Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Pandemic Blue Plate Special

Like many of you we are working vigorously to limit our exposure to Coronavirus Carey, a descendent of Typhoid Mary.

This is especially important now that our once furloughed daughter (three weeks ago) has been "unfurloughed" and is now back to working in an office, albeit one with a skeletal staff. The fact that they hired her back speaks volumes about the Siegel work ethic.

More importantly, it means I can start charging her rent again.

Also like many of you, we have been using grocery delivery services. Perhaps you've heard of InstaCart. Perhaps you wish you never had.

It is grocery shopping unlike any other experience. My wife and I meticulously go through the available foods on my widescreen computer. We order in bulk, in order to fill our two refrigerators. And then we are assigned a shopper, usually a pre-millineal kid invariably named K-Cube, D-Pac or Stash, who then roams the aisles at Pavilions for our stuff.

Only "our stuff" is never actually on the shelves. Which kicks off a string of text messages from our "shopper", such as...

There's no Ragu Spaghetti Sauce, would you like a jar of Murray's Spicy Garlic Ketchup?

Why, yes, of course we would.

Followed by, there's no Whole Chickens, would you like one of Buck's Free Range Pigeons?

Two, please.

And, there's no Bounty - the quicker picker upper, would you like me to raid the Men's Room and grab the stack of brown army grade paper towels sitting on the sink?


Then the dude shows up at my doorstep and drops the goodies on the porch. My wife and daughters dutifully wipe it all down with some off brand Florox Wipes and we refill the pantry and the frigerator, so we're set for another week.

And when it's all done, we sigh, collectively, and my wife sarcastically reminds me to add it all to our Gratitude List.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Foto Funnies

It's Wednesday.

Right? (double checking calendar) Yes, it's Wednesday. A notable one at that, since I just got booked on a freelance gig. Sadly, that hasn't happened in more time than I care to discuss. But in light of the times we are all surreally passing through, I don't suspect that's very unusual.

So, instead of letting loose with another rant on the current state of being, I thought we'd go to the vault and do another edition of Photo Funnies. Starting with the luggage case (see above) that quite accurately reflects our collective pandemic disposition.

This too makes its own powerful statement about our self imposed imprisonment.

As does this, which I have posted many times before but still gives me a chuckle. plus you have no idea how many stores I had to visit to find actual tubs of lard.

What's that you ask? It's a discarded receipt from CVS that could also double as a scarf for Dr. Birx.

This is a counter guy from the local Jackson Market (now currently under a total reconstruction). Naturally, I had to ask what it meant. He was reluctant to tell me. And as the father of two grown daughters I wish he had remained reluctant.

Found this in my garage. It's my original Boy Scout Canteen. I could have held onto it for sentimental reasons, but then it occurred to me it's a canteen.

That's my freshly shaven dog, Lucy, wondering why I'm taking pictures of her posing in front of iconic Sony Studios.

And finally, there's this asshat. If you want to know why he's an asshat, I suggest you zoom into one of the many fascist stickers adorning his rear windshield. Fuck him

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Foxhole Blues

One of the many humbling lessons you learn in advertising is that YOU are not the smartest person in the room.

If you're a copywriter, you have a certain gift for twisting words, assembling them in the right order and composing a compelling, persuasive case that results in a purchase or a brand consideration.

If you're an art director you have within your possession certain skills that allow you to seamlessly mix commerce with design and concept, in a way few others can.

But when the shit hits the fan, as it does in business and in the real world, like the pandemic we are living in, there are other people, not exclusively possessed with the gift of gab or the gift of art, who can do what none of us can. They are the thinkers, the leaders, the strategists. They're the ones you want in your foxhole when the firefight exceeds anything in Michael Bay's wheelhouse.

Throughout my career I have been blessed to be surrounded by industry luminaries. Brilliant, not for their ability to ride the wave of good times, but because they were built to survive and flourish through the rough times.

I watched and observed Lee Clow maneuver the tricky joining of Chiat/Day and TBWA. It was a merger of masterful proportions.

I watched and observed my former writing partner Rob Schwartz, tackle the impossible, and through relentless grit and determination forge a plan to keep our $900 million Nissan account from leaving the agency.

I watched a trio of leaders at Team One, including Scott Gilbert, Tom Cordner and Mark Monteiro, navigate the swirling, choppy waters of the mid 90's when Lexus sent a CMO to the states who spoke barely 30 words of English.

And even on a more personal level, I've watched my wife and her friends coordinate grocery exchanges, supply swaps and errand runs with neighbors and friends, in order to cut down on our collective exposure to Covid 19.

In all cases, the approaches taken were characterized by an inner calmness, a willingness to listen, careful planning, thoughtful strategy and precise execution.

In other words, the exact opposite of what we see Precedent Shitgibbon demonstrating on a daily basis during his White House Mini-rallies, including:

* Dishonesty

* Finger Pointing

* Desperate Straw clutching

*Grievance airing

* And Dangerous Dissemination of misinformation

Ask yourself America, "Can we afford to be in this turd-filled foxhole for four more years with this sniveling, responsibility-shirking cockwomble?"

Monday, April 27, 2020

Flushing 2020

2020 has not been very good to me.

Nor has it been good to anybody I know.

In addition to the pandemic which is driving us all stir crazy, but has thankfully reunited my family under one roof, there are other first world problems that all seem to cascade upon one another.

Last week, the TV in my man cave lost its signal -- the dreaded 771 signal loss message. It took me 10 calls and 10 laborious journeys through the Directv phone tree in order to reach Wendell. A conscientious DTV employee who had been on the job for more than 35 years. He walked me through the steps to re-jig my satellite connection.

Effectively going offline from the tuner that was out of whack and switching over to the tuner that was still functioning. Moreover, he set me up with an emergency appointment with a DTV technician who brought a new box and a new cable line to run from the dish to my receiver.

In short, after 10 days, I now have a fully functional TV in my office. Sadly, there's still nothing good on TV.

But wait, there's more.

Yesterday the kitchen sink would not drain. When it did drain it went right into the smaller sink with the garbage disposal. (BTW, the picture above is stock and not my kitchen sink. Mine is much more cluttered making the P-trap incredibly inaccessible.)

And so I did what my father would have done. I drank a cup of coffee, rounded up some tools from the garage, and started disassembling. Naturally the connections on my two inch PVC pipes are not held together by easy to turn plastics rings, as seen above. No, mine are strapped together by metal mesh secured by hard to reach, hard to turn metal clamps.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

I grabbed my handy dandy Leatherman all purpose tool and carefully loosened the clamps. I jimmied the trap off and exposed the main two inch pipe that exits the kitchen sinks and drains to the mainline under the house.

Then I reached for my toilet auger, best tool I ever bought. I jammed the spirally end into the opening and started pumping the handle so that it uncoiled all the way to its destination. When I pulled it back up it was caked in brown and black sludge, remnants of meals gone by, last Thanksgiving, our last summer BBQ and probably some cake from my daughter's 11th birthday.

The smell, could (apologies to George Carlin) knock a buzzard off a shitwagon.

Reassembly went much smoother. And within 10 minutes it was time to test my handiwork.


Not only was the sink draining. I even managed to get the dishwasher to run a full cycle and the dishes are clean.

It's good to know that If I never get hired for another copywriting job ever again, I have a promising future as a journeyman plumber.

I don't know about you, but I'm taking this as a sign that the worst of 2020 is behind us and that good things, shiny bright things, are on the horizon.

Also, Fuck Trump.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The American Myth of Invincibilty

They put us in danger in 2016.

When faced with a choice between a Yale Law School graduate, with an actual degree and IQ, a woman of substance and achievement, versus a reality TV "star" with known connections to NY and Russian mafia, a penchant for cheating, lying, and pussy-grabbing, a man who could not cite one Bible Verse or one favorite book he had ever read, they opted for the draft-dodging, fishbrained cockwomble.

They put us in danger in 2019.

When confronted with documented, audio and first hand accounts of this shit-stain "leader" using the power of the presidency to extort foreign allies to do his political dirty work in order for him to remain in office, and out of the reach of Johnny Law, they pressured their Republican Senators to ignore the Constitution, refuse to remove him from office, and yield to the whims of this Russo-puppet, unAmerican American "president."

And they're putting us in danger now.

When presented with scientific data and proof that the stay at home policy has reduced deaths, slowed the contagion and allowed certain countries like South Korea to begin to return to some new type of normalcy, they donned their AR 15's, camo pants, filled up their canteens, and mocked up misspelled signs and took to the streets. To fight for their God-given Constitutional rights: their right to a haircut, their right to a Popeye's Spicy Chicken Sandwich, their right to manifest their boundless ignorance and put fellow Americans at risk and deny them their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

If you ask me, and nobody is, it all stems from this unfounded, unwarranted, and unbelievably fallacious notion of American Invincibility.

"Oh sure that virus can kill those little yellow and brown people in other countries, but it ain't gonna take us down cause we're 'Murikans, god dammit."

That's not an actual quote from one of the protesters, but I contend it's an accurate amalgamation of all their pea-brained thinking.

If I may digress for a moment.

You will often hear high school students bemoaning the fact that they have to take math. More specifically, Algebra. Stating, perhaps quite accurately, "Why do I have to know this stuff, I'll never use this shit ever again in my life?"

Might I suggest now would be a good time to know a little about the exponential growth of this highly contagious disease. Because if these clueless chowderheads understood how fast and how deadly and how destructive this virus could grow, they'd take the time to review some elementary algebra...

And then they'd slip out of G.I. Jonestown gear, back into their sweat pants and park their fat Kentucky Fried chicken-fed asses in front of the TV and binge watch some Duck Dynasty.

Also, Fuck Them and Fuck Trump.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

PS, I love you.

It's been an unusually tough month. For the Siegels and for the rest of the country.

We have done our due diligence and stayed at home religiously for the past 6 weeks. We limit our grocery shopping. We allow no visitors into the house. And we knock out jigsaw puzzles by the dozens.

I'm good at finding the edge pieces, then I quit.

But on Sunday, we decided the cabin fever had reached a boiling point. So we got up early, packed our own homemade lunches and beverages. Laid out a bedsheet in the back of the SUV for our dog Lucy. And set sail for my uncle's rental house in Palm Springs.

The place is completely unfurnished. But the backyard has a heated pool, plenty of warm desert sunshine and the peace and quite that make Palm Springs a beautiful destination spot.

Did I mention the house is still available?

The drive was uneventful. In fact because LA traffic is now more like Boise traffic, we made it there in record time, one hour and 45 minutes. And that was with the unplanned stop to remove Lucy's breakfast, which she hurled all over the back of the vehicle. I might have the only dog on the planet that doesn't enjoy riding in the car or going in the water.

Nevertheless, the one day excursion was completely worth it.

While the ladies lounged and laughed by the pool, I patrolled the property picking up dozens of fallen palm frongs.

I also fell asleep on the hammock that was swayed by the high desert winds.

In all, it was a beautiful perfect day. Just what the doctored ordered.

Though we sorely need the income from the house, part of me wishes the renters would stay away, at least until after the quarantine.

At least then we'll have something to do on the weekends.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

My two amazing daughters

Years ago, the noise, the craziness, the boundless energy, would drive my crazy. I couldn't wait until they were off at college so I could get some peace and quiet.

But now, and for the past 6 weeks, they are home. And my perspective on the mayhem they bring to our home has changed.

I love it.
I love having them here.
I love having my whole family sleeping under one roof. As well as everything else under one roof.

We're diligent stay-at-homers. And I won't lie about there being no cabin fever. Of course there's cabin fever. But it's eased by watching them in action.

They were, until last week, both working remotely. My oldest got "furloughed" after she had just earned her first promotion at the company. She's been promised her old job back when this CV thing settles.

My youngest, who came home from Denver, to shelter in place here in LA, has been diligently working via Zoom. Additionally she's been putting her creativity to work by learning how to silk screen t-shirts that she is selling on E-Bay. As well as some of her trinkets that were excavated in the recent garage cleaning.

They have also turned our family room into a yoga studio. Broken out the old Wi system (which surprisingly still works) and they have been running errands so that Deb and I (both 44) have limited exposure to cretinous "freedom fighting patriots" who want to open the country back up and pump new life into this awful pandemic.

Moreover, my girls have been doing their best to clean up after themselves. This is a relatively new phenomena, which unfortunately I am prohibited from capturing on video for posterity sake.

I love my girls, all three of them, more than I can possibly say.

And while we enjoyed the Empty Nest, the not so Empty Nest isn't half bad.

Stay safe, stay home, stay healthy.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Trouble in the man cave

As if weathering the current shitstorm hitting planet Earth were not enough, and by that I mean being cooped up in the house with my crazy family, a dog that whines for a walk every five minutes, and getting stiffed for a freelance gig I completed way back in January, were not enough, the gods have decided to hurl one more torrent of wet sloppy excrement my way.

The TV in my man cave, my sanctuary, my escape hatch, is not getting a satellite signal. Instead I have the dreaded 771 - Signal Loss message beaming across an all black screen, tormenting me with a loading bar that promises progress, but does not deliver.

Worse yet, the scoundrels at AT&T, they of the billion dollar profit and the billion dollar bailout of our tax dollars, have some handy dandy do it yourself fix it solutions for me to try at my convenience.

As it turns out I have nothing but time on my hands.

So I set out to reconfibulate the flick flacks, calibrate the voltage and ohm/wattage ratio and readjust the azimuth setting so that it was in perfect alignment with DTV Sat.6831K/#4B

The first suggestion was to make sure the satellite dish bolted to my roof was not obstructed or damaged in any way. I took a hard pass on this. I have a two story house and have long since abandoned the idea of climbing around on top of the slippery asphalt shingle roof. The way 2020, and for the matter the past 4 years, have been going, it's a sure bet I would have lost my footing and fell face first into the compost bin.

The second suggestion was to disconnect all the line ins and line outs. Then reconnect them making sure the cables were firmly inserted in place. This is no small task as the receiver for my my man cave sits hidden in a closet so that the TV mounted on the wall has that nice clean, well art directed look.

Furthermore, the light in the closet does not work. And has not worked for 15 years. It's an old fashioned chain pull contraption and as my luck would have it, the chain no longer pulls.

Nevertheless, thanks to the flashlight on my iPhone I was able to sort past the flannel shirts and winter coats that are gathering dust, and manhandle the receiver box until all the connections had been sufficiently tightened. Leaving the fingertips on my thumb and forefinger thoroughly calloused.

And guess what?


They even suggested that I hit the channel button up twice followed immediately by hitting the channel button twice down. I did that for about an hour and then the callous on my thumb burst open.

Finally, I reached their last suggestion, the one that applies to all of today's electronic wizardry: I unplugged the receiver box, waited 30 seconds and plugged it back in.

And it worked.

At least it worked yesterday. Today the 771 signal is back. And my starting/restarting the receiver has not produced yesterday's winning results.

This year sucks. Yugely.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A stiff shot

I have gnawing, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

And it's not coming from this endless quarantining or social distancing. The notion of staying home, writing, working, working out and enjoying some peace and quiet doesn't bother me as much as it seems it bother others.

The roiling rolling in my gut comes from somewhere else. It's a strange sensation, but not one I am unfamiliar with.

I think I'm getting stiffed.

Ask anyone who has freelanced before if they're familiar with the phenomena and the answer will be overwhelmingly yes. It's considered to be a cost of doing business.

Years ago I got stiffed by an "art director" I worked with on a project for a cruise ship. I bit the dust on a few thousand dollars but who is laughing now, captains of the cruising industry? When all this is over what will you do with your oversized floating petri dishes of disease and undersized rooms and overused pool slides?

I also ran into a buzzsaw in 2008, when the financial crisis put the financial squeeze on an agency owner I had been working for. We had a chat about her situation and I agreed to waive the debt.

I'm not feeling so generous about the current stiffer.

Way back in January, pre-Coronavirus times, I got a call from a small agency I had never done work for. I had heard about the agency on Fishbowl and other forums where freelancers go to exchange gripes and dirt about less than honorable vendors. But I was led to believe their so-called "accounts payable" problems had long been resolved.

So like an idiot, I did the gig.

And now, 80 days later, I'm doing the dance to get the money I am owed. It does not look promising. Phone calls go unanswered. Emails go unnoticed. And the prospects of clearing this outstanding invoice from my books looks dimmer and dimmer.

I guess I'll just have a shot of tequila at 7:30 in the morning.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Paging Dr. Trump

He is not a doctor. Though if push came to shove I'm sure the regents on the board of now Defunct Trump University could have offered him an honorary doctorate in Real Estate Nomenclature Licensing and Advanced Flim Flammery.

He doesn't possess a Master's Degree, well he might, but the registrar's office at Wharton have been threatened not to release any of his collegiate records.

In fact, there are no records of his academic achievements while he attended Fordham University in the Bronx, again under threat from the Trump Organization of thugs and lawyers.

"Hey nice university you got here. Be a shame if something happened to it."

In fact, the stable genius who has repeatedly warned Americans that noisy windmills cause cancer, has no documentation whatsoever of anything resembling intellectual achievement. None. Though we have been told his uncle, Dr. John Trump, a super genius, taught at M.I.T.

The correlation is specious at best.

I had an uncle who worked with concrete and REBAR and helped lay the foundations for many of NY's skyscrapers. That has endowed me with no abilities to step onto a construction site. NONE. Though in a pinch I have been known to unbend a wire coat hanger to snake out a clogged sink drain.

Just two days ago, this dunce among dunces, suggested there were no antibiotics left to fight off this coronavirus. Oblivious to the fact that antibiotics don't work on viral infections. The same way the Germans didn't bomb Pearl Harbor.

And yet, despite this man possessing considerably less medical knowledge than Larry Linville, the actor who played Dr. Frank Burns on MASH, he is actively pimping hydroxychloroquine as a possible game changing agent in our current pandemic.

There are no papers published about the efficacy of this anti-malarial drug with regards to Covid -19. There are no major doctors espousing its use. There are only anecdotal and simplistic tales from unknown, unpublished sources. And Dr. Quacky McQuackhair spouting his normal uninformed bullshit from the bully pulpit at the White House.

"I'm hearing very good things about this hydrochloroquine stuff. Very good things. We could be open for business by next Monday. Suck on that Biden."

Clearly ignoring the warnings that some of the side effects are debilitating and even fatal.

And that's where we are on April 15th, 2020. The man who once said, "I am the Chosen One" and "I, alone can fix this" is now America's Dr. Feelgood.

Put another way...

"I could inject a patient at a 5th Ave. Hospital with hydrochloroquine. And that patient could die. And I still wouldn't lose any support."

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

On the Prine bench

A belated tribute to the late John Prine.

I came to John Prine late in life.

Mostly thanks to Alexa, Pandora and Mark Knopfler. You see, part of my morning routine takes me out to my garage/home gym. I'm out there 6 days a week. Twice a day. Weightlifting in the morning. Cardio on the stationary bike and stair stepper at night. For all that rigorous exercise I still resemble the Michelin man.

A Michelin man who can bench 245 lbs. (when there is a spotter).

Before my workout begins, I tell Alexa to play Mark Knopfler on Pandora radio. If you're familiar with the algorithmic patterns of Pandora you know they will play a few Knopfler songs. Followed by some Dire Straits. Followed by a a string of tangential musicians Alexa believes you might like. Followed by a 15 second radio commercial about these two women harping about their sleep by number bed.

Pandora would do themselves a favor to hire professional radio commercial writers. Their's suck.

And that's when I began hearing more and more John Prine. That's also when I usually take a break in my routine to listen to his melodic words. And I can actually hear the words. I think many songwriters do themselves no favors by wrapping their words with frantic guitar solos, heavy drum beats or a singing style that makes half the prose undistinguishable. I'm looking at you Zimmerman.

Not Prine.

You make me unlonely
I feel like the only
person in the world
that ever had a girl like you

Hopefully that will get me out of Debbi's doghouse. She's still mad at me for letting the sourdough starter kit get out of control all over our kitchen last night.

The funny thing is, I should have discovered Prine a long, long time ago, when I was a line cook at a steakhouse/nightclub.

Friday and Saturday nights we had live bands. And I always enjoyed hanging out backstage with the musicians. One of my favorite bands included Dan Crow, who is still a Facebook friend. They sang original songs but would occasionally do cover songs. Including the works of John Prine.

They were big fans. And had I taken their advice I would have been too.

Perhaps it's time I start opening myself up and start listening to the sage advice of others.

But I don't care what anyone says, I'm not eating beets.

Monday, April 13, 2020

B Ball

Like many of you I am having major sports withdrawals.

I miss the excitement of the NCAA March Madness tournament, even though my beloved Syracuse Orangemen would be lucky to get cheap nose bleed seats at the games. After falling in the buy in round of the NIT.

And I miss the contrived build up of anticipation for the NBA playoffs. Though we all know the Lakers would have wiped the floor with the Milwaukee Bucks and their Greek star whose name defies spellcheck.

And so, like many of you on Day 827 of the CV Quarantine, I am forced to turn to ESPN and their Hardwood Classics.

Last night's episode wasn't in living technicolor. It was Black and White. Fittingly so, as it highlighted the many differences between b-ball in 2020 and whatever game they were playing in 1969.

The first thing you notice is that in 1969, people had better things to do than spend $6.75 for a ticket and another 95 cents for a hot dog and a coke.

The stands are virtually empty.

I'm not easily impressed by pyrotechnics, perky cheerleaders and god awful bass driven house music, but once they're gone, the game seems to lack all kinds of sizzle. The announcers sound like their doing play by play at a funeral. And the players are equally flat footed.

Truth be told,  we had guys on my high school basketball team with more rhthym and range.

I've seen more two handed sets shots clanging off the rim than one would see at a rigged carnival midway.

The game is slow and messy. And the scores barely reach into the 70's.

Though the other day I watched the Buffalo Braves take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. And I did spot a very young Walt Frazier. His sideburns were muted. And his Afro had still not reached its gargantuan size.

Clearly the Clyde had not come into his own and the Golden Age of Basketball was not upon us.


Thursday, April 9, 2020

CV to the rescue

It has been said the wheels of government turn slowly. I didn't realize how slowly until my phone rang this afternoon after my midday bench pressing routine.

The call came from Jessica Greenbaum. And as I didn't recognize the name, I was tempted to hang up thinking she was trying to sell me on some newfangled HVAC cleaning service.

Turns out, she's an assistant to my congresswoman Karen Bass.

And she wanted to talk to me about my idea for a tiered Senior Assistance program for all veterans over the age of 70. Some of you might recall I started a serious letter writing campaign in December to get our representatives to reconsider much needed financial aid for veterans, including my uncle, who served in the Army Reserves and was a Rifle Marksman.

Currently the VA only offers assistance to vets who served in specific combat periods. That leaves thousands of people like my uncle (non combat vets) struggling to pay for the astronomically expensive assisted living.

Was I surprised to get a phone call from my Congresswoman? Damn, straight I was.

But what she had to say next was even more surprising. She said Ms. Bass was scheduling talks with friends on the veterans affairs committee to bring up this very issue. And was surprised to hear that nothing like this existed.

Furthermore, she intimated that there was a possibility they would include a proposal, similar to mine, on the next Coronavirus stimuli package!!!

Think about that.

Reducing the financial obligation of seniors in assisted living, seniors who are often dependent of family members to help foot the exorbitant cost. That's money that goes right into the pockets of veterans and veteran's families, as opposed to the millions given to corporations who simply used it to buy back stock, this is money that will go straight back into the economy and the small businesses that supply and work with the nursing homes.

This shit is NOT that complicated when you have the interest of people in mind.

Naturally, as a grizzled old ad veteran, I had to ask one more question. If this goes through can you put my name or my uncle's name on the bill?

"We'll be in touch, Mr. Siegel."

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Incredible Darkness of Uncertainty

There can be no doubt, the coronavirus has brought the 8 billion plus people of Planet Earth together. It has united us in a way nothing ever has.

The unwelcome Covid 19 visitor has also brought an equally ominous companion, uncertainty.

Perhaps it's because I've been locked in my house for more than a month now and have even stopped visiting the local minimart to pick up a packet of gum and the occasional Diet Coke, but it feels as if the liquifacted ground that sits under Southern California has become even more liquifacted.

BTW, I'm not a geologist, I only play one on the internet. Much like the way the president plays a pharmacist.

In many ways uncertainty feels more threatening than any virus ever could. Fever, chills, diarrhea, those  don't bother me, I work in advertising.

It's the not knowing what comes next that unnerves me.

Particularly as a borderline OCD control freak who has been known, to friends, family and employees who worked on my team, to obsessively plan, schedule, execute and repeat cycle.

I can't tell you how many times my father would say, "If you want something done right you have to do it yourself." 

I don't know how you go about your life, but I like knowing what's next.

I like knowing Jeopardy is on at 7.
I like knowing what we're having for dinner before I decide what I'm having for lunch.
I like knowing what's going on around my house, hence the multi-camera surveillance system that keeps tabs on the squirrels, the noisy neighbors and the dogs who leave "presents" on my lawn.

I liked knowing. Or, more precisely, I liked the illusion of knowing.

Because now it has become clear I, and perhaps you, have been afflicted with pervasive uncertainty.

It's something I had better learn to accept, because it's clear there won't be any vaccine or cure for this.

Not even that hydrochloroxine stuff.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


8:43 AM -- I emerge from my office to pour my third cup of black coffee. The days are becoming longer. And my ability to nap is growing weaker. So I caffeinate and write. Or attempt to write. All is foggy. Perhaps due to my steadily growing ingestion of Petra Cannabis Infused Mints. But I am clearheaded enough to hear my wife say, "we're down to our last roll of paper towels."

Of course we are, because instead of offering real aid to hurricane stricken Puerto Ricans, Captain Ouchie Foot lobbed all our paper towels at people who lost their homes, their jobs and their future. Fucking brilliant.

8:59 AM -- I lube up my hands with Purell then don the protective latex gloves which are two sizes too small for my fat clubby hands. I strap on my N95 mask, that I have been using for more than a week. And I put on my light down windbreaker. It is easier to wipe the windbreaker of the deadly Covid 19 virus than it is to wipe my fleece jacket.

9:14 AM -- My dog Lucy and I arrive at the Shell Service Station across the street from Sony Pictures. The doors have been locked and it appears they are only selling goods through the pass through window. With each passing day it feels we are closer and closer to Mad Max. Just when I was getting used to Idiocracy.

The clerk shouts into the dirty plexiglass, "we have no Paper Towels. you can take some of the brown folded towels by the pumps." Thanks, but no thanks.

9:27 AM -- I walk towards the bodega on Culver and Keystone. This is not a store I usually shop as it the entire cashier station is buffeted by bulletproof glass. And the prices are outrageous. The Eastern European owner has paper towels! But he is only selling two rolls at a time. And as might be expected he doesn't accept Apple Pay.

"Snapple Way? No, cash or credit card. No Snapple Way."

9:41 AM  -- I swing by the 7-11 at Culver and Overland. The doors are locked but only temporarily as the clerk had to use the bathroom. From the emerging odor, I get the feeling he was in there a long time.  He has no paper towels. He does however have shelves full of dashboard clip on pine tree air freshener.

10:01 AM -- I arrive back home with Lucy, who like the 7-11 attendant is feeling considerably lighter. I find my wallet, check the storage of cash and dare to fight off the 72 degree weather and partly sunny skies.

I'm back at the bodega. Thankfully, the paper towels are still there. I grab my limited allotment and head to the heavily-barricaded front of the store. The man with the Armenian accent tells me, "two rolls of Paper Towels, five dollars."

Is he price gouging? Of course he is. Am I going to argue with him? Absolutely not.

"Let me also get that big bottle of Jack Daniels. Thanks." 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Your escape pod

When the zombie apocalypse comes, and according to Devin Nunes, one of California's brightest and bravest congressional representatives, it is coming, where will you go?

Might I suggest my uncle's house.

He no longer lives there and is now safely ensconced in a new assisted living facility just 1.327 miles from my house, but who's counting.

It took my wife Debbie and I a dozen trips to clean out the place. My uncle is a bit of a shopaholic which explains why we found 73 power chords/extensions, 126 measuring cups, floor to ceiling high stacks of printer paper and enough drill bits to restock a Lowe's Home Improvement warehouse.

If you laid all the drill bits out end to end you could reach from Palm Springs to.....why are you laying out drill bits end to end, get back in your house. And wash your hands, you don't know where those drill bits, many still in the package, have been.

Following the cleanup, we hired one of Palm Springs best contractors, Chris Vogt (who I highly recommend) to renovate the place on our modest budget.

Naturally, just as Chris was putting the finishing touches on the 4 month job which included a new kitchen, two new bathrooms, new carpet in the bedrooms and new paint throughout, the CV pandemic hit. As is to be expected if you are familiar with the Siegel luck.

But put in proper perspective, this is the classic definition of 1st world white people problems.

Nevertheless, the house is available. And while you may not be itching to flee to Palm Springs to wait out this pandemic by the foot of beautiful Mount Jacinto, while lounging by the pool in perfect 87 degree weather, maybe you know someone who does.

You can see more at the listing:
(Click the picture to see the full slide show)

Not only is the house comfortable, clean and quiet, I hear the landlords are the nicest people on earth.

Well, at least one of them, Deb, is.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

He is the HOAX.

You can spend a lot of time arguing with Trumpsters online and come away completely flabbergasted. Despite evidence, despite video, despite direct quotes from previous "presidential" tweets, there is no budge in their spirited defense of the "man" many call the Second Savior.

Case in point: the Hoax.

Let's be clear, Captain Ouchie Foot has used the word Hoax on many, many occasions.

Climate Change:Hoax

Obama's Birth Certificate: Hoax

The Grab Em By The Pussy tape: Hoax

The Stormy Daniels allegations: Hoax

The Mueller Inquiry : Hoax

The Ukraine Extortion : Hoax

And now the coronavirus: Hoax.

Stop the presses, the Red Hats will scream. He never called the coronavirus a hoax. He called the media coverage and the Democratic response a Hoax. I believe that's an accurate portrayal of their weak defense.

And it fails on so many fronts.

First off, it is impossible and fruitless, to parse out the words of our bumbling, inarticulate, word salad spinning Commander in Chief, who it appears, has a terminal case of diarrhea of the brain.

Also, what difference does it make?

It is clear, in many other statements, "This thing is contained", "The numbers are going down", "We'll soon be down to zero", and "this thing will just go away." So, he just minimized the fuck out of a deadly worldwide outbreak but he never directly called it a Hoax.

Moreover, if he knew it was a pandemic ("I knew long before the experts did") why would he refer to anything as a Hoax?

Perhaps what he meant was the media and the Democrats were guilty of foisting a Hoax on good, hard working real Americans (his supporters.) But that too does not stand up either. The media and Democrats were not overreacting. Everything they warned about has come to fruition.

We now find ourselves as the country with the most CV cases as well as the most CV deaths on the planet, (USA, USA, USA.)
No Hoax about that.

People are contracting the virus in exponential numbers. And not because we let those people on the cruise ship step foot on American soil.
No Hoax about that.

And we are and continue to be woefully unprepared for this whole mishegas.  Not enough tests, not enough masks, not enough beds, not enough leadership.
No hoax about that.

The only thing we're not in short supply of, is his fishbrained, incompetent jackfuckerry.
No Hoax about that.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Putting the Free in Freelancer

Even with all of Los Angeles on Shelter in Place and dutifully standing 6 feet apart from each other, the truth is you can't sneeze these days without hitting a freelance copywriter.

They're all over the place.

And they're all available.

And they're all racing to the bottom to lower their day rates.

So, I'm beating them all to the punch with a price that can't be beat -- Free.

A longwinded way of saying I've been doing quite a bit of pro bono work.

I just started a new project to help at risk kids. It's a great organization. I can't share the name of it with you until I get clearance from its Executive Director, who seems genuinely excited to be working with me. That never happens.

All things being equal, would I like to be getting paid?

You're damn right I'd like to be getting paid. These new quartz countertops on my uncle's rental house did not pay for themselves. (Please dm me if you are interested in renting the joint, or know someone who does.)

But, and here comes the obligatory triteness, the more of these projects I do, the more I realize the tzuris  in my life is nothing.

Moreover, there's something genuinely more rewarding about applying whatever skills I do have to the cause of helping people as opposed to the sale of sugary brown carbonated water, overpriced Japanese cars or even convenient portable catheters.

There's also something liberating.

You see, all that phony forced client deference that one must muster up for a paying gig is suddenly meaningless in a transaction where no money is exchanged.

So when a client says, as they often do, "That headline seems negative or I'm not comfortable with the wording of this paragraph." 

I can turn around and say, "who's the professional unpaid writer here?"

That hasn't happened yet, but it could.