Tour Bus Logic and Our Obesity Situation

Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. Follow him on Twitter @Duff64.
I think with all of us, no matter how hard we try to remain politically correct and mind our social manners, it remains well-nigh impossible to police our private thoughts. I've been doing a lot of well-documented traveling lately, and with it comes plenty of time in the air.

Martin Feveyear (our band's tour manager) and I were having a philosophical discussion on the bus over our morning coffee. Apparently, there is more and more talk among airlines on whether to charge, um, "wide" people for an extra seat. The airlines are further talking about installing a limited amount of wide seats just for those people who fit the profile, pun intended. If you travel as much as Martin and I do, it's more than likely you have been squeezed into a tight place next to a person who has no business sitting in a seat meant for the thin-ish. It's just plain uncomfortable for both parties involved.

How would someone arbitrarily make the decision about who would or would not have to purchase this more expensive (for sure) seat? As this conversation broadens on our tour bus, there are differing opinions. Here's a sample of what I heard as the guys sauntered down to the bus kitchen: "It's not someone's fault if they are fat!" "There is always the excuse of a 'thyroid problem.' That's bullshit!" I know that everyone reading this piece will have their own strong opinion on this matter, but these two opinions probably shed light on the two furthest ends of the spectrum.

Airplane food in Europe. Yogurt with in point.
I must say, though, for argument's sake, it is stunningly obvious to the casual observer that Europe does not have the obesity problem we have in the States. There are no super-size options at fast-food places over here, and the average meal is much smaller in every European country and in the UK. There was a piece in London's Sun newspaper last week about this American super-size phenomenon and the three British actors who had gone to L.A. to shoot a movie. All three came back to London with noticeable extra weight. They blamed the big meal portions they had gotten used to in the States.

Obesity in America is a killer for sure, and subjects like this airplane-seat dilemma, while not popular I am sure, must be addressed. A parent's bad eating and health habits get passed down to their children. I have heard so many people say that they don't have the time to work out. Often these are the same people who play hours of video games, spend too much time on the computer, or just watch too much fucking TV, all the while eating shit food.

In America, we don't tell our citizens how to live, but maybe there could be some sort of incentive for getting reasonably fit--other than, you know, a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, a longer life span, fewer joint problems, etc. Maybe charging more for an airplane ticket IS the right thing to do after all. Charging more now may just be that last straw that pushes just a few of us to turn our health habits around.

I am stunned and mystified every time I'm at the movies to see just how stupidly HUGE the sizes of popcorn and sodas are. We all watch as person after person gets the large everything "for just 50 cents more" or whatever the hell it is. The amount of calories and fat in a large tub of buttered popcorn could sustain a person stranded on a desert island for three weeks!

I have no tidy ending for this column. It's really only meant to spur discussion. As I write, I am in a prop plane flying over the Dolomite mountain range from Munich to Bologna, Italy. What I'd give for a parachute, a sleeping bag, boots, a pack, an ice-axe, crampons...and Tim Medvetz, of course!

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