Monday, July 31, 2017

On Capitalism and Petards

I thought Republicans and conservatives were all about Capitalism.

You know the free market exchange of ideas. The belief in competition and the public's ability to choose what was best. The forces of innovation, selection and one upmanship that have shaped our great nation.

I guess that's all lip service.
Particularly in light of the recent health care debacle.

Let's go through a facile, all-too-quick recap.

In 2010, after lengthy debates and many political maneuvers, even some underhanded ones, I'll admit, the Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act. The elephants in the room were not pleased. And pledged to upend it.

In fact they took 61 cracks at repealing the law through the courts and the system and failed each and every time. But while they were busy huddling with their lawyers to peel back this "abomination" they did nothing to come up with an abomination of their own.


Precedent Shitgibbon promised a "beautiful healthcare plan that was going to cover everybody, lower premiums and be the envy of the modern world." Where was that beautiful plan? Did it get chewed up by the same dog that ate the 30 Day ISIS Defeat Plan? Or the Mexican promise to build a huge border Wall?

The truth is there was no plan.

And while the fat, fishbrained twatwaffle went to Mara Lago to drive his golf cart all over the greens, Paul Ryan and company scurried about to put something together like a junior high school student crafting a book report from the Cliff Notes.

Mitchy Mitch didn't like that book report. He thought he could do better. Not with a healthcare plan he started writing in 2010, but with three different book reports, written by a committee of the All White Pasty Fatman Senator Club.

And again, these were without any contributions from the dim, dread-bolted hugger-mugger who was too busy eating chocolate cake and scoring testosterone points with 40,000 Boy Scouts.

In the end, none of these options survived. Not because of some grand conspiracy. Not because of some Constitutional flaw. And not because of some miscreant remarks about "who is and who isn't a war hero."

The new plans had failed because none of them were better than the old plan, with all its flaws.

Had any off Mitch's options provided better care, lowered premiums and improved the lives of working Americans, they would have passed.


In other words, the free market exchange of ideas that Republicans speak so highly of, prevailed.

In other other words, written by the Bard, the Republicans have been "hoisted by their own petard."

Damn, I love that expression.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

It's Flirty Thursday

Meet Sandra.

The more astute of you might be saying...

"Wait a minute, Rich. She doesn't look Asian. I thought Thursday was reserved for snarky letter writing to potential Asian Mail Order Brides. Unless Sandra happens to be Philippino and has that exotic half Asian/half Iberian Peninsula thing going on. What's the deal?"

Damn, you people are demanding.

Look, I like to mix things up. And as any regular user of the inter webs will tell you when you start "shopping" online, you get barraged with advertising. Not just from the source of the original inquiry but from other competitors, in this case mail order bride scammers.

Think of it sharks sniffing out blood in the water. In this case, the blood of lonely white American men with a little money in their pocket and not a snowball's chance of getting laid by more conventional means.

Not only has my phony David Goldstein profile received hundreds of letters from, now there are competing forces afoot. More specifically from and

Each of these new competitors has their own unique formatting and sadly is not as clean and concise as the palate. So bear with me.

Sandra from writes:

Her English is not that good. And just as I have trouble speaking Spanish and getting the right verb tenses, it appears the difficulty goes both ways. But Sandra has mastered the arts and has thoughtfully included a drawing with her letter.

My reply:

Dear Sandra, 

Please do not worry about your English grammar. I understand you quite well. Though I am always troubled when someone writes the word Attorney in any introductory letter. 

I love nature too and enjoy surrounding myself with God's gift of animals and plants. 

But I also like fast cars. And two weeks ago, I got a letter from Yingyang from China. She owns a Maserati dealership. And says once I pay for her to come to America we can criss cross the country in a 424 hp Maserati Levante with Q4 All Wheel Drive and an advanced torque vectoring system. 

Drawings and pictures are fine, but do you own any car dealerships?

David Goldstein

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Jew York Times

About this time last year, I told my wife I was thinking about canceling our subscription to the LA Times.

The papers were piling up in the kitchen, mostly unread. And we were consuming all our news via the interwebs. Or worse via Facebook feeds and social media.

But, my wife,  a sales rep for Harvard Business Review, refused. Saying she did not want to add another nail to the coffin and contribute to the death of printed media.

Instead, we went the other way.

We re-upped our subscription to the LA Times. And added the NY Times to arrive on our doorstep. And with the ascension of Precedent Shitgibbon, who has all but weaponized disinformation, we couldn't be happier.

My long dormant routine of reading the newspaper has been revived.

I now make it a lunchtime habit of high protein, low carbs and a heaping helping of some unvarnished truth.

Now, I know some of the naysayers are out there, ready to pounce with their charges of bias. A lack of objectivity. And how the New York Times is pushing an agenda.

Yeah, sure. These charges mean nothing coming from people who source their news from Breitbart, Alex Jones or even Sean Hannity.

Moreover, I'm a big boy and can read between the lines. I've worked in advertising a very, very long time and recognize spin when I smell it. Or, when I'm paid exorbitant day rates to weave it.

I also make it a habit to read the news from the other side. And have bookmarked conservative media on my computer. I will even concede there are times when they are right on the money, often pointing out how some media outlets hype or overplay their hand. I'm looking at you Rachel Maddow and your cloying TV affectations.

But in the end, we all have to trust somebody.

I trust scientists who tell us the universe is 13 billions years old because they have evidence.
I don't trust clerics who pimp the 6,000 year old story of Adam and Eve and a talking snake.

I trust climatologists who have the data to support our overheating atmosphere.
I don't trust senile Congressmen who bring snowballs into the halls of the Capitol building.

And I trust journalists, who work for the Old Grey Lady -- the equivalent of the 1927 Yankees -- and who have won more than their fair share of Pulitzer prizes. And can actually spell Pulitzer. I don't trust raging roid-aholics who would have us believe there are child sex slaves on Mars.

Though I will admit, for sheer entertainment value, Alex Jones and his throbbing neck veins, beats the pants off even the most colorful obits in the NY Times.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Letters, we get letters

Last week I had three copywriters (names withheld) reach out to me.

There was desperation in each of their missives. Even more apparent because they were reaching out to me. All, to the effect of...

"Dude, it's really slow out here. Agencies are cutting back on their freelance budgets and I can't get any work. You've been doing this awhile and always seem to be busy, any advice?"

Yes, of course, let me whip out my spreadsheet of potential employers and get you some names and numbers, poste haste.

Listen up, I've said this before, I'll say it again.

The secret is "there is no secret."

BTW, this little nugget of wisdom was taught to me years ago by Lee Clow. When I was at Chiat we did a lot of traveling together to pitch new business. I distinctly remember sitting at an airport terminal (before we started taking private jets) at LAX and having a few private moments with Lee. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I asked him point blank why Chiat had succeeded where others hadn't and what was his personal formula for success.

He said, and I'll never forget this:

"Brian, there is no secret." 

Adding, "It's all about resilience, a willingness to work harder than the next guy and never taking no for an answer."

And that's what I parrot back to my fellow underemployed freelance copywriters.

If I were to go a step a further and steal precious time away from trolling supporters of Precedent Shitgibbon, I would also tell them this.

You have to expand your horizons. And by that I mean stepping out of the comfort zone of the Big Four Holding Company roster of ad agencies. I do a lot of work for independent shops. Entertainment agencies. Hell, I have no ego, I'll do pharmaceutical ads for Zibesta, Lucretia and Cramitol.

Also, PR firms are looking to move in on advertising territory. They may be skilled at press releases and spinning damage control but they are in sore need of folks who can come up with big branding ideas. Plus, they don't want people like me (with a face for radio) spoiling the well kept appearance of their pristine offices, so they insist I keep my ugly fat ass at home.

And finally, there are a thousand companies of the Fortune 1000 list, how coincidental is that.

Not all them need or want a big bad ad agency and their youthful troops of ink-festooned brand experts. My partner and I recently reached out to some of these alternative-seeking clients and much to our surprise our inquiry has yielded fruit. And a car payment. And a mortgage payment. And the promise of a new Bowflex machine for the gym in my garage.

"Hey Bowflex, let's talk about your advertising."

The point is, as an advertising mercenary you have to open yourself up to all possibilities. Or, if I may paraphrase Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.


Always Be Opening.

Monday, July 24, 2017


Right now, my oldest daughter is studying abroad in Kenya. Her partnership with the NGO ends in two weeks, then she'll be off to Tanzania and some other African countries I will need to actively research.

A little more than a month ago, my other daughter was in Greece and in Israel, compliments of her Birthright Program.

This has put me in a global state of mind.

Particularly today when it seems so many Americans are not. In fact, if you've spent anytime arguing with some of the provincial cretins on the Trump social media websites (as I have) you'd know many of these paint chip-eating dolts have never been beyond the boundaries of their front yard.

Hometown pride is fine, but uninformed jingoistic nationalism is a brain eating disease. The same disease that Precedent Shitgibbon rode to get into the White House and allowed him to live there on a part time basis, you know when he's not playing golf.

Anyway, this got me thinking. With regards to the Birthright Program, wherein any kid aged 18-26 with proven Hebraic lineage can hop on a plane and experience a 10 day all expense paid trip to the land of his or her ancestors.

It's a pretty remarkable phenomena. And I have yet to meet one kid who has not returned, moved by the entire experience. And more importantly, more knowledgable, more empathetic and better versed in the ways of some other corner of the world.

I think we could all use a little more of that.

After all what's good for the Jews is good for the gander.

So, instead of building a $70 billion dollar wall between the US and Mexico, a wall that can be breached by an extension ladder purchased at the Tijuana Desposito de Casa, why not invest that money into something more useful? A Birthright Program for everybody.

Particularly since we are all in a nation of immigrants.

Irish kids can go back to Dublin. They can shear sheep on a farm. Eat the same potato soup as their ancestors. They can visit the same pub houses favored by their grandfathers and great uncles. Get wicked drunk. Get in a brawl. And discover an untapped left hand hook that could lead to a promising career in prizefighting.

Pakistani kids can make the journey to Islamabad. Where they can eat goat and neverending bowls of cous-cous. Here, they will gain a life-changing lesson in appreciation for their American way of life.

"Pray 5 times a day? Hell I don't even play X-Box five times a day."

And Polish kids can return to the land of their ancestors. Arriving at the airport in Kiev, only to discover they've landed in Ukraine.

Alright, stupid stereotypical jokes aside, the point is the world does not end at the very easternmost shore of Maine nor the most barren island of the Aleutians. The world is complex. We can all use a better understanding of how the pieces fit together.

And that does not come from shouting "USA, USA." Nor wrapping one's self up in American flag sweaters, tank tops and beer cozies. Which only benefits the manufacturer of that cheap red, white and blue swag.

Who, ironically, lives in a McMansion on the outskirts of Shanghai.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Holy Moly

Today, in the continuing series of adventures I give you the MOST amazing letter I have ever seen on the site.

Most of the letters, with their computer-generated broken English and saccharine-sweet flirtation sound alike.

"I have seen your profile. And you are most amazing man. I would like to spend the rest of my life traveling with you and wrapping my arms around your warm body. And then we will make fondue. Won't you be my partner?"

Yeah, yeah, sure.

And then there is LinLin. An aspiring novelist with a flair for the written word. Linlin is literally the James Joyce of Internet Mail Order Bride fleecing.

I am still trying to digest this, which comes to you in three glorious parts.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Digital, schmigital

My issue with advertising today is that it's not like advertising of yesterday.

Oh, I'm well aware of how that makes me look like some old dinosaur that "doesn't get it." But, I'm more of the mind that today's marketers don't get it. And by it, I mean the mighty game-changing power of a well thought out campaign.

Allow me to unpack this admittedly old school theory.

Many clients today are smitten with digital. I understand that. So much shopping takes place online. Mobile phones have our undivided attention. And most importantly, digital is dirt cheap.

Consequently, many clients chase eyeballs with banner ads that don't get clicked, mobile thigamajigs that get lost among a hundred other apps thigamajigs and whoseywhatsits, and social media influencer campaigns that are nothing more than glorified Yelp reviews.

But what if I'm wrong?

What if each of these digital venues is highly successful, after all we do live in a digital multi-screen world that is far different than the advertising arena of yesteryear. Our attention spans are spread thinner than Jared Kushner's ability to right the world.

Fine, but by that logic there's an excellent chance that the Motivated Aspirer who saw your banner ad yesterday has never seen nor will ever see the Youtube video you released last month, you know the one with 5,139 views.

And the 237 people enrolled in your Instagram coloring book contest will never see the obnoxious page takeover you engineered on

My point being that it all has become so flattened out the components never play off each other. Or, as we Old Schoolers used to say, they never "Ladder Up."

Laddering Up is the notion that people would see the messaging on your outdoor boards mirrored with the same strategic messaging as your TV commercials and complemented by the compatible and persuasive messaging in your print ads and radio spots. And, through this crazy notion of cumulative communication, a brand proposition would emerge.

My friend and fellow curmudgeon blogger George Tannenbaum writes about it here.

It's the same old school process that gave us:

Bounty. The Quicker Picker Upper.

Fedex. When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight.

Avis. We try harder.

BMW. The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Then again, why take it from me? I'm just a washed up 44 year old full of piss and vinegar and enough righteous indignation for 10 men.

In that case take it from Lee Clow, a guy who knows a thing or two about advertising. Under his wise stewardship, Steve Jobs, then CEO at Apple, swore off any digital mishigas and committed his entire advertising budget exclusively to TV, outdoor and print.

He laddered that company up to be the richest one on the planet.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Unleash the Beast

This post is going to take a long time to write.

Not because I don't know what to say or how to say it fast, I think after 9 years of blogging diarrhea, that should be abundantly apparent.

No, it's going take long because every muscle in my body is crying out for a Vicoden. From the tiny muscles in my ears that allow me to wiggle my lobes, to the tips of unsightly toes which seem to have been set in cement like some poor mobster at the bottom of Brooklyn's Jamaica Bay.

And the walk from my office on one side of the house to the coffee machine on the other side of the house now seems inordinately long. I might have to Uber there to get a refill.

Why the stiffness, the soreness, the achiness that makes breathing seem like too much of a chore?

As I mentioned yesterday, with the new Google WiFi network installed, I now have internet access in my garage/gym. And just as Ralph Kramden was drawn to the silliest 'get rich' schemes, I find myself unable to resist the overpromising 'get fit' 90 day plans from

That's right, I signed up for Body Beast.

How could I not?

The program promises to help me lose weight.
Hello fish, chicken and protein enhanced bread.

The program promises to help build massive muscle and make me Beast strong.
Hello white trash neighbors.

And the program is the brainchild of Israeli Sagi Kalev.
Hello mishpoocha.

Plus, they were running a discounted price on the TV infomercial.
I'm a sucker for a good infomercial.
And savings.

This is my fourth Beachbody program.

After a tough week of adjustment, I was locked into the original P90X. By the end of the program I was sailing through each workout. Even mastered many of the yoga moves. Which, for a man shaped like a beer keg, is not easy.

The Insanity program did not go as planned. All the jumping up and down inflamed my Plantar Fasciitis and sent me to foot doctor who discovered massive bone spurs in my heels. That, and living in Queens, NY, is the only thing I have in common worth Precedent Shitgibbon.

There was a worthless third program from some Australian couple. I forgot the name of it, but this program mixed light weights and jazzercise. Those two go together like mustard and chocolate ice cream.

But now, I'm "Beasting Up."

Mind you, I'm a long-in-the-tooth 44 year old and have no delusions about whipping my body into Speedo-worthy shape. Plus, my wife has already put me on notice. She refuses to shave me from head to toe or oil me down for any possible competitions.

While I am seriously committed to the exercise portion of the program, the nutritional aspect is going to pose some problems. You see, despite everything you might have ever heard about resistance training, dropsets, supersets, pyramid sets, proper rest and hydration, it turns out the true secret formula to any and all weight lifting and body building programs is egg whites.

And I hate egg whites.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Stepping away from the Apple

I don't know how it works in your home but here at the Siegel household there are several devices/appliances that are a constant pain in the ass.

My oldest daughter is 21 years old.
I think we've been through 22 toaster ovens.

Dustbusters have also been a bust. I don't know why but we have had a string of portable dirt sucking machines that never held a battery charge. And consequently didn't suck. Which, ironically, did.

And months ago, on these very pages, I detailed our infernal wireless network that was eternally disconnecting from the Interwebs, leaving me with three woman and no access to Netflix, Hulu or online Solitaire. That's an Estrogen Tornado you don't want to get close to.

I can't tell you how many times I rebooted the router.
Or updated the firmware.
Or ran around the house plugging and unplugging Airport Extremes, Airport Expresses and Apple Time Capsules, hoping to sooth a flashing amber light and woo it back to the green.

Nor can I calculate the amount of time spent on the phone with Apple Genii, Chad, Jeremy, or Crystal, reconfiguring the ethernet connections, rearranging the WAN and LAN ports, and reconfabulating the Java-scripted, HTML-based, hyper flick flacks.

Last week, I thought I had figured it all all when I relocated one of the network extenders to the crawl space under the house for a perfectly triangulated arrangement guaranteeing maximum coverage.

The lights were green for THREE consecutive days. A record in my house. And then...

"Dad, the internet went out. I was right in the middle of Game of Thrones!"

That was the digital straw that broke the router's back.

To hell with you Apple, I thought. And went and bought myself the new Google Wifi, a new mesh type network that promises better dependability, easier operation and a stronger connection throughout the entire household.

Even to our detached garage, where you will find boxes of discarded toaster ovens and dustbusters.

I connected the first Google Wifi point to the modem and it lit up immediately. I unplugged the SIX Apple network extenders and replaced them with TWO new Google cylinders, which are not only pleasing to the eye but incredibly efficient.

There was a bit of trial and error, but within 10 minutes, I had the system up and running. And it's still running. With not one outtage.

Moreover, with a handy dandy iPhone app (oh the irony) I can monitor its performance and even redirect stronger coverage to certain devices.

So the days of listening to my daughter's whine about the shitty connection in my house are over. Dear Google, I would have easily paid twice the price for your incredible product.

All of which makes an interesting point about consumer behavior. One, often stipulated by my online friend and truth teller Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian.

People aren't loyal to brands.
They're loyal to brands who put out out better products.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Dead Horse

Friends and family often accuse me of never letting go of a joke.

In the PETA-Disapproved vernacular, 'I will beat a dead horse.'

Then I will eat that dead horse.

With grilled onions. And peppers. And a tall frosty mug of Einstok, this delicious Icelandic beer I discovered at a hipster eatery in Santa Monica.

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, well, it's Thursday. Time for another back and forth with the ever-so-accommodating ladies of

I don't get a lot of feedback from you people, so I don't really know if I've milked this premise and should move on. But I look over at the most popular blogs from the last month (the column to your right) and I see 40% of the entries come from these Thursday missives.

So I guess I'll just continue.

I'm sorry, but the desperation, the confetti-like use of the English language, and the obtuse cultural references are just too tempting.

It's like bringing a fat guy to a football-field long, all-you-can-eat dessert bar.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Confessions of a 44 year old

When I'm not reading about the daily brainfuckery coming from the White House, I spend a lot of time reading trade articles about our industry. That means lots of articles, lots of comments, lots of bitching and moaning about ageism.

Ageism is the new black.

And with ad agencies relentlessly reducing their payroll so they can send little white envelopes stuffed with cash to the, I mean, holding company officers, the volume is only going to get louder.

It used to be the 60 year olds whining about getting washed out of the business.

Then the 50 year olds started getting nudged out.

And now, my group, the seasoned veterans in their mid-40's are finding work hard to come by.

Soon, as this piece in McSweeneys pointed out, the 30 year olds who peacock around the office in their cuffed pants and their ear gauges and their precious manicured beards and their Tony Jacklin golf clubs, will find themselves hauled away from the Long Table of Mediocrity™ and pounding the merciless streets like the rest of us.

I know you've seen it as well.

When Adweek or Adage or MishMash releases their annual list of 30 Top Creatives Under Thirty, the social justice warriors start cracking their knuckles and let loose with a flurry of invective. (Much of it completely legit, by the way.)

"30 Top Creatives and only 2 women! Outrageous!"

"Where are the people of color?"

"Bros being Bro's high living other Bros. #Tired"

And then, just as sure as the agency getting hit with a big RFP just before the Christmas break, some old timer will chime in with what he or she thinks is a valid complaint.

"I didn't see one 53 year old on your gosh darn list. And why is the type so small?"

That's the thing about ageism. It's like the weather. Lots of people talk about it, but nobody does anything about it.

Maybe because they can't.
It's there.
It's accepted.
And it's not going away.

Frankly I don't pay much attention to it. In fact, you could say I'm immune to it.

Because between my unvarnished embrace of the truth, my insistence on getting paid a fair wage, my reluctance to work in an office or the dreaded work late in an office, my often contrarian POV, my disdain for process and committee think, and my ridiculous demand for time for proper creative exploration, I have given people plenty of good reasons not to hire me.

Age is not one of them.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pity the child

Last week, I had intended on working.

I had been booked with an agency on a two part assignment but for some unknown reason the second part got canceled. If I were paranoid or insecure, I might leap to the conclusion that they simply were unhappy with my writing. That happens.

Sometimes people don't want to wear the sweater I am knitting.

But, I'm not sure that's the case, because this same agency is also producing a spot I wrote not that long ago.

In any case, I had some free time.

I'm not good with free time. I know my freelancing brethren love it. They see it as as opportunity to unwind at the beach. Go to a museum. Explore the wonderful underworld of Thai Lady Boys.

I see it as opening to take more potshots at Precedent Shitgibbon. Or scour the interwebs for other opportunities. And in my ceaseless scouring I came across a piece about a blood shortage at Children's Hospital.

This cuts to the quick. And I'll tell you why.

Years ago, my father was stricken with prostate cancer. That fucking cancer drained him of his enormous strength. The man was literally an ox. Two weeks before he passed he told me he had become a regular donor to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. And added that while it was natural for a parent to go before a child, the converse was a complete violation of the universe.

He made me promise to do all I could to right that wrong.

And so last Thursday I found myself at Century City for a local Red Cross blood drive.

It had been a while and the process is quite different than the last time I let them suck the precious bodily fluids from my body. There was a two part oral exam. A written test. And a personal interview with the head nurse, who, and I'm not lying, held my driver's license in her hand and began...


"Rich Siegel" (just like it says on the card)


"XXXX Le Bourget Ave. Culver City, CA." (also just like it says on the card)


"Brown" (Is this a joke?)


"None." (Am I being punked?)

Apparently the law requires the supervising nurse to follow this arcane procedure. And so it continued with one last question.


"Excuse me?"

"Gender, you identify with?" 

Wow, I thought.

If you can sit there with a straight face and look at my Sam Elliot-worthy mustache, my fireplug-like body and my Sequioa-thick legs and mistake me for a female, who knows what you're going to do with my pint of blood?

For all I know they could have shipped it to a veterinary hospital in Pacoima.

Right now there could be a tiny Dachshund, recovering from hip surgery, with the unexpected and unpleasant characteristics of an angry pitbull, as well as an insatiable appetite for bacon and coffee.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Intelligence from an Intelligence Officer

We are circling the toilet bowl, people.

On the brink of thermo nuclear war.

Governance by tweeting.

Threats to weaken the first amendment.

Rampant ethics violations and business conflicts.

A President who puts his own ego-stroking before the needs of a rudderless country.

And this...

(Editorial note: the letter above is completely fictional. But ask yourselves this, if you were one of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line everyday for this country wouldn't you feel the same way?)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

If it's Thursday it must be Ningbo

Today in the seventh installment of our adventures we meet Tingfeng.

She's a some spicy meatball.

As in the past, I suggest you read her missive first and then my response. It will make more sense. And the jokes, if you can call them that, will resonate more.

I am very happy and satisfied to see you wear the smile instead of worry.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Purple Mountain's Majesty

That's us.

That's us last year when we went camping without the kids.

In their place we brought plenty of Bacardi, Maker's Mark and those strange off-price beers Paul likes to pick up at low-rent bodegas in Gardena.

You can tell by my shit-eating grin, I'd already put quite a dent in the bourbon stockade.

And you can tell from where Colin, our South African friend, is seated all the way on the left, that he had already put a dent into our supply of boerewors and beans.

It's not easy for a bunch of tech-challenged 44 year olds to snap a group selfie way up in the Eastern Sierras. It takes a lot of...

"Hit this button"

"What if you did this?"

"No, that's the Sepia filter, you don't do that."

But, we managed.

Even more impressive, we figured out how to return the camera to normal mode so we could get a shot of the view enjoyed from this meadow side seat.

Maybe next year, Independence.

(editorial Note: tomorrow we will return to our regular Thursday adventures in And next week the bile returns with more rants about advertising, politics and the childish buffoonery of our clouted, fat kidney malt worm, aka Precedent Shitgibbon.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fire Works!

July 4, 2007 fell on a Wednesday.

We were treated to early fireworks on Monday.

We had just finished a 5-6 mile strenuous hike up the Onion Valley Pass, one of the many entry points into the Kearsage Pass and the Great Pacific Trail. If memory serves, because of the heat and the rising humidity, we even stopped to jump in the frigid snowmelt waters of Gilbert's Lake at about 12,000 foot altitude.

On the way down the rocky path, it started drizzling. This is not uncommon in the Eastern Sierras, particularly when tropical air is blowing up from Mexico.

We got back to our cars and made it down the towering hill to Upper Grey's Meadow. As we drove we could hear the rumble of thunder in the distance.

Got down from the hill just in time, we thought.

But the thunder was also accompanied by violent lightening strikes. And like a scene from a Cecil B DeMille movie, one bolt struck a tinder-dry bush on the knob just adjacent to the campground. That bush lit up like a kerosene-soaked hillbilly BBQ.

Before long it spread the length of the ridge.

We could hear fire trucks huffing and puffing and making their way up the hill from the valley. While some of us discussed dinner plans and menus, I started packing. Fast.

And began tossing all our over-priced camping amenities into the Toyota Sienna:

The solar powered tent fans

The hand operated artisanal coffee grinder

The foot pumped camping shower

The gourmet egg scrambler

And of course, the left handed bean popper

My instincts proved correct, because no sooner had I stuffed the dirty, muddy ground tarp into the Yakima, the campground host made the rounds and announced in no uncertain terms that everybody should...

"Get the Fuck outta here."

It turned out the little ridge above our campground was not the only fire. There were literally 7 massive infernos burning up and down Route 395, gobbling up thousands of acres.

We got home that night. The next day hosed the soot and the smokey smell off our not insignificant inventory of gear.

On Wednesday, we sat in our front yards and watched the local fireworks show from nearby Culver High School. Perhaps it was because of our newly gained perspective and death defying proximity to Dante's Inferno, it was a bit of a yawn.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Upper Grey's Memories

The wife is sad today.

And now, after flipping through these digital albums of camping days gone by, I'm sad too.

You see normally at this time of year, we, and two other families, would have schlepped our enormous supply of camping gear to Upper Grey's Meadow deep in the Eastern Sierras. For a week of sunburn, dirty feet and high altitude hangovers.

This year marks the first time we haven't made the trip in 14 years.

And I've got the pictures to prove it.

The Rum-Soaked Snipe Hunt of 2009 -- we had convinced the kids there were these strange night creatures that lived in the bushes by the side of the path. And, that if we could catch one there'd be a huge cash reward. My buddy Paul would surreptitiously toss pebbles in the bush to make a sound and the kids would get all excited. Other worldly campers joined in and said they had seen some snipes just up the road. The Hoax/Hunt was a rousing success. And though it was at the expense of our gullible children, I haven't laughed that hard since.

The Bristlecone Pine Death March of 2010 -- We drove 25 miles towards the White Mountains of Nevada and set out on a hike that started at 11,000 feet. The temperature was 113 degrees in the shade. And we ran out of water after Mile One. The moaning and groaning echoed itself all the way to Death Valley. It took a lot of ice cream and candy to put the smiles back on these kids.

The Kapaa Con Job of 2007 -- Every year the town of Independence puts on a July 4th parade. And every year we would march in the parade. We put a lot of effort into coming up with a theme. And Paul even magically built a flag float that we would roll down Rt. 395. In 2007, I thought it would be interesting to pose as visitors from Kapaa, Hawaii. In the hopes of somehow spinning the gag into free airline tickets and lodging for our group to visit Kauai. That didn't work out. But when they announced our contingency over the loudspeaker some of the lifelong residents started whispering. "I didn't know we had a sister city in Hawaii, that's so cool."

Yes, it was.

This year, the kids, who are no longer kids, are off doing their own things.

Interest in the camping waned and now we find ourselves at home. Watching Precedent Shitgibbon pick Twitter fights with TV hosts while his KGB-trained counterpart devises a strategy to split the West and take us down.

So with website traffic notoriously down during these holidays I thought I'd devote this week to July 4th camping stories.

Tomorrow, "Pack up the shit the campground's on FIRE!!!"