Thursday, June 17, 2004

Corporate Whoring

On Monday, I bought the Nike Sport mp3 player. I was aware of its existence before that, but had dismissed it as the unholy result of some branding scheme cooked up by marketing folk desperate to cash in on "this mp3 thing the kids are crazy about" by slapping a swoosh on a third rate device and jacking the price to levels that border on extortion.

To my surprise, I found that the price was actually somewhat lower than that of similar players. When I realized that it also comes packaged with a rechargable battery and a charger, I was sold. So I took it home, and was happy. So happy, in fact, that the next day I returned it and bought the 256 Mb version for a few dollars more - and yes, I repeated that last bit several times to every customer service representative in earshot, hoping someone would pick up on the reference and associate me with a squinty-eyed Clint Eastwood, and tremble in fear. No one did. Well, the girl waiting on me stumbled a little bit, but that was most likely due to the fact that she was in what looked to be her 12th month of pregnancy.

The point, though, is that this machine has changed my life. For the first time ever, I finally have an actual soundtrack to accompany the one that constantly plays in my head, and the delivery of such is accomplished through means that I can ignore completely.

My problem with walkmans and discmans and other such things has always been that they require constant fiddling. You have to flip the tape, or change the CD after an hour, or walk with an unnatural gait so as not to make the CD skip. Beyond that, it's a pain in the ass to walk around with a music-making device, because where the hell do you put it? Cassette players and CD players are too big to fit in your pocket, and I have always felt ostentatious and dorklike wearing such things clipped to my belt on the very rare occassions when I have done so (a feeling that I carry over to cellphones as well). Something along the lines of, "Look, I have an electronic device that makes sounds in my head! It's almost as if I were using magic! Don't you wish you had one of these? I am supercool." Distasteful in the extreme.

Which doesn't mean that I want to fit such devices in my pocket - there was something of an incident a year or so ago in a bookstore where I was trying and failing to skip to the next track on the last mp3 player I owned, which was in my pocket, and my gaze just happened to alight on the chest of an attractive female at a nearby table, where, despite my best efforts, it remained for a good ten seconds. When I finally managed to force my eyes upwards, I realized she was looking at me, and was Appalled. Put the vigorous fiddling-around in my pocket together with the atypical (ha!) ogling, and I really can't blame her for what she was undoubtedly thinking.

Enter the Nike Sport. With both a slim profile and a waistband to which it can be very securely attached, I can wear this thing on my hip just above my belt, hidden underneath my shirt. By running the cord to the headphones down the back of my shirt, the visibility of this thing is nonexistent, with only the headphones to betray the fact that I am not paying attention to you, I am paying attention to the Kinks.

Well, that and the fact that I tend to dance in public a bit more now. My inner boogie needs to be let out, and this device is the key.

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