My Good Steve Jobs Story

It’s strange to grieve a man you didn’t know but grieve I am. I’m not going to try to explain or justify it; when a brilliant mind and a true innovator leaves this earth, it’s just….sad. Particularly when Charles Manson is still here.

Some people just tap into a global zeitgeist and their passing impacts as globally as their living. It doesn’t have to make sense to everyone (remember how some disparaged the tsunami reaction to Princess Diana’s death?), it simply IS. Some people get to us. Some people make such an imprint it feels like you’ve lost someone you know. And in the case of the ubiquitous Steve Jobs, well…we did kinda know him.

From his inevitable online presentations of new products to his bespectacled picture everywhere to his elegant machinery in the hands, pockets, ears and laps of gazillions all over the world, he was as much a part of our day-to-day lives as anything or anyone could be. The only thing lacking was actual chit-chat at the kitchen counter and given all the chatting we do on/with his products, even that connection felt tangible. Steve Jobs has a way of inspiring you, each time I heard him, it made me want to cut my plastic in the shape of my imagination, he makes me want to create futuristic things.

I have a Good Steve Jobs Story.

While I’ve had some productive correspondences with various underlings in businesses I’ve patronized, there are only two major players in the big ass corporate world who ever personally responded to me…to a letter, an inquiry, a request; a complaint. Not Ak-Mak Crackers; when I repeatedly found bugs in my flatbreads, I wrote the head of the company to report the invasion – no response. When Verizon once again wreaked havoc on something (anything!) to do with my phones, TV, Internet, whatever, I wrote and – you got it – nothing. Most newspapers and magazines I’ve contacted with great ideas, pitches or even letters to the editor…oh, please. And forget trying to get to the top if an appliance goes out…apparently that cannot be done. But two big corporate folks did respond: one was Arianna Huffington (who did and still does reply to me), the other was Steve Jobs.

My son bought his first Ipod waaaaay back when they first came out and there were some initial problems with ITunes in those nascent days of paying and downloading. There was no customer service number to call, only an email address where they promised to get back to the querying customer within 24 hours. After sending several emails and getting no response for weeks, I finally got all huffed up, tracked down Steve Job’s personal office address in Cupertino, and wrote him a cordial but frank letter wishing him a swift recovery from his recent illness (get a little knot reflecting on that now), while explaining the unresolved and off-putting situation with those several 99 cent tunes my kid was waiting for. I had no expectation of an actual response; this was just one of those pro-active things I’d do when I was too frustrated to let it go and there’s no blog with which to flog (as there wasn’t at that point!).

I went off on a summer trip about a week later, up to a remote island off the coast of Washington State, and while happily islanding without a thought to the technical world left behind, got a phone call. Yep, from Cupertino. I don’t remember the name of the woman, but it was Steve Job’s assistant. She was very sweet, apologized for the problem, reporting that Mr. Jobs had personally instructed her to follow-up and make sure the issue was resolved and my kid got all his tunes. And she did just that. When I got back to Los Angeles, all the songs were where they were supposed to be and she followed up with another call to make sure we were completely satisfied with the resolution. We were and I thanked her, telling her to let Mr. Jobs know how much I appreciated his action on my letter.

What a mensch.

To a girl who learned computers on an MacIntosh back in 1990, who strayed only briefly to PCs during the middle years when the husband’s law practice demanded it, but who ultimately returned to the sleek, inimitable, near-flawless and always impeccably supported MAC platform, Steve Jobs was the Fairy Godfather of classy, corporate cool. A guy who put his imprimatur on what he put out and personally supported it as only a Fairy Godfather would. Obviously we all realize he was in profoundly good company and didn’t do it alone, with Wozniak and many, many others knee-deep in the birthing and parenting process along the way, but Steve Jobs was the Man we saw, the man we related to.

That’s my Good Steve Jobs Story. It is good, isn’t it? It vaunted him to a significant position of respect in my eyes and it made my attachment to his products feel all the more deserved since then.

Below is a repost of a piece I put up awhile back, a look-back at an old corporate industrial that was used to accompany the original Macintosh rollout in January, 1984. At first-post it was a kitschy look that illustrated where Apple came from, a good laugh; now it’s a sort of reverential acknowledgment of how long Mr. Jobs and his fine products have been with us. I tip my hat and sing one more time for the man behind the computer screen…RIP, Steve Jobs. Today we are all Apple.

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This entry was originally posted on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

WE ARE APPLE…EVERYBODY SING!

college-singer

Just when you think certain creative exercises of your youth have slipped by unnoticed, they keep pulling you back in! In this world of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon, it remains pointless to deny your public past, futile to try to out-run those artistic moments you’ve evolved so far from since then. They’re there. Always there. Forever to haunt:

We Are Apple (Leading the Way) (click here for the additional pleasure of YouTube comments!)

As of this past weekend, I was forced to embrace my big hair-’80s-era-session-singing persona by way of this apparently ubiquitous YouTube video. It seems it’s been posted for years but only recently grabbed the attention of the tech magazines that have enjoyed having it as fodder for some good old fun-poking at Apple’s steve_sharp_shot_1_001rexpense! Though it depicts an in-house industrial rather than a 1983 version of an Apple commercial, it remains a hilariously dated snapshot of another, seemingly very distant, era in computer history.

And, yeah, that’s my slightly hysterical, very enthusiastic vocal on the “What a Feeling” rip-off that soundtracked the piece. Can it really be that those behemoth computers you see pictured in the oh-so-vintage quick-cut video were considered cutting edge?? Hard to believe that any of us alive were around for those clunky, unwieldy versions of the slick, efficient, elegant Apples of today!

But it’s a fun, historical snapshot that brings a smile so I felt it was RPM-worthy. Originally produced by Geoff Levin and Chris Many of Levin/Many Productions who worked out of the fabulous Juniper Studios in Burbank, CA at the time (the company has since disbanded), it was engineered by nimble-fingered Steve Sharp, currently the “Evil Overlord” (his words) of MediaPDX in Portland, Oregon, and sung by yours truly.

(The picture below is not of the Apple sessions but rather my first solo artist sessions at the original Juniper Studios. That is, however, Steve Sharp on the left doin’ that thing he did, and that’s my child-self leaning against bass player John Selk; uber-producer Brian Cadd is at the console.)

steveme

I promise you my vocals since then have been much calmer. Really. I swear. Go check.

Photos courtesy of Lorraine Devon Wilke 

LDW w glasses


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

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6 thoughts on “My Good Steve Jobs Story

  1. I remember taking my high schools computer class…we all learned on an Apple IIe…and there were four of us to a computer! I’ll always have a fondness in my heart for that old Apple…as well as 80s hair (great pics!) and synths (great song!). 🙂

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    1. LDW

      I remember getting my very first laptop, cutting edge at the time: black and white screen, really thick and certainly limited by today’s standards, but oh, joy…it was a miracle!! By then I think my hair had calmed down and I’d moved on from industrials to less derivative music, but what a feelin’, being part of all that. They tell me when the song came on at the convention and the screen lit up with the new MacIntosh, the crowd rose to its feet and roared. I’m pretty sure it was because of the song….LDW

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  2. Steve Jobs recent demise marks the end of an era, no solitary gentleman has modified the landscape of technological use quite so much in a short time period. Whilst we debate the benefits of technologies, whether you care about or dislike Apple products lets spend time to remember a truely visionary man and as well remember the loved ones he leaves behind. I’m sorry for interupting the flow of comments on your website which i enjoy a great deal I just wished to remember Steve, who has been an excellent person and a personal friend.

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    1. LDW

      No disruption; a nice comment from someone who feels not only his loss, but his contribution. Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment. As a personal friend, you are likely touched by his death in many more ways than one. LDW

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