Thursday, July 29, 2010

For Guys who Love Bears

From the Department of I'm Too Busy and Too Lazy to Write Another Post. I give you this sign spotted at 11,000 feet above sea level at the beginning of the trailhead at Onion Valley.

The California Department of Parks knows of which they speak.

I might have gone with this more descriptive photo...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Might Have a Staff Job

This is a reprint of a column published in yesterday's Huffington Post:

Dear Mayor Hernandez,

Like many Southern Californians I have been following the political turmoil in the City of Bell.

Last week, we all witnessed the departure of City Administrator Robert Rizzo. His will be big imported Italian shoes to fill. (Though I’m sure in light of the revelations, the salary for the position will no longer be $787, 637.00)

All that being said, the good Lord doesn’t shut the door without opening a window.

Enclosed you will find my most recent resume for your immediate consideration.

Upon first glance you’ll notice my glaring lack of any civil service. It should be noted however that I have attended a couple of City Hall planning meetings and once delivered a fiery, impassioned speech when it came to the implementation of additional parking restrictions on my street. As I left the Hall that night, a fellow neighbor likened me to an articulate, yet funny, young Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Experience aside, I do bring the skill set of a seasoned creative marketing professional to the position. And whereas Mr. Rizzo clearly fleeced the city of important revenue dollars, I have ideas that can bring those dollars back.

Permit me to share one with you.

If you’ve ever driven to Las Vegas, you’ve passed the iconic town of Baker, which as everyone knows is the home of the World’s Tallest Thermometer. Most automobiles today have a dashboard gauge that accurately reads the outside temperature. But that doesn’t stop thousands of motorists from exiting the I-15 to witness a little bit of Americana. And in doing so, bringing Baker millions of tourism dollars.

The City of Bell doesn’t have tourists, eager to depart with their disposable income, streaming by on the 710 freeway. But it might if it were to erect The World’s Biggest Flour Tortilla.

Think about that, Mr. Mayor.

A 50-Foot, Golden Brown Flour Tortilla at the corner of Eastern and Florence Ave. across the street from the Bell Gardens Marketplace. Not only would this eye-catching, colossal landmark be the envy of all the other charter cities in Southern California, it would serve as a reminder of the power of imagination. Imagination let loose by the simplest combination of flour, butter and water.

Furthermore, the Tortilla could become a cultural centerpiece of the city. Each year, the children of Bell could be called upon to decorate the Giant Tortilla. One year, they could use cheese, beans and meat. The following year, they could use beans, meat and cheese. The possibilities are endless.

Here’s the best part, Mr. Mayor. The 50 Foot Tortilla is just the tip of the iceberg. I have other powerful ideas to get Bell moving again. And I’m willing to do the job that Mr. Rizzo did for $787, 637.00, for considerably less. A whopping 50% less. I know you don’t have calculators over there and math is not your strong suit, but that’s $393,818.50.

My wife, a business veteran in her own right, is also willing to take on the job recently vacated by Assistant City manager Angela Spaccia. And the 50% discount holds here as well. Instead of the $376, 288.00 you were paying Ms. Spaccia, my wife will happily accept $188,144.00.

In one stroke of the pen, you will have recouped $581, 962.00. That’s got the kind of good PR, Bell so dearly needs right now.

But as we say in advertising, this offer won’t last forever. You must act now.

Perhaps we could have lunch this week? Thursday and Friday won’t work for me as I have to write a TV commercial for a local Mattress store that is offering a free down-filled pillow-topper with the purchase of any queen size mattress.

I thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Rich Siegel

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Blown Job

Last week we passed an important milestone at roundseventeen. This is the 301st entry, making last Thursday's entry, number 300.
I never thought this thing would last longer than a week, much less a year and a half.

I came upon the news that I had reached 300 rather accidently and so I don't have any big monumental celebrations planned. Usually I take these landmark opportunities to change the tagline, but frankly I've been so busy with work (the writing that actually pays the bills) that I don't have any new taglines to share.

Besides, I'm not sure I can top "At the corner of west coast optimism and Bronx-born nihilism." But I'm certainly open to any reader suggestions.

Speaking of readers, I did notice a very significant uptick in the traffic lately. And I think I know why.

Most of you come here via my links on Facebook. As of late the Facebook linking function is acting a little weird. In the past it would display a picture as well as a paragraph of copy from the posting. Now however, there are no words provided with the link. It's just a picture and a snappy headline.

Accordingly, I've adjusted my approach to take full advantage of this blind tease. With suggestive pictures and headlines that appeal to the more baser instincts (hence today's headline).

And it's working.

On July 15th I posted an email I got from an Internet scammer with the accompanying picture of a hot chick in a bikini. That entry was the most popular, most read entry in more than a year and a half of blogging. All those cleverly crafted anecdotes and anguished turns of phrase, even my proudly-published columns on the Huffington Post, all trumped by a strumpet in a thong.

This says more about you than it does about me.

I just hope you're proud of yourself.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Getting all Maverick

Went to the beach for a few hours last weekend to enjoy the rare sunshine here in LA. We brought our daughters, 14 and about to be 13, with us. And that's when we noticed something unusual.

It wasn't that our daughters were the only kids not sporting tattoos.
It was that we were the only parents not sporting tattoos.

We've grown accustomed to seeing all kinds of stupid tatts on kids. It's on their backs, on their legs, even on their necks, which has got be a plus when going in for a job interview. But now we're seeing people our age (we don't have to go into specific numbers) with the obligatory barb wire anklet, the ubiquitous ass stamp and the always (though never) intriguing Chinese symbol.

There was a time when only rebels, misfits or non-conformists would show their spirited individuality with a lifetime commitment to ink. But now that see-saw has tipped. These days, if you want to show the world you don't live by its rules, that you call your own shots, that you dare to buck the trends, the thing to do is NOT get tattoed.

And that suits me fine.
Because I hate needles.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From the Ramapo Chamber of Commerce

Earlier this week, Lynette Taylor, wife of NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor appeared on the Larry King show to defend her husband claiming he did not rape a teenager at the Holiday Inn in Ramapo, NY.

I have a particular interest in this story, not because I'm some diehard Giant fan, but because I was once employed at the Holiday Inn. Although originally it was called the Holidome and later affectionately known to locals, as the HoliDump.

It was built during that nightmarish architectural time period when putting a dome on hotels or malls or even playing fields seemed to fascinate Americans. It stems from this unholy obsession about putting things inside other things.

The centerpiece of the Holidome was the over-chlorinated kidney shaped pool. I worked in the kitchen preparing room service meals but was quite friendly with all the staff. Particularly the pool maintenance crew, who took great delight in saturating the water with chemicals on the very first of the month, so they could spend quality time smoking dope out by the dumpsters. Which was always well populated with other HoliDump staff just trying to make it through their shift.

I don't know much about the details of Lawrence Taylor's case. And there's nothing funny about rape. But I will say this.

If he was booked at the now-very-run down Holiday Inn in Ramapo, he is certainly guilty of poor taste. Especially when just down the road in Mahwah, NJ, there's the lovely Sheraton Crossroads.

They don't have a dome, but they do have a nice atrium.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The high hard one

I didn't see the Major League Baseball All Star game last week, nor did I see Rod Carew throw out the first pitch. Rod, by the way, is a fellow member of the tribe and was once married to a distant cousin of my wife. For some reason this is of great import to my youngest daughter, "We have someone famous in our family?"

But I did catch the highlights of President Obama throwing out the first pitch at a game several weeks ago. And like many sports fans, have sat nervously through the embarrassing ceremonial first pitches lobbed by many a celebrity. Pitches that didn't cross the plate. Or ended up in the hands of the third base coach.

What the hell is going on with this country?

What kind of mambi-pambis have we become? Are we descendants of the same brave men and women who kicked Nazi ass from Northern Africa to the forests of Finland? Did we not put a man on the moon? Wasn't it crafty, strong Americans who developed the technology and the tools to unleash the oil trapped beneath the ocean floor? OK, maybe that wasn't a good example.

My point stands.
It's 60 feet 6 inches from the pitcher's mound to home plate.
Can't anyone bring the heat without looking like a one-legged ostrich with Tourettes?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Truth in Advertising

Spotted on Overland Ave., just north of Palms Blvd.

(Full disclosure: I didn't actually take this photo, it was sent to me by my buddy Paul. Since he kicks my ass so regularly at Scrabble I hate to give him credit for anything. But seeing as he and his wife are the only ones that read this blog with any regularity, what the hell.)

I am kicking myself in the pants however for not spotting the Palace De Crapi. It's along one of my main running routes. Well it was when I was training for the marathon. Unless I spring for bionic titanium knee replacements I won't be doing any marathons anytime soon.

From Culver Blvd. I would run north on Overland. I would turn west at National and then right on Barrington. I would run up Barrington all the way into Brentwood. Then turn west again on San Vicente. I'd run along the meridian to Bundy, or if I was feeling particularly strong, all the way down to the ocean, then circle back and head home.

A good 15-16 mile run that would take me close to 2 & 1/2 hours.
If however you were to drive that identical route, particularly on a Friday afternoon, it could take considerably longer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


The other night I got an email from Juliana. The picture to the left may or may not be her, I just found it through a random Internet search.

Much the same way Juliana found me.

Here's the text of her email:

I am lovely Juliana,i drop at your profile I love what i saw there, i believe we can get acquainted if it interest you get back to me and more,i am
cute,Accommodate,caring,Affectionate and very lively,I am of
the school of thought that believes in the maxim that says It is good to love And be Loved.Love should be sharing ,True,Honest and caring.I need a man who posses all this Attributes and Qualities.I have all the Qualities that a man
desires and Craves in a woman.You can contact me direct to my email address here for me to send you my pictures ok,Please contact me direct to my private Email;

Now, I'm a happily married man and father of two. So as fetching and crave-worthy as Juliana might sound, I'm afraid a long lasting relationship is out of the question.

But maybe you are a lonely man. Or a lonely woman, I'm pretty sure Juliana will accommodate all responders. Or maybe you're just looking for some digital companionship. Well, that's why I'm generously passing along Juliana's email address. Feel free to drop her a line. If you want, you can use my name.

Just tell her "undisclosed recipient" sent you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What a bunch of Dicks

Capitalizing on the egotistical tendencies of Creative Directors to Google their own names, a young copywriter recently secured a new job by purchasing specific Google Adwords for a measly $6.

No stranger to narcissism, I decided to Google my own name to see what came up. The results were not pleasant. For one thing, and this is not surprising, there are a number of people walking this planet who happen to share my moniker. What if an old girlfriend or long lost college roommate or even a disgruntled landlord were to try and locate me?

I certainly wouldn't want them to confuse me with Rich Siegel, President of Bare Bones Software. Make no mistake, that Rich, burly and very Jewish in appearance, has done well for himself and I probably wouldn't mind having his bank account. But he also writes a blog about operating platforms, software upgrades and other deadly dull geeky crap.

Then there's the Rich Siegel who is President and Publisher of Hospitality Upgrade. Fortunately, his picture comes up with a Google Search. And no one would confuse me with this handsome, distinguished looking thin man with the full head of hair. Plus, he's in the hospitality business. Given my general abhorrence of people, I don't think anyone would have thought I went into the hospitality business.

Finally, there's Pianist Rich Siegel.

This Dick really chafes my hide. First, because he is at the very top of the Rich Siegel list. But even more so because he is such an ardent anti-Zionist. That Rich Siegel, whose views on Israel are in agreement with Mahmoud Ahmadinjad (which ought to tell you something) has even gone to the trouble of penning songs about Palestinians who have lost their lives in the conflict. Conveniently ignoring the thousands of Jews who have died at the hands of terrorists, hijackers and suicide bombers.

Moreover, this hacky musician lives in Hackensack. Apologies to my good friend Kenny Lee, but I'd hate to have anyone walk away from a Google Search of my name and believe after all my years on this Earth, I ended up in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where the elite meet to read about meat

One of the things I enjoy about advertising is the premium it places on brevity. As Oscar Wilde or George Bernard Shaw or S. J. Perelman said, "brevity is the soul of wit." I should be able to correctly attribute that aphorism, but as I have noted in the past, I'm not much of a reader so I can't tell you which author actually said it.

But that's hardly the point.

Note how in 6 simple words, the driver of this Toyota has succinctly communicated his or her carnivorous nature. But there's so much more. I think that someone who would go to the trouble of affixing this license frame to their motor vehicle would have us draw other inferences (or implications.) Again, had I been more of a reader, I would know the proper grammar.

I'm willing to bet this carnivore is also a gun owner. That he or she is 1/32nd part Cherokee (or at least that what they tell people at cocktail parties.) I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that this California driver, unlike many residents of the Golden State, has a healthy disdain for Tofu.

As much as I'm willing to give it up to the writer of this clever 6 word screed, I'd point out that years ago I conveyed the same POV in a more economical 5 words...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The L Word

Last week, was the Kid's Tournament on Jeopardy. We're not big on game shows at the Siegel household, but we do enjoy Jeopardy. My daughters particularly enjoy Kid's Week and the opportunity to best me at topics regarding the Jonas Brothers, Disney Characters and Modern Fashion.

Psychographically speaking, Jeopardy fits me to a tee. When it comes to trivial knowledge I am a Jack of all trades and Master of none. I know a little about a lot, but not the other way around. A personality flaw that goes a long way to explaining my career choice as an Advertising Writer.

Had I applied myself earlier in life or chosen to actually attend those frigid 8:00 AM Physics classes on the campus of Syracuse University, I might at this very moment, be sitting in a state-of-the-art research lab uncovering new and exciting territory in quantum mechanics.

But that's not where I am.

Right now, I'm in my home office, sipping nuked coffee and making light of an unfortunately named 12-year old girl who will go on to high school and suffer endless teasing and constant taunting about her sexual orientation.

"I'll take Self-Loathing for $200, Alex."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Joy of Alpha Malehood

Father's Day was about three weeks ago but it might as well have been 3 years ago.

Don't get me wrong I had a fine Father's Day. My favorite breakfast. At my favorite time in the morning, about 9:30. Some great gifts, including a new pair of RayBans. And some free time on the couch to watch golf.

But by 2:00 PM, all that indentured servitude and lovey-dovey daddy goodness had worn off. And I won't see it again for another 350 days.

This is all struck me when, after returning from our camping trip, I stopped by the kennel to pick up Nelly.

No sooner had I walked in the building I could hear her distinctive barking from the pack of 50 plus dogs. As the handler brought her through the doorway, her nails were furiously clawing along the floor as she struggled to get to me as fast as she could. She whimpered. And whined. So happy to see me after 6 long days. Or 42 dog days.

It sadly reminded me of how my daughters would rush up to the car when I would return home from work. Now, with their heads buried into IM's or video games or the latest tirades from Tyra Banks, they don't do that anymore.

Which makes me so much more appreciative of Nelly's companionship. You see, when you have a dog, every day is Father's Day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Getting their rocks off

In its latest display of Neandarthal theatrics, a panel of Iranian judges have sentenced 42-year old Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani to die by stoning.

The woman's offense? Adultery.

The reason why she would have sex with TWO Iranian men, much less one, does call the women's judgment into question. However, wouldn't a public humiliation on a show like CHEATERS be a more reasonable punishment?

A careful reading of the highly sophisticated Iranian penal code (because Allah really is in the details) shows the true barbarity of the sentence.

According to tradition, the woman is to be buried up to her chest and the executioners --that is, the stone throwers -- are to be given rocks that are large enough to cause pain but NOT large enough to kill her. Thus inflicting maximum anguish.

This, coupled with the promise of clean, non-weaponized nuclear power and the absence of homosexuals, explains why millions of people from around the globe are packing up their belongings and waiting in line to emigrate to Iran.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your lustful women yearning to be pelted into the earth..."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stars and Stripes

Hope everybody had a happy and safe 4th.

As I mentioned before the break, our family and several others ventured north to Independence, CA to celebrate the holiday. We ate heartily. Drank freely. And hiked past 10,000 feet.

I even enjoyed a 7.4 second dip in Pothole Lake, a snow-fed pond of spiny cold water
that will turn a grown man into a shrieking 7 year old girl.

Also had the displeasure of running into this imbecile. I don't know what holiday she was celebrating, but it wasn't the one we were sharing. I also don't know what it said on her cap, but I'm pretty sure it was something to the effect of: Not Just Ignorant. Proud.