Blog: Joe Zainea

A peek at the playbills of the Majestic Theater and the Magic Stick live music venues shows that every day is a different act. How does Joe Zainea, longtime owner of The Majestic entertainment empire, keep things fresh from week to week? Follow on for his tales of revival and survival.

Post 5: 80/20 and Other Musings

Everything in life seems to be centered around the 80/20 percentage split. 80% of the population in the US – I'm sorry to say – don't meet the standards in their thinking that other countries, in their majority, do. 20% of Americans have the capacity to analyze and reason for themselves effectively.

If you just apply this to the city of Detroit, or Metro Detroit let's say. Metro Detroit has four and a half million people. Twenty percent of that is 900,000 people. So there are 900,000 people who are amenable to the city of Detroit. They understand that it's important to put their money in the city, to invest in it, to save it. But in the city of Detroit, where you also have a population of 900,000, only 20% of the people want to be in the city. Which means we have over 700,000 people in the city of Detroit who would much rather be living somewhere else.

As a matter of fact, a neighbor of mine told me he would rather be living in Grosse Pointe. And I asked him why. I said, "You have a beautiful home, you raised your family here, you've been here thirty years." He's one of the first African-American neighbors that I had. And he's telling me how beautiful Grosse Pointe is. And I said, "It's no different. All we have to do is paint our houses, cut our grass, accept what we have."
What is a house but a roof to protect us, like a car that lets us go from place to place? If you always wanna measure something in the matter of appreciation, then don't ever buy a car, because it never maintains its value. Why should a house have to increase its value? Unless you enhance it of course. But the value of a house is the home. That's my point. The home is where you live, where your family lives, where you congregate. A house is a building, and it can come and it can go, but it's the home that makes it important. And people put the wrong emphasis on that.

If you just look at the 80/20 rule in terms of the electorate, I'm sorry to say that 80% of the people are downright unaware of the facts and what's really at stake in life. And it is really a tragedy. I'm on an email list of about 60 people, and we were discussing the financial reforms and the new regulations and reforms for Wall Street in the bill that was before Congress, which was just signed.

They were all opposed to it. And I wrote that one of the greatest Republican presidents that we had in our history was from a wealthy set. His pals and friends were the likes of Carnegie, Mellon, Morgan, Rockefeller. And he went directly against their wishes, by creating laws that were for the common good. And they "de-friended" him. He was one of the greatest presidents because he took us in a new direction. Previous to him, it was the old boys' club that ran the country. And he did some other remarkable things – some not so good. But one of the most remarkable things he did was create the National Park system.

My question to the people on the list was, "Who was this president?" Now of all my friends that I know, only one knew who I was speaking of. You know who he is, don't you? One person knew who I was talking about. Isn't that a tragedy? People are so much ingrained with what comes out of Fox News, and they don't go beyond that to get to proper thinking.

I've traveled a lot. And I'm thinking, "Why do people in other countries know more than we know?" I mean, I was in Egypt, and I was talking to a pre-teen kid, and he was telling me the capitals of all the countries of the world. How many of our 12 year olds can tell us the capital of Canada? What is wrong with our thinking?

My pastor was giving a sermon on mysticism. And he ran into an 8th grader who had 370 Facebook friends. He said that he told him, "Those are 370 acquaintances." You have to distinguish what it means between being involved with a person and just knowing them.

Corporations in America now are what the oligarchy was in the Russia before the Bolshevik revolution. They're the aristocracy that brought the French people to revolt against their kings. It goes back to England five hundred years ago, when Cromwell told the king, "You can stay as king but in a titular roll, and you have to let the people govern themselves through a parliamentary system."

How come Americans now don't see that corporations today are in the same position as those dukes and lords and barons, or the counts and countesses of France, or like Rasputin in Russia? The corporations, they're the Rasputins.

Is a corporation a person? They don't have flesh and blood. But the Supreme Court says they are.

I'm a capitalist. I run a business. But I'm a capitalist who understands that people are different than me, but they all need to be served. I always like to use the idea of a big tent: I want everybody to come into my tent.


When I was a young boy we lived on Lakewood – which I referred to as "Damascus Road," because so many of my cousins lived on that street on the east side of Detroit. My mother had a very small kitchen that had a wood floor. Every Friday she would get down on her hands and knees and scrub that floor with Fels Naptha soap, and bleach the floor afterward. Then after it dried she would go over the floor with steel wool, to smooth out the high points. She hated that floor with a passion. She told my father, "Why don't you get me Linoleum like my sister has?" Her sister lived a block away.

Well, my father acquiesced: a new floor, and he bought her Linoleum. And when I was about to get married I took a step up. I bought a house on Audubon that had Linoleum, and I tore it out. And I bought Congoleum. I loved my Congoleum. It always shined. You never had to wax it. You never had to polish it. It shined all the time. It looked beautiful.

Then my best buddy bought a home in Grosse Pointe. And he put ceramic tile down. And every time I would go to his house I would look at his ceramic tile and say to myself, "Boy, do I like that ceramic tile. I got this Congoleum. But I love my Congoleum. It's much prettier than ceramic tile." But I figured I had to take a step up.

So I installed a wood floor.

And this just teaches you the folly of people when they put values on the wrong things in life. Does it make a difference whether it's Linoleum or Congoleum or a wood floor? The answer to that is no. It's how you appreciate it, and what you love. And that's my story of Congoleum.