Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Cancer-tastic!

Culver City has the best strip malls, bar none.

Here, you can conveniently buy your Marlboro's and have your emphysema treated by a professional oncologist who chooses to dispense his medical services within walking distance of a 44-ounce blueberry squishee.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Wrath of Karma

Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors, resigned today. We may be seeing more executive cleaning at Chrysler as well. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bring a smile to my face.

When I was just starting in the ad game, I had the opportunity to write commercials for the Southern California Chrysler Dealers. The dealers had gotten very excited because they had just signed Ricardo Montalban to be their new spokesperson.

My partner and I diligently went about preparing a slew of new work.

We assembled at the swanky Los Angeles Athletic Club to present our work to 50 or so of the most powerful Chrysler/Plymouth Dealers. The lights dimmed, the room grew quiet and I made my monumental pitch. As I put down the last storyboard, I imagined myself being showered with praise and being handed the keys to a brand new Chrysler New Yorker.

Frank, from San Diego, a fireplug of a man with close-cropped hair and an affinity for plaid polyester, wasted no time rendering his verdict. He pushed back his chair, cleared his throat and filled the room with, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not putting a dime of my money into any of this SHIT.”

Though he crushed my dreams that day, Frank unwittingly corrected my career course and sent it on a more fruitful trajectory.

How refreshing it would be, if at the next Detroit bailout hearings, our President took a momentary pause from his cool, calm demeanor and turned to these Hummer-building, private-jet-flying bozos and said, “ I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not putting a dime of my money into any of this SHIT.”

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Franklin's folly

I am now the proud father of a Bat Mitzvah (more on this later, when I have some perspective on the matter.) For now, I am soaking in the quietness of my house. All the relatives have left town.

This is a blissful moment I like to call post-cordialus.

When I speak of relatives, I am not referring to my family, who have all died at a young age, presumably from being excessively sour.

I mean my wife’s family. And there are lots of them. All with roots in Minneapolis. Which, as my uncle remarked, makes them different from New York Jews. They’re nice.

But they do come at you in swarms. In the past, this has regrettably put me on edge. And sparked my less-than-gracious short fuse. But this time was different.

A wise friend, who left the high-pressure world of advertising for the serenity of the Pacific Northwest, turned me on to the miraculous calming wonders of alprazolam.

I’m here to tell you, without any sponsorship money from Pfizer, this stuff works. Particularly when washed down with some fine Kentucky bourbon.

Ben Franklin once said that fish and relatives have a similar shelf life. They both go bad after three days. Thanks to the instant Zen-ness of Xanax, I think we can amend that to four days.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Where the elite meet to eat meat.

The Post It Note reads: Tell it to the hawk, the tiger and the shark. (followed by a smiley face)

Though his choice of media might be sketchy, I’ve got to side with the carnivore on this one.

Besides, the vision-impaired driver of this car doesn't make a very convincing nutritional case. Judging from the remnant red paint splattered on the bumper,  maybe it’s time to put down the carrots and start chewing on a carcass.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My hot little bitch.

With the early start of Daylight Savings Time, I’ve been able to get home in time to take my dog, Nellie, for a walk before the sun sets. And every time I saunter about the neighborhood, I’m stopped by a passerby who feels obliged to offer, “what a pretty dog.”

In light of the fact that we come from different species, “Thank you” seems like an odd response.

Besides, there’s something more sinister afoot.

When people stop me and shower Nellie with ,”Oh how pretty. Isn’t she pretty?”

I believe they are really taking notice of my aquiline nose, my two chins and my non-existent hairline and thinking, “that dog is out of his league.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spankers Hours

Kudos to the copywriter who penned a new radio commercial for Chase Bank.

The spot isn’t great by any means. It attempts to compare the joy of the new car smell with the “supposed” joy of a new checking account smell. A reach, at best.

But the writer ended the spot with, “that's the smell of brand spanking new banking.”

And that is no small feat in our current risk-averse environment of hyper-analysis.

Nor is that alliterative choice of words an accident. They were chosen by a sly copywriter looking for a cheap laugh. That's what we copywriters do. After all, we're talented enough to make a living, but not talented enough to make art.

I was reminded of another lifetime. When I was hired to write copy for Lexus, this despite the fact that what I knew about Japanese luxury automobiles could not fill the bottom of a sake cup.

The dirty little secret about copywriters is that as much as we want to make our clients happy, what we really want is to make other copywriters jealous. By winning awards, securing better offices and sneaking double entendres into our work.

To that end, the Creative Director had devised a game that allocated points to writers who could worm a certain word or phrase into a Lexus ad. For instance:

cockroach…………...4 points
diarrhea……………...6 points
transsexual………....3 points
Manzanar…………...9 points

So today I tip my hat to you, Mr. Spanking New Banking Phrase Inserter. You have earned yourself 5 points.

But I still long for the day when some copywriting savant can tell me all about the new Lexus LS 460 and work in a mention of the Enola Gay (10 points.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Artsy or Family?

Last week, I ran an entry about my oldest daughter's photography. Naturally her younger sister got insanely jealous.

So this week I am posting one of her recent oil paintings. I also went online and found a piece by an obscure artist whose work is currently hanging at the Sadbirk Hanim Musuem in Istanbul.

Care to guess which one is signed by a Siegel?

Thank you Stanley

Some of you may be aware of my ongoing hunt for meaningful full-time employment. Months ago, I sent a letter of inquiry to Morgan Stanley.

Today, I received a form letter from their human resources department. A terse rejection stating that there were no positions for someone of my qualifications (I’m not sure 20 years of scribbling ideas for TV commercials qualifies me for anything.)

But despair not.

In the Wall Street spirit of golden parachutes, excessive bonuses and just generally rewarding people for not working, the rejection letter was accompanied by a check for $50,000.

Dear Deutsche Bank….

Friday, March 20, 2009

The fall of an empire.

Hundreds of years from now, cultural anthropologists will look back on our society and attempt to determine the root cause of our moral, financial and intellectual demise.  They will narrow it down to two culprits.

The packaging genii at Zyrtec.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mayday, Mayday

Heard in a focus group:

Guy: Damn kids, keep me from enjoying the ponies.

Moderator: What if we were to combine the smoking, drinking and gambling of a racetrack with the thrills and chills of a kiddie park?

Guy: Now, I think you got something. But they can’t be your everyday rides. Has to be something different. Something unusual.

Moderator: Different. Unusual. This is good stuff.

That would certainly explain the Titanic-themed inflatable slide at the Santa Anita Park Racetrack.

Kids climb up to the stern of the mighty ship and then hurl themselves down the same slippery deck that poured 1517 souls into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.

"Give me $10 to win on Anything-For-A-Buck."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama is an idiot.

I've actually been very happy with the way our new President has conducted himself in the first 60 days of office.

Happy that he has reversed course on stem cell research. Happy that he is moving us from a faith-based society to one that relies more on rational thought and science. Happy he has set a time table for us to leave Iraq. And happy that he has moved against the greedy douchebags on Wall Street.

But today the President announced his picks in the NCAA tournament and has North Carolina emerging from the South with a regional win over Syracuse, my alma mater. Did he not witness the Orangemen's 6 overtime victory against Connecticut last week? Only the gutsiest performance by a college team ever.

I'm afraid that, like the previous bozo in office, our President is getting some very bad intel.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Hand me that rock."

What is wrong with Senator Charles Grassley?

Yesterday, in a radio interview, the Iowa lawmaker actually suggested that the AIG wizards who concocted the disastrous financial derivatives and then walked away with tax-payer funded bonuses, follow in the footsteps of shamed Japanese businessmen and commit suicide.

You sir, should be ashamed.

An arsenic cocktail is not going to benefit anyone. Least of all, the laid-off teacher, the out-of-work auto worker or the even the underemployed copywriter/creative director.

Hari-kari may suffice for the Far East, but that’s just not the way we do business here in the US of A.

I suggest we gather the AIG C-Suiters in a large and inescapable quarry. Then I would offer cash-strapped Americans the opportunity to vent their collective frustration with the following weapons of choice: The $5 Bag-O-Pebbles, the $10 Rock of Rages or the $50 Angry Shareholder Boulder.

And of course, I would put the whole thing on Pay Per View.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sabbath 2.0

There is much I don't understand about Jews and Judaism.

The lifetime ban on lobster tail and baby back pork ribs.
And the incongruity of a people who can pick themselves up from a holocaust and build an entire nation from scratch, but remain unable or unwilling to mow their own lawns or fix their own flat tires.

Most troubling however, has to be the concept of the Sabbath. I understand the whole resting notion. I like a daytime nap as much as the next fellow.

But we Jews, who seem so savvy and able to devise a good plan and follow through on the execution, have got this Sabbath concept all wrong.

Of course I speak of those Hasidim who, every Friday Night, put on their Sunday best clothing and literally walk miles to the nearest synagogue for Shabbat services. All that sweating and schlepping and kvetching.

If Rest is the goal, doesn't it make more sense to pile in the Nissan Pathfinder and drive?

Or at least call a cab.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A peaceful solution.

Shortly after 9/11, I decided life was too short to deny myself every pleasure known to married man. So, despite my wife's disapproval, I bought myself a jacuzzi for the backyard.

It was a brilliant decision.

Every night, without fail, I retreat to the garage, disrobe entirely (thankfully no hyperlink provided) and submerge myself in the 104 degree bubbling water. And every night, without fail, I emerge from the jacuzzi, calmer, happier and more at-ease with the world.

This is no small feat. Considering I was born in the Bronx, raised by raving screamers, worked my way through college as a short order cook, lost a fortune in the recent financial meltdown and live in a house with three woman crossing various hormonal thresholds.

And that's what got me thinking. If a simple hot tub can work those kind of wonders on me, perhaps there is some hope in our current clash of civilizations.

What if we are going about this Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan/Taliban/Al Queda situation all wrong? Maybe these militant Muslims wouldn't be so hot-headed if they they just took some time to soak in some hot water? If we can't win their hearts and minds, maybe we can relax their aching infidel-killing muscles?

I'm not sure this is the right solution, but considering our lack of progress in this area, it is worthy of consideration.

I'd love to see the Pentagon make a massive airdrop in the Wazristan Valley. I call it OPERATION: DESERT SCHVITZ.

Now, I'm a big fan of Sundance. And the Maxxus 880 Series can accommodate 6 Jihadis. Each model has 55 radical calming jets. And believe me, the patented Fluidix jet can go a long way to soothe the urge to strap on a suicide vest.

To show we really mean business, we should go the extra mile and include some Spazazz Fragrance Crystals.

I like the Eucalyptus mint.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

You suck, Bernie.

I am mad at Madoff.

Not because he bilked billions of dollars from the highest ranking members of my tribe. Truth is, anyone smart enough to con some of the world’s brightest, wealthiest and notoriously-frugal people, deserves a weird measure of credit.

No, my beef with Bernie is that he is hogging all the media limelight. Literally knocking my favorite white collar embezzler to the back pages of the newspaper; next to the story about the election of Lichtenstein’s new Secretary of the Interior.

Of course, I am referring to Stuart Wolff, former CEO of homestore.com and now convicted felon. Years ago, I had the displeasure of dealing with Mr. Wolff as a client.

Stewie, as he is known to everyone beyond earshot, was the ringleader in homestore’s roundtripping accounting scandal. In short, he found a way to record sales revenue as income to increase the value of the stock. He might as well as confabulated the flik-flaks. It’s all financial double-speak to me.

Last year he was convicted in Federal court but successfully overturned the conviction on a technicality. The government is now proceeding with a retrial, which will no doubt result in Stewie folding linens and eating bean gruel at Club Fed.

Is this a case of schadenfruede? Damn straight cookie.

For one thing, I can burn this bridge and know that I will never have to deal with this arrogant assclown ever again. And how often do we, frustrated, beat-up, demoralized ad agency people, get to see our former clients get their comeuppance and have justice delivered so tidily.

Even if it is buried on page B15.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So funny, it hurts.

When you're stuck in traffic there is nothing left to do but trade glances with your fellow commuters in misery and try to decode the various vanity license plates. Once in while those endeavors pay off. 

I spotted this license frame on the dreaded 405 South.

When milk comes out your nose it leaves a white filmy mess.
When soda comes out your nose it tickles and starts a sneezing fit. 
When hot scolding cofffee comes out your nose, well, you just don't want hot scolding coffee coming out your nose.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Last week the word Patagonia did not come up in my life. Nor did it come up in the week before. Or the week before that. I can safely say that 2009 has been a "Patagonia-free" year.

That is until the last 24 hours.

Patagonia was the answer to a clue on last night's edition of Jeopardy.
This morning, a friend who bailed out of the corporate life for a trip around the world, posted a photo of himself on the glaciers of Patagonia.
And tonight, while sifting through the bills and grumbling about checks that did not show up from my clients, I received a postcard from my uncle who was, you guessed it, in Patagonia.

I don't think I'm being summoned to Patagonia. Or that I should buy stock in Patagonia clothing. Or that I have lived a past life as a Patagonian Prince.

I'm just stating the facts. And offering no explanation. Because frankly, I don't think there is one.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Make My Day

You can keep your weed wackers, table saws and hi-torque portable hand drills, for my money, nothing beats the Power Washer. It sits uncontested at the very top of the power tool food chain.

Yesterday, my wife asked me to clean our painfully filthy flagstone patio. This is one of the few household chores I actually don't mind doing. Because I can do it well. And I can do it well because I have the tool for the job.

I plugged the Husky GT 1650 power washer in to the 220 Volt outdoor outlet. And then death-defyingly attached the garden hose. Normally, I don't like to mix my electricity with my water, but I knew I could depend on the faithful service of an 18-cent plastic GFI circuit breaker.

Within seconds, water was gushing through the magic power wand at Peter North-like speeds. And I was blasting away caked on layers of soot, grass clippings and barbecue sauce from our 2005 Memorial Day Pig Roast.

There's something magical about the point and shoot power of 1600 pounds of pressure per square inch. I would imagine it's not unlike the feeling one gets when holding a loaded double barrel shotgun.

And I'm not the only who feels that way.

Minutes after I was done scouring my flagstone, the doorbell rang and my next-door neighbor came by to see if he could borrow the machine. I think it's a serious case of power washer envy.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A pat on the back. To myself.

I did it.

I started this blogging thing a week ago and have gone a full seven days and not said a remotely-insulting word about anything or anybody in the advertising industry. Considering the copious douchebaggery available for skewering, that is quite the accomplishment.

Of course it would be stupid of me to open up an artery and let loose a torrent of pent up bile about campaigns that never sold or half wit clients who didn't recognize the gold that I placed it on the table before them. Particularly since I still pimp myself as a copywriter to the highest paying bidder.

But this week, I did not place the keyboard squarely in my mouth. Which I believe validates the following, " of all the manifestations of power, restraint in the use of that power impresses people most."

Prop 371

Soon the California Supreme Court will hand down it's ruling on Proposition 8, the initiative to ban gay marriage. I suspect they will side with the unenlightened voters of Chula Vista, Eureka and Yucaipa.

Personally, I don't get it. If gay people want to get married, let them. Why should we breeders have a monopoly on misery? It has no effect on my life whatsoever.

I think our state legislators missed the boat on this. If we are going to take something away from homosexuals, it should be their right to use the carpool lanes.

I call it Prop 371 (that's how much the CHP charges for a carpool lane violation.) The Gay Carpool Lane Prohibition promises to lighten our traffic burden by 10%. Ease commuting time by 10%. And let's face it, it will also make us heterosexuals -- who lack the gene for fashion sense, tolerance and design -- feel better about ourselves by about 10%.

Besides, they're carpool lanes, not Adam & Steve Lanes.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Fresh Eye

Lately, I've been enjoying the work of this new photographer. I like her composition. I like her attention to detail. And I like her unique take on life.

But most of all, I like that she calls me, "Dad."

Sticks and stonings.

Bumper sticker spotted on the car in front of me.

Has moral equivalency gotten this out of hand?

Because if the terrorists had their way, you, Miss Flouty McRightflouter, would not have the freedom to ride around in a car and express your political views via a bumper sticker. Those freedoms were secured by the big army.

Furthermore, you --or anyone of your gender -- would not not be behind the wheel of a 2005 Chevy Malibu. You'd be schlepping your groceries home, tethered to a donkey.

And because you are not wearing a burka, those same terrorists would drag you from the front seat, strap you to a pole and stone you to death for seductively teasing me with your luscious, uncovered hairy upper lip.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Do Not Disturb

In what could be the irony of all ironies, you can't pick up a newspaper today without reading about the death of newspapers.

Subscriptions are down. Advertising is down. Revenue is down.
In an effort to cut costs, our own Los Angeles Times has begun the painful process of consolidation. When the housing bubble burst, they eliminated the Real Estate Section. When Governor Schwarznegger declared a statewide financial crisis, they eliminated the California section. I suspect when AIG has fleeced the government of their last red cent and finally goes belly up, we can say goodbye to the Business section.

I love the internet. But I also love newspapers. If they go away, I'm going to have to get a very long extension chord for my computer.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Defcon 5

As a three time marathon runner, I take pride in my perseverance.

Without it, I would not have crossed that magical finish line at 26.2 miles. Without perseverance, I would not have achieved many of my career goals, which might have easily been shot down by office politics, committee-think or just plain stupidity. And without perseverance, my wife and I may not have cracked the fertility code. I can't imagine my life without my two beautiful daughters.

So today I'd like to lift a glass in salutation to Latraesa Goodman, who would not be denied and dialed 911 when the local McDonalds told her they had run out of chicken McNuggets.

That's the kind of stick-to-it-iveness that's going to get this country out of its current financial mess.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is it possible to love an off-ramp?

A month ago, Caltrans took the wraps off the freshly-paved Culver Blvd. exit from the 405 North. The previous off-ramp was a non-descript, dump of an exit that merited no notice at all.

It's replacement however is a long, flowing stretch of asphalt that elegantly transitions the driver from the frenetic freeway to the pastoral residential streets of Culver City.

Having lived in the area for more than twenty years, I'm more than familiar with all the back-roads and short cuts and can easily avoid the bustling 14-lane behemoth. But now I find myself strangely drawn to the 405, perhaps the most hated freeway in all of Southern California, literally going out of my way for the opportunity to use the Culver Blvd. off ramp.

Those are your tax dollars at work.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hamas Hold 'em

If I ever get a chance, I'd love to play poker with 5 Palestinian guys. Not because the evening promises laughter, camaraderie and great joy. To the contrary, I believe those would be in short supply. The reason I want to ante up with the folks from Hamas is very simple; they are quite simply the world's worst liars. Completely ill-equipped to maintain a proper poker face.

The recent Israeli incursion into Gaza (a punishing retribution for the daily over-the-border rocket attacks) left more than 1,000 people dead and reduced the entire infra-structure to rubble. Yet in the face of these tremendous losses, and without any hint of irony, Hamas leadership had the delusional chutzpah to declare an overwhelming victory (followed of course, by the indiscriminate shooting of rifles in the streets.)

Only in the stateless state of Palestine could such devastation, death and destruction be construed as a glorious victory.

What am I holding? A very unpromising 2 of diamonds and 8 of clubs in the hole.

I'm all in.