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Making friends on the road. Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. He writes about what's circulating through his iPod every Monday.
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Duff McKagan: China, Stray Dogs, and Where You Can Find Earth's Most Passionate Rock Fans

puppylove.jpg
Making friends on the road. Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. He writes about what's circulating through his iPod every Monday.
It seems there are so many things to write about this week that are all rather timely. Instead of picking one topic, then, I am going to give a short rundown of the things that have either piqued my interest and/or personal observations. Here goes . . .

South America

South American rock fans are bar none the best and most passionate in the world. Maybe it is because bands really didn't start going down there until the '90s, or maybe it's because their blood just runs a little hotter. For whatever reason, it's a place I always look forward to playing live.

I just returned from a Loaded tour of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, and this was the first time that I actually was ever able to get out and see some things. Fans down there will surround the hotel that a band stays at and WILL follow you en masse if you decide to take a stroll anywhere. When I was there with VR and GN'R, a walk around town in South America was simply not doable. With Loaded, while we still have those over-anxious fans, we seem to be able to talk to them and calm them down . . . with the help of a translator, of course.

Our first gig there was in Rosario, about a four-hour drive from Buenos Aires. After a beautiful drive through Argentine ranchlands, we arrived in the intellectual center of the country: Rosario.

For some reason, we thought maybe we'd have perhaps a calmer crowd in this studious city. We were wrong. When we got to the theater there, we found it absolutely surrounded by an extremely rowdy bunch of young and heated-up rock fans. We had to enlist a number of huge security guys just to get in the back door.

If any of you know Isaac, our new drummer, you will also know that while huge in talent and smarts, his physical stature is smaller than the rest of the band . . . by a ways. This, coupled with the fact that Isaac had yet to experience real first-hand fan mania, brought me to the realization that maybe this first gig in South America may have freaked him the fuck out. Being so far from home and feeling the strain of jet-lag alone can freak a guy out, but add to the equation people screaming your name at maximum volume and actually trying to get a piece of hair or clothing from your person . . . it's nutty, to say the least. A life experience for sure. Isaac was killer that night, though, and so was the crowd.

On our trip back to Buenos Aires the next day, we stopped at a truck/rest stop along the highway and ran into a couple of the stray dogs that are actually quite rampant in that part of the world. These animals look rather well-fed, but we all gave them parts of our sandwiches and patted their heads. Of the 20 or so wild dogs that we encountered on our nine-day trip, none seemed underfed, and all were quite tame and sweet as could be. This is something that I was never able to experience on other tours, and I am thankful that I was able to finally get out and see some of this part of the world. Absolutely beautiful country and excellent people.

Obama: China and the Trade Deficit

President Obama has been in China this week, and he has certainly got his work cut out for himself. He has a myriad of issues that he wants to address over there, and macroeconomic issues seem to have gotten the biggest "play" as far as news headlines and the like.

China has become the biggest holder of U.S. debt in the last couple of years. With nearly $800 billion worth of U.S. treasury bills, China rakes in roughly $50 billion a year in interest from those holdings alone.

China has also recently attached their yuan to the worth of the U.S. dollar, where other world currencies hold their own worth according to their specific countries' economic ups and downs. Many say that this is a false and unsubstantiated inflation of the yuan--that there is no economic basis for the yuan to be worth what the dollar is.

The inflation of the yuan makes outsourcing to China, of production jobs and the like, much cheaper for American companies; hence, many jobs here are thought to have been lost to the more inexpensive Chinese counterpart. The Chinese government also subsidizes many of these jobs, making them appear even cheaper to the world manufacturing market. This is also a major factor in why Chinese goods here are so cheap and U.S. goods over there are so expensive. Does that make sense?

The WTO has set up guidelines for fair trade, and countries in the WTO are expected to play fair. China has largely ignored these guidelines, seeing itself right now as the "big kid on the block"--holding all the cards (debt) and feeling no real pressure to change how things are working for them right now. This is the downside for us and other countries affected by trade with China.

But here is one of the rubs: China could sell off large chunks of their T-bill holdings, which would then send the U.S. dollar plummeting in value as there would be an instant and greater "supply" of our currency in the market--BUT with their yuan attached to the U.S. dollar, their currency too would feel the same negative impact.

Obama is now over there trying to forge a better partnership with China, and he has certainly got his hands full.

Them Crooked Vultures

For those of you in Seattle this weekend, may I suggest checking out TCV at the Paramount on Friday night. See my online column from last week (or in our print issue this week) if you want some info on the band. This much talent on one stage cannot be missed.

 
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