Thursday, August 22, 2019

I can't teach.

Took a little mental inventory the other day. Turns out I know a lot of teachers.

My brother in law is a teacher. His sister and her husband are teachers.

My camping buddy is a teacher. His wife is a teacher/administrator.

My former roommate/writing partner is a teacher. Actually, a professor at Fordham.

And almost everyone I know in advertising who is my age (44) or greater has gone on to become a teacher. Most of them teaching the "profession" of advertising.

I never looked at what we do as some type scholarly field worthy of a classroom or a chalkboard. I tend to see what we do as my former boss Steve Hayden sees it -- "Oh you can make money slapping clever words on pictures to sell shit, cool."

That is not to say I haven't considered it, I have. Nor is it to say I've never been approached to "teach" a class, I have.

Besides the obvious salary reduction, the hours spent confined in a classroom and the self-imposed discipline of forcing myself to wear a tie --all proper teachers should wear a tie -- I simply have no idea how I'd go about explaining how to do, what it is I do.

1. Put on a big pot of coffee. I like a dark roast to start the caffeine flow as quickly as possible.

2. Log onto to the computer. First check social media. Get that morning fit of rage out of your system.

3. Snap off a few quick wisecrack comments. I call this limbering up.

4. Look at the brief.

5. Find ways to ignore the brief. If planners and strategists were any good at what they do, they'd be writers and art directors.

6. Start writing.

7. Keep writing.

8. Stop writing, allow myself some distraction. Go back to Facebook and make a few more wisecrack comments. I call this staying warm.

9. Throw out the initial work, chances are it sucks.

10. Start writing again. Then write some more.

That's about it.

For the second class I'd be drawing a complete blank.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Greatest Ever.

Last week, Avi Dan had an article in Forbes, A Time Machine Through Madison Ave.: The Greatest Agencies, Ever.

I knew from the title that I would be blogging about it. Mostly borne from the fact that I spent the formative years of my career at #3 Chiat/Day. As well as a not so fruitful year working on Apple --during the rudderless Steve Jobs-less period -- while at #5 BBDO. And my last official staff gig at #10 on the list, the geographically undesirable Y&R, where the daily 106 mile commute finally broke my will to survive.

I knew I'd be writing about the piece, but I didn't know what I'd write.

The temptation was there to turn this post into another thinly veiled, self serving, self promotion. But then thought better of it. Especially since I've spent the last few weeks pimping my new book. And I just came off a great assignment with another great agency.

It's time to tone down the chest beating and turn the humility lever up to 11.

And so, in re-reading the article, which is largely on the nose, I couldn't help pick up on our industry's eternal navel-gazing. Do attorneys jockey for position to make the list of Top 10 Torts & Civil Litigation Law Firms in the country? Do dental partnerships angle to make the list of Top 10 Root Canal Extracters, Ever?

I don't know.

But I do know my father, an industrious CPA, spent a lifetime balancing books and shaving corporate expenses without ever seeing his name or his firm's name in print. And so with that, I give you the A Time Machine Through Earned Income Credit: The Greatest Accounting Firms in the History of Mankind.

Dawson, Bergquist & Gallagher : In 1973, these ingenious fellows found a way to write off the cost of skyrocketing fuel as both a cost of operations expense as well as an evergreen liability. Thus twisting the code in favor of their client and saving $38,941.29.

Tannenbaum & Partners: Working on behalf of their client, Tannenbaum & Partners fought tooth and nail against the IRS who claimed their client, Chimmy Changa's Churros out of Saltillo, owed more than  $73, 931.47 in back taxes. Tannenbaum papered those government boys with long, flowing briefs. And cited so many obscure cases, with beautifully detailed references, the IRS just threw up their arms and cried Uncle.

Caplan, Hoffman and Schwartz: These grizzled CPAs are in a class by themselves. Well versed in the long storied history of chartered accountancy, these seasoned vets can talk your ears off about capital expenditure, asset-backed securities and collateralized debt obligation. Accounting students will be studying their case histories for years to come. And hopefully live by their timeless maxim: Look, listen, deduct.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Deplorable Rich Siegel

A few weeks ago I got an odd facebook friend request. It was from a fellow in upstate New York who just happens to be named Rich Siegel.

Prior to this I thought I was familiar with some of the other Rich Siegels of this world.

There's a Rich Siegel in Northern California who runs a very successful software company. He can talk bits and bytes and java-scripted HTML flicks flacks until the sentient beings who run the Matrix are flush out of 1' and 0's.

There's another Rich Siegel, who hails from Spring Valley, NY (right next to Suffern, my hometown). He is my age (44) and apparently knows some of the same Rockland County people that I do.

And now there's this new Rich Siegel from Kingston.

I knew nothing about him. But my camping buddy and fellow connoisseur of BBQ meats Paul Sinfield told me he received a friend request from a Paul Sinfield in Liverpool and now they chat regularly and swap hilarious soccer stories.

So, I thought I'd give this Rich Siegel mook a chance. Maybe make a friend. At the very least, maybe I could convince him to buy my new book.

Those thoughts quickly vanished when it turned out New Rich Siegel is quite the Trump apologist. He's also an impressive semantic gymnast, finding endless ways to twist and contort the actions of Captain Ouchie Foot.

By now the dialogue is quite familiar...

"Well, I don't fully support the man, he's rude and crude and often says hateful things. Plus his behavior is childish and not fitting for a president, but I fully endorse the policies he's enacting."

Blah, Blah, blah.

What policies would those be? Kidnapping children from their mothers? Ripping up regulations that protect the environment? Bowing and caving in to dictators like Putin and Kim Jong Un? Trashing the press, the FBI and the intel community?

Sorry Rich Siegel, know-nothing, half-hearted neutrality doesn't cut it in 2019.

You're either against this raging, incompetent douchewaffle who is marching this country off to Chapter 11 court or you're for the racism, the misogyny, the grifting, the lying, the kidnapping, the murder, and the daily shitting upon our Constitution and the societal norms that once defined American Exceptionalism.

Put another way, a way I don't often say out loud, "Rich Siegel is kind of a dick."

Monday, August 19, 2019

Faked Out News

We elected a businessman to be President of the United States. In years past, I might have thought this was a good idea. In fact, when given the opportunity to pull the lever in 1980, I pulled it for Ross Perot. 

Mostly because I thought he was funny and had a slew of Texas maxims that I could listen to until my ears bled.

"He walks like a two headed alligator who just raided a chicken coop."

"She's got the face of a wildebeast that fell of a jagged cliff."

"That makes as much sense as three swollen teats on a volleyball."

Don't bother looking these up, I'm just making it up as I go along. And apparently, so is the "businessman" Dumb America installed as POTUS in 2016.

I use airquotes intentionally. Because he does not do business the way any other legitimate businessman or businesswoman ever would.

And today is the perfect day to make this point. 

You see, on June 17, 2019, Captain Ouchie Foot was being interviewed by George Stephanopoulis of ABC News. Naturally, he was combative, glib and altogether untruthful. He told George, possibly after explaining the finer details of windmill cancer, that his administration had been stealthily working on a beautiful and "phenomenal" (his words) new healthcare plan that would cover pre-existing conditions and would feature lower premiums.

Phenomenal, right?

I invite you to check your calendar.  

We are past the two month deadline he set for himself. He doesn't talk about it. Nor does the press. But I'm talking about it. Because it amply demonstrates his utter incompetence and obscene mendacity. Also, and you can call me elitist for saying so, it shines an oh-so-brilliant spotlight on the Kool Aid drinking deplorables who willingly allow themselves to be flim flammed by this piggish flim flammer.

I understand how busy our beslubbering coxcomb must be -- Russian overlords must be answered, racial tensions must be stoked and rallies must be rallied -- but allow me to explain how this type of behavior would play out in the real world of business.

Let's assume I was still employed at an ad agency and we had just answered an RFP for a big packaged goods account. Let's also say the agency had made the cutdown list to three contenders. And let's further speculate that chemistry checks had been passed, preliminary financial terms had been worked out, briefs had been given and a full board presentation had been scheduled for a date in two months time.

How do you suppose that client would react, if, on the agreed upon presentation date, we had not bothered to show up?

Not because we missed a plane connection.
Not because the dog chewed up the deck.
Not because of anything that might even remotely pass for acceptable in the real business world.


We didn't show up with the work,

because we didn't do the work,

and we didn't do the work,

or even pretend to do the work,

because we decided to play golf.


Thursday, August 15, 2019


This popped up in my Facebook Memories yesterday. It's from 7 years ago.

I know many readers are familiar with the Spy vs. Spy antics that Erik Moe and I engage in on But many of you don't know that our rift started a long time ago. On a different social media platform.

And so, because I am extremely busy these days, pimping my new book as well as feverishly writing TV spots for a major automaker, I'm going to slip out of today's writing responsibilities, reach into the memory vault and reprint the tete a tete shenanigans from a better time, 2012.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Tale of the Taza

A little more than a year ago, my partner Jean Robaire and I participated in something called a Tazathon. It was basically a very small client seeking the help of big agency creatives without having to pay big agency fees or pay for big agency Friday morning breakfasts.

There was a small stipend involved, hardly enough to cover our costs.

And there was the possibility that the winning team could walk away with a growing client, in an interesting category, with some major upside potential.

Many of our colleagues thought it was stupid for us to throw our ushankas in the ring. But it was during a slow period and Jean and I like to stay busy. Plus, despite being from Boston, they seemed like very nice people.

So, we put together (without a planner I might add) a presentation of two soup-to-nuts campaigns. The client loved the work but, I suspect because of the geography, kept the business closer and went with a team from Faaaahmingham.

That's how things go in this business. We are no strangers to disappointment.

Last week I reconnected with the client and asked permission to show some of the work.

Permission granted.

(Please keep in mind, this is all rough without the benefit of color correction, photo finishing and whatever else art directors do before sending out a ready-to-roll mechanical.)

We started boldly, with a kick off open letter to the CEO at Hershey's Chocolate.

And we married that with the proposal to set up these stands on all the roads leading into Hershey, Pennsylvania.

We did the traditional media as well as the digital stuff (cause it's what all the kids are doing these days.)

And we didn't forget experiential. We suggested they take over Fenway Park for a night, provide sampling to all the fans. And for one night only, turn the Green Monster into something not so green.

And then for no other reason than I like to write full page newspaper ads, we threw one more at them.

Should we have won? I'm a little biased and can't really say.

But I do know this. 

You might not have heard of Taza a year ago, but if we had been given a chance to run this work (and a lot more), you'd have heard of them by now.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Talk to the hand

I don't use the n-word. I don't like getting in my daughter's car, where the radio is tuned to some hip hop station, and hearing the n-word.

Similarly, non Jews should not be telling Jewish jokes. Though people in Colorado apparently have no problem telling Jew jokes right to my youngest daughter's face.

In any case, there are some unwritten rules of etiquette we should all abide by.

However I will not accept any directives from the social media police (apparently many have been deputized), who regularly flag down my posts as inappropriate.

I'm looking at you Linkedin.

If I have to suffer through a cavalcade of Tony Robbins wannabe's with their handheld iPhone sermonettes on "courage", "positivity", "content generation" "data driven creativity" and the omnipresent "crushing", well then I'm going to exercise some of those same liberties and post my snarky comments.

My impromptu political observation.

And most importantly, my book promotions.

And frankly, you can rain all the head shaking disapproval on me that you'd like, I'm still going to work those free algorithms to my advantage.

Much of that stems from the fact that I am 44 years old and care less about what other people think of me than Captain Ouchie Foot cares about immigrant children being snatched from their parents.

Besides, if push came to shove, I could argue that all my posts on LinkedIn are vocationally legitimate.

I'm a writer, I write.

I write ads.
I write books.
I write TV shows.
I write movies.

Ipso, facto, anything I write -- and I use that in the broadest sense of the word -- is part and parcel of my career.

And what social media platform do we all use to advance our careers, even those that are in obvious decline due to a stubborn unwillingness to compromise and sit at the Long Table of Mediocrity™?


I rest my case.

Speaking of cases, shouldn't your bookcase be sporting this blockbuster, currently the 293,827th bestselling book in America?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Mea Culpa

There's an anecdote, and I hope I get this right, in Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs. In it, an engineer is seated before Steve, hoping to get approval on some new fangled device, it doesn't matter which one.

Steve carefully examines the prototype. He holds it, he turns over, he gives it the once over, as only Jobs could do.

Then, upon closer inspection, he spots a tiny nodule of plastic.

"What about this?" he says.

"Don't worry about that," the engineer explains, "when the cover is on, it's not visible, no one will even know it's there."

"I'll know it's there, " he boomed, "fix it."

Today I find myself in that engineer's shoes. I screwed up. I made a mess. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I have to own the mistake(s).

As many of you know, I just published a new book, Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington. It's a compilation of letters I wrote to each and every GOP US Senator. But, and this is why I became a writer and not a CPA as my father wanted, I messed up on the details.

Somehow in the assembly of the huge document, I inadvertently forgot to include two letters. This in no way detracts from the book, as there are 57 finely-hewn molotov missives directed at members of the Upper Chamber.

Chances are you would never notice as there's enough venom in the book to take down an elephant.

But, the letters were written, here and here, and they deserve to be in the book. Thanks to the magic of print on demand, the unabridged version is now available for purchase. (I am grateful for all those who bought the book and in no way suggesting you buy it again.)

That covers off the Mea.

Now comes the Culpa.

I don't know how this happened, but somehow I also neglected to include the letter written to Ms. Lindsey Graham, the Senator with the most punchable face in DC. Not only did I fail to include the letter, it turns out after going through my extensive files, I hadn't even written it.

As a result, I spent a considerable part of the weekend beating myself up. Then I picked myself up off the floor of Shame and started with the clicking and clacking on the keyboard.

My wife thinks I'm crazy and touched with a bit of OCD.

"No one's going to notice there are letters missing. And no one is going to know."

"Yes, but I'll know."

I apologize to those who have already the book and have included the last, the very last letter for your perusal...

Senator Lindsey Graham
Aunt Pity Patty


Senator Lindsey Graham
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Graham,

I owe you an apology. 

I recently published a new book entitled Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington, wherein I wrote letters to each of the GOP US Senators. Perhaps clouded by the nonstop flow of presidentially-induced rage, I somehow tripped over myself and forgot to include you.

More likely, I was pacing myself. 

You know getting the no-name Senators like Enzi, Hawley and Hoeven, out of the way. And saving my energy for the big fish like you. 

In any case, the first edition of the book has turned out to be an abridged version. 

You sir, will appear in the second. 

Because a proper dressing down of Senate GOP would not be complete without the inclusion of the most traitorous, most obsequious, most repugnant Republican who has ever crossed the threshold at the Russell Senate Office Building -- that would be you, Aunt Pity Patty.

At this point it seems redundant to rehash all the debacles of the last two years. 

Like how you went from being a Never Trumper to an Always Trumper.

Or how you preen in front of the camera making a big stink about proper presidential behavior and Russian sanctions and "smoking bone saws." 

That's just you, flapping your loose Carolina jaw.

Besides after spending an eternity in the Congress, both as a House Representative and as a Senator, I suspect your skin is tougher than the hindquarter of an old armadillo.

There's nothing this smart ass Jew from New York can say that will leave a mark.

But there is someone you might still respect, someone whose thoughts and actions and deeds might still resonate, as they still do for a once great nation. 

"Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you."

-- Senator John McCain

Any of that ring a bell, Lindsey? 

Or did your honor go into the ground with your late lifetime friend?


Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Holy Canoli

23&me tells me all about me.

It also tells me about parts of me that are found in people other than me.


I'm not talking about the ones that share my enormous hook nose or my propensity to grow unwanted hair in unreachable places. The ones I see at my dinner table on occasional birthdays or holidays. 

I'm talking about distant relatives, who not only share my swarthy Mediterranean appearance, but also, by some freak of nature share the MJ521A/C gene that regulates urine color.

Or the BK78J9P gene that enables inordinate strength.

And the ZQ915F53 gene that restricts the ability to fully understand the mechanics of the internal combustion engine. Thus resulting in overpaying for any automotive repairs.

The 23&me people are very good at updating me with lists of new distant relatives. I know it's just a marketing ploy. And a good reason for them to constantly stay on my radar so they can hawk their other services.

I know this because the list of distant relatives now includes 6th and 7th cousins. And they're coming not only from my incredibly small eastern European gene pool but from adjacent areas like Mongolia, Bulgaria and Siberia.

Nevertheless, it's interesting. At least to me.

About a year ago, I was looking over the list of distant relatives and saw a name that was oddly familiar. It was a surname from my Facebook list of friends. Moreover it wasn't Jewish, it was Italian.

Naturally I reached out to my Italian Facebook friend with a DM. I asked if she knew the person. She did. It was her uncle. Holy six degrees of separation.

Crazy, I thought. Even crazier, was the radio silence that followed this incredible discovery.

I guess if I were her and just found out I was related to Rich Siegel, I'd do the same thing. Frankly I'm surprised she didn't unfriend me, post haste.

Of course all this stringing together of DNA strands brings up a frightening possibility. What if, for instance, upon further chromosomal digging I were to find out that my wife were not only my wife but my cousin!


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Say hello to Kim Jong Pimp, World's Greatest Influencer

"That's what I love about Americans, they think of everything."

You might not expect it from a 44 year old copywriter who is starting to sprout grey in the beard, but I like to think I'm hip to what the kids are doing. And because my livelihood depends on it, I'm particularly hip to what the kids in advertising are doing.


Everybody is influencing.

Q-Dog is influencing.
K-Pac is influencing.
Even Screech from Saved By The Bell is influencing.

And aside from that one woman who claimed to have 3 million followers but could not sell $138 worth of her new clothing line, everybody is making money at this influencing thing.

So, during my recent incarceration in FaceBook Jail, I began to think, "how can I, a wily 44 year old advertising pro get in on all this hot influencing action?"

The truth of it is, I don't have much to influence about.

I know about weightlifting equipment, hiking shoes, pellet smoking grills, and beer. On top of that, I have a face for radio. And a voice for newspaper. Suffice to say, nobody knows what I look like and if they did, they would be influenced in the opposite direction.

That's when I decided I'm not right for the role, but I know someone who is.

Someone current.
Someone who loves the camera.
Someone fantastically recognizable.

I went to the IG and created a new profile, @kimjongpimp.

I invite you to follow Kimjongpimp, who has already appeared in many IG ads. Lending his formidable presence and unique cache to a variety of products.

But that's not all.

I'm also inviting potential clients out there who might want to leverage Kim's amazing global presence to, I mean sell their stuff.

What's the worst that can happen? We might get a cease and desist from the DPRK.

That would be sweet.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Hello Comrade

By now you must be familiar with the continued media mauling of Moscow Mitch.

The name stuck to old turtlehead the way an errant piece of toilet paper stuck to the shoe of our Mangled Apricot Hellbeast as he climbed aboard Air Force One, on his way to another Nazi rally.

Poor Mitchy doesn't like it.

Womp. Womp.

It trended all week long on Twitter. And now the Kentucky Democratic Party (Membership -- 31, the same number of high school graduates in the state) has begun selling Moscow Mitch T-Shirts.

Of course, since I got booked on a job and felt slightly celebratory, I bought one.

Then I got to thinking, always dangerous. And realized buying a T-Shirt was not enough to sufficiently vent the red hot anger I feel towards this Vichy collaborator. A man, who more than any other in the country, has enabled Captain Ouchie Foot in his relentless march towards authoritarianism and the mob rule of the red cap brigade.

So with Mitch currently lying helplessly with his belly pointing towards the sky, I've decided to up the ante. And pour salty borscht into the wound. And you can too.

It's simple really.

If you were to Google: English to Russian translation, you'd be greeted by a very easy to use dialogue box. And by entering text on the left side, the algorithms, flick flacks and confabulated java script html thigamajigs in your computer will magically turn it into beautiful Cyrillic, the language of our new Cossack overlords.

And so what I have done, and what I hope you will do, is to take two minutes from your busy day, track down Moscow Mitch on Twitter (@senatemajldr) and translate any and all of his tweets into Russian.

To give you an example:

It's incredibly simple and takes no time at all.

Now imagine if 10, 100 or 1000 people did this. Moscow Mitch's twitter feed would look like the original manuscript of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

We each have a responsibility to do more than just bitch about our current state of affairs. The regime change will not happen by itself. I believe in the cumulative power of small acts of disobedience.

"When they go low, we should будь готов испортить их. "

Monday, August 5, 2019

Skynet is here.

There's a lot of talk about AI, Artificial intelligence, lately.

Of course, there was a lot of talk of AI, Artificial Intelligence, way back in 1989. As evidenced by the hazy photo of this ad for Mr. Copy.

I should explain that ad is fictional. And it ran in a fictional magazine. A trade parody of ADWEEK appropriately called MADWEEK.

I know all this because we wrote MADWEEK, myself and two former copywriters, Tom Parker and Jim Jennewein. They both left the exciting, one-time lucrative world of advertising and went on to write big blockbuster movies (The Flintstones, Getting Even With Dad, Major League II, Stay Tuned and more.) Unable to resist the lure of status meetings, finicky clients, shrinking budgets and the demand to dumb everything down, I stayed put.

We accurately predicted the demise of the modern day copywriter.

Though to be honest we thought it would happen long before the open office plan, holding companies, FFDKK - Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™ and the Long Table of Mediocrity™.

You can imagine how the hipsters and the tatted digerati were shaking in their portfolios last week when it was announced that Chase, not an insignificant player, had decided to move some of their million dollar chips into AI.

From now on those scintillating statement stuffers, those tantalizing 2.75% CD interest rate announcements and those award winning descriptions of home equity lines of credit, will all be written by a machine.

It's a sad day in Adland.

To make matters worse, I have a friend who has a friend who knows a guy who has a cousin that has access to this revolutionary new advance in copywriting.

And she has agreed to write the final two paragraphs of this post using nothing but a keyword suggestion and the directive to make it snarky.

Take it away, AI:

Debating me breeding be answered an he. Spoil event was words her off cause any. Tears woman which no is world miles woody. Wished be do mutual except in effect answer. Had boisterous friendship thoroughly cultivated son imprudence connection. Windows because concern sex its. Law allow saved views hills day ten. Examine waiting his evening day passage proceed. 

Conveying or northward offending admitting perfectly my. Colonel gravity get thought fat smiling add but. Wonder twenty hunted and put income set desire expect. Am cottage calling my is mistake cousins talking up. Interested especially do impression he unpleasant traveling excellence. All few our knew time done draw ask.

What's even sadder is that many readers of R17 will consider that a major improvement.


Update: I still have a few hundred copies of MADWEEK in my garage. Happy to send anyone a copy if you'll provide a self-addressed 9X12 envelope.

Friday, August 2, 2019

The Molotov Missives

I don't usually do a post on Fridays. But today is no ordinary Friday.

Not only have I been let out of Facebook Jail, after 30 surprisingly refreshing days, seriously we should all take FB timeouts on occasion.

But as the picture would indicate, today I can announce the arrival of my new book, Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington.

Here's a better view of the cover, designed by Jean Robaire.

I'm incredibly proud of this piece. 

I challenged myself to write a letter to every GOP Senator, not an easy task, and I did.

I pushed past the inertia and got up on that angry soapbox, week after trying week.

And I put it all together, perhaps the most labor intensive part of this endeavor, in a book form that looks remarkably professional. 

I even designed and built a little website to promote the book online.

In hindsight, The Molotov Missives, may have been a better title for the book, but I opted for clarity and straightforwardness.

Mind you, I have not deluded myself into thinking this book has any import. It's sophomoric. It's crude. It's written in a satirical style that's fitting for fifteen year old boys.

In other words, it's a partial realization of a dream I had a long, long time ago, when I fantasized about my life as a writer for the National Lampoon or Spy Magazine.

I hope you can find it in your Precedent Shitgibbon-hating heart to part with 9 bucks and find a place for this book on your shelves. Or atop your toilet bowl.

If I can sell enough copies, I will use the proceeds to go to Washington, DC and set up shop at the foot of the Capitol building and hand out copies to the current politicallati.

Oh and if anyone doubts I will do that, I refer you to my earlier ushanka-wearing visits to Trump National Golf Course.

Buy the book here.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

First Galley Jitters

Today is a special day in the Siegel household.

Today I will take a seat in our living room, ironically the room where we do the least living, and gaze out onto Le Bourget Ave. Waiting with bated breath for the arrival of that ubiquitous white van. And the sight of that stoned, lackadaisical driver holding my precious order.

Today is the day the first galley of my new book arrives.

I've experienced this anxiety three times before. And yet the feeling of excitement has not diminished. To hold a book in your hand, as any visitor of a garage sale or casual browser at a Barnes & Noble (now Amazon), is not the stuff of adrenal gland overload.

However, to hold MY book in MY hands is something different. It's the culmination of months and months of work. Not unlike a mother gestating a new child. And in many ways it's more satisfying. Particularly when I find my daughter's dirty dishes in the sink. Or her Vans sneakers under the dining room table. Or dare to open the door to her car. Geez Louise, there are more car washes in Los Angeles than there are Starbucks.

I digress.

Some readers of this blog (who also happen to be writers) know exactly what I'm talking about.

Don Jung, my now retired CPA wrote a book about his time as a lighting and sound guy for the greatest rock bands that ever threw a piano off a hotel terrace.

Howie Cohen, advertising legend, wrote a book about his remarkable career in NYC and in California and now taunts me on social media with pictures of his incredible backyard pool.

Bob Hoffman, another ad legend, continues to throw rocks at the industry, making a shit ton of money on the speaking tour and hawking one of his incendiary books.

Jeff Gorman, advertising's original curmudgeon, put out an 800 page tome.

Jim Jennewein, my friend of over 30 years, accomplished screenwriter, and now professor at Fordham University, has held a first galley in his hand several times. And has several books and DVDs available on, including the timeless comedy classic, STAY TUNED.

And of course, there's Kathy Hepinstall. She spits out a new book every time she exhales. Even more infuriating, she does it with all that fancy stuff, you know: prose, character arc, subtext, symbolism, etc.

Sadly, however, there's one writer we haven't heard from in book form. Advertising's oldest living copywriter and a man known to thousands in the business as the blogging voice of reason -- George Tannenbaum.

I love George and wake up to his thoughts everyday, on He is funny, imaginative, sometimes acerbic, always relevant. He has a book in him. In fact, I would argue he has several books in him.

If the folks at Ogilvy were smart, they would fire George as a copywriter and pay him to be an artist in residence, where he could take home a check and publish his book under the auspices of WPP.

Oh, and they'd give him an office with a door.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Tales from the Bench

We are days away.

Not only from my release from Facebook Jail.

This is my sixth infraction and each time my punishment gets easier to bear. For those who don't know, it's a read/write type of thing. You can see what's being exhibited, however you are not allowed to post or answer any texts or messages via Facebook Messenger.

So if in the future -- and this is guaranteed to happen again -- if you don't hear from me, it's probably because I got sent to Zuckerberg Supermax.

Or, I'm watching football, which is also just days away.

I couldn't be happier. But do you know who is really happy? The folks at the NFL Network. They are ecstatic.

I've done a lot of promo work for the NFL Network over the years. Season rivalries. Post season fever. And of course the big Super Bowl. I'd write football spots for free. Just don't tell anyone.

I'm not revealing any state secrets here, but you can imagine how those barren, football-less months between February and August present them with quite a challenge. It's hard to hype a football network when there's no football.

And there's only so many times you can watch reruns of the Ice Bowl.

"'s 12 degrees below zero...Bart Star takes the snap...moves to his right...goes off tackle...wedges behind Kramer and lurches himself into the end zone...Packers win...Packers win...Lambeau Field is going crazy."

Of course, there's the Draft and the Combine. But apart from the odd fashion choices of these new young millionaires and the opportunity to watch big fat men run wind sprints, who wants to watch that?

Well, it turns out, I do.

And next year's combine will hold special interest for me.

You see, I've been doing a little research and discovered that NFL rookies are subjected to a raw strength test. The noobies compete with each other to see who can bench press 225 lbs. the most times.

You can read about it here:

Last week -- and I promise not to bore you with this any more -- I benched 225 lbs. That's more than my body weight. And I did it twice. Not bad for a fat 44 year old man. But not good enough either.

By the time next year's NFL combine rolls around, I hope to be able to do as many reps as JJ Dielman, the last player cited on the list.

Anyone up for a wager?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

That's a some spicy meatball

If there's one word in the ad business that gets abused in the ad business, it would have to be inspired.

And disruptive. And engage. And ideate. And crushed. Ok, there are many words in the ad industry that have become insufferable, but today I want to talk about inspired.

Back when I was in high school -- and we don't have to do the math on this at all -- our history teacher presented us with a cool project. The school had rented out some primitive video equipment and we (small groups of four students) were going to be given the equipment and the opportunity to make a short film regarding the Revolutionary War.

I was genuinely excited. Particularly since one of the girls in my group was a cheerleader/flagtwirler/pom pom waver.

Surely, this would be my opportunity to impress her, you know because "girls love guys with a sense of humor."


In any case, it was days before the deadline and we had NOTHING. Then I saw a commercial on TV for Alka Seltzer. It was, and I don't use this word lightly, inspiring.

We took this simple construct and married it to the tale of a British Redcoat who, through the Quartering Act, illegally stays at a colonist's house. In the end, he gets heartburn from his reluctant host's meal and complains, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing."

It was a perfectly performed spoof of the commercial and earned us all A+'s. As well a healthy smattering of laughs. Again, to no avail.

But it was also where I got my first taste of the magic of advertising. And I owe it to the writer of that Alka Seltzer spot, and many more, Howie Cohen.

Howie recounts the birth of the iconic Alka Seltzer campaign as well as the events of his storied career on both coasts in his new book, aptly titled...

Perhaps because of my personal connection to the story above and because Howie and I have travelled similar paths from the working class boroughs of New York to the god awful bagels and pizza of Los Angeles, I might have been predisposed to like the book before even turning the over the cover. But the book is a true page turner.

Told in a bright, punchy fast-moving style that includes tales of sex, office politics, disastrous client meetings, Jews, Italians, and more sex. I not only found myself laughing quite a bit. I also found myself wondering how my life could have taken a different trajectory had I stayed in NYC and pursued advertising on Madison Ave.

It is a book I am proud to put my bookshelf.

Wedged between all the unsold copies of my three books, which are also available on

Monday, July 29, 2019

Let's Get Ready to Influence

Creatively speaking, I'm a restless soul.

Perhaps exacerbated by our current political insanity, in which I, and perhaps millions or others, feel unable or powerless to do anything. And so I feel compelled to make with the funny. Or at least what amuses me.

I like to have projects to work on.

Whether it's stringing along a slew of Illuminati recruiters (Nigerian Scammers), making foul mouthed Trump memes that land me in Facebook Jail (only a few more days until my release) or writing letters to all the US GOP Senators (we are moments away from my book's release.)

And so, based on the popularity of my long running (close to 5 years), which seemed to please many, I am embarking on something new -- The IG.

My goal is to return to the endless stream of KJU photos that his publicists regularly provide. Kim is to a camera lens what Captain Ouchie Foot is to a helicopter and a bunch of TV reporters.

Only now, I'm going to turn Kim Jong Un into the world's greatest InstaGram influencer -- The Dear Seeder, if you will.

Why am I doing this? In addition to the reasons outlined above there are some vocational benefits as well.

This will give me an opportunity to master the platform. I have a personal Instagram profile, but not many followers. And frankly it was too random for my own taste. I like the discipline of regular postings. I also like to have a purpose.

By turning Kim -- a man who never fails to make me laugh -- into an Instagram influencer, I am giving myself a platform to combine humor and advertising, a duo that has long since fallen out of fashion in the ad world.

I'm also demonstrating to potential clients and agencies that I'm "hip" to what the kids are putting out these days.

I know this can be hard to believe but there are some folks out there who look at my shiny chrome dome, examine my excessive facial laugh lines and hear my war stories about rubyliths, hot type and the Eisenhower administration, and think, "he might be a little long in the tooth for this assignment." 

Crazy right?

Also, there is the remote, very remote, possibility, that this will somehow make its way back to some of the products being pimped by KJU. That could even result in some project work. 

Or more likely, a cease and desist.

See you on the IG. I'll be pimping at Kimjongpimp.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Dealing Days

We in the advertising industry have been doing those in the automotive industry a great disservice.

And we've been doing it for years.

We've sold in the notion that proper marketing can be viewed in three tiers:

Tier 1: The Brand. This is often manifested in big blowhard manifestos. Chest beating anthems. And mission statements that are brought to life with million dollar productions, European directors who want to make cinema, and blatant boondoggling that will eventually be subsidized by American taxpayers.

Tier 2: The Dealers. This advertising is meant to allay the fears of car dealers, who often look at the esoteric nature of the Tier 1 work and think, "What the fuck is that with the clouds and the koi ponds and the three legged dogs? I'm trying to sell some cars here." 

Accordingly, this work is chock full of the stuff that dealers love, panning shots of the vehicle as it winds its way on a scenic highway, and a lot of blabber about nuts and bolts and active safety measures and horsepower and advanced independent suspension. It's basically a Monroney Sticker put on film.

Tier 3: The Dealership. This is where the local guys, in their Joseph A Banks suits and their dated Hi Karate cologne and their well-rehearsed tag teaming, show the fat cats at corporate how to move the metal. "I got your mission statement right here pal. Take a look at my commission statement. I'm going to Cabo." 

There's a well-established hierarchy here. Truth is, we got it all wrong. The order is upside down. The pyramid needs to be flipped.

If we really wanted to help our automotive clients we'd start thinking about selling cars by putting more emphasis on where people are buying cars.

I know this from experience.
I've purchased two cars in the last year. One for me and one for my daughter.

Let me tell you, all that brand stuff, all that high level thinking, all those late nights and weekends spent crystalizing the planner speak, the data, the focus group findings and the last minute musings of the CMO's wife (or husband), go swirling down the toilet the minute you step foot on the expensively tiled floor of a (INSERT BRAND NAME HERE) auto dealership.

Because the men and women with the keys to the castle are the ones holding the key fobs to the vehicle. If they're not buying into the brand promise, the brand "DNA" and the brand essence, then no one is.

One of these days, some smart agency will embrace this bottoms up approach and reap the considerable rewards.

Until then, next time you find yourself buying a car, practice some deep breathing and enjoy a big heaping cup of dealership coffee.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Mojave, Mecca of the West

One last post from this year's camping trip.

By the way that's a baby deer standing behind our showering tent at the entrance to Grey's Meadow. He was so close I could practically feed him by hand. But there was no way I was going to share my breakfast of steak and eggs alongside 3 strips of thick applewood bacon. Mmmmm, meat.

If you ever find yourself on the way to Mammoth Lakes for some overpriced skiing. Or even further north to Tahoe for overpriced skiing and gambling, do yourself a favor and stop in Mojave.

It is a town like no other.

There are two seasons in Mojave.

Hot -- when the temperature never dips into the double digits.
Cold --when the residents stay inside and binge whatever it is they binge on.

Mojave is surreal.

And feels like it's straight out of a David Lynch movie. The main drag is Route 14, which is populated by cheap motels, thrift shops and fast food restaurants. There's even a sushi restaurant, though Mojave's location in the high desert makes that an iffy proposition at best.

It is on this occasion, our annual camping, that I permit myself one junk food indulgence at the Carl's Jr.

To the left of Route 14, there is a railroad track sporting long strains of railroad cars. No doubt hauling coal, radioactive waste and tons of child pornography, all the essentials to fuel the current Trump administration.

Beyond the tracks, there are acres and acres of skyscraper high windmill turbines. Thankfully, due to the high desert landscape, they are always turning and churning out power. Otherwise...

"Darling, the wind stopped, there'll be no television tonight."

But the real jewels of Mojave are on the right side of 14. The residential neighborhood bounded by K Street.

Here, wedged between the highway and the airplane graveyard euphemistically called the Mojave Air & Space Port, you will find the most interesting home decorations. Namely wood carved billboards of all shapes and sizes, quoting scripture. Or someone's interpretation of scripture.

We slow-rolled down K street and could not spot one house that was unadorned. As a Jew and an atheist -- no contradiction there -- I find it incredibly fascinating, you know in a smugly elitist way.

At the corner of K Street and Inyo, we hit the jackpot.

I will leave these here with no further editorialization.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Spare me

Just returned from a long weekend camping in Independence, California.

For those not familiar with the geography, it sits on the eastern side of the Sierras, in the Owens Valley. Which is traversed by Route 395, perhaps the most scenic highway in this great beautiful land we call America.

It also happens to be in the heart of Trump country.

Before we embarked on the journey north I told my wife I expected to see at least seven, perhaps more, MAGA caps. To my great dismay, we saw none.

But, while restocking our supply of beer and rum, I did run into some clueless clod wearing the T-shirt pictured above. To be completely honest, I'm not sure that's the exact replica, it could have been some other happy horseshit with the same Neanderthal sentiment.

Which brings me to today's pet peeve, in your face patriotism and the infantile fetishism of the flag.

We are less than a 100 years removed from the fascism of 1930's Germany. And yet we are witnessing the same militant jingoism characterized by excessive flag waving, nativism, white supremacy and angry mob rule ("Send Her Back.")

It's ugly.

It's frightening.

But it's also laughable.

Because it's cheap, paper thin and hypocritical. In the same shabby way that evangelicals tried to lay claim to morality and family values. All, while goose-stepping in time behind their new divinely chosen leader who grabs pussy, bangs porn stars, pals around with rapists, separates brown skinned (same as Jesus) children from their mothers, and openly condones murder.

I'm not familiar with Two Corinthinians. Is there a passage that reads, "And the Lord commandeth thee to smite thine enemies with a rusty bone saw."

In any case, I'm not impressed with the flag waving, the flag wearing or the disgusting flag hugging.

Not impressed in the least.

It'd be great if these testosterone-fueled know nothings paid less attention to the red, white and blue printed on a piece of cloth and paid more attention to the black quill ink printed on our Constitution.

Because it's those words, those beliefs and those aspirations, that makes America great.