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Published: 6/9/2010

Revenge of the Nerds: Rush documentary latest proof that Canadian power trio is cool

Welcome to the Blade blog Culture Shock, a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog will appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings here, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.

My first rock album was 1982's "Signals" by Rush.

It wasn't even an album, but an 8-track tape. In the early-'80s era of cassette tapes my parents still had an 8-track player in one of their cars and in their home stereo, so I had little choice but to buy Rush's latest release in a dying audio format for the sake of portability.

When I asked the Sound Warehouse employee for "Signals" on 8-track tape, he started walking to the cassette tape section, stopped in his tracks, looked at me quizzically, and then asked, "Did you say 8-track?"

I'm not sure it gets much worse for a 15-year-old goof with a frizzy 'fro, zits, and a voice with more cracks than Secor Road who's desperately trying to fit in. But that's always been the beauty of being a Rush fan, you're not really worried about social status anyway.

"Be cool or be cast out," as stated in the lyrics to the band's song "Subdivisions." As a Rush fan, I suppose I've chosen the latter option for nearly three decades.

But that's slowly changing. In an interview with Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson that ran in The Blade in November, 2008, I noted how the band was becoming *gulp* cool. There was a big feature on the band in Rolling Stone, the first in the band's then-nearly 35-year history. Meanwhile, Rush made an appearance on The Colbert Report, and the band's biggest album, "Moving Pictures," was featured in its entirety as a download for the game Rock Band.

Since then, Rush has inched even further into mainstream acceptance: an appearance in the comedy I Love You, Man, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame later this month, and Thursday night at 8 there's the showing of Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage at the RC Franklin Park 16, 5001 Monroe St., at Franklin Park mall, as part of a nationwide theater screening. Call 419-472-2324 for more information.

The documentary analyzes the successful and steady career of the power trio, and how three kinda geeky guys from Canada could develop such a rabid, mostly male fan base. It premiered recently at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, where it received the 2010 Heineken Audience Award.

Check out the documentary's trailer and Web site

here.

The film is just the latest nod from the mainstream that maybe, just maybe, there is something kind of cool about deep lyrics, drum solos, crazy time signatures, and a naked man in front of a star -- all Rush hallmarks.

The 8-track tape, though, is optional.

Agree or disagree with a posting? Lemme know. Have a topic or suggestion? Lemme know that, too. Send an e-mail to kbaird@theblade.com or call 419-724-6734.



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