Thursday, August 29, 2019

All in on brown.

I see brown people.

Perhaps because I live in Los Angeles, approximately 150 miles from the Mexican border, I see brown people every day.

For the last two months, I saw brown people in my house. Owing in large part to the bathroom remodeling we just completed.

We had brown people of two varieties traipsing up and down my stairs. Israeli contractors. And their Hispanic subcontractors.

For every Schmuley there was a Paco.
For every Alon there was a Pedro.
For every Moshe there get the point.

To be honest it was quite fascinating to see the men conversing in broken Hebrew and broken Spanish. It seemed like every conversation ended in English, "That's gonna cost you about a thousand bucks."

I know this will sound like heresy to those in the Red Hat Brigade, but I love brown people. And unlike the supporters of Captain Ouchie Foot, I see the immigrant culture as being additive to ours. In fact as I look back on my journey from upstate New York to Southern California, I see how I owe so much to brown people.

My first job here was as a Line Cook/Caterer/Kitchen Manager at a hugely successful restaurant. I would have been tossed out on my ass if it were not for Fernando, the huskier-than-me back of the house assistant chef who had literally written the menu for the place. He brought his grandmother's recipes from Guatemala and taught me how to bake bread, tenderize pork ribs, and make beans, all from scratch.

He also provided me with a refresher course in Kitchen Spanish so that I could supervise the entire crew including Abel, Miguel, Jorge, Carlos, and so many more. Not one of them spoke a word of English but took great delight that their Jeffe Gordo (me) could curse at will in their native tongue.

After every shift, we drank lots of beer and had lots of laughs.

Later in life, we had the opportunity to hire Husta, the nanny who worked across the street from us. She too barely spoke English. But she was well versed in the language of Mother. And cared for our girls as if they were her own. My wife will tell you Husta changed more diapers than I did. To which I could only weakly respond with, "Yeah, but I paid for those diapers."

Because of the language barrier, Husta did not watch TV. And so, on nights that we would go out and escape from the kids, we would come back and find our house had been cleaned from ceiling to baseboard. Thus taking the edge off any shitty movie we had bothered to see.

Tomorrow is Friday. Which means our gardener Freddy will be here. He's about the same age as me, but has the energy of a man half our age -- that would be 22. He mows, he prunes, he digs, he plants, he roots, he does everything 10 gardeners would do. And he does it with a smile on his face and a "God Bless" about every five minutes. I haven't had the heart to tell Freddy I'm an atheist, but I don't think he'd hold it against me.

These are good, hardworking, honest people with warm hearts. They want the best for their families and the best for others. They're not criminals or rapists or drug dealers, as Captain Fucknuckle has ignorantly suggested. In fact even on their worst day, they embody more American ideals than he ever could on his best.

I would gladly, whole-heartedly, take any of these people (and there are many, many more) to be my president. Each and every one of them would be an improvement over the floundering fustilarian flapdragon that now lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

I can hear the naysayers poo-pooing that suggestion out of hand.

"They could not be president. These are uneducated people. They have no background in politics. And know nothing about diplomacy, technology, science, business, and the mechanics of running a country. Plus, they don't speak English."

To which I would say, "Have you been following the news lately?"

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The planets were aligned

We went to see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood last Saturday night. We loved it. Our daughter, a native born Southern Californian did not.

"It was too long. Too self referential. Too indulgent. And too damn long."

Clearly, she needed a Snickers, so we decided to get something to eat.

On the way to the restaurant we mosied on over to Culver City's latest development -- there are many -- the Culver Steps. They all seem to sport architect-inspired catchy names: The Platform, The Steps, The Plaza, The Dungeon, The Abyss, The 9th Gate of Retail Hell. You get the point.

Construction is still going on, but it is clear to see this development will soon become the center of attention in Culver City, bringing with it, traffic, people and street performers. I have little stomach for amateur balloon benders, clowns, and roving troupes of untalented cartwheeling boys/girls. More ominous than that is the promise of public urination.

We stopped visiting the Santa Monica Promenade years ago. When the Santa Anas are blowing, the omnipresent stench of pee pee can be detected all the way over in Culver City.

But I digress. We still have a year or so before all that retail tzuris reaches us. In the meantime there was an older gentleman on the plaza who had set up a very expensive looking telescope. He had a small gaggle of people surrounding him. As we passed, he leaned over and said, "Do you want to see Saturn?" 

Hell yes, I want to see Saturn.

Just a few months ago, I had carted my Brookstone-purchased telescope up to the Eastern Sierras for the same purpose. That endeavor did not end well.

"I'm not sure if that's Saturn, or a speck of dust on the lens." 

I might not have properly calibrated the azimuth. Or triangulated the scope with the North Star. Or it might just have been an excess of rum and cokes. But I can tell you setting up a telescope is not layman's work.

But Mr. Pith Helmet Man on the Plaza had no such issues. From the ooohs and ahhhs, coming from the passersby it was clear this was a fellow who had read the instruction manual.

We stepped up to the scope, gently leaned in and peaked through the quarter-sized lens.

It was unmistakable. It was magnificent. It was Saturn.

Mind you, you couldn't see any color. The rings looked more like one ring. And the image was considerably smaller than the picture above.

In fact, it looked more like this...

Only, about 1000% smaller.

Nevertheless it was exhilarating. More importantly, it gave me an opportunity to unleash my inner 14 year old in front of a captive audience, and I know you see this coming.

"Thanks mister. That was great. Can you show us Uranus?"

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

But wait there's more.

Today is all about Synergy.

And for those of you who might be wondering, yes, I did a Google Images search on the word and purposely picked the cheesiest, most woke, depiction.

That, I might add, was no small task. Because if you were to replicate my search you would find pages and pages of tired, simplistic and anodyne images, enough to fill a million once-opened powerpoint decks that are now destined for the digital landfill.

So why synergy? Because as you are reading this on a fine Tuesday morning, I am at a recording studio doing a podcast with my former writing partner and current TBWA CEO Rob Schwartz. He generously invited me to chime in on his Disruptor Series. Though, as I made clear to him, I'm not sure what I have disrupted.

Nevertheless, it's an opportunity to pimp my new book. Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington. You can be certain I'm also going to mention this blog. That's what we call brand amplification.

OK, I would never use those words. Those are usually spoken by the younger, more polished people in the room, usually while I'm in the bathroom or stuffing my craw with free danish.

As readers of this blog know, I'm not big on marketingese, nor after 35 years in the business, am I clear on the rigors or science of what it is we do. I only know that when the metal is hot you've got to grab the brass ring.

Something to that effect.

And so to complete today's synergistic circle, I'm bringing you some unsolicited, uncompensated reviews from satisfied readers.

From Director and ad legend Gary Johns...

From another ad legend, the pithier Luke Sullivan.

And from a slew of happy readers who have made my book the 2037th bestselling book in the Civics and Citizenship category (one of the most popular on Amazon, I'm told) I give you these...

Well, there it is. A pretty compelling and synergistic case for adding my book to your cart.

Will this be the last time you'll ever hear me hawking my wares?

Probably not.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Sold out

I'm old enough to remember a time when Jeep did award winning TV commercials. The picture above is a screen grab from a spot appropriately called "SNOW." You can see it here.

It features no copy.
There's barely a line a of type at the end.

And there's not even a shot of the car.
Meaning, it's all left to the imagination of the viewer.

It's enough to make the heads of data-driven, client-pleasing, formula-loving creatives spin off their axes. Nevertheless the ad went on to win a shit ton of awards. And more importantly, it separated Jeep from the herd of SUV's that now choke our roads and highways and parking lots of Super Target stores throughout the country.

That was then, and this is now.

That's Oscar-nominated actor Jeremy Renner and his new Jeep. He must have a few new Jeeps. Because every time I turn on the TV to watch a preseason football game, there's Jeremy. Crooning about his Jeep Compass. Or writing love songs to his Jeep Rubicon. Or just getting way too happy about an automotive brand that has seen better days.

I'm not gonna bash the spots themselves, or the creatives responsible for that mishegas. (I'm told that's not good form, although it's a little late in the game for me to be worried about that.)

But I have to wonder what was going through Jeremy Renner's head when he agreed to cash in his hugely successful acting career for an opportunity to don a black leather duster, kick up some sand and wax poetic about an underpowered crossover with all the cache of a Daihaitsu.

On the other hand, who am I to get so high and mighty?

Jeremy is probably waiting for the third coat of shellac to dry on his beautiful new custom built 50 foot mahogany yacht and I've got my fingers crossed that Harry's House of Catheters wants to pull the trigger on an end of year clearance sale so I can pay for a new timing chain on my 2007 Lexus.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

I can't teach.

Took a little mental inventory the other day. Turns out I know a lot of teachers.

My brother in law is a teacher. His sister and her husband are teachers.

My camping buddy is a teacher. His wife is a teacher/administrator.

My former roommate/writing partner is a teacher. Actually, a professor at Fordham.

And almost everyone I know in advertising who is my age (44) or greater has gone on to become a teacher. Most of them teaching the "profession" of advertising.

I never looked at what we do as some type scholarly field worthy of a classroom or a chalkboard. I tend to see what we do as my former boss Steve Hayden sees it -- "Oh you can make money slapping clever words on pictures to sell shit, cool."

That is not to say I haven't considered it, I have. Nor is it to say I've never been approached to "teach" a class, I have.

Besides the obvious salary reduction, the hours spent confined in a classroom and the self-imposed discipline of forcing myself to wear a tie --all proper teachers should wear a tie -- I simply have no idea how I'd go about explaining how to do, what it is I do.

1. Put on a big pot of coffee. I like a dark roast to start the caffeine flow as quickly as possible.

2. Log onto to the computer. First check social media. Get that morning fit of rage out of your system.

3. Snap off a few quick wisecrack comments. I call this limbering up.

4. Look at the brief.

5. Find ways to ignore the brief. If planners and strategists were any good at what they do, they'd be writers and art directors.

6. Start writing.

7. Keep writing.

8. Stop writing, allow myself some distraction. Go back to Facebook and make a few more wisecrack comments. I call this staying warm.

9. Throw out the initial work, chances are it sucks.

10. Start writing again. Then write some more.

That's about it.

For the second class I'd be drawing a complete blank.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Greatest Ever.

Last week, Avi Dan had an article in Forbes, A Time Machine Through Madison Ave.: The Greatest Agencies, Ever.

I knew from the title that I would be blogging about it. Mostly borne from the fact that I spent the formative years of my career at #3 Chiat/Day. As well as a not so fruitful year working on Apple --during the rudderless Steve Jobs-less period -- while at #5 BBDO. And my last official staff gig at #10 on the list, the geographically undesirable Y&R, where the daily 106 mile commute finally broke my will to survive.

I knew I'd be writing about the piece, but I didn't know what I'd write.

The temptation was there to turn this post into another thinly veiled, self serving, self promotion. But then thought better of it. Especially since I've spent the last few weeks pimping my new book. And I just came off a great assignment with another great agency.

It's time to tone down the chest beating and turn the humility lever up to 11.

And so, in re-reading the article, which is largely on the nose, I couldn't help pick up on our industry's eternal navel-gazing. Do attorneys jockey for position to make the list of Top 10 Torts & Civil Litigation Law Firms in the country? Do dental partnerships angle to make the list of Top 10 Root Canal Extracters, Ever?

I don't know.

But I do know my father, an industrious CPA, spent a lifetime balancing books and shaving corporate expenses without ever seeing his name or his firm's name in print. And so with that, I give you the A Time Machine Through Earned Income Credit: The Greatest Accounting Firms in the History of Mankind.

Dawson, Bergquist & Gallagher : In 1973, these ingenious fellows found a way to write off the cost of skyrocketing fuel as both a cost of operations expense as well as an evergreen liability. Thus twisting the code in favor of their client and saving $38,941.29.

Tannenbaum & Partners: Working on behalf of their client, Tannenbaum & Partners fought tooth and nail against the IRS who claimed their client, Chimmy Changa's Churros out of Saltillo, owed more than  $73, 931.47 in back taxes. Tannenbaum papered those government boys with long, flowing briefs. And cited so many obscure cases, with beautifully detailed references, the IRS just threw up their arms and cried Uncle.

Caplan, Hoffman and Schwartz: These grizzled CPAs are in a class by themselves. Well versed in the long storied history of chartered accountancy, these seasoned vets can talk your ears off about capital expenditure, asset-backed securities and collateralized debt obligation. Accounting students will be studying their case histories for years to come. And hopefully live by their timeless maxim: Look, listen, deduct.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Deplorable Rich Siegel

A few weeks ago I got an odd facebook friend request. It was from a fellow in upstate New York who just happens to be named Rich Siegel.

Prior to this I thought I was familiar with some of the other Rich Siegels of this world.

There's a Rich Siegel in Northern California who runs a very successful software company. He can talk bits and bytes and java-scripted HTML flicks flacks until the sentient beings who run the Matrix are flush out of 1' and 0's.

There's another Rich Siegel, who hails from Spring Valley, NY (right next to Suffern, my hometown). He is my age (44) and apparently knows some of the same Rockland County people that I do.

And now there's this new Rich Siegel from Kingston.

I knew nothing about him. But my camping buddy and fellow connoisseur of BBQ meats Paul Sinfield told me he received a friend request from a Paul Sinfield in Liverpool and now they chat regularly and swap hilarious soccer stories.

So, I thought I'd give this Rich Siegel mook a chance. Maybe make a friend. At the very least, maybe I could convince him to buy my new book.

Those thoughts quickly vanished when it turned out New Rich Siegel is quite the Trump apologist. He's also an impressive semantic gymnast, finding endless ways to twist and contort the actions of Captain Ouchie Foot.

By now the dialogue is quite familiar...

"Well, I don't fully support the man, he's rude and crude and often says hateful things. Plus his behavior is childish and not fitting for a president, but I fully endorse the policies he's enacting."

Blah, Blah, blah.

What policies would those be? Kidnapping children from their mothers? Ripping up regulations that protect the environment? Bowing and caving in to dictators like Putin and Kim Jong Un? Trashing the press, the FBI and the intel community?

Sorry Rich Siegel, know-nothing, half-hearted neutrality doesn't cut it in 2019.

You're either against this raging, incompetent douchewaffle who is marching this country off to Chapter 11 court or you're for the racism, the misogyny, the grifting, the lying, the kidnapping, the murder, and the daily shitting upon our Constitution and the societal norms that once defined American Exceptionalism.

Put another way, a way I don't often say out loud, "Rich Siegel is kind of a dick."

Monday, August 19, 2019

Faked Out News

We elected a businessman to be President of the United States. In years past, I might have thought this was a good idea. In fact, when given the opportunity to pull the lever in 1980, I pulled it for Ross Perot. 

Mostly because I thought he was funny and had a slew of Texas maxims that I could listen to until my ears bled.

"He walks like a two headed alligator who just raided a chicken coop."

"She's got the face of a wildebeast that fell of a jagged cliff."

"That makes as much sense as three swollen teats on a volleyball."

Don't bother looking these up, I'm just making it up as I go along. And apparently, so is the "businessman" Dumb America installed as POTUS in 2016.

I use airquotes intentionally. Because he does not do business the way any other legitimate businessman or businesswoman ever would.

And today is the perfect day to make this point. 

You see, on June 17, 2019, Captain Ouchie Foot was being interviewed by George Stephanopoulis of ABC News. Naturally, he was combative, glib and altogether untruthful. He told George, possibly after explaining the finer details of windmill cancer, that his administration had been stealthily working on a beautiful and "phenomenal" (his words) new healthcare plan that would cover pre-existing conditions and would feature lower premiums.

Phenomenal, right?

I invite you to check your calendar.  

We are past the two month deadline he set for himself. He doesn't talk about it. Nor does the press. But I'm talking about it. Because it amply demonstrates his utter incompetence and obscene mendacity. Also, and you can call me elitist for saying so, it shines an oh-so-brilliant spotlight on the Kool Aid drinking deplorables who willingly allow themselves to be flim flammed by this piggish flim flammer.

I understand how busy our beslubbering coxcomb must be -- Russian overlords must be answered, racial tensions must be stoked and rallies must be rallied -- but allow me to explain how this type of behavior would play out in the real world of business.

Let's assume I was still employed at an ad agency and we had just answered an RFP for a big packaged goods account. Let's also say the agency had made the cutdown list to three contenders. And let's further speculate that chemistry checks had been passed, preliminary financial terms had been worked out, briefs had been given and a full board presentation had been scheduled for a date in two months time.

How do you suppose that client would react, if, on the agreed upon presentation date, we had not bothered to show up?

Not because we missed a plane connection.
Not because the dog chewed up the deck.
Not because of anything that might even remotely pass for acceptable in the real business world.


We didn't show up with the work,

because we didn't do the work,

and we didn't do the work,

or even pretend to do the work,

because we decided to play golf.


Thursday, August 15, 2019


This popped up in my Facebook Memories yesterday. It's from 7 years ago.

I know many readers are familiar with the Spy vs. Spy antics that Erik Moe and I engage in on But many of you don't know that our rift started a long time ago. On a different social media platform.

And so, because I am extremely busy these days, pimping my new book as well as feverishly writing TV spots for a major automaker, I'm going to slip out of today's writing responsibilities, reach into the memory vault and reprint the tete a tete shenanigans from a better time, 2012.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Tale of the Taza

A little more than a year ago, my partner Jean Robaire and I participated in something called a Tazathon. It was basically a very small client seeking the help of big agency creatives without having to pay big agency fees or pay for big agency Friday morning breakfasts.

There was a small stipend involved, hardly enough to cover our costs.

And there was the possibility that the winning team could walk away with a growing client, in an interesting category, with some major upside potential.

Many of our colleagues thought it was stupid for us to throw our ushankas in the ring. But it was during a slow period and Jean and I like to stay busy. Plus, despite being from Boston, they seemed like very nice people.

So, we put together (without a planner I might add) a presentation of two soup-to-nuts campaigns. The client loved the work but, I suspect because of the geography, kept the business closer and went with a team from Faaaahmingham.

That's how things go in this business. We are no strangers to disappointment.

Last week I reconnected with the client and asked permission to show some of the work.

Permission granted.

(Please keep in mind, this is all rough without the benefit of color correction, photo finishing and whatever else art directors do before sending out a ready-to-roll mechanical.)

We started boldly, with a kick off open letter to the CEO at Hershey's Chocolate.

And we married that with the proposal to set up these stands on all the roads leading into Hershey, Pennsylvania.

We did the traditional media as well as the digital stuff (cause it's what all the kids are doing these days.)

And we didn't forget experiential. We suggested they take over Fenway Park for a night, provide sampling to all the fans. And for one night only, turn the Green Monster into something not so green.

And then for no other reason than I like to write full page newspaper ads, we threw one more at them.

Should we have won? I'm a little biased and can't really say.

But I do know this. 

You might not have heard of Taza a year ago, but if we had been given a chance to run this work (and a lot more), you'd have heard of them by now.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Talk to the hand

I don't use the n-word. I don't like getting in my daughter's car, where the radio is tuned to some hip hop station, and hearing the n-word.

Similarly, non Jews should not be telling Jewish jokes. Though people in Colorado apparently have no problem telling Jew jokes right to my youngest daughter's face.

In any case, there are some unwritten rules of etiquette we should all abide by.

However I will not accept any directives from the social media police (apparently many have been deputized), who regularly flag down my posts as inappropriate.

I'm looking at you Linkedin.

If I have to suffer through a cavalcade of Tony Robbins wannabe's with their handheld iPhone sermonettes on "courage", "positivity", "content generation" "data driven creativity" and the omnipresent "crushing", well then I'm going to exercise some of those same liberties and post my snarky comments.

My impromptu political observation.

And most importantly, my book promotions.

And frankly, you can rain all the head shaking disapproval on me that you'd like, I'm still going to work those free algorithms to my advantage.

Much of that stems from the fact that I am 44 years old and care less about what other people think of me than Captain Ouchie Foot cares about immigrant children being snatched from their parents.

Besides, if push came to shove, I could argue that all my posts on LinkedIn are vocationally legitimate.

I'm a writer, I write.

I write ads.
I write books.
I write TV shows.
I write movies.

Ipso, facto, anything I write -- and I use that in the broadest sense of the word -- is part and parcel of my career.

And what social media platform do we all use to advance our careers, even those that are in obvious decline due to a stubborn unwillingness to compromise and sit at the Long Table of Mediocrity™?


I rest my case.

Speaking of cases, shouldn't your bookcase be sporting this blockbuster, currently the 293,827th bestselling book in America?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Mea Culpa

There's an anecdote, and I hope I get this right, in Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs. In it, an engineer is seated before Steve, hoping to get approval on some new fangled device, it doesn't matter which one.

Steve carefully examines the prototype. He holds it, he turns over, he gives it the once over, as only Jobs could do.

Then, upon closer inspection, he spots a tiny nodule of plastic.

"What about this?" he says.

"Don't worry about that," the engineer explains, "when the cover is on, it's not visible, no one will even know it's there."

"I'll know it's there, " he boomed, "fix it."

Today I find myself in that engineer's shoes. I screwed up. I made a mess. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I have to own the mistake(s).

As many of you know, I just published a new book, Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington. It's a compilation of letters I wrote to each and every GOP US Senator. But, and this is why I became a writer and not a CPA as my father wanted, I messed up on the details.

Somehow in the assembly of the huge document, I inadvertently forgot to include two letters. This in no way detracts from the book, as there are 57 finely-hewn molotov missives directed at members of the Upper Chamber.

Chances are you would never notice as there's enough venom in the book to take down an elephant.

But, the letters were written, here and here, and they deserve to be in the book. Thanks to the magic of print on demand, the unabridged version is now available for purchase. (I am grateful for all those who bought the book and in no way suggesting you buy it again.)

That covers off the Mea.

Now comes the Culpa.

I don't know how this happened, but somehow I also neglected to include the letter written to Ms. Lindsey Graham, the Senator with the most punchable face in DC. Not only did I fail to include the letter, it turns out after going through my extensive files, I hadn't even written it.

As a result, I spent a considerable part of the weekend beating myself up. Then I picked myself up off the floor of Shame and started with the clicking and clacking on the keyboard.

My wife thinks I'm crazy and touched with a bit of OCD.

"No one's going to notice there are letters missing. And no one is going to know."

"Yes, but I'll know."

I apologize to those who have already the book and have included the last, the very last letter for your perusal...

Senator Lindsey Graham
Aunt Pity Patty


Senator Lindsey Graham
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Graham,

I owe you an apology. 

I recently published a new book entitled Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington, wherein I wrote letters to each of the GOP US Senators. Perhaps clouded by the nonstop flow of presidentially-induced rage, I somehow tripped over myself and forgot to include you.

More likely, I was pacing myself. 

You know getting the no-name Senators like Enzi, Hawley and Hoeven, out of the way. And saving my energy for the big fish like you. 

In any case, the first edition of the book has turned out to be an abridged version. 

You sir, will appear in the second. 

Because a proper dressing down of Senate GOP would not be complete without the inclusion of the most traitorous, most obsequious, most repugnant Republican who has ever crossed the threshold at the Russell Senate Office Building -- that would be you, Aunt Pity Patty.

At this point it seems redundant to rehash all the debacles of the last two years. 

Like how you went from being a Never Trumper to an Always Trumper.

Or how you preen in front of the camera making a big stink about proper presidential behavior and Russian sanctions and "smoking bone saws." 

That's just you, flapping your loose Carolina jaw.

Besides after spending an eternity in the Congress, both as a House Representative and as a Senator, I suspect your skin is tougher than the hindquarter of an old armadillo.

There's nothing this smart ass Jew from New York can say that will leave a mark.

But there is someone you might still respect, someone whose thoughts and actions and deeds might still resonate, as they still do for a once great nation. 

"Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you."

-- Senator John McCain

Any of that ring a bell, Lindsey? 

Or did your honor go into the ground with your late lifetime friend?


Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Holy Canoli

23&me tells me all about me.

It also tells me about parts of me that are found in people other than me.


I'm not talking about the ones that share my enormous hook nose or my propensity to grow unwanted hair in unreachable places. The ones I see at my dinner table on occasional birthdays or holidays. 

I'm talking about distant relatives, who not only share my swarthy Mediterranean appearance, but also, by some freak of nature share the MJ521A/C gene that regulates urine color.

Or the BK78J9P gene that enables inordinate strength.

And the ZQ915F53 gene that restricts the ability to fully understand the mechanics of the internal combustion engine. Thus resulting in overpaying for any automotive repairs.

The 23&me people are very good at updating me with lists of new distant relatives. I know it's just a marketing ploy. And a good reason for them to constantly stay on my radar so they can hawk their other services.

I know this because the list of distant relatives now includes 6th and 7th cousins. And they're coming not only from my incredibly small eastern European gene pool but from adjacent areas like Mongolia, Bulgaria and Siberia.

Nevertheless, it's interesting. At least to me.

About a year ago, I was looking over the list of distant relatives and saw a name that was oddly familiar. It was a surname from my Facebook list of friends. Moreover it wasn't Jewish, it was Italian.

Naturally I reached out to my Italian Facebook friend with a DM. I asked if she knew the person. She did. It was her uncle. Holy six degrees of separation.

Crazy, I thought. Even crazier, was the radio silence that followed this incredible discovery.

I guess if I were her and just found out I was related to Rich Siegel, I'd do the same thing. Frankly I'm surprised she didn't unfriend me, post haste.

Of course all this stringing together of DNA strands brings up a frightening possibility. What if, for instance, upon further chromosomal digging I were to find out that my wife were not only my wife but my cousin!


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Say hello to Kim Jong Pimp, World's Greatest Influencer

"That's what I love about Americans, they think of everything."

You might not expect it from a 44 year old copywriter who is starting to sprout grey in the beard, but I like to think I'm hip to what the kids are doing. And because my livelihood depends on it, I'm particularly hip to what the kids in advertising are doing.


Everybody is influencing.

Q-Dog is influencing.
K-Pac is influencing.
Even Screech from Saved By The Bell is influencing.

And aside from that one woman who claimed to have 3 million followers but could not sell $138 worth of her new clothing line, everybody is making money at this influencing thing.

So, during my recent incarceration in FaceBook Jail, I began to think, "how can I, a wily 44 year old advertising pro get in on all this hot influencing action?"

The truth of it is, I don't have much to influence about.

I know about weightlifting equipment, hiking shoes, pellet smoking grills, and beer. On top of that, I have a face for radio. And a voice for newspaper. Suffice to say, nobody knows what I look like and if they did, they would be influenced in the opposite direction.

That's when I decided I'm not right for the role, but I know someone who is.

Someone current.
Someone who loves the camera.
Someone fantastically recognizable.

I went to the IG and created a new profile, @kimjongpimp.

I invite you to follow Kimjongpimp, who has already appeared in many IG ads. Lending his formidable presence and unique cache to a variety of products.

But that's not all.

I'm also inviting potential clients out there who might want to leverage Kim's amazing global presence to, I mean sell their stuff.

What's the worst that can happen? We might get a cease and desist from the DPRK.

That would be sweet.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Hello Comrade

By now you must be familiar with the continued media mauling of Moscow Mitch.

The name stuck to old turtlehead the way an errant piece of toilet paper stuck to the shoe of our Mangled Apricot Hellbeast as he climbed aboard Air Force One, on his way to another Nazi rally.

Poor Mitchy doesn't like it.

Womp. Womp.

It trended all week long on Twitter. And now the Kentucky Democratic Party (Membership -- 31, the same number of high school graduates in the state) has begun selling Moscow Mitch T-Shirts.

Of course, since I got booked on a job and felt slightly celebratory, I bought one.

Then I got to thinking, always dangerous. And realized buying a T-Shirt was not enough to sufficiently vent the red hot anger I feel towards this Vichy collaborator. A man, who more than any other in the country, has enabled Captain Ouchie Foot in his relentless march towards authoritarianism and the mob rule of the red cap brigade.

So with Mitch currently lying helplessly with his belly pointing towards the sky, I've decided to up the ante. And pour salty borscht into the wound. And you can too.

It's simple really.

If you were to Google: English to Russian translation, you'd be greeted by a very easy to use dialogue box. And by entering text on the left side, the algorithms, flick flacks and confabulated java script html thigamajigs in your computer will magically turn it into beautiful Cyrillic, the language of our new Cossack overlords.

And so what I have done, and what I hope you will do, is to take two minutes from your busy day, track down Moscow Mitch on Twitter (@senatemajldr) and translate any and all of his tweets into Russian.

To give you an example:

It's incredibly simple and takes no time at all.

Now imagine if 10, 100 or 1000 people did this. Moscow Mitch's twitter feed would look like the original manuscript of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

We each have a responsibility to do more than just bitch about our current state of affairs. The regime change will not happen by itself. I believe in the cumulative power of small acts of disobedience.

"When they go low, we should будь готов испортить их. "

Monday, August 5, 2019

Skynet is here.

There's a lot of talk about AI, Artificial intelligence, lately.

Of course, there was a lot of talk of AI, Artificial Intelligence, way back in 1989. As evidenced by the hazy photo of this ad for Mr. Copy.

I should explain that ad is fictional. And it ran in a fictional magazine. A trade parody of ADWEEK appropriately called MADWEEK.

I know all this because we wrote MADWEEK, myself and two former copywriters, Tom Parker and Jim Jennewein. They both left the exciting, one-time lucrative world of advertising and went on to write big blockbuster movies (The Flintstones, Getting Even With Dad, Major League II, Stay Tuned and more.) Unable to resist the lure of status meetings, finicky clients, shrinking budgets and the demand to dumb everything down, I stayed put.

We accurately predicted the demise of the modern day copywriter.

Though to be honest we thought it would happen long before the open office plan, holding companies, FFDKK - Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™ and the Long Table of Mediocrity™.

You can imagine how the hipsters and the tatted digerati were shaking in their portfolios last week when it was announced that Chase, not an insignificant player, had decided to move some of their million dollar chips into AI.

From now on those scintillating statement stuffers, those tantalizing 2.75% CD interest rate announcements and those award winning descriptions of home equity lines of credit, will all be written by a machine.

It's a sad day in Adland.

To make matters worse, I have a friend who has a friend who knows a guy who has a cousin that has access to this revolutionary new advance in copywriting.

And she has agreed to write the final two paragraphs of this post using nothing but a keyword suggestion and the directive to make it snarky.

Take it away, AI:

Debating me breeding be answered an he. Spoil event was words her off cause any. Tears woman which no is world miles woody. Wished be do mutual except in effect answer. Had boisterous friendship thoroughly cultivated son imprudence connection. Windows because concern sex its. Law allow saved views hills day ten. Examine waiting his evening day passage proceed. 

Conveying or northward offending admitting perfectly my. Colonel gravity get thought fat smiling add but. Wonder twenty hunted and put income set desire expect. Am cottage calling my is mistake cousins talking up. Interested especially do impression he unpleasant traveling excellence. All few our knew time done draw ask.

What's even sadder is that many readers of R17 will consider that a major improvement.


Update: I still have a few hundred copies of MADWEEK in my garage. Happy to send anyone a copy if you'll provide a self-addressed 9X12 envelope.

Friday, August 2, 2019

The Molotov Missives

I don't usually do a post on Fridays. But today is no ordinary Friday.

Not only have I been let out of Facebook Jail, after 30 surprisingly refreshing days, seriously we should all take FB timeouts on occasion.

But as the picture would indicate, today I can announce the arrival of my new book, Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington.

Here's a better view of the cover, designed by Jean Robaire.

I'm incredibly proud of this piece. 

I challenged myself to write a letter to every GOP Senator, not an easy task, and I did.

I pushed past the inertia and got up on that angry soapbox, week after trying week.

And I put it all together, perhaps the most labor intensive part of this endeavor, in a book form that looks remarkably professional. 

I even designed and built a little website to promote the book online.

In hindsight, The Molotov Missives, may have been a better title for the book, but I opted for clarity and straightforwardness.

Mind you, I have not deluded myself into thinking this book has any import. It's sophomoric. It's crude. It's written in a satirical style that's fitting for fifteen year old boys.

In other words, it's a partial realization of a dream I had a long, long time ago, when I fantasized about my life as a writer for the National Lampoon or Spy Magazine.

I hope you can find it in your Precedent Shitgibbon-hating heart to part with 9 bucks and find a place for this book on your shelves. Or atop your toilet bowl.

If I can sell enough copies, I will use the proceeds to go to Washington, DC and set up shop at the foot of the Capitol building and hand out copies to the current politicallati.

Oh and if anyone doubts I will do that, I refer you to my earlier ushanka-wearing visits to Trump National Golf Course.

Buy the book here.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

First Galley Jitters

Today is a special day in the Siegel household.

Today I will take a seat in our living room, ironically the room where we do the least living, and gaze out onto Le Bourget Ave. Waiting with bated breath for the arrival of that ubiquitous white van. And the sight of that stoned, lackadaisical driver holding my precious order.

Today is the day the first galley of my new book arrives.

I've experienced this anxiety three times before. And yet the feeling of excitement has not diminished. To hold a book in your hand, as any visitor of a garage sale or casual browser at a Barnes & Noble (now Amazon), is not the stuff of adrenal gland overload.

However, to hold MY book in MY hands is something different. It's the culmination of months and months of work. Not unlike a mother gestating a new child. And in many ways it's more satisfying. Particularly when I find my daughter's dirty dishes in the sink. Or her Vans sneakers under the dining room table. Or dare to open the door to her car. Geez Louise, there are more car washes in Los Angeles than there are Starbucks.

I digress.

Some readers of this blog (who also happen to be writers) know exactly what I'm talking about.

Don Jung, my now retired CPA wrote a book about his time as a lighting and sound guy for the greatest rock bands that ever threw a piano off a hotel terrace.

Howie Cohen, advertising legend, wrote a book about his remarkable career in NYC and in California and now taunts me on social media with pictures of his incredible backyard pool.

Bob Hoffman, another ad legend, continues to throw rocks at the industry, making a shit ton of money on the speaking tour and hawking one of his incendiary books.

Jeff Gorman, advertising's original curmudgeon, put out an 800 page tome.

Jim Jennewein, my friend of over 30 years, accomplished screenwriter, and now professor at Fordham University, has held a first galley in his hand several times. And has several books and DVDs available on, including the timeless comedy classic, STAY TUNED.

And of course, there's Kathy Hepinstall. She spits out a new book every time she exhales. Even more infuriating, she does it with all that fancy stuff, you know: prose, character arc, subtext, symbolism, etc.

Sadly, however, there's one writer we haven't heard from in book form. Advertising's oldest living copywriter and a man known to thousands in the business as the blogging voice of reason -- George Tannenbaum.

I love George and wake up to his thoughts everyday, on He is funny, imaginative, sometimes acerbic, always relevant. He has a book in him. In fact, I would argue he has several books in him.

If the folks at Ogilvy were smart, they would fire George as a copywriter and pay him to be an artist in residence, where he could take home a check and publish his book under the auspices of WPP.

Oh, and they'd give him an office with a door.