Duff McKagan, formerly of Guns N' Roses, plays bass in Velvet Revolver. His column appears every Thursday on Reverb.
In September of ’04, I had just finished up a stint as a student at the most excellent Seattle University and found myself headed to Europe to do a two-week press tour for the first Velvet Revolver record. On a press tour, you usually have a pretty tight schedule of print, radio, and TV interviews about—as was my case—your latest musical project. What was almost universally different this time, however, was the fact that I was being asked one extra question at every interview: “Do you think Kerry will beat Bush in the upcoming election?”
There seemed to be an almost all-enveloping fear in Europe that September that Bush would indeed get another four years. The thought was that perhaps Kerry may have the peaceful solution and that the Iraq occupation, er. . . War would see some near-future end with him in office. Our bellicose administration seemed to be taking its collective toll on the well-being of the everyday European, and I was now being put in the hot seat.It seemed that I had somehow gained a new reputation in my “rock world” as someone who could perhaps speak for many. I am not sure why this came to be. Maybe it was because I could now put together a couple of complete sentences without slobbering on myself (I put away my gallon-of-vodka-per-day habit back in ’94). Whatever the case, I had, like every American, thought a lot about this topic as November 4 fast approached. I had a great answer for these people, so I spewed forth my rhetoric for the following two weeks, which went something like this: “I have just finished going to school with some of the smartest kids in America. No way do I think that these intelligent youth are going to idly sit back and allow Bush to succeed. These kids are ACTIVE in seeing a new leader step up and get things straightened out. Damn straight…Bush is going down, HE’S GOIN’ DOWN!” Well, shit, didn’t I look like a damn fool a few short weeks hence…
I’ve realized since then that the kids I went to school with at Seattle University were indeed very smart, but they didn’t represent America, they represented Seattle! A big difference.
OK, flash forward to now. I will again be going to Europe this September, and I was curious if you, the Seattle Weekly reader, had a question for me to ask not only writers over there, but also the common workaday Europeans walking down the street? What are their hopes for a U.S. presidential candidate? Are we beyond repair? etc. I would like a consensus question from you readers that I can ask them this time. While there, I will report on this blog and let you all know how it is going. This could be a really cool way of creating an informative dialogue, if nothing else. And I promise to (try) not to color the response too much with my own personal and political viewpoints and jadedness.
Please pose a question in the comment section of this article, and hopefully we will have enough that I can take to Europe the most common question or maybe the most poignant. I am not sure if this will work, but wouldn’t you like to know what they might be thinking? Wouldn’t you like for them to know that we at least care what they think? I for one am sick of other nations thinking we blindly support whatever is being said on our behalf by a bunch of special-interest old white men in Washington D.C. Am I being too “hippie” in thinking we should at least make an effort? I think it’s at least time to see if we can start cleaning up the mess left by our gigantic bull.
One last thought I’d like to share: Last March I was in England, having a coffee with an old friend there. As our conversation turned to world matters, it inevitably turned to the United States. He told me of a common thread of feeling over there: that no one was actually mad at us, the average American. They could see that the voting process was completely fixed and out of our hands. They were scared. They really think that some diabolical invisible hand controls this country now and that the West as a whole is doomed because of it. My question to you: What are we gonna do about it?