Thursday, June 20, 2019

Your forever hair

Allow me to be honest.

It's yesterday. Meaning, it's Thursday for you, while you're reading this, but it's Wednesday for me, as I am writing this. To be even more honest, when I woke up this morning I had no idea what I'd do to fill tomorrow's slot.

Granted, I could have simply not posted. The world would not have skipped a beat.

The trains will keep running. And Captain Ouchie Foot will continue stonewalling and gaslighting the uninformed masses who drink his particular brand of Kool Aid.

I'll give the man credit, he is a great grifter. As David Mamet often points out in his plays and his movies, a good con man leaves his "mark" feeling like he or she got the better end of the deal. This week's tiki torch rally in Orlando proved that.

In any case, I had nothing to put here. And between work, the preparation of my new book, and the unexpected and unfunded remodeling of my master bathroom, I've had a lot on my plate.

But the interwebs work in magical ways. Because this morning (Wednesday) as I was sharing yesterday's post, I noticed a banner ad on my page. Keep in mind, I and the 8 billion other people who inhabit this earth, never click on banner ads. Never. But this one caught my attention.

Pictured above you'll find Tony, in his Before and After photos. Can you spot the difference, emphasis on the word spot?

Allow me to introduce you to the wonderful world of scalp micropigmentation.

I literally had to do a double take on this and make sure it was not one of my friends pranking me. They do that kind of stuff. But this is real. In that the ad is real. The artificial scalp micro pigmentation is not real hair at all. They're tiny little dots of embedded ink.

It's a hair tattoo.

In other words, why look like a bald man with a shaved head when you can look like a bald man with a shaved head that might be on its way back to growing hair?

I don't get it. And I don't know whether to chalk this up to extreme misguided vanity.

Or if it's just another symptom of a world gone mad, a world I no longer understand, a world where presidents re-enact news interviews as if they were a scene in a reality TV show, a world where noisy windmills cause cancer, a world where 60 million Americans trust their fate, and the fate of humanity, to a man who can't spell hamburger and has the mental capacity of a slow-witted garden slug.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Working Not Working, Not Working

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I recently celebrated a milestone.

15 years as the CEO, CCO, Owner Operator, Chief Grand Poobah of Rich Siegel Worldwide, a wholly owned subsidiary of a refinanced mortgage, ongoing student loans and a recently discovered burst in the  upstairs shower drainage pipe that will require the opening of walls and the reconfiguration of the PVC network that snakes through my home.

But, it's all good. I'm working the rest of this week. And  next week I have a big presentation with a potential new client that involves scripts for TV commercials. Remember those?

In other words, I'm working.

I wish I could say the same for the very popular platform Working/Not Working. For me, it's not.

I was one of the very first freelancers to sign up for the site. I believe I'm member #1053. The membership rolls are now in the 5 or 6 digits. And colleagues of mine, new to the freelance world but awarded veterans of the industry, are having trouble getting in. I tell them not to sweat it.

In all the years I've been on WNW and all the time carefully maintaining my status and my availability, not one job, not even an inquiry, has come down this revenue stream. Not one. Moreover, since the fine folks at WNW  engineered a Jobs Board with quite a few listings for freelancers, not one inquiry has even merited a response.

And believe me, when a job listings says, "we're looking for a snarky, smart ass freelance copywriter who likes to work remotely, in shorts and flip flops, has no stomach for boundaries and relishes the opportunity to provoke a response", I more than fit the bill.

For me, Working Not Working is more like Worthless Yes Worthless.

The same can be said for other "networking resources" or online job boards.

Just as a goof, I signed on for Upwork. That was a real eye opener.

Mind you, it's not that I consider myself too good for some of the "writing" assignments.

I'm sure that if I rolled up my sleeves, put on some coffee and cemented myself to my Herman Miller chair, I'd have no problem "leveraging proven SEO expertise to craft irresistible product descriptions for BallCo., Northern New Jersey's finest manufacturer of high quality, angular contact and self-aligning ball bearings."

I'm not above that. Not above that at all. But they were literally paying $17.50 an hour.

I can get a gig as a Target Greeter for $19 an hour -- I hear. Not to mention a 10% employee discount on all store purchases.

So long Working Not Working.

Hello Greeting Not Greeting.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I quit

It's not unusual to see social media posts to the effect of, "I just joined a gym. Let's do this!"

Your infectious Gary V. type of enthusiasm has been duly noted. Get back to us in three months with an update.

If you really want to impress the world tell them, "I just quit a gym!!!"

That, my friend, is an achievement.
That's newsworthy.
Alert the media.
Light up the twittersphere and go viral with that shit.

Allow me to rack this 225lbs. bench and explain.

A few months ago I started slacking off in my daily swim routine. The pool water at LA Fitness was never the best. The lanes were crowded (when they were available.) And the experience, meant to be fitful and therapeutic, became an ugly mess of people soup and foul-tasting questionable water.

Besides, I had started a rigorous lifting routine at my home gym (my garage.) Swimming and weightlifting go together like Donald Trump goes together with reading and learning.

And so I decided to cancel my membership.

You might think that'd be as easy as picking up a phone and calling the gym operations manager. But you'd be wrong. Turns out you have to pay a visit to the gym you no longer have been visiting.

I sat in the lobby for 30 minutes waiting for Raul, the gym operations manager who is also a personal trainer. He couldn't attend to my cancellation activities because he was too busy at the pilates station demonstrating, quite intimately, the hip flexor exercise for a new member/waitress/model.

I don't blame Raul in the least.

And so I went home and tried again to stop my gym membership. I smartly called American Express to put a block on all charges. As you might expect this triggered a response from the gym, who wanted to know why they could no longer access my funds. This led to phone calls. Lots and lots of phone calls. And threats to go to a collection agency.

They simply will not cancel a gym membership over the phone or even via email. I was told I could quit the gym by filling out a form. But they couldn't send me the form. I had to get it via my LA Fitness online profile. Which of course I never had.

Long painful story cut mercifully short, I finally filled out the form, which had to be mailed back via snail mail, and I'm waiting for the good news. In other words, it's not officially done yet.

In still other words, the process of quitting LA Fitness has been more exhausting than any workout I've had at LA Fitness.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Inspiration Deflation

Lord Almighty, can we just stop with all goddamned inspiration?

Every day.

Every where.

Every minute, someone out there, someone who has done nothing, stands for nothing, and knows nothing, wants to step up on a soapbox and share that unearned sagacity with the world.

There's so much inspirational horsecockery out there. It follows me around like a bright beam of retina burning sunshine.

And it manifests itself in so many, dare I say, disruptive, ways...

"It's not just a bicycle pump, it's a confidence inflator. It takes positively charged ions from the air and pumps them right into your basketballs, your bicycle tubes and eventually filling your soul."

"We call it the Collabordesk™, we removed that production-killing space between workers at the Long Table of Mediocrity™ and created a 19 foot long computer monitor. Each keyboard is allotted their own miniscreen. It really inspires a sense of camaraderie and of course, collaboration."

"This is Open John™. It was inspired by the soaring popularity of the Open Office Plan, which everybody loves and finds so inspiring. Check out the Urination Station™, one long silvery trough unencumbered by privacy walls. We've also eliminated the stalls, which only served to separate employees and demotivate them. Now they can keep on driving the purpose while they're collectively 'cleaning out the files.'"

Maybe it's a youth thing.

But the truth is, I didn't want or need inspiration when I was coming up through the ranks.

I was "inspired" by the simple things, like my father calling me a bum.

I was "inspired' by the student loan bills that kept showing up in my mailbox every month.

I was "inspired" by watching untalented hacks driving better cars and buying bigger houses than me.

I was "inspired" by observation, noting that if I didn't work hard, create more, push my own inner envelope and figure a way to succeed I could end up in a dirty nursing home where shifty orderlies would be stealing my loose change and whatever candies my daughters left on the nightstand.

What I didn't need, and have trouble discerning who would, is a Linkedin iPhone video urging me to keep on crushing, hustling and staying inspired so I can inspire others.

The other thing I don't need: a pair of autographed "Positivity and Optimism" Basketball Shoes.

You think I jest.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Illuminati Illuminations

When we last visited with Mr. Donald J. Beckham, Illuminati Head Official, I told him of my desire to own an Illuminati V-Neck collar. He obliged. Not knowing the collar thigamajig is actually an accessory of the Free Masons and no self respecting Illuminati would be caught wearing one.

He can just taste that money.

Then I decide to amplify his frustration by sending him an email that is wrongly addressed to my lawyer, Lionel Hutz. Remember, my character is under heavy medication.


And with that, apparently I have pushed Mr. Beckham over the edge.

Time to take my parting shot.

Onto scamming the next would-be scammer.

On behalf of myself, Heywood Jablomi and the entire staff at the Acme Anvil Company, have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Hooray for Hollywood.

Happening now.

1/4 mile from my house.

As we speak.

It's the biggest, baddest, super duper, earth rocking, planet shaking, world premiere of the newest entry in the Ghostbusters Enterprise!!!


I'd be lying if I said I knew the title of this new "film", GhostBusters 9, The Smoring of the Mallow. I don't know and I don't give a rat's ass.

In fact, and I know this has the potential to upset many of my geeky nerd friends in the ad community who Cosplay on weekends, collect Star Wars light sabers and make annual pilgrimages to Carrtoonicom -- or whatever the fuck it's called -- I am in the Bill Maher camp when it comes to superheroes or superhero action movies, I can't stand them.

I'm sorry, but this 44 year old was raised in the Golden Age of Cinema, when meaty movies would stay with you longer than abdominal gas induced by Arclight hot dogs and Fanta soda.

Films like: The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, The French Connection, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, Klute, The Party, etc.

All of which explains why I find the nonsense pictured above to be so amusing.

Note the colossal, towering Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

In the first movie (which was more than enough, thank you very much), this sugary beast stood taller than many skyscrapers in NY. In reality it's nothing more than a dirty, recycled bouncy house that has sat for twenty years in a musty soundstage, behind the one where they shoot Wheel of Fortune.

If that weren't shabby enough, check out the goobers decked out in gerry-rigged Ghostbuster uniforms. I hate to be all judgey, but these are grown men. Do they not have the same shit to do that I have to do?

* Pay bills

* Straighten out the garage

* Walk the dog

* Get new brake pads for the car

* Patch the hole in the drywall

* Pay more bills

* Fight with my wife

Also, I can't help thinking of all the preparation that went into their costumes.

Jackboots, check.

Simulated Night Vision Goggles, check.

Utility Belt, check.

Perfectly matched khaki pants and shirt?

GAP SALESMAN: "I don't have khakis that are the same color as the ones in the movie. But our store all the way out in Rancho Cucamonga does."

GHOSTBUSTER WANNABE: "How late are they open?"

Truth be told, the longer you live in Los Angeles the sooner you come to realize, there is no glamour in Hollywood.

And there's even less of it in Culver City.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

It's back.

Sorry to have to do this to you, we've been through two of these grueling experiences in the past, but we're all going to have get through this again.

I'm publishing another book.

You know the deal. The shameless self promotion. The memes. The harping, the scraping, the clinging and the clawing for every book sale. No one is more embarrassed by the shenanigans than me.

Moreover, now that I am engaged in a full tilt, all out flaming war with Erik Moe, Freelance Copywriter to the Failing Start Ups and Unfortunate Fortune 500, there will be plenty of grist for Eric's dull-bladed mill.

Nevertheless, what must be done, must be done.

My good friend and art director extraordinaire Jean Robaire is currently designing the front book cover of my new opus, Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington, a compilation of close to 60 letters written to every GOP member of the US Senate. The back cover however is a blank slate.

This is where you, the frustrated reader of RoundSeventeen come in.

In the past, I have assembled a collection of fictional quotes from disgruntled planners as well as hoity toity editors who could not be bothered with my literary drivel. For the upcoming publication, I'd like to  sample some choice words from seething US Senators.

For example...

"...what did I think of Siegel's letter? I thought his Pearlevision Buy One Pair of Glasses, Get the Second One Free campaign was much better written."   -- Senator Rand Paul

"Didn't read it. My kitty cat might have. It lined her litter box for a week." -- Senator Lindsey Graham

"There was no cash in the envelope. Hello!!!" -- Senator David Perdue

"I read the letter from that 44 year old hack. In 6 months that loser will be driving an Uber and mowing the neighbor's yard for income." -- Senator Chuck Grassley

"Vitriolic and angry. Of course if I had a face like his I'd be angry too." -- Senator John Cornyn

Now it's your turn. Throw me a good line, take your best shot. If you can make minced meat out of me you'll get a cherished (or not-so-cherished) spot on the back of my book.

PS. I'm also looking for a good subtitle.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Give, give, give

Years ago I was having another get-together lunch with my ex-Chiat/Day partner, John Shirley. We like to convene at Szechuan Palace, this shabby little Chinese restaurant in Playa Del Rey.

It's not great Chinese food by any means.

It's not even good.

On its best day, it's edible.

The chicken in the Kung Pao Chicken may not be chicken. The Won Ton Soup is made with the rinse water from the dishwasher. And the Diet Coke is always flat. And has less gas in it than the Hindenburg two days after the disaster.

Compensating for all that, the waiters, actually I think there's only one, is a surly, scouring man who hasn't experienced joy since 1993.

But it's cheap, it's incredibly relaxed and we always get a booth, which, in my mind is the only way to eat in a restaurant. That sheen of privacy allows for real conversation. And on this particular instance, that came in handy.

Because I was sharing some deep family issues and how the burden was weighing on my shoulders. I unloaded the details of several ongoing matters, situations in which I had to come to the rescue, again, of the most important people in my life.

Having unloaded all this, and in between bites of the red hot peppers and cashew nuts in my meal, John turned to me and left me with a nugget of wisdom.

Keep in mind, Mr. Shirley is a blond-haired surfer boy, who never ages, and who in his signature T-shirt, board shorts and flips flops, looks like a beach extra from a 1967 Jan and Dean music video.

"Rich, there's two ways to look at this. You can kvetch (I'm not sure he used that word) about being the guy everyone turns to for help. Or you can put yourself in the shoes of your relatives who are in the unfortunate situation of having to ask for help. If you ask me it's better to be in the position of being the giver not the givee."

And there it was.
A ju jitsu like shift in perspective.

I bring this up not only because it has not only helped me look at the world through a different prism but because it has relevance today.

Look, I'm no expert on trade and world economics. But neither is the schmuck in the White House, who recently whined...

"We're like the world's piggy bank that everybody's robbing." 

Yeah, sure Einstein.

American exceptionalism was always about helping others, sharing our enormous wealth, welcoming immigrants and celebrating, and fighting for, the cause of freedom at home and abroad. If only Captain Ouchie Foot could understand.

If only he had the capacity to understand.

Per John's point, it far better to be the giver than the givee.

After lunch, I was handed a fortune cookie. It was not as prescient as the earlier advice.

It was simply a collection of suggested lottery numbers. Suffice to say that had I won I would not feel compelled to tell you that I am available for your next advertising assignment.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Son of a Bitch Mitch

Today's letter goes to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, perhaps the most beloved politician in the country. This marks the conclusion to my Thursday Thrashing Letters which was started a little more than a year ago.

It was inspired by advertising's own Luke Sullivan, who said in a social media post that we must be willing to do more about the current fascist regime than complain and over-lubricate ourselves at dinner parties.

And so I set out on a mission, which, after 53+ letters, is almost complete.

I say almost because the task of compiling all the letters and self publishing a book is still in front of me. Until the book is ready, I leave you with one last volcano-hot rant.

WARNING: Because it will serve as the summary of the book, it's an exceedingly long letter.



Senator Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mitch,

It's been a while since our last correspondence. Actually it's been more than a year. 

Unlike you, who have done nothing but obstruct House bills, defend our indefensible precedent (misspelling intentional for dramatic effect) and nominate halfwits to be federal judges (hello, Matthew Spencer Peterson), I have been quite busy.

As I mentioned in a previous missive, I made it my mission to write a letter to each of our esteemed (tongue practically bursting through cheek) GOP senators.  At the beginning of the endeavor there were 52 of you utter bawbags. 

But that number has changed. 

Some of your colleagues went down to defeat in Red Wave 2018 (pffft). 

Some new fresh faces have entered the fold, ready to take their place at the Mitch McConnell Trough of Eternal Corruption. 

And some, if I'm not mistaken, were arrested and hauled off for a jumpsuit fitting at a local correctional facility charged with pedophilia, sex trafficking and handing raw polling data over to Russian intelligence officers. Oh, I apologize, those weren't US Senators, they were members of the precedent's inner circle. 

Sometimes it's difficult to tell the duly elected slimebags from the ones who were appointed by our Commander in Cheif, again another intentional misspelling.

Truth be told --a phrase I'm not sure you're familiar with -- it's been quite an enlightening adventure. 

Prior to 2016, I considered myself politically engaged and informed. But in the process of researching you, and all of your criminal cohorts, I discovered I was sorely lacking in any understanding of civics as well as the role of the Upper Chamber, or what President James Buchanan, with tongue piercing his cheek, called, "the greatest deliberative body in the world."

The US Senate is more accurately where old white millionaires go to bone naive but ambitious Washington interns and slither around in loosely draped threadbare towels in the taxpayer funded schvitz room in the Capitol building basement. 

Both, by the way, scenes that require copious amounts of eyewash.

The first thing I learned, I should say "we learned" as in each of the letters has been dutifully published on my daily blog and enjoyed by 20,000 monthly readers, is that so many senators sport eponymous names.  

Senators Crapo, Boozman and Sasse (Sassehole), immediately come to mind. I know that's sophomoric, immature and crass, but judging from who you put in the White House, those are all winning attributes.

We've also learned that the Republican Party, which once planted and saluted the flag of Values, has cashed in that losing platform. It could be Captain Fuckknuckle is threatening you or paying you or possibly both, but there can be no doubt that the 115th Congress has a brand, new playbook. 

And it was published by the fine people at Trump University, who also brought us 101 Ways to Finance that Condo in Boca Raton and The Art of Dodging Contractors.

 While I haven't personally seen this new way forward from the GOP, I can safely surmise some of the groundbreaking new principles:

1. We are adamantly Pro Life-- Except if the people living those lives are from other countries and their skin is brown. Then we're all about extracting babies from their mothers, depositing them in hot, wire cages and losing all records that might possibly reunite them with their families. Just as Jesus commanded in Two Corinthians.

2. We are adamantly Pro Constitution-- Nothing is as important to the future of our republic as the adherence to the rule of law. And respect for those officials who are sworn to law enforcement. Except when they are investigating Russian interference in our election. Or when overzealous congressional bodies issue subpoenas and cavort with overreaching judges to question our divinely chosen, president.

3. We are adamantly Pro Military-- The country owes an incalculable debt to the brave women who serve in our armed services and are true heroes. Except those who are taken prisoner behind enemies lines. "We like heroes who don't get caught." And though we honor our warriors past, present and future, we have second thoughts about the 407,931 soldiers who died in World War II fighting Nazis and fascism, which in the cleansing light of history we now believe have been maligned. After all they were "very fine people."

From a more micro perspective and, thanks to my weekly research into each of you scoundrels, I learned of the many peccadilloes that make you Republicans tick. 

Like the honorable Senator David Perdue who shamelessly toiled as a corporate raider, fleeced companies, scurried off with the liquid assets and then unceremoniously stood by while thousands of his fellow Georgians lost their jobs.

Who can forget Senator Jim Inhofe, the Mensa of the Senate, who, eager to disprove the Chinese-fabricated hoax of global warming, brought a real live snowball into the Chamber? If ever there was definitive proof that 97% of the world's top scientists and climate experts were simply dead wrong with all their data and research and examples of reproducible scientific findings, it was this 84-year-old yahoo from Oklahoma holding a fistful of slush.

Finally, how can we ignore Aunt Pity Patty, Ms. Lindsey Graham? Who at one time called our Great Muckle Gype, "xenophobic", "a kook" and "unfit for office."He's gone from being a Never Trumper to an Always Trumper, seemingly taking up permanent residence in the president's KFC-encrusted alimentary canal.

And you Mitch have the honor of presiding over and "leading" these miscreant misfits. Whipping them into shape and insisting they enable and promote the most corrupt, ill informed, destructive, impulsive and foreign-manipulated presidency in the history of our nation. 

When future scholars look back on how this regime has damaged the republic, they will wear out the letters T-R-U-M-P on their keyboards. I suspect the letter M will go first because you, Mitch McConnell, were a willing and eager accomplice.

Let me leave you with one last thought. 

Mind you this is not something I would ever commit to print in the BT (Before Trump) era. But now that political discourse has sunk lower than the foundation of an unfinished Trump hotel in Uzbekistan, I have no qualms sinking to the depths you Republicans have been accustomed to.

When you no longer breath the oxygen that is better suited for human beings and pond slugs, I plan to make a pilgrimage to your home state. I will wait for a dark and rainy day, when visitors would prefer to stay inside. Then, I will visit you in your final resting place. I will leave a signed copy of this book (a compilation of all my letters) beside your tombstone.

And in act of civil disobedience as well as an homage to my hero Gerard Finneran, I will also take the time to "fertilize" the rich Kentucky bluegrass that forever blankets your memory.

You're welcome.

Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Anointed Illuminati Ring of Prosperity and Skullduggery

On our last visit with the Illuminati Head Official, Mr. Donald Beckham, we agreed that my mother would send him the $100 payment. You know because my character, Mr. Heywood Jablomi, was still in a hospital bed from a head injury. There was a question of which Western Union my mother should visit, the one inside the Pic and Save or the one crosstown at the Jizz and Go.

He seems to be very anxious about getting his money. It's almost as if he were angry with me.

I don't know why but this is one of his funniest responses. They say brevity is the soul of wit.

So now I use of of my favorites ploys with Mr. Beckham, one that leverages my obvious brain damage, and respond to him as if I am responding to the nurse.

His patience is running thin.

Oh how I love torturing these fellows.

I love to work the Dunes Hotel into any correspondence, mostly for nostalgia sake. My wife and I stayed there once on a getaway weekend filled with laughs and fun. We presciently renamed the place the The Fabulous Dump, shortly before the new owners dynamited the place to dust.

I think that if he could Mr. Donald Beckham would reach right thru the fiber optic cable on my computer, wrap his hands around my neck and choke the life out of me. Do you get that feeling?

If Mr. Donald Beckham were true Illuminati he'd know the V-neck collars pictured above belong to the FreeMasons, their arch rival in world domination, currency manipulation and satanic worship. Amateur.

Nevertheless, if I am to believe Mr. Beckham, and why wouldn't I, it looks like I will be receiving the aforementioned stylish accessory. Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

To the next 15 years.

I find myself on Linkedin quite a bit these days.

And when I'm not eviscerating my colleague and competitor, Eric Moe, the World's Most Adequate Copywriter or checking out the latest Get Out There and Hustle handmade videos from learned Linkedin influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk, I'm combing the platform for work.

That's how it's done in 2019.

You hunt.
You peck.
You track down leads.
And you badger CMO's into submission, until they throw you an assignment just to make you stop sending emails.

While reviewing my Linkedin profile and keeping it up to date with the latest work for Harry's House of Catheters, I came across something astounding -- I've been the operating CEO of Rich Siegel Worldwide for 15 Years.

It's my Workiversary!!!

I'm not big on ceremony. And so this occasion barely merits a mention. But there is something to be said for lasting it out all these years, some more lucrative than others.

I know Captain Fuckknuckle likes to claim the economy has never been better, but the last two years prove that to be a lie. Just ask anybody working in advertising. Or query your local soybean farmer. Or Google the 6 new plants being opened by US Steel (hint, despite the constant crowing by our lying Wotsit-Faced Gammon President, they don't exist.)

And yet despite the ups and downs, the uncertainties and the undulating needs of clients big and small, I love being a freelancer.

I love being master of my own fate.

I love waking up when I want to, or when the neighbor's dog wants me to.

I love working in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops that my wife wants to throw in the garbage.

I love solving challenges on my own.  Or with a partner who also loves being a freelancer.

I love trusting agency creative directors who forego the daily check in and say, "just send me the work when you're ready."

I love planners who say the strategy has changed and we have to start over.

I love when project managers ask if I'd mind working the weekend.

I love getting time and a half for working the weekend, as opposed to agency staffers who get bubkas for working the weekend.

I love being a freelancer.

I have no complaints. And no regrets.

Actually, my only regret is that I didn't extract myself from the agencysphere long before 2004.

Monday, June 3, 2019

And the winner is...

It's award season in Adland.


Last week my social media feed was lapping over the edges with announcements from proud, but humble, winners of Effies, D&AD Pencil Tips, Slinkies and other tchotchkes that can be had for an entry fee of $500 and a clever InstaGram carousel ad that registered more than 5,000 Likes.

If you are detecting the faint whiff of disdain and well hewn cynicism I apologize, that's the 5th cup of coffee and it's not even 9 AM, talking.

Before I go any further I should hedge this little rant by admitting to feverishly hunting these cheap trinkets in my youth.

You know, before I turned 44.

Sure my kids could have used more Daddy time. And yes, I probably shouldn't have missed those birthday parties and wedding anniversaries. But there was important advertising work to be done and I had visions of filling the space on my mantle with all the shiny accoutrements and false sense of achievement this wonderful industry had to offer.

Of course that never happened.

And whatever trophies or certificates I did win, now sit in a milk crate, gathering spider webs, in my garage, behind another milk crate filled with old National Lampoon Magazines that have been hermetically sealed in cellophane and mean much more to me.

"The Adventures of Politenessman"

"Pinto Gets Laid"

And a host of Doug Kenney gems that are far too many to mention.

I'm not prepared to go full curmudgeon here, one should never go full curmudgeon. Particularly when the people winning the awards today are often the same people who call me to bail them out of a hole and put together a pitch in a week, tomorrow.

But I did want to share a little anecdote that best illustrates how we have become insufferable, self-important, navel gazers.

My friend... let's just call him Dave... mostly because that's his name, pals around with folks in the entertainment industry. Writers, directors and actors, big Hollywood names you'd know but for discretionary purposes will not be revealed.

At a dinner party, the discussion turned to industry awards. Seeking to get in on the conversation, Dave interjected that he and his partner had just won an advertising Gold Lion from Cannes. There was an awkward pause, a palpable silence, followed by a skinny actress, obviously going off the range, "can you pass the butter?"

As my friend Dave so aptly put it, we in the ad business are not the redheaded stepchild of the entertainment biz, we are the neglected and often thirsty pet hamster of the redheaded stepchild of the entertainment business.

There's no point to all this suffice to say, I woke upon this morning and realized that as a freelancer who never gets to see any work all the way through completion, there's a strong likelihood I'll never win an other advertising award ever again.


I'm fine with that.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Can't top this.

Today's post is one hundred eighty degrees from the red hot rant published on Tuesday. Think of it as the rhetorical bookend to close out this holiday-shortened week.

I was completely unaware of this Halo Top campaign until it was forwarded to me by my friend and colleague, the great Jean Robaire.

We have a habit of tossing internet oddities back and forth via our smartphones. Most are sophomoric, some are puerile, and none merit more than a minute's thought.

But last week, he sent me a compilation video clip of a campaign done for Halo Top Ice Cream.

The work deserves mention on several counts.

It smartly carves out a unique positioning for the brand. One that stands out on its own. And is easily understood in an elevator pitch.

Halo Top, it's ice cream for adults.

If you've read this blog anytime in the last ten years you know what little regard I have for planners and strategerists. They pump out such hooey. And with such prodigiousness, it's often hard to stomach. I once had the audacity to question a planner's work (funny how they have no problem questioning ours) only to be met with...

"Well not every strategy can be as brilliant and singleminded as Got Milk, you know."

"Why not?" I replied. 

Followed quickly by a summoning from the folks in HR.

But I digress. Sincere kudos to the team, and the client, for bravely going where no ice cream has gone before. And committing to the, dare I say it, disruption.

Even more impressive, was how the creative team took this positioning and, pardon the strained pun, milked it for all it was worth.

So dark.
So negative.
So deliciously nihilistic.

If ever there was a campaign that I wish I had in my portfolio this would be it.

Mind you, I've written material as brutally honest, deadpan and fatalistic as this before. But truth be told I've never managed to squeeze it past middle management.

Topping it all off, another strained pun, is the pitch perfect execution of the pitch perfect script of the pitch perfect positioning. Each story is told efficiently in 3-4 set ups. No fancy camera angles. No special effects. No quick cuts.

It is, as my friend Claudia would say, good straightforward muscular advertising.

If I were to fault anyone here, it would be the media department. This campaign broke two months ago. I have never seen or heard of it. If I had my druthers, and by now it should be apparent I never do, I would have run 3 of the commercials throughout the Super Bowl.

And the next day, millions of men, depressed by the end of the football season, would be parked in their barcaloungers scarfing up the Halo Top by the pint load.

The incumbent weight gain would be worthy grist for the mill for next phase of the campaign.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A special episode of the Illuminati Chronicles

There is a lot of Illuminati insignia to be found on the internet. This one could be my fav. I love the little rat climbing up the logo.

When we last spoke to Mr. Donald J Beckham, Internet Illuminati Recruiter, he had hit me up for $120. And had sent three very curt and stern emails to the effect of PAY UP NOW.

Not even acknowledging that I was in a hospital bed recovering from a nasty head injury.

Fortunately, that brain injury could mean a jackpot of money, if my lawyer, Mr. Lionel Hutz, that's right, from THE SIMPSONS, does his due diligence.

I know I've said this before, but it thrills me every time he addresses my character by name.

Ooooo, a luxury car!!!

By the way, of the three, I really would take the Cadillac. 

My dad's cousin Seymour Maltz was a very successful photographer who lived on Long Island. He drove a Fleetwood Brougham. That was style.

But Donnie, like his namesake is all business.

Then I thought if a TV lawyer is funny, why not a TV doctor.

But Donald doesn't want a check. He wants cash. 

And so I take the liberty of reducing the agreed $120 payment down to $110.

Then we doesn't respond quickly enough, I self reduced the fee even further.

Donnie is unfazed. And while he would have loved to get his hands on $120. He's more than happy to accept the $100.

The astute among you will recognize this as a variation on an old Borscht Belt joke...

SON: Hey Dad, can you lend me $50?

DAD: $40, what do you need forty dollars for?

SON: What...

DAD: $30 is a lot of money.

SON: Wait.

DAD: Here's $25, but I want it back by next Saturday.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A backhanded self promo

I hate advertising.

No, this post has nothing to do with the Long Table of Mediocrity™. Or Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™. Or even the standard tropes that have been chewed over, spit out, salted and reviewed, for the 1000th time: daily/hourly check ins, bureaucratic clients, sycophantic planners, and budgets that would barely cover the cost of the craft services table at a Joe Pytka shoot.

Today, I'm not addressing the inglorious ways the sausage of advertising is made. We're stepping outside the slaughterhouse and looking at the final product itself.

You see, it turns out people who hate advertising are the best people to make advertising.


Because in the course of a long career our Bullshit Meters have been calibrated to NASA-like standards.

Our cynicism has been forged into a Hattori Hanzo Katana Sword.

We, the bitter skeptics who now find ourselves crafting banner ads and were crafting ads before there was an internet, are a client's best bet to touch a nerve, strike a chord or even, dare I say, go viral.

The logic on this may elude some, particularly those who like to sport red golf caps, but it is undeniable.

You see, when people of my ilk, the Been There/Done That generation of copywriters and art directors sit down with an advertising challenge, we not only know what to do (insightful, honest & persuasive), we know what not to do.

We don't do the overpromise thing.

We don't use weasel words.

We don't write contrived dialogue to come out of the mouths of contrived characters.

"Geez Bob, you smell great, new deodorant?" 
(Bob proceeds to tell Jim, who tends to stand too close to people, all about his new pit spray)

"Can you get me references, price quotes from 3 contractors and schedule of availability?"
(I'm looking at you lazy humps at

"They put cheese in the crust so now I eat it backwards."
(no one on this Earth eats pizza crust first. No one.)

There is so much bad advertising like this out there it's akin to the Turducken.

It's bullshit stuffed inside horseshit and then topped with a delicate  soup├žon of aardvark droppings.

Moreover, it's inescapable. What was once just on our TVs, radios and newspapers, now chokes the life out of us wherever pixels tend to gather, on our computers, on our laptops, on our phones, even on our jumbotrons where we escape to watch modern day gladiators distract us from our modern day bullshit.

It's ugly, it's exhausting and it's a colossal waste of money.

And it's why smart clients should hire people who hate advertising to create advertising people won't hate.


Will be available as of Thursday:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Back in the USSR

As many of you know, for the past year I have cordoned off Thursday for my Thursday Thrashing letters. Wherein I write a letter to each and every US Senator. It's been a labor or love for the past year, giving me an opportunity to dive deeper into the body politic while at the same time taking great joy in eviscerating these do-nothing, know-nothing GOP miscreants.

Earlier this week I saw a story on Mo Brooks, from the great state of Alabama. He had been invited (perhaps ironically) to a Mensa meeting. Keep in mind that Mo famously posited that the rising sea level was not due to global warming but instead attributed to large rocks falling in the ocean.

I panicked. Realizing I had not written a letter to Senator Mo Brooks.

And then I went back through my notes and through the Google and discovered there is no Senator Mo Brooks. He is in fact a lowly congressman.

In other words, apart from one last reprising letter to Mitch McConnell (coming next week), in order to bookend the collection of missives, my mission is complete.

And so, with no letter to write today, I'm going to do a little symmetric ju-jitsu, and instead, talk about a toxic disaster that has plagued, and continues to plague, our nemesis to the East, Mother Russia.

If you haven't been watching the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO I suggest you start. It's a bite size endeavor, meaning it's only a 5 part series.

I was only 11 years old when the nuclear power plant blew its top and spread radioactive uranium 235 particles throughout Kiev, land of my distant forefathers. The physical and structural damage to the site was horrific.

But even more terrifying was the post-explosion cleanup by a bunch of lying, power hungry, incompetent, vodka-swilling Soviet bunglecunts -- the clueless Cyrillic counterpart to our US Senate if you will.

Warning, the show is incredibly difficult to watch. It's dark, it's painful and it's jaw dropping. I think one of the first responders at the site actually lost a jaw.

Moreover, it takes very little in the way of imagination to picture a disaster like Chernobyl hitting us right here in the heartland.

And takes no imagination whatsoever to see our current crop of leadership in the White House, including mental midgets like Rick Perry, Betsy Devos and Dr. Ben Carson, dropping the proverbial meat in the dirt.

Or perhaps more appropriately, dropping the Oreo cookies in the dirt.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

It's Illuminati Time

It's that time again. Time to pop in on Mr. Donald J. Beckham, Illuminati recruiter to the stars.

Last week Donnie (I love that his name is Donald) sent me pictures of himself. Even though it was in clear violation of Illuminati law. I think he is going out of his way to charm me, Mr. Heywood Jablomi, because my character is currently holed up in a hospital with a very bad brain injury. You know from being hit on the hit with an anvil.

Consequently I went out of my way to answer all his questions.

Don, the Illuminati Head Official, responds rather quickly. And curtly.

Listen Mister Nigerian Internet Scammer, I set the rules around here. 
Mr. Heywood Jablomi.

And of course he obliges. But has more "important" questions for me to answer.

Questions, I love to answer questions.

I'm pretty sure he didn't read my answers. And he wastes no time getting to the meat of the matter, collecting his money.

At this point, I try something I've never tried before. I send him an email I had intended for my mother.

This gives me an opportunity to further dimensionalize my character and add some details that may or may not affect Mr. Beckham. I followed the mistaken email with another.

And yet despite my being in a hospital after being hit by an anvil from the Acme Anvil Company and despite the fact that my mother needs a hip replacement and that I plan to use my lawsuit compensation to get her a new hip replacement, with one of those good ball and sockets, Mr. Beckham, in all his greediness, will not be dissuaded.

He fires off three emails, in quick order.

Oh Don, poor Don, I have the $120 but you're going to have to work a lot harder to see a cent of it. 

A lot harder. 

Stay tuned.