My friend Bingo (Steve Czulinski) passed away a couple of years ago. He was more that a friend, he was a bandmate, and a brother to me. I was honoured to be asked to speak at his funeral. His sister Kathy reached out to me and asked me to write out what I had said about Steve for a memorial that she was assembling. It has taken me a while because it is difficult to write because it makes me sad to think of him being gone, but I finally did it, and would like to share it here;
Hi, I’m Bakker. My name is John… Braeburn John if you were lucky enough to know Steve’s Mom.
I have these cue cards with me; there is nothing written on them, but if you see me shuffling through them like I’m trying to find something I wrote, I’m just trying not to cry up here.
Steve’s sister asked me to say a few words about Steve, and I can’t tell you how honoured I am to do so.
What can you say about Steve? As I say this, I can imagine him, crossing his arms, and saying, in his best Homer Simpson voice; “Yeahhhh. What CAN you say about me?”
I met Steve a couple of hundred years ago. It was very late at night, and I was jamming in my parents’ garage with a friend, when there was a knock on the door. Certain that it was a neighbour come to complain about the racket, I opened the door, and there was a young, handsome Steve Czulinski; “Uhh, hi there…” he began, “…I heard music, but I don’t hear a Bass Guitar. I play bass, and was wondering if I could come and jam with you.”
Now who in their right mind would walk right up to a strange, dark, secluded garage, in the middle of the night, and just knock on the door? Steve would.
He was brave. Thats what you can say about Steve.
I was happy to have Steve come and jam. He brought over this huge amp that he owned and we had a great session. After we finished up playing that day, Steve asked if he could leave his amp at my place. I was pretty surprised considering that we had just met, but I said “Sure!” and he left his amp there. He didn’t even know my last name, or my phone number.
He trusted people. Thats what you can say about Steve.
After a few weeks of jamming, Steve said that he needed to talk to me; he wouldn’t be able to jam for a while. He had decided to put his life on hold, and go back to school to become a Graphics Design Artist. Thats exactly what he did.
He knew the right things to do, and he did them. He was smart. Thats what you can say about Steve.
After finishing (and excelling in) his courses, Steve came back to jamming, and we got pretty good, and tight together. So there we were playing in a band; We had John, we had George, we had Paul…now who here is not thinking “Ringo”?…Not us. Nope. We thought ; “Bingo!” So we told him; “Hey Steve, we are going to call you Bingo.” Without hesitation, he agreed, and he was the best Bingo ever. If you saw him across a crowded room at a gig, you could yell “STEVE!” over and over, and he wouldn’t notice, but if you yelled “Bingo!” his head would snap right around to attention, and that big silly grin would appear.
He made the most of what he was given. Thats what you can say about Steve.
When we had gigs, or threw parties, Steve always offered up his Graphic Design skills to design the posters, T-Shirts, and flyers for us; he would ask his boss for a little extra time on the computer after work, or on lunch, and he made us the coolest stuff. He even made this “The Bundys; Pissing Off The Neighbours World Tour” shirt that I am wearing.
He did stuff for people. Thats what you can say about Steve.
Whenever we played gigs, Steve never kept a penny of his earnings. I would pay him, and he would invariably donate it back to whatever charity, or cause we were playing for, or just give it back to the bar.
He was charitable, and he always did the right thing. Thats what you can say about Steve.
The first gig that we got was opening up this crazy warehouse party in downtown Toronto, with over a thousand people in attendance. We were as nervous as cats. We played the first song, and the crowd cheers. I just started to count the second song in, and I hear this panicked voice… (I won’t say who, because I don’t want to embarrass Paul)…yell; “Guys! Whats the first note?!?!? Steve yells out “B!” He was right, but it is important to note that Steve had no business even knowing that the first note was a “B” because he didn’t even play that part of the song (he was to come in later) Yet Steve knew.
He did his homework. Thats what you can say about Steve.
I had many great times with Steve. One time, we went to see Alice Cooper at Massey Hall. We had each snuck in a mickey of booze to enjoy while we watched the show. As we left the concert, I could kind of sense a sort of hushed amusement behind us, almost like people were saying something about us. I dropped back a little and looked at the back of Steve, and sure enough Steve had stuffed his mickey down the back of his pants, but had tucked his shirt in behind it, so the little bottle of booze was clearly sticking out of his waistband. It was hilarious, and Steve thought so too. Steve left it just like that for the rest of the trip home because he knew that it gave others a laugh.
He was funny, and he didn’t mind being the butt of a joke sometimes because he knew it could bring joy to others. Thats what you can say about Steve.
Steve is my friend, and I love him. Thats what you can say about Steve.
And now, my friends, although it may not be appropriate, as Steve would say; “We’re not appropriate!… We’re Bundys!” Please join me in a round of applause, to a life well lived. To Steve.