Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Digital. Yeah.

Don't know if you've noticed but lately Digital has been taking it in the shorts.

And not just by me.

Recently Proctor & Gamble announced they had cut $100 million dollars from their Digital budgets. This caught the attention of Professor Bob Hoffman, a fellow blogger who regularly makes the case against Digital.

As well as all the other bullshit that pervades our business. You can read his compelling argument here.

In his stinging diatribe, he also takes a mighty uppercut on the prophets of Digital, namely the head prophet himself, the alpha male of Digital Bullshit, Shingy (pictured above.)

Bob's disdain for Shingy is hardly singular. As you might have guessed, or even remembered, I have also gone a few rounds on this bloviating blowhard who has no doubt mastered the Steve Bannon Yoga move.

You can read my take here.

Make sure you watch Shingy shilling his wares in this cringeworthy video.

That was three years ago. Not sure any of his predictions about Digital have come to pass. I know I have yet to cultivate my brand love with a like-minded tribe of evangelists, but it's only Wednesday.

And just when you think you've seen and heard it all about the Shing man, you haven't.

Thanks to one of Bob Hoffman's eagle eyed viewers we now have the ultimate Shit on the Shingle.

A little video piece from David Cross and Bob Odekirk of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bring me my petard.

Almost every art director or copywriter I've ever had the pleasure of working with -- that is, being on the same company staff -- is no longer working with the company and no longer working on staff.

A convoluted way of saying, "we're all freelancers."

This didn't happen overnight.

Nor did the process happen in a vacuum.

My good friend Mike Folino, who bills himself as the World's Greatest Freelancer, blames me. Not in totality. But nevertheless he lays faults on this blog, which had been running for close to nine years and which has regularly glorified the freelance life. Vis a vis my regular rants against the open office plan, the inhumane work/life balance, the salary inequality, and the general inefficiency of the holding company model.

"Mike," I would say, "You can't pin the overcrowding in the freelance pool on me. How many people do you think read this stupid blog, 8? 13? 21?"

Well, that little show of false humility no longer holds any water.

The happy truth is, in 2017 RoundSeventeen has enjoyed record readership. Five of the six previous months each had more than 20,000 page hits.

And that's without the normal spikage I would receive through irregular links and appearances in AgencySpy, which in the past would send web traffic through the roof.

But since the good folks over at AgencySpy dropped their anonymous comment section (always the highlight of any disgruntled ad worker's day) I suspect their site has been unbookmarked in inverse proportion to the number of people coming here.

Because if they're not going to purvey vile petulance and lob thinly-veiled insults at some of the drunken incompetent miscreants running the ad industry into the ground, somebody has to.

Anyway, back to my original point.

There's a shit ton of freelancers out there. And I may or may not have had something to do with that.

That's good news for those of you who may have been on the pointy end of one my past columns. Karma, and irony, could be coming around.

Because this monumental glut of creative mercenaries may end up sending me to a premature retirement and a one way ticket to a dirty nursing home.

In the words of the Bard, I could be hoisted by my own petard.

Monday, August 14, 2017

To Life. Long, Long Life.

As of this minute I am on the Methusalah Program.

I'm determined to live as long as I can.

I'm giving up meats for more grains, fibers and vegetables.

I'm giving up sugars and salts.

I'm giving up alcohol. OK, I'm not giving up alcohol completely, but I am cutting back.

I'm on a twice a day work out routine. Weight training in the morning with Body Beast. And an hour's worth of cardio in the evening.

I'm meditating. And being more mindful of my oxygen intake and my breathing patterns.

I'm monitoring my blood pressure.

As well as my heart rate.

I'm sleeping 8 hours a night. And when I can't get 8 hours a night, I force myself to take a daytime nap. Hopefully while I'm on someone else's dime.

I'm trying to reduce the stress in my life.

And being more grateful for all that I have.

I'm reading more.

And watching TV less.

I'm even supplementing all my efforts with lengthy yoga sessions. And if you're familiar with me or my body type you know that is not a pretty picture.

Why, you may ask am I going to such extremes?

Is it to guarantee my presence at my daughter's college graduations? And to see the fruits of my labor?

Is it to be here long enough to see them get married?

Have children?

Blossom into full grown adults?

Is it to spend more time with my wife, a saint among saints, who deserves the reward of worldwide travel and $10 hotel ice teas?

Those are all worthy pursuits.

But they are not behind my level 10 Zeal.

What's driving me, and what's driving others who are equally passionate, is the stomach twisting desire to keep drawing oxygen into my bloodstream long enough so that I may witness the ever-so-sweet demise of the colossal, beefwitted, boil-brained cankerblossom who currently resides in the White House.

That, is a day worth living for.

And it can't come soon enough.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

She's BAD

It's Thursday.

Time for broken English.

Weird algorithmic flirtation.

And credit-card fueled lonely hearts desperation.

Say hello to badminton aficionado, Yonghong.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

This Ad Life

If you've ever been to an amusement park or even one of those hastily assembled church parking lot weekend festivals, you've probably see the Gravitron. Affectionately known as the Vomitron. For it's uncanny ability to bring up copious amounts of undigested cotton candy, half chewed bratwurst and purple slurpy.

Most riders of the Vomitron, familiar with the detrimental effect it can have on their wardrobe, never return for a second trip.

This queasy uncomfortable feeling is also very familiar to those of us who freelance in advertising.

I know when I started, and hit the stroll as it were, I often felt breakfast churning in my stomach, bubbling and swirling upwards, almost past the point of no return. This was exacerbated by having two daughters in private kindergarten, where it cost me more than $20,000 a year in tuition for them to learn kickball, finger painting and nap time.

Eventually, I got my sea legs. And learned how to ride the ups and downs and professional discourtesy that so often comes with the course.

After a slower-than-I'd-like July, the phone started ringing.

And by ringing, I mean I was getting texts. At one point I was dealing with three separate inquiries. All for month long gigs. And all paying close to my normal day rate.

Damn, I thought, I should swing by the Bagel Factory and pick up a 1 lbs. tub of their delicious Smoked White Fish Salad. (That's how a 44 year old Jew celebrates by the way)

But, as is often the case in the unpredictable world of mercenary employment, each of these inquisitions fizzled out. It could have been logistics. Change in direction. A pitch that was going to go unpitched. Or, somebody said, "You called Siegel? No fucking way!"

That's the way it goes.

Naturally this left me feeling down in the dumps. Depressed. And I felt like I should swing by the bagel factory to pick up a 1lbs. of their delicious Smoked White Fish Salad. (It's good for consolation as well)

Then, what normally happens, happened.

I got a call from another agency that I do regular business with and they needed me for a great gig. A big juicy assignment that will allow my partner and I to spread our wings and do what we do best.

Cause for celebration.

So now the question is, who wants to come over for bagels and smoked white fish salad?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Photo Journalism

It's been a while since I've done this, but as I am running low on coffee and Precedent Shitgibbon is on vacation, I thought this was a good opportunity to randomly select some of the photos I found on my iPhone.

The two ladies pictured above were shielding their hairdos from the Culver City downpour ( a light mist) with plastic bags retrieved from the nearby garbage bin.

This beautiful bench sits at the Baldwin Hills Overlook and is dedicated to my amazing neighbor who left us all too soon.

A hipster dude who has $25 for a sandwich at Bako Shop but not enough money for a proper shirt.

Swastika carved into the pavement near Duquesne and Jefferson. Always nice.

A local Freemason Temple. 
I want to go in and hear their sales pitch but I understand it's by invitation only.

It's "Bring Your Inquisitive Son to Work Day."

Jesus Rocks. Fuck You. Love it.

I call this, "Bending down to scrape dog shit off my shoe and discovering beautiful landscape."

I've seen better.

Third Street Promenade: Street evangelism and the ubiquitous smell of urine is the winning formula for eternal salvation.

U.S.A., U.S.A.!!!

"If I only had a Canyon Arrow."

"See this hairline fracture, that's gonna cost you $2k."

"Who wants candy?"

I think I might be overwatering the garden.

And finally, there was this fellow who was seated across the aisle from me on a return flight from Seattle. He had a cold. A bad cold. Maybe bronchitis. Very productive bronchitis. 

For 3 hours he coughed, produced a mouthful of lung and then spit it into the blue latex glove he had furled up in his hand. By the time we had reached San Luis Obispo, he had filled the left handed glove. Fortunately, for the remaining 25 minutes of the flight, he still had the right glove. #FML

Monday, August 7, 2017

When it's my time

Less than a week onto my job as a mailroom clerk at Needham Harper & Steers (aka Needless Hardons & Tears) I was handed two hundred dollars from petty cash and told to run down to the local BevMo.

Or whatever the liquor warehouse was called those days.

Maybe it was Liquor Warehouse.

I was asked to bring back a bevy of booze for an office party -- the kind of office party you just don't see anymore. A Retirement Party.

I purchased the obligatory cases of Bud Light (our client) and several more cases of Bartles & James Strawberry Wine Coolers. And brought the change to my penny pinching boss. But before I handed him the receipt I quickly spread out the beer and wine coolers in ice buckets all around the party room, which made counting inventory impossible. Which also cleverly disguised the remaining case of Bud Light that stayed in the trunk of my car.

Turns out the first advertising retirement party I went to, was also the last.
There are no more retirement parties in advertising.
Because people in advertising don't retire.

They either "move on."

Leave "to explore other opportunities."

Or my favorite,  they are shown the door because "the agency has been rightsized to better fit the needs of our clients." (And the CEO is buying a vacation home in Tortuga)

The departure ceremony, if there even is one, is nothing more than a visit to an HR cubicle to collect a miserably underfunded severance check. And a perfunctory Exit Interview that isn't worth the paper it's never printed on.

Do I have data or statistics or any research whatsoever to back up these claims? Of course, I do not. I don't have time for that I'm a freelance copywriter chasing down any assignment that moves.

"We need someone to help us rewrite our Firedrill Safety Guidebook. Stairwells, elevators, neon vests, that kind of thing. Can you do that?"

"I'm your guy."

Take my anecdote for what it's worth.

But next time you walk into an ad agency take a good look around. Past the beanbag furniture. Past the surfboards, razors or hover boards. Past the multiple Long Tables of Mediocrity™.

All the accoutrements of today's advertising culture with none of the remnants of yesterday's advertising culture. No stacks of CA Annuals. No shelves of One Show Books. And no one past the age of 44.

But please don't mistake this post as a gripe.
It's not.

The fact is I enjoy my working relationship with ad agencies now more than ever. And when it comes time to hang up my cleats, maybe in twenty years or so, I'll throw my own retirement party. With 110% proof whiskey, flame-throwers, strippers from Uzbekistan, rented boxing kangaroos, life size pinatas of every client/planner/CEO who ever fucked me over and plenty of Bartles & James Wine Coolers.


My favorite.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hui, Hui Baby, Hui

Last Thursday I diverged from our normal routine.

Instead of replying to a letter from, I chose a letter, a similar mail order bride scamming site. Some readers were upset. And sent me private emails to the effect of:

"Rich, what are doing? I was so loving the bit. Please get back to it. It's the only thing that gives meaning to my life."

Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration.

But I did hear from some regular readers who wanted me to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. So with that, let's meet the very poetic, Hui.

Again, it helps if you read the young lady's letter first followed by my merciless response.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

For God's Sake

I could solve the country's economic woes in a heartbeat.

With one stroke of the pen, I could fill the government coffers up to the brim with new revenue. There'd be so much money coming in, they'd have to outsource the job and get cheap Chinese laborers to build new coffers.

Americans wouldn't need those coffer-building jobs because we'd be busy re-doing our infrastructure, bridges, highways, overpasses.

Hell, we'd have so much money, we could even start construction on new solar farms, windmills, and cold fusion plants.

Even that wouldn't put a dent in the new windfall. For Christ's sake we could provide each and every American proper comprehensive healthcare (you know like they have in every capitalist, first world country on the planet.)

And lest we still fear takeover from those Commie bastards, we could double the size of our already bloated military. Every one of our nuclear warheads could have its own mininuclear warhead.


"Jesus, Rich, what is this new disruptive idea? For the love of God, tell us."

Two words: Tax Religion.

According to the Hartford Institute, there are roughly 350,000 churches in America. That number includes all the denominations of Christianity (which reads like a Denny's Menu), all the mosques, synagogues and temples, Satanic, Wiccan or otherwise.

And those congregations take in billions and billions and billions of dollars. In real estate deals, in donations, in tithings and in sales of allegedly holy trinkets.

Take Joel Osteen.

He's a special kind of minister -- A Prosperity Minister. He tells his followers that Jesus wants them to be wealthy. That Jesus commands them to affluence. And, that for a yearly membership fee and some generous contributions, he can lead them down the path to prosperity. Proof that it works? Take a look at one of Osteen's homes.

That may look like an Olympic sized swimming pool in the lower left left hand corner to you and me.  But to the IRS it's a "baptismal submission center" where the faithful are submerged in the solar-heated purification waters of repentance.

This tax-free blasphemy is just a drop in the bucket. Osteen reportedly has 5 other "prayer centers" scattered throughout the country. Which he and his wife visit regularly using his fleet of private jets.

Did I say private jets? I meant "God's Wings of Redemption."

With Tax Reform coming up next on Precedent Shitgibbon's Agenda of Non-Accomplishment, I humbly suggest the governing party take a good long look at religion and start taxing the near half million houses of worship.

It's time those of you who believe in God start paying your fair share.
You know, like those of us who don't.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Off the bone

I hate flying, but I love planes.

This can be attested to by any of my many advertising colleagues who had the misfortune of accompanying me on a business flight. I'm a confirmed white knuckler.

Before boarding any flight I need to know what model we're on.

Is it a 737?
A 757 long?
An Airbus 320?
Or even the dreaded DC10? Most of those are baking in an airplane cemetery deep in the Mojave desert.

Once, on a return flight from San Francisco, I leaned over to my partner and said...

"I think we're coming in too hot on this approach."

"These guys land thousands of planes they know what they're doing, Rich. Besides it's all controlled by the computer."

No sooner had he said that, did the pilot full throttle it up and send us soaring back into the skies over Santa Monica Bay.

"Yeah, sorry about that ladies and gentleman. We're gonna circle round and try this landing again."

Like I said, I love planes, I just don't love being in them.

I also love BBQ. And now I have a place to indulge both.

Recently the Proud Bird Restaurant, a Southern California mainstay that has been here longer than my 44 years, underwent some major renovation. They turned their massive space into an upscale food court. They also refurbished the outside patio are for optimum plane landing viewing.

The restaurant sits about 200 yards away from the base of LAX's longest runway, I believe it's  25L.

On a late summer evening, when the sky takes on multiple shades of blue, orange and red, it's absolutely perfect. Particularly with an expertly-drawn pint of Einstok White Pale Ale.

The ribs, I'm sorry to say were not.

This is especially upsetting because the main vendor in the Proud Bird Food Court is Bludsoe's. The ribs were dry, crusty and the only way to get the meat off the bone was with a hammer and chisel. I would have sent them back but I was not convinced the staff -- a bunch of unenthusiastic and very likely stoned kids -- could do any better.

I'll let you in on a little restaurant secret. And the folks at Bludsoe's should be listening as well. The secret to great BBQ pork ribs is not the BBQ. As I learned from my catering days and Valentino, the world's greatest back of the kitchen prep chefs, the trick is to slow bake the ribs in a pool of water, for 3 hours. Then, and only then, can you place the ribs on a scalding hot grill so they can be lathered in tangy BBQ sauce.

Perhaps it's a blessing the food was not that good. Because as all Angelenos know, with great food and a great setting, come great masses of people.

I can deal with inedible baby back ribs.

I can't deal with insufferable Westside hipsters.