Revered as one of the world's best drummers, Peart is an avid motorcyclist and sports car fan who would rather ride his BMW GS-series bike from one gig to the next, taking to winding side roads rather than traveling in a private jet with bandmates Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee. Roadshow details his motorcycle travels in North America and Europe during the band's 30th Anniversary Tour; and the aptly named GPS units, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet, are minor characters who add color and chaos to the narrative.
Peart, the lyricist who penned Rush's sci-fi prog rock epics, including 2112 (based on Ayn Rand's novel, Anthem) and Cygnus X-1 (about one of the first suspected black holes, discovered in 1971), paints himself as mildly technophobic. Although he uses electronic drums and samplers on-stage and in the studio, and carries a PowerBook on his travels, the man who was once accused of writing lyrics that sounded "like he swallowed a satellite dish" was cautious about integrating the new mapping tools into his motorcycling routine:
"...based on years of bad experiences, I remained cautious about really trusting these machines. Acoustic drums always worked when you hit them, pen and paper always displayed their memory, and I had reliably navigated through many parts of the world with regular paper maps. I would have to be convinced by this GPS unit; it would be a while before I would learn to trust my place in the world to an electronic device."
Traversing some 21,000 miles through 19 countries, Peart and his riding companions, (security expert Michael in North America, and long-time friend Brutus in Europe) discover the joys and perils of GPS navigation: missed turns, roads that lead nowhere, non-existent streets, riding around in circles and most importantly, the QUICKEST WAY option that provides the shortest and most direct route to the next venue when running late. By the time he's riding through Scotland, Peart begrudgingly admits that the GPS units "haven't let us down, now that we know how to think like they do, and compensate."
Peart also reveals that he and his cohorts in Rush spend their nightly concert intermission on their PowerBooks, e-mailing family and friends and, in the case of bassist Geddy Lee, looking up real world and fantasy league baseball scores. For classic car lovers, he provides a brief history of the Bugatti Royale (of which six were only ever produced) and details his successful attempt to view them all before two passed into the hands of private collectors never to be publicly displayed again. And motorcyclists (including those who "ride" in videogames) will surely benefit from his explanation of how he handles turns.
Finally, adventurers (armchair and otherwise) will surely appreciate his motto:
DANGER + SURVIVAL = FUN.
In embracing life wholeheartedly (and technology with reservations), Peart proves that resistance need not be futile, that geeks can grow up to become something other than cubicle-dwelling programmers and that arrested adolescence may even lead to hanging out with the really cool kids, you know, the ones your mother warned you about. Nobody makes playing in a prog rock band with high nerd-appeal quotient seem sexier than Mr. Peart (while simultaneously reminding readers that playing in one of the world's most popular rock groups is just another job and that it too can become tedious).
Posted by Christos Tsirbas
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