Steve Cook's soul, song, and sweat.

Shinybass journal entry 1-17-11

Oh the times, they are a-changin’…

Good morning! What a weekend! First, the fact that football was played on Saturday is pretty amazing. Then the fact that the Steelers were the early game was even better, allowing a couple of friends come over and have heavy, unhealthy snacks and drinks for the duration was pretty kick-ass, too. Then pile on a dramatic win for Pittsburgh and the icing gets thicker. THEN add the fact that a buddy and I went out after the house party and shut the local watering hole down, and then you have candles. The candles burned down to the cake, however, when I couldn’t feel anything but sweat and a sledgehammer in my head the next morning. Or should I say afternoon? I haven’t felt that bad since that one night in Albuquerque. Sheesh…

How about a story? A few years back, I was duped into upgrading my cell plan and phone for the Blackberry, which was intended to make my life so much easier and work go smoother and yea, yea, yea. Well, the technology was new(er), so big deal, I could check email and update my facebook status. Beyond that, the OS was so old, I think Brickbreaker 1.1 was as high as I could go. The trackball was always sticking, too, so Brickbreaker was really fun, as long as the ‘ball’ bounced left the whole game. Sad and tragic, isn’t it? My poor little hand held ‘smart phone’. What was I to do? I mean, if I can’t ignore the people in the room and play a simple game, then what’s the point in going on? Then the bottom fell out. The phone stopped working.

I was frantic. I went to one of my service provider’s branch location, and when I pulled the antiquated phone from my pocket, I think there was an audible gasp from the girls behind the counter. They had not seen a phone like this possibly ever, which then prompted a question from them asking what life was like before Russia fell. Suddenly I realized that I was holding a relic from another time – a phone that was at least 4 years old. I can’t be young, hip, better, slimmer, faster, and cooler with this dusty brick in my pocket. If people are going to notice me, then I need to have the best of the best in my pocket, where nobody can see what I have until that phone rings (but then if nobody knows how cool I am because they can’t see my phone, then they won’t call – oh my gosh – now I am in a vicious Catch 22). I needed to take action.

I picked up the store model of the latest phone and dialed my girlfriend. I said ‘Hon, how does this phone sound?’ She paused. She said somehow my voice sounded richer, deeper, younger, and more ‘important’. I immediately hung up on her and talked to the sales girl about purchasing this phone. Then she told me it would be $449. I wouldn’t say I had sticker shock, but when they splashed water on my face, I was crumpled in the corner of the store in the fetal position with my hands over my ears. My first bass was $110. My older brother’s first car – ‘The Tank’ – a ’66 Mercury Montego – was $100. $449? What the hell is going on around here? Since when did the price of cool get so high? And where the hell was the twenty I had in my jacket pocket before I passed out? And why was there a half-eaten plate of Chinese food next to me? I needed answers.

So after a long lunch of fish and chips, my girl (who was actually OK with the fact that I hung up on her at the store from a strange phone number and no explanation – big points!) and I decided that another carrier would be the way to go. I couldn’t justify spending the equivalent of a Coach purse for a phone. Wait – she tricked me! Now I am referencing MY things in purse cost! Dammit! How does this happen? OK, I can’t justify spending the same as Steelers playoff tickets. OK, that’s not a good one, either. Let’s just say it’s a lot of damn money, no matter who you are.

That evening, with a sad, broken Blackberry (Roosevelt limited edition – Teddy, not Franklin D.), I sulked into Best Buy, shoulders lower than the time I struck out for the 3rd time in a little league game (of course that happened a lot, so I should have been used to it), dragging my feet to the ‘Mobile’ department, where, in front of me, were two girls, younger than several scars I have, dropping a month’s rent on a phone, immediately picking it up and trying to get on facebook. Is this the price of society? Is this how I am supposed to fit in? I walked around all the phones yet again, like a convict circling the electric chair, and when it was my turn, I sat at the little faux wooden chair and pulled my brick out my pocket and started the process of signing 2 years of my life away to a stranger. I chose my model phone – yes it was the most amazing phone they had. I figured if I am in, then I am ALL in. Feets don’t fail me now.

Then a small miracle happened. As I pulled the brickberry from my pocket, it started working again. The trackball moved, the keypad was actually dialing numbers, and for a second, I considered keeping this phone until I had more time to make this decision – change phones when I wanted to, not when I HAD to. As there was a small pause in my new phone acquisition, I had an epiphany. I decided to call the one person I hadn’t discussed any of this phone business with. My customer care operator – the ONE person with the power to make my life better.

I told the nice lady at Best Buy to hold off for one minute, I had to make a phone call. I dialed the number, and the simple fact that my little phone was able to place a phone call was amazing – maybe my luck was about to change. As I described my situation with the operator, she praised me for my loyalty to the company and being with them for so long. She said my actions will be rewarded. She rattled off some prices of service and the phone I was looking at earlier, and I almost fainted. The price was closer to Mercury Montego price than Coach purse price for this new phone. And she knocked a bunch off the monthly service as well. I was floored. Essentially, I paid a little for a phone, and that was it. Those peddlers gave me a new crack pipe! How happy is an addict with a new needle! I guess that’s not a good reference, either. I need a book of metaphors. Or similes.

So as I type this, I have my trusty new phone at my side. Why the crazy upgrade? Well, I have a dear friend who is on the cutting edge of technology, and as I struggle to change, I decided to follow his lead and get into the gadget. I have found that this phone is pretty much amazing, and it really has changed things. Take for example the other night.

As my Steeler party was winding down, my buddy (who also has a smart phone) and I were sitting on the couch, talking about the possibility of hitting a bar around the corner. We were both on the fence about this proposition, having just eaten half a pasture full of chicken wings and a gallon of chili. He said ‘Let’s flip a coin’. I said I didn’t have one handy, and of course my bloated, lazy ass wasn’t about to get up to find one. I said – ‘There’s gotta be an app for that’. We both laughed our asses off, not only at our intense refusal to get up, but at the fact that there IS a coin flip app. I said ‘Forget it – I am NOT flipping a VIRTUAL coin on this one. Get your coat. We’re going out.’

As we sat at the bar, we both downloaded the coin app, and had a laugh every time we retold our story about how we ended up at the bar. Ah, the kids and their new toys.

So what did I learn through this whole process? Well, first, you should respond, not react to adversity. Decisions need to be made with a clear head, and you should exhaust all resources at your disposal before you decide on something this big. Second, if you are able to go all in, go all in. Third, and more importantly, no matter what app is invented, nothing beats the real thing.

So this finds me at a point. A set up, if you would, on the beauty of change, evolution, the inevitability of progress. Just as I labored over the decision for a phone, I have labored over the best way to discuss the next topic – me. Effective immediately, I have decided to leave the Bucky Covington camp. The past three years have allowed me to see some amazing things, meet wonderful people, and do what I love to do for a living – play music. I know some of you were looking forward to saying hello this week in Missouri, so I wanted to give you a little heads up that I won’t be there. This journal is about as formal as I will get in my ‘announcement’. I do hope that through the course of my continued career that you will continue to stay in touch with me and keep me in check. Like I stated before – change is going to happen – so thank you for your positive well-wishes in this time of change. I wish the best of luck to Bucky and his crew.

See you on the road!

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