Neil’s Atatürk Rule and Frankenstürm
Neil has updated his blog, News, Weather, and Sports, to fill us in on how the tour is going and we learn that he and his riding partner, Michael Mosbach, spent the end of October dodging Frankenstorm, or, as he likes to call it, Frankenstürm, which adds a little more heavy metal menace to it.
“As we moved south from shows in Buffalo and Cleveland to Charlotte and Atlanta, I began navigating not by the maps or through my usual favorite areas, but by the weather patterns,” he says in his post, “Witness to the Fall.”
Even when they were far west of the Atlantic seaboard and heading toward West Virginia, Frankenstürm was a menacing presence. Their plan was to ride through the higher elevations of West Virginia to get to their Oct. 30 show in Charlotte but major snow was threatened for just when they would be hitting the upper elevations, so they re-routed through the backroads of Kentucky and Knoxville and got through just fine. As it turns out, West Virginia got hit with four feet of snow.
In a first, Neil along with Michael and his Canadian riding partner, Brutus, have been tweeting throughout the tour under the handle WestSideBeemerBoyz. They have about 4,500 followers, including Geddy, and Michael has been generously “twitting” Neil’s words of wisdom along the way under the heading “Bubba sez,” as in, “Bubba sez the body is a good servant, but a terrible master.”
That particular tweet has a specific reference: a bad case of tendinitis in Neil’s left arm, lateral epicondylitis. Neil says he’s had this before, during the Test for Echo tour, but it was in the other arm.
Given how easy it is on Twitter to say something you regret, especially after a glass of the Macallan, Neil says he and Michael have devised a rule, called the Atatürk Rule, to keep them from tweeting anything they’ll come to regret later. It’s named for the Turkish ruler Mustafa Kemal “Atatürk” (meaning “father of the Turks”) during the 1920s and ’30s. I’m not familiar with Atatürk myself, but Neil says he was quite an enlightened ruler but he also liked to drink, and often when he would drink too much he would blurt out some outrageous rule or command that he would never do while sober. Fortunately. he had some wise aides who who would hold off executing his command until they verified, the next day, that he really intended to go forward with it. Invariably he would not, and so he had the good sense of his aides to thank for keeping watch over him.
Although Neil didn’t say this, there are plenty of people in the public eye who would benefit from employing the Atatürk Rule themselves (read: Rep. Anthony Weiner, as one example), although without a doubt the news would be lot more boring if every politician and celebrity did that. So, I guess we should be thankful not everyone is so disciplined.
In addition to Frankenstürm, there was another big storm taking place while Rush was traveling up and down the country for its Clockwork Angels tour and that’s the election. Neil says he’s a bleeding-heart libertarian, meaning he believes in minimal government but also a safety net for people when they fall, even if their fall is self-inflicted, and it sounds like he was pulling for President Obama:
It has to be said that this was an anxious election for those of us who worry about true individual rights (key question, perhaps: “Does a woman own her body?”), compassionate government, and the separation of church and state.
I define myself as a “bleeding-heart libertarian,” unwilling to let people suffer unnecessarily (even if it’s “their own fault”), so I am repelled by the cold-hearted and crypto-racist attitudes of the so-called “Christian” right. Michael is what Republicans call a “RINO,” or “Republican in name only,” which can probably be defined as “right-wing liberal”—politically conservative, socially liberal, and not sympathetic to religious influence on society at large. As he clarifies it, “I’m a registered die-hard Republican. I only seem liberal because I believe hurricanes are caused by low barometric pressure and not by gay marriage. My party left me!”
Generally, while believing in individual rights and responsibilities, we favor the classic liberal values of generosity and tolerance, and fear the religious oppression that has wormed its way into modern Republican platforms. (And that is a good metaphor.)
On a truly sad note, we learn that Shane, the 23-year-old son of Rush manager Ray Danniels, died on Nov. 1 of cancer. Neil, Geddy, and Alex returned Toronto to share in his grief. “I knew how it felt to lose a child,” he says. “After fifteen years, I think of Selena every single day, and from time to time (birthdays, black anniversaries), I am still rendered helpless with grief at that unbearable loss.”
On a happier note, Neil says the band and the string musicians touring with them are really clicking. On Halloween, they were in Atlanta and the two female string players, Adele Stein on cello and Audrey Solomon on violin, gave everyne a big laugh by coming out wearing “wildly elaborate face makeup that night, from David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane to rhinestone arabesques.” (See image at the top of this post and at right.) Neil didn’t include pictures in his piece but I took a small screen grab of Audrey Solomon’s makeup from the excellent—in fact, incredible—photography on John Patuto’s site Cygnus-x1. The photography is credited to Kevin Millette and Rob Geller and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I recommend it. It’s terrifc, and it looks like photography from each stop on the tour is being captured and uploaded to John’s site.