Thursday, December 21, 2017

The last post

Sadly, or mercifully, we've come to last post of 2017.

This was a very difficult year.

There was the daily barrage of destruction and dishonor coming from the White House, a phenomena that promises to deliver more in 2018, until he implodes or Bob Mueller drops the hammer on his Ray Kroc-fattened ass.

My summer was torn asunder by worry and anxiety. It is not easy knowing your defenseless daughter is galavanting around East Africa with nothing more than a vague memory of childhood karate lessons and a penknife in her purse.

And business was off. For the first time since the recession of 2008, revenue was not more than the previous year. I'm not blaming ageism, because even at 44 years old I can still hold my own with any of these upstart kids. If anything it has to do with the glut of freelancers on the market. Freelancers who no longer want to sit at The Long Table of Mediocrity™ and pump out Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™.

I see a silver lining in all of that. It just means I have to hustle more in the upcoming year. Accordingly, I must get back to the stack of assignments on my desk right now.

From all of us at RoundSeventeen headquarters, thank you for your readership, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I leave you with this random collection of (uncaptioned) photos found on my iPhone.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Grab Your Pussy...Hats

Last year, my wife and about 3 million of her closest friends, marched on Washington DC to protest the impending presidency of one major fuckknuckle.

They knew in advance of the disasters that soon would follow: the daily lying, the endorsement of NeoNazis, the spilling of top secret data to the Russians, the firing of Comey, the disrespecting of Gold Star families, the destruction of all federal regulations, the alienation on the world stage, and the constant, degradation and dishonoring of the office of the presidency of the United States.

Today, in the midst of a Special Counsel investigation by the very honorable Robert Mueller, there's talk of a second march to the streets.

Rumor has it, that fearing for his viability and the very lives of his family including the duplicitous Jared Kushner and the dim bulb that bears his name, Don Jr., Precedent Shitgibbon is prepared to go all Saturday Night Massacre II and fire Rod Rosenstein so he can also fire the unimpeachable Robert Mueller.

Rumor also has it, that should those events come to pass, masses of Americans will take to the streets again and wave signs and shout nasty things.


I don't believe that's going to happen. And even if it did, so what? This administration, from the executive wing of know nothing miscreants to the Senate house of pasty, white silverback cretins, could care less.

They are driven by money. The dream of making more money. And the guarantee that the new money they make will be funneled into government-protected investments that  will have their progeny drowning in even more money. See #Corkerkickback and #CollinsKickback.

All of which has got me thinking of a better idea, a more impactful way to hit this "administration" where it hurts should they decide to thwart Mueller and his vigorous defense of our threatened democracy.


That's right, I suggest we crash the market. Instead of taking to the streets and wasting all that good pent up anger, we should take to the phones and the computer screens and sell off half our portfolios. Or all of our portfolios.

Think about it. Wall Street would take a nose dive. Shitgibbon would shit his khaki golf pants. And we'd all pocket a boatload of profit in the process.

At the risk of sounding immodest, it really is a brilliant idea.

Who's buying it?

Or should I ask, who's selling?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tis the season

Did you get the Siegel family Christmas card yet?

Well, don't waste your time waiting by the mailbox. Truth is we stopped sending out cards years ago.

For several reasons. And none of them meant to disparage the practice whatsoever. Many friends and family still send us cards and we thoroughly enjoy them. No cynicism intended. We love the photos, the updates, even the long winded letters some of you choose to send out.

We enjoy them so much that we are racked with guilt for not returning the gesture. Of course that guilt is short lived or short circuited if Jeopardy comes on the tube. Or if Precedent Shitgibbon takes to the podium to announce which books we'll be burning this year.

The fact of the matter is, we're not Christmasy people. Considering the militant atheism and strands of Nihilism strewn about the house, we're barely Channukah people. We've got many bones to pick with God. So you'll have to excuse us for not coming to his three month long birthday party.

The other thing, perhaps the most glaring, is it's not our holiday.

When Tu B'shvat, the Jewish Arbor Day rolls around, I don't expect all my gentile friends to partake in the storied Tu B'shvat traditions -- the planting of the acorns, the blood-baked matzo, the bending of the knee towards the east, and the ritual reading of specified Torah sections:

Those of you diligent to do a cut and paste and a find a Hebrew translator will understand very quickly why we have abandoned organized religion. (For those who can't be bothered, Deuteronomy 25:11. Something about goats, begetting and cutting off body parts. Seriously.)

Let this be our official season's greetings card to all our friends and family.

We sincerely hope you enjoy your holiday, made even more special this year, thanks to the tireless efforts of our president who declared (strongly/bigly/mightily) that the War on Christmas is over.

Finally, after a long, long absence, the oversized trees and the flashing lights and the caroling and the candy canes and the fruitcake and the mall Santas and the sleighs and the elves and the bells and the wreaths and the ugly sweaters and the sappy movies and the candles and the cookies and the parades and the wrapping paper and the reindeer and the car antler attachments, are back.

So without fear of any persecution or retribution, I can fearlessly say, "Merry Christmas."

Monday, December 18, 2017

Good morning 2018!

Smell that?

There's something in the air. And it's not the smokey ashy remains of the nearby Thomas Fire that is literally eating up huge swaths of the Santa Monica mountains. Nor is it the decaying flesh of a democracy that once had the world's respect but now has a monopoly on the world's disdain thanks to a covfefe-drinking, pussy grabbing, would-be book burner.

No, the thing that I caught whiff of and haven't smelled in a long, long time is called hope. It's the refreshing aroma of optimism.

I'm not speaking in political terms, something I've been doing way too much of.

Because it would be all too easy to be fooled by Alabama's recent election of Doug Moore. Yes, he won. But let's not forget it was by the slimmest of margins. Let's not also forget his opponent was a child molesting, gun toting, Stone Age Bible thumper. Roy Moore did everything but don a KKK white robe to the podium and claim he was a card-carrying Grand Wizard. Actually, if he had done that, he probably would've won.

My rosy outlook springs from something more personal.

Something more vocational.

As I might have mentioned last week, I've been extremely busy, lately. So busy in fact that this entry, normally written in advance on Saturday morning, is currently being penned on a Sunday, with an NFL football game blaring in the background.

After several less than busy months, I'm now swamped. Yesterday, I got a call and had to turn away an assignment. If you know me and have seen the bills from the college bursar's office at UW and CU, you know I don't do, "No."

Of course, my buoyancy goes beyond the quantitative. Yes, it is nice to be sending out invoices again. It's very nice. It's even better to be getting paid by people who are not under the thumb of Big Holding Company Schmucks.

You see, lately the spigot has been turned on by smaller, independent agencies, startups, PR agencies and even production companies.

These are people who don't govern by committee. They don't do 329 page decks. They're not lacking in confidence and don't switch up the strategy every time they get a nervous email from a twitchy,  indecisive client. The folks I've been dealing with are smart, confident and courageous. And I'm not just saying that to pander and feather my bed for 2018.

OK, maybe I am.

In any case, I'm much more bullish on the upcoming year. I know I'm botching up an aphorism used by Rob Schwartz, but maybe, after eating so much broccoli and cauliflower recently, maybe we can finally get to the ice cream.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

No Sale

This landed on my doorstep the other day. We'll get to the rest of the picture in a second.

It's a solicitation from a local real estate broker.

If you've driven around West LA, Mar Vista or Culver City, you've seen George's ubiquitous signs. He sells houses all across the spectrum. From $1 million 2 bedroom fixer uppers (sarcasm intentional) to $5 million McMansions overlooking the layer of smog that sits atop Santa Monica Bay.

I have no intention of selling my house, which I've now owned for 25 years -- that's right since I was 19 years old. But if I did, I don't think I'd be calling on George, who until now had just been some unseen name on a placard.

It has nothing to do with his ethnicity. In the politically incorrect vernacular of Kayla Moore, "I have many friends who are Orientals (again intentional, for pointed effect)."

It has much more to do with his odd closed-fisted stance.

His awkward grimace.

And that damn cowboy hat.

On top of all that, among hundreds of still photos presented to him, he chose this one for his public debut. That's just not the kind of business acumen I'm looking for in a real estate agent. Or a plumber. Or even the busboy at Pacos Tacos on Centinela.

Also, dude, what's with the shoes? Even I know how to pick better shoes than that.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Baseball been very very good to me.

I ran into a fellow freelancer a couple of weeks ago. Like me, he abandoned the staff model and put on his mercenary gear a little more than ten years ago. We knew each other by name but we'd never met.

As is always the case, we started trading war stories.

He told me his experience toiling in the hallways of __ & __________. I think it's best that I leave them unnamed. He said there was one week, on a particularly brutal assignment, where he was asked to remain on the premises until 5 AM.

Let me just stipulate that at this point in my life I could be at the most rocking, most debauched Hollywood A-list party and Scarlet Johansen could be hand feeding me crab cake appetizers from the Ivy while Charlize Theron was pouring $500 champagne down my gullet and I still wouldn't be sticking around until 5 AM.

At 5 AM, I'm tucked under my covers in deep sleep.

Or I'm being awakened by my neighbor's mangey dogs.

What I'm not doing is sitting opposite my partner at the Long Table of Mediocrity™ trying to crack a brief and pimping Bagel Bites or some newfangled brand of three ply toilet paper.

He went on to tell me how the Monday-into-Tuesday debacle was followed by 4 more late nights of the same nature.

5 AM.
5 AM.
5 AM.
5 AM.

One part of me wanted to admire him for his fortitude and persistence. The other part of me, the cranky, old, fuck-this-business part of me prevailed and said,

"Are you out of your mind? That's just batshit crazy and unacceptable."

What's most upsetting about this type of Bataan Death March approach to advertising is the idiocy of it all. You can't deprive top performing people of their sleep and then expect them to be at their best 5-6 hours later.

Not to be too presumptuous, but Clayton Kershaw didn't pitch all 6 games of the last World Series. Davey Roberts, and every other manager in the league, knows the value of rest.

Ad people, simply do not.

To make matters worse, I found out this fellow soldier on the front lines of copywriting did not bill for the many, many, many extra hours. A big no-no. Time is money. That's something I learned from the holding companies.

If clients get billed for extra agency time, agencies get billed for mine.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Last Call

"ooo ooo ooo, ooo ooo ooo
Well, they closed down the auto plant in Mahwah late last month..."

-- Johnny 99, Bruce Springsteen

I grew up and went to high school with guys like Johnny 99. In large part because the Ford plant in Mahwah, New Jersey, the one spoken of by The Boss, was 5 minutes down the road from my house in Suffern, New York.

That factory is not the only place in Northern NJ to be immortalized in pop culture. Many might remember the Bada Bing Strip Joint...I'm sorry, Gentleman's Club...made famous by Tony Soprano and his "business associates."

Unlike other Hollywood fabrications, there really is a gentleman's club on Rt. 17 just north of the cutoff to Rt. 4 and the gateway to the George Washington bridge. And from what I can tell they filmed many scenes from the HBO hit show right there on the premises. But the name Bada Bing belongs to David Chase and his writers. The club's actual name is Satin Dolls.

I know because I've been there.

I'll go out on limb and suggest that a huge portion of men, from Sloatsburg, NY to Hackensack, NJ, have graced the rails of this Garden State institution and forked over fistful's of single dollar bills in the process. 

When I was growing up there, a trip to Satin Dolls was nothing less than a geographic-specific rite of passage. Like getting stoned in the parking lot of the Paramus Mall. Or ordering the Huevos Rancheros at the Stateline Diner in Ramsey.

For many of us, sneaking in with fake ID, Satin Dolls was where we felt the first pangs of love.

"Did you see the way she looked at me? Did you see how she winked? I think she likes me."

Perhaps that's why it hurt so much when I came across the news that the Bada Bing (see also Satin Dolls, see also Candy Land, see also Eager Beavers, see also The LumberYard) was bringing  Brittany to the stage for one last dance and closing its legendary doors.

The Ford Plant is gone. 

The Playboy Club at Great Gorge is gone.

The Bada Bing is gone. 

Chris Christie is gone. 

Geez, New Jersey, I hardly recognize you anymore.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas time. And I can't believe that in the nine years I've been writing this blog I've never taken the time to give you, the 21 regular readers of Roundseventeen, a Christmas gift. 

Shame on me. 

Thankfully, and due in no small part to the relentless efforts of Precedent Shitgibbon, the War on Christmas is now officially over. So not only can I finally say Merry Christmas, I can match the thought with deed.

And I suspect, we're all in serious need of some yuletide cheer. 

Southern California and the Middle East are going up in flames.

Sexual predators are reproducing like sexual predators.

And North Korea is still trying to decide which West Coast city to target with their Big Boom Boom nuclear weapon. For selfish reasons I hope they don't choose Los Angeles. Or Seattle. Or San Francisco. Or Portland.

I hope they pick Oceanside, I once bought some bad weed in Oceanside.

Let's get back to the gift giving.

The thing I hear most, whether it's via email, text, the rare phone call, or the even rarer personal appearance at an ad agency, is how much people love it when I take planners down a notch. I've even got a got a few loyalists who forward me articles, anecdotes and youtube videos. Mostly videos of wild haired Brits who have carved out a niche for themselves in the arena of Fecal Thought Tossing. I won't say their names, but they rhyme with Dingy and Flaris.

Truth is, between the amount of material I am sent and the real life interactions I've accumulated I could fill the pages of Roundseventeen with nothing but planning-related blog entries. The other truth is I have no desire to paint all planners with the same brush of tar. Some are actually helpful. The one I worked with with last week. And the team of planners I'm working with this week, come to mind.

They're smart.
And concise.
Concision is so underrated.

Today's gift springs from none of that.

In fact, what I'm about to show you was buried deep within a 156 page, 3/4 inch thick planning brief I received a long time ago from an agency that will remain anonymous and a client that will also remain anonymous. Suffice to say, we were asked to pimp pizza that had bacon stuffed in the crust.

I'm not the brightest bulb in the package. If I were, I'd be writing a TV show or movies. Or hawking my newest book on an around-the-world book tour paid for by Random House. Staying at fancy hotels and abusing my room service privileges.

"Hi, can you send up a $23 pitcher of orange juice and the $78 dollar lox and bagel plate?"

But come on, it's pizza, with bacon, how hard can it be to figure that out?

This hard:

I don't know about you but every time I look at this poorly-crafted chart my jaw, already in the slack position from 30 plus years in this business, finds a new level of slackiness. It hurts that someone thought a chart like this would be useful. It hurts even more than I have to be given direction by someone who prepares a chart like this.

And this, which says so little but also says so much, is emblematic of advertising today.

Somebody (somebodies - a team, a pod or a SWAT) took the time to prepare this. Somebody higher up the chain had to approve it. A client had to sign off on it. And then, three hours of valuable time had to be wasted presenting this, and other nonsense, to a bunch of cynical, overpaid creatives who had to fight like hell not to do a spit take of high priced non-fat lattes across the table.

I look at this and reflect on the nature of our business. And in the vernacular of the day and that awful sense of helplessness that I see so much of these days...

"I just can't."

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Today in Random Photopourri

As I mentioned earlier in the week, these are quite busy times. Which is good, because I have some making up to do. I know thanks to deregulation and our increased reliance on coal, the economy is booming. Sadly however those boom times have not trickled down to advertising.

And if revenue doesn't pick up in 2018 I may be forced to sell my Gulfstream V, despite the generous new federal subsidies.

Fingers crossed.

In any case, we're foregoing the writing and making with the photos.

From the deep phone archives, my daughter teaching me how to dance. 
I think this was from the Bat Mitzvah circuit 2009.

It's a Rich Seagull. Get it?

On the way to the top of FlatIron 1.
Boulder, Colorado at its best.

My youngest daughter is fascinated by Guy Fieri.
I find POTUS, equally repulsive. Hence.

Why yes that is a woman wearing a Jiffy pop container as a hat.

Could not sell one of these on the inter webs.

From the Summer of 2017.
Or it could have been last week.
They're all the same.

Soviet Space Dogs. Google it.

Authentic Kenyan beer, from the worst Kenyan restaurant in all of America.

23andMe says this woman is a cousin. 
I don't see the family resemblance.

I think there's more resemblance here.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Staying Tuned

Not long ago, I found myself wide awake at 12:38 AM. This is not at all unusual as I've always been a bit of night owl.

During a futile search for some non-Trump related entertainment I came across the end of True Romance. A movie I have always enjoyed.

For one, the movie was written by Quinton Tarantino. And features none of his cinematic indulgences. There are no time deconstructions. No Q cameos. And no attempts to show off his filmic chops. It's a simple, straightforward story about two characters who find themselves falling in love after finding a suitcase full of cocaine that was owned by a Detroit Mafia underlord.

Our heroes try to sell the coke to some sleazy movie producers/drugs dealers. And the movie takes every opportunity to mock Hollywood for all its worth.

That alone is worth the price of admission.

I stuck around through the credits just to tally up the remarkable cast that includes Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, and Samuel Jackson.

That's enough star power for two movies.

Just before the credits ran out and the last signature notes from the Hans Zimmer soundtrack were played, I noticed something interesting. A thank you to Morgan Creek, Gary Robinson and the producers of another movie, Stay Tuned.

Holy Crap, I thought, that's the Peter Hyams comedy cult classic that I had a very, very minor role in.

I'm sure I knew this before, but it slipped my rapidly failing 44 year old mind. So I went to the DVR to record the next showing of True Romance. And sure enough, about a third of the way in, there was the scene where Brad Pitt, playing the stoned roommate of Michael Rappaport, is waking and baking and watching Stay Tuned. 

To recap, I'm watching a movie on television and inside this movie there's a character watching a television that is playing a movie and that movie is all about getting trapped inside a television.

I don't know if anything could get more meta. It was meta, wrapped in a meta tortilla, topped with melting meta cheese and served in a meta combo plate.

And today, the whole thing came full circle as a residual check from the Writer's Guild showed up in my mailbox.

Keep in mind the clip from Stay Tuned lasted no more than a second and a half on screen. So $10.69 is not bad. However, it should also be noted that the Senate just revised our tax code and $8.37 of that will be going to Scrotey McMoneybags and the proper maintenance of his Gulfstream 4.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Say Hello to Krampus

Last week I introduced the Caganer (literally The Shitter) to an adoring public.

Sadly, many people were not aware of this 500 year old Christmas tradition.

They had heard, via Fox News and Precedent Shitgibbon, of the relentless War on Christmas. That's right, a War on Christmas. Despite Christmas being everywhere. From the festooned lights on the Power Tool section at the local Home Depot to the Merry Christmas toilet paper at my local Union 76 station, which I discovered at the very last minute while on my hike to the Baldwin Hills Overlook. But many remain clueless about some of the minor yuletide festivities that make this holiday so special.

And as I've made it my duty to tell the complete Christmas story, let me introduce you to Krampus.

I might have written about Krampus before, but at the risk of repeating myself, I'm going to venture here again. Perhaps because I'm so fascinated by this thinly-veiled antisemitic creature -- note the horns, the large nose and the predilection for preying on nice goyish children.

Krampus was born in Eastern Europe/Southwest Russia, a stretch of land that has always been so welcoming to my people. You can think of Krampus as the 180 degree opposite of St. Nick.

You see, while Santa Claus rewarded small children for obedience and godliness and general good behavior, Krampus came to scare the living bejeezus out of kids who were naughty. Kids who didn't put the cap back on the toothpaste. Or kids who were just butt ugly.

Contrary to the illustration above, Krampus doesn't abduct or eat small children. Or even drain their blood for the making of the matzo. He simply gives them bad Christmas presents. Lumps of coal. Or rutenbundles. 

It should come as no surprise that Germans have a phrase for this, rotten gifts

These rutenbundles could be anything from a scratchy woolen sweater. Or Cheap Taiwanese-made electronic toys that require some assembly. And don't include batteries. The hard to find HHH alkaline batteries.

I do believe this ogre, this madman, this anthropomorphic creation of all that evil in this world should be familiar to all Americans.

Particularly in 2017, when it appears he has moved into the cockroach/vermin/kleptocrat-infested White House.

Monday, December 4, 2017

On the incredible boredom of being slow

Not long ago, on one of those Facebook groups designed specifically for advertising freelancers, a member asked, "What's the longest slow period you've ever lived through?" Some of the answers were shocking.

Two months.

Six Months.

A year.

A year!

Dude, if you haven't worked a year in advertising, you're not in advertising.

In my 13 years as a freelancer, I've never experienced a fallow period of that magnitude. I'll find a local dry cleaner that needs to have their coupons spruced up before I suffer through anything that severe. However, in the interest of putting all my cards on the table, I have just concluded a fortnight of fucking doing nothing.

Phone calls were made. Phone calls were not returned.

Emails were sent. Emails were not replied to.

I did receive a text regarding the possibility of working on a high visibility Super Bowl spot. But like so many November false starts, it went nowhere.

If I'm being even more honest, the two weeks I'm speaking of could have been three weeks. The days in my den tend to blur together. A fuzzy haze of day drinking, excessive weight lifting, and if you know me on Facebook or Twitter, endless Trump railing. I have enough memes and rants to fill a book. But I won't torture anyone with another one of those ventures.

I can imagine my non-stop references to Precedent Shitgibbon can get quite boorish. On the other hand, I receive so many random emails (not job inquiries mind you) of people telling me how much they love the pointed political repartee.

Plus, as I've told my wife, I couldn't stop it even if I wanted to.

Thank god the slow period has ended. And unlike the weather in Southern California, where, when it rains it drizzles and then it stops drizzling and then it doesn't drizzle for another month, in the freelance world, when it rains it pours.

Now my calendar is booked solid.

The Bullett Rye will go back to to the liquor cabinet.

The two-a-day Body Beast workouts will get cut down to one.

And the Trump memes, on everything from his corrupt cabinet, to his hate tweets, to his disassembly of all that is cherished in this once great nation, not to mention his nefarious financial and political connections to the Russian Mafia, the Russian oligarchs and the serious chess-playing Russian government, will grind to a merciful halt.

Yeah, probably not.
I hate that fat, fishbrained fuckknuckle.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


It's Thursday already.

Wow, these things come up on me faster and faster. Perhaps more so this week because after a bothersome slow period, I've suddenly become very busy again. 

And for the freelancer, busy is good. It means, even at my advanced age of 44, my services are still in demand. Though after seeing that MasterPass spot earlier in the week, that should go without saying.

In any case, it's time for random photos found on my phone.

Let's get to it.

This is a Spanish actor. You've probably seen him in that pharmaceutical ad 
(I can't remember which one). He has a signature dance move that guides him through his day at the office, a walk thru the park, even while mowing his lawn. 
I can't get enough of him.

I have an equal fascination with old Cadillacs. 
This Brougham model was spotted on Culver Blvd. 
I dig the vinyl top.

That's my wife. 
That's our incredibly expensive suite at the Rancho Valencia Inn.
And that's a $23 cranberry scone she just polished off.

Been going to a lot more museums lately.
I love odd art. 
The odder the better.

Take this for example.

Not only do I like going to museums, I like going on our new Metro trains.
I could ride the trains all day.
Once work slows down, I'm going to do that.

A lemon from one of my two lemon trees.
It looks like it's giving me the finger.

So does this transducer box found on Jefferson Blvd.

The newest installation at the Baldwin Hills Overlook.

The walk there never gets old.