Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Pandemic Silver Lining

Way back in 2015, I announced, on this very blog, how I was going to try to find the positive things in life. I vowed to complain less and stay positive. I even started compiling a gratitude list. Because as many of my more spiritual friends have told me, it's important for your aura.

Well, that didn't work out.

In 2016, this country put the most ill-qualified man in the White House. Ad agencies started flooding the freelance market by firing off any senior staffer over the age of 30, and my gratitude list was used to wipe up some spilt soup when we ran out of paper towels.

Today, in the summer of 2020, we find ourselves in the most dire of straits I can recall in all my 44 years.

However, despite the greater degree of difficulty, I'm trying to look on the bright side of life. And I seem to have found it in the stack of mail that regularly piles up on the kitchen counter near the ubiquitous junk drawer.

Not only are all my credit card bills, and I've lost count how many there are including ones carried by my wife as well as the ones carried by my daughters in case of emergency, all been paid off, the incoming balances during the past 10 weeks of hibernation are down.

Way down.

We haven't been to a restaurant since March. And sadly the last one we went to was All Vegan. Which wasn't altogether bad, but it's all overshadowed by the awful taste of Cauliflower Chicken Wings. Sorry Paul and Deanna, that's just not right.

Nor have we been to a movie, a mall or even a supermarket. Meaning there's no charges on my card for $6 lattes, $10 iced teas, or $17 buckets of popcorn.

In other words, we're spending less, saving more and discovering a life of inconspicuous consumption. An anathema to the American way of life. As a result, distancing ourselves from the possibility of ending up in a dirty nursing home (my worst nightmare).

It's the silver lining in all this.

And while we don't miss the things money can buy, we do miss the company of friends and family that money can't buy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

#1, with a bullet

As the 8 regular readers of this blog know I have been working a steady, long term freelance assignment for the past month. I'm already up to my oversized aquiline nose in projects. Some incredibly large. Some minuscule by comparison.

I'm just happy to be working. As any 44 year old still in advertising would be.

The guy who I call my boss is Australian. I hate to break out the big broom of generalization, but I must say, I have always enjoyed working with folks from down under. And I'm not saying that to polish apples. Or kiwis. As anyone who knows me IRL, I'm not that type of fella.

I just like the hearty sense of humor that seems to go with that always-charming accent. Perhaps I'm drawn to Australians because way back when, my adventurous 17 year old mother left the isle of Great Britain to go have some mischief in a foreign land.

In any case, I took the opportunity to share this outdoor billboard (see above) from my days at Team One. As you might imagine he had a good laugh over it.

What I didn't tell him but what I have shared on occasion on these very digital pages, is the incredible rapid fire birth of the campaign for Castlemaine XXXX. I'll retell the story only because it merits mentions in these days of advertising gloom and doom.

Three days into my burgeoning career at Team One in El Segundo, where the sea meets the smell of oil fineries, I was asked to jump in on an outdoor assignment for a small beer account the agency had just landed. The copywriter working on the assignment had to fly out of town and my number was up.

I gladly hopped on board and within hours, my partner and I had magically opened up a treasure chest of funny lines. By the end of the day, (Wednesday) we had papered a wall with dozens of pithy statements that celebrated and made fun of the Outback lifestyle.

On Thursday we showed it to our creative director.

By Friday, he showed it to the CCO.

On Monday, they carted the work out to the client.

And by Tuesday, we had a signed estimate and a green light to go into production.

That's exactly how it happened. And if I'm lying, I'm dying.

It was the first and only time I had ever seen ad people resist the urge to overthink, over analyze and over research any creative endeavor. In stark contrast to the way work winds its way through the halls of many of today's ad agencies, where it is comma-fucked and pixel-pricked by un-creative committees.

Of course my perspective on the Castlemaine XXXX miracle has changed over the years. Particularly since I became an advertising mercenary. Because had I been a freelancer at the time, my assignment would have been done by the end of the second day.

"Thanks Rich, we love the work. We're gonna cut you loose. Stay in touch."

 And then I would have had to wait another 73 days to get paid.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

High Times at the DMV

This post will not garner a great deal of web traffic.

I have seen other blog postings, social media rants and even essays by well respected writers, delving into personal accounts of hell from the DMV, the airlines, Amazon, and even shabby service at even shabbier restaurants. The details become boring and hackneyed even before the 100 word marker.

Nevertheless, I'm going to persist.

Because if you stay to the end you will understand why I, and probably you, and probably 7.9 billion people on this planet are cursing the moment we collectively entered the 21st century's version of the Not-So-Roaring 20's. And why, when it appears a dark cloud seems to stalking us, it always seems to open up and dump sloppy diarrhea on our unprotected heads. Particularly on the days when I forget to wear my mask.

here goes:

Way back in the halcyon days of 2019, my uncle moved from his house in Palm Springs to an assisted living facility here in LA. Unfortunately he had also just leased a Nissan Kicks and turning it in early would have cost him dearly. Fortunately, my youngest daughter had just totaled her car in Denver (no injuries), so as they did in 2019 and no longer do in 2020, the stars aligned. A little.

Oh sure, we still had a shit for brains president whose incompetence will be marked for the ages, but at least in 2019, his inadequacies left no mark on my family's life. Again, unlike 2020.

I will spare you all the dreadful DMV details, suffice to say I made the arrangements with Nissan to take over the lease of my uncle's car. Saving him money and putting my daughter back on the smooth, well paved roads of 2019.

As it turned out the DMV required me to make a personal appearance to complete the registration.

After 2 &1/2 painful hours I was finally called to Window 8, where the DMV jezebel told me the forms were incomplete. She printed out an instruction sheet with a detailed account of how I could rectify the situation. I did so the next day and sent the packet of documents to DMV headquarters in Sacramento.

That happened in January 2020. And the descent into Dante's bureaucratic hell had begun.

Two weeks later I called the DMV office. As you might well imagine, trying to reach a live thinking person in Sacramento is difficult enough, trying to reach a live thinking person at the DMV in Sacramento is like trying to wrest the twitter machine away from Captain Ouchie Foot.

As there was little to no work in February and March, I had plenty of time to spend on the DMV phone trees. And acquainting myself with all manner of unbearable On Hold music. Did you know there are many sub genres of this unique category? In addition to smooth jazz, there's soft Euro-house, crappy classic rock cover songs, and the ever popular get-me-out-of-this-elevator-or-I'll-murder-someone melodies.

Eventually, I was told to cool my jets, because any mail sent to the Sacramento headquarters can take up to 8 weeks to process.

8 weeks to open a damn envelope?

I mailed the documents in Mid-January. By mid March I had heard nothing and we were well into 2020's next shitstorm. The one that shut down all DMV offices and made the hope of getting a valid registration in my hand as distant as the last library ever visited by the clueless cockwomble who has made us all tired of So. Much. Winning.

My daughter has now been driving the registration-less vehicle for more than 7 months. I have no idea how this thing will resolve itself. I don't even know the whereabouts of all the documents I had faithfully mailed to the dullards in Northern California.

Or at least I didn't until I put on some latex gloves and reached in the mailbox for my daily of deluge of direct mail, savings-draining bills and solicitations from wealthy Chinese investors who will pay cash money for my house.

Because there, amongst the printed detritus of the average 44 year old American male mail, were the original documents I sent off to Sacramento so many months ago.

They came wrapped in this...

Holy Shit 2020.

And it's only May.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

"We're taking on water."

It was another tough week in the ad agency world.

I hear there were massive layoffs at formerly massive advertising agencies. I also read that in April, 36,400 of my colleagues found themselves pink-slipped, furloughed or in the vernacular of the real world, "shit out of luck."

Because not only did they lose their jobs, in a very short while, they will also lose their healthcare benefits. Isn't capitalism so much better than socialism?

So. Much. Winning.

Knowing what I know about these big agencies and their publicly traded holding companies --where one industrious writer can scour publicly displayed financial reports and find the outrageous salaries and Sorrel-like compensation packages for the upper brass that will never be held accountable or get pink slipped, or furloughed or "shit out of luck" -- I can safely say it's nothing short of a Trumpian clusterfuck.

Now, my friend and fellow blogger George Tannenbaum ( is quite a bit more artful about stating the above.

And his scathing editorials and even scathingier videos have been nothing short of brilliant.

I simply find myself seething. And asking the same question I'd ask Boeing, or Wells Fargo, or AT&T. Don't any Fortune 500 companies, who pay no corporate taxes and reap millions and billions for their shareholders, ever put some cash away for a rainy day?

Particularly during the last three years when they enjoyed generous tax cuts as well as...wait, let me phrase this the way their rainmaker, Captain Ouchie Foot would...the biggest, BOOMINGEST ECONOMY EVER!

This reckless lack of foresight is only compounded by the devil-may-care spending habits of ad agency C-Suiters who insist on flying first class, staying at 5 star hotels and ordering from restaurant menus that refuse to list the market prices for any of their overrated entrees.

Not to mention the car services, the second homes, the pay inequality, the staff salary freezes, and the almost monthly awards bacchanalia, including the one in Cannes where the average agency executive will rack up $20,000/each in expenses.

I'm reminded of the famous quote from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who could not define obscenity, but added, "I know when I see it."

Suffice to say, these are obscene times.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Time will tell

When it comes to computers, it turns out I am a real Luddite. 

This comes as a surprise. Especially to me, as I have always considered myself to be kind of tech savvy. Particularly after I spent a year writing ads for Apple during the Steve Jobs-less clusterfuck era.

 I'm old enough to remember a time before computers, clicking and clacking that old IBM Selectric 2.

And I've literally worked on every generation of computers. Starting with a Leading Edge MS/DOS beauty to my current 27 inch iMac 5K Retina Cinema Screen.

Recently, with my recent vocational migration to a Google eco-system, I've become painfully aware of my digital shortcomings. Oh sure I taught myself how to do screen grabs and cheesy photo manipulation using some rudimentary techniques on Apple Preview, but handcrafting razor sharp witty Trump memes is a little different than pulling up a Google Slide and trying to figure out where the god damn Save button is.

Holy shit, I'm an idiot.

The point was made even clearer when my daughter interrupted me because she needed me to email a certain photo from my home screen. She marveled at all the unnecessary steps I took to hit COMMAND + SHIFT +4 to move a photo. 

She almost choked from laughing so hard. 

The mockery continued when I admitted I did not know how to use Apple's convenient AirDrop.

She showed me how to do it and then insisted on filming me using both techniques. No doubt to put it on SnapChat or InstaSomething, to embarrass the hell out of me. 

Considering how I've spent the last 24 years trying to embarrass (and succeeding) my daughters in public, I suppose the payback was to be expected.

"How the hell do you live in the year 2020 and not know this stuff?" she posed, condescendingly.

The answer, it seems, is as old as time itself.

This generation is focused on how and where a message gets communicated.  My generation, the over 44 gang, is more focused on what gets communicated. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Youth will not be denied

Today there is some lingering bittersweetness from yesterday's post.

After sheltering in place with us for the last two months, my daughter Abby returned to Denver, back to her apartment and back to the job she loves at 11dollarbill. I will always be grateful to my friends Lisa and Tim for giving her an opportunity and teaching her the ropes. But now I'm jealous, because they have Abby and we don't.

Before she left, she nosed herself into my recently re-organized and reasonably cleaned garage and found a bin of undigitized photos. She yanked this from the bunch and reveled in my hirsuteness and my apparent youth. I think I was 43 in this picture.

Though I have mentioned (and offered free copies to any takers) MADWEEK before, I will permit myself to retell the story of how we, myself, Tom Parker and Jim Jennewein, three struggling writers, collaborated, conspired and constructed a full size 16 page brick and mortar parody magazine of the industry's own ADWEEK.

It took us more than a year to write, collate, print and distribute. If memory serves, it also cost us $5000 of our money. That was in 1989. The equivalent today be $5039 dollars, because let's face it, nobody does print anymore. Money well spent, as I got interviewed by and quoted in the NY Times. Naturally they spelled my name wrong.

It was our first collaboration as a trio, but it was not our last. We had taught ourselves a lot about project management, collaboration, compromise and excessive alcohol consumption. So we smashed our heads together again and decided to write a screenplay. About 8 months into the project, my father passed away and I could not muster the energy to continue past the story development phase.

Jim and Tom did and wrote a fantastic screenplay that, for a hot summer week in 1992, generated a supernova's worth of heat. Major studios were bidding on it like a frenzied scene from Shark Week. I'll never forget coming home from dinner with my wife, turning on the answering machine to the giddy and already sodden voices...

"Rich, Rich, we did it...(giggling and laughing)...We did it.....Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!....we sold the screenplay....Ahhhhhhh!!!!....we sold the screenplay...where are you? have to get over here....Now!...we sold the screenplay...and bring more champagne."

And that's exactly what Deb and I did. We hopped in a cab and headed to Jim's place in Marina Del Rey. We drank that night until the sun came peeking through the curtains.

Two years later, we gathered in Westwood at the Bruin Theater for the world premiere of the movie, which many now regard as the launch of Peter Hyam's incredible foray into comedy movie making.

Maybe this will jog your memory...

Bonus material which I had never seen until this moment, movie posters from the international markets.  The B&W one from Germany is my favorite. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Not Available

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know, just by the sheer number of rants and fiery hot diatribes about our president, our industry and even our current pandemic, that I don't spend a lot of digital ink talking about the great things that have happened to me.

Mainly because they don't.

But also because I haven't spent enough time and energy to appreciate how lucky and blessed I, and my family, have been.

Recently I told readers here at R17 how I've been working on a long term freelance project, which couldn't have come at a better time. And now, like a lightning bolt from a blue desert sky comes even more good news.

My uncle's house in Palm Springs, which he recently vacated to move into an assisted living home (his second in the span of 6 months) has been rented. Scooped up in a fast and furious deal that literally took shape over the course of 4 days.

This may seem inconsequential to you, but the house has been a bit of an albatross to us, requiring weekly schlepps, cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning, and the crazy disposal of my uncle's vast collection of measuring cups, extension chords and enough unopened packages of drill bits to last the crew of Maine Cabin Masters a lifetime or two.

It also necessitated a fair amount of remodeling, which was conducted via FaceTime and video clips.

As house fixer uppers know, re-doing an entire house is stressful. Compound that with the 120 mile geographical divide. Not to mention a very tight budget. And you've got a stroke laying in wait.

BTW, here's a huge Fuck You to Wells Fargo Bank for denying us a tiny cash out refinance to purchase toilets, countertops and cabinetry. My next project will be to migrate all my Wells Fargo business (33 years worth) to a smaller, more caring bank. Like Murray's House of Bucks or Eddie's Greenback Emporium.

Is this sudden leap in landlording cause for celebration?
Yes, yes it is.

But it's also bittersweet. When my daughters were toddlers we'd often go to visit my uncle and stay for the weekend. They'd put on their bathing suits before we even left Culver City so that when they arrived they could jump out of the minivan and right into the 87 degree bathwater warm pool.

And more recently, we've been escaping LA and the relentless cabin fever, by jetting out to the house early in the morning to enjoy blissful, warm afternoons in the desert sun.

It was peaceful, serene and nourishment for the soul.

Even with the inescapable yappy barking of one of the neighbor's toy dogs.

Thursday, May 14, 2020


I've been officially baptized into the Zoom culture.

For weeks, I must admit, I had been fascinated by this phenomena, which promises to undo the evils of the open floor plan (and good riddance it.) But as an under-employed freelance copywriter I had never had the actual opportunity to participate in it.

That is until I took on this new freelance gig.

Now I'm chrome-dome deep in it. Which must be hard on my new coworkers as I have often said in the past, "I have a face for radio."

Moreover, they have to listen to my nasal-heavy, distant NY accent. I have also always said, "I have a voice for newspaper."

And while I may have harbored reservations about video teleconferencing in the recent past, I must say I rather enjoy working this way.

For one thing, while I am not clicking and clacking at my desk without pants, I am quite comfortable wearing my shorts and flip flops. And even if it's a laundry day I can still slip into my rattiest torn up pair of shorts and still pull off the veneer of a seasoned successful ad executive.

Over and above that, I am at my desk.

I love my desk. And my Herman Miller Chair. And the inch and half thick wooden door on my office that was put there in 1947 when they built the first floor of my house. It's a thick, sturdy, old timey quality 3 panel wooden door.

The kind they just don't make anymore. Replaced, more often than not, by cheap, shabby particle board that cannot stand up to an overly dramatic door slam or the errant angry throwing of a shoe.

And finally, though I haven't worked out the kinks yet, there's the Snap Camera add on feature. This unique extension ties into your web camera and allows you to project your face through certain filters.

By hook or by crook, I'm going to figure out how to make this thing work.

No doubt, many of new co-workers will say it's a marked improvement.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

It's 4:20 Somewhere

I think it's fair to say we are living through stressful times.

I thought they were stressful prior to the Covid 19 Pandemic. Three years of watching a fishbrained fifth grade drop out storm into the White House and proceed to pound at the pillars of our democracy with a rusty pick axe had raised my blood pressure into 4 digit territory.

And now we've been cooped up in our homes for more than two months, while he continues to push our world to the very precipice of extinction.

Of course, I did hear the Los Angeles Trump National Golf Course just opened, so there is some good news. You'd think Captain Ouchie Foot would have thanked the 80,000+ corpses who sacrificed their lives for his grand re-opening, but that's so off brand for our fat Himmler.

Like I said, the stress has been enormous.

It's even taken its toll on my weightlifting routine, which is now down to 4 days a week. And as any bro will tell you, "if you're not making progress, you're going backwards." And I have the sore triceps to prove it.

Fortunately, my daughters, who both went to college in cannabis legal states (Washington/Colorado) and are knowledgeable in the Way of the Weed, had the cure for what was ailing me.

Petra Medical Mints.

These are micro-dosed at 2.5 mgs per mint. Meaning when you take one you not only get a hint of much needed breath freshener, you don't get that awful overpowering mind melting high nor the Shutter Island schizophrenia that comes with too much THC.

It's a much more controlled, calming feeling.

I liken it to the afterglow of a nice 30 minute yoga session.

You might have a hard time picturing this fat, barrel chested 44 year old man doing Crescent 2 or Warrior 3, but I'll have you know my Standing Tree is pretty impressive. And while nearing the end of my P90X program years ago, I was able to nail the Crow position and hold it for 12 seconds.

This is not a paid endorsement for Petra mints, though I suspect if I wrote the company a letter I might be able to swing a deal. This is just me saying these things have been an herbal-enhanced  Lifesaver. And so I keep two tins handy by my desk.

Next to my coffee.

And next to my copy of Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning, which is by no means the 'feel-good' book of the year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Don't hate me cause I'm working

Week One is in the books.

Recently I got booked on a freelance gig. Not with an ad agency. But with an in house creative department. Discretion and caution prevent me from disclosing the name of the client.

So I won't.

Nor do I intend to inflict any pain on my many fellow colleagues in the creative field who now find themselves unemployed and with few, and fewer by the day, prospects. I feel your pain. There is no worse feeling than wanting to work but not being able to find people to work for.

I know from the boredom, the hopelessness and the endless dialing and smiling.

In short, I'm very lucky.

Which is ironic, because like most native New Yorkers, I never felt much like a lucky person.

We, meaning Big Apple natives, have a natural tendency to view the world pitting itself against our fate. When you grow up in NYC everything is a fight: getting crosstown, getting a table in a restaurant, getting a seat on the subway, even getting across the street. See Dustin Hoffman. See Yellow Cab. See "I'm walking here."

But getting booked on a job only covers half my luck. It goes beyond that.

The people I'm working with, everyone of them is younger than my 44 years of age, couldn't be nicer. Or more receptive. Or more helpful. Perhaps because none of them have met me in person. Or perhaps it's all being done through the magic of teleconferencing.

And yet still, I have not conveyed the complete fullness of my good fortune.

Because here's the best part. The unnamed company I am working for places a high premium on creativity. And an even higher premium on funny. So instead of dialing back on what I love to do best, I was told to "push it further. Find the edge of the envelope and go there."


Maybe this is the just job honeymoon speaking, I'm hoping it's not.

But I'll share with you what I shared with the last big group on a teleconference call, "I've had more fun and more laughs in the last week than I've had in the past 3 years in the ad business."

Monday, May 11, 2020

Business 101

My daughter has turned our warm home into a warehouse.

Allow me to explain.

Abby came home from Denver to shelter in place with us. She was working remotely from Denver and figured she could just as easily shelter in place from LA. And get to see the empty 405 Freeway, in a way few people ever have.

When her work day concluded her second work day began. She decided to teach herself how to silkscreen T-shirts and such and started making her own designs that reflected the surreal times we are all enduring.

There's the crying heart design (seen above.) The Cry Together design. The Fallen Ice Cream Cone design. And the very popular Be Sad design. Her mother and I thought no one is going to want to wear one of those. Her mother and I were wrong.

And for the past two weeks Abby has been traumatized (perhaps too strong a word) about issues of under supply, demand and distribution.

In other words, she got a first class Masters Class in how business is done.

It's a shame our shit-for-brains president never learned the same lessons. After witnessing the current Covid Clusterfuck, is it any wonder he single-handedly bankrupted 6, maybe 7, maybe 23 -- who knows how many -- companies he ever laid one of his tiny vulgar fingers on?

Last week for instance, he agreed to do an interview with ABC's David Muir. I can't and won't sit down and watch this clueless flap dragon flap his lips with all the articulation of a sugar powdered second grader. The ten second highlight clips are enough to make my heart race as if I had spent an hour on the stair machine.

DAVID: Is it fair to say we got caught under-prepared, with not enough supplies and PPE to properly deal with the coronavirus?

SHIT-FOR-BRAINS: No, that's not fair. When I took over, the shelves were bare. There was nothing. The shelves were bare. Even military. Those shelves were bare. The generals would come up to me and say, "Sir, we have no ammunition."

DAVID: That was three and a half years ago. Why didn't you re-stock the shelves you say were empty?

SHIT-FOR-BRAINS: Well...I had a lot going. A lot.

Cut to Rich picking jaw up off ground.

The suggestion that the CDC and the Health Department were left with empty shelves when Obama exited the White House is preposterous. Did he and Michelle load up all the inventory and sell it on the black market all in an effort to make the new schmuck look bad? Ask a Qanon freak or someone from the Red Hat Brigade and I'm sure you'd find some believers.

Even more outrageous is the contention that the world's greatest superpower, a nation that spends more money on military hardware, jets, tanks, and a panoply of other killing machines, was left on January 21, 2017 with no bullets, no missiles, no bombs, no way to defend the free world because the "shelves were empty" is just fucking insulting.

Moreover, if you buy this horsecockery, I suggest you pour yourself a strong Clorox cocktail. You know, to clean out the cobwebs in your brain.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Team Appreciation

If you work in advertising I don't have to tell you, times are tough.

How tough? As one of my East Coast freelance colleagues put it so succinctly, "I'd give anything to be sitting in another useless meeting right now."

It hasn't been any better out here in Sunny California either. So to keep my mind occupied and my keyboard clacking, I have been doing some pro bono work.

One of my newer pro bono clients is Team Prime Time. They're a local organization dedicated to helping high at-risk kids become low-risk productive adults. And though their name would indicate a focus on sports, their expertise also covers arts, academics and vocational training.

In terms of great causes, I can't think of any better.

In terms of working relationships, this is true as well.

After a few introductory phone calls, I took a crack at writing a new mission statement for TPT. I shared it right away with the executive team, knowing full well I'd be writing other versions that might get closer to the mark.

But they would have none of that.

They snatched up the first anthem I wrote and said put your pencil down. I'm not saying this as any kind of humblebrag. I'm really not. To be honest, I've written better anthems/manifesto/mission statements in the past.

The point I'm trying to make is that they were so hungry for a clear concise articulation of their purpose they seized on the first thing they saw. Moreover, and this is what is sadly missing from our industry, they were appreciative and grateful. Not only because the work they were getting was free, but because they recognize the time and effort that someone put into doing something of value.

I don't know why clients need to be reminded of that, but they do.

The ideas, the words, the visuals, the communication tools we serve up on a daily basis, have the power to change the course of an organization.

Ask Apple.
Ask Nike.
Ask Geico.

No real point to this post other than to say that it's been refreshing and invigorating to work with professionals who haven't forgotten how to say, "Thank you."

And mean it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

It's not delivery but it's halfway decent.

I'm not too proud to say that I'm a pizza snob. Always have been. Always will be.

However I think most native New Yorkers can make that claim. And rightfully so.

I was born in the Bronx, near Jerome Ave. My parent's apartment, which was also my grandparent's apartment, was directly over a candy store. Next door to the candy store, which are now called bodegas, was a pizza joint.

It might have been Ray's. Or Tony's. Or Mario's. Or even Paulie's. If you're familiar with Goodfellas, you know from Ray Liotta's play by play narration, almost everyone of Italian lineage is named Paulie.

When we moved to Jackson Heights in bucolic Queens -- anything compared to the Bronx is bucolic -- there were pizza joints on every corner. I dare say they were more prevalent that today's Starbucks.

And equally so when we shuffled further east to live in upscale Flushing -- anything compared to Jackson Heights is upscale. There, too, were more pizza parlors than you could shake a jar of crushed of hot red peppers at.

But that was long ago, when you could snag a slice for 50 cents and a Coke for another quarter.

Now, we are living through Trump's Pandemic. That's right I'm giving him exclusive ownership of this fucking debacle. And if you'd like to argue the point we can start with his stepping up to the podium and claiming, "I take no responsibility at all." 

W R O N G .

You are wholly responsible.

So where does DiGiorno pizza come into all this? The same way any food stuff comes into our house. Very carefully.

We're not big on take out lately. The waits are too long. And there's always the nagging suspicion that the restaurant folks preparing the food are not as rigorous in their cleaning, swiping and mask wearing as we are.

So last week, we stocked the freezer with a few DiGiorno pizzas. My expectations were Gotham low. But as the crust began to rise, as promised, so did my appetite.

I'm not going to sit here and rave about DiGiorno pizza. Suffice to say, it wasn't half bad. The cheese was good. The pepperoni with thick. And the crust, not crisp and thin so one could do the Brooklyn fold, was tasty. All in all. It was better than expected.

And during these dark days, when expectations are at once in a lifetime lows, that says a lot.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


What the hell is wrong with people?

Last week, the evening news was dominated by protests in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and even right here in Southern California at Huntington Beach, widely regarded as the state's intellectual capitol.

And what were these mental corn muffins protesting? The Shelter in Place orders from their state's governors. Orders, by the way, that were in accordance to Captain Ouchie Foot's Federal Guidelines written to specifically "flatten the curve" on the spread of coronavirus.

Why Shelter in Place or semi quarantining? Namely because our sad sack of shit government was caught with their pants around their ankles when they refused to move on the pandemic way back in 2019. They had no PPE, not enough ventilators and barely enough workable CV tests to cover about half the White House Staff.

In the words of our fearless leader, "The shelves and the cupboards were bare."

And instead of restocking those naked shelves, the twatwaffles in charge spent money on housing Secret Service members at Mara Lago so Colonel Fuckknuckle could work on his weekend golf game. Remember when he said, "I'll probably never play golf again. I'll be at the White House. There's so much work to do. No more golf for me."

Yeah, so much work.

The other reason for Shelter in Place or even full scale lockdowns, is because they work.

It's working in China. But perhaps you don't trust their people or their numbers, that's fair. But it's working in South Korea, our ally, where numbers of new cases have dropped off dramatically. And it's working in New Zealand, where they have all but eliminated Covid 19.

The data proves it.

Perhaps if our President knew how to read a pie chart as opposed to a pie menu, we'd have real enforceable Federal direction on this crisis of the century. Instead we have a clueless double jointed schmuck whose only discernible talent is the ability to endlessly pat himself on the back. All while gravediggers throughout the land dig 70,000 new 6 foot holes in the ground.

Normally, I don't need a reason to go off on a rant about Precedent Shitgibbon. Or even the addle-brained, gun toting, nation-splitting douchebiscuits who can listen to this clown ramble on about injecting Clorox Bleach into the lungs -- "you know, to clean them out" -- and think, "yeah, that's my guy."

But this is personal. I have an uncle in lockdown at his nursing facility. My brother has occasional asthma. And there are several members of my family who are immuno-compromised.

Back in the 40's my Scottish mother and her family were forced into the underground tunnels when the Germans did night raids. Residents were asked to turn off all the lights in all the apartment buildings. They all complied. They did what they had to do to thwart the enemy.

Today, about 75 years later, some yahoos are strapping on their AR-15's, raiding government buildings and crying about their inability to visit the local Cap N' Tap for a few brewskis and some tasty Pork Rind Filled Potato Skins.

This is someone's idea of Making America Great Again.

Monday, May 4, 2020

The magic of 3's

Pardon the cliche visual, but today, after many dark days, some even darker than others, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

For one thing, I am booked on a new freelance gig.

One I am very excited about because a significant part of the qualifications for this gig was the ability to weave humor, smart, snappy humor, into the various forms of copy, which will span the entire spectrum of today's modern media.

Not to come off immodest, but I've been told on several occasions, once in 2005, again in 2009 and I believe twice in 2013, that I'm a funny guy. My wife would argue otherwise, but half the time I don't hear a word she says.

So there's that.

Also, after being rejected for a PPP loan by Wells Fargo, where I've been a loyal customer for the past 33 years, I filled out several applications with some non-traditional financial institutions, like Kabbage and PayPal. Much to my surprise the paperwork went through and a significant (always relative) deposit was dropped into my account. And it only took three days.

I'm sure the folks at Ruth Chris Steakhouse, the LA Lakers and various other publicly held companies got their millions of dollars faster. But those folks don't post as many anti-Trump memes as I do. In fact, I don't know anyone who does.

It's not a huge amount of money, but it does ease the sting of the very arid market for freelance copywriters (and art directors) which is currently decimating our industry.

And finally, giving proof to the notion that good things come in threes, I got a check from the small Hollywood agency (which shall remain unnamed) which had been holding onto an invoice since January. Perhaps I've been spoiled, because I've never had to wait more than 45 days to get paid, but I was certain I was going to get screwed on this one.

I pestered the agency brass everyday, since Day 60 for the money I was owed. I was always civil and always professional. That is until last week when I played the blog card and told them I'd be happy to pen a scathing piece about their Trumpian Accounts Payable Behavior.

I also whipped out the website for my cut throat attorneys at Mitchell Silberg & Knupp, one of LA's largest and lethal law firms. I've been doing business with them ever since we sold the screenplay for STAY TUNED way back in 1992. And they always struck me as the type of no-nonsense lawyers who are not accustomed to losing.

All in all, not a bad financial week. Of course just got the credit card bill for all the off-brand groceries we got from InstaCart.

So the money is all but spent.