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List posting/followup:     rush@syrinx.umd.edu
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                                    or
                           rush-mgr@syrinx.umd.edu

(Administrative postings to the posting address will be ignored!)

----------------------------------------------------------------------


         The National Midnight Star, Number 1007

                 Tuesday, 23 August 1994
Today's Topics:
                      Administrivia
                    Update on the Gift
                    A Port Boy's Story
----------------------------------------------------------

From: rush-mgr@syrinx.umd.edu (The RUSH Frans Digest Manager)
Date: Tue Aug 23 15:23:15 EDT 1994
Subject: Administrivia

Got my ethernet card to work, and I am now caught up in the admin department.
This special edition contains the long-awaited "Port Boy" story written by
Neil himself, and much thanks to Jeff for transcribing it! Also here is an
important update on the Gift project...

- rush-mgr

----------------------------------------------------------

Date: Thu, 18 Aug 94 13:37:42 HST
From: puanani@wana.pbrc.Hawaii.Edu (Puanani Akaka)
Subject: Update on the Gift

Hello Everyone!

Well, the word is --

    Kim Garner at Anthem has approved the anniversary Gift project 

[Yes, I realize the anniversary *date* has passed, but this is their 20th
*year*, which is what I'd like to think we were honoring, rather than just
the specific day]

To summarize:  An idea came up last year to give Rush a 20th Anniv. present
from us humble fans.  It has taken a LONG time to contact Anthem for their
permission, but it looks like they're for the idea!  One idea was to have
Hugh Syme paint 3 paintings for the band.  Other ideas included having Andrew
MacNaughtan doing something, or a sculpture or plaque made.  Or giving money
to a charity.

I finally talked to Kim a couple weeks ago so here's the gist of the
conversation.  [rush-mgr, I can see why you wanted to start the Kim Garner
fan club.  She is such a nice lady.  No wonder she's the PR person...]

She was very intrigued with the gift idea, so we discussed what we had in
mind.  After some discussion, we "agreed" that Hugh Syme was just way too
expensive for us.  And awfully busy.  That was already anticipated so it
wasn't a surprise to hear.  But, hey, we had to try!

I stressed to her (again) the reasons we wanted a friend of the band's to do
something, since it would mean more to *the band*.  She really appreciated
the thought behind that and understood where I/we were coming from.  I then
brought up Andrew MacNaughtan.  She *jumped* on the idea.  I said, "I have no
idea what he could do, tho."   She thought about it then asked me to refax the
original letter we had sent her back in April (and which Cheryl Renshaw faxed
her a month ago).  She wanted to show it to Andrew and discuss it with him.

She asked me earlier how we'd give the gift to the band.  She said any kind
of presentation ceremony was not possible, due to lack of time.  Not to
mention that the *guys* probably don't even know their own schedules since
they're all on holiday.  I told her we could simply send it to the office.
I guess she thought that was fine 'cause she didn't say anything!  (We were
still discussing Hugh Syme when this was brought up. If Andrew does something
I suspect this question will be moot since he's already in Toronto.)

Kim also mentioned that giving money to a charity of the band's choice would
be appreciated by them.  I agreed that was cool.  [There was some minor
"controversy" about that before, with folks not being sure what charity to
give it to and in whose name is it to be given.]  Discussion about that was
never pursued further as she got caught up in the Andrew MacNaughtan idea!
But I suspect if the Andrew thing doesn't go down, the charity idea may be
our contribution -- tho that'd be up to the band, Kim Garner, the Committee
and you folks to decide (that about covers everyone, doesn't it?).

SO!  To sum up:  Anthem is behind us!  The Hugh Syme paintings are out :-(,
 and Kim Garner will talk to Andrew MacNaughtan for us, instead.  :-).  Any
 kind of presentation ceremony is out, as well.  But, it looks like this
 thing will happen in *some* form or other.

And we DO have a fundraising project going on, as we speak!  For details and
information on that please read or re-read Juno's post on ordering shirts
(NMS # 1005).  ALL proceeds go toward the gift and any costs it incurs.  We're
hoping to be able to offer sweatshirts in the fall, as well.
   And for those wishing to do so, simple contributions are certainly
welcome!  [Just be sure to tell Juno it's a contribution and not an order for
a shirt (!).]

That's about it for now!  More news as it happens...

puanani       "Now it's dark."

----------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 22:59:51 -0700
From: jeffr@bmerha2a.bnr.ca (Jeffrey Robertson)
Subject: A Port Boy's Story

   [Taken from the _St. Catharines Standard_ -- June 24/25, 1994]

A Port boy's story -- parts 1 & 2
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
   Neil Peart is the drummer and lyricist for Rush, Canada's most successful
rock band, who have sold more than 30 million records worldwide, and have
performed throughout North America, Europe, and Japan.  Neil grew up in
St. Catharines, and lived in the area until 1984.  These days, when not
touring with Rush (or on his bicycle), Neil divides his time between Toronto
and the Laurentians area of Quebec, with his wife Jacqueline and daughter
Selena.
   In the first of two parts written exclusively for The Standard, Neil offers
some of his recollections of growing up in Port Dalhousie during the '50s and
'60s.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
By NEIL PEART
Special to The Standard

   MY STORY begins in 1952, on the family farm near Hagersville.  Mom tells me
they used to wrap me in swaddling clothes and lay me in a manger, but don't
get me wrong -- this was no Christmas story.  They just wanted me out of the
way while they did the milking.  But the dimly lit barn, redolent of straw and
manure, was an early imprint, and to this day a dairy farm always smells like
home to me.  Wherever I may travel, from Switzerland to Senegal, my deepest
memories are triggered by ... cow dung.

   Still, after a couple of years I became restless with country life, and
convinced my parents to move to the big city -- St. Catharines.  My father
became parts manager at Dalziel Equipment, the International Harvester dealer
on St. Paul Street West (gone now, but I worked there too in later years, right
before I joined Rush).  Our little family settled briefly into an apartment on
the east side, then into a rented duplex on Violet Street, in the Martindale
area.

   A year later, the stork brought my brother Danny, and sister Judy a year
after that.  They were nice enough siblings, but I really wanted to be an only
child -- I never liked to share.

   We only lived on Violet Street until I was four, so my memories are few, but
I do remember tumbling off my tricycle and falling headfirst into the
corrugated metal pit around the basement window, crashing through the glass to
hang upside-down, staring at my mother as she stood, drop-jawed, at the wringer
washer.  Miraculously, I wasn't injured -- although in retrospect, I may have
suffered a little brain damage.  It would explain some of my behavior in later
years.  But it didn't discourage my early taste for pedal-power, or adventure
travel, for 30 years later I would find myself cycling through China, many
countries in Europe and West Africa, and around much of North America.

   In 1956, we moved to a brand-new split-level on Dalhousie Avenue -- then
Queen Street, before the imperialist forces of St. Catharines invaded Port
Dalhousie, in 1961, and amalgamated it (like Saddam Hussein amalgamated Kuwait,
it seems to me).

   Our new subdivision had until recently been an orchard, and four pear trees
remained at the end of our yard (over the years we ate so many pears off those
trees that I have never been able to eat them since).  Just behind us was
Middleton's cornfield, which occupied the middle of the block, and in late
summer it became a cool green labyrinth, perfect for hide-and-seek in the long
twilight hours.

   My Dad built us a swing set and a sandbox, and with those pear trees to
climb and the cornfield to run through, our backyard was nearly perfect.  We
needed a pool and a trampoline, and maybe a roller coaster.  But life was
pretty good.

   In those days, we didn't know about day-care centres or nursery schools, but
Grandma Peart lived in a house on Bayview -- right across the cornfield -- and
often looked after us, especially when Mom started working at Lincoln Hosiery.
Grandma played hymns on the pedal organ, baked amazing pies and buns, taught me
all about birds from her little colored books (I have them now), made quilts
with her friends from the United Church Ladies Auxiliary, and wore her hair
tucked in flat waves under a net.

   She was a classic Puritan grandmother:  wiry and iron-hard, a stern disci-
plinarian -- her chosen instrument was the wooden spoon, applied to my backside
with enough force to break more than a few of them -- but I also remember a
million acts of kindness.  And if she believed the injunction against sparing
the rod, she could still "spoil the child" in other ways, and we also knew her
innate softness, her pure gentleness of heart.

   I remember staying at her house when I was small, and at bedtime she would
emerge from the bathroom totally transformed:  leaving behind the severe cotton
dress, the hard black shoes, and the strict hairnet, she tiptoed into the dark
room on bare feet, wearing a long white nightgown, her hair down in a rope of
grey braid.  She seemed so frail and girlish as we knelt beside the big wooden
bed to say our prayers:  "Now I lay me down to sleep..."

   I STARTED kindergarten at MacArthur School, and the first time the fire
alarm went off, I ran out of there and didn't stop running until I got home.
I had much to learn about life.

   >From grades 1 to 5 I attended Gracefield School, at the other end of Port
Dalhousie, which was still surrounded by fields in those far-off days, and a
copse of trees which we poetically called "Littlewoods."  Once I fell out of
one of those trees, landing on a broken branch and tearing a gash in my inner
arm, big enough that I could see the white bone.

   An older boy from down the street, Bryan Burke, had the presence-of-mind to
rip off his T-shirt, wrap it around my arm and get me home, so after Mom got me
to the hospital and had it stitched up, the only permanent damage to my future
drumming limb was a long, ragged scar.  Thanks, Bryan, whereever you are.

   Port Dalhousie in the late '50s was a magical time and place, perfect for
boyhood.  Quiet streets for ball hockey, the lake for swimming, skating on
Martindale Pond, the library to feed my growing appetite for reading, and
hordes of other "baby boomer" kids around to share it all.

   We measured our lives not by the seasons, but by the ancient festivals --
children are natural pagans.  Winter was Christmas, spring was Easter, and
autumn was the magic of Halloween:  dressing up as Zorro, or a pirate, or a
hobo, and wandering the cold, dark streets in search of flickering pumpkins at
doorways where people would fill our bags with loot.

   Whispered words were passed among the ghosts and goblins, and we learned
which houses were giving out fudge or candy apple (no fear of needles or poison
in those days -- before people became so crazy.  I blame the water).

   Summer, of course, was a long pagan festival all its own.  I would get
together with a friend like Doug Putman, or my brother Danny, and we would hike
or ride our bikes to Paradise Valley, out by Ninth Street, or farther, to
Rockway and Ball's Falls.  Somehow nothing was more attractive than "the woods"
 -- a bit of leafy forest, a stretch of running water, maybe a shallow cave in
the rocks of the escarpment.  This was Romance and Adventure.

   Sometimes we would ride to the railway crossing at Third Street, and just
sit in the culvert all day, listening for trains and running out to watch them
go by.  Perhaps that sounds as exciting as watching grass grow, but for those
apocalyptic seconds when we stood by the track and felt that power speeded by
so close, so loud, and so mighty that the earth shook and the wind roared, it
raised more adrenalin than any Nintendo game.

   We could explore along the wilder parts of the lakeshore, maybe sneak into
old man Colesy's orchard to pilfer some fruit (risking his fabled pepper gun),
or just spend our days "messing around" down by the old canal, or over by the
lighthouse on the "Michigan side."

   We would often see old mad Helen walking fast across the bridges, a blade of
nose, protruding teeth, and a thatch of grey hair racing ahead of her old
overcoat and blocky shoes.  Helen was always muttering to herself as she
stalked along, and adolescent boys, hiding under the bridges to listen, could
imagine as much profanity in her gibberish as we did in the lyrics to Louie
Louie.  But in reality, only our minds were dirty.

   And no wonder -- we lived in a dirty world.  Like all that generation of
Port kids, I learned to swim in Lake Ontario, at Mrs. Stewart's classes, and
not only was that water cold on dark days, but what a cesspool we were swimming
in -- algae and dead fish washing along the shore in reeking piles, dotted with
"Port Dalhousie whitefish" (used condoms).  Aside from the cold water and the
stench, we sometimes endured eye, ear, and throat infections, and indeed, this
was only a year or two before the scary signs began to go up:  "No Swimming --
Polluted Water."

   PERHAPS PEOPLE are more used to such things now, but to a 10-year-old boy in
1962, this was an inscrutable mystery.  How could this happen?  How could
people let this happen?  Everyone said it was because of the factories in
Hamilton, and the pulp mills in Thorold, but of course the worst problem was
fecal coliform -- human sewage -- just as it is today.

   In any case, it wasn't the water in Port Dalhousie that nearly killed me --
it was other kids.  One time, at about the same age, I was swimming 'way out
over my head, trying to reach a raft which was anchored a couple of hundred
yards offshore.  The bigger guys used to swim out there, and I'd done it once
before, but I was not a strong swimmer, and shivering added to the exertion.
Choppy waves broke in my face, and I choked a couple of times.  When I finally
made it to the raft, I was gasping for breath and my arms were heavy.

   A bunch of the neighborhood bullies were playing there, wrestling and
throwing each other into the water, and they thought it would be a good joke
not to let me on.  Exhausted and desperate, I paddled from side to side of the
raft, but they would only taunt me, laugh, and push me away.  I started to swim
back to shore, while they lost interest and turned away again, back to their
rough play.

   I couldn't do it.  About halfway I ran out of strength, and in a panic
realized that I was going to drown.  I couldn't move my arms and legs any more,
and I felt myself sinking -- even had my brief life flash before my eyes.  I
suppose I must have called out, for the next thing I know I was waking up on
the beach.  It seemed I'd been pulled from the water by two other kids from
school -- Kit Jarvis and Margaret Clare (and yes, I remember the names of some
of the young brutes on that raft too, and since I've never again been
comfortable away from shore, even though I've become a strong swimmer, I can
tell you that those guys are doomed forever by bad karma and voodoo curses).
On the positive side, I owe Kit and Margaret a lot -- in fact, everything --
and I've never forgotten what they did.

   Nor have I forgotten the simple joys of childhood:  riding in the back seat
of Dad's red '55 Buick hardtop, squirming against Danny and Judy, all of us
excited to be on the way to a drive-in movie (always pretending to be asleep
when we got home, so Dad would carry us to our beds).

   OR THE RAREST luxury -- going out for dinner at the Niagara Frontier House,
a diner on Ontario Street which was modest enough, but seemed like the Ritz to
me.  Red-upholstered booths, lights glinting on wood, Formica, and stainless
steel, the Hamilton Beach milkshake machine, the tray of pies on the counter,
and the chrome juke-box beside each booth, with those metal pages you could
flip through to read the songs.  Although the highest luxury of all was being
allowed to choose from a menu, I always ordered the same thing:  a hot hamburg
sandwich and a chocolate milkshake.

   Simple joys, and simple sorrows, yet felt as deeply as they will ever be.
And sometimes they are both evoked just by remembering an old car.  One time we
drove out Lakeshore Road and up the lane to Mr. Houtby's farm, and Dad got out
to talk to him.  Next morning, I started my first summer job.  In retrospect, I
have to wonder if Mr. Houtby had some grudge against my Dad's farm equipment
business, for I found myself sent out to weed a potato field -- by hand -- and
after three days of crawling through the dirt on my hands and knees under the
baking sun, I received the princely sum of ... three dollars.  My faith in the
work ethic was shaken, I can tell you, but it was later restored -- first by a
Globe & Mail route, then by a little set of red-sparkle drums. . . .

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
   A frizzy-haired aspiring drummer in a flowing black cape?  Take a trip
through the flower-power '60s in staid St. Catharines as Neil Peart continues
his memories of growing up in Port Dalhousie, in the Spectrum section of
tomorrow's Standard.

A Port boy's story
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
By NEIL PEART
Subject: A Port boy's story -- parts 3 & 4
Special to The Standard

A Port boy's story
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
   Neil Peart is the drummer and lyricist for Rush, Canada's most successful
rock band, who have sold more than 30 million records worldwide, and have
performed throughout North America, Europe, and Japan.  Neil grew up in
St. Catharines, and lived in the area until 1984.  These days, when not
touring with Rush (or on his bicycle), Neil divides his time between Toronto
and the Laurentians area of Quebec, with his wife Jacqueline and daughter
Selena.
   In the first of two parts Friday, Neil talked aobut his early days growing
up in Port Dalhousie.  In today's instalment, written exclusively for The
Standard, he offers more recollections of growing up in Niagara in the '60s --
after he got his first set of drums.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
By NEIL PEART
Special to The Standard

   IN EARLY adolescence, my hormones attached themselves to music.  Mom and Dad
gave me a transistor radio, and I used to lay in bed at night with it turned
down low and pressed to my ear, tuned to pop stations in Toronto, Hamilton,
Welland, or Buffalo.  I still remember the first song that galvanized me:
Chains, a simple pop tune by one of those girl groups, with close harmonies
syncopated over a driving shuffle.  No great classic or anything, but as I
listened to that song on my transistor, suddenly I _understood_.  This changed
everything.

   Rhythm especially seemed to affect me, in a physical way, and soon I was
tapping all the time -- on tables, knees, and with a pair of chopsticks on baby
sister Nancy's playpen.

   At first Mom and Dad probably thought I had some kind of nervous affliction,
but they decided to try occupational therapy -- for my thirteenth birthday,
they got me drum lessons.  This changed everything even more.

   Every Saturday morning, I took the bus uptown, and climbed the stairs to the
Peninsula Conservatory of Music, above St. Paul Street.  My teacher was Don
George -- someone else to whom I owe a lot.  Don started me off so well:  he
emphasized the basics of technique (the famous 26 rudiments) and sight reading,
but also showed me the flashier stuff, and was always enthusiastic and
supportive.  Coincidently, Kit Jarvis also studied drums with Don, and Don once
told me that out of all his students, only Kit and I would ever be drummers.
For me, that was heavy encouragement indeed, and he was fortunately not wrong
-- I wonder if Kit still plays?  Last I heard he moved to Ottawa or something.
But of course, that was almost 30 years ago.

   I was totally obsessed with drumming and no one ever had to encourage me to
practice -- to the contrary:  I had to be encouraged to _stop_!  By this time
we lived on Gertrude Street, and the Kyle family next door was very tolerant
and pleasant about the racket pouring out of my bedroom window every afternoon
after school.

   My drumming debut took place at St. John's Anglican Church Hall in Port
Dalhousie, during a school Christmas pageant (no, not as the little drummer
boy).  Four of us mimed to the Stones' Get Off My Cloud, only since we were
supposed to be the Royal Bakers in the play, we changed it to Get Off My Pizza.
Clever.

   My next drumming appearance was at the Lakeport High School variety show.
With Don Brunt on piano and Don Tees on sax, we were the Eternal Triangle, and
we practiced nights at the school.  (Don Brunt would drive us home in his Dad's
'65 Pontiac, usually with a detour out to Middle Road, where he could get it
up to a hundred).

   For the variety show we played a couple of songs, including one original
which was titled LSD Forever (as if we had any idea -- the only drug we knew
anything about was Export A!).  My first public drum solo was a success, and I
will never forget how I glowed with the praise from the other kids in the show
(including, I've always remembered, Paul Kennedy, who has done well for himself
on CBC Radio).   To a kid who had never been good in sports, and had never felt
like "one of the gang," this was the first time I had ever known "peer
appreciation."  I confess I liked it.

   IN MY EARLY teens I also achieved every Port kid's dream:  a summer job at
Lakeside Park.  In those days, it was still a thriving and exciting whirl of
rides, games, music, and lights.  So many ghosts haunt that vanished midway; so
many memories bring it back for me.  I ran the Bubble Game -- calling out
"Catch a bubble; prize every time!" all day -- and sometimes the Ball Toss
game.  When it wasn't busy I would sit at the back door and watch the kids on
the trampolines, and Mr. Cudney wasn't amused.  I got fired.  (Early on I had
trouble with the concept of "responsibility," but I'm better now.)

   And then there were all the _bands_.  Guitars and Hammond organs by then,
and five-piece groups with names like Mumblin' Sumpthin', The Majority, J. R.
Flood, and Hush.

   We practiced in basement rec rooms and garages, living for that weekend gig
at the church hall, the high school, the roller rink, and, later, so many late-
night drives in Econoline vans, sitting on the amps all the way home from towns
like Mitchell, Seaforth, Elmira, and even as far as Timmins, as we "toured"
the high schools of southern Ontario.

   THEN THERE were the Tuesday night jam sessions at the Niagara Theatre Centre
(our very own slice of Bohemia).  Impromptu groups were formed among members of
various local bands -- whoever turned up with some gear, basically -- and we
played variations on the blues, folk songs, and meandering rock fantasies.
This was great training for young musicians, and we got paid for it too -- $10
Date:  Wed, Aug 24, 1994 12:23 AM EST
From:  rush@syrinx.umd.edu
Subj:  #2(2) 08/23/94 - The National Midnight Star #1007  *** Special Edition ***
To:      WilCollier

Mail Split By AOL Gateway

------- cut here --------
dollars each -- which was helpful because none of us made any money from our
bands.  (Any fees from those weekend gigs went to pay rental of public address
systems, loan payments, or new drumsticks.)  But the experience of playing all
that weird music with all those weird people was, of course, priceless.

   When I think back to my early musical influences, naturally I was inspired
by many famous drummers, like Gene Krupa or Keith Moon, but closer to home,
strangely enough I think of a series of guitar players -- local guys I was
lucky enough to work with who were such total musicians that they forever
marked my vision of how this music thing ought to be done.  Players like Bob
Kozak, Terry Walsh, Paul Dickinson, and Brian Collins (The Standard's own)
taught me to recognize quality and excellence in music, and set an example of
total commitment and hard work to achieve these things.  I still follow the
road they showed me, though I'm glad to say the pay has improved. . . .

   SO WHAT was it like to grow up in St. Catharines in those days?  Well, as
some of these stories will attest, it was a wonderful place to be a boy.  I
have since written that mood into songs like The Analog Kid and Lakeside Park.
For a teenager, however, especially a rebellious and self-consciously
_different_ teenager, St. Catharines in those days was not so nice.  I have
written about that mood in songs like Subdivisions.

   The Lakeport years were tough.  No, I couldn't say it was _hell_ -- I had a
few friends, and even a few teachers who could make English or history
interesting enough to distract me from thinking about drums, drawing pictures
of drums, and playing drums on my desk.

   One science teacher and self-important martinet (he used to roam the
hallways in a quest to eliminate the evil of untucked shirt-tails), was once
disturbed by my tapping in class (as more than a few people were, including
fellow students -- a girl named Donna once threw a book at me).  When I told
him that I really couldn't help it, that it just "happened," he told me I must
be "some kind of retard" and sentenced me to a detention in which I had to drum
on the desk for an hour.  Some punishment.  I had fun; he had to leave the
room.

   In those high school hallways of the mid-sixties, the conformity was
stifling.  Everyone dressed the same, in a uniform-of-choice -- Sta-Prest
slacks, penny loafers, and V-neck vests over Oxford shirts -- and at Lakeport
High, the jocks and frat boys were king.

   To be both a jock _and_ in a fraternity was the ideal -- to be neither,
unthinkable.  Even by 1967, in our whole school there were only about three
guys who dared to have long hair (below the ears, that is), and in the hallways
we endured constant verbal abuse:  "Is that a _girl_?"  "Hey sweetheart!"
"Let's give it a haircut!" and other intelligent remarks.  Outside it was worse
 -- bullying threats and even beatings.  All because we were "freaks."

   Later, when I was out of school and playing full time with J. R. Flood, I
went to band practice at Paul Dickinson's house every day, and had to take the
bus over to Western Hill.

   There were some charming characters on that bus, I can tell you -- greasy-
haired thugs with football pad shoulders and shoe-size IQs -- and how I used to
hate that ordeal.  Of course, by then I was roaming around with a frizzy perm,
long black cape, and purple shoes -- but I wasn't hurting anybody.  I was just
different, and they didn't like it.

   One time I went into the Three Star Restaurant, across from the former
courthouse, and they refused to serve me because I had long hair (again, below
the ears).  Being naive and idealistic, I couldn't believe what I was hearing,
and I stood up and made a scene, called the Nazis, went and complained to the
police and everything.  Rebel without a clue.

   And consider how _narrow_ our world was, growing up in the suburbs of Port
Dalhousie.  Until I was in my teens I didn't know a single black person, or an
Asian, or even an American.  I didn't know what it meant to be Jewish, and I
didn't think I knew any of them either.  The Catholics were different somehow,
with the Star Of The Sea Church, and I wondered why the kids were kept in a
"separate school," but it didn't seem to mean much -- we all played together in
the streets.  A half-Chinese family lived across from us, but my Mom had warned
us never to tease their kids with remarks like (_she whispered_) "chinky chinky
Chinaman."  We had never thought of anything like that, but she must have heard
other kids teasing them and wanted to be sure her children wouldn't.  Well
done, Ma!  But really, I never knew about racism or homophobia or anything
antagonistic like that -- there was simply no one to fasten it on, because
nearly everyone was the same.  Or pretended to be . . . .

   Like the town of Gopher Prairie in Sinclair Lewis's Main Street, people in
St. Catharines in those days were nearly all decent, kind, and friendly -- as
long as you filled your part of the "social contract" by fitting in; as long as
you weren't willfully different.

   Non-conformity seemed to be taken as some kind of personal reproach by those
bitter conformists, and they would close ranks against you, and shun the
"mutant."

   IN ANY CASE, my childhood in Port Dalhousie was a good one, and all those
later experiences certainly "built character."  My life, then and now, might be
summed up by Nietzsche's motto:  "That which does not kill me makes me
stronger."

   So I'm strong.  As a rule, though, I'm not very nostalgic, and seldom even
think about the past, but now that I take this occasion to look back on my
early life, I am amazed at how many names and faces come surging up.  Old
friends and neighbors, of course, but more important:  so many people who have
made a mark on my life.  Schoolteachers, drum teachers, life savers, guitar
players, grandmothers, and even Mom and Dad.

   And in a world which is supposed to be so desperate for heroes, maybe it's
time we stopped looking so far away.  Surely we have learned by now not to
hitch our wagons to a "star," not to bow to celebrity.  We find no superhumans
among actors, athletes, artists, or the aristocracy, as the media are so
constantly revealing that our so-called heroes, from Prince Charles to Michael
Jackson, are in reality, as old Fred Nietzsche put it, "human -- all too
human."

   AND MAYBE the role models that we really need are to be found all around us,
right in our own neighborhoods.  Not some remote model of perfection which
exists only as a fantasy, but everyday people who actually show us, by example,
a way to behave that we can see is good, and sometimes even people who can show
us what it is to be excellent.

   And if we ever get the idea that people from faraway places are all thugs,
villains, or lunatics, we can stop to realize that we have those all around us
too -- right here at home.  But I have found, in all the neighborhoods of the
world, that the heroes still outnumber the villains.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Editor's note:

   Neil was playing drums in 1974 for what turned out to be the last
incarnation of Hush (a popular Niagara band with me and Paul Luciani on bass
guitar and Gary Luciani on vocals) when the phone call came:  would Neil be
interested in auditioning for Rush, whose drummer had just quit?  (As I recall,
someone connected with the bad was from St, Catharines and remembered Neil from
his J. R. Flood days.)

   Neil actually had to think it over.  He was working full time at his Dad's
business, and had recently returned disappointed after trying to "make it" as a
drummer in England.  At the time, Hush members saw Rush as merely a Led Zepplin
clone band -- `You're making a big mistake, Neil,' one of us sagely opined at a
band meeting.

   Of course, the rest is musical history.  I like to think Neil served as the
catalyst in what has obviously become a tremendous musical and personal
partnership with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.  Neil -- and the group -- has
continued to grow lyrically and musically through the decades.  Neil, it sure
wasn't a mistake.

 -- Brian Collins, Spectrum editor

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Transcriber's note:

   This article originally appeared in the St. Catharines Standard on June 24
and 25, 1994, and has been copied without permission.  I hereby take
responsibility for posting it to USENET (alt.music.rush) and uploading it to
the archive at syrinx.umd.edu.  Persons distributing it via other channels do
so at their own risk.  If this file is copied, please do not modify the text
formatting (unless the file is being translated from ASCII) and the entire file
with all notes is duplicated.

   This article had several accompanying photographs, which may or may not be
uploaded as GIFs to syrinx at some point.  They are:

 1.  Publicity shot of Neil at his kit, from the Roll the Bones tour.
     Caption: "Neil Peart performs live with Rush during the 1992 Roll the
              Bones tour."

 2.  Family portrait: Neil, Nancy, Judy, and Danny.
     Caption: "Peart and his siblings in St. Catharines, around 1965"

 3.  Class portrait from school.
     Caption: "Neil Peart (second from left, bottom row) in his Grade Two class
              in Port Dalhousie, circa 1959."

 4.  Family picture: Neil in his Cub Scout uniform
     Caption: "Neil does his 'Akela' salute before heading off to a Cub Scout
              father and son banquet with his dad, Glen."

 5.  Family picture: Neil with his drumkit in his bedroom.  (The walls have
                     the standard Antique Car motif wall paper that seem a
                     fixture of any boy's room at the time.)
     Caption: "Neil Peart practices in his Port Dalhousie home when he was
              about 15.  He had just added a floor tom and two cymbals (and
              pajamas?) to his first set of drums."

 6.  Publicity photo of the trio.
     Caption: "Rush, Canada's most successful rock band -- Geddy Lee, left,
              Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson."

 7.  Family picture.
     Caption: "Neil, at 14, paints a fence Tom Sawyer-style."

 -- Jeff Robertson (jeffr@bnr.ca)
   Rush Fan and Faithful Transcriber
 --
 ------------------------------------+----------------+-----------------
Jeffrey Robertson                    |  jeffr@bnr.ca  |      BNR, Ottawa
"I speak for myself, not BNR" - Me   +----------------+       (Meriline)
"Verbing weirds language" - Calvin                      OC-48 FiberWorld

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Copyright (C) 1994 by The Rush Fans Mailing List

Editor, The National Midnight Star
(Rush Fans Mailing List)
*********************************************
End of The National Midnight Star Number 1007
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