Thursday, February 16, 2017
If you ever need to find me there's a good chance I'm at the top of the Baldwin Hills Overlook.
You see, I used to be a compulsive runner. Knocking out 3-4 miles everyday; it takes a lot to maintain my girlish figure.
Then the foot doctor warned that unless I wanted painful surgery to remove the bone spurs from my heels, I'd better stop.
So now, instead of running, I'm hiking.
I'm always running into people up on The Hill. Last week it was two women from past lives at past ad agencies. Before that it was the art director from Deutsch, a kid half my age, who always seems to be galloping up and down the faux mountain.
Hell, I meet so many people up there, a month ago I stopped this very attractive young woman on the switchback and asked if I knew her from somewhere. She looked so familiar. I was positive I knew her from a recent freelance gig at an ad agency.
I was being ridiculously innocuous. But I'm sure she went home and relayed the incident to her roommates.
"So some fat old bald guy, with holes in his T-shirt, stopped me on the Hill today. Yeah, as if..."
Yesterday, as I summitted the top and went to take my seat along the cement bench, I came across this clown (pictured above.) He was, well there's no other way to put it, prancing around, doing some kind of performance dance.
I wished I had videotaped him so you could appreciate the full measure of this guy's desperation. It was hard enough to sneak a snapshot of him. And I think videotaping people without their permission may be illegal.
If you zoom in on the picture, you'll notice the man's electric green fake fingernails.
He also wore a mask, long fake eyelashes and a wig.
I have no problem with how this guy wants to out in public. I've seen myself in the mirror and am in no position to pass any judgment, whatsoever.
But if you don't want undue attention, you can't be doing cartwheels, flailing around like some rejected Broadway chorus line dancer and then engaging with fellow hikers, loudly telling them in a booming voice that can be heard in Pacific Palisades...
"N***a, I got to keep it real. My shit is my shit. I don't force it on no one. Cause deep inside, I mean really inside, I'm a introvert. For realz."
OK Mister, you're going on the blog.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Woodward and Bernstein had their Deep Throat, I have mine.
He's an award winning copywriter of some renown. And he still slaves -- meaning he has to sit at the long table with the industrial noise canceling headphones -- from the inside of the salt mine, so I'm going to maintain his anonymity.
But he likes to send me presents from the Orwellian world of agency/client nonsense.
Months ago he clued me in to the 2016 Planning-Ness Conference.
I'm still kicking myself for missing that one.
He also sent me to the it-never-gets-old Youtube channel of Planners Talking Planning. If you like hemming and hawing and jargon-filled winging and dinging as much as I do, you'd better clear your plate and start popping the popcorn. This is a video nirvana of vacuous, self-important navel-gazing.
Last week, my Deep Throat dropped another winner on me.
It comes straight from the Coca Cola Company, which I find shocking since I always thought of them as much smarter than their brown fizzy water brethren at Pepsi, who you might remember spent close to $83 billion dollars for a simple logo redesign. (Tell me you didn't bookmark that website)
Before I unveil the Coca Cola video, it should be noted that I did not make it all the way to the end of the 17 minute chefs d'oeuvre. And perhaps the piece comes around after the grating VO no longer grates. And maybe the audience will walk away far the better for enduring the fakakta marketing jib-jabbery.
I simply couldn't.
I felt the gag reflex coming on the minute the narrator started shitting his pants over the difference between Creative Excellence and Content Excellence.
Then again, what do I know? I've never been able to...wait, let me quote the video..."Create ideas so contagious they cannot be controlled, we call this liquid content development."
I'm old school and have no idea what liquid content development means, maybe some guy named Farkwa or Shinji or Dinsdale could explain.
I say, give me the brief.
I'll write the script.
You send me the check.
Like I said, what do I know? Enjoy.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
If you're acquainted with this blog, or any of my other social media activities, you know I have been on a tear lately.
Railing, as hard as I can, against the regime of Precedent Shitgibbon -- a term I started using more than two months ago and recently popularized by a Pennsylvania Congressman Daylin Leach.
Last week, another week filled with monumental precedential embarrassments, the lumpy, scurvy-valiant, cockwomble got his horse hair in a knot because the capitalists at Nordstrom decided to stop selling his daughter's overpriced, Chinese-sewn schmatta.
They claimed it was a business decision. He claimed it was a political statement. Either way, so what?
I don't know if this fucknugget has read the Constitution, but we don't work for him. Nordstrom can sell hats woven from dryer lint if they choose to. That's the way this country operates you mewling, tardy-gaited flap-dragon.
The incident sparked quite a bit of outrage. And a flurry of humorous responses from the increasingly-funny American public.
I chimed in with...
I know many of you saw this. And started spreading it around.
At this writing it has more than 100 shares.
And if I'm reading my analytics right, has more than 100,000 impressions. One of those impressions includes Ricky Gervais. No offense to Lee Clow, who has retweeted severals of my missives, but when Ricky Gervais enters the fray and publicly likes your Tweet, that's some humblebrag material.
But what was most flattering about my hastily-generated faux Trump tweet was the number of commenters, across all media, who cocked an eyebrow, scratched their collective chins and said aloud, "Is this real?"
That, my friends, is so satisfying.
Years ago, my very scholarly friend and fellow blogger George Tannenbaum, described for me a new literary motif. He calls it Plausible Implausibilty -- a defining characteristic of good satire.
Last week, I achieved some of that.
Monday, February 13, 2017
I've been busy lately.
I'm happy I've been busy lately.
Nothing pleases me more than delivering on a freelance assignment and having the Creative Resource Manager ask if I can be extended or if I'm available for another assignment or would I mind working on the weekend.
Yes, yes, and no.
I've also been busy answering emails. From other freelancers. Or newly-minted freelancers who have escaped the galley ships, the cold Pad Thai Noodles and the incessant house music blasted by other "creatives" seated at the long table of mediocrity. If I've had one of these inquiries, I have had a hundred.
"Rich, what do I do? How do I get jobs? I have a family to feed and the only skills I have are writing manifestos or laying out 700 X 98 banner ads. I think I'm gonna buy a gun."
You might want to believe I'm exaggerating.
I am not.
Compound that anxiety with the new fascist regime that is itching to drop a light tactical nuke on the first country that slights Precedent Shitgibbon and you can tell the fear is real.
No more so than right here in Southern California where my alma mater, Chiat/Day just lost the Nissan account to the NY office.
It is not easy watching the sad slow decline of what was once the juggernaut of Southern California advertising. It's enough to make you want to break out the cracked ice and Tanqueray and stir up a stiff Tom Collins.
The truth is, I don't have the answers. There is no secret formula. And if there is I certainly don't have it. Look, I'm 44 years old, there's no way my phone is going to continue to ring. I know that.
So how have I put food on my table and partially shepherd two daughters through two outrageously expensive state universities?
There's no other way to put it. When fellow freelancers are golfing or taking ski trips to Mammoth Lakes, I'm making phone calls, I'm writing emails, I'm bugging the shit out of people on social media.
And not just people I know. Hell, I'll write inquiry letters to CCOs, CMOs, CEOs, anyone with a dime in their pocket looking to make an impact in the market.
Months ago, I read that Brad Jakeman from Pepsi wasn't happy with the standard operating procedures in the ad agency world. As soon as I had finished reading the article, I hunted down his address in Purchase, NY and fired off a two page letter telling him why it would be smart to farm out a pet project to a seasoned freelance veteran.
He hasn't written back yet.
But I'm confident he will.
Because when he does, as I tell my wife, the bathroom remodeling can begin.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
This post is about Donald J. Trump. But, if I can help it, it will not be about any of the national disgraces we have seen over the course of the last two weeks, which include:
* The Bowling Green Massacre
* Frederick Douglass
* Hanging up on the prime minister of Australia
* The botched Yemen raid
* The phantom 3-5 million illegal voters
* The promise to send US troops into Mexico, as well as Chicago, to get Bad Hombres
* Deregulating Wall Street, you know those fuckers who caused the collapse of 2008
* Removing sanctions on Russia our new BFFs
* Disgracing the memories of 117 fallen CIA operatives
* Sean Spicer's suits
...just to name a few.
This is about the Trump National Golf Course in California. Years ago, while toiling at Chiat/Day, our client Energizer (remember the Bunny?) wanted to play golf. My boss thought it'd be a good idea to take him and his assistant down to Palos Verdes.
I was not about to pay $350 for a tee time on a course that is nothing more than a miniature golf playland on steroids. It had fake waterfalls. Moats. And swirling greens that I believe mirrored the pattern on Precedent Shitgibbon's head.
Not to mention narrow fairways that also accurately reflected Dear Leader's narrow mind.
I hit and lost more than a dozen balls into the Out of Bounds that were, not surprisingly, infested with rattlesnakes. Or so the sign said, perhaps just to force the purchase of more balls at the turn.
Before the 10th hole I had to run inside to the pro shop and get myself a few more sleeves of balls. All outrageously priced. None of which were reimbursed.
There's an old saying that, "even a bad day on the golf course is better than a great day at the office." I'm not sure that applies to Trump's National Course.
If I use the current administration's fuzzy math, I shot an appalling 74, which is far worse than my average 67.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
That's Hello Kitty Motor Oil.
What, you don't use this high quality lubricant in your car?
You don't keep those cylinders prrrrrring so your engine can respond with cat-like reflexes?
Damn, I can do these shitty feline play on words all day. And sadly, some poor copywriting schmuck already has.
But I've got better things to do today. We're only two days removed from the Super Bowl. And with it all those clever Super Bowl 360 degree brand extension consumer engagement thig-a-majigs.
Between Wendy's Frozen Other Guys website and signing up to follow the Michelin man's twitter account, there's no way I'm going to have time to get on The Google and hunt them all down. But I am all too familiar with the time and energy wasted creating this clutterific salesfuckery™.
You see it's not enough to wring every last ounce of energy from a creative team in order to come up with a winning Super Bowl idea, today, in 2017, that idea must also be accompanied by a digital gamechanger.
And that's no small order. Particularly when that game changing idea comes under the scrutiny of a team of seasoned 26 year old Content Strategists -- whose collective business acumen is simply unmatched.
"We should do something with Snapchat. People who drive $90,000 BMWs' love Snapchat."
"I like the idea of giving Mr. Clean a makeover, I'm just not sure it's "on brand", know what I'm saying?"
"Last year we had a fundraiser at Kappa Alpha Theta using Instagram. It was really fun. It was a fun fundraiser. We should do something like that for Ameritrade."
That's all the time I have for today. I have to upload a backlit picture of me eating an unwrapped Snickers bar from a side angle...
Wait a minute.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Super Bowl 51 is history.
It's time to get back to the business of toppling this regime. I've been writing lots of letters lately. Here's one I think you might enjoy...
I hope you don’t mind the informality. It’s not like we know each other.
I’ve never even been in Indiana. In fact, in light of the 1987 NCAA Championship game in which my Syracuse Orangemen lost at the buzzer to the Indiana Hoosiers, I don’t have fond feelings for the state.
Nevertheless, I’ve been married close to 25 years and consider myself a keen observer of human behavior.
With that, and without the aid of any hypersonic listening devices, I’d like to replay for you a conversation that has taken place in the Pence household between you and your wife, Karen, who you call Mother.
Mother: …he’s a Pig.
Mike: Please don’t refer to him that way, he’s my boss.
Mother: Well we’re not pussy-grabbers. We’re Midwesterners. We’re nice people.
Mike: Now, Mother.
Mother: And we don’t lie, either. 5 million illegal voters?
Mike: Up to. It could’ve been 3 million.
Mother: Do you even hear yourself, Mike? Do you hear him?
Mike: I know he can be a little rough around the edges.
Mother: The toilet paper at the statehouse can be rough around the edges, he’s just crude.
Mike: Are you gonna bring up the speech at the CIA again?
Mother: OK, how about we talk about the National Prayer breakfast?
Mike: Oh jeez.
Mother: Don’t jeez me, Michael Richard Pence.
Mike: I don’t know why he’s so obsessed with the TV ratings.
Mother: He’s the President of the United States of America. And instead of talking about Syrian children, unemployed factory workers, skyrocketing college costs, or homeless veterans, he’s blabbering on about that German muscle-head and Celebrity Apprentice.
Mike: He’s Austrian, not German. Schwarzenegger is Austrian.
Mother: The point is, the man is unhinged, unfit and unconnected to reality. You and some of the other senators need to get going and pull out the 25th amendment before this so-called president gets us killed.
Mike: OK, Mother. Can we just turn on Wheel of Fortune now?
And, like many a husband who has been on the pointy end of a good henpecking, you probably ignored her wise counsel and went about your business.
But I’d be shocked if you don’t wake up every day and just before brushing your teeth and combing your perfectly coiffed white hair, look yourself in the mirror and wonder if Mother knows best.
Because in this case Mike, she does.
Monday, February 6, 2017
It's the day after the Super Bowl and everybody is talking about the commercials. Well, everybody in my little echo chamber.
I'm here to talk about a spot that you didn't see. And a system that has most assuredly taken ten years off my life.
Allow me to back up the story a bit.
Two months ago I was brought in by a small agency to pitch Super Bowl spots to GNC. It was typical jump ball situation as GNC had no real AOR. We were given two days -- two days at a highly reduced rate mind you -- to crack the brand and come up with a bunch of Super Bowl-worthy spots.
It gets even stupider, because throughout the two days we "checked in" with one of the clients. That's always fun, because client-driven spots are always the ones at the top of the USA Admeter. It's as sure as the Bowling Green Massacre.
Long story short, our spots were not chosen. That's the good news.
The agency that won the golden opportunity then spent the next two months of their lives slaving over weekends and cold Pad Thai Noodles to hastily craft their masterpiece. You can see it here.
That's right, it's another yawn-fest manifesto. I could've save them a lot of heartache and pulled one of these from my drawer of sleepy dog-earred corporate manifestos.
The reason you didn't notice that spot during the Big Game -- not that you would have remembered it anyway -- is because the NFL objected to some of the dietary supplements sold at GNC stores. Supplements that are on the NFL's banned list of substances.
So, you see, it's a good thing we didn't win the fakakta jump ball situation. Because no matter what we produced -- and god knows that would've been painful -- it wasn't going to ever get on the air during the Super Bowl.
Add this war story to my other Super Bowl fiasco and it's pretty clear I'm never going to see any of my work aired during the big game. And that's fine, as long as the check clears I get just as much satisfaction writing invisible banner ads for the local colonics clinic.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
I dread this time of the year.
You'd think as the son of a CPA and coming from a family of CPAs and having at one time considered a career in CPA'ing, I'd have some affinity for accounting and financials and such.
Apart from my wife, I may be the world's worst record keeper.
Moreover, I dread looking over the paystubs from last year and realizing I didn't make as much money as I should have. This stems from many factors.
The gigs that got booked and then mysteriously got unbooked.
Jobs that went to junior writers, you know those pesky 43 year olds.
And of course, the obligatory lowering of my day rate...
"Sure I can be flexible. I wouldn't want my exorbitant fee to impede your CEO's plans to buy a new yacht."
To make matters even worse, earlier this year the hard drive on my computer crashed. And with it went all my elaborate financial record keeping, such as it were.
So now I'm dependent on paper. And as you can see from the correspondence above, even that is not of much help.
The mauled envelope is actually a perfect metaphor.
You see, not only does the government take a bite of my paycheck, you know for important things like a Mexican Wall.
Now, it appears the postal service, aka the government, is taking a bite out of the paper that documents how the government has taken a bite out of my paycheck.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
When it comes to Shakespeare, I often don't go.
We are barely on speaking terms.
If, while watching Jeopardy with my wife, the The Bard comes up, I simply shout "Macbeth" at every opportunity. It's the only play I'm familiar with. And then only because I had a small role as the Drunken Porter while in high school.
All that might be changing. Or, as Willy might have put it,
"aye, the gods be frothy and there's a howlin' in yonder peat-covered hills."
But, probably not.
Thankfully, somebody sent me a handy-dandy Shakespearean Insult Kit. You might have have even seen it floating around the interwebs. I've got mine permanently bookmarked.
And have referenced it twice, sometimes thrice daily. I love it that much.
It's quite genius in its simplicity.
There are three columns of words. Adjectives, followed by adverbs, followed by nouns. To assemble a proper insult, you simply choose any random combination of the three. It's like a Chinese menu, you know if you replaced sweet and sour shrimp and lo mein noodles with canker-blossoms and malt-worms.
Keep in mind these are not the same English words you're likely to see in any online flame war. This is not Fuck You. Or even, Fucketh Thou. No, these are the ancient remnants of the Queen's Tongue that frankly pack so much more punch.
Which makes them particularly handy when discussing Precedent Shitgibbon.
For instance, you might go with the more contemporary Cheetoh-Face. I've seen that a lot.
I prefer, dribbling, ill-nurtured skainsmate.
You might elect to use a malaprop, like Drumpf.
I savor something more descriptive like unmuzzled, doghearted bum-bailey.
And you might opt for the straightforward rather pedestrian, Shithead.
While I choose to tack on with surly, spongy, wart-neck, malmsey-nosed foot licker.
Do I know what any of these terms mean? Only in the vaguest sense. The same way I sort of get Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet or The Tempest.
But none of that matters.
Because the Shakespearean insults have a tone. And a timber. And an unmistakable rhythm. And what they lack in clear definition, they more than make up for in raw, unfiltered, unmistakable disdain.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
How many planners does it take to change a light bulb?
I had a funny punchline to this joke but it was rejected by the Junior Associate Planning Coordinator who "drilled down" on the project and found my answer did not "check off all the boxes" nor did it please focus group attendee Gary W., a plumber from Pacoima who once took a course in advertising at Fontana Community College.
I bring this up because despite the almost daily news stories about agencies downsizing, another large holding company shop had the wherewithal to hire a Group Planning Director.
I may be wrong on the numbers but I think that's their 38th Group Planning Director hire this year. Hell, you could hand all these planners some bricks and mortar and they can have the Mexican Wall built by Mother's Day.
My consternation regarding this issue knows no bounds.
To begin with, I'm 44 years old and have worked in advertising for more than 53 years and to this day I still have no idea why we need a planner. Since all work must pass through the C-suite sphincter, why not just corner the CEO in a room and ask for the 10 second elevator pitch about their business.
Steve Jobs -- "We make computers for the rest of us."
Phil Knight -- "We're all about the celebration of sport."
Ersk Von Defluggenshiester (CEO of Volvo) -- "We make cars that are safe."
You, Mr. or Ms. Planner, can take the rest of the day off.
Am I guilty of oversimplification? Hardly.
Because a CEO has a lot on his or her mind. Marketing and advertising take up the smallest sliver of real estate. And so the time-pressed CEO, who will have to say yeah or nay on anything that goes out the door, will view the ideas through that simple filter. The same oversimplified filter by the way, that is employed by the consumer.
Anything else is worthless math.
Speaking of worthless math, why, if one planner is too many, are 18 planners not enough?
Not long ago, an art director and I sat in on a briefing. We were walked through a three page document that was presented to us by three separate planners. Oh I'm sorry, a brand planner, a communications strategist and an experiential anthropologist. I shit you not.
The briefing concluded at 11:45 AM. Afterwards, I heard one woman say to her colleagues, let's go get lunch. I can only imagine the chartmaking, the ruminating and the robust discussion that preceded the decision on where they would eat.
Monday, January 30, 2017
I was looking over the past few weeks of postings and noticed I had somehow neglected to touch on two of my favorite subjects: Advertising and shitting.
And then, as if from out of the ether, I ran across this ad on Facebook.
Holy Coincidences. Here's an opportunity to write about advertising. And an opportunity to write about shitting. And, bonus time, here's an opportunity to shit on advertising that is about shitting.
It's as if I hit the Monday Morning Trifecta.
I'm not great at capturing videos or GIFs and don't have much schooling in HTML, but here, to the best of my ability is the ad in question. It's for a bidet manufacturer and it literally shows a woman in a kimono 'launching a lifeboat off the SS Assitania.'
I can't help be reminded of that old anecdote told by Bill Bernbach who famously said...
"...it makes sense to run an ad with a man standing on his head only if you're demonstrating pants that keep from falling from his pockets."
Likewise, it makes perfect sense to depict a woman 'dumping all her shares of Hometown Buffet' if you're selling a device that 'cleans up and feeds off a down market.'
Do I have a bone to pick with the ad?
Of course I do.
First of all, a toilet against a white syc? It's not that hard to dress a set to look like a bathroom.
And the newspaper? The Sunday Something? Come on, such a blown naming opportunity. The Porcelain Gazette comes to mind.
The Dookie Digest.
The Lincoln Log Journal. I'll be here all day.
But I do give the TUSHY folks credit for their out-of-the-bowl thinking and their courage to go where no advertiser has gone before. I'm also reminded of all the weak-kneed, lily liver clients who have blocked the passage of good work in the past.
I'm still reeling from a comment heard just two months ago...
"We like what you've done here. It's an excellent problem/solution type spot. Just wondering, do the problems have to be so....er...negative?"
Frankly, it's hard to square our allegedly negative ad with one of a woman taking a shit on camera!
Thursday, January 26, 2017
I was driving to a client meeting in Venice the other day and passed this.
I didn't know what to make of it at first.
Did the guy have a white, male green jaguar?
And he was selling to exotic pet owners?
Hit me up at 310-923-3008?
I had seen spotted jaguars and black jaguars, but never a white male green jaguar.
I pulled a bat turn and drove back for a closer examination.
That's when I noticed the remains of the left rear quarter panel. This poor guy's Honda got smashed in by a hit and run driver in a green Jaguar.
It was all starting to make sense to me. Except for the man's method of tracking down the culprit. Not sure he's gonna get a return on his plywood investment.
However, the Honda owner should take some consolation. If the errant driver caused this much damage to the beat up Honda, imagine the bondo, aluminum sheathing, and premium British paint it's going to take to repair the overpriced Jag.
Unless the guy was driving a Jaguar X-Type (as I did for too many years.)
Those things are a piece of shit.
Or as the Brits would say, shiite.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Allow me to be honest with you.
There are days, sometimes weeks, when I get to thinking about this damn blog and wonder, "What the hell am I gonna write about now?"
I'm sure you've had similar thoughts, as in, "Oh shit, how many times is he gonna rehash those old Chiat/Day war stories, bitch about planners, or rag on the open office space thing?"
I get it.
And yet, the work goes on. I crank out this drivel. You lap it up. And the money I make from the Google-placed ads on this site continues to accrue and will someday be used to keep me out of a dirty nursing home.
Today was one of those days when I had nothing. Nothing. Despite the glut of material that appears to be gushing from the new White House.
And then I came across this ad in the LA Times.
Holy crap, that's a mouthful.
First, you should know I have a strange fascination with dentistry. It is truly one of the oddest professions on God's green earth. I simply can't imagine some kid thinking...
"When I grow up, I want to strap on a rubber apron and stick sharp utensils into people's pieholes."
Moreover, I was introduced to the notion of orthodontics at an extremely young age. While wrestling with my five year old brother, I was kicked out of the top bunk bed and landed face first on the hardwood floors of our Jackson Heights apartment.
My two beautiful front teeth had been knocked out and bounced across the room into the opening of my PF Flyers.
Now I sport a bridge in my mouth that forces me to be very careful when biting into apples or beef ribs. And absolutely precludes me from eating a cob of corn impaled on a power drill.
What struck me most about the ad clipped from the newspaper was not the pointy-titted receptionist inexplicably pictured in the ad. Though that in itself could probably warrant its own blog posting.
I was inordinately drawn to the ad because not long ago I was contracted by an ad agency to pitch a competitor of...er...OK, that's weird, there's not even a name to this company/ dentist office/implant factory.
Is pointy-titted Ani the one who actually does the dental work?
I'm so confused. Even more confused about the pitiful trajectory of my career and how I ended up writing similar ads about dental implants. That too, is its own blog posting.
For now, all I can do is unpack this ad and study its craftsmanship.
Damn, we didn't include a bullet point about FREE! Sedation. That could've been a game changer.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
I don't want to die.
I suspect none of us do. Though I am writing this on the morning of the inauguration and secretly thinking, "this wouldn't be a bad time to check out of the Life Hotel."
But I steady my resolve, pour some low-fat milk into my awful tasting high protein cereal and vow to fight on. After all, I'm only 44 years old.
Nevertheless, last week my wife and I made the 3.2 mile trip to Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, the law firm in charge of my "estate." Only in Los Angeles could a trip of that distance take 45 minutes. Whatever hell has in store, it will not hold a candle to the 405 at 8:30 in the morning.
We hadn't spoken to the lawyers - mostly because they charge $500 an hour, including the small talk -- for quite some time. But my daughters are now adults, supposedly, and it was time to rearrange the arrangements in the event of our demise.
On the plus side, after a careful forensic examination of our financial state, the lawyer assured us we would not end up in a dirty nursing home. Readers of this blog know that is my greatest fear.
"Nurse, there's a cockroach in my soup."
"Please be quiet Mr. Siegel or soon everybody will want one."
On the not-so plus side, there's the question of what would happen if, for instance, Deb and I were to be on a plane that went down in the Andes and we met our demise because we refused to eat Raoul, the Argentinian plumber.
Because, even after the lawyer extracts his 100 lbs. of flesh, even after the bank gets their due on the mortgage, and even after St. Jude's Hospital names a toilet paper holder after us for making a sizable donation, there's the matter of turning over a not unsubstantial amount of money over to my two daughters.
I don't want to say they're irresponsible, but I shudder to think that I wrote all those TV spots, sat in all those status meetings, bit my tongue and ate all those bowls of shit, just to have my girls blow the fruits of my labor on Chipotle, Forever 21 and Boba Smoothies.
Then again, maybe I'm letting my imagination get the worst of me. As is often the case. Maybe they're more responsible than I give them credit for.
Over the winter break, Abby, my youngest daughter went to London and Paris. She called me recently and wanted me to set up a Venmo account. Why, I asked. So, she explained, she could pay me back the money I gave her for the trip.
I have no idea what the fuck a Venmo account is.
But I did tell the lawyer that I want Abby to get my Tommy Lasorda autographed baseball.
Monday, January 23, 2017
I'm awfully proud of the women in my life. As I write this from the cozy comfort of my home office, my wife is in Trumptown...er, Washington, DC. She's gathered with a million (hopefully) other enraged women, telling The Man to, "Let my pussy go."
She's not alone in this endeavor.
My two daughters have taken time away from SnapChat, beer pong and blazing 420, to also get out in the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the clouted, shard-borne nuthook, otherwise known as Precedent Shitgibbon.
As we enter this new Age of the Unenlightened and the powers that be begin to give shape to the Testosterone Doctrine, I began thinking of our better half. More specifically, the women who have shaped my life.
Even more specifically, the female copywriters who birthed and nurtured my career.
There was the first Creative Director that hired me out of the mailroom, Kat Johnson. She gave me my first shot. And for that I will always be grateful. She taught me how to write recruitment ads. Sometimes, 10 or 15 in a day. She taught me something more important, or at least tried to. How to accept rejection and go back to the drawing board with grace, resolve and a sense of humor. She had it mastered. For me, it's still a work in progress.
Then I learned to steal. And of course, by steal I mean mimic. There was no better source of material than the One Show books and the CA annuals. If you pored through those books like I did, certain agencies showed up again and again, Chiat/Day, Wieden & Kennedy, Fallon McElligot and Ammirati & Puris. Certain names also popped up over and over again, including Helayne Spivak. Her smart headlines and body copy had a New York wit that I always thought was in my wheelhouse. Of course, now she is the head of Advertising at VCU and I'm writing banner ads for the local colonics clinic, so I might have been wrong on that.
No discussion of female copywriters would be complete without the inclusion of Penny Kapsusouz. For those who don't know, Penny wrote so many of the early Apple print ads, including a 20 page insert that stands as a monument to creativity and salesmanship. Oh yeah, we're supposed to be selling this shit. Penny painstakingly removed the mystery and confusion from technology. When I began writing Apple ads for BBDO, Steve Hayden wisely handed me her work and said, "here, do it like this."
There's also a streak of poetry that runs through this business. Or at least, there should be. Janet Champ, made that happen. I remember hearing and seeing her work for Nike and feeling synapses going off in my head. There hadn't been advertising like that before. These were ads that not only sold sneakers and sweatshirts. These were ads that provided an inspirational blueprint for fathering daughters. My girls know there are unfair barriers and obstacles out there. But they also know I expect them to ignore or better yet, smash through them.
Not sure I would have heard the end of it, had I not mentioned my good friend Claudia Caplan. She once said my writing style was muscular and forceful. I told her I learned from the best. She and April Winchell, were two of the best radio writers in Southern California. Radio is a writer's medium, so I studied and stole from their work. Liberally.
And of course there's Kathy Hepinstall. She writes real books. She creates amazing pop art. She has an outrageously funny blog. And she freelances all around the country, often taking the high-paying jobs that could feed my family and easily cover my daughter's college tuition leaving me enough money to buy that jet black Audi A5 I've been eyeing.
Fuck that, I have nothing nice to say about Kathy.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
For eight years the Alex Jones/Alt. Right/Illuminati-fearing set peddled some horseshit about President Obama not being a native born American.
"He's from Kenya", they cried.
Of course these are the same Wheel of Fortune idiots who said Obama would take our guns, establish Death Panels, send gas soaring to $12 a gallon, tank the economy and turn us all into gay, Muslim, Communist, transgender snowflakes.
Well, now one of these barnacle brains is about to become our next Commander in Chief.
But after careful examination of his behavior, his pre-inaugural behavior mind you, I'm beginning to wonder whether Donald J. Trump is a real live American.
Actually, I'm prepared to prove he is not.
Americans are by nature, good natured. The other day I was buying prescription dog food for my 14 year old retriever/shepherd mix. The food comes in big 50 lbs. bags. There was a woman at the cash register trying to corral 3 screaming kids, a new hamster and 5 plastic baggies with goldfish. She saw me carrying the large bag and offered to let me go in front of her. I didn't ask. I didn't make the face. She just saw that her purchase would take an inordinate amount of time and let me in. Can you picture this orange-haired alien doing the same? Can you even picture him in a pet food store? The man doesn't like babies, I doubt he has much love for dogs.
Americans have a kind streak. I've never kicked somebody. There was that one time in karate class and I was sparring with a brown belt. He caught me with an uppercut and I reflexively kneed him in the groin. But he, and the swarm of British planners I've kicked in the figurative sense, had it coming to him. Last week our new POTUS fired 89 year old Charles Brotman, the same man who had been announcing the inaugural parade since 1957. The same man who lost his wife just a few weeks ago. Who fires a recently-widowed 89 year old man from a job he has be doing for close to 60 years? Not any American I know.
Americans are smarter than your average shmoe. It may not be evident from our SAT scores or our falling leadership status in math and science, but by and large we are smart people. Smart enough to live in the greatest country in the world. We're also smart enough to know that a stack of unlabeled and apparently untouched manilla folders containing reams of blank white paper is not sufficient evidence to prove our new President has dissolved his involvement with global businesses which is a clear conflict of interest. Moreover, for this craven, sheep-biting vulgarian to think he could hoodwink the rest of us with this sham is both dumb and insulting. It's also downright UnAmerican.
Americans stand by their word. We say what we mean and we mean what we say. It's a pretty simple concept. You know for those of us born on Terra Americana. He -- the mammering, boil-brained lewdster-- said he was going to build a wall and that Mexico was going to pay for it. He said that a lot. Now it seems there will be large stretches of land that won't have a wall. And this new wall that we won't have, won't even be paid for by the President of Mexico. Or Mexicans. Or even Russians. What the hell is that all about? What happened to truth, justice and the American Way?
Finally, and most damning, Americans know how to eat pizza.
As if that weren't enough
Precedent Shitgibbon ought to get out his birth certificate and parade it around in one of those news conferences he's so good at.
I don't know where this artless, flap-mouthed join-head is from, but I do know he's not of us.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Gotta tip my hat to Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch. Building a modern day media empire is a lot more difficult than I thought.
I'll give you a good example. As you may recall, last month I started allowing Google to place banner ads on this blog.
I hadn't refreshed the blog in quite some time. And I felt things were getting a little stale. The tagline, "No Artificial Sweeteners" appears to be unbeatable. So, in the effort to keep things fresh, I relented and began allowing sponsors to piggyback on my semi-daily, semi-legible, semi-funny rants.
In the five weeks since, and despite the surprising surge in readership (last week's Casey Affleck post racked up 1500 hits in one day), the money has NOT been rolling in. To date, the various hits/visits/pageviews/clicks have earned me $41.73.
I can't even take my wife down to Back at the Beach in Santa Monica and have lunch for $41.73. Mostly because she insists on buying those ridiculous $9 Ice Teas.
To add insult to injury, I've recently hit another speed bump on the road to my first billion dollars.
Seems the good folks at Google and their third party revenue disbursement partner, Adsense, came upon an old posting of mine that did not meet their high standards.
Keep in mind, you can scan through the current Google library of blogs and find all kinds of informative writing about Killing Jews, Making Love to Goats and Supporting the new Trump Administration. But my little satirical posting about the proper way to discipline your wife raised some eyebrows.
You can find the offending piece here.
Look, I'm a First Amendment absolutist and refuse to do anything to alter the post.
If necessary, I'll fight for my right to express myself freely. And I'm prepared to spend my entire bankroll of blog earnings, all $41.73. I'll take this all the way to the Supreme Court.
Whichever comes first.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Yesterday I threw my insignificant weight behind a product everyone should have. Today, I am upping the ante and throwing my exponentially increasing weight behind a book everyone should read.
At least those of us in advertising.
Dan Lyons is one of the writers on HBO's incredibly funny and incredibly smart, Silicon Valley. But he is no overnight sensation, not by a long shot. I heard he was 10 years older than me. Hard to believe that a 54 year old could still productively pound the keyboard.
But he does and that gives me hope.
Dan spent many years as a reporter for Newsweek magazine. And then, in order to exercise his funny bone, he began tweeting as FakeSteveJobs. A humorous diversion not unlike my kimjungfun.tumblr.com account.
In fact, months ago, Dan stumbled upon one of my Kim Jung Un posts and he wrote to me. That is how we started our correspondence. OK, it's not really a correspondence. I write to him and he doesn't respond, but in this new Trumpian era why let facts get in the way of a good fantasy?
When Newsweek downsized, Dan found himself out of work. That is until he parlayed his FakeSteveJobs notoriety into a high level gig at HubSpot, a scamarama software outfit in Boston.
The book follows, in painstaking detail, Dan's journey into the high tech world. More specifically in their marketing department. And this is where it gets interesting. Or humiliating. Many times both. In other words, it's just like our lives in advertising.
There's the tortuous brainstorming meetings and the walls festooned with appropriately-sized Post It Notes of Insight.
There's the squabbling over offices, cubicles, seats at the long table in the boiler room/sweatshop.
There's cognitive dissonance. Much the same way we tell and sell our clients this salesfuckery about building their brands with tweets, Snaps and Instagram scavenger hunts, the Hubspotters spout off about 1+1=3. With equally mysterious comments like, "A Hubspotter would never say something like that."
And there's Kool Aid drinking.
So, so, so much Kool Aid drinking. Complete with asinine acronyms, delusional manifestos, and unwarranted cult-like loyalty. Here are some selected slides from the 128 page Hubspot Code of Conduct.
Had I been subjected to this presentation, I would have been requesting an Exit Interview before the 5th slide.
Most of all, there's greed.
Because despite the many opportunities to fix the product, improve the product and make the product better than anything offered by the competition, all the energy was exclusively spent preparing for the IPO and funneling as much money as humanly possible to the khaki-pants-wearing white men in the C-Suite.
Mmmmm, why does that sound so familiar?
Monday, January 16, 2017
As you can see from the screen grab above, I am a man who does a lot of walking.
This map shows me going to the bank to deposit a check, my favorite part of the walk. Followed by a long ascent up to the top of the Baldwin Hills Overlook, which offers unbeatable views of the city, the San Bernardino Mountains as well the entirety of the Santa Monica Bay.
It's not easy to maintain my girlish figure, so I try to make this walk at least three times a week.
Unfortunately, and this is of import to Chinese electronic manufacturers, these three hour treks would sap my iPhone long before they would sap me.
Accordingly, I was forced to bring all manner of outside battery packs and their assorted cables. Between my iPhone and external juice packs, my iPod and accompanying headphones, I was a walking rat's nest of Apple paraphernalia.
That all changed last week.
I'm not big on endorsements, mostly because I write that shit for a living and don't take kindly to giving the stuff away for free, but in the case of this special case, I'm going to bend the rules.
This thing is a lifesaver.
You know if your life is tethered to to an iPhone, as I suspect it is for most of us.
You insert your phone into the pre-wired case and the clever engineers who make Cupertino their home, do the rest. There are no cables. There are no moving parts. There's not even a switch to tell your iPhone to go to the external battery (the hump in the picture above.)
In essence, the case simply doubles the battery power on your phone. It also doubles the weight of the phone, but I'm at a point in my life where function is way more important than form.
Besides, aesthetics is for young people. Or Fancy Nancies who fret over just the right paper towel holders, flip flops or dog food bowls.
I'll take my big fat ugly phone with its big fat ugly reserve of power.
Hell, maybe I'll walk 10.5 miles instead of 7.5 and get rid of this big fat ugly ass of mine.