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THE PUNK AND THE GODFATHER

If I sounded a little distracted during my interview on Tuesday's edition of "The World," the BBC/Public Radio International show, there was a reason: shock. Because while I was mumbling about the Pentagon's so-called budget cuts in the BBC's cramped studios on Broadway, a hero of mine was sitting in the next booth over.He'd seen better days better decades clearly. His eyes were puffed and heavy; bags dropped most of the way down his cheeks. His skin was saggy and full of lumps. A couple days' worth of gray gristle didn't make him look any more lively. Still, it took me only about a nanosecond to recognize him: Pete Townsend, guitar and songwriting god of The Who.Now, when I was about thirteen or so, I didn't just like The Who. I came pretty close to worshipping them. Before my record collection had thirty LPs, Townsend's two records from the mid-80's were piled near Who's Next and Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy. "My Generation" was the first bad-ass song I learned to play on bass. I even went to a Roger Daltrey solo show at Madison Square Garden; Big Country opened the bill.In the BBC studio, I smiled a teenaged grin as I saw Townsend. And it took just about everything in my power not to go up to the booth's glass and start doing Townsend's signature windmill strum. But I managed to resist. And as I tested my mic levels, the engineer kindly pumped in Townsend's interview into my headphones; he was discussing a pink Stratocaster guitar.My interview quickly got underway. As I answered a question about the Raptor stealth fighter, Townsend backed away from his microphone, put on his coat, stood up, and walked out the door.I sang "Behind Blue Eyes" the whole way home.

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