Thursday, August 30, 2018

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?

Today's Thursday Thrashing letter is a little different.

It's a letter to a Republican US Senator.

But it's not thrashing.

In fact, this was written before I decided to embark on my mission to write to each and every Republican Senator for a good tongue lashing. This was penned in the very early days of the Precedent Shitgibbon administration.

My concern was hardly unwarranted. Look how far we have sunk since then.



Senator John McCain
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator McCain,


I don’t need to tell you how important it is. And how it determines a man’s character. 

I may not have agreed with you on many policy issues, but I have always been an admirer because in addition to your military service you have always exhibited integrity.

Character. Honesty. And perseverance, are important to me as well. 

They're the kind of attributes I hope I've instilled in my two daughters, currently at the University of Washington and at the University of Colorado. But I’m going to be brutally honest with you, watching the transition of power at the Federal level over the course of the last two weeks has given me great concern. 

And considerable heartburn.

Because I know, and you know, and I’m betting many of your colleagues know, the man in the Oval Office is seriously lacking in integrity. 

And grace. 

And humility.

I don’t need to cite examples of his shameful indiscretions. I’d prefer to keep this missive to two pages, not twenty.

Am I overreacting? Possibly. There hasn’t been a day in the last fortnight when I haven’t awoken in the morning, turned on the news and thought, “Holy shit what has he done now?”

I suspect millions of Americans, in blue states and red states, are waking up the same way.

Today, for instance, I saw a quote from Steve Bannon, our proxy president, stating that in a few years we will be at war with China. 

That is not very comforting.

I lived through the Watergate era. And I witnessed the amazing checks and balances built into our system of government by the wise forefathers. And unlike Mr. Trump, I can even name some of those forefathers. 

That’s where you come in because I am clinging to the faint hope that Congress and the judicial branch will hold the administration’s feet to the fire.

The viability and very future of this nation is in YOUR hands. You sir, have integrity. And it’s never been more necessary than at this very moment.

Thank you,

Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

You're Out of order

As I sit down to another morning of manifestos, anthems and banner ads that will never see the light of day but do put food on my table, I can't help but wonder "what if?"

What if, during my college years, I had been less interested in alcohol and more interested in attending classes that I was actually paying for?

What if, instead of floundering around in the food industry and skating by on my excessively good looks I put my oversized nose to the grindstone?

What if I had followed a different path, not one driven by taglines, weasel words, and clever slogans, but by torts and courts?

In other words, what if I had become a Lawyer?

No one knows how farfetched that idea seems better than me. Particularly considering my problems with authority, my inability to navigate office politics and my total disdain for anything that resembles convention.

And yet in the months following my graduation I began exploring the possibility. Mind you, I was an abysmal student at Syracuse University. I graduated with a 2.0000017 GPA. I'm surprised they even rented me a cap and gown for the ceremony which I have no recollection of, thank you Jack Daniels.

So the prospect of gaining admission to any respectable law school was nil.

Fortunately there were plenty of non-respectable law schools willing to take my money. And so, for 6 months I hit the law prep books. I taught myself how to read case law (I think that's what they call it.) And on a hot sweltering weekend I subjected myself to the rigors of the LSAT tests.

Weeks later my scores came back. And I kind of shocked myself. I had done surprisingly well.

So well in fact that while I failed to gain admission to Murray's Law Emporium and Car Wash, I was actually waitlisted at Southwestern Law School, once attended by Donald Sterling, Los Angeles' most famous racist.

Of course, that's not the road I chose. Nevertheless it's hard not to consider the possibilities. Particularly now that night after relentless night we are all being schooled with the intricacies of the law, compliments of one Unindicted Co-Conspirator, Precedent Shitgibbon.

The Law lost out.

After all, how could I have turned down the lucrative and glamorous world of advertising? Especially when Needham Harper & Steers was paying their entry level Mailroom Clerks $9800/year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Hurt so good

If I may borrow a phrase from White House Chief of Staff and America's highest paid Eunuch, General John Kelly, my wife and I are in the barrel -- I think I'm using that phrase correctly.

Not long ago, my wife left her part time job repping the Harvard Business Review. Trying to sell ad space in print is difficult. Trying to sell ad space in a magazine with no pictures, no cartoons and no levity whatsoever is like trying to peddle lawn sprinklers in Hawaii.

Now that she is home she has plenty of time to monitor my excessive coffee intake, hound me about taking out the garbage and inquire about the last time I shaved or took a shower.

But there's also a downside.

You see when she departed her job she also left behind our prized medical care. Hence, the barrel reference.

Contrary to what you might have heard, shopping for health insurance is no picnic. Indeed it is 180 degrees from retail therapy. And in no small fit of irony, sorting through all those options and payment plans can induce headaches, ticks, twitches, spasms and, my favorite, irritable bowel syndrome.

"Should symptoms persist, rush immediately to Canada or some other Democratic Socialist country with universal healthcare."

Making the matter worse, the sales materials read like the IKEA assembly instructions, in their original Swedish.

"Det finns en 20% sambetalning plus en $5000 självrisk."
"Du kan välja någon av våra godkända läkare, er ... veternarians"

"Kanske borde du extrahera din egen njursten."
In short it's a lot of money. It's thoroughly confusing. And because there are so many options and so many life impacting decisions to be made, I completely shut down. I told my wife that it was in her wheelhouse. Just like our wedding. 

In fact, just as I told her oh so many years ago, I said the exact same thing.

"I'll write the check. Just tell me when and where to show up."

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Lost Art of Cutting

I'll be the first to admit it, when it came time to cut our first TV commercial, I had no idea what I was doing.


My partner and I were shuffled off to the Antioch Building at the old Chiat/Day compound in Venice. (I have worked in four separate Chiat/Day offices, this by far was my favorite.) The editor, a friendly bloke from England, showed us the monstrously-large Chem Machine, a Guttenberg Press by today's standards. And on this machine, he cut tiny strips of film.

I won't bore you with all the details, suffice to say, it was here that I began to understand the fundamentals of storytelling via film, now HD video.

It's a process with no finish line. Like BBQ'ing the perfect brisket on the smoker. Or navigating an unwinnable argument with my wife or daughters.

In other words, there's always room for improvement.
Sadly, there's also lots of room for devolvement.

I saw an ad for Carl's Jr. the other night. It was 15 seconds long. And 14 seconds too long. There must have been 63 cuts in this indecipherable mess. A cacophony of cheese melting, burgers flipping, tomatoes slicing and mouths chewing. All topped by a non-linear mish mash of words spoken (?) by Oscar-winnning actor Matthew McConaughey.

What's the idea here?

Where is the persuasion?

How does this million dollar effort, and I'm being conservative on that, cut the mustard with the various levels of corporate bureaucracy that must have given it its approval?

It's bewildering.

I know as a 44 year old man, I'm not exactly in the target audience for this type of advertising. But as an overseasoned veteran of the business, I'm also pretty sure I know how to look past all that and judge a spot on its merits.

Or, maybe I don't.

Maybe I've come full circle and again have no idea what I'm doing or what appeals to audiences. Because the other night, my 21 year old daughter had a bunch of friends over and they were all gathered around an iPad to watch youtube videos.

There was oooing.
And ahhhing.
And screeching. Lots of screeching.
And there was no tearing them, or the 6, 738,941 other youtube viewers, away from this compelling video.

I present this with many qualifiers.
This is not for the squeamish or easily confused.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Halfway Home

Today is letter #25 in our Thursday thrashing letters.

We are half way home.

Today we reach out to South Carolina's own Tim Scott, who prides himself on bringing the president along with his progression in the area of racial enlightenment.




Senator Tim Scott
717 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Scott,

I'm a white guy.

You're not a white guy.

Consequently, I'm going to tread lightly here, a lot lighter than I have in my previous 24 letters to Republican Senators.

Who am I kidding,? No, I'm not.

You see, although my skin is white, sometimes a bit more olive-like if I've been hiking or swimming with any regularity, I'm also a member of The Tribe. And in the eyes of many of your hooded South Carolina constituents, I, like you, are colloquially referred to as "mud peoples."

Don't believe me, take a look at or or any of the thousands alt. right, all white websites who have spent the entirety of the 18 month Shitgibbon administration drooling over their alleged supremacy.

It pains me that I have to point this out to you. You seem to be blissfully unaware of your excessive melatonin.

Last year, for instance, you were nowhere to be seen or heard from when immediately after the incident at Charlottesville, Captain Fuckknuckle declared, "there were very fine people on both sides."


Where were the very fine people on the Nazi side?

While one stormtrooper was plowing through the crowd in his Dodge Challenger were the "very fine people" off in a different part of town, refilling the tiki torches with fresh kerosene?

Did they stay back at the Comfort Inn to iron the khakis and polo shirts of their fellow fascists?

Maybe they were preparing snack trays and juice boxes?  You know kicking antifa ass and bullying the local synagogue can really sap one's energy.

Face it Tim, you dropped the meat in the dirt.

And last week you picked up that year-old, filthy meat and decided to throw it on the grill and eat it. After our fat, frothy flap dragon tweeted out some half hearted pabulum -- "I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence" -- you demanded a soapbox so you could applaud his bravery and proudly proclaim...

"The President is showing signs of a better direction for the nation."

Good night nurse, are you playing the part of Stephen in Django Unchained II?

You're not convinced he's an out and out racist after the debacle with the Central Park Five, the housing discrimination suits, calling Africa a bunch of shithole countries, singling out NFL players, calling Omarosa a "dog", playing the low IQ trope, and literally standing at a press conference and saying out loud, "Where's my African American?"

You need to wake up and smell the Strange Fruit

Get with the program, Tim.

Or is it Tom?


Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Dazed and confused

You're looking at a movie set.

The movie is currently playing in theaters and you may even recognize this as the location for Eighth Grade.

Of course, now that the lighting, equipment and make up trucks have all shipped out, the set has been broken down and returned to its original function -- the Suffern Middle School, my old school.

I haven't seen the movie, and probably won't.

I don't have much desire to revisit this period in my life.  Just looking at the building brings back a flood of memories. Mostly in the form of odors.

I can smell the anxiety. I can smell the tuna fish casserole wafting from the cafeteria. And I can smell the bathrooms, an unpleasant combination of disinfectant and stale cigarettes.

I also remember failure. As if being 13 weren't difficult enough, the powers that be at the school thought I would be a good candidate to skip a grade, at least in Math. They placed me in one of a very few advanced classes, Algebra with Mr. Scotto.

He was kind of a rough and tumble squatty little Italian guy who did not suffer fools very well. Never sugar coated his feelings. And every once in a while would take his high performing students to Yonkers Raceway for an introduction to Statistics. Yeah sure.

After one short month in the class, it became apparent I was not going to be putting $5 down on the Trifecta. So much so that an after school conference with Scotto and my father was in order. My father, an equally squatty rough and tumble guy from the Bronx was not having any of Scotto's suggestion that I didn't belong in the class.

It wasn't pretty.

They went toe to toe.

Aquiline nose to aquiline nose.

And in the end I was given a month to either fix it or get the fuck out. Pretty sure that was a verbatim quote.

I fixed it. Completed the entire advanced math regime in high school. And went on to take two years of Advanced Calculus in college. Then wisely decided words have more magic than numbers.

It was in Eighth Grade, in the building pictured above, that I learned perhaps one of the most important lessons of my life: you gotta do the work.

But I'm still not interested in seeing the movie.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bring out the Kitsch

You are what you read.

And as child I read, or paged through, many of the books in my living room.

Among them, many coffee table books on Kitsch.

I'm not sure my mother knew what to make of them. Nor am I convinced my father fully comprehended the full irony of these campy collections. Nevertheless, the books were filled with funny crappy art and a pleasing supply of 60's go-go girls in bikinis.

And since they were on the table, they were free for the taking.

I have to believe this, as well as a lifetime agonizing over ads including advertisements for Toytotathons, PearleVision Two For One Bogo Sales and Harry's House of Catheters, have left me with a ripe appreciation for the absurd.

Hence my purchase 63 days ago from the White House Gift Shop.

My Korean Peace Talks Summit Coins have arrived. And as you can see from the picture they even included a semi-embossed Certificate of Authenticity of Origin, which frankly strikes me as redundant and Orwellian.

Nevertheless coins # 29458 and #29459 are safely in my possession.

Just as the fifty-plus nuclear missiles and ICBMs are still in the possession of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un. Despite protestations to the contrary ("The talks were a Huge success. The hugest success in the history of the planet. Bigly win. MAGA MAGA MAGA."), it's widely agreed that the summit talks were nothing more than a photo op.

If you read the press releases from the official newspaper of North Korea -- and I do -- you'd see the North Koreans calling us stupid, gangsta-like, and impudent.

They like that word, impudent.

Face it folks, that fat fucker with the funny hair (Kim), is not going to give up his nukes.

All of which makes the coins, which will now constitute the bulk of the Siegel family heirloom, priceless and invaluable. They are a 3.4 ounce testament to every failed effort of our incompetent, golf-playing, pussy-grabbing, democracy-demolishing dickhead at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Suffice to say, I love these coins. And the only thing that would have made the purchase even more satisfying would have been a typo on the certificate.

Or even better, on the coin.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Jury Doodie

Today I'm going tell a story I've already told on this forum. But I'm not doing it because I've run out of material or because it's a slow news day. I'm retelling this tale because this morning, some of us, are eagerly awaiting the verdict of a small trial taking place in Virginia, The United States of America vs. Paul "Manport" Manafort.

Who knows how this thing is going to go? Juries are funny. I know, from experience.

You see, whereas many of you look to avoid jury duty, I cherish it. I love watching our system in action.

A few years ago I was summoned to the courthouse in Inglewood. And unlike many of my peers, I answered all the questions truthfully, dare I suggest, even eloquently. Suffice to say I found myself "in the box."

After the case had been presented by a skilled district attorney, we were hustled off into the deliberation room. As soon as we sat at the big round table, and believe me I was disappointed it wasn't one of those long rectangular tables as seen in 12 Angry Men, things got interesting.  It began with an elderly black woman who turned to me and said...

"We need a Jury Foreman, it should be you," as she gently jabbed me in the shoulder with her long pink fingernail.

"Why is that?" I replied. 

"You sound smart."

And that was good enough for me.

I did what any newly-selected Jury Foreman does, I took a straw poll.

It was 11-1 guilty. But before I could get a word out to interrogate the one Not Guilty holdout, the lady with the pink fingernails shot out of her chair with the kind of energy one would not expect from a 73 year old woman.

"Boy, I'm gonna come across this table and slap the stupid out of you. That guy robbed the 7-11. The DA showed us security camera video of that guy robbing the 7-11. And when the cops chased him down five minutes from the store, that motherfucker in the blue shirt and tan shorts was sucking on a Big Gulp from the goddamn 7-11. I want to get home to watch my soaps. You best be changing your damn vote."

Pretty sure I heard the bailiff outside the door chortling up a storm.

In any case, the hold out could hold out no longer and immediately changed his vote.

But there's no guarantee there's not someone equally brain damaged sitting on the jury in Virginia.

In fact, considering 63 million Americans voted for the shitstain currently in the White House, there's a good chance there's more than one.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Getting on the bandwagon

We're suspending our regularly scheduled Thursday Thrashing letter to a US Senate Republican for a special posting on RoundSeventeen.

As you might have heard, today newspapers across the country are taking a pause to stand up for themselves. They're calling for an end to Precedent Shitgibbon's attack on the media and his calling them "the enemy of the people."

I'm jumping on that bandwagon.

Not because I have anything useful or helpful to add, I don't. But simply to express my wholehearted support for our First Amendment and the freedom of speech. Other than my friends, family and 2015 Audi S5 with the 335 horsepower supercharged engine, it's the most precious thing in my life.

It's simple really, I like being able to say what I think and think what I like. And having grown up exclusively in America I can't imagine life any other way.

Of course that's not true for all the inhabitants of the planet. Maybe that's why so many of them want to come here?

There's a lot of talk about American exceptionalism. Particularly from people who wear flag bikinis, keep multiple pocket constitutions, fetishize over guns, and look for every opportunity to shout U.S.A., U S.A..

But if you ask me the thing that makes America exceptional I'd tell you it's the thing that made America in the first place -- the love of liberty. And that starts with the unfettered, unrestricted, unbridled freedom of the press.

And now it's under attack. On a daily basis.

Last week I saw a poll that found more than 40% of our fellow countrymen -- I hesitate to call them American -- are fine with the notion of the president of somehow "handling" or "curtailing" the rights of the press. Funny how for these strict Constitutionalists, the First Amendment takes a broken back seat to the Second. Give those people some free swastika armbands.

Speaking of the Third Reich, in many European countries it is not only forbidden but illegal to deny the Holocaust, say you don't like Jews (though for many it simply doesn't need to be said) or to print or publish anything than can be deemed hateful or Nazi-like. You can be sure that stuff makes my blood boil with the heat of 1000 suns.

And while I may be a fan of the Europeans and their universal health care systems, their free college education, their abundant mass transit and the host of amenities they wisely offer to their people because they understand progress, I simply abhor their laws abridging freedom of speech. Don't have a stomach for it and can easily see how laws like that can put a country on a slippery slope.

In fact given a choice to live in a country with clearly superior standard of living or a country with clearly superior liberties to do and say as I please, I'll take the latter.

U S A!
U S A!
U S A!

Oh and one more thing, FUCK YOU Donald Trump!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Land of the free, home of the brave, sanctuary of the stupid.

There is a commonly quoted corporate aphorism -- and by the way, I hate corporate aphorisms -- that goes to the tune of something like this:

"Always aspire to be the dumbest person in the room."

It's meant to encourage listening. It's a way of promoting humility. It's a subtle way of suggesting that you surround yourself with people smarter than yourself. I don't want to sound immodest, but that is becoming increasingly difficult.

Now, I try not to let mass media and social media shape my perceptions of this world. That's an uphill battle to be sure. But it's also hard to look the other way when man (or woman) on the street interviews go like this...

INTERVIEWER: Who won the Civil War?

MAN #1: We did.

WOMAN #1: The British.

MAN #2: The Nazis?

WOMAN #2: The Civil War? Is that the one with George Washington?

Who are these people?

Did they go to the same schools I did?

Are they topping off their coffee with turpentine and RoundUp?

And by the way, this stupefaction cuts across both sides of the aisle. I've seen conservatives who couldn't locate North Korea on a map. And liberals who couldn't locate South Korea even after spotting them the whereabouts of North Korea.

Moreover, this appalling lack of education has little to do with...wait for

Not long ago, I saw a student on the street interviewing session conducted at UCLA. Full disclosure, neither of my daughters were accepted at the UC schools which would have saved me considerable money. Presumably, my kids didn't meet the high scholastic standards upheld by the great state of California.

INTERVIEWER: How many Muslim countries are there in the Middle East?

STUDENT #1: Three.

STUDENT #2: Twenty seven.

STUDENT #3: Fifty Five.

INTERVIEWER: And how many Jewish countries are there in the Middle East?

STUDENT #4: Six.

STUDENT #2: Eight.

STUDENT #3: Twenty Two?

I've made no secret of my loathing and lava-hot disdain for Precedent Shitgibbon, a twatwaffle who doesn't read books, who has no sense of history, and all the intellectual curiosity of a driving range golfball.

He is monumentally unfit to be our president.

But considering our collective laziness, our apathy, our proven stupidity and our one dimensional jingoism, maybe he is the president we deserve.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fatherhood 101

The end is in sight.

I just received a notice from the bursar's office at the University of Colorado. They also call it CU, which defies the previous moniker. In the four years that we have been associated with the Buffs in Boulder, I never seem to get it right. But that's not important.

What's important is that there are only two invoices left. When we started this whole college education mishigas there were significantly more.

Let's do the math:

Rachel (my oldest)

4 years of college.
3 payments per year (they're were on the trimester system)
= 12 units of of payment

Abby (my youngest)

4 years of college
2 payments per year
= 8 units of payment

All tolled, that is 20 total payments that really could have been put to better use for a vacation home on a lake in upstate NY, a moored yacht in Marina del Rey (boating makes me seasick but I like the very goyish idea of owning a yacht) or even a cherry red, 661 horsepower Ferrari GTB (though I might have back trouble getting in and out of the vehicle.)

But again, I digress.

The point is after this morning's check goes out for the 19th payment unit, there is only ONE left.

The implications are self evident. It means my wife and I no longer have to subside on Top Ramen and sneaker soup. It means we no longer have to saunter into fast food restaurants to steal condiments. And we can stop re-using old napkins and sun dried paper towels.

Of course I'm overstating the financial hardships. We don't steal ketchup packets, we're mustard people.

I will say none of this would have been possible had it not been for the smart decision to start funding the California 529 accounts a long long time ago. That and marrying my wife and not taking a job at _______ &________, stand amongst the wisest choices I've ever made.

I often pass this advice along to all the new young fathers I run into during the course of my freelancing adventures. And by the way, all the new fathers I run into are young. I rarely encounter anyone who is 44, like me.

Fund those 529's, I will say.
And while I'm dispensing fatherly advice I often add the following:

If the baby starts crying in the middle of the night you have to wake up with your wife and tend to it. She might have the breastesses. And you might be totally helpless. But if you don't drag your ass out of bed, you'll never hear the end of it. Never.

Change those diapers. Oh sure it's funny to make jokes about it. And to crack wise about the mysterious goo that comes of your kid, but you have to hold your breath and get wrist deep in the muck. And I'm not saying just one or two a week. If you're not carrying your fair share of the load --pun intended -- you will never live it down. Again, never.

And finally, and this is directed at fathers with daughters, if you take the time to get down on the floor and play Pretty Princess™ with your girls, and you put on the bracelets and the necklaces and such, make sure your wife takes a picture of it. Better yet, many pictures.

Because your daughters will quickly forget how cute you looked with the Royal Tiara and you'll want to have some proof that you took part in your child's rearing.

Trust me.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Whig Whig Whig

They say everything that goes around, comes around.

The recent notification in my Facebook feed proves that. It was an invitation to join America's fastest growing alternative political party -- the Whig Party.

For those of you who didn't skip class during 11th grade American History, the Whigs rose to prominence prior to the Civil War. Their heyday was in the 1840's.

I'd be lying if I said I could articulate their policies and where they might stand on the issues of the day. But, in the fine tradition of willful ignorance, misinformation and downright dumbery, I'm not going to let that stop me. It hasn't stopped Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and even our own modern day Eva Braun, Laura Ingraham.

My fascination with the Whigs started a long time ago, a lifetime ago. And it has less to do with their platform and more -- much more -- to do with their homophonic name.

Shortly after transplanting myself from NY to sunny Southern California, I found myself living in a ramshackle bungalow, deep in the heart of Mar Vista. It was the worst house on the block. And it was directly across the street from a halfway home where they incarcerated Fatty Arbuckle for child molestation.

One night, my roommates and I started scheming, as twenty year olds are wont to do. It was a presidential election year and we thought it would be fun to throw a party.

Not some little get-together. Not some, "hey let's put on some Fedora and Pork Pie hats and lounge around on our expensive patio furniture" hipster shindig. But a real party -- a Whig Party.

300 people showed up.

All of them wearing wigs, short wigs, long wigs, rainbow colored wigs, merkins-turned-into-wigs.

If they showed up without a wig, we provided one (we visited Robinson's Beautilities on Venice Blvd and actually purchased 50 used wigs just for the occasion.) To this day I love the fact that we didn't go in for a dime, we went in for a dollar.

The entire house was festooned with streamers, banners, balloons and buntings.

Moreover, since we were all in the advertising/entertainment/arts field, there were posters and campaign slogans everywhere you looked. We staged the entire thing like a political convention, with two competing candidates: Arnie Rolaids and Herman Hardwick.

The police showed up twice.

One woman went to the Emergency Room.

And for months, dare I say years after that, friends who attended, friends who still have their wig, would attest to being at the greatest party ever thrown west of the 405.

Who knows, perhaps one of them is behind today's Whig Resurgence?



Did someone say they want to see pictures?

Oh yeah, we even had our hand gesture.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Please pass the borscht.

We are quickly approaching the halfway point.

This is Letter #24 in my Thursday Thrashing Series.

Not long ago, Alabama's Senator Doug Jones got all the press when he beat Roy Moore in a special election. If you haven't met his Republican counterpart, today you will.

Say hello to Comrade Richard Shelby.



Senator Richard Shelby
304 Russell Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Shelby,

I have been around old people. I know that sometimes they say funny things. Or their minds have turned to mush and they make odd decisions.

"Grandpa, that's not the TV, that's the microwave oven. Come sit over here."

It is for that reason that I am willing to cut you, an 84 year old man, a little slack. For the record, if you've seen any of the 23 previous letters written to Republican US Senators as as part of my yearlong campaign, you'd know that I'm not big on slack cutting.

Last month, you joined a group of fellow Republicans on a knuckle-headed trip to Moscow. And as part of the Prostrate Eight, you deferred, demurred and genuflected before your new Russian overlords. 

And you did it all during the July 4th holidays, our national celebration of independence, freedom and liberty. 

You have to admit, the optics on that suck. Or, as they might say in the Motherland, suckski.

But I spent many years in the corporate business world and I know a little about reluctant supplication. 

On many occasions, I answered to creative directors who were directors in no sense of the word, nor had any inkling of creativity. 

For years, and for no other reason than to take home a biweekly paycheck, I bowed down to vice presidents and C-Suiters who were nothing more than lumpish, tickle-brained, barnacle-bellied clotpoles.  

And finally, and this one still sticks in my craw, at the peak of my career, I toiled silently for a drunken douchebiscuit who resided permanently at the bottom of a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka.

What I'm trying to say Senator is,  "I get it." 

At some point, at some time, for some reason, we all have to do what we don't want to do. So when Precedent Shitgibbon calls and says he needs you to do the Kremlin Two Step, you, a good ole boy from Alabama, put on your dancing shoes.

But I'm scratching my hairless head over something else you did.

At the Helsinki Summit, Vlad the Dad suggested sending US diplomats and officials back to Russia to answer questions about crimes committed in the past. You know, for a friendly "interrogation."

To their credit, 98 US Senators, including every one of your Republican colleagues, voted vociferously to deny sending anybody back for a Moscow Sit-down. Understandably, Senator John McCain, in the throes of brain cancer, did not participate in the vote.

Un-understandably neither did you.

It's got me wondering.

How many rubles have they sent to your offshore bank account?
Were you promised a lavish dacha in Rublevka?
Is it Shelby or is it Shelboyevich?

Suddenly, that whole Crimson Tide thing makes a lot more sense.


Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

...And you are...

As I have detailed on many occasion, I'm a big fan of working remotely.

At my house, we have an open office plan, but I'm the only one in the office.

At my house, there's no Long Table of Mediocrity™.

At my house, I have the coffee I like, the toilet paper I like, and the yellow peaches I like, not those shitty white ones which frankly are an abomination and unfit for human consumption.

Most importantly, at my house, which doubles as my work environment, there are always new ways to create tax deductible expenses, despite Precedent Shitgibbon's imbecilic new tax code.

Last week and for the first time in a long time, I was summoned to come in to a big ad agency, a big ad agency where I have done a ton of work. This is unusual for several reasons, but mostly because the work I'm doing these days is largely direct-to-small underfunded clients, small agencies, and even clients outside the purvey of advertising.

The time away from a big agency had a surprisingly refreshing effect. I actually missed the place. I missed the energy. The zeal. And the manufactured sense of everybody working for a common goal. Perhaps I was taken in by all that youth.

But I must admit it was also nice to see so many vaguely familiar faces.

And by that I mean every time I turned the corner I was greeted by someone I had worked with in the past. At one of the 100 agencies I had worked at in the past. Even more astonishing, people actually seemed happy to see me. Much more so than my kids. Or my wife.

"Rich Siegel? Look at you. You haven't changed a bit. It's so good to see you."

Of course, within seconds, this quickly turned into a humiliating experience, because for the life of me I can't remember the names of any of the people who seemed to derive so much joy from the temporary reunion.

Even more embarrassing, I'm not 100% sure I couldn't remember those names because I never knew them in the first place.

And for that I need to make a full-throated public apology.

There is a silver lining in all this.

Because if I never knew your name, or knew it but now have forgotten it, there's a 100% probability you never crossed me, never shivved me in the back, never stepped on my chrome dome to thoughtlessly further your career.

Because I NEVER forget the names of those people.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Brothers in Arms

This is Mark Knopfler.

You may be familiar with his work when he was with the band, Dire Straits. But his career has gone way beyond the early 80's pop stage. In fact, his signature guitar style has made him a favorite for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And deservedly so, as he has brought his artistry to so many genres including jazz, country, acoustic and many more.

If you haven't guessed I'm a big fan.

The other day, while streaming some videos shot on his 2006 All the Road Running tour with Emmy Lou Harris (and if you haven't watched it, you should and you're welcome) I decided to open up another browser window and dig into Mark's background.

And much to my delight I discovered that he is Jewish.

More accurately, he is half Jewish. His father was MOT but his mother was not.

In other words, just like me.

Mark also describes himself as a non-believing Jew, an atheist, again, just like me. By the way, most Jews, schooled in a miserable history of pogroms, persecution, the Holocaust, and the paucity of good Jewish baseball players, have no belief in God.

Can you blame us?

But even more astonishing, Mark was born in Glasgow, Scotland. That makes him quite the rare breed -- a non-believing, half Scot, half Jew. In other words, that's my breed.

As I have discussed before, my mother was from Paisely, in the hardscrabble suburbs of Glasgow.

I'm no fanboy.
And there really is no point to all of this.
I just can't get over how much I have in common with Mark Knopfler.

Apart from Mark being monumentally talented and consequentially, monumentally wealthy,  we  have one additional major difference.

He's 68 years old.

I'm only 44.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Attack of the Unicorns

I'm not big on forum decorum.

If you've been reading any of the close to 2000 entries on this blog during the last ten years you know I don't have any rules or restrictions about what I talk about.

Topics here have included everything from poopenisms ("I have to dump all my shares of Hometown Buffet") to planners (The strategy is "Blue") to politics (let's leave it at Shitgibbon and say no more.)

When it comes to social media, I'm a First Amendment Absolutist. Anybody should be free to say anything they like, anywhere they like it.

But I do have a bone to pick with what I call the Awesome Sauce Nitwits.

They often pop up on LinkedIn, a site for business and professionals. Often in the form of a video. And often delivered by a "Brand Unicorn", "Revenue Charmer" or a "Princess of Profit."

And again, let me stress that I have no problem that they're delivering their "Life Altering Messages" on Linkedin. You could argue they're simply networking and self promoting, I'm no stranger to that.

The sand that gets between my thick and hairy thighs, is the prolific pointless puffery they pass off as some kind of business insight. Even in this Trumpian age of 24 hour a day horsecockery, it is so ridiculously transparent.

Allow me to paraphrase.

"Hey Guys. Hope you're having an awesome day. Even more awesome than yesterday. I just want to share with you some super cool news I heard that can help you in your sales meetings, your presentations, even your apres work networking seshes. Here it is, and I'm gonna whisper cause I don't want everyone to know this super effective, super awesome secret. Are you ready? Smile. That's it. Just smile. Seriously guys, it's gonna unlock doors, open up possibilities and transform your lives in a bubblelicious way that's covered in fabulousness and a double heaping of awesome sauce. See you tomorrow guys."

Someone fucking shoot me.

Lest there be any question about gender bias, you should know I'd be just as bent over the porcelain throne, returning my overpriced Mediterranean lunch to the sea, if the preceding message, or a thousand just as inane as that, were delivered by a man.

And in fact, they are.

Perhaps you've witnessed the smarmy, high energy asshattery of one Gary V. His video missives have all the value of a discarded MicroSoft Zune.

I don't know what world these snake charmers work in, but it bears little resemblance to mine.

You want some dimestore advice on how to get ahead in your career?

Nourish your skills.
Work harder than the next guy or girl.
Work smarter, too.
Make yourself valuable.
Take on responsibility.
Lose the affectations.
Be aware of your environment.
Put your nose to the grindstone.
And keep it there until you have enough money to stay out of a dirty nursing home.

Do all that and you'll have a reason to smile.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Ladies and gentleman, I give you United States Senator James Lankford

Letter #23 in my Thursday Thrashing Series.

In the barrel today, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford and man who successfully tied his own tie on the third try.



Senator James Lankford
316 Hart Senate Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Lankford,

Recently, you were interviewed on ABC News and were asked about the Special Counsel's investigation into the Russian attack on our sovereignty. 

You said, and I want to get this verbatim, "the whole thing has gotten confused because Americans turn on the TV everyday and regardless of what channel or where they go to look for news online or in print, it's constantly something else seems to be the story."

Maybe that's Oklahoma-speak, but that's a lot to unpack. 

But just as I have with the 22 letters to other Republican US Senators (part of my year long, letter writing effort) that have preceded this one, I'm game.

First of all Senator, people should not be getting their news from TV. Television is good for getting the latest sports scores, dishing on the Kardashians or even Jeopardy. 

Do you have Jeopardy in Oklahoma, or do they just run Wheel of Fortune back to back?

Secondly, and more importantly, why do you presume to speak for the American people. Maybe you're confused, but I'm not. For instance:

* I know collusion is a non-binding euphemism for conspiracy (a crime)

* I understand the notion of Kompromat, thus explaining the president's supplication. I already pre-ordered the Pee-Pee tape

* I see a team of Precedent Shitgibbon's accomplices who had more than 70 illicit meetings with Russians prior to the election

* I recognize cover-ups, obfuscation and authoritarianism in plain sight (I wish the GOP did as well)

* I follow the comings and goings of Felix Sater, Victor Vekselberg, Deripashka, Boris Ephstyn, Bayrock, Erik Prince, 666 Fifth Avenue, George Nader and many more. 

It's deep. 
It's robust. 
It's slimy and un-American, but it's not confusing.

I can only surmise this has everything to do with what does or doesn't pass for intelligence in the great state of Oklahoma. 

A storied keystone of our nation that has given us the Grapes of Wrath, corn as high as an elephant's eye, surrey's with fringes on top and of course, the crown jewel contribution to western civilization, Brian Bosworth.

 I'll be the first to admit that these are nothing but low, cheap shots based on ill-informed hackneyed stereotypes and clichés. But that seems to be the coin of the realm these days, doesn't it Senator?  Not thanks to my president, Obama, but thanks to yours -- Captain Fuckknuckle.

If any one is confused these days, I would suggest it's the GOP leadership. Or as I call them, Vichy II.


Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Is that a helicopter?

Three weeks after graduating college, I bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles, packed a duffel bag and said goodbye to Suffern, NY. I carved out a life for myself here and with the exception of weddings, funerals, vacations and business trips, never gone back.

Dead set on becoming a writer, I had no idea what I was doing.

Convinced I couldn't make a dime as a writer, my father tried to steer me in another direction. Any direction. He arranged for me to get a job at his company's warehouse/distribution center. As a fork lift driver in Gardena. It was actually in Compton, but for the purposes of making sales calls everyone was told to say Gardena.

"How am I going to get to Gardena, Dad? I live in a boarding house in Westwood and I don't have a car."

"Get a bicycle."

Clearly, fathers have no business getting in the business of their children's burgeoning careers. But just as it didn't stop my father -- I drove that damn forklift for over a year -- it's not going to stop me.

My oldest daughter, Rachel, graduated from the University of Washington back in June. She appeared numerous times on's the Dean's List and now has a degree in Public Health. For the past month she has been traveling with friends, Israel, Greece and Portugal. But she's back. And now it's time for the rubber to hit the road.

Like many newcomers to the Real World, she's not sure what she wants to do. There's still an interest in Public Health. But there's a also a growing interest in making some money. And, don't ask me why, a never ending interest in driving one of these...

This is where you, the well-connected and well-intentioned readers of Roundseventeen, come in.

I'm looking for any type of leads or opportunities. It could be in advertising. It could be in production.  It could be in anything, healthcare, entertainment, law, even accounting.

Only, it has to be local to here in LA. I've gone four years without hanging out with my smart, funny and beautiful daughter. And I'd to be able to spend time with her.

And I need her around to pick the dog poop in the yard.