Posts Tagged ‘Michael Kontras’

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A LETTER TO COUSIN NICK

May 18, 2011

Dear Nick,

I waited a few months to write this because I wanted to allow time for some healing. I think about you often and the impression you left on so many lives. I think about your wife, Karen, and your two children, Kallie and Jimmy, about your mom, Theo, and your sister, Denise. But this letter is not to them, it’s to you.

I’ll start by recalling a quick phone conversation we had once in 2008, realizing that this was so typical of our usual call-to-action: lunch.

“Hi Mike, cousin Nick.”

“Hey Nick, what’s up?”

“Wondered if you were going to be around today?”

“Not really, man. I’m at the rally downtown.”

“John McCain’s?”

“Not hardly.”

“Oh, okay. I’ll call you sometime next week.”

“Lunch?”

“Sounds good.”

I don’t know if you were kidding when you said “John McCain’s?” but I smiled anyway. You’re sense of humor saw no bounds, manifesting itself in virtually every conversation or situation.

Although we were just cousins, we were also very good friends and in the last several years, you felt like a brother to me. As children, our parents saw to it that we cousins were around each other often. As adults, we didn’t see nearly as much of one another for the obvious reasons: we began families of our own with some of us moving to a different city or state. But after your brief stay in California and my travels as an entertainer, we finally settled down back in our home town and slowly started reconnecting.

You and I were raised in very different environments. Your upbringing was far stricter than mine, which was fairly relaxed. Your dad was always telling my mom how she was being too easy on me. What was she thinking, letting me play in a band? I don’t think he ever understood.

Over the last 15 years or so, we spent many-a-lunch discussing our parents, our siblings and most of all, our own families. We also discussed politics (yours more conservative than mine), religion (different paths, same destination), and our extended families. We ended each lunch with a handshake and a smile, vowing to “do it again soon.” And we did.

At some of those lunches, we talked about your son Jimmy and my son Kenny. They were in their teenage years. You and I were experiencing the typical teenage “issues” with them. When I finally realized that for me, these issues were mostly mine and not Kenny’s, you were surprised by my confession. A few weeks before you passed, you told me that you had let go of your deep-rooted ideas about fatherhood – wanting only that your children be true to themselves first and foremost – and not to be concerned with what they think you (or anybody else) might want them to be. In your words, you “broke the cycle.”

It seemed that your passion for music, which was put on hold for so many years, was somewhat resurrected later in your life. And although our tastes were not very similar, we enjoyed each others’ talents. In the 80s, you managed to break away a couple of times to record some drum tracks in the studio, saving me from having to program my antiquated drum machine. I know you remember the instrumental in 1984, but even I forgot about the time you joined my sister (singing), her husband (on guitar) and me on a tune in 1986. You were far more talented than you realized, but when I said that, you made some self-deprecating joke about it. I wasn’t “blowin’ smoke” cous – you played well.

But the shocker for me (and everyone else in the room) was the night you got up and sang “It’s Now or Never,” the old Elvis tune, at my mother’s 70th birthday, with your mother standing right next to you. After all these years, I had no idea you could sing – really sing!

I know why you didn’t take me up on my offer to join Reflection, back in 1979. You didn’t want to disappoint your parents  – a scenario that is all-too-common with people of our generation. Personally, I believe the  musical desire of your heart was never fully realized. There were a few occasions where it did shine through. Two that come to mind immediately were when you took time away from your day gig (which I know you did not enjoy but maintained to please your father) to put together an Elvis show for fundraisers at your church. You brought down the house, brotha!

You were always so selfless, putting everyone else’s needs way ahead of your own. I often wonder how different your life might have been had you chosen to be just a little selfish with your time. I can’t help but feel you might still be entertaining us mere mortals. 

My hope and prayer is that those closest to you have learned at least one thing from your brief 56 years on this earth: that it’s just as important to feed your soul as it is to feed your family and help others around you. I know many understand this but I also know there are some that don’t.

Case in point: at your viewing, standing not more than fifty feet from your coffin, I overheard one of our relatives lecturing another relative. “You need to make sure your finances are taken care of before you get involved with frivolous activities that are non-productive,” he said. “There will be plenty of time for that stuff after the kids are grown and your stock portfolio is ‘healthy’.” Sadly, it may be a while before he “gets it,” Nick.

In closing, I want you to know that because of you I’m a better person and I really miss our call-to-action lunches. 🙂 Most importantly, I will never forget what your presence in my life did for me.

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

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ADAM AND KENNY… POKHIAS?

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.

Kontras.

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.”

Love,

www.MichaelKontras.com

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.

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“WHY ARE PEOPLE SO ANGRY?”

October 17, 2009

WhySoAngryLOGO

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.) 

JohnDoe01

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:

MK01

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:

FedFarm01

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:”

MK02

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:

FedFarm02

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. 🙂

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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.

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OLDEST SON OF AN OLDEST SON – VOL. 6

October 9, 2009

InfluenceLOGO

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.

Love,

DadSignature2

 

 

www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – Happy Birthday to you too, John.

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OLDEST SON OF AN OLDEST SON – VOL. 3

July 19, 2009

IndyAdamEpilogueLOGO

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.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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OLDEST SON OF AN OLDEST SON – VOL. 1

June 1, 2009

OldestSon2 

He was moving to the west coast to follow his dream.

AdamJessJDog

Camry, TrailerAccompanied by his fiancée, one of his buddies, the cat, and two trailers pulled with a four-door sedan and a small pick-up, he and the others waved goodbye as I snapped the pictures on that cold, wet, winter morning.

Truck, TrailerIt was January 2, 2000. My oldest son, Adam, spent the previous day at the house, sharing stories, feelings and dreams. I probably knew then his move was going to be permanent.

 

It’s a trait I share with both of my sons: always look forward, avoid looking back and live in the moment.

I certainly knew what he was feeling, completely understanding his desire to follow his dream. Anyone who has shifted their thinking from the conformity of their upbringing understands. There is an internal “voice” that seems to guide you in a different direction from what you were raised to believe. I was the first family member in my generation to chart a different course from the Greek Orthodox/Republican surroundings of my adolescence. I was probably not the most popular son or nephew but my brother and cousins thought it was “pretty cool.” Decades later, I learned that some of my cousins were silently cheering for me in my “revolt against the establishment.” I’m sure some of Adam’s cousins are doing the same thing. His younger brother stays in regular contact with him.

AdamPromoShotOnce I became a parent, I knew I would never stifle my children’s dreams. Adam’s decision to go into the entertainment industry was entirely his. His brother is succeeding at his own dream, albeit a very different choice than Adam’s. Both grew up watching me work at my dream  – the rehearsals, the performances and the recording sessions.

Adam writes about his departure this way. Little did he know that on that day he would make history by becoming the world’s FIRST video blogger, or vlogger

 

 

So here we are, nearly ten years later.

Saying “so much has happened” is beyond cliché. You can learn all the history at The Official Journey. He has not only privately shared much with me over the years (maybe too much – there are things a father doesn’t NEED to know), but in huge gestures of selflessness, has INCLUDED me in his successes: sharing the stage, introducing me to people in the industry and allowing me to experience “behind the scenes” events that very few people will ever know. There are no words to describe my gratitude.

But this series is about now. As I’m permitted to reveal events in his life, I will reveal my thoughts on those events. Hopefully, I will be able to witness some first-hand. It’s challenging when we’re 2,258 miles apart. (Google Maps, just in case you’re wondering.)

Some major events – all for the good – have taken place in the last five days that could change his life. Industry “heavyweights” are involved. I’ll comment on the events as soon as they are made public by those “heavyweights.”

Until then, I will tell no tale before it’s time. 🙂

Sincerely,

signature2

 

 

www.MichaelKontras.com

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MADE IN… WHERE?

April 7, 2009

madewhere1

Over the years, we’ve come to rely on certain brand names. If you buy a product from a well-known manufacturer, you know you’re getting better quality than an “off-brand” product.

I must have been abducted by aliens while all this changed. When did GE, RCA, Sony and other well-known brands start building products that quit working after 60 days? Or, don’t work the way they are designed to work?

Case in point: Universal Remote Controls. These companies build single “universal” remote controls that are designed to operate all of our audio and video electronic devices. There are basically two types of universal remotes. There is the “learning” remote and the “coded” remote. Both have codes installed that will run most electronic audio/video devices. The difference is the “learning” remote will “learn” the code of your individual devices by “reading” their signals. This means it should run ANY device, once it “reads” the signal coming from that device.

So why does it take FOUR TRIPS to electronic stores to buy one that will function the way it should and last longer than college basketball’s March Madness?

3remotes

I’m sure most of you have seen these or similar Universal Remotes. All are from manufacturers that supposedly represent quality. Well…

The GE on the left quit working after 60 days. A second one quit working even sooner. The RCA in the center can only operate my TV – which, oddly enough, is not an RCA TV. It doesn’t have the correct codes for my DVD player, CD player or VCR. (Yes, I still have a VCR.) The Sony on the right works my TV and VCR, but will not run my DVD player or my Sony CD player. That’s right. My SONY Universal Remote doesn’t have a code in it for my SONY CD Player. Unbelievable.

And the common denominator among all these units? None of them are made in America.

The Sony is made in China.

madechina

The RCA is made in Indonesia

madeindonesia

I have no idea where the GE unit was manufactured. I even tore it apart to see if it was marked somewhere inside. Nothing.

remotepieces

We have traded quality control and workmanship for no quality and poor workmanship in order to compete in the world market. Rather than being the leaders in manufacturing, we’ve opted for being greedy. Quality is now far less important than making money.

On the surface, paying less to build products appears to be a smart business plan: Higher profits (in the short run), lower wages, better stock prices which means better bonuses for management, all feed into this thinking – which has now come back to bite us – HARD!

When companies reduce quality, they must also expect income to drop eventually. A company may be able to “sneak” by with little attention to quality for a while, but sooner or later, sales will drop. Why not, instead, maintain and continually improve quality, maintain good wages and benefits for workers, and just charge more for the product? So what if your competitors are selling “similar” products for less money. In the long run, they lose – you win.

Building the better “mousetrap” is how this country became a manufacturing giant. We have the skill, technology and workforce to resurrect that business model once again.

There is no substitute for quality.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – I ended up with a universal remote from a company called – as God is my witness – Universal.

myremote2

It not only came with instructions, it even has a DVD to help you learn how to set it up. It operates the TV and DVD player perfectly, the VCR, partially – it can’t operate the clock and recording functions. As for the Sony CD player: it has no clue. (sigh)

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Oh yeah. It’s made in Korea.

😦