Thursday, July 30, 2020

Listen to your gut

I'm going to do something I haven't done in close to ten years. I'm posting a TV spot I wrote and actually got produced.

But before I unveil it, I have some qualifiers. I'm part of a league of older ad vets who marvel at what kids are posting today. Not only are they showing off their work, they're listing the 137 people who had a hand in their masterpiece.

Put simply, most of it is just not worthy of a brag. And, cards on the table, neither is what I am about to show you. But it's Thursday. It's been a long week. I'm still nursing a painful groin muscle pull. And at 44 years of age, who knows when I'll be able to post any new TV work.

More qualifiers.

This and the other two spots I wrote are PSAs. That's not to say that PSAs are obliged to be bad. But, as we all know production budgets on PSA are often the equivalent to the price of a new Hyundai Sonata.

Over and above that, when Dotsie (the Olympic athlete who heads up the organization and appears in the spot) came to me, the structure and the concept were already in place.

Furthermore, apart from my post production editing notes ("Make it slower and simpler"), I had no part in the production.

Oh and I barely made a nickel on the project.

Is this work going in my portfolio? No, it is not.

Nevertheless, all that said, I'm happy with the result. I think the spots make their point. And that they'll have an impact. Web traffic is already soaring.

Besides after a career of selling beer, banks, computers, shitty airlines, shittier cars and carbonated brown sugar water, it felt good to apply my skills  -- such as they are -- towards a good cause. I have a lot of ground to make up. And this was a good first step.

If you hunt around the interwebs, you can find the other two spots about going vegan and living dairy free.

While you do that I'm gonna fire up the grill. I've got a well marbled Tomahawk steak on the menu. Followed by a bowl of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream.

I love those thick little chips of chocolate.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

We'd like to keep you.

"You've been extended."

When you're a freelancer, as I have been for the last 16 years, those are perhaps the three sweetest words in the advertising industry. Especially now during these pandemic times when the advertising boat seems to be taking on water.

Oh who are we kidding, the whole world is taking on water.

Mind you, a freelance extension isn't always a bowl of ripe $13.99/lbs. cherries. I've freelanced at agencies and shops in the past when I was counting down the days until it was over. Let's face it there are lots of assnuggets in this business.

And they know who they are. Particularly if they've been following this blog.

If they don't know who they are, it's because they're not reading the room or they're too busy counting their money and don't give a hamster's hind about the people who work for them and put food in the refrigerators of their second homes or yachts.

But the people I'm working for now are not like that. I genuinely like them. And that's something. If you've been a reader for any time, even a week, you know I can be quite the misanthrope.

And though I'm making a fraction of what I formerly earned, I really don't care. Because the job entails coming up with funny ideas and sharing lots of laughs with significantly younger people. At 44, I  would dare suggest I'm the oldest guy working for the company. And being the most juvenile man on the planet, I am in many ways, the youngest.

In any case, it's good to be working steadily. Particularly since my wife has been hocking me to install a fire pit in the backyard. Which will require trenching up the lawn. As well as the construction of a raised deck, because you can't just plunk a pit in the middle of the grass, light up a Duraflame log and call it a day. And on that deck you're gonna need some chairs, sturdy, comfortable, durable outdoor chairs whose price tag will surely induce a small heart attack.

"Why a fire pit?" I ask.

"So we can entertain," she replies.

What is the point of having people over, I mull over silently in my head. Can't we just set up a zoom meeting? Entertaining people is so much work. It means deep cleaning the house. The assembling of Martha Stewart-like appetizer trays. Passing a wardrobe inspection. The promise to curb my bourbon consumption. Showering. And shaving.

(Sidenote: I have recently discovered the joy of a proper skincare regimen and find myself exfoliating, followed by a precision shave with a creamy lather, followed by an intensely satisfying application of a post shave skin moisturizer. Damn I can't believe it took me this long to find out about all this.)

In summary:

1. I have a long term extension on my job, thrilled.
2. We're getting a firepit, people are coming over, they'll eat up all my good cheese, not so thrilled.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Stop you're making me blush

Last week a friend of a high school buddy called me out on Facebook. He said, and I quote...

"You're a blazing fucking asshole!!!"

That made my day. It made my night as well. Indeed, the joy of reading that passion-filled invective has made my week. So much so that Mr. P*&$@3*'s insult has inspired an entire R17 post.

Why? Because as I often quote from Winston Churchill, "if you're not making enemies you're doing something wrong." Meaning of course that I must be doing something right. And I hear that quite often. Not to humblebrag but many of you have written me private missives or stated your appreciation in the many posts I put up on social media:

"You are a breath of fresh air."

"Rich you are my spirit animal."

"Keep it going Rich, you're a legend."

I'm not big on compliments. Sure, like everyone else, I enjoy the flattery. But it pales in comparison to the joy of being called a blazing fucking asshole!

You might be wondering what enraged a man I do not know and have never met, to unload on me in such a spirited and provocative manner? As you might have guessed it was one of my many riffs on our Uberfuhrer, aka Precedent Shitgibbon, aka Commander Fucknuckle, aka Captain Ouchie Foot, aka Grandpa Ramblemouth.

Apparently the offended party took issue with my relentless presidential hounding.

Admittedly, I am guilty of overusing my social media platform in that pursuit. But only because the fate of the nation depends on his quick and decisive expulsion from the White House, a fact that seems lost on 60 million Red Hats.

The other thing is, I'm hardwired for this.

Like many of you, I've made my bones in advertising. And like many of you, in the Creative Department. And so you know, as well as anyone, there's a natural inclination to land on a concept and to create as many iterations that spring forth from it. That's what we do.

To wit, the following:

See, I'm not just a blazing fucking asshole. I'm a prodigious blazing fucking asshole.

Finally, the offended party made one last comment about the repetitive nature of my ranting. Conveniently ignoring the repetitive whiny little bitch at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

He accused me of making the same old tired points about the 11% unemployment, the trillion dollar deficits, the negative GDP (on Friday the we will get the Q2 numbers and will officially be in a recession) and the soaring US debt. And this where Robert ....ooops.... couldn't be more wrong.

Last week when I commented about our collective IOU, we owed $26.57 trillions dollars. As you can see here, that number has increased by a few billion dollars. So you see, it's not repetitive, it's different.

Thanks Bobby.


Please feel free to let me know which Person Woman Man Camera TV is your favorite.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Unfertile territory

I might be the world's worst Doomsday Prepper. Which is odd considering I've made a career in advertising and lived through a thousand doomsdays.


Thank you folks, I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Take the "garden" pictured above, for example.

I planted it a little more than two months ago. Seventy five dollars worth of plants, hand-curated potting and top soil, and a bag of super deluxe citrus and vegetable fertilizer guaranteed to put a cornucopia of legumes, greens and cruciferous goodies in your crisper drawers. By the way it was only recently that I discovered the drawers at the bottom of the fridge were called Crisper drawers. I know where the ice cream and the beer goes, that's the extent of my refrigerator logistics knowledge.

To date, the "garden" has produced two Serrano peppers that were distinctively not hot. Or at least not hot enough for my iron gut. And one tiny tomatillo, that was barely the size of a BB. If the apocalypse happened tomorrow, I'd have the makings for a salsa that would barely feed an entire family of amoebas.

According to the handy dandy veggie markers that came with my overpriced plantings, the Better Boy tomatoes should be revealing themselves any day now. But I'll believe that when I see it.

After all, this is 2020, the year of broken promises. I'm as likely to see big, beefy shiny red tomatoes as I am to see a vaccine for Covid, people wearing masks and the collective recognition of 60 million Red Hats that they've been swindled, hoodwinked and bamboozled by the greatest con man to ever walk the planet.

It wasn't always like this. There were productive years when my wife and I had three raised bed gardens and had more tomatoes, peppers, radishes, and cucumbers then we knew what to do with. One year the cucumber vines were so prodigious they crawled in through an open window and took over the guest bedroom.

Of course, starving will be only one of the many nightmares facing the Siegels in the upcoming dystopian era. I'm woefully unprepared when it comes to energy.

Oh sure, we have flashlights. We're camping people so we have enough flashlights to open a Flashlight Store: Mag lights, headlamp lights, belt buckle lights, you name it, I've got a plastic bin full of them. Also, scattered around the Siegel compound I've got batteries for the multitude of flashlights: A, AA, AAA, AAAA, C, D, 9 volt, etc. And as you might have guessed, they're all in various stages of rigor mortis.

And lastly, perhaps the greatest sin any Doomsday Prepper could commit, I am without weaponry.

I am not unfamiliar with the joy of shooting off a gun.

I'm also not unfamiliar with myself, nor is my wife, and know my hotheadedness can sometimes get the best of me. In a very odd Trumpian way, I have no tolerance for being taken advantage of or in any way victimized, in even the slightest of manners. I suspect growing up in NYC has a lot to do with that. And so, wisely, I do not own a gun. Apart from our camping hatchet and my Leatherman multipurpose knife, we are completely defenseless.

I suppose that's OK. Frankly I have no desire to live in a Mad Max world. Similarly I recently completed Cormac McCarthy's "The Road", and want no part of it. I hope to go out in a blaze of nuclear glory, like the unsuspecting park goers in the Terminator movie.

If post cataclysmic marauders want to raid my house and take my one marble sized radish, they're more than welcome to it.

I'd prefer the Dirt Nap.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Slay the windmills

I'm afraid America is missing the boat.

The Lamestream Media, with their communist partners in the Democratic Party and their pinko celebrity friends in Hollywood and their 7.5 billion cohorts around the globe, have fooled us. They've faked their illnesses. Built phony gravesites. Put a half a million corpses in the ground. Wailed a trillion alligator tears. And have worked us up into a frenzy with this Coronavirus Hoax.

And that's what it is folks, a hoax. A Plandemic. Fake Nuisance. There must be 20-21 names for this thing, But it's not real. It was all cooked up to make President Donald J. Trump look bad.

Why? Because our president, our mighty stable genius, more mighty and more stable and more geniuser than any other man or woman on the planet has identified the real threat to humanity.

Its wind. And its tool for our destruction, windmills.

My wife can tell you the dangers about breaking wind. She and my daughters are oh so familiar with its deleterious effects. Particularly after Taco Night. But don't take it from me. Let's harken back to April 3rd, 2019.

Chilling, isn't it?

And yet the construction of these killing machines goes on, unabated. And the machines, already built, continue to whir, spreading their oncologolical destruction throughout the land.

Painfully aware of how hard it is to convince people to heed common sense medical advice, I decided to dig into this matter. And conduct my own research, knowing that if I could find an expert, someone from the medical field with unimpeachable credentials, someone who has published a paper on the often ignored field of Noisy Windmill Cancer, perhaps America would start listening.

Here is Dr. Vinnie Boombatz, and a short excerpt from a paper he authored in the Bakersfield Journal of Medicine and Manure.

In addition to the many bald eagles taken down by these oversized turbines, there are untold numbers of small planes that were snatched from the air and now lie in ruin and decay at the base of the tri-blade monsters. 

But the real threat is mitochondrial and intra-cellular. My initial findings show the whirring and the rrrrraa-rrrrra-rrrra sound the windmills make, have caused chromosomal damage in the eustachian tubes. Leukocytes in the adjoining regions of the cerebellum are thus distracted from their function, leading to abnormal growth of malignancies in the temporal lobe. Brain function and critical thinking decreases. 

And people just stupid themselves to death.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Celebrity Game

Last week, there was a little game floating around Facebook and social media. It didn't catch on like other very popular frivolities foisted upon Americans by sneaky Chinese software developers for the purpose of harvesting your data, like "if you were a Legume, which one would you be."

Maybe it did catch on and I just didn't see it because I've been kind of busy at work and discovering the joys of Zoom fatigue.

I may not be up on all my pop internet culture, but I recognize an easy blog posting when I see one.

So here goes.

The idea is to list 5 celebrities I have met and ask friends and family to spot the one celebrity who was an unmitigated buttwipe. Here are my five:

1. Drew Carey
2. Tommy Lasorda
3. Will Arnett
4. Helen Hunt
5. Bill Maher

As a student of human behavior and someone who considers himself a good observationalist, I'm gonna say most of you selected #5 Bill Maher. His unmistakable snobbery and intellectual arrogance can be smelled from quite a distance. So he would be a natural first pick.

Guess what? You'd be wrong.

In fact, you'd be wrong if you picked any of the above, because the truth is they were all quite unpleasant, to wit...

1. We, my old partner john Shirley and I, met Drew Carey while on the set of his ABC show. He agreed to give us an hour out of his busy day to shoot a promo for his show. And he did it grudgingly. We were there to promote HIS goddamned show. So what's with all the attitude Drew?

Many of the stars on network TV can't be bothered to carve out a little time to promote their own stupid, shitty shows. The funniest moment came when he complained about being under the hot 10K lights and wanted a Diet Pepsi. Watching 20 PA's scramble at full speed to get Mr. Sweaty Celebrity a cool drink was one of the highlights in my pathetic career.

2. Tommy Lasorda was making a cameo appearance in one of our early Nissan commercials. He showed up late. Ate three servings of craft service lasagna. Gave us five takes. Reluctantly. And had his limo drive him back home. You know, just in time for dinner.

3.  On screen, Will Arnett comes off as smarmy, aloof, better than thou and smarmy. Let's just say it doesn't take a lot of acting chops for Will to pull that off.

4. Years ago we were shooting at a soundstage at Culver Studios, about a mile from my house. Half of that facility is now being converted to a huge Amazon hub. Lucky us. On the adjoining soundstage, they were filming Mad About You. It was there I met Paul Reiser, a funny, warm and genuinely mensch-y type guy. While we were there Paul introduced us to his co-star Helen Hunt, who was none of the above.

5. A long, long time ago, my partner John Shirley and I, as well as the entire team working on the ABC account, were invited to a gala black tie event in Pasadena. It was about as glitzy as an Oscars or Emmy  ceremony. The stars and their entourages were in full view and were mingling with the civilians. There was also an abundance of fancy food and an open bar with several types of yearning-to-be-sampled whiskeys.

Hours into the affair I encountered Mr. Maher on the patio. Perhaps it was the Knob Creek talking or perhaps it was the signature Siegel self-righteous indignation that led to this:

"So you don't like the new ABC campaign?"

"I think it's stupid and degrading," replied Bill, who like many celebrities was shorter than one would expect.

"Well my partner here and I were the ones who created it."

"I don't care it's still stupid and degrading."

(More heated conversation that I simply can't recall that culminated with the following)

"Well you're an asshole."

"You're an asshole too"

"Tell you what Bill, maybe we should take this outside?"

"We are outside, douchebag."

Bill was right we were standing outside. At that point, I'm pretty sure John Shirley dragged me away.

"Come on Rich, let's go back to the bar and try some of that Woodford Reserve."

As we walked away, John, who was equally proud of our efforts, lobbed one more missive Maher's way...

"You're an asshole."

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Tales From Behind the One Way Mirror

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting in on a focus groups. Something I haven't done in a long, long while. Though I have written extensively about the practice. And as you can imagine, I'm not a fan.

Asking people to judge a commercial -- actually it's not a commercial, it's more like a wireframe of a commercial without the benefit of any craftsmanship -- is a faulty process that leads to faulty results.

It just does.

Ask the folks who were responsible for Apple's 1984 spot.

Or the team who worked on TV's seminal sitcom, SEINFELD.

They both tested miserably. But I'm not going to rehash old beefs with this evil necessity of modern day mass communications. Because one of last week's focus group produced what could be the laugh of the year.

You see, in the age of the pandemic, it's no longer possible to gather 6 or 7 regular blokes, stick them in a room, feed them wet tuna fish sandwiches, solicit their expert opinions on million dollar marketing propositions and send them home with a hundred bucks.

Now it's all done through the magic of technology, via laptops, iPads, and other internet-ready devices.

Which suits me fine. If I never have to sit on the dreaded other side of the mirror and pound down focus group lasagna ever again, I will go to meet my maker a happy fella.

So what made this focus group so memorable, other than it starting at the ungodly hour of 7 AM? Towards the end of the session, after the moderator had asked, "Is there anything you really, really HATE about this commercial?" for the umpteenth time, the subjects went silent. The moderator astutely picked up on their cues and sent them home for the day.

"Got it. Have a great weekend. And thank you."

And that's when all the focus groupies turned off their devices and vanished into the ether. Well, all except one.

He, meaning Chad, Tad, Brad or Qad, mistakenly left his iPhone on. And in his mad rush to the bathroom must have kicked the volume level up to 10. Treating a dozen stunned and well paid marketing executives to 35 seconds, make that 45 seconds because he was drinking coffee the whole time, or urinary hilarity.

It was the kind of moment we've seen memorialized as an internet meme or rebroadcast on local TV news station's as their levity ending piece of the day.

But there it was. IRL.

And after 30 plus years of doing these god awful focus groups, this one will always be the most memorable.

Thank you, Errant Pissing Guy, 29 from Hackensack, NJ, thank you.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Proof Positive

It's been said there are hundreds of ways to prove the Pythagorean Theory. For those of you who were not math geeks in high school, allow me to refresh your memory on this, the most basic tenet of Geometry. It's a topic that still fascinates, and it states, with regards to a right triangle:

a(squared) + b(squared) = c(squared)

The picture above is one of the more elegant and graphic ways to show that the hypotenuse (the line from Point A to point B), indeed is equal to the sum of the squares of the two other sides. But for an entire year, Ms. Ludwig, our gruff math teachers (gruff is a job qualification for teaching math) had us find new and creative ways to prove the theorum.

In retrospect it was an amazing example of how mathematics and logic and creativity can all manifest themselves in one mind bending exercise. I was pretty damn good at it.

It also goes a long way towards explaining my particular love of proving Trumpsters wrong. Dead wrong. Not with platitudes or name calling (though I do allow myself that indulgence) but with facts. 

For instance, if you've ever found yourself in a serious discussion about Precedent Shitgibbon's deficiencies, and there are many, you know the first and favored tactic of the Red Hat is to deflect. And one of their preferred deflections is, "Yeah, well Obummer added 10 trillion dollars to the US debt." 

Ok, slow down there Grand Wizard. The truth is President Obama added 8.58 trillion dollars to the debt. 

Do I like that? No, I do not. I'm not big on debt and make it a point to pay off all my credit cards before my wife and daughters send it ballooning towards the skies next month.

But it should be noted President Obama pulled us out of the country's worst recession. We were literally hanging by a thin fiscal thread. And by spending that $9 trillion (it always helps to concede a little to a Trumpster, it's actually a rhetorical trap) he lowered the unemployment level from 9.8% to 4.7% and produced 8 years worth of steady, but modest growth. 

Those numbers are indisputable.

By contrast, the US debt is now close to $27 trillion dollars. And Captain Ouchie Foot is responsible for $7 trillion worth of additional Red Ink. In just 3 and 1/2 years !!!!

Also, indisputable. And it tends to result in a lot of hemming and hawing by the Kool Aide drinking faithful.

Another favorite trope is that President Obama was weak. And started his presidency with a so-called "Apology Tour." I've heard this crap more often that Pythagoreas found himself staring at a right triangle. 

Not surprisingly, this too is another falsity, manufactured in the sweaty, integrity-free back office of Fox News. President Obama did not go on an "Apology Tour." What he did was take a sobering, thoughtful and introspective look at America's past. A past that does always merit the pitchfork and torch crowd yelling USA USA USA.

He did so to curry diplomatic favor and push negotiations in a more fruitful, less combative direction.

I would posit that the acknowledgement of our past mistakes is a sign of strength and confidence. Ignoring slavery, colonial adventurism, resource theft, lopsided foreign policy and profiteering from global militarism, does nobody any good and it impedes progress.

Furthermore, President Obama never apologized, he put those past misdeeds into context. It's how mature, nuanced and intelligent people act.  

Compare that to President Glibby McGlibbington:

The irony here, and the icing on my "proof", is that if Red Hats are so concerned about an American President appearing weak or deferential or in any way submissive, I would suggest they take another look at the disastrous Helsinki news conference video where the President of the United States of America took the world of Russia's President over the intel provided by our own CIA and FBI.

As if that weren't enough and the most cowardly cowering ever displayed by an American leader, let's talk about the unwillingness and inability to confront Vladimir Putin for putting cash bounties on the heads of US soldiers.

That's Fucking Weak!

Thursday, July 16, 2020


Editorial Note: I had written a different piece for today, but since I am somewhat gainfully employed in a period of time when nobody is, I thought better of posting it.  I let discretion and my love of expensive tomahawk steaks prevail and put the post on hold. In its place I am writing about my groin.

Several weeks ago, or it might have been several days -- this forced hermitting in my house has done a number on my circadian rhythms -- I wrote about a visit to my doctor. I have been having excruciating pain in my upper thigh muscles which I thought might have been caused by my excessive ass sitting.

The doctor prescribed steroids, ice and heat packs. Well, that did not alleviate the pain which left me in agony and made my walking look like that of a geriatric. Like a 45 year old man. So I did what I never do and got a second opinion. This time from my OSCAR insurance covered doctor who plies his wares for UCLA Healthcare.

His office is at the Fox Hills Mall in Culver City. The UCLA Healthcare facility is located across from the JC Penney and behind the Cinnabon.

It's a little odd having your medical issues tended to in the same building where kids are buying the new Jordan sneakers and moms are buying wire support bras.

I hate to sound snobby, but I prefer my out of pocket doctor in Century City. In the huge black medical center building appropriately located on Avenue of the Stars. In fact, I've run into several stars while entering and exiting my preferred medical edifice.

Once, while waiting for my valet-parked car to be returned I saw James Gandolfini. He was hunched over and disappointingly not as tall as I had hoped. I like my Northern New Jersey Mafioso Kingpins to look a little more kingly, like 6'3" or taller. Tony Soprano was more my height. And equally burly. Given enough tequila, I'm pretty sure I could've taken Tiny Tony down.

But I digress.

Turns out, according to my new Sports Medicine doctor, I did not have bursitis, as originally diagnosed.  After much torquing, twisting and otherwise contorting my hips and legs in ways they should not be contorted, the doc suggested I had pulled a groin muscle.

He showed my some graphic charts, explained the nature of the injury and why it could take up to several months to heal.

Meaning this will probably not be the last post on this topic. If football season ever returns I will never again scoff at a multi-millionaire dollar paid athlete for sitting on the sidelines with a similar injury. You'll never hear me scream at the TV again...

"Come on Edelman, it's just a groin pull, get back in the game and make the Tribe proud."

And though it happened months ago, the doctor correctly identified the source of the groin pulling.

He thinks, and I'm sure he's right, that it happened when I was deadlifting weights in my garage. Which, by the way, sounds a lot more manly than a case of bursitis.

The deadlift is the most appropriately named of all the lifting exercises. It's also the simplest. You put as much weight as you possibly can, for those with home gyms that means every plate you have, and you try and lift it.

It's a good bet I won't be doing these again.

In fact, unless you're training to lift a schoolbus off a child trapped under the wheel well, I don't know why anybody would.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Greetings, Infernal Revenue Service

If you're like me you found yourself writing out a check to our federal government today. It was the last day of the coronavirus inspired IRS extension.

If you're like me -- and god help you if you are -- you also appended the payment with some kind of appropriate commentary.

Made even more appropriate because we owe money to a government that turns around and hands that money out to megachurches, Fortune 5 00 companies and assnuggets like Kanye West, all of whom took advantage of Uncle Sam's PPP Feeding Trough for the Rich.

But what stings the most is that I owe Donnie's House of Whoring and Backscratching, more money than I've ever owed in my life. Because, and here's the kicker, 2019 was also the year I made the least amount of money I've made in the last 27 years in advertising. Ever since I was a young, up and coming 1993 copywriter, working for two of the industry's legends. Steve Hayden and David Lubars.

Steve liked me. Lubars, not so much.

Consequently, last year, I had to dip into my IRA savings. Thus, running up a substantial tax bill.

I don't like dipping into my savings. I like to log in to my Charles Schwab account and watch those numbers increase. I like to pull up the full screen chart and gaze at the line, climbing at a sharper and sharper angle.

You know like the number of Coronavirus cases. And now, the coronavirus deaths. There's nothing pleasing about those charts. Except the hope that #Maskholes throughout the country might finally realize the cesspool this regime has plunged us into.

But I'm not hopeful.
Or naive.

So now, what was mine, no longer is. That money is in the capable, tiny, vulgarian hands of Captain Fucknuckle, who will no doubt use it to buy new umbrellas, to replace the ones he failed to close.

Or pay for golf carts needed by Secret Service agents trailing him on one of his 8,974 golf outings.

Or, to reimburse DJT Jr. for expenses he incurred while scouring the Serenegetti and shooting groundhogs, or gerbils, or some other herbivorous wild game that poses no threat to the life and limb of that worthless silver spoon scumbag.

It makes my blood boil.

It also explains the purchase of my new mask.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Oh, oh, oh, it's magic

My wife and I are now both at that same delicate age, 44, when we are subjected to a ton of pharmaceutical advertising. Ads that once pimped Michelob Ultra, the beer for athletes, or Tinder, or even the Gap, have been replaced by commercials for Keytruda, Trylesta and Ozempic.

Ozempic is our favorite, because it features a song that mimics that old 70's pop hit Magic by Pilot.

Oh you know the spot:

Catchy, no?

If I'm not mistaken I think the fine makers of Ozempic, doctor's recommended choice for diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease, cancer and dismemberment, dipped deep into their pool of Big Pharma money and actually got the band Pilot to come out of retirement and croon the new lyrics.

Listen again. The melodic harmonizing. The unmistakable hooks. Even the guitar riffs are the same as Pilot's signature 1974 sound. The sound that went on to launch such magical hits as....OK, so the negotiations with the band manager probably didn't last longer than 2 minutes.

OZEMPIC: "We'd like to use your band's song, MAGIC, in our next commercial."

PILOT: "Done."

OZEMPIC: "Any chance you guys could sing it for us?"

PILOT: "How about next Tuesday?"

It's been said that pharmaceutical advertising is where old copywriters go to finish out their careers. And while I've dipped my toe in that field, I've been fortunate enough to avoid a steady Monday through Friday, nine to five, diet of this stuff.

For starters, I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to pitch a spot like the Ozempic one to clients.

"Close your eyes. Picture a diverse group of youngish, middle aged people, people, going about their lives free from the debilitating effects of diabetes. They're playing miniature golf, exercising, and putting new 393 cubic inch engines into classic cars like the 1967 Dodge Coronet. And throughout this incredible montage we hear...


Worse than that is what happens after the client signs the estimate and sends you on your way to produce this 90 seconds of diabetic bliss.

Because if you know anything about advertising, TV or film production, you know it is a long and laborious process that moves from focus groups (where the song is played 178 times) to the shoot (where the song is played another 427 times) to the edit bay, (where some poor editor has to frame fuck this thing and the song is played 2,936 times) before it reaches your tv screen.

Those are the kind of sacrifices we have to make for art.

I won't labor this any longer, suffice to say, this where my career is going.

I can feel it in my arthritis-free bones. And while I bemoan my fate, I'll leave you with this, so that the earworm I have placed in your head can find its way down to your alimentary canal and make a quick egress.

You're welcome.

Monday, July 13, 2020

I want to speak to the manager

Some of you may recall my tale of customer dissatisfaction with the Omaha Steak Company. To recap, my daughter, very thoughtfully, purchased 4 juicy Rib Eye steaks from their online sales department and gifted it to me for Father's Day.

The "steaks" were not exactly steaks.

And were more akin to the a bite sized treat you might give your dog for fetching a ball or for not shitting on the new expensive rug you just bought from Restoration Hardware.

As I explained in a flattering post, the folks from Nebraska couldn't have been more accommodating. They understood my disappointment and immediately refunded my daughter the $135 she spent for four of these morsels. I offered to send the still wrapped "steaks" back, but they would have none of that.

Good on them for living up to the promise printed on the box: "100% Satisfaction. Guaranteed."

The other half of my Father's Day extravaganza came from my wife. She never knows what to get me as a gift. Mostly because I'm never wanting for anything. So I decided to make it easy and pointed her in the direction of Flaviar. A new online company that sends whiskey right to your doorstep. Sort of like Harry and David's Fruit of the Month club, only with high octane pain-go-bye-bye juice.

That did not turn out well. The first bottle they sent (still unopened) was called PiggyBack. I suspect the folks at Flaviar have a warehouse full of this stuff. And need to unload it.

The first gift carton also included three sampler bottles, about a shot and a half, just enough bourbon to make me feel a little less stressed about these shitty surreal times we live in. Well, it would be if it was actually drinkable. In fact, I'm not sure I wasn't actually drinking paint thinner. I tossed that shit in the garbage disposal. Though I will say the sink is now draining faster.

Then I went online to see what my wife had actually purchased. Then the email exchange started.

I heard back from Jason, my Flavor Concierge. Ooooo, I have a flavor concierge.

I asked for a refund. But Jason, my flavor concierge was not so willing to concierge me.

OK, Jason. We can do this the easy way. Or the hard way, which will be a lot more fun..

Jason, chose the easy way. Which was smart of him. 

I don't want you coming away from this post thinking I'm some kind of schnorer -- those of you in the Tribe will recognize that term. But as my email explained, I do expect to be treated fairly. 

And speaking of fair, now that my daughter and my wife have been refunded all the money they spent on this past Father's Day I think it's only fair we do it over again.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Let's get hungry

Last week, in between the creation of new Trump memes and the hourly checking of our total us debt at, I found myself chatting with Claudia Caplan.

Claudia is an old old friend.
Not that she's old, just that we've known each other a very long time.

I knew Claudia before she knew me, in that I was a big fan of her work. Notably her incredible portfolio of radio commercials. You see she is a copywriter. And a Creative Director. She also went on to become a Chief Marketing Officer at Earthlink, where we met in person and she became a client.

And a friend.

It's safe to say she's one of the brightest women in advertising, though because of her disdain for gender acknowledgement she'd prefer I just describe as one of the brightest people in advertising. If an agency were looking for a new CCO they'd be wise to look Claudia's way.

In short, I trust her opinion. And when she says she finally saw a TV spot that caught her eye, that caught my ear.

"It's simple. It's forthright. And it cleverly hitches its pitch to the imagination of the senses and their ability to actually make a person hungry."

Interesting I thought.

Here it is for your inspection.

The way she described the spot was also suspiciously familiar. And upon viewing the spot, my suspicions were all confirmed.

You see, a little more than 15 years ago, we did the same thing for El Pollo Loco. We recognized that nothing makes people hungrier for barbecued chicken than the sight, sounds and imagined smell of barbecue chicken.

Add to that the restriction of a limited budget and the necessity to produce close to a 100 commercials in a year, and you can see why we landed, where we landed.

Here for your amusement, and comparison to the Kraft commercial, is a small sampling of the 92 commercials we made for El Pollo Loco.

The campaign was a huge success.
Except for the guy doing the voiceover.
He sucked.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The State of the State

Recently I received a private email, congratulating me on my relentless pursuit of imperfection, referring of course to my non stop assault on Precedent Shitgibbon and his non stop assault on democracy.

Conversely, I've also been accused of rehashing the same material and foisting "tired old rants" upon anyone willing to listen.

On both charges.

I may not be everyone's cup of tea. But the truth is, I don't want to be. As Winston Churchill, or maybe it was Frederick Douglass (he's just now getting the attention he deserves) once said, "If you're not making enemies, you're doing something wrong."

The next natural question is, why do I do it?

If I'm being honest with myself and with you, I can't NOT do it. You see, I have wanted to be a political satirist since I was 14 years old. I had dreams of being the next Art Buchwald (Google him) and joining the staff at National Lampoon. There aren't many 14 year olds who know exactly what they want to do in life. I was blessed and knew I wanted to be a writer.

I was also cursed, because shortly after I graduated college, National Lampoon went out of business. SPY magazine followed shortly thereafter. The market for political satire dried up. And I fell into advertising.

But now there is social media. And there is Captain Ouchie Foot. And Commander Fuckknuckle. And Grandpa Ramblemouth. And there is the daily, dare I say hourly, display of his incompetence, ignorance and incrementally increasing dementia.

And so I mock. Many times that mockery leads to arguments. Which again I relish, because in addition to my aspiration of being a political satirist I also entertained dreams of being a lawyer. And when it comes to arguing against the current fascist regime, the facts are so readily stacked in my favor.

Foreign Policy -- We are the laughingstock of the world. Russia is having their way with us. China is still stealing intellectual property building the new Silk Road, and still not paying the tariffs on imports,  you, we, are. Even North Korea played us for the fools we appear to be.

Healthcare -- The big, beautiful Repeal and Replace Plan never existed. For 10 years the GOP has had an opportunity to come up with a better idea. And for ten years those country club dipshits did nothing but play golf and raise money from their ignorant gullible supporters. As you read this, the DOJ is arguing in court, to have the Affordable Care Act nullified, throwing millions of people off healthcare. During a goddamned pandemic!!!

Infrastructure -- Pffffft

Immigration -- Mexico reneged on their promise to pay for the Wall and never sent a check. As if that weren't bad enough, our hogbellied flap dragon of a president stole money from the military and erected 3 miles of new wall. Some of it blew over because of strong winds. And some of it, built near the Rio Grande, is in danger of falling in the water. (Go to the Google)

The Economy -- This, by far, is my favorite arrow in the quill, because the economy sucks. It sucks now, because of Coronavirus. But more importantly, it sucked before Coronavirus. And don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Remember when Shitgibbon promised GDP growth rates of 3, 4, 5 and maybe even 6%? Eye this:

2017 GDP growth -- 2.4%
2018 GDP growth -- 2.9%
2019 GDP growth -- 2.3%
2020 GDP growth (Q1 only) -- (-4.7%)
2020 GDP growth (Q2 estimate) -- (-53%) Even a dopey foot doctor from North Bunion, Kansas, can tell that ain't good.

Not to mention consecutive years of trillion dollar deficits.

And finally, there's the debt. By the time this post reaches you it will be hovering near $26.5 trillion. Meaning, America's bestest, most stable genius businessman will have added close to $7 trillion worth of red ink. In one term as president!

Despite all this, on November 3rd, 60 million Americans will pull the lever for this lying, grifting, racist rapist. Proving that what America needs most is not a Wall, not new highways, bridges or airports, and not new tanks, or planes, or bombs. If this grand experiment is going to survive, America needs a total rehab of our Public Education.


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

It's raining

Today I'd like to revisit an old Pet Peeve of mine. This is hardly new to readers of this blog. I often rehash old Pet Peeves. That's why they're Pet Peeves and not one time annoyances.

Readers will recall my many, many rants about Planners, FFDKK™-- Frivolous Fuckwadian digital Knick Knacks and The Long Table of Mediocrity™.

Today I bring up the notion of Time. And how we're paid for it. More accurately, how we are NOT paid it. My friend George Tannenbaum, recently released from the mental and physical bondage of big agency employment, has touched on this topic. As well as many others. And his torching of the bridge that connected him to the big holding companies is nothing, if not genius.

There's a certain liberation that takes place when you reach a certain age in your career. And have a sufficient financial cushion in your portfolio. It's not Fuck You money, by any means, but it is "You're-Not-Gonna-Fuck-Me-Anymore Money."

And make no mistake that what big agencies do.

They start with with some meaningless Title Seduction. You're a Creative Director now. Or you're a Group Creative Director now. Ore you're an Executive Creative Director, whoopee. They will literally say anything to get in your ego pants.

Mind you, that prestigious title entitles you to nothing.

You don't get an office. You don't get more money. And you don't even get the final say on what creative product goes out the door. What you do get is the expectation that you will be on call 24 hours a day, 366 days a year.

And this where the fucking you begins.

Because your previous 40 or 45 or, who are we kidding, it's advertising, 50 hour work weeks will be a thing of the past. Replaced by the standard 60, 70 and 80 hour work weeks.

Allow me to torch a bridge of my own. When I was freelancing at a certain agency in Santa Monica, an outpost of a once famous shop in Boulder, Colorado, an assistant used to come around every night about 6 PM. She had a stack of menus in one hand and a notepad in the other.

"We're taking dinner orders. Where do you want to eat tonight?"

"I want to eat at home. Good night"

This. Was. Everyday.

And while you're putting in that extra time, because you're a big bad executive with a fancy title, don't expect that lost labor to ever be recouped. It won't. There'll be no bumps. No raises. No compensation of any kind.

It is, like so much that is wrong with business and this country, mind numbingly Trumpian in its hypocrisy.

Why? Because agencies, once paid on retainer or the dreamy 15% commission, now bill the clients by Time. And you can be sure that if the agency works 50 hours or 5 hours or 5 minutes over scope, they, unlike you, are going to charge the client for every goddamned second of it.

Meaning you are not the Mr. or Ms. Senior Vice President Group Creative Director, North America, you are merely a profit center.

My shtetl ancestors, no strangers to getting screwed, had a colorful phrase for this:

"tsi nit pi aoyf meyn tsurik aun zogn mir az es regn"   

Translation: Don't pee on my back and tell me it's raining!

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Hip-ocratic Oath

As many readers of R17 know, I have been working quite regularly lately. I'm heading into the third month of a three month contract.

It might be the most intensive and lowest paying gig I've ever had in my illustrious 15 year career as a freelancer. But it might also be the one I love most. Because in addition to working from home, like everybody else, I'm also working with a great bunch of people who demand and appreciate funny writing, unlike everybody else.

If I play my cards right, and they play their cards right, this could actually turn into a full time job.

But it is not without one gnawing problem that has afflicted me since planting my considerable ass in my Herman Miller chair and clicking and clacking away at the funny. You see because of Slack and the fast pace with which the company moves, I have been tethered to my computer. For long stretches at a time. Consequently I have developed sharp, stabbing pains in my hip flexor muscles.

A $200 trip to the doctor yielded a diagnosis of Bursitis. Which I resisted, because young, healthy 44 year olds just don't get Bursitis. And the foul tasting steroids I was prescribed did little or nothing to relieve the pain. Not nearly as much as the Petra Cannabis-Infused Moroccan mints. (By the way I've been promised a truckload of free mints from the CMO at Kiva Confections, a reader of this blog, but to date they have not arrived.)

And so I took my aching legs into my own hands.

Did a little interweb research on hip flexor pain, which is quite common with many of us now parked on our derrieres, and discovered a series of stretches that can alleviate the pain. I've now turned my youngest daughter's vacant bedroom into Rich's Studio of Cannabis-Enhanced Yoga and Screaming.

I also purchased the Active Wrap Hip Heat & Ice Wrap. And have taken to strolling about the house wearing this neoprene looking diaper.

My other daughter finds it endlessly amusing. 

I'm sure she has snapped a few surreptitious photos of me and posted it online for her friends amusement.

But the good news, I am on the mend. The better news is that while nursing the lower half of my body back to 100%, the top half is functioning at super human levels.

Last week our friends Paul and Deanna came over for a social distanced dinner. After my 4th Mojito I invited Paul to take a look at my garage and my personal gym. One thing led to another and before long the testosterone kicked in and we were seeing who could bench press the most weight.

With a lot of grunting and groaning, I slowly hoisted 245 lbs. 

Imagine how much I would have been able to lift if I only had 3 Mojitos. 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Blintzes, Brisket and Bikes.

Like many of you in the advertising industry, I have been looking for an exit plan. My own, not one imposed on me.

After all, there are fewer and fewer places who are looking for the skills of a 44 year old freelance copywriter. Particularly one who looks, and now walks, significantly older than a person born in the halcyon days of 1976.

Naturally, because of my extensive background as a short order cook/sous chef/bartender/and hospital kitchen dishwasher, I considered a late career shift/return to the food business.

Now, I would never open a restaurant, because restaurants have a notorious 95% failure rate.

But I did consider opening a food related retail boutique. Thinking, perhaps naively, all I've got to do is hit upon a food no one ever thought of glamorizing.

And then it hit me -- blintzes.
What Starbucks had done for coffee, I would do to blintzes.

If you're not familiar with blintzes, you don't know what you're missing. Not only are they delicious and satisfying, they are incredibly versatile. You can have dessert blintzes, filled with sour cream, strawberries. Or chocolate and chocolate chip. Or you can shift the blintz paradigm and stuff them with meat -- like a tiny Omaha steak -- and potatoes, so they can be an entree. Blintzes are that versatile.

Not a bad idea, right?

Thanks to my friend Evan, I recently found out a guy in the DC area has already been there and done that.

And in a Twilight Zone twist of fate, that guy's name was Rich.

Tapping into my heritage, as well as my love for fire-cooked flesh, I also considered doing the same for brisket. This was inspired by a college touring trip to Austin, years ago. I'm not sure there's anything on the planet that compares to Texas style BBQ brisket. It's as good as sex. And afterwards you'll actually want to lick your fingers. Sorry.

In my imaginary incarnation of the store, Bubba and Bubbe's Brisket Emporium, I would offer brisket lovers two distinctively different flavors. One the aforementioned, slow cooked in an authentic hickory burning smoker. And the other, stewed in a pan, with carrots, onions and potatoes, shtetl style, just the way your Cossack-persecuted grandmother used to make.

When I began to crunch the numbers, this too became infeasible. Oh who are we kidding, I didn't crunch any numbers. Look, I'm not about to empty the Nest Egg to start some fakakta business.

Especially one in retail. Do you know how much money you need to ring up in sales, every damn day,  just to make the nut for rent? Too much.

That's why I tip my hat to Culver City's own Abba Padre Bikes and Books. (Libreria Cristiana, pictured above)

Why open one business, thought SeƱor Abba Padre, when you can open two? It's a bike repair shop AND it's a seller of fine Christian books?

"While Manuel is putting these new brake shoes on your Schwinn beach cruiser, why don't we open Deuteronomy and read the passage about Jacob and Esau?"

That's when it hit me. 

There is no exit plan. Not for this 44 year old.

I'm going to be writing banner ads and email blasts right up until the day some mortician tells my wife, "He's a big fellow, we're gonna need the EEE extra wide casket."

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Home Sweet Home

Came across this stunning photo of Central Park the other day. I see pictures of NYC every other day on social media, but this one struck a nerve. More accurately, it triggered a pungent memory.

Memories are tricky because if you dwell on them too long people see you as living in the past. Washed up. Clutching at straws trying to reclaim long lost glory. Too bad, I'm of a certain age, where I really don't care what people think. Particularly younger people who grimace when I claim advertising and the advertising industry was better in the old days.

Because you know what, it was.

If you were to zoom in on the red arrow, you'd be staring at Essex House, at least that's what it was called in pre-pandemic days. And on the 23rd story of this storied building, you'd find an exquisite Indian restaurant, appointed with fine Persian rugs, exotic lamps imported from Italy, and waiters and waitresses in full tuxedos.

Ok, they may not have been wearing tuxedos, but for the purposes of this tale, they were.

Truth be told, I like my Indian food on the more authentic side. Served up in a dingy strip mall hole in the wall restaurant, with a check cashing store on one side and a purveyor of fine adult books on the other. But on this occasion I was more than willing to indulge in $25 dollar veggie samusas and $80 bowls of Curried Eel, caught fresh that day off the coast of Ceylon.

Not only was the food amazing, so were the views. Unparalleled. And until that night unseen, by anyone like me, a member of the decidedly lower castes.

We, meaning my partner John Shirley, several account execs, and perhaps even a client, to justify the mortgage-worthy bill, were brought there by my old boss Jerry Gentile. It was not the first, or last indulgent feast visited upon us on our almost monthly journeys to the NY office.

Whenever we went to the Big Apple, we went big. Often flying in Business Class. Often staying at outrageously expensive hotels. Often raiding the mini bars and the breakfast in bed room service at said outrageously expensive hotels ($18 for a bag of cashews? $48 for a pitcher of orange juice? Sure, why not?) And always dining at New York's finest restaurants.

We frequented cigar bars and gentlemen's clubs. We sampled rare scotches. On one excessively sodden night, John and I found ourselves at the St. Regis hotel bar, being hit upon by two rich socialite women, who were well into their 60's. It was the stuff of Penthouse letters.

By the time we were boarding the plane at JFK for the return flight to LA, our necks and cheeks would be hurting from laughing so hard.

However, it should be noted that all of our missions were driven by the singular goal of creating great creative advertising.

And, as it turns out, even more creative expense reports.