Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Rock and Roll Will Never Die


Rockin' Through Troubled Waters was just released by Don Jung.

The author just so happens to be "The CPA to the Advertising Stars." (at least in Los Angeles)

I'm not sure Don ever called himself that, but those of us who couldn't tell the difference between an earned tax credit and a long term depreciating asset, sure do.

You can imagine how thrilled I was when -- about 15 years ago -- the man who worked his accounting magic for industry luminaries agreed to help me find every legitimate deductible expense sanctioned by the IRS.

"You work out of your home, so any supplies you buy for your office are fair game. Did you buy pencils for example? If you're gonna have pencils, you're gonna need a pencil box, someplace to keep those pencils, right? And pencils don't sharpen themselves, do they?" 

The man is an income-deducting genius.

Well, you can also imagine my hesitation, when not long ago, Don asked me for some advice. He had written a book. It was memoir about his life as a young man and his dealings with many of the bands that have come to define rock and roll, including: the Doors, the Eagles, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. And because I had published three books, he wanted me to read his manuscript and offer any advice.

Oh great, I thought, people are just dying to hear how you got a $138 tax refund for Jim Morrison's leather pants in 1967.

Naturally, I agreed.

And naturally, I was off base.

Way off base, like Bill Barr on the Mueller Report off base.

You see, in his youth, before he was seduced by the titillating allure of capital expenditures and the moleskin covered books of the tax code, Don worked as lighting and sound technician. And found himself at all the fabled venues of Sunset Blvd.

In other words, Don was there.

In the green rooms, on the stages, at the forefront of a revolution that still ripples through our pop culture. As if that weren't enough, it was the 1960's and 1970's, man. War, assassinations, sex, drugs and of course, rock and roll.

There are pictures. There are anecdotes. And there are priceless peeks behind the curtain that will change the way you look at rock's greatest legends.

Whatever expectations I had before opening the book were shattered by the time I turned the last page. It's an easy, fascinating and personal read that manages to hurl the reader back in time and offers a front row seat to a show that will live on in the memory for a long, long time.

Through it all I learned an important lesson:

Never judge a book by its author.




Monday, April 22, 2019

I Know Nothing


On that very cold January 12th day when I walked into my first day of work as a Mailroom Clerk at Needham Harper & Steers, it was clear that with regards to advertising, I could safely say, "I know nothing."

I had no idea there were separate departments.
I had no idea how an agency operated.
I had no idea that agencies work at the behest of clients.
I had no idea how ads got made.
I has no idea I had no idea.

Despite having a freshly minted sheepskin from Syracuse University, if asked a question, my only response would be, "I know nothing."

Today, some _____ years later, including several stints at Chiat Day, time served at BBDO, Bozell, Y&R, Saatchi & Saatchi, and 15 years of toiling in the trenches as a freelancer at every dayrate-annualizing, time-seizing, soul-pulverizing ad agency across the land, I have come full circle.

I know nothing.

You'd think with that wealth of experience I would be well schooled in the precepts of modern marketing.

You'd think that since I studied and apprenticed with the industry's best, including Lee Clow, Steve Hayden, David Lubars and John Doyle, I would be a fount of marketing sagacity.

You'd think after hunting, securing and stockpiling two milk crates worth of certificates, cheap metal trinkets and dog-eared press clippings -- now gathering dust and dead mosquito carcasses in my garage -- I would be primed to hit the public speaking circuit and share my accumulated and lauded wisdom with today's advertising up and comers.

But the truth is:

I know nothing.

The engines that once drove advertising, insight, charm, persuasion and simplicity, have been replaced by data, more data, micro-targeting, Linkedfluencers and something called,  "content marketing."

I had to ask my wife, who used to sell space for Harvard Business Review, to define "content marketing." Why? because...

I know nothing.

She fumbled for a bit, because apparently she knows nothing, too. So I Googled the term. I was directed to several videos by an unshaven, hyper-hustling billionaire who didn't make much sense. But ended with the thought that 'quantity is more important than quality.'

I know nothing. 

Even the process of making advertising has become a mystery to me. What was once important isn't any longer.

Creative people used to be given time to stew and think and experiment. Now, a brief is given at 9 AM and ground breaking results are expected by noon.

Creative people used to be given solitude and space (aka offices) in order to practice their craft. Now they're given 3 square feet at the Long Table of Mediocrity™. And forced to purchase their own noise-cancelling headphones.

Creative people used to leverage their creativity and help clients make big, bold memorable statements on the largest stages available to mankind. Now we tinker with Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™, and proudly post them on a remote corner of the internet that no one will see, click or care about.

I know nothing.

Here's what I do know -- and I don't think it's ever going to change -- as a focus group of one, a jaded 44 year old who has some disposable income and consumes a fair amount of media in print, on TV and on the internet in all its various platforms:

If it's not interesting, I'm not interested.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Lay Down Sally


According to my flimsy math, this is the 50th letter in my yearlong Thursday Thrashing series. Only three more to go.

This is Martha McSally. She represents the great state....er...of Arizona. She wasn't elected by the people. She was chosen to replace Jon Kyl who was chosen to replace John McCain.

And while at first she might appear to be a true patriot, appearances can be deceptive.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.18.19

Senator Martha McSally
B40D Dirksen Senate Office Building 
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator McSally,

Let me start this letter with a thank you for your service. 

I have to imagine that people like you, who have served in our military, might be jaded by that. On the other hand, I have never met anyone who does not appreciate appreciation. And I believe your 22 years in the Air Force deserves recognition.

Furthermore, you have my respect for not only for standing down our enemies, but also for standing up for what's right. 

You went up against the Department of Defense and in a landmark case, McSally v. Rumsfeld (I like the sound of Anything v. Rumsfeld) struck a blow for women's rights, particularly those who were being asked to subjugate themselves while serving in places like Saudi Arabia -- home of Bone Saw Diplomacy.

As if all that weren't enough, you've always shone a disinfecting light of attention on the issue of sexual harassment. As the father of two daughters, I applaud your efforts. 

You make Arizona proud.

All of which begs the question, how can someone as principled as you, turn a blind eye and a silent mouth to what we see transpiring with the current administration?

How is it, for instance, you have nothing to say about Robert Kraft -- a friend and patron of your president -- who was recently caught up in a sex trafficking scandal while at a rub 'n tug palace once owned by Mara Lago member, Cindy Yang, aka Grandma Handjob?

What say you on the matter of Jeffrey Epstein -- another friend of Precedent Shitgibbon -- who was convicted of assaulting and raping 40 underage girls? And what about the sweetheart prison deal he received from former US attorney Alex Acosta, who now sits in the White House Cabinet as our current Secretary of Labor? 

If you had any balls, you'd be knocking down Acosta's door and dragging his sorry pencilneck ass out to the street.

And finally, only because it's the most recent example of the fascism that has come to America, there is Herr Trump's ban on transgender soldiers. 

One day 13,000 soldiers serving in the US military are fit for service. On the front lines. In faraway places. Ready and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country -- you know, the one that celebrates Equality.

And the next day, because some hamberder-eating clown makes an oversized autograph on a green binder, those dedicated warriors are unfit for service?

Did they suddenly lose the ability to shoot straight? 

Did they suddenly forget how to fly a plane?

Did they suddenly draw a blank on the intricacies of command and control communications operations?

No. 

They simply became unfit because some porn-star banging, truth-mauling, condo-shilling, lard-ass con man woke up one day and said they were unfit. 

And you did NOTHING.

That's the thing about principles, McSally. If you have them, they don't show up in spurts like new the next season of Game of Thrones or Better Call Saul

They're there 24/7/365.

Where are your principles, Martha?
Are they on hiatus?

Best regards,


Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City, CA 90232


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Illuminati Chronicles --Chapter 2, The Private Detective


Just a little recap.

A week ago I tried to end my correspondence with Illuminati Recruiter/Scammer Michael John by telling him my wife Vajayjay Hertz (I laugh every time I write that) had left me and run off with a Nigerian man, Mantu Abraham.

Unwilling to let go, my scammer offered to get my wife back to me by hiring a private detective. That turn in the story was too good to ignore.


Of course he has important Illuminati affairs to tend to, so I can't put the whole burden on him and offer my own brand of assistance.



He assures me my efforts are unnecessary.
The payment however is necessary.



No so fast buddy, I'd like to know a little bit more about the private detective we're getting.



His focus on my money however remains laser-like, despite the non-sensical haberdashery.


And so it's time to throw another curveball at him. Vajayjay is on the move.


And that's where we are at. 

Will the schmatta factory in Gabon succeed?

Will $1200 be enough to cover the costs of the private detective?

Will the scammer ever realize he has been turned into the scammee?

Tune in next week.




Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Money, money, money


There are a lot of rising new stars in the Democratic party. While the press seems to focus on a few, who have a nose for the camera, my money is on this one - Katie Porter.

Harvard Law School graduate and professor, she is the first democratic woman to be elected in California's 45th district. A notoriously conservative district that is home to the Red Hat Brigade and every fast food restaurant chain known to mankind.

Last week, Ms. Porter took Jamie Dimon, the slimy CEO of JP Morgan to Bone Town. Dimon, who should have been thrown in jail for the 2008 recession he and his cashmere wallet bankers foisted upon us, is one unctuous motherfucker.

With TV cameras rolling, Ms. Porter brought up the case of an entry level worker at the JP Morgan bank. That worker is paid a paltry $16.50 an hour. I seem to remember a time when Fortune 500 workers were paid salaries and didn't have to punch a clock. Then again, at 44, I'm old.

That entry level worker's salary works out to $35, 070 a year. Not a lot to live on. Particularly after food, rent, car, health, utilities, child care and one ply toilet paper. In fact, that worker finds herself $567 in the hole every month because of the shortcomings.

Ms. Porter calmly asked Mr. Dimon if had any solutions to this problem. He did not.

Really? Because last week, JP Morgan reportedly added 3.7 BILLION dollars of profit to their bottom line thanks to the Shitgibbon Middle Class Tax Cuts. I'll let you Google their total profits for 2018, but make sure you have a fibrillater nearby.

If you took that additional $3.7 billion profit and divied it up to each and every one of the 256,000 employees that make up JP Morgan well...

$3,700,000,000 windfall /256,000 employees = $14,453.12 per employee.

I gotta believe $14K that would make a difference in the life of an employee making $35,000 a year. Wouldn't you Mr. Dimon?

Math is hard.

I wish Congresswoman Porter had gone the extra step and looked at his finances.

Jamie Dimon makes $31 million dollars a year. That's just salary and doesn't include all the goodies rich bastards like him take home every fucking day. If you were to do an apples to apples comparison:

$31,000,000/ 2000 hours (40 hours a week X 50 weeks) = $15, 500/hr.

In other words, in less than 3 hours, Mr. Dimon makes as much as the entry level worker earns in a year! Let's look at how those three  hours play out.

9:20 AM -- Dimon arrives at JP Morgan headquarters. Would've arrived earlier but the limo got caught in Midtown Manhattan traffic when it almost hit a homeless encampment.

9:35 AM -- Executive Assistant brings Dimon his iced coffee and blueberry/cinammon bagel (yuck) Jamie yells at her because there aren't enough blueberries in his bagel.

9:45 AM - 10:15 AM -- Dimon inquires about his new Phillipe Stark designed 400 foot yacht with its own onboard volcano.

10:30 AM -- Dimon retreats to his Executive Bathroom and applies a generous slathering of Just For Men Touch of Grey with the QuickFix™ applicator to his carefully coiffed head of hair.

11:00 AM -- Dimon notices his iPhone needs recharging. He plugs it into the USB port. Then plays Angry Birds for the next 60 minutes.


Lunch

And that's how it is this fine April 16th, the day after we've all submitted our taxes, in Captain Fuckknuckle's America. 

The rich get richer.

And the poor get shabby, red, machine-stamped golf caps while being force fed the half-assed notion that one day with enough grit, determination and sweat equity one day they too will be enjoying champagne wishes and caviar dreams. 



Monday, April 15, 2019

My daughter the art director?


I know this kvelling thing can get a little old.

Particularly for readers of RoundSeventeen. Who come here for red hot rants on the rancid state of our industry. And not for some saccharine sweet homage to children, who, let's face it are a colossal and expensive pain in the ass.

So you'd think last week's posting about the cool bag my daughter Abby had designed would have been enough. But it's not. And in the spirit of my blogging friend and fellow old times copywriter George Tannenbaum, I will trudge on.

Because last week my daughter Abby, a senior at University of Colorado who graduates in just three short weeks, completed her final project. And when I say she completed the project, of course, I mean we (as in the entire family who nursed her through all the ups and downs of the endeavor) completed the semester-long assignment.

We didn't so much as help as we did listen to the travails of her scouring the state of Colorado for willing subjects, all of which will become clear in a moment.

I know paternal and professional pride play a big part in what's going on right now. But even if I were to discount my feelings by 25 - 50%, I would honestly say this is an incredible piece of work. Her professor suggested that the project could be taken to a willing publisher and expanded into a coffee table book. I'll go even one further and suggest it could be a Netflix documentary.

It requires no further explanation. And so I invite you to take a look.

https://www.thedaughtersofesther.com

This represents hours of work. Rearranging schedules. Research. Equipment rental. Design. And of course, writing. And so, even more impressive than the final piece, is knowing and witnessing all the work that went into it.

If I worked as hard as she does at age 22, I wouldn't just be in the Advertising Hall of fame, I'd have my own wing.

Last week, I was brimming with pride because my daughter had a seemingly-genetic ability to turn funny ideas into funny shit.

This week, I'm simply in awe. Because my daughter has something I don't.

The ability to turn a singular idea into beautiful, amazing and moving art.



Thursday, April 11, 2019

The last word goes to VaJayJay


Today, we conclude the Illuminati tale of Michael John, a Nigerian scammer who really thought he was going to swindle me out of 150 bucks to join the Illuminati.

Of course, there is no Illuminati. And even if there were they would not be soliciting random people via email nor would they promise them new houses and millions of dollars in cash. I mean how long could they keep that up.

I kept Mr. John hopeful for more than 4 months. But felt it was time to pull the plug. And possibly start yanking the chain of another Nigerian Illuminati scammer. I have a boatload of offers.

In any case, on our last visit...



Did Honey Grams/ Money Grahams dissuade him? No it did not.


But the mixup up did cause some marital discard. 

A great deal of marital discard. 

Between myself and my fictional wife, VaJayJay Hertz, who also has a fictional yahoo email account.



I suspect, Michael, if that's really his name, will be writing me some angry emails. And that's the whole point. To piss them off. To waste their time. And to distract them from scamming other people. 

I'm like some kind of avenging superhero fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

I need a superhero name.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATE: Though I had intended to stop, this was just too good to pass up. Brother Michael has thrown a new twist in the story that is worth sharing.



I'll show him Dick Hertz is serious.


He wants his $150 and he wants it bad.


An agent? 

OK, now I am curious.


We enter Raymond Chandler territory.


If this were a screenplay, this would be the beginning of Act II. Stay Tuned.




Wednesday, April 10, 2019

That's her bag


I'll be the first to admit that I take great pride in my ability to make things.

Well, not actual things like a shoe, or a hat, or even a bookshelf, though I have assembled many Ikea bookshelves, including the Schshlisht™, the Flukenshlossel™, and the intricate Herkendoogle™.

The things I make are more ethereal: ads, books, movies and memes. Lots and lots of memes.

With Captain Fuckknuckle in office for at least another year and a half, I don't see that ending anytime soon. Particularly when he bloviates about windmills causing cancer. That just screams for some good old fashioned mockery.


And so it should comes as no surprise that I would be as pleased as a Republican being handed a #10 envelope stuffed with cash when I discovered my youngest daughter has the same thing-making inclination.

Just the other day, I came across this bag in the kitchen (see photo above). Mind you, I live with three women, so I don't pay a lot of attention to their assorted baggery, but this one caught my eye.

It was a birthday present from Abby (the youngest) to Rachel (the oldest.)

"Where did Abby get that I asked?"

"She made it," replied my wife.

I loved the design at first. But when I found out Abby had conjured it up, I knew I had to write about it.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it but I find it funny.

It's dark.

It's declarative.

And it's dripping with cynicism well beyond her years.

In other words, it's so Siegel.

My daughter, I think I'll keep her.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Pay me my money


I cashed a check last week.

Well, that's hardly news, right?

In 15 years of freelancing I've cashed a lot of checks. But this one was different. It was for $1763.28 and it might have been the sweetest $1763.28 I've ever deposited in my account.

Faithful readers might remember my tale of being shorted by a major holding company several months ago. A payment discrepancy they had attributed to the "annualization" of my day rate. To this day, I have no idea what that means. I only know that several middle managers cited it as the reason why the amount I was invoicing was not the amount I was being paid.

Being of Half Scottish/Half Jewish descent, you can imagine how this did not sit well with me. You see, Mr. or Ms. Middle Management, I'm not really interested in your company rules. I don't work for you. I work for me. I'm not running a charity, I'm running a business. And I have one inviolable rule:

If I work 18 days, I get paid for 18 days.

There's really nothing else to talk about. I don't care about your "annualization" policies. I don't want to hear about your "pay periods." Nor do I want to waste another moment talking to someone who doesn't have the power to purchase a paper clip.

So I did what I have always done in the past. I went over their heads. Way over their heads. I made my case to the holding company CFO.

The internet is great that way. With enough persistence and imagination, you can find anyone's email address. Two weeks ago I was corresponding with the VP of Membership admissions at Mara Largo.




Years ago, when I was trying to finance the purchase of my sister-in-law's townhome, I ran into all kinds of red tape and financial no-no's. So I wrote a letter to the Chairman of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, enclosed a DVD copy of "It's A Wonderful Life" and Fed-Exed it to the Chairman. I made what I thought was a very compelling case and asked if he wanted to be remembered as Mr. Potter, the evil banker.

He did not.

Freddie Mac relented and bent the rule in my favor.

Similarly, the holding company saw the error of their ways and issued me the make good check. The check was accompanied by a very stern letter from someone high up in the organization. It clearly stated that there was no remaining balance and that the company owed me nothing more.

I suspect that also means they owe me no more phone calls and that I will not work there again.

And that's fine, snarky edited comment goes here.

Because:

If I work 18 days, I get paid for 18 days.


Monday, April 8, 2019

What About Bob?


It has occurred to me -- with some gentle prodding -- that I had never written a Roundseventeen post about Bob Kuperman, one of the original Doyle Dane Bernbach Mad Men who had a tremendous impact on my career.

Although, he almost didn't.

After a rocky start in recruitment adverting, plus a couple of years of journeyman work at Abert Newhoff & Burr, I finally had a portfolio worth showing to Chiat/Day. At least I thought I had. They were staffing up and I somehow managed to land an interview with the famously cantankerous Kuperman.

He was sporting a man ponytail of hair and a Hawaiian shirt that featured every color from Pantone 1- Pantone 1,000,000. I'm sure that shirt now sits in a bin at the Goodwill store on Venice Blvd. And has for the last 25 years.

At the conclusion of the interview we exchanged pleasantries and Bob said to call him in a week. Excited? You're damn right I was excited. This was going to be my big break. I knew once I had my foot in that door, my life would change. Hell, the agency would change.

Chiat/Day/Siegel.
Chiat/Siegel/Day.
Siegel/Chiat/Day.

I nervously picked up the phone.

"Hey Kupe. It's me, Rich Siegel. You interviewed me last week."

"Oh yeah, hey Rich."

"You told me to to follow up."

"Listen, I liked your book a lot. But we're not hiring any art directors right now."

CLICK

Just one more layer of thick skin necessary for a life in advertising.

It would be another two years before I actually got in. And I'm not sure Bob and I ever spoke of what had transpired. We didn't have to.

We clicked in a way only two crabby, transplanted New York Jews can click.

He was opinionated. I was opinionated.
He was contrarian. I was contrarian.
He was fearless. I was fearless.
He was a rich, powerful man. I was opinionated.

While Bob intimidated others, he didn't intimidate me. In Bob's forthright no-nonsense approach I found someone who could and would champion my work. When I partnered with John Shirley the admiration grew even deeper. And Bob came to us for various pitches, including Chivas Regal and Callaway Golf.

In fact, before the big presentation, he whispered to John and I, "if we win this account, I'll get you each a set of top of the line Callaway clubs." 

Those clubs are gathering dust in my garage, behind all the weightlifting equipment.

Bob pushed the work in the right direction, the direction that made clients nervous and take risks. More importantly, he went to bat for me, and others. I will never forget that.

I miss those salad days at Chiat.
I miss working with Lee.
And though Bob and I occasionally trade barbs on Facebook, I miss the one on one contact.

"Get out of my fuckin' office, you frickin' hard-on."

You just don't hear those terms of endearment much anymore.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ADDENDUM. Here's the manifesto for the Chivas Regal campaign that we never sold, but should have sold. Bob loved it. And so did my mother.



Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Pride of Florida


This is Senator Rick Scott. You might recognize him as the former governor of Florida. Or you might think you've seen him as the villain is some cheap, downmarket, over the top horror film. In essence, the perfect metaphor for Florida.

In any case, Senator Rick is the subject of our next Thursday Thrashing letter (I believe we're up to #51.)

As you'll soon see, Ricky has been in the news lately. And we can all expect great things from him.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.4.19

Senator Rick Scott
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Scott,

We often hear God Bless America at sporting events. We hear it at the end of big dramatic speeches. We even hear it after someone sneezes...well, a variation on it. I would suggest we don't need to hear it anymore.

Because God has already blessed America.

Think about it. 

God has already given us a Commander in Chief who is tall, slender (at 239 lbs.), a lover of all people, a truth teller, and, as we will get to in a moment, a stable genius. 

Our Big Gulp Cup truly runneth over.

At his side, God has also given us 53 US Republican Senators who do his providential bidding. I've made it my mission to write a letter to each and every one of these men and women who are nothing less than God's warriors on Earth. You are letter #51, but let's remember you are late entry into the Senate. 

Let us also not be discouraged by that, because God, in all his wisdom, has verily shone his grace on all of us. And by that I mean, last week, you, Senator Rick Scott, a disciple of decency, dedication and dignity, were chosen by our divine leader to spearhead the effort to replace Obamacare.

"Lord, we are not worthy of your love."

What have we done to deserve such grace? 

How much bounty can be bequeathed to one people? 

Many know that you, along with other stable genius, George W. Bush, were co-owners of the Texas Rangers baseball team. What most people don't realize is that your unmatched business acumen was forged in the world of healthcare.

In 1987 you, along with major financing from Citicorp, attempted to buy HCA, Hospital Corporation of America, worth close to 4 billion dollars. The attempt fell short, but you, Rick Scott, determined to find your fortune in the misfortune of others, were undeterred. 

And in 1994 you became the CEO of Columbia/HCA, the "single largest for-profit healthcare company in America."  

Mmmmm, unregulated profit.

That's the kind of single-minded drive, determination and callous capitalism that made this country great. And it's the kind of senatorial leadership we so lack these days.

Oh sure, there might have been the occasional FBI investigation. The fraud. The corruption. The anti-kickback violations. The illegal deals with homecare companies. The false cost reporting. And the pharmaceutical irregularities that resulted in thousands of dollars of under the table payments. 

But have we learned nothing over the past year? And the futility of prosecuting these frivolous "process crimes?"

The important thing, and I think you and everyone else in America who owns a red golf cap will agree, is that you have what it takes to turn dialysis into a dollar. 

You know how to profit from pancreatic cancer.

You have the gumption to make lemonade out of lymphoma.

That makes you special Rick.

And because Captain Fuckknuckle has chosen you to spearhead this new spectacular healthcare system that will be the envy of the world, that makes us blessed.

Best regards,

Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

My Vajayjay Hertz


Ladies and gentlemen, the Priory of Sion, a secret society founded in 1099 and said to include Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo (founder of Hugo Boss) and Leonardo Da Vinci. The Priory of Sion have a mysterious relationship with the Illuminati.

I'm not going down that Rabbit Hole, but I invite you to revisit mine.

In my last email to Micheal John, my Illuminati recruiter I apologized for all that I have made him endure and offered to up my payment and include some pastries. Medicine goes down better with pastries.


Apparently he is not a big fan of rugelach and wants to get his money (my money.)


You have to give him credit for his persistence. He's not quitting until he closes the deal.


Three days pass and I am convinced I have lost him.


Alas, just as I had suspected he was away on official Illuminati business. Perhaps a confab with the Priory of Sion.



Time to play a new foil and bring my wife Vajayjay Hertz in on the action.


You might think that shorn dachshunds, Brazilian landing strips, Horn & Hardatt pastrami sandwiches, Vajayjay Hertz and Honey Grahams not money grams, would be enough to put this guy off the scent. 

But you'd be wrong.

Tune in next week for the conclusion of the Illuminati Ruminati.









Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Purge


Another tax season is in the books.

The good news is I owed considerably less than I have in past years.
The bad news is I owed considerably less because I made considerably less.

I know we're in the "hottest economy on earth. We're hot. We're so hot." But apparently that news hasn't traveled well. And my industry, the ad industry, has fallen on hard times.

Walk into any agency these days and you'll feel like like you've walked into the Oklahoma Dustbowls of the 1930's. There's doom. There's gloom. There's plenty of room. So many seats at the Long Table of Mediocrity™ have been vacated. Either by rightsizing. Or the constant siphoning of revenue by the big dumb holding companies.

I call it The Grapes of Math.

And there's no rain in the forecast.

Perhaps the best news about chalking up another tax season is the opportunity to purge the paper remains of tax seasons past. And so, last weekend, I whipped out the shredder,  the Fellowes 2900K Series with Gnashomatic TurboDrive™.

As well as the accordion files for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Before I began the shredding I had the brilliant idea of tossing 2011 into the fireplace. I had wood. I had starter logs. And I had about 400 pages of credit card receipts, portfolio statements and taxes from 2010 that needed to be kept away from prying eyes.

From the moment I lit the match I knew I had made a mistake. My wife started hocking me about my carbon footprint. And my backyard started going grey with fallen ash.

Per yesterday's posting, there's something oddly satisfying about doing about a mass shredding. Now the world has no record of the:

$138.79 I spent on back waxing.

$683.72 I spent for a treadmill/clothing rack

$963.21 I spent for Patio Brick Cleaning and Restoration

Pro tip for all you homeowners: brick cleaning and restoration is a complete scam.

Oh, your bricks will appear red and fresh and have that just-layed look. But it will only last a week. And the asshole who took your money will not return any phone calls. And his Yelp page will disappear. And your wife will never let you forget you spent the money on that, even though it was ten years ago and you reminded her of how much money you made on Apple stock.

Never.






Monday, April 1, 2019

Crazy Kids



When you're the father of two college age girls you find yourself discovering things you might wish remained undiscovered.

For instance, not long ago one of my girls brought home a gaggle of similar screeching, high energy millennials. The house was awash with them. Making the matters worse, my wife expected me to remember their names.

They were here for a month.

Correction, I'm being told it was only a week.

In any case, on one of those nights when I was barricaded in my man cave I could hear a chorus of oohs, ahhhhh and OMG's. Predisposed to ignore all this mishigas, the rising decibel level would simply not allow. That's when I emerged from my den and saw them splayed out on the couches, each with an iPad or iPhone in hand.

They were watching videos.

More specifically, they were watching videos of people removing wax from their ears. And before you run to the Google to test the veracity of that last statement, assuming this is some kind of April Fool's gag, let me warn you: Don't.

You see, there's not simply one video of someone pulling a meteor sized clog of wax from their ears, there are hundreds of them. Each more disgusting than the next. I know because the ruckus went on for hours.

And that's no exaggeration.

Being preternaturally curious, I did a little digging of my own. Into the subject matter, that is. And found out videos documenting the removal of waxy human silly putty from the external auditory meatus is but a small subset of a larger phenomena.

It's called Oddly Satisfying Videos.

And can include anything from bottle flipping, car crushing, dogs jumping, noodle making and origami folding. Here's a compilation to give you some idea of what I'm talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0NISZnwBaQ

It has over 18 million views so you know I'm not making this up.

Do a little more research and you'll find there's actual science behind all of this. Science doesn't have much cache in these Trumpian days, so I will dispense with further data dump. But I will say this.

Next time an agency head honcho looks at my advanced age of 44 and thinks, "Oh, he's kind of old. A little long in the tooth. And couldn't possibly be in touch with what the kids are doing these days."

Believe me, I know.

You don't want to know what I know.



Thursday, March 28, 2019

Senator Common Man


Meet Senator John Hoeven.

He's not like you or me.

Unless you work directly for a holding company. Or, your father, CEO of the Bank of North Dakota, left you with an estate worth more than $45 million.

But that enormous, unearned wealth is exactly what makes this Senator perfect for this administration. Doesn't it?

Senator John Hoeven, a man of the people.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3.28.19

Senator John Hoeven
338 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Hoeven,

I have a confession to make. 

For close to a year now, I have made it my mission to hand write a letter to every Republican Senator currently serving in the 115th legislative session. It's been an eye opening and educational venture. One in which I have picked up on the ticks, habits and peccadilloes of people like you. 

It's been informative in another way as well. Because upon turning over each and every stone, the natural habitat of the Republican Senator, it's been made abundantly clear, at least to me, that any simpleton could do a better job. 

I mean seriously, John, how hard can it be? You vote Yes on issues that are good for the American people, like: access to healthcare, education, care for the elderly, equal rights for all Americans, sensible immigration laws, environmental protection, fair administration of justice, and a host of other common sense policies.

And you vote No on budgets that increase tax breaks for wealthy fuckers, companies that want to pollute and the real recipients of government welfare, the booming industrial/military complex -- that thing Eisenhower warned us about.

It's kind of a simple binary task, isn't it?

Hell, I could get a Boy Scout from the local Culver City troop to build a two-button contraption for you. You'd simply have to hit the right button when it came time for you to vote. 

Truthfully, no one is expecting you to actually write any legislation. Or lead the charge. Or take a stand. Or really do anything that would require any moral fortitude.

After all, you're just a silver-spoon baby who took over daddy's bank and parlayed that wealth into a political position where you can push people around and, if you play your cards right, get approval for one of those "Cones of Silence" that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had installed in his office. 

You need one of those, John. You know, to conduct the super-sensitive and highly confidential business of governing North Dakota.

All of which brings me to my original confession.

I am not the brightest bead in the abacus. And I'll be the first to admit it. But it seems every time I turn around to write one of these letters I find a new Senator from the Dakotas. It's as if you're breeding like feral cats. Obscenely rich, pasty white feral cats.

I know there are only four of you, but if feels like it's forty. Moreover, that disproportional representation becomes even more evident when one hits the Google. 

My jaw hit the foundation holding up my house when I discovered the population of North Dakota was only 760,077. And the population of South Dakota was slightly more at 882,235. 

I can find more people in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium on any given hot summer night.

Call me crazy, but there is something seriously wrong when close to 10% of the upper chamber is controlled by four Senators representing a million and a half not- very-bright people. 

Apart from picking you as their Senator, what leads me to believe these people are not very bright?

They live in North and South Dakota.


Best,

Rich Siegel
siegelrich@mac.com
Culver City, CA 90232





Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Tale continues



It has been two weeks since our last visit with Michael John and the tale of my Illuminati membership.

To summarize, I told Michael John, my "recruiter" that I had mistakenly sent $125 in Bitcoin to a Pastor Mantu Abraham. Of course there is no Pastor Mantu Abraham. I think we can agree I would  be the last person on earth to invest in Bitcoin.

I also told Michael that the Pastor had sent the money to him and wondered when I will receive my Illuminati decoder ring.


So I push a little further.


I might have overplayed my hand as I don't hear from Michael John for a while. But I know how to lure him back in the game. And even squeeze in a little self promotion.



And it works.


What they won't do for $125.


Even though I misidentified the Rhino, they still want me in the Illuminati.


That good will cannot go unappreciated.


Rugulach, is there anything it can't do?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Rose colored glasses.


The great thing about today's post, other than the good news to follow, is that it gives me an opportunity to use some non-descript photo of people doing business. I love schlocky stock photography. Particularly of the commerce-themed variety.

And I'm not the only one.

Years ago, when I had a major player role in the game, when there was a game, we were doing a pitch for the world's leading producers of CRM software, that's Customer Relationship Management for you laymen.

In a moment that is seared in my memory, we had the opportunity to meet the CEO, a man whose net worth exceeded 5 billion dollars. After carefully reviewing and considering the work we had put upon the table, he had his own...er, unique...thoughts about advertising.

"Why don't you show a picture of people shaking hands?"

"Or a manager leaning over the shoulder of an employee to check the computer?"

"How about a shot of someone answering a phone? That's people doing business."

Yes.

Yes it was.

But I digress. Because today's post is not about the past, it's about the future. And I'm happy to report that there's cause for optimism. You see, I've recently been contracted directly -- without the aid of an ad agency -- to work for two growing clients.

And last night, I received an email, from out of the ether, from a former Chiat colleague who has a bead on a third possible project.

What does it all mean?

For one thing it means we can pick up a few of those humongous and outrageously expensive Tomahawk steaks I so enjoy throwing on the grill.

More importantly, it represents an opportunity. I may be 44 years of age. And cynical. And jaded. And beaten to a pulp by this industry. But as my partner John Shirley used to say...

"That what I love about you Rich. Despite everything, you're still stupid enough to believe something good can come from this."

Misguided optimism notwithstanding, who am I kidding?

It's about those Tomahawk steaks.





Monday, March 25, 2019

Russia, in the news


There's an armory up the street from where I live.
I should say there was an armory up the street from where I live.

Years ago, in all their wisdom, Culver City would bus in all the homeless people from Santa Monica and put them up at the armory. The one that's less than 1/4 mile from my front yard.

I have nothing against helping homeless people. They need our help and deserve our help. Problem was, the homeless people have legs. Most of them do. And they'd use those legs. They'd wrap themselves in a blanket and start roaming around the neighborhood.

More often than not they would congregate by the ratty liquor store on Culver Blvd. And once, while on my way to work, I spotted an older woman who had dropped whatever she was wearing down to her ankles and began "launching a meat torpedo off the SS Assitania." 

I probably won't include that in the flyer when I go to resell my home.

The armory is no more.
It has been converted into a museum. The Wende Museum. Two weeks ago my wife cajoled me into going over for a visit.

It should be stated that I'm not a big museum guy. Save for the time we went to the Guggenheim and the entire place was filled with the works of Cai Guo-Qiang. He, of Flying Dead Wolves fame.


I'll give it up to Mr. Qiang. This and the holy shit things he does with gunpowder, were amazing.

On the occasion of visiting the Wende, I was pleasantly surprised as well.

Because on display, there was double feature: North Korea Propaganda Poster Art & a robust collection of Soviet Era Kitschery, including toys, telephones, trinkets and the tools of Russian mid 60's spy craft.


That's Captain Petrakov commandeering his Hovertron 7000. "Get out of my way Yankee, colonialist pig dog, Captain Petrakov is here to save the day and redistribute wealth in an equal manner that will render class meaningless and bring great glory to the Soviet state."



Feast your eyes on the Communicom Model 9KFWQ-34, featuring state the art advanced electromagnetic thigamajigs. Crafted by former scientists of the Third Reich, this Stasi-inspired telephonic device will speed us forward to unimaginable prosperity. "Hello, Watowsky, can you hear me?" 



The Vojitech/Bering Bullet. This underwater reconnaissance satellite was built to change spycraft as we knew it. Planted into reefs far below the Aleutian Islands, the Bullet was intended to pick up radio signals from unsuspecting American military personnel stationed in Alaska.

"Oh come on sarge, whale blubber on toast again? Fuck this place."

Though it was built from durable titanium, the VB Bullet was also plagued by design flaws (see vents) that rendered this submersible un-waterproof and not very submersible.


The exhibit ends May 15, unless the country comes under the complete command of our Russian overlords, in which case, comrades, it will be on display forever.