Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Woz Wuz on my Plane

I am not much of a celebrity hound. Eight years as a movie critic and arts and entertainment feature writer at a daily newspaper saw me conduct dozens of personal interviews with superstars and your just plain stars, and that pretty much helped purge me of any tendency to be star-struck.

I was pleased, though, to see The Woz - Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak - on my plane while flying between San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia - twice - when I flew to Richmond, B.C. to cover that intensely Asian Canadian city's Chinese New Year celebration. Whether The Woz flew there to mark the Year of the Dragon, I am not sure. But there he was, without any entourage, flying commercial - albeit in first class - locked into his handheld device before takeoff and after landing. He was clad in sneakers that looked like - well, inexpensive Chinese knockoffs - and traveling without that celebrity aura of leave me alone, you riff-raff.

The other passengers, including me, did leave him alone. Maybe The Woz lacks the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs's charisma, I dunno, but it's hard to image the brilliant, high-powered Jobs traveling that way. Wozniak is brilliant, too. His is the high-tech genius that created the Apple I and Apple II computers, launching what is now one of the richest and most famous companies in the world.

I interviewed Jobs in the '90s, when he was waging a charm offensive to rally public opinion behind his controversial use of a noisy helicopter to commute to his job as the head of Pixar; this was after Jobs's exile from Apple and before his triumphant return. I have never interviewed Wozniak but I've always liked him and was pleased when San Jose, California's worthy The Tech - the Silicon Valley high-tech museum - renamed a short street in its downtown location Woz Way ( Wozniak has his own Web site, natch:, and it provides some updates on the latest doings of this famous, refreshingly down-to-earth, traveler.

And, hey: Gung Hay Fat Choy, everyone.

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