Nobody’s Hero

When I was fourteen or so, I began listening to the radio, reading science fiction and fantasy, learned how to explore the world, and learned that my curiosity about it was not a failure of acceptance but a secret joy I could live in whenever the suburbs got me down. I lived in a modest neighborhood, with everyday people who went about their inherited 1950’s playbook. I wanted so much more. I was afraid to die and too naive to live. Music and writing became my escapes.

The radio was a constant companion – home or car. I would drive with my father to the store or with my mother to swap meets, and I would control the radio. They always listened to AM. I remember discovering the FM band and was so impressed with how good it was, how different, how alive. I could venture out into my own streams of songs, learning the words and worlds that others created. As a writer, I listened to the lyrics as much as the instruments behind them.

komeIt was somewhere around this age that I also discovered KOME radio, 98.5 in San Jose. Every Sunday night, at 9:00PM, I would take the old, thrift-store radio on my dresser, and turn the dial to 98.5 and listen to Greg Stone. “Stonetrek” was a show of progressive rock hosted by Greg, and it went for various lengths of time but always on Sunday night. A new world emerged and I found Yes, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Saga, Marillion, Led Zeppelin, FM, Kayak, and Rush. The music was mesmerizing, lyrical, and so different than the silly pop that would encompass most of the people in high school. Even moreso, the lyrics were imbued with pictures of magical places and beings, space and possibilities. It matched the books I was reading and the poetry I was writing.

I remember walking through the Fremont Hub, an old shopping center in Fremont, that had a record store right in the middle of it, near the Longs Drug Store. I would walk there with my parents and always stop at the window, looking at the fantastic artwork, the beauty of Boris Vallejo and Roger Dean. And there, I will never forget it, was the first time I actually saw a Rush album. It was Hemispheres, and I thought it was so odd, a naked man standing on a brain. Whaaaa? I had to listen, it was so odd.

fleher-brucke-21-6-17-14I found The Trees, Cygnus, and Circumstances. I found lyrics I could not only listen to but understand. Understand. Not with my heart only but with my mind. I always read lyrics and with Rush, I was always enchanted. I was spoken to. Someone heard me, and it was Neil Peart. I started seeing Rush as soon as I could, and I never stopped. I knew every album, before and after Hemispheres, and in my highest highs and lowest lows, there was a lyric for me. I was as constrained as “Subdivisions” and as lonely as “Presto.” When I lived in Germany for a few years, “Counterparts” was released. They didn’t tour that year, much to my devastation as that is probably one of my favorite albums. I commuted to work every day, from just outside Koeln to Duesseldorf, about an hour. On that ride, I think I completely wore out that CD. I was lonely, in a country that didn’t speak my same language, terrified every moment of getting shipped home or fired for not being good enough. “Counterparts” was my friend, a voice speaking to me, Neil speaking to me through Geddy’s voice.

neil-peart-rush-1984-u-billboard-1548I know that Neil might be the first person to say he was nobody’s hero. Yet, for many of us who were disconnected and sad, lonely or feeling like we were the weird ones, his words comforted us. They connected us in some kind of soulful way, without the physics of the physical. They made us a community, like minds connected via Geddy’s voice and Neil’s words and Alex’s guitar. They were the voice we couldn’t have in the world, because the world was too glittery to listen. Neil inspired me to read Aristotle and Jung, and he expanded my world. He never knew me. But, he knew me.

ghostTo say that I am sad that he has passed has not captured the entirety or depth of the feeling. I’m not angry or fearful, tearful, nor morose. I am honestly not sure what I am. Silent. It’s not that the voice is now silent. It’s been silent for a while; and that absence helped to come to terms that there might not be a soundtrack for my life any longer. I think it might be more like losing your mentor. Your guide. A pen pal you have never met. You both get it but never meet. I believe his soul, though he might laugh at that, is now part of all of us. He left the physical work behind, and the words on paper were and are comfort. I’m not sad, no. I think, I am alone. And now, I have to write my own soundtrack, my own words, my own poetry. I have to finish the life I started with the work that I am tasked to do. He did his part. It’s time, now, for me to let go of the mentor, and do mine.

npFor all of you who are the weirdos, the strange ones, you who think no one understands…they do. Maybe, someday, if you read what I wrote, or Neil wrote, you won’t feel so alone. We’re here. The big, amorphous cadre of oddities has got your back. You may never meet me, but just by the words on paper, we will be kindred spirits.

Thank you, Neil. You were nobody’s hero but you are everyday glory.

Nobody’s Hero by Neil Peart / Rush¬†

I knew he was different, in his sexuality
I went to his parties, as a straight minority
It never seemed a threat to my masculinity
He only introduced me to a wider reality
As the years went by, we drifted apart
When I heard that he was gone
I felt a shadow cross my heart
But he’s nobody’s
Hero – saves a drowning child
Cures a wasting disease
Hero – lands the crippled airplane
Solves great mysteries
Hero – not the handsome actor
Who plays a hero’s role
Hero – not the glamor girl
Who’d love to sell her soul
If anybody’s buying
Nobody’s hero
I didn’t know the girl, but I knew her family
All their lives were shattered
In a nightmare of brutality
They try to carry on, try to bear the agony
Try to hold some faith
In the goodness of humanity
As the years went by, we drifted apart
When I heard that she was gone
I felt a shadow cross my heart
But she’s nobody’s
Hero – the voice of reason
Against the howling mob
Hero – the pride of purpose
In the unrewarding job
Hero – not the champion player
Who plays the perfect game
Not the glamor boy
Who loves to sell his name
Everybody’s buying
Nobody’s hero
As the years went by, we drifted apart
When I heard that you were gone
I felt a shadow cross my heart


#neilpeart #rush #everydayglory #nobodyshero #alexlifeson #geddylee


The Rush – Rush at Mountain View, CA

Dear Rush fans,

We rule, don’t we? Last night at Mountain View Shoreline was spectacular. The evening was warm enough that it was comfortable during the whole show, which was hot enough it its own right.

The amazing thing to me is the amount of energy and technical expertise these guys continue to have. For a bunch of 50-somethings, they rock. They opened the show with a bunch of classic songs, not commonly played in concerts over the years, like Mission and Digital Man. The crowd, a male-dominated, testosterone-laden bunch of equally 50-somethings (okay, I did see a wide range of people – but it was still mostly men!) went crazy. The women I did talk to were either there for their “men” or they had recently come to Rush. I was surprised that there weren’t more long time women Rush fans. But, after about 13 or 14 concerts or so, I shouldn’t be surprised. Back to the show…. I went with a friend of mine who has been to about four or five shows. His reaction and mine were the same – amazement that Geddy’s voice and their fingers are as nimble and fine as they always have been. If you don’t play music for a living, you may not be aware of just how rare, and difficult, that is to achieve.

The first set was interspersed with just a few pieces from the new album; the second set, however, was almost wholly-comprised of new material. This was good for many reasons. First off, I have to say that I think Snakes and Arrows isn’t one of their best works. The lyrics were far too personal for me and not thematic enough – I couldn’t connect on a general level. However, the music was stunning. This was really brought through by the live performance. What I didn’t get on the album – the stunning play between hard rocking guitar and lyrical poetic harmony – was vivid in a live setting. I felt like, since the first time I heard the album, that I got it.

The guy’s technical ability remains unparalleled. Geddy ripped the bass into shreds on pieces like Natural Science and Freewill. Alex played multiple instruments multiple times – not easy by itself but he was able to jam at the same time – incredible. His fingers flew. Neil is, well, Neil. There really isn’t a rock drummer, besides perhaps Stewart Copeland, that can compare.

Their sound has changed dramatically over the 30+ years, and the subtleties of the work continue to amaze me. While I may not be as impressed with this album as I have others, I admire their ability and passion for the work – it comes through in spades. It was nice to share that admiration with ten thousand of my closest friends. Thanks for a great show, guys!


French music and Perseverance

Persevering… to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement. Persist… 1 : to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning2 obsolete : to remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition, or position3 : to be insistent in the repetition or pressing of an utterance (as a question or an opinion)4 : to continue to exist especially past a usual, expected, or normal time.

Gotta love Webster. I think that I don’t have much to persevere for, yet. I’m not working hard enough, part of me says. Part of me is enjoying the freedom of figuring out who and what I am. Part of me needs an income and people to work with/for. I’m sitting in Starbuck’s and balancing the books. The tax forms are done and I’ve got to get stuff printed out for our taxes. The calls have been made to some companies but not all. Some people want to wait until May, others until June. I’m still chasing a couple of others. I have to move out of SSF and down south to drum up more business. That’s just it – I need to do more pounding – more drumming.

Someone wise told me that this is the year of good things for people. I believe I agree. It ‘feels’ that way. I wanted some wise, writer support in my persevering. I found Emerson.

“Finish each day / And be done with it / You have done what you could / Some blunders and / Absurdities have crept in / Forget them as soon as you can / Tomorrow is a new day / You shall begin it serenely / And with too high a spirit / To be encumbered by / Your old nonsense.”

Seems apropos. I love finding out who I am right now. It’s an interesting process. I love French cafe music. Never in a million years did I think I would. I love the seasons and am learning to love Summer. I can find something good in the heat, I think. I like Masonry but I like the balance of my life, too. We’ve been doing too much lately and I need to stay home for a while. Well, not home – I’ve been in the house FAR too much lately. I miss people. I miss friends. I go out and have lunch with people because I’m lonely. Lonely. Me. Go figure. I think it’s time to solve that problem, too.

Perseverance. It’s a word I want to embrace this year but in the best of ways – I don’t want all the trials and tribulations – I just want to keep going, to continue, to PERSIST in being who I am. Human being, not human doing. BEING whatever it is that I am. I’m learning. I guess that’s the best place to be, eh?


Pieces of Eight

Two bits. A Quarter. Thaler. Dahler. Dollar.

I used to love the Styx song, Pieces of Eight. I used to love Styx. Every once in a while I get the urge to listen again. What I loved about them was the words. There always was something pretty cool about their view of the world, their touch of fantasy and realism, and of course, Tommy Shaw was a babe.

Hey, I was 16 – cut me a break.

I’ve always had a thing for words in music. With Rush, it’s always been about the words AND the music (who else could change time 42 times in a song and still make it sound like POETRY!?!) With Styx, it was about the words. Cheap Trick. I know, I’m dating myself, but there it is.

What I was thinking about tonight was the lyrics of Pieces of Eight. And writing erotica. I’ve missed it. I felt like I had a connection there and I have had no time in the past days weeks months years to fulfill that desire. As it were. I miss Sarah, my serialized voyeur. I’ve missed Joey and Spyder, I’ve missed that thrill that comes from putting something terribly sexy down on paper and having to deal with it in “terrible” ways. She smirks. Simply terrible.

I think what I fear, which of course is odd in and of itself, is that I’ve passed it all by. I’m 43 for crissakes! How can it have passed me by? I can still write. And have my business. And do Masonry. The fear comes, I think, from judgment. Will I not be a good person, knowing what I know now about the world, my philosophy, ad infinitum… if I continue to write erotica?

Stupid but true. Me. Who hasn’t really cared what others think and am following my own. Me.

Now that I DO have my own business, I think I’m going to slowly pick up the “pen” again and get this going. I have missed it because it made me feel good to create something beautiful, sexy, and desired. I might even post it here.

If you want me to….