Wednesday, September 30, 2009

District 9-0232

Took my dog for a walk the other day along the same Culver City streets I've been walking for the past 17 years. You can pass by a lot of interesting things and never even notice them.

Take this enormous 4 story antennae for example.

Do we not live in a digital age when TV, radio and Internet data come streaming into our homes via cable or satellite dish?

Why in the world would you need an aluminum monstrosity that rivals the Watts Tower in height and in weight?

Why in the world indeed.

You wouldn't unless you were transmitting information back to the home population on
Beta-Centauri 12K-7g. Pointing out our collective weakness for fatty foods, celebrity worship and Skinemax.

And just notice how the windows are conspicuously whited out?

Maybe my wife is right.
Maybe I've been spending too much time working out of the house.
Maybe I need to get back to an office job.
But until that happens, I'm keeping a close eye on the "aliens" living on the 4200 block of Vinton Ave.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Here's to clean living

Yesterday I fasted in the hopes of absolving all the sins of the previous year. Of course two questions spring to mind.

First of all, who is doing this absolving?

As I've stated on many occassion, I am a confirmed agnostic (not an Athiest because I think that declaring there is no God can be just as arrogant as those who claim the opposite.) So other than my kids, who really cares that I successfully resisted the temptation to snarf down the leftover garlic lemon chicken and sweet plantains from Versailles?

Secondly, perhaps more importantly, why am I fasting to absolve sins I never committed?

Seriously, what did I do other than support my family, pay my taxes, put my kids through another year of private school, pick up my dog's poop and consistently yield the right of way at 4 way intersections.

I didn't commit any sins last year.

OK, there was that time I poured it on a little thick and yelled at my daughter for leaving her dirty clothes on the bathroom floor. I did go a little batshit crazy on the phone with the Pakistani Customer Service Representative from Citi Group. And then there was that party I told my wife I'd go to, then faked an illness so I could stay home and watch the third round of the Masters.

Maybe there is some wisdom to all this repentence and introspection.

But now that the slate is clean, I'm going to live sin-free. Next year, when Yom Kippur comes around, you'll find me enjoying the carne asada combo plate at Paco's Tacos.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Price is Right

Apparently the prospect of 15 years in a Michigan penitentiary is not enough to deter a driver from picking off a construction worker in an orange vest.

So goes the thinking of the Department of Transportation, who decided it made sense to tack on an additional financial punishment for reckless driving.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall when this bureaucratic gem went through committee...

Bureaucrat #1: 15 years is good, but why don't we add an additional fine to show folks we mean business? Something like $5,000.

Bureaucrat #2: $5,000 sounds so crass. It's such a rounded off number. Like a game show prize.

Bureaucrat #3: He makes a good point. I think we should make it $10,000.

Bureaucrat #4: That doesn't solve the problem.

Chairperson: I agree, besides that's way too much. Let's not forget these guys are patching potholes on the Southfield Highway, they're not building the Taj Mahal.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Death to Israel

Sadly, Iran's annual "Death to Israel" extravaganza was ruined by pesky anti-government rabble rousers who chose to gather in the streets of Tehran and protest the recent "elections."

The raucous crowd drowned out President Ahmadinejad's claims that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan were all part of a Zionist plot.

Furthermore, his contention that the Jews were behind the Swine Flu, Global Warming and the poor play of the New England Patriots, fell on deaf ears.

Confusion seemed to reign the day as responsibility-shifting Iranians were also heard shouting "Death to Russia", "Death to Britain" and "Death to America".

In a post-rally conference with his advisors, an invigorated President Ahmadinejad laid out plans for next year's Death to Israel rally. And promised to ignore the soaring poverty and spiraling inflation and get back to the important work of scapegoating Jews, hanging homosexuals and stoning women who wear pants.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happiness is a warm gun

I'm convinced that lighting, composition and attention to detail are all part of being a great photographer. But I also believe that knowing when to snap a shot is of equal importance.

On a recent class trip to Venice Beach, my oldest daughter caught this enterprising young man.

I can't tell you how happy I was to see that she recognized the black humor of the situation.

I was even happier to learn that she rewarded the young man's creativity with the remaining 3 quarters in her pocket.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gotta order a part

Spent the last week working in Detroit. And as you might expect, the Motor City is not lacking for blog-worthy material.

I could go on and on about the weird U-turns that pop up on every major boulevard. Or the fact that people still smoke like chimneys inside all the restaurants. Or that everything in Detroit seems to be served in a pita.

But I'm not going to do any of that. Because a.) I'm thankful for the work and b.) I like the people.

Midwesterners in general are really nice people. Maybe that's why I married a woman from Minneapolis. I remember when my uncle met my wife's family, The Weinblatt's, he remarked how well they all got along and didn't fight or argue. He asked me, "Are you sure they're Jews?"

That's the Midwest for you.

The only bone I have to pick with Michiganders has to do with bathroom hygiene.

As you can see from the accompanying photo, when it came to lavatory use, I had to construct my own personal fortress of protection (fortunately I had given myself time for the endeavor).

For G-d's sake, would someone in Lansing or Troy or Southfield or Dearborn please look into the concept of ass-gaskets?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Copywriting 102

I want to thank everyone who participated in yesterday's copywriting exercise. There were lots of excellent entries.

Many of you chose to share your copy wizardry via private email. And considering the puerile nature of the exercise, that's completely understandable.

As a rookie copywriter you should know there is only one thing more important than money to those who shill for a living. And that is recognition.

When I had a staff job as well as the illusion of clout, I often told Lee Clow, Grand Creative Puba at TBWA Chiat/Day, "we could cut the salary base of the entire Creative Department if you would just walk around the office once a week and pat people on the back."

He would often blink his eyes and say, "Brian, can you get me a cup of coffee? Just cream, no sugar."

I've taken the liberty of securing the special USA Honor Society Certificate of Recognition for Max Godsil who wrote, "ADULTCON 09. The relentless pursuit of erection."

Congrats Max, despite what they say about you in SF, Detroit, Dallas and Torrance, you still have it.

But truthfully, there is no individual winner. And you can go online order your own certificate. Because advertising is a lot like my daughter's volleyball league. Everyone acts like a 12 year old. And everyone goes home with a trophy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Copywriting 101

It has occurred to me that the last two posts have been awfully lengthy. I've exceeded my self-imposed pith-limit and for that I apologize.

So today, we're going shorter. Mercifully.
And inviting reader participation. (For all 7 of you.)

Spotted this billboard on my way home from the pool the other day.

It's a perfectly good billboard that communicates it proposition, quickly, cleanly and effectively. But my years in advertising tell me it could benefit from a tagline. Something that gives a humorous, attitudinal wink to this unique brand.

And to prove how really easy (and meaningless) my job is, I'm going to invite you to write one.

I'll start you out:

Adultcon 09
Come one, come all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Good Family Fun

Last week we visited the annual Ballona Creek Festival in Culver City. The name is a bit of a misnomer. Ballona Creek, for those of you not in Los Angeles, is not a babbling brook of cool running water winding its way under swaying Eucalyptus trees. It's more of a U-shaped cement river that drains all the dirty run-off from L.A. and dumps it all into the glistening brown vastness of Santa Monica Bay.

But the Festival was fun and it had all accouterments one might expect: a petting zoo, a small midway, and the junior thrill rides that can be rolled from town to town from the back of an 18-wheeler.

I've come to realize there is a caste system amongst the moms and pops who operate these trucks/amusement rides. At the top of the pecking order is the lucky guy or gal who gets the roller coaster. How they manage to pack a miniature roller coaster on the back of a truck is a feat only surpassed by the new iPod nano.

Next up is the Tower Slide. I'm a sucker for this. You climb to the top, sit on a burlap bag and slide down a 100 foot spiral. Not a lot of moving parts. And not a lot that can be screwed up by some Carnie hopped up on crystal meth.

At the bottom, there is the runt of the litter. The last ride any self-respecting ride operator wants to attach his name to -- The RoundUp. You may recognize this small wonder of centrifugal force.

I don't think I need to explain why this is the Rodney Dangerfield of rides other than to consider the alternate names for the RoundUp, including:

The Hurl-A-Tron
The Bulemia Blaster
The Chunkmaker
The SplatterMaster
The Finger Fisher

Monday, September 14, 2009

No Pepsi

Recently, an old college buddy sent me a video about a crazy bunch of aging Berkeley hippies storming a local Trader Joe's and defacing any product from Israel. (I'd post the video but it's on the boring side.)

They make the ridiculous claim that Israel is an Apartheid State. This despite the fact that Arabs living within the borders of Israel enjoy a higher standard of living than their brethren in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and every other country in the region.

I'm not blind Israeli supporter, I'm well aware of the plight of Palestinians living in Gaza and the burden placed on those living in the West Bank. And yes, there have been civilian deaths due to hostilities. But I would argue, the horrible living conditions have been brought on by inept, absurdly-corrupt leaders who squandered billions dollars of international aid. And the causalities have been brought on by reckless rocket launches and suicide bombings.

And now the hippies don't want us to buy Israeli cheese, couscous or tangerines. But why stop there? Why not boycott the Israeli technology found in our computers, many of Intel's chip were actually developed in the Apartheid state. As were advances in cell phones, software, nano-technology, and much of today's medical equipment.

While we're at it, let's stop drinking Pepsi because as Arab propagandists would have us believe Pepsi is code for "Pay Each Penny Save Israel." Amazing that political discourse on the Arab street amounts to nothing more than 4th grade acronyms.

I find it most ironic that most of the activists in this ill-informed movement are women. If they are so interested in stamping out inequality and the abuse of human rights, perhaps they ought to look at the world just outside of Israel (8,522 square miles).

In the fertile crescent of Southern Asia and northern Africa (57,255,000 square miles), women are told what to wear, how to behave and what to think, more accurately what not to think, since many are denied an education. In addition to the beatings, the stonings and the rapings, according to the UN, up to 5,000 women lost their lives to honor killings.

That's all part of an Apartheid Culture.

Perhaps the Northern California do-gooders should redirect their energies? Maybe they should boycott imports from the Muslim World? Of course that could prove difficult. Apart from murder, intolerance and unrefined oil, nothing much is exported from those countries.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Luddites 1, Literates 0

Saw this behind the cashier counter at Staples the other day. Someone at Corporate must have decided that the phrase "Returned Merchandise" was just too confusing. Too many syllables, no doubt, for our challenged employees in the red polyester shirts.

I'm sure the low-level Brand Operations Analyst who spearheaded this career-making change has ascended the Staples corporate ladder and now sits one rung below the genius who came up with the red EASY button. The $4.99 button, it should be pointed out, doesn't make anything easier, but it gives the illusion of making things easier. And that seems to be enough these days.

This must all have George Carlin, a language purist, spinning in his grave.

Carlin once observed, “The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”

I suspect if there were anybody Carlin would like to set on fire, it would be the regressive bureaucrat responsible for "Go Backs."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

At the corner of Culver Blvd. and Centinela Ave. you will find the headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Division.

I think it's safe to assume that among the carjackers, the taggers and assorted gang bangers being held at this facility there are not a lot of happy campers.

Across the street however, within easy viewing distance of the holding cells (you know, if the cells had windows) is the Happy Corner Market.

This is no coincidence.

I believe the Happy Corner Market serves as a beacon of hope to those following the misguided path of unlawfulness. A simple reminder that once incarcerated they will no longer be afforded the luxury of getting their tacos, their tequila, their donuts and their pornographic magazines in one convenient stop.

That, and the prospect of "daily prostate exams", is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rethinking the Birka

Last week, my youngest daughter went to another Bat Mitzvah. She wore make-up, jewelry and a dress that I thought was way too revealing. As I was about to send her back upstairs for a do-over, my wife darted me a look as if to say, "Shutup and let it go."

Sixteen years of being happily married has taught me not to question that look.

But other questions arise.

With two beautiful daughters now entering puberty, maybe the strict code of Sharia isn't so senseless after all?
Maybe I'll make my daughters wear a birka?
Or if that's going too far maybe, maybe I can convince my wife to make them wear the hijab?

Who am I kidding, I can't even persuade my wife to make me a pot of coffee in the morning.

I am just so not prepared for young boys showing up at my doorstep to take my girls out on a date.

With any luck, they'll be lesbians.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

There will be blood

That's not something you expect from a summer afternoon visit to the local dog park. But as you can see in the accompanying photo, just where Nellie's ear is attached to her head, there was blood.

Compliments of a half dalmation-half pit bull who was determined to mount my dog. Nellie put up a helluva fight before I, not the lazy-ass owner of the half-monster, pulled them apart.

On any other given occasion I would have read the owner the riot act about bringing an untrained, unfixed, unruly pit bull to the dog park. But I have watched enough episodes of Gangland and Locked Up on the The Learning Channel to read prison tats and recognize card carrying members of Eme, the Mexican Mafia. And the Black Hand and the Sur 13 inked across this guy's arms and neck were all I needed to see.

I grabbed Nellie and made a hasty, if not cowardly, departure, seeing as enough blood had been shed at the dog park and we didn't need to spill any more.

Particularly any of mine.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Short Bus

My kids love Yogurtland.

They love picking their own toppings. They love designing their own swirls. And they love creating their own masterpiece of bacterial fermented milk.

I love Yogurtland for a different reason. I love a corporation that truly understands the dimwitted nature of people with whom we share our freeways, our schools, and our voting booths.

For discretionary purposes, I will spare you the instructional sign in the Men's Room.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mmmm chocolate eclair

Just took my one all-purpose wedding/funeral/bar mitzvah/C-level business meeting Brooks Brothers suit to the dry cleaners.

Which can only mean one thing ...well, actually from my description, it could mean several things, but in this case it's the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days.

That special time of the year when I get to rub elbows with 3,000 of my fellow tribesman, mumble a string of Hebrew words (which I can still surprisingly read), and heap praise upon the Almighty Pastry Maker of the Cosmos.

Pastry, you say?

I will let Patton Oswalt explain...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crime and punishment

As the father of two daughters I find myself poring over the horrific details regarding the kidnapping/raping/brainwashing of Jaycee Dugard and her two girls. I look at twice-convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido and doubt a more inhumane being walks the face of the planet.

Some very unpleasant things await Mr. Garrido.

Granted the move to San Quentin or Folsom or Corcoran will be an upgrade in comparison to living in Antioch, CA, but Garrido will be the subject of intense scrutiny by other inmates. They will hunt him down. They will make him a prison bitch. They will force him to commit humiliating, unspeakable acts.

Seen in that light, one could argue that life in prison will result in cruel and unusual punishment. And that the death penalty for Mr. Garrido is actually the more compassionate route to justice.

To that end, and as a concerned humanitarian, I've already dashed off an e-mail to Governor Schwarznegger volunteering to administer the lethal injection.