Thursday, January 17, 2019

Ground Rounds


This is Senator Marion Mike Rounds of South Dakota.

I'd bet half my net worth or fifty bucks, whichever is more enticing, that you've never heard of him.

Hell, the man is so unaccomplished, I'd bet the 38 people who live in South Dakota have never heard of him.

But I have.

Because contrary to my post of several days ago, no one knows more about Republican Senators than I do.

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

1.16.19

Senator Mike Rounds
Hart Senate Office Building, Suite 502
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mike,

Consider yourself lucky. 

Very lucky.

You see there's a good chance, owing to your anonymity and complete lack of achievement or charisma, you could have been the last letter in my personal campaign to write to each and every Republican Senator. As it is you're number 39 or 40.

Let's face it, there's no joy bringing up the rear of the line. But at least you can go to bed at night and sleep fitfully knowing you did not come in dead last.

The irony is, you're indebted to a Democratic colleague for having been spared that shame. Because last week when Precedent Shitgibbon (aka Mean Girl #1) mocked Senator Elizabeth Warren, you made it known that his tweets were harmful to South Dakota Native Americans who might have lost ancestors at the battle of Bighorn and Wounded Knee.

It was then, and only then, that 330 million Americans ever heard of you. By the way, why do you go  by Mike, and not your given name Marion? I think I know why.

Anyway, I've looked over your stunning record of standard Republican do nothing-ness and discovered you graduated from South Dakota State University, home of the Jackrabbits.

In light of your cookie cutter conservatism and inconspicuous incompetence, and to honor the mascot of your beloved alma mater, I thought it would be far more interesting to go down the SDSU Jackrabbit hole.

For instance, if you were to walk onto the campus you'd stumble across the Daschle Research Library, named after former US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. A Democrat. That's gotta sting, doesn't it Marion?

Going even further into the jackrabbit hole, did you know that SDSU was also the home of Gene Amdahl, father of Amdahl's Law?

For the uninitiated, this is one of the pillars of modern day computer architecture.

Evolution according to Amdahl's law of the theoretical speedup is latency of the execution of a program in function of the number of processors executing it. The speedup is limited by the serial part of the program. For example, if 95% of the program can be parallelized, the theoretical maximum speedup using parallel computing would be 20 times.

I don't want to get all geeky on you, but early in my career, before I started rage venting against the GOP schmucks on Capitol Hill, I wrote advertising for Apple computers. So I can hold my own in a discussion about parallel processing, sequential transformation and of course, confibulated flick flacks. 

Suffice to say that when the next plaque at SDSU is embossed it'll probably bear Gene's name and not yours. 

I'm not sure what the college Regents have in mind for you. 

What do you do for the man who sought to eliminate a woman's right to choose?

Or offered green cards to foreigners in exchange for shady investments in South Dakota beef processing plants? Mmmmm, beef.

Or opposed any legislation regarding the 3-D printing of handguns? Mmmm, guns.

But let's not ignore your stalwart support and leadership in Ducks Unlimited, an organization "committed to the conservation of wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, other wildlife."  Mostly so you can kill them, let's be honest.

Hey, there's an idea. 

The appropriately named: The Marion Rounds Memorial Duck Blind. A lasting testament to your deceitfulness, predatory inclinations and your homespun lack of vision.

Best regards,


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




















Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Logo, Schmogo



Today, we're doing something we have never done in the ten year history of RoundSeventeen -- we're introducing a logo.

This may seem a bit back asswards, especially for me, a 44 year old who has toiled in the ad business for who knows how long.

The truth is that when I started this blog, way back in 2009 when I still had a smattering of hair and we still had a president with a smattering of intelligence, I had no idea I had launched what will eventually turn out to be my most lasting legacy.

I gave as much thought to the name as I did to my official Google identity, Glasgowdick. Never thinking any of this stuff would stick.

The addition of a logo comes on the heels of a piece written by fellow cranky blogger, George Tannenbaum. He rightly noted that some companies see their fancy logo makeovers as some type of branding that will win the hearts and minds of consumers. All in lieu of making product improvements. Or, god forbid, stepping up to the plate with an actual brand message that will resonate.

I left a smart ass comment on the post suggesting that perhaps I needed a logo.

And voila, now I have one. Actually, I have some.

Because, completely unsolicited, I started getting submissions from art directors who either a) wanted some exposure on my crappy little blog, or, b) were luring me in to some complicated Illuminati recruitment scheme.

In either case, and because I'm a bit of a contrarian, I'm game.

Some of you early readers might remember that over the years I have gone through an entire carousel of various taglines for R17, including:


RoundSeventeen
Now with 23% more cynicism.


RoundSeventeen
Biting the hand that feeds it since 2009.


RoundSeventeen
At the corner of west coast optimism and Bronx-born nihilism.


It took quite a bit of experimentation until we landed on the current tagline, which has yet to be topped.

And so, it is in that same spirit that I will file these logo submission, gauge their popularity, and rotate them in and out with illogical randomness, the same way the Dodgers do with Matt Kemp.

Also, if you're a young art director and want to get in on this to show your wares to 8 very influential readers, sent your submission to: siegelrich@mac.com





Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Everyone knows better than I do


If you've seen Precedent Shitgibbon on TV -- and how could you have not -- you know that he knows everything about everything.

"No one knows more about taxes than I do."

"No one knows more about ISIS than I do."

"No one knows more about construction than I do."

That's just the tip of the iceberg. There's also construction, campaign finance reform, global warming, etc. I'm sure despite having no formal background in oceanic studies, no one knows more about icebergs than he does. That 239 lbs. man is 239 lbs. of pure brain power.

It got me thinking.
Mostly because I have never used that phrase, "No one knows more about ________ than I do." 

Ever.

In fact, though I will gloat like hell when I kick my family's ass at Jeopardy, I am well aware of the myriad of things that everyone knows more about than me.

Everyone.

European Royalty. I have no stomach for any of this crap. I couldn't tell you the difference between Louis the 14th and any of his 13 predecessors. I don't care if Henry had eight wives. Eight dogs. Or eight throw pillows. I'm not interested in who married who and whose cousin begat whose other cousin to become the Duke/Earl/Lord of Prussia. Oh and I don't give a shit about Prussia and couldn''t find it in on a map.

"Everyone knows more about European Royalty than I do."

Greek Mythology. At one time I was actually fascinated by all the greek gods and their incumbent stories. I gobbled up the lore of Zeus, Athena and Prometheus. But that family tree grew too tall and I eventually fell off. Apparently I knocked my head on one of the branches and came away with amnesia. (Amnesia? Isn't she the Greek Goddess of Hamberders?)

"Everyone knows more about Greek Mythology than I do."

Auto Mechanics. This one is particularly embarrassing as I have been writing about cars for close to thirty years. Don't get me wrong I have a general idea of how a car works. And can even perform some perfunctory maintenance operations, like changing the oil, fixing a flat and even putting on my own tire chains (which is not to be underrated).

But if you were to ever spot me on the shoulder of a road trying to troubleshoot something under the hood, you should know I'd have the hardest time picking out the alternator from the carburetor. From what I understand from my local guy, today's vehicles don't even have carburetors anymore.

"Everyone knows more about Auto Mechanics than I do."

The list is long and humiliating.

Allow me to peel off another layer of this humble onion. Because even on shit I'm supposed to know, I don't.

For instance, though I consider myself to be a very good chess player and I am currently beating a Russian guy named Yuri, but I have yet to successfully lure an opponent into the Danish Gambit.

And as readers of R17 are no doubt aware, my mastery of the English language and the arcane rules of grammar is fuzzy at best. And I have no idea, nor will I ever, regarding the proper use of the em-dash.






Monday, January 14, 2019

Sales rise when you merchandise.


Though I have now completed two solid weeks of Keto, it is safe to say these are not the salad days.

At least not in advertising.

We, meaning ad people, are at the front lines of a consumer-based economy and are often the canary in the coal mine. And right now something smells stinky. As someone who has been a mercenary for 15 years, I could have told you about the financial collapse of 2008, in 2007.

Between the trade wars, the skyrocketing deficit and the volatile stock market, I'm getting that same tingling feeling.

As if the impending recession were not enough, the ad industry itself is dissembling.

Holding company agencies can no longer sustain a non-AOR model. Cheap, ineffective digital platforms are getting more expensive but not more effective. And the powers that be, continue to impose sweatshop conditions on helpless art directors and copywriters.

"Jeff, this is your new partner, Olivia, you two are going to be sharing a computer."

"We're sending out for midnight munchies, did you guys want to order anything? Or would you prefer to wait for breakfast?"

"The CEO just bought a new yacht. And we've all been invited to a barnacle-scraping party."

In short, it's not pretty out there.

And though I am loathe to bring up the age issue, let's be 100% completely honest, creative directors can be a little hesitant to bring in 44 year old former creative directors.

As a result we've been, in the vernacular of Gary Vaynerchuk, "hustling our fucking asses off." 

Finding direct work with small and large clients, doing projects for production companies, and even creating brand activation events for PR firms.

To keep the revenue stream streaming, we're going back to our roots. Old school. We're putting our money where our mouth is and trusting the persuasive and disruptive power of words and images.

Because when the going gets tough, the tough get advertising.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

No country for old men


This is confused Kansas Senator Pat Roberts. Photographed here as he was coming out of the janitor's closet, which he had mistaken for the entrance to Senate commissary.

But let's not be too harsh on the guy.

Besides governing the most powerful country on the planet, there's only so much an 82 year old man can do.

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

1.10.19

Senator Pat Roberts
109 Hart Senate Office building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Pat,

News broke last week that you will not be seeking reelection to represent Kansas in 2020. That's sad.

The good news is you'll be around long enough to be included in my book of letters to every Republican US Senator. In fact, you are letter #38. 

I think.

It's hard to believe an energetic and youthful 82-year-old man like you would give up his powerful seat in senate. Frankly, I don't know how they will continue on without you.

I'm sure the good homespun folks in Topeka are planning to honor you for your legendary service. But in case they get sidetracked by a tractor pull or another red golf cap rally to genuflect at the feet of Captain Fuckknuckle, let me take this opportunity to go through some of the career highlights of Senator Pat Roberts.

Let's start with the issue you and many of your colleagues believe is a non-starter. You famously once said, "There's no question there's some global warming, but I'm not sure what it means. A lot of this is condescending elitism."

That's me; I'm one of those condescending elitists. If by elitist you mean college educated people who rely on the word of scientists as opposed to Sunday morning preachers who would rather turn the wheel over to Jesus.

But Pat that was not the only time you stuck your oversized foot in your mouth. Perhaps in the goal of achieving symmetry, you tried to insert the other foot as well. 

Remember when you were discussing the American Healthcare Act and Alice Olstein asked if you were in favor of removing certain mandated coverage? To which you replied, in superb cavalier manner, "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms."

That's genius, Pat. 

Pissing on the graves of thousands of mothers, daughters, sisters and wives who lost their lives to breast cancer, just so you could make a cheap joke and score a few political points in the name of Tea Party austerity.

But Pat, your bone headedness is legendary and will speak volumes about your time in the Senate long after you have fed the worms.

You were against same sex marriage, no surprise there.

You voted against the Feinstein Amendment, which would have banned suspected terrorists from buying guns. Because, you know, even terrorists have 2nd Amendment rights.

And you were a full-throated supporter of the Patriot Act, giving the president authority for warrantless surveillance, except maybe when the president is black and he's trying to fend off Russian intervention in our elections. 

We can't have that.

Let's also talk about what you didn't do. 

For instance, remember when Precedent Shitgibbon could not take time from his busy day, making phone calls and eating KFC, to visit the Arlington Cemetery? On Veteran's Day? You, a former Marine Captain, said nothing. 

Semper Fi -- Always faithful.  
Well, almost always, right Pat?

One last item I noticed on your Wikipedia page that your birthday is April 20. 

I'm sure you're not aware of this, but 4/20 is a day revered by marijuana aficionados. It also happens to be Adolf Hitler's birthday. 

There can be no doubt as to which way your sentiments lean.

Best,


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











Wednesday, January 9, 2019

I give you the Finger


Last week I corralled my partner into a road trip. We had already come up with 3 ideas for a TV campaign. And coming up with two more the client would never run could be done on the ride home.

So we gathered up my new toy (available on Amazon for less than 30 bucks and headed down to Palos Verdes.



This got me wondering.

About the origins of the Flip The Bird phenomena. As well as other hand gestures that have been with us since the invention of the wheel.

"The Wheel works. The Wall works. The Fuck You Middle Finger works."

According to Wikipedia (if you were looking for a more scholarly treatise you're reading the wrong blog), the Middle Finger dates back to the classical Greek era. Apparently, the image of the extended middle digit, nestled on each side by a folded knuckle resembled a phallic figure. But then, what in ancient Greek culture didn't? And it said, in no uncertain terms, "Fuck You."

In the Athenian play, Eirēnē, written by Aristophanes, the gesture was a form of mockery, equivalent to (and I'm quoting here), "I fart in your face." 

I like that. 

I like other hand sayings as well.



This one also comes from Greece, no wonder these people were always at war. The signal is also used in Africa and in Pakistan. It is called The Moutza and can be translated in progressively more vulgar ways:

"To hell with you." 

"I rub shit on your face."

or

"I'm going to violate your sister."




This one hails from India and Pakistan. But if you were born in the Bronx, and grew up in NYC, you've no doubt seen this. Often accompanied by the words, "Ba fangul you."

Translation : (see middle finger).

Naturally, and in accordance with the Rule of Threes, I saved the best and most interesting hand signal for last.  

This one is said to come from Saudi Arabia. Flash this inflammatory insult to the wrong person and you'll find yourself at the unfriendly side of a bone saw. 

The literal translation is, "Your mother is a whore. And bones so many guys, your father could be anyone."

Geez Louise. It may be time to have another look at my Bucket List and reconsider that vacation in Riyadh.

Let's leave today's post on a more pleasant hand signal.







Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Opportunity is knocking


Between grousing about Precedent Shitgibbon and grousing about people who can't see his incompetence, his flagrant disregard for anyone but himself, and his monumental unfitness for the position, I had an idea.

A marketing idea.

Not unusual, as this is what I do for a living. And this is what I have been overcharging clients and agencies for since, well....it's not important when this 44 year old got in the business. Suffice to say, it's not in my nature to give this stuff away. For free. Especially when I'm looking at one more semester of my daughter's college tuition and last year's property taxes are looming.

But, sadly, like so many ideas I've put on the table, it will be ignored.

So I offered it up on social media. I even tweeted it to the Wells Fargo people.

The government is shutdown. And both sides are dug in. Meaning there doesn't look to be any progress in getting the budget -- which had been approved unanimously by the US Senate -- approved. Meaning 800,000 federal workers will be working but won't be wage earning.

So I thought what if a bank, a big bank, a big bank with a big reputation in need of repair, stepped up to the plate and instead of "talking the talk" decided to "walk the walk." How? By advancing paychecks for workers affected by the #TrumpShutdown.

They could sign workers up online. The agreement would state that all monies advanced by Wells Fargo would be reimbursed by the funds forthcoming when the #TrumpShutdown is over.

Several astute colleagues on linkedin told me that USAAA and smaller credits unions are already doing something similar to help people cope with the #TrumpShutdown. And yes, I am purposely writing that as many times as possible. After all he owns the #TrumpShutdown and should be given full credit for the #TrumpShutdown.

To which I say, "so what?"

One doesn't preclude the other.

Maybe it's the old school ad guy in me, but if I were in charge of the Wells Fargo account, I would have the ad agency get TV spots, billboards and distinctively old school full page newspaper ads going immediately.

I would announce in the biggest way possible that Wells Fargo is stepping in to relieve some pain caused by the #TrumpShutdown.

I would even go on social media to let young people, who may be selecting their first bank, that Wells  Fargo is not the same institution that may or may not have sold bogus goods to their parents.

I would put these wheels in motion and seize the brass ring.

Oh, and if the #TrumpShutdown should somehow miraculously resolve itself, I would keep all those materials handy. Because it won't be long before we're facing #TrumpShutdown2.




Monday, January 7, 2019

"Mmmmm, unprocessed hamburger."


I love these old style butcher infographics.

And have always wanted to use them as the basis of an ad campaign. If I were to get one dream client it would be a high end local steakhouse like Cut or Meat on Ocean, or STK, or even one of the bustling beef chains, like Ruth Chris.

It would be a magnificent merging of two of my passions.

"Where the elite meet to eat meat and make banner ads that never get clicked."

This is particularly so now, as I complete my first week of Keto. Warning: if you thought vegetarians, crossfitters and new non-smokers could drone on about their recently discovered lifestyles you might want to grab some bacon strips to munch on and take a seat. This could be a long haul.

I have yet been able to slip into my 33" waist dungarees that I saved from 1984. And again in 96. But I am already noticing a difference in how I feel.

As regular readers of R17 know, and perhaps because of my New York roots, I'm not big on airy-fairy or spiritual or metaphysical. Don't come near me with anything that smacks of astrology. I don't want to hear about planets in retrograde. And the only sage that gets burned at my house is when it's added to thick ribeye steaks that are searing in the cast iron pan at a Mercury-hot 550 degrees.

Nevertheless, I am feeling great.
Lighter. More energetic. Cleaner. And clear-headed.
It might help that I've also abstained from alcohol for the past seven days. If I were a betting man, and thankfully that is not one of my vices, I would say the dry period will end way before the Meat-and-Cheese-and High Fatty Food Period ends.

I know Big Data is all the rage these days, but I'm doing the Keto thing without looking at numbers. I don't like scales. I'll get the number when I visit my doctors office for my annual bend over and check up.

For me, the gauge of Keto's success will be when I can get down from my XXXXXL T shirts to a more manageable and svelte XXL. (Please note the Trumpian hyperbole in the last sentence.)

I also plan to lace up one of 15 pairs of ASICS running shoes in my closet and tempt the gods of Plantiar Fascitis. 

I was hampered by bone spurs (real bone spurs, in both feet) years ago and forced to give up my 3 mile a day habit. But I think with careful management, intermittent stoppage, new fangled orthotics and some edible THC gummies, I can revisit my days as a runner.

After all, these are amazing fantastic times we live in.

When a deferment-accumulating, draft dodging, unabashed con man, sitting amongst a table full of ex-warriors and Purple Heart recipients, and with a total straight face claim, "I could've been a general, a great general, but who knows." 

Anything is possible.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

West Virginia, Mountain Mama, take me home, country road.


We're back with another Thursday Thrashing letter to start the new year. I know many of you thought I was crazy when I set out on the task to write a letter to all 53 of US Republican Senators. then again, many of you are not aware of my outsized discipline (except when it comes to alcohol, sweets and meats.)

But, we are in the home stretch. With about 10-15 more letters to go. Pffft, that's nothing.

Today's letter goes out to the junior Senator from West Virginia. If you've ever seen the documentary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, you know how difficult it would be not to reference the many...how shall I put this...cultural anomalies of the Mountaineer state.

In fact, as you'll soon see, it requires the type of self restraint that I'm simply not possessed of.

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

1.3.19

Senator Shelley Moore Capito
117 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Capito,

Last week, my surging Syracuse Orange football team put a beat down on your West Virginia Hillbillies...oh, I'm sorry, Mountaineers, at the 2018 Camping World Bowl. 

I believe the score was 138-0. 

I might have the exact score wrong. But as a senator working with the Trump administration I'm sure you've come to realize the futility and unimportance of specific numbers. The same goes for words, facts and truths. They're all fair game and up for subjective interpretation.

Nevertheless, when it came to time to award the prestigious Camping World trophy, they handed it to my team. Not yours, who were already in the locker drowning their sorrows in rotgut moonshine. 

And so when it came time to pen this week's letter to a Republican US Senator (part of my mission to write to each and every one of you sycophantic overachievers) I knew I had to seek out the representative from the Cornpone State.  

You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the legendarily progressive people of West Virginia had sent a member of the fair haired sex to represent them in Washington DC.  

My lord. 
What's next? 
Are they gonna allow womenfolk to drive automobiles?

Most shocking, or perhaps not, was your complete silence and conspicuous invisibility during the raucous Bret Kavanaugh hearings. I'll remind you, his confirmation brought to the forefront a host of women's issues. I suppose you were more focused on your local constituents and their access to proper foot coverins' -- aka shoes, above the Mason Dixon line. 

For readers who will be seeing this letter in a forthcoming book, it should be noted that you, Shelley, have only been in the US Senate since 2015. So it would be unfair to lump you in with the Hatchs, McConnells and Grahams of this world, who have spent decades in the Upper House while accomplishing so little. 

Though they have successfully pinned their legacy to future face palming historians who will look back at this administration and think, "WTF?"

Besides Shelley, you, a Dukie, a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and a former Cherry Blossom Princess, and me, a half Jew, half Scottish wiseass from the Bronx, NY, have something very unique in common. 

Both our fathers are convicted criminals and have spent considerable time in prison.

How weird is that?

My father was caught smoking marijuana in 1947 while serving in the US Army. They arrested him, court martialed his Jewish ass and threw him in jail for a year at Camp Gordon in Georgia.

Your father pleaded guilty to five felonies including extortion and taking more than 1/2 million dollars in illegal payments from the Maben Energy Corporation. He spent close to three disgraceful years in a cushy federal prison. And another few months in supervised home confinement.

But here's the thing, Shell. 

Marijuana is now legally sold in many states and my father's transgressions would barely register a glance from authorities.

Your daddy, however, would still be in the clink. As corruption, illegal campaign contributions, extortion and lying under oath are still felonies. Well, at least as of this writing they are. 

Before this is all over, Captain Fuckknuckle may request that you and your cronies rewrite the laws to his benefit. 

And if past is prologue, naturally, you will.

Best,

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







Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year


Happy New Year everybody.

And good riddance to 2018, a year, I'm sensing, most people would like to forget.

Apart from my oldest daughter gradumecating from college (that's one less tuition bill) and putting my fat ass into a new car, the incomparable Audi S5, there were not a lot of high points in the past 12 months.

Business was off. Maybe the coal mining industry is flying high, but friends and colleagues in the ad industry have had little to cheer about. People are working more hours. For less pay. And the Long Table of Mediocrity™ has grown even longer. And even more mediocre.

The stock market is in the toilet. 2018 was the worst year in the last ten. Fortunately, I sensed the uneasiness and when the market was at its highest (or near highest) point, quickly snatched my $387 of profit and walked away. As I have mentioned many times in the past, there's no way I'm living out my golden years in a dirty nursing home.

And perhaps most telling of all, we are still living under the fat, stubby clueless thumb of our very own dictator, Precedent Shitgibbon, who, in a strange manifestation of his fetishized love of the military took the time to tweet out that four star General Stanley McChrystal was a "big, dumb mouth."

In what world is that acceptable?

Oh yeah, the same world that tolerates this douchebag blaming other people for the death of two innocent children.

The same world that normalizes his politicization of the DOJ, the press, the intel community and even the troops serving on the front line.

The same world that shrugs its shoulders at his ignorance, his narcissism, his thuggish nature and his kryptonite aversion to the truth.

The same world that looks the other way at his indiscretions and his illegal attempts to cover up those indiscretions that are literally caught on tape.

The same world that turns a blind eye to him obstructing justice in plain view, playing footsie with autocrats and handing Code Word intel to our number one adversary.

People ask why I am so fervent and prodigious in my hatred for this fish brained gudgeon. Furthermore, they ask when I plan to stop my vitriolic campaign.

The answer is simple.

Impeachment.
Or aneurysm.
Whichever comes first.