wing), Labour (allegedly left wing), and the Liberal Democrats (really left wing).

Of course there's a lot of things that complicate the system like local elections to choose which party will be in power in each county. Whichever one runs the most counties has the most seats (and therefore the most votes) in the House of Commons. Party members don't have to vote the same way as their party leader but they usually do.

Offline AxlReznor

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btw... the stereotype in Europe of all Americans being fat, stupid, loud and arrogant was around long before any of us had ever heard the name George W. Bush.  He just reinforced it. ;)

Offline cousin it

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btw... the stereotype in Europe of all Americans being fat, stupid, loud and arrogant was around long before any of us had ever heard the name George W. Bush.  He just reinforced it. ;)

 as was the the stereotype of the dickhead  European with fucked up teeth for most Americans!!!

Offline cousin it

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..but mostly dickhead. There is a reason for Eurotrash...

Offline vrfan1234

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I've met enough Americans that in general I've given up on stereotypes although for some reason a lot of you do seem to think that something being popular in Europe makes it good but conversely a band has never really "made it" until they're popular in the US, no matter how big they are elsewhere. But some of the most intelligent people I know are American so it'd be a little hard for me to go on believing you're all stupid/ignorant.

As for voting systems I don't know about other European countries but in the UK we use a Plurailty voting system:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plurality_voting_system

It's relatively straight forward, in theory at least: Everyone in the country (over the age of 18, not legally insane ect.) is allowed to vote for 1 party and the one with the most votes will be the head of the government until the next general election (which can happen anytime but at least every 5 years). I think we actually have more than 10 parties but in reality there's only 3 with any chance of winning; the Conservatives (right wing), Labour (allegedly left wing), and the Liberal Democrats (really left wing).

Of course there's a lot of things that complicate the system like local elections to choose which party will be in power in each county. Whichever one runs the most counties has the most seats (and therefore the most votes) in the House of Commons. Party members don't have to vote the same way as their party leader but they usually do.

LOL, the something is good if it's popular in Europe part is quite a popular marketing strategy around here.  For some reason a lot of European products (or European styled products, I wouldn't know the difference) are advertised as better or more luxurious.  Your election process sounds pretty similar to ours.  It's been a while, but I vaguely remember my history books in school said our voting system was patterned after the UK.

..but mostly dickhead. There is a reason for Eurotrash...

Was that really necessary?  No one here is trying to insult anyone or any country as far as I can tell.  It's only a discussion about what the rumors are, where they come from, and how old-fashioned/inaccurate they are.  If anything I would have hoped this thread would be a good way for anyone who reads it to start to see past the stereotypes and see that it is possible to respect countries/cultures other than our own and look for reasons to get along rather than reasons to snipe at eachother and start more wars.

Offline duffdiver

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Offline Just_Me

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Something which only occured to me last night about that last story - I bet Duff hadn't signed up for the course as 'Duff McKagan' had he? The teacher probably had his name down as Michael and didn't realise he usually went by Duff.

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^I was thinking that too.

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Offline Just_Me

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It happened to a lot of my friends at university.

There was one guy I always knew as Moby, it was only when I went to tell one of the teachers that he'd switched to my group for a project that I found out his real name was Richard. And then only after an awkward conversation when I discovered none of the staff knew him as Moby and had to describe him (luckily he's a pretty distinctive guy, looks a lot like the musician Moby). :lol:

Offline F2BNG

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Nice to see that Duff hasn't forgotten his roots. ;)

That was a good read.

Offline vrfan1234

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I've just been reading the comments posted on that article (on the Reverb page, not this one) and Duff is classy as ever.  Some nobody (that's the name he/she used) posted a long response, most of which I don't remember which basically said you-are-a-rock-star-get-over-it and sounded, in my opinion, as though he/she thought all rock stars are "rock stars" in the big headed sense and Duff is just another one trying to deny it.  Well "nobody" made the mistake of saying something insulting about his wife in the process and Duff responded in that typically classy/mature way he has that I would have been hard pressed to do if someone had insulted one of my loved ones on the internet for the entire world to see (or even in private conversation).  He basically reminded "nobody" that he knew what he was getting into when he decided to write this article and insult him (Duff) if he wants to, but leave his family alone, although Duff's post sounded much better than my summary.  That post of Duff's just reminded me partly why I admire him so much.  Because he never seems to let anything get to him and even if he gets angry about something, like that insult, he usually handles it with class.  My fuse can be a little short sometimes, so it's nice to have an example like that even if I'm not always great at following it.

Offline Just_Me

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The thing I find odd is that when I questioned him about 'official' forums he said he knows which one's are official because he used to be a moderator on the VR forum. As far as I know the official VR forum (the fan club one) has no moderators, so either he's lying or he somehow managed to be a moderator here without realising that it's not an official forum.
It also means he is/was a part of the problem he's complaining about.

But I as far as most of his comment goes I think he just didn't understand what Duff was saying. He never said people don't "kiss his ass", simply that they shouldn't. I suspect 'nobody' got as far as the title and decided he obviously didn't need to read anymore because he knew what Duff would say and jumped straight to replying.

Says a lot that he felt he needed to do it anonymously as well, apparently he does care what Duff thinks because otherwise he wouldn't mind him (and everyone else) knowing who he is. All in all it's a pretty hypocritical approach.

Offline rhyte

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The thing I find odd is that when I questioned him about 'official' forums he said he knows which one's are official because he used to be a moderator on the VR forum. As far as I know the official VR forum (the fan club one) has no moderators, so either he's lying or he somehow managed to be a moderator here without realising that it's not an official forum.
It also means he is/was a part of the problem he's complaining about.

Exactly! I have not responded to his/her diatribe but if I did I would love to know where exactly he/she was a moderator? To my knowledge, as well,  the forum never had a mod. And suppose that it did, who told you to behave that way  (presumably editing offenseive q's)? It reads, the response, like a tantrum.


Offline let_it_fede

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: Duff McKagan

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/09/rock_star.php

Offline duffdiver

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^^ I posted the link above and we have been discussing the blog as well as the comments...