Posts Tagged ‘Adam Kontras’



December 21, 2009



“I thought I told you boys to never leave your bikes in the driveway!”

“We’re sorry,” we said in perfect unison. We had spoken those words so many times, one would think we were auditioning for “Leave It to Beaver.”

As she drove away, we rolled the now wobbly-wheeled bicycle to the front lawn, examining the damage and wondering how we were going to fix it without anyone noticing. I was five years old – my brother was four.

A few minutes later, a man pulled up in a car, got out and walked over to us.

“Hi Mike and Nick, I’m your dad.”

You guessed it. This post is about the first oldest son in our family.

I was born to William and Viola in 1950. In 1952, after having their second child in January, they separated. William enlisted in the Army and left my mother, my brother and I living with our grandmother on Hague Avenue on Columbus’ West Side.

A couple years later, the four of us moved to the North Side. My mother worked full time and continued with her college education at Ohio State. She was 24 years old. My grandmother (Yaya), Despina, was our other parent. My grandfather (Papou), Nicola, passed in 1946.

This first encounter with my biological father occurred in the summer of 1956.

“Tell your mom I’ll be calling her later. Can you do that for me?”

No doubt, our mouths were wide open as we nodded our heads up and down very slowly, never taking our eyes off this total stranger, who somehow knew our names.

This is all I remember about those few minutes. There was probably more conversation, but the shock of actually meeting him quickly erased those memories. We ran as fast as we could back to the house.

“Mom! Mom! We met our Dad! He’s going to call you!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Dad! He saw us in Jimmy’s front yard and talked to us!”

“How do you know he was your Dad?”

“Because he knew our names!”

She did in fact, receive a call. He asked her to join him in Baltimore but she refused, saying that she would only consider it if he had a good job and maintained it for at least a year.

We never moved.

Two years later, Mom had graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Social Psychology. The divorce she filed on grounds of desertion was granted. She began using her maiden name.


I was born to William and Viola… Pokhias.

(Click on document to see full size)

I was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church as Michael Pokhias.

My name remained Michael Pokhias until March 24, 1958, when Mom had my last name (and my brother’s) legally changed to her maiden name. This process involved receiving consent from the biological father, which he gave.

I understand why she did this. All of our relatives’ names were Kontras. Small kids are curious, so if our name was different than our cousins’, there would be some confusion. The name Kontras was well-respected in Columbus, and especially the Greek Community. We had an attorney/CPA, a doctor, a dentist, and an insurance agency all with the name. Add the other Kontrases throughout the country, and the list of professionals is extensive.

In 1961, mom married William… Petikas.

My stepfather is the only father I’ve ever known and loved, and still is. In order for us to have his name, he would have had to adopt us, which would require again contacting – and receiving permission from – our biological father, something I’m sure my mother had no desire to do.

I only saw William Pokhias one other time, in 1966. He was in Columbus on business. He called, wanting to see all three of us. Mom declined, but because we were in our mid teens, she allowed us to make our own decision.

I had just passed my driver’s test. Any excuse to drive was all I needed to say “yes,’ so I drove to downtown Columbus, with Nick riding “shotgun” in the family’s 1965 Pontiac.

We waited in the lobby of the Deshler Hotel, watching everyone who came off the elevators.

The fourth time an elevator door opened, a few men stepped into the lobby, and I knew immediately which one was William Pokhias. I saw myself in his face. I knew then what I would look like in my forties.

We drove to Jerry’s Drive-In, a North Columbus landmark that featured in-car dining in the late fifties and early sixties. It was the weekend hangout for all the hot-rodders. The restaurant is now a Tee-Jayes Restaurant.

We ordered Jerry’s “Super Jumbo” burgers and made small talk – Nick and I on one side of the booth, with William facing us from the other side. He smoked a cigarette after we ate, actually offering us one – which we refused. Thirty minutes later, we drove him back. The entire event didn’t last much more than an hour.

What do two teenagers say to a total stranger?

Very little.

What does an estranged father say to his sons?

Apparently, very little.

I went into that evening with no expectations and even less curiosity. I was not disappointed. I was being raised in a healthy environment, with a loving parent, step-parent and grandparent. I had all the essentials of a good family upbringing. There were no voids to be filled.

So Adam and Kenny, the next time somebody misspells or mispronounces our name, be thankful.

It could have been “Pōk–hī–as.”


A Political Post Script for Birthers: Note the copy of my birth certificate, which was issued in 1972 (22 years after my birth) is called a Certificate of Live Birth. If you’re still saying our President has not presented ample evidence of his birth in Hawaii with his Certificate of Live Birth, give it up.

NOTE: This story was read by an unknown niece of an unknown step brother. She contacted me in April of 2011. The rest of the story is now available here.



November 18, 2009




Facebook, Tuesday, November 17, 2009.

There’s always questions:

Was there something I could have done differently?

Did I upset the producer, or the stage manger?

Did I see too much into their praises?

Why did they bother to give me a night?

How could I have better prepared for their network?

Should I go in an entirely different direction, or pitch this concept to another network?

None are answered quickly – some are never answered. You gather the remnants of what used to be your life – which was blown up over the last several weeks preparing for this project – and you re-assemble it.

We parents understand what it feels like when we have a son or daughter that is going through a tough time and there’s very little we can do to help, other than “be there” for them.

Those of us in the performing arts understand this on a very different level. The unacceptance of an effort that took hundreds of hours to create is mind-numbing. So much creativity, and so many skills, arbitrarily dismissed – with no definitive reason given – is mentally and emotionally crushing.

But you’ve been here before, and in all likelyhood, will be here again. You’ve come this far. You now know many more people in the business than you knew eight months ago. You have supporters all over the country. One person’s opinion is no deterent. You move on.

Do as you have always done, son.

Stay the path.





November 17, 2009

I lead a “safe” life.

Even when I was playing music for a living, I approached it like a small business owner – fiscally conservative, watching expenses, creating my own marketing, pricing my show competitively, not taking gigs for next-to-nothing just to be performing – a financially dangerous precedent you learn quickly not to set. I performed in places that I knew liked my style of music, going to the same venues every one or two months, seldom taking chances with “new” audiences. It was steady, weekly employment that yielded decent results for nearly 40 years – an accomplishment few musicians have experienced.

Adam has taken the chances I never took when I was in the entertainment business. He’s pushed himself way beyond his comfort zone, instinctively knowing it’s what he had to do to succeed at a high level. He moved across the country to follow a dream, undeterred by naysayers. As he continued to hit brick wall after brick wall, facing rejection year after year, he did not alter his path. He stayed with it, always creating, always trying new approaches and ultimately, moving forward with every step – regardless of what it looked like to others.

This is why I don’t exhibit pride for Adam’s successes – I have nothing to do with them. To say that I am happy for him is a HUGE understatement, but I am not the boastful “proud parent.” He knows how I feel, and that’s all that matters to me.

Now comes November 12, 2009.


I arrived in LA the day before, around 11:00am. Adam picked me up and we went straight back to the house. His friend from Columbus, Marty, had arrived yesterday. There were technical glitches to work out: a loud audio “hum” and a laptop that had to be incorporated into the show for the pre-recorded segments. By the time 11:00pm rolled around, he was ready for the first run-through of the entire show.

We never finished a complete run-through. Everyone was exhausted. We finally hit the sack about 12:30am – a 22+ hour day for me.

Adam was up and re-editing parts of the show long before I got my “six.” He was soon ready to pack everything and get going – still not having rehearsed the show in its entirety.

We had to make two trips to the Hudson Theatre to get all of the equipment to the venue.

Once there, we set everything up and the audio hum we thought we had reduced was back, in spades.

Along with the wonderful stage crew at the Hudson, we spent well over an hour trying to isolate the problem, concluding it was in the PC being used to project the four videos for the TVs.

Finally, Paul Stein, the Artistic Director for Comedy Central, brought the speakers from the PC in his office and connected them to the video PC, greatly reducing the hum. After throwing a microphone in front of the speakers, the hum was insignificant enough not to affect the show.


It was time to write down the cues for sound and lighting – a technical run-through. This was not a complete run-through, i.e. “dress rehearsal,” start-to-finish, as Adam had hoped. Shortly after the lighting and sound cues were established, cameras and cameramen arrived. Because we were running behind schedule, and to Adam’s dismay, the crew was told to take a break for dinner.

He would have to rehearse on his own.

Somehow, it all came together. The background music faded away and the room went dark. The big screen came to life with the intro.


A few minutes later, Adam is live, introducing the Egos.


Laughs came quickly, even in places where no one expected them. The applause was abundant throughout the show. And then, almost as fast as it started, it was over. It was the fastest 31 minutes I’d ever witnessed.

Adam probably presented the most unique comedy show the attending TV executives had ever seen. (This is my opinion, experience and knowledge speaking – not pride.)

It was so good that he did not have to say anything to convince them it could be a half hour weekly TV show. He simply performed and let his show speak for itself.

And it did!

Jim Sharp, Comedy Central’s Senior Vice President for Original Programming and Development (West Coast) spoke with Adam immediately after the show and said he could “…absolutely see it as a TV show…” on Comedy Central. He then said what every creator/entertainer wants to hear – “Call me next week” – as opposed to “We’ll call you.”

Josh Lieberman, a manager at 3 Arts Entertainment (a production company with a huge list of shows to their credit) joined Jim with kudos for Adam, saying the characters Adam created were very “…real…” and “…well-acted.”


It doesn’t get any better than that.

After taking the equipment home, we went out for a bite. Adam was receiving texts of praise from those who were either there or had heard about the outcome.


I sent e-mails back home saying I would call in the morning.

The next day, we returned equipment and Marty returned to Columbus. It was time to decompress. We made calls and returned texts and e-mails.

Mentally reviewing the conversation with Jim Sharp and Josh Lieberman from the night before, Adam could not think of any way the next conversation could go other than in a positive direction – whatever that might be. (I’m not one to speculate.)

We watched the nail-biting OSU v Iowa game on Saturday, in 1080p high definition, sitting eight feet away from a ten foot screen. (Now THAT’S the way you watch a football game!)

On the flight home Sunday, I realized how blessed I am to have been included in such a pivitol moment in Adam’s life. He won’t know how pivitol for a short while.

Congratulations, Adam.

In my opinion, this was it!


Here’s the show’s intro.

Here’s some miscellaneous videos tied together with Adam and I playing Beatles’ Rockband for the background music.



November 6, 2009


One week from today, I will be at the famous Hudson Theatre in LA watching Adam perform live the show that is ten years in the making.


But it’s not pride making that statement. It’s a fellow artist who more than understands the incredible perseverance necessary to even get close to this point. This is not something a parent can teach a child which is why you will not observe any chest-thumping on my part. And, from what I have observed, the same goes for Adam.


When you work this hard, you learn to let your work speak for itself. Bragging diminishes the effort – humility augments it.

It’s been eight years since his performance at the Comedy Store. And now, he’ll be performing for the people who run the “factory” that makes comedy come alive 24/7 – Comedy Central.

So I will take this moment to congratulate Adam: the creator, writer, producer, director, videographer, editor and actor of what I am sure will be one of the most unique live shows the Hudson Theatre has ever seen. 


Giddy-up, Adam!





October 17, 2009


Recently, my son, Adam, asked this question while we were at the airport getting a quick bite, before his return to LA. I mentally replayed the conversation on my drive home and realized the question is a very good one, with many possible answers.

There are the obvious answers: unemployment is high, the economy is bad, the stock market crash greatly diminished peoples’ savings, and so on. It’s easy to be angry about any of these issues, but that anger is just one “symptom.” There is also blame, which leads to hate, which leads to unrest. At times, the combination of two or more of these “symptoms” can be volatile.

But these “symptoms” are just that – symptoms. The root cause is fear. It’s fear that makes people angry, blaming others and even hating enough to lash out. Sometimes that retaliation is physical, but most of the time it’s verbal or the written word.

With that said, I have a first-person, written-word example to share with you, that happened earlier today.

Recently, a comment on one of my posts resulted in me responding to their post, and so on. It was a good dialogue with both of us agreeing in most areas and having some minor differences in other areas.

This morning, I received notice of a response to one of my comments on that post by someone who calls himself “John Doe.” (I don’t understand why people don’t identify themselves.) Here’s his recent comment about me after I once again, discredited Rush Limbaugh. (I know the graphics will be too small for most to read, so I’ve inlcuded the text below each one.) 


John Doe

Michael Kontras is a blowhard. Rush Limbaugh is a political commentator. He does not make the news (usually), he takes items that are in the news and comments on them; he merely gives his opinion as to how they are relevant, why a particular person is doing what they are doing, how a particular new policy will affect us, etc. Obviously know it alls such as Mr. Kontras do not like what he says (”99% false”? Methinks you exaggerate there, twit boy). Obviously, what Limbaugh says resonates with many in society today. That’s why he has a twenty-million odd listership, and Mr. Kontras has a puny little blog that nobody reads.

This bit about the “government owns the radio airwaves” is just a convoluted way of trying to get around the First Amendment. The “government owns” them because the Government made a power play long ago to take control of them. No different than the Government taking over national parks. Or if the Government took over the internet bandwidths and said that it “owns” the internet. Or if it took over all newspapers and magazines. When the Government starts censoring what is said on the radio stations, then it runs afoul of the First Amendment. “Congress shall make NO law respecting… the Freedom of Speech…”

I had no intention of engaging in a back-and-forth of personal insults. This person has so many “facts” wrong, but because he is angry, any dialogue opposing his view would only elevate his anger. I responded with this:


Michael Kontras

Better to be an informed “blowhard” or “twit” than an uninformed blogger. 

Thanks for your comment, Mr. “Doe.”

Okay, maybe just a tinge of sarcasm – but hardly a personal “attack,” in my opinion.

We then heard from the owner of the blog, Federal Farmer.” This is a portion of the response:


Federal Farmer

I debated…but ultimately decided against…editing out the exchange between “Mr. Doe” and Micheal Kontras. For one thing, the first comment in the fight was a followup that showed up without me accepting it. By the time I saw it, Micheal Kontras had seen it and had sent in a reply. I felt obliged by that time let the entire exchange be shown (though I’ve had enough of it). In my opinion, the personal attacks are not necessary; in fact, they truncate the debate, as can be seen in Kontras’ curt reply. The substantive issues quickly recede and the conversation ends. This seems counterproductive to me where the purpose is to discuss political ideas. Moreover, I question the human tendency to “slide” from political differences of opinion to personal insults.

I thanked “Federal Farmer:”


Michael Kontras

My thanks to you, “Federal Farmer.”

You are obviously doing your best to keep the focus on the issues, and you are to be commended for your efforts.

If my response was deemed inappropriate, it was certainly not my intention. My curtness was a way of saying to Mr. “Doe” that I have no intention of engaging in personal insults. Calling him an “uninformed blogger” didn’t seem to be over the line, but if it was, I sincerely apologize.

There is plenty of valid information on all the substantive issues, including what our Founding Fathers considered to be “Free Speech.” I’m all for having a healthy discussion on this (or any) issue without the insults.

Mr. “Doe” continued his angry rhetoric: (The host took it down before I could grab a shot of the screen, but I managed to capture the text.)

John Doe

Federal Farmer, thanks for sounding reasonable. Please allow me to explain. Kontras attacked Rush Limbaugh (and by extension, his listeners, of whom I proudly count myself). Make no mistake, he used fancy words but HE ATTACKED Limbaugh. Rush is a “shock jock” and a “shill” and “99%” of what he says is false. What are those if not personal attacks? Is it “not a personal attack” so long as he is attacking somebody who doesn’t bother to read your blog? Why not just call him a paid whore who is always wrong? That’s what he meant. Trust me, Kontras, I am more highly educated than you are, and more informed on the issues. My blog’s bigger than your blog, my blog’s bigger than yours…” he he.

I agree that such attacks are “counter-productive” but so are attacks on those who are bigger and better than you are, who have actually DONE something with their lives, when they can’t defend themselves. Here me, Mr. Kontras?

As I said earlier, my original response to Mr. “Doe” hardly qualifies as an “attack” on him. I know he was itching for a “fight,” much like some high school bully, but out of respect for the owner of the blog, I did not engage him at all after my first and only comment.

However, allow me to have a little fun here, since I have “…a puny little blog that nobody reads.”

I don’t believe I have ever met Mr. “Doe.” So I am truly amazed at how he “knows” that I’m less educated than him. Trust me, Kontras, I am more highly educated than you are…” Really? Come on. I used “…fancy words… didn’t I? Maybe I should have used the “…highly educated…” word: “…whore.”  That would certainly put us on an equal intellectual plain, wouldn’t it?

“ ‘My blog’s bigger than your blog, my blog’s bigger than yours…’ he he.”  Spoken like a true third-grader in need of some parental “guidance.”

There is no doubt that Rush Limbaugh has “…actually DONE something…” with his life – especially for someone who dropped out of college after two semesters. But unlike Mr. “Doe,” who thinks Rush is “…bigger and better…” than me, I enjoy my angry-free life and have no desire to emulate Rush Limbaugh’s lifestyle, or anyone elses, for that matter.

As for my use of the word “shill”, I do have this tendency to resort to those pesky little things called “facts.”

Here are Rush’s own words – in the 2008 interview with the New York Times Magazine – upon receiving his $400,000,000, eight year contract: “First and foremost I’m a businessman,” Mr. Limbaugh told the magazine. “My first goal is to attract the largest possible audience so I can charge confiscatory ad rates… that enables me to sell airtime.” He didn’t say, “First and foremost, I’m a Conservative.” He’s deceiving people, making them think he cares about the Conservative Movement or the Republican Party, when in fact, his wallet is his only priority. He’s a shill, by definition.

“Federal Farmer” posted a very insightful comment about presiding over a debate, as opposed to getting involved in one. He felt we were both insulting. Here’s part of what was said:


In moderating this post and subsequent discussion, I am reminded that George Washington did not proffer his opinion on any of the debated topics during the constitutional convention because he was presiding. To preside literally means to stand before (from the latin). Being partisan on whatever issue is being debated detracts from ones credibility, and thus ability, to preside. Were I to have sided with Micheal Kontras, for example, “Mr. Doe” would not have given my effort to moderate the discussion much credibility. He would have begun fighting me, which would have put me in a conflict of interest…protecting myself vs. managing the blog. It is possible that Mr. Doe could then post a comment that contributes to the discussion even though it attacks me. I would be operating in a conflict of intersts–that of protecting myself and managing the blog.

I mention this as a hypothetical (in actuality, I view both parties to the dispute as being out of line in insulting the other) because I don’t think we as Americans realize that when the US President takes sides on an issue being debated, he undercuts his credibility to preside.

I agree with 99% of “Federal Farmer’s” comments. 🙂



PS – I received an e-mail from “Federal Farmer” later in the evening. Here’s some of what he had to say: “Thanks for visiting my blog… I’ve learned a lot today in terms of political theory (yes, I am too logical! lol) from moderating that discussion.  Mr. Doe has sent two additional comments that contained insults so I am blocking further posts from him. In any case, I appreciated that you stopped fighting with him.  I don’t know how I could have made it more transparent for him that I didn’t want continued insults.  Like I said in the blog, who knows what sorts of psychologies play out in politics at the grassroots level?”

Another good question.



October 9, 2009


Today, I sit in near disbelief. It’s Adam’s birthday, again.

Keeping with Hollywood tradition, I will not state his age. (You know you can look it up, right?) Besides, this is not about his age – it’s about a friend that also happens to be my oldest son.

We parents are (for better or worse) influences in our children’s lives – even after they become adults. The influence certainly diminishes with time, but I don’t believe it ever ceases. There are, of course, other non-familial influences such as athletes, musicians, teachers, actors and so on.

None of this is breaking news.

But something interesting has happened over the past few years that may be news to some: Adam has become an influence in my life. I’ve watched him struggle through the minefield that is the entertainment industry, admiring his persistence against tough odds. (Anyone who thinks it’s a glamorous life is clueless.) That persistence is an influence on me to keep moving towards my goals, whatever they may be. His sense of humor makes me laugh out loud – something that I need to do as often as possible. He’s see things through a different aperture, which reminds me to not take my views too seriously.

Many that know us say we’re “exactly alike.” Not true. We have common interests, but we do differ on some of those interests and talk about those differences. We don’t try to change each other’s thinking. That would be insanity. (“Kontras” means contrarian in Greek and both of us more than live up to our name.) We simply state our views and leave it at that. Here’s an example in the comment section of one of my posts.

The “influencer” is now being influenced by the “influencee.”

Happy Birthday, Adam.



PS – Happy Birthday to you too, John.



September 27, 2009


“What do you mean, you wouldn’t do the show?”

“How could I do the show knowing you just died in a plane crash, only two months after 9-11?”

“Because it’s would be my dying wish, that’s how.”

“Dad. Seriously. You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be there. I wouldn’t miss it.”

His debut at the Comedy Store was the same night and I wanted to be there for him.

I left Columbus airport around 8:30am, headed to L.A. During the quick layover in Detroit, I learned about a plane that crashed leaving New York. Adam heard about a crash, but with no details, freaked out for a few minutes. That’s when we had the above “what if” conversation.

Once I arrived, we quickly cleaned up and hit the road, equipment in tow. He had to roll in all of his gear and set it off to the side while others performed. He was next to last in the line-up. Eddie Griffin would close the evening, testing some new material. Time flew by and it seemed that in an instant, Adam was up. With help from friends, he and I quickly rolled the two large racks with 2, 27-inch TVs in each, and the necessary electronics, onto the tiny stage – a stage designed for a single person telling jokes. Adam had all the connections completed and was ready to go within three minutes.

At that time, the Comedy Store had three different performance areas. The large room was used for well-known acts. The room I’ll call the “medium” room was for up-and-comers or big names that wanted to work out some new material before they “go live” in a large venue. And upstairs, was a very small area I assumed was the “beginner’s” stage.

In the large room that night, was a fundraiser for the victims of the 9-11 attack. It was nearly packed. Adam was performing in the “medium” room, which was full. No one was performing upstairs, to my knowledge.

After a brief introduction, the lights went dark, except for one spotlight. “Adam and the Trinitrons” (now the “Egos”) came to life in music and dialogue. All five characters performed simultaneously to a stunned audience that had never seen anything like it. Less than three minutes into the show, the crowd was hooked, and for the next twenty-seven minutes, mesmerized. Throughout the performance, I noticed more people coming into the room.


There were no available seats, so they lined the walls, two deep in some areas. By the time the show was over, those seated were on their feet, applauding wildly and screaming praises. Adam brought down the house. The large room had emptied and as many as humanly possible squeezed into the “medium” room to watch. It was like nothing I’d ever witnessed. I know there was a brief moment when I was in tears.

I flashed back to all the work he had put into this concept: the hours of frustration rendering video on PCs not designed for these types of projects; the electronic failures and the technicians that said it couldn’t be done without doing this or having that; the people who wanted a ridiculous amount of money to do the video work – which ultimately forced Adam to learn how to do it and do it better; the early performances in front of Columbus audiences, many of whom – with the exception of family and friends – weren’t impressed, because they just didn’t get it; and yes, the occasional disagreements with Dad.


All was forgotten for one night – November 12, 2001.


Exactly eight years – to the day – another milestone in the life of “Adam and the Egos” will come to pass. On November 12, 2009, Adam will be recording a pilot for Comedy Central in L.A. It will feature all five “Egos” performing simultaneously, in front of a live audience, with cameras capturing everything.


This has never been done before in the history of live television.

I wouldn’t miss it.



PS – I should probably mention: Adam plays ALL of the characters in his show.



September 22, 2009


His visits are fast-paced, sometimes with places and times charted on a spreadsheet so that hopefully, all can be seen. A large family and many friends require extensive schedule coordination and pre-planning.

And so it is when my oldest son “drops in.”

Adam’s most recent visit was, as usual, multi-faceted and this time, with a High School Class Reunion thrown into the timeline. He never worries about a place to stay – whether it’s at our home or elsewhere. There’s almost always a car he can use while he’s in town. And food.

Meals are beyond plentiful – often causing weight gain for him (and me!). Because he genetically inherited my “non-existent” metabolism, it’s a major effort to get weight off quickly, which is exactly what he must do when he returns to the West Coast after a visit. He’s maintaining that “Hollywood Look.” Everyone in “the biz” is always ultra-focused on staying very slim. I’ve been “very slim” a couple times as an adult and I can testify that it is not easy for either of us. Eventually, I’ll get upset with myself enough, again, to do something about my weight, again. It’s a never-ending battle. Kenny (my other son), to his fortune, did not get this gene.

A couple of events stick out about this visit. Adam, Kenny and I – for the first time ever – had dinner together with no one else around. I felt a little like Lorne Greene’s character, “Ben Cartwright” in the old NBC western series “Bonanza,” dining with my two grown sons.


They couldn’t be more different and even though they are 15 years and 2,258 miles apart, they appear to have a good relationship. I’m sure they know more about each other than I know about either of them – which is fine by me. I am not one of those parents that needs to know everything about my adult children’s personal lives. Lack of knowledge, in this case, is a good thing.

The other event that seems worth mentioning is – oddly enough – my brother, Nick’s, tattoo.

A little background.

Although we are only 14 months and 9 miles apart, Nick and I are as different as Adam and Kenny, and yet, there does seem to be a commonality between us. If you were to ask me to define it, I would fail the task. Other than being raised in the same household, by the same parents and grandparent, and attending the same schools through high school, those who know us would find it difficult to describe that which makes us enjoy each other’s company.

Defining the differences is much easier. Nick is ultra-gregarious – I tend to be more reserved. He really enjoys “a few” beers – I’m good for one, maybe two, as long as there’s food involved. He’s been married to the same woman for over 30 years. Me? Not exactly.

So Nick might do some things that I would never consider – like getting a tattoo. And not just any tattoo – but one from an award-winning tattoo artist.

Adam and I were saying goodbye to Nick, his wife and oldest daughter after a nice visit – and of course, lunch. As we were walking towards Nick’s car, I asked Adam if he had ever seen Nick’s tattoo.

“No. What tattoo?”

“Show him, Nick” I said, smiling as I anticipated Adam’s response.

With absolute pride and no hesitation whatsoever, Nick couldn’t pull up his T-shirt sleeve fast enough to show off Road Runner and Wiley Coyote, complete with background. After his initial shock, Adam immediately decided it was worth a picture on his cell phone.




Here’s another “look” from Nick. He’s wearing a Christmas gift from his very patient family members.

Nick 01

Please don’t get the wrong idea. Nick does have a “normal” look.

 Nick 02

But even this picture says, “If you’d have given me two more seconds, I would’ve given you a very different face.”  Like the cat that ate the canary.

Could the fact that Adam and Kenny being as dissimilar as my brother and me also be genetic? I don’t know and life’s too short to care. I’m just thankful for the relationships.

 Nick 04 


There is an old Ricky Nelson tune called “Travelin’ Man” that I would also attribute to Adam’s visits here, there and everywhere. (I couldn’t resist the Beatles‘ reference). “Travelin’ Man” starts out like this: “I’m a travelin’ man made a lot of stops all of the world. And in every port I own the heart of at least one lovely girl”

This is where I exit and your imagination takes over.



PS – Adam’s name came from Pernell Roberts’ character on Bonanza, Adam Cartwright



July 19, 2009


It’s Friday evening. I’m checking my e-mails, as usual. I see one from Adam:

“can you skype tomorrow sometime?  what’s your schedule… i’m HOME!!!!!”

“Hi there! WELCOME BACK! Lonna and I are going to a cook-out at the home of the bassist and his wife at around 4:00pm. The rest of the band will be there as well. So, you tell me. Any time before say 3:30 is good. Can’t wait! Dad” 

“Awesome… I’ll give you a call in the morning… i’m shutting offeverything for a day.  UGH. -A”

Throughout the next morning and early afternoon, I’m anticipating his call. He’s good at keeping his word, so why would this morning be an exception? He’s back in the country, so what could possibly be keeping him from calling? It’s three hours earlier in L.A. so I’m not expecting a call before 11:00am. But now, it’s nearly 1:00pm and I’m in the middle of some housecleaning. If he calls now, I’ll have to leave everything in a mess to take the call, which means turning on my PC, logging on, setting up my camcorder and lights. Knowing us, we’ll gab for a while which means I’ll probably be late for the cook-out. Okay, Adam. Call, already.

As I’m walking from the kitchen to the living room, I see Lonna working on some of the landscaping in the front of the house. I notice someone approaching her…

IT’S ADAM!?!?!?

A few minutes later Kenny, my other son, stopped by, not knowing his older brother was in town. As I later learned, NO ONE knew. Adam changed his flight plans in Boston the day before, creating a 27-hour lay-over, which included sleeping in the airport. He decided L.A. could wait a few more days and came to town completely unannounced. It felt great to have the four of us together again in such an unexpected way.

It was one of the best surprises I’ve ever experienced.

When I made the decision to be a professional musician (in my mid-teens), it was not because I wanted to make millions of dollars. No one with even half a brain gets in the business for that reason. It was not because I wanted to prove something to everyone around me. I’m sure they were convinced of my insanity the moment I made the choice. It was not in defiance of my parents who wanted me to “…put the music away…” and go to law school. They couldn’t understand how music could be a way of life and not a pastime. When I decided to become a professional musician, I disappointed nearly everyone.

And yet, I knew it was the right path for me.

“…since my father was a performer my entire childhood (full-time musician until just a few years ago) there will always be that yearning to make him proud. I have, that’s not in doubt, but he will always be the first phone call. He will always be the one person who knows every second of my life in a way no one can, and with an understanding only a fellow performer can have.” Adam

No regrets.





June 15, 2009


In my mind, the conversation went something like this:

“So… I’m going to Africa.”

“Say that again.”

“I’m going to Africa with a journalist who is doing a story and wants my video blog to be a part of it.”

“Africa. You mean the small town in Delaware County, here in O – HI – O. Right?”

“Nope. NAI – RO – BI, KEN – YA.” 


Your oldest son going to Africa, using a couch surfing website, is a little unnerving. Going with a free lance journalist – a bit more unnerving. Usually, when journalists go to foreign lands, they are funded by the news organizations they represent and are accompanied by several people and lots of equipment. This time, uh… not so much.

But, Adam was going. He wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to see a part of the world that very few Americans will ever see. London first, then on to Nairobi and Malindi (with a safari thrown in there somewhere), back up to Paris, then Venice and then back to London very briefly, before coming home to the States. The airline tickets were remarkably inexpensive for that amount of travel. All the “couches” were lined up. (I still shake my head when I read that last sentence.)

I have to admit there were a few evenings when I felt anxious about his safety. (I can’t imagine how the parents of combat soldiers must feel.) It wasn’t fear, just concern. It is certainly common knowledge that Africa has many third-world countries where law enforcement barely exists, if at all. Visualizing Adam carrying so much expensive equipment through the streets of Nairobi and Malindi gave me pause. It looks far more glamorous and a lot less dangerous in the movies.

We videophoned when he was in London. After that, I did not hear from him for several days. Then he was finally able to connect via internet cafes with very slow connections in Nairobi and Malindi, which made uploading his vlog entries nearly impossible.

As I write this, Adam is now in Paris, where running and hot water are in abundance, the streets are paved and there is (thank you, Jesus!) high-speed internet. We videophoned last night. He then asked me to point my PC’s camera towards the TV in my office so he could watch the Lakers-Magic game (game five of the finals) where later that night, Coach Phil Jackson won his tenth NBA Championship and the Lakers won their fourth. The game started at 8:00pm est, which was 2:00am in Paris.

UPDATE: As promised, here is video of our conversations via videophone when he was in London, Paris and Greece. (The trip to Greece was a last minute change of plans.) I gave him the original footage and he did the editing, which saved me a lot of time. Truth-be-known, he’s much better at it. 🙂

Adam’s vlog entries for this trip are great. You can read them here.

His videos are spectacular. Here are some of them.

Obviously, Adam inherited his adventurous spirit from me. As you can see, I too enjoy a trip to the wild.


As for the animals – how are you not scared speechless seeing this?


And don’t tell me you’re not trembling watching these guys eat.


Being the fearless person that I am, I’ll be going back very soon.