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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Props To The Nose, Geddy
By Paul Tomori
Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 03:11:14 (EDT)

This past week while en route to Niagara Falls from my office in St. Catharines, I found myself channel-surfing on the radio... away from setting number one (CBC Radio 2) in my little utilitarian silver MB B200. I have decided that just because CBC plays music from the fringe sometimes, such music often really sucks badly. Word to the wise CBC: you still have to bring a critical ear to music - just because it's on the fringe doesn't necessarily make it any good. Which brings me to the topic of this blog post. Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, a new retrospective biographical film about 3 Canadian guys who never emerged from the fringes, but who as Geddy Lee himself describes them... are the "world's most popular cult band". In my flicking through stations, I stopped briefly at HTZ-FM and caught word of a single showing of the new film at Empire Theatre at the Pen Centre... and to "visit our website for details". That mental note stayed with me through the remainder of my drive, meeting and return to my computer.

My similarly-inspired channel-surfing was rewarded a couple of weeks ago when I pulled out of the parking garage of my office building (where the signal is crackly and garbled) only to hear some dramatic drum phrasing set against a driving riff. I listened intently knowing the style to be very familiar, yet new. It sounded like a band with the frenetic energy of a 20 year-old earnestly pushing their way through an intro to the first verse, but it was being done with the confidence and assertiveness that only an older musician can muster. At that moment, it made me catch my breath when I heard Geddy Lee's distinctive voice... I was hearing new Rush for the first time... ALWAYS, a great pleasure, but never by surprise til now (usually, when word of a new album was coming out, I would be glued to the radio or I would be at the record store on release date, getting my copy, racing home, tearing open the plastic wrapping at stoplights and reading the lyrics... Once home, the door would be closed and the headphones would be tightly pressed against my ears for hours as I reveled in the latest tracks.) As a young man filled with passion and pursuit of personal best, Rush was exemplary to me in a way that probably only other Rush fans can describe. This time, I was caught off guard and it was a great thrill... and inspiration. As Jack Black says about Rush, these guys are just like a bottle of hot sauce that keeps delivering and never gets empty.

When asked recently why Rush is going on tour again this summer, Alex Lifeson replied "for the chicks". Which, of course, is laughable to anyone who knows of the guy. With incredulousness, Gene Simmons of KISS (a Rush fan himself and friend of the ban) mocks the band for the complete devotion to their music while KISS and Rush toured together during the 70's. We all know that the "chicks" were a primary motivation for Gene, which makes his comments that much more humorous.

Anyway, back to this week's scenario. When I got to the HTZ-FM website and could not find the "details" that the DJ had promised, I was mildly irritated and emailed my wife to see if she could pop in to the theatre to inquire about tickets. All I found on the website was an entry form for a contest for tickets, which looked like a veiled attempt to just build their mailing list. Reluctantly, I completed the form anyway. Generally, I don't enter contests... I just go and pay, but I wasn't certain that the event would even be open to the public. So, you can imagine my surprise when I got a call yesterday with a message that I was the winner of the contest. All I could think was "oh geez, I must have been the only guy to enter the damn contest!". The movie was slated to be played last night at midnight and to run til 2 a.m.. I had visions of showing up to the sound of crickets and silently sitting in an empty theatre mindlessly munching popcorn in humiliation about my undying juvenile obsession. This notion was validated when the one friend I thought would be foolish enough to stay out so late for such a frivolous indulgence declined me.

However... HOWEVER, I was not to be deterred... not by my friend's polite decline and not even by own better judgement. Instead, I decided to do a split-shift of sleep and to set my alarm for 11:30 p.m., walk over to the theatre, watch the Rush bio against a backdrop of crickets, then go home to catch the rest of my sleep.

Was I in for a surprise! I almost didn't get a seat! The theatre was jam-packed with enthusiastic Rush fans of all ages, wearing shirts from all the various tours from the band's 36-year run... and yes, there were even some "chicks" there (maybe Alex wasn't kidding!). The anticipatory energy in the theatre reminded me of that brief wait just before a Rush concert. And to think that the HTZ-FM staff apologized for the late start time of the film and said I should drink some coffee before going! Didn't he know - Rush is the furthest thing from soporific. I was mesmerized. The production was superb and the access granted to the filmmakers was unprecedented in Rush's history. There was even footage of Neil Peart as a child growing up here in St. Catharines learning to skate at the shores of Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie, with the lighthouse in the background.

I am now second-guessing my affinities for CBC. Just because I am a forty-something business man with a family and a mortgage, doesn't mean I can't carry forward with some of that 20-year old energy and passion I had so much of. Perhaps I can also be like that bottle of hot sauce that keeps delivering its essence, but never gets empty.

Props to the nose, Geddy. It's taken you far. And props to Neil and Alex too. Your inspiration is timeless. Thanks for yet another reminder of what life can be if you stick to your passion.

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