Monday, November 30, 2020

The Glorious Meltdown

Perhaps you saw last week's rushed Thanksgiving Night address to the overseas troops from Precedent Shitgibbon, where he was seated at what appeared to be a tiny child's bedroom desk. It was pathetic on every level, including him berating a reporter...

"Don't talk to me like you know who I am? ...I'm the President of the United States of America."

Because nothing oozes power like having to shout at the top of your lungs, 

"You have to respect me. KellyAnne!!!!"

When I watched this amazing meltdown something started tickling the nerve endings in the back of my brain. Where have I seen the dictatorial tiny desk routine before? Think, Rich, think. And then I recalled my still amusing 6 year ribbing of Kim Jong Un seen here at (which is always good for a laugh.)

That was last Thursday. 

It's Friday morning as I write this under the haze of 3 cups of coffee and a Vicodin to ease my chronic hip pain and my post-Turkey Day hangover. It seems 44 years on this earth have taken its toll on my joints and cartilage.

This morning, I also came across a video posted by the White House Director of Communications and former golf caddy Dan Scavino (the best people). It features a big bad lion fending off a pack of hungry hyenas. And it's narrated by Christopher Walken. If there wasn't reason enough to doubt the sanity of POTUS before, there surely is now. 

You can watch the video here:

By the time you read this it will be Monday morning. And who knows what further escapades await us in the epic meltdown of #DiaperDon.

Suffice to say there are only 52 more days of this unbelievable and amateur regime. Made even more unbelievable by the fact that 73 million Americans watch this clown and think to themselves, "Yeah, that the guy I want leading my country."

I'm gonna get my money's worth out of the last 52 days and release my own Kraken. You probably didn't know I've been holding back and exercising the famed Siegel restraint, but I have.

Here's the other thing. 

Many political pundits would have you believe that Grandpa Ramblemouth will continue to hold sway over the GOP. I don't believe that for a minute.

When he is thankfully out of office he will be thankfully out of power. Nothing he says or does will have any impact. He will shrivel up in humiliation.

Moreover, if past is prologue, just as he has turned on every one in his circle, including Fox News, he will also turn on his enablers: Graham, McConnell and Barr. Mark my words.

And then he will be indicted. First by SDNY and then by new AG Sally Yates. And we will see the depths of his depravity.

He will be out of our lives just about the same time the virus begins to leave us. Normalcy will return. 

And it will be glorious.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Welcome to the party.

I have been playing chess since I was seven years old. My brother has has been playing since he was six. 

I don't remember why my father sat us down to teach us the rules and objectives of chess. I'm only glad he did. It turns out he was not much of a player. And within a couple of years my brother and I were both beating him. 


It might have had something to do with my father working 18 jobs at once, trying to go to college at night, and supporting a working class family of 5, on nickels and dimes. 

So my brother and I turned our attention to each other. We have been brutalizing each other for many, many years. Not so much because we love the game, although we do, but more as an outlet for our sibling rivalry. 

With the advent of the interwebs, and Covid restrictions, we play online, and always have a game going. Always.

I'm happy to say I'm almost always winning.

In any case, it's been fascinating to watch America's new streaming obsession, the 7 part miniseries, Queen's Gambit. We're 5 episodes in and thoroughly enjoying it. 

Oh sure the writing is superb. The direction is subtle and engaging. The characters are fascinating. And the set design...oh what do I know about set design?

But as someone with a special love of the game, someone who has won a couple of rank amateur tournaments against a bunch of college stoners, I'm in it for the chess.

Years ago, I got my rating online rating tantalizing close to 1600. To enter any serious tournament now you must have an 1800 or higher. In other words, while I'm good in my head, I'm nowhere near as good in reality. And will never be good enough to play competitively. 

That is not to say I can't keep learning. 

For instance, with my interest piqued I decided to look into the Queen's Gambit Declined opening. It is not a play I'm familiar with. In fact, I have an embarrassing passing knowledge of any of the famed gambits and defenses. I've never been that vested, or nerdy, to start studying chess books like Beth Harmen.

So I decided to play the Queen's Gambit on my brother. I'm pretty sure it threw him off. In monumental fashion. Before long I had total control of the center of the board and leveraged my position to decimate him piece by piece.

In other words, I. Kicked. His. Ass.

In the post game analysis provided by, I was commended (by the computer) for properly executing the Queen's Gambit to my advantage.

Maybe I'll start committing more of my Covid time to the serious improvement of my game. Then I can write more postings about chess. And then the 8 regular readers of R17 will dwindle down to 2. 

And that's only because I force my wife to read it. And I have to go back and fix typos.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Stupid hot

Say hello to the Fatalii pepper, Latin name: capsicum chinense. 

The Fatalii is a relative of the famed habanero pepper and according to Wikipedia (where I've recently lost my editing privileges for desecrating several low level Michigan GOP officials for their compliance in the Trump election stealing scheme) the pepper originated in the Americas but was brought to Africa a long time ago.

One can only speculate that white traders brought these indigenous plants in order to barter.

"Give me 10 human beings and I'll give you this magic plant that makes food spicy."

Fuck that long dead scalawag of the seas.

Back to the pepper, which you can tell from the picture above is growing in my garden. A raised bed garden that produced very little in the way of tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatillos this year and hardly recouped my $150 investment. How very 2020.

When the overgrown but barren tomato plants were cleared out, the remaining pepper plants started taking off. Judging from the strength of their fruit, I believe these peppers are impervious to the elements. Soon I will have two dozen of these nuclear-powered mouthbombs.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to eat them. They are that Hot. Or as Wikipedia says: 

"...they have a fruity, citrus flavor with a searing heat."

I take that as the understatement of the year. 

Keep in mind, I have an iron gut. As my occasional Chinese food eating compatriots, John Shirley or Jean Robaire, will tell you, I will casually pop those tiny red peppers that give Kung Pao Chicken its Pao as if they were bar nuts.

My taste for extremely hot peppers was forged in the kitchen of the very first restaurant I managed shortly after my arrival in Southern California. The head chef, Fernando, wanted to introduce me to authentic Mexican food. Not the tacos, enchiladas and burritos made famous by cheap American chains, but real Mexican food, like the kind eaten by ranchers and farmhands in the state of Coahuila.

He sat me down to a plate of humongous beef ribs, a bowl of slow cooked pinto beans, a mini-baguette of Mexican sourdough bread (that we baked on the premises) and a handful of jalapeño peppers. Then Fernando demonstrated how this utensil-free food was eaten. A bite off the rib, bread dipped in the soupy beans followed by a nibble of the crunchy jalapeño pepper.

Under the watchful eyes of Fernando, Paco, Abel and Guillermo, the dishwasher, I cautiously imitated the ritual. Then quickly made a dash for the sink to put out the fire in my mouth. There was much laughter.

"Pinche jeffe gordo no es muy fuerte."

That would be the last time I would be mocked over my inability to handle hot foods. In no time I had built up a tolerance for jalapeños. Then graduated to the Serrano, slowly working my way past the tiny Thai chiles, the tabiche and the Scotch Bonnet.

The Fatalii is aptly named. And I take issue with the folks at Scoville that have it ranked below the habanero. I have eaten habaneros, whole, and this my friend is no habanero.

I have another week to go before the pepper in the picture is fully ripened. And chances are I'll probably sear up some beef ribs and boil some beans and give this mother another shot. Only to suffer wildly. 

Both before. And after. If you catch my drift.


Because, as my wife will tell you, I'm stupid that way.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The long awaited death of the GOP

As you go about your Monday morning rituals, pounding coffee, bemoaning the state of advertising and grumbling to yourself, "I gotta get out of this goddamned business", county canvassers in Michigan and Pennsylvania are going about the business of certifying the 2020 election.

Or as I like to call it: 

Best. Fucking. Election. Ever.

By now, it's common knowledge that President Elect Biden will be sworn in on January 20, 2021, America's New Independence Day. But 70 million Red Hats are still clinging to the moronic thought that Grandpa Ramblemouth will somehow magically produce conclusive evidence of widespread election fraud. 

He won't. Because he can't. Because it doesn't exist.

Just like the investigators sent to Hawaii to dig up dirt on President Obama's birth never existed. 

Nor a plan to extract billions of dollars from Mexico to build a phantom border wall. 

Nor any nefarious proof that Comey, Clapper, and Brennan conspired to "spy" on Captain Ouchie Foot's 2016 campaign. 

Nor any X-rays showing evidence of bone spurs that earned Captain Ouchie Foot his 5 Vietnam deferrals and this oh so clever nickname.

Nor any new "big, beautiful healthcare plan" to replace Obamacare.

Nor any new Federal Strategy to deal with Coronavirus.

Nor any actions that could in any way justify that flim flamming shitgibbon saying, "I've done more for black people than any other president other than Abraham Lincoln. He had the hat."

None of it exists. It never did.

It's why all the president's white shoe law firms dropped their client and handed the case off to Qanon poster child Sidney Powell, clueless Jesus Freak Jenna Ellis, and man who rubs snot all over his face, Rudy Giuliani. You know, the "elite strike force of America's top legal talent", their phrase, not mine.

Watching them fumble through press conferences held in gardening supply store parking lots or under the hot lights on national TV, has been nothing less than exquisite. I, and I'm sure you, have been savoring every last glorious humiliating moment. 

Particularly since knowing the result in advance. It reminds of the many weekends when I'd be working at Chiat/Day and forced to tape the much-anticipated rivalry basketball games between my beloved Syracuse Orangemen and the ugly Georgetown Hoyas. I'd often hear about the victory before rolling the tape, which only made watching the contest all the more better. 

In the end, all that matters is, he lost. 

This lying, fetid, maggot-bellied motherfucker who has tortured a nation, cratered an economy, let a pandemic run unabated and put 1/4 million Americans in the ground for the Dirt Nap, lost.

And so has the party and the people who let their bigotry beat their common sense into submission and put this sorry assnapkin in office.

Oh yeah, Republicans, you lost big. 

You lost any right to stand on a soapbox and preach about morals, integrity and character. Hint: we never bought this load of crap from you hypocritical Bible thumpers even before 2016.

You lost any proprietary claim to patriotism or a special covenant with the Constitution. We don't want to hear you yelling USA, USA, USA. Because nothing you've done promotes the notion of United States. And everything you've done, from ignoring your civic responsibility to others (MASKHOLES) to snatching kids from mothers and throwing them in wire cages is unAmerican. 

And unChristian, I might add.

Moreover, you can can your phony flag fetishism. You lost that too. You want to wrap yourself in a flag, find one with the Dixie Stars and Bars. Or better yet, find one with a swastika. Because the last four years have laid bare your affinity for bigotry, authoritarianism and fascism.

And finally, you lost your way. 

This country is moving in another direction. The demographics are moving in a different direction. And now, with the election of a black woman to the second highest office in the land, the power structure in this country is moving in a different direction.

You can call it socialism. Or any other uninformed, fear mongering term you'd like. 

I, and 80 million other Americans, think of universal healthcare, better access to education, and a more equitable distribution of this nation's obscene wealth, the elimination of poverty and the resurgence of the middle class, as what the founding fathers of this country had in mind...

"a more perfect union."

If you don't like it, leave.



Thursday, November 19, 2020

Yes, we have bananas.

For reasons I need not go into, my wife is immuno-compromised. 

As such she has been confined to the house for a great deal of the past 8 months. With the exception of her beach and hill hikes. Where she and her friends faithfully knock out 4, 5 and sometimes 6 miles at a clip. Not bad for a 44 year old woman.

In short, she is strong. 

And to put up with me for oh so many years she'd have to be.

As of late she had been expressing a desire to do some of the normal things that she'd do in our pre-Covid lives. Simple, banal things, that we all once took for granted. 

Like a trip to the grocery store.

When this thing hit and our lying, scumbag president decided it was a hoax and would just magically disappear, Deb was forced to give up the simple pleasure of walking into a supermarket and picking the right veggies, comparing exotic cheeses and hankering the guy behind the butcher counter for the best cut of brisket.

But she couldn't.

And this is where my youngest daughter Abby, also an incredibly strong, and creative woman, stepped in. She had an idea. A far flung one at that. I suggested she follow up on the idea and make it happen.

So she began with a phone call. The phone call was followed up with an email. An email that was rejected. So she followed up with another email, this time --borrowing a trick I had taught her -- to someone of greater import, a boss.

She asked the manager of the local Trader Joe's if it was possible to open the store a half hour early, just once, so that Deb could venture out of the house and into a grocery store, free from fear and the possibility of contracting what could be a fatal virus.

And within an hour the manager wrote back and said it would be their honor and privilege to allow my wife and daughter (she was there to make the Tik Tok video) into the store for a Covid-free shopping trip.

It moved my wife to tears. And the next day, the manager greeted Deb and Abby, invited them into the store at 7 AM, presented them with a two bouquets of flowers and made a wish come true.

I just want to thank Trader Joe's for making that all happen. And for also restoring a little bit of my faith in the people that live in this country.

It feels like the America we used to live in.

And the America I want to live in.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

It's THAT time.

It's end of the year employee performance review time at the company where I have been gainfully employed for the last 7 months. 

Or so I'm told. 

I asked my boss, an incredibly talented Creative Director who gets his hands dirty on both sides of the art director/copywriter fence, if he had made any progress with mine. I told him in advance I'd like to make the appropriate plans for spending my end of year bonus money. And clean out one half of my overly cluttered garage to make room for the new company car.

He told me, in that always charming (not pandering at all) Aussie accent, that he was tied up doing reviews for all the staffers. He also had a suggestion...

"You're a good writer mate, why don't you take a shot at writing your own review."

Well, you know me, I'm all about shouldering responsibility and doing whatever I can to take things off the boss's plate. 

First the... 

Qualititave Section:

Rich is an exemplary employee and gets his work done on time. He regularly offers to help out and take the load off the other creatives in the company. His work is neat, organized and many times, even creative. 

Though let's be honest he has been known to transpose letters and make the occasional typo. 

It should also be added that sometimes Rich can push the envelope a little too far. 

We here at _________ have made a name for ourselves with disruptive and imaginative humor. Mr. Siegel glibly takes license with that platform and delves into sophomoric and icky copy that has some fellow employees scratching their heads thinking, "Did the old man actually say that?"

Rich has never missed a deadline and despite some industry rumors, is remarkably easy to work with. Some have even described his manner as "very diplomatic."

Quantitive Section:

Imaginative ----- 93

Creative ----------97

Engaging --------91


Boring -----------17

Defensive -------86

Strengths: (see above)


Rich has a face for radio and a voice for newspaper. Though there's been a company wide request for all employees on Zoom meetings to leave their cameras ON during conferences, many employees have requested that Mr. Siegel leave his camera OFF. 

His room is often messy. His face, and head, unshaven. And the frayed collars on his t-shirts are embarrassingly threadbare. He hardly dresses like a 44 year old grown man. 


The jury is out on whether to extend Mr. Siegel's employment. 

Though some consideration should be given to the fact that he has agreed to meet his wife's request to landscape the backyard and install a fire pit. Requiring expensive permitting and that equally expensive pressure-treated and sealed high-grade redwood and cedars for the deck planking.

For Final decision, please consult: M.K., M.O. and T.S.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Midnight train to Georgia

If I may paraphrase an old advertising jingle from the good folks at Shake n 'Bake, 

"We got a new president, and I helped."

As you probably know, the official results, from the states, not the media as Trump toadies like to claim, from the election are in. In terms of electoral votes, the human being beat the maggot-infested shitbag of ignorance, 306 - 232. With more than 5 million popular vote edge going his way.

16 of the electoral votes came from the previously Ruby Red state of Georgia, home to many a past Klan meeting and cross burning. And where the phrase, "We don't want you here, Jewboy" was heard as often as  a waitress offering, "would you like some pecan pie?"

Several months ago, my friend and fellow political activist, Pam Barsky, turned me onto her efforts with Postcards2SwingStates. They set out to encourage voters in the crucial states where Commander Assnapkin had let down the populace, to use their voice and get out and vote. 

I signed up immediately.

A week later we received a box full of postcards (see picture above) as well as a list of potential voters. It turns out there are way more Democratic voters than there are Republicans (thank god) so any effort to drive the vote mathematically results in blue favor.

The good folks at Postcards2Swingstates even provided sample copy to be written on each missive. 

I thought it was too damn polite and wanted to go with a simpler more concise message (again, see picture above and cock your head to the left.)

But my wife and daughters prevailed and the nightly handwriting crusade began. 

I'll be the first to admit the family did the bulk of the lifting. While I was busy on Facebook and Twitter sweet talking fencesitters to see the light with my gentle, persuasive and ever-so-subtle social media commentary.

OK, well I bought the postage stamps. OK, I bought them on Amazon Prime. At the same time I bought a gadget that cleans both sides of a second story window, simultaneously. I love Chinese life-hack gadgets.

The point is, whatever we did, worked. And Georgia was called for our new President Elect Joe Biden, damn I love writing that.

But the work is not done, particularly in the Peach State. Where in two months we will see two senatorial runoffs. A Jewish and a black man trying to unseat two fucking GOP scoundrels who used their insider information regarding Covid to sell off stocks and personally benefit in an unethical and illegal manner. Even if they win, I hope Biden's new AG goes after these swampy bastards.

In short, there's more postcards to be written. And we're gonna need some more ink pens.

Hello, Amazon Prime. 

Also feel free to populate the interwebs with this beautiful, nation-refreshing picture...

Monday, November 16, 2020

Sexy Pace

Last summer my daughters started a relentless campaign to get a Peleton bike.  I think it was summer, the seasons in Southern California tend to blur into each other, compounded by the Covid cabin fever that has had us all locked in our homes and considering a move off the grid and going full Ted Kacszinski.  

My oldest daughter even offered to pay the $40 monthly fee for the classes and app and such. 

And so I cut a deal with them. 

If my freelance gig turned into a permanent position or a lengthy extension, I would pull the Peloton trigger. 

Well, apparently I fooled the people that have me writing all kinds of digital things I know nothing about and extended my stay. Consequently, as promised, we joined Peleton Nation.

Like so many others, I got hooked. 

The bike, and its incredibly small footprint, is tucked away in a nook in my younger daughter's bedroom. I love being able to run in there, clip in and knock out a 15 or 20 minute high intensity, cardio workout at any time of the day. 

Even between Zoom meetings. 

I also love the Apple-like friendly User Interface. It's intuitive. It's clean. And it's addictive. Particularly for a numbers geek like myself who likes to chart progress and compete against past performance.

But...and you must have seen this coming, holy shit, Peleton people are fucking annoying!

I made the mistake of adding the Peleton group to my Facebook page. This is where folks gush about Cody, put in their music requests and go on endlessly about hitting the Century Mark, as if there were some kind of magical cardio achievement for riding a bike 100 times. 

I know I can delete myself from the group, but I do enjoy tossing some snark into some of the discussions and I do enjoy seeing some of the incredible weight loss transformations. The chance of getting back to my triathlon weight is nil, but seeing how others are fighting the good fight will often stop me from having a third beer or going back for seconds and the other half of a tomahawk steak. 

And then there are the instructors, a group of impossibly attractive, impossibly positive and impossibly cloying that has me reaching for the MUTE button. That is, if there were a mute button. They talk so damn much. And all of it is such platitudinal nonsense.

"You can do this."

"I'm here for you."

"Discard all your doubt."

"If you want results, you have to put in the work."

"Let yourself go."

I'm a self-motivated 44 year old fat guy, I don't need some 22 year old club hopper telling me all about her life struggles, emotional victories and goals for success. Tell me where to set the Resistance, the Cadence you want, and shut the fuck up. Please.

Yesterday, I made a Peleton life changing discovery. 

There's an instructor from Germany, her name is Irene Schulz. She's easy on the eyes. I particularly like her minimalist Bauhaus-type tattoos. But the best thing about Irene is that she does classes in her native tongue.

Meaning, she can jabber on with the same empty motivational bullshit as her American colleagues, but it's all Germanic gibberish to me. There's even a small chance that by sheer immersion, I might even pick up some stray phrases in Deutsch. I already got: Threinz, Deinz, Einz. 3, 2, 1.

The best part of Irene's classes happens when coming off a big climb or a speed interval and she commands her class, often in English, to let off on the resistance and enjoy 30 seconds of recovery. 

Or, as Irene so charmingly puts it...

"Sexy pace."

Yes. Sexy pace.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

7000 words on Trumpism

Found in the tiny trunk of my 2015 Audi S5 (I bought it used, so spare me any that coastal elitist nonsense). The tag had been attached to my embarrassing $59 nylon golf bag which has long been retired. 

I suck at golf. Always have. And have never improved at it. If I'm lucky I can shoot near 100. On an easy course. With no wind. And ample use of my ankle iron and my self-forgiving putter.

"Ahhhh, that's a gimme."

Plus, there's really no activity I like to do for 5 hours in a row.

Years ago, I was dragged out by my old boss, legend and hardest working man in advertising, Jerry Gentile, to the links. 

Jerry secured a tee time for us and our clients from Energizer, of Energizer Bunny fame, at the world's shittiest golf course in Palos Verdes. The muni course, just 5 miles down the road and offering the same spectacular ocean views is so much better. 

And it is decidedly more de classe and features none of the concocted fancified affectations of Trump's gold plated land fill, with its troughs and moats and faux castles and shit.

In any case, the pros at the Trump starter shop, who seemed to have an itchy palm out for EVERYTHING, attached this to my bag. Somehow it jarred itself loose years ago and found a home in the trunk of my car, nestled under some rags and a can of FIX A FLAT.

Yesterday, I happily escorted it out of my vehicle. 

And now, through the magic of photography, I will give this post the happy ending it deserves.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Blue President that will turn us Red.

Sorry that politics has dominated this week's R17 postings. But it is. And it will. At least until normalcy and optimism returns to the White House.

Naturally, this week we've been hearing quite a bit from trumpsters who found themselves on the short end of the voting ballots. It's not like I don't have sympathy for them, I do. I think we all remember how we felt on November 9th, 2016. And we remember that dreaded empty void in our guts wondering what fresh hell this orange haired, orange skinned sack of maggot-infested post digested fried chicken would heap upon this great nation.

We were not wrong.

He took a healthy economy (4.7% unemployment, 2% GDP growth, less than a trillion dollar annual deficits) and crapped all over it. Shuttering thousands of businesses. Giving tax cuts to rich corporations. Sending millions to the unemployment office. And blowing up the debt by 7.3 trillion dollars in one term.

He took a sledgehammer to healthcare. Throwing millions off the ACA and threatening to blow up the entire healthcare system. With no replacement. All during an out of control pandemic that is killing 1000 Americans a day while he works on his chipping and putting.

And he has set fire to every institution that once made this country the greatest on the planet: free press, rule of law, equality and prosperity.

Now, his faithful followers are in the sad shoes we wore 4 years ago. And they are issuing warnings. 

They're convinced that Joe Biden will singlehandedly bring Communism to America, destroy Christianity, sap our bodily fluids, and institute draconian laws that mandate unisex bathrooms, dogs fucking cats and the abolishment of football, baseball, basketball and hockey so that we may all be forced to sit in front of tiny black and white TV to watch the unwatchable sport of soccer.

If that weren't shocking enough, these are the same GOP lemmings, who only a few days ago were crowing that in his 47 years of public service, Joe Biden had accomplished NOTHING.

You do the logic on that, because I can't.

Nevertheless, here's what I do hope President Joe Biden, I can't believe I'm writing that, will accomplish:

* Easier Access to Education. I have nothing against private schools. My kids went to private schools. But only because we could afford it. And because we had no confidence in the public schools. That has to change. All schools should deliver quality, accessible education. Including universities. And trade schools. This country does not run on white collar labor. Let's adopt the very successful system used in Israel. In return for a year of service to the country (military or otherwise) let's offer young people FREE education. The math on this is not hard.

* Wage Equality. Angry workers in this country did not lose their jobs, manufacturing or otherwise, to immigrants. They just didn't. They lost it to corporate greed. CEO's making 1000X what their lowest paid and hardest working employees making. Greedy C-Suite boards who ship jobs abroad so they can take advantage of cheap labor in China and all of South Asia. Consequently profits grow, stocks rise and the rich get obscenely richer. While the poor get shabby red golf caps. Made in China. This fucking system is broken. We don't have to toss it out but we have to fix it.

* Universal Healthcare. You will never know how important this issue is until you or someone in your family finds themselves in a position of needing advanced healthcare. It is scary. And it is expensive. Mind-blowingly expensive. For the life of me, and my family, I cannot understand why Americans are so opposed to a system that works in every other country in the world. It's as if we are afflicted with a collective brain eating disease. I hope President Biden (damn I love saying that) fixes it.

Bring on that sweet sweet communism, Joe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


Lost in the biggest election news of my 44 year old lifetime, was the monumental decision by Garden Staters to legalize a plant that can be grown in the garden. 

Put less cleverly, weed is now legal in Jersey. This is exciting, socially. And personally.

I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again because it happened when holding Mary Jane could get you locked up. And even sent to the Big House.

For those who don't know, I grew up in Suffern, NY. It's located right on the northern border of New Jersey. You could literally find a spot, just south of Kinchley's Pizza on Franklin Turnpike, and straddle both states simultaneously. You know, until some road raging native honks the horn and yells out the window...

"Get outta the road you fuckin' hard on!"

In any case, those of us from that area identity with both states. And a great deal of my misguided youth was spent in Mahwah, Ramsey and Paramus, making me an unofficial Jersey Boy. 

Years ago, on a trip back to my misspent youth, my buddy Bob invited me to spend a weekend down at the shore, in Belmar, with some friends of his. There was a group of 6 or 7 girls and guys and I thought sure, that would fun. It was after breaking up with a long time girlfriend and my dad had just passed, I could use the frivolity.

But I got more than I bargained for.

While drinking beers on a stoop at 3 in the morning and passing around a communal joint, I felt the sudden sting of cold metal on my wrist. From out of nowhere, an undercover cop sprung up behind me and slapped some bracelets on me as well as the woman sitting next to me -- her name was very Jersey, something like Stacey, Donna, Karen or Elaine.

In any case, "Donna" and I were tossed in the back of a car and hauled off to the Belmar City Hall where we were introduced to their holding tank. I spent the night on a cement block in a stinking cell that smelled like the inside of a piss trough that hadn't been flushed in a month.

I know it sounds dreary and miserable, but I was young, and drunk, and sort of enjoyed the whole unfamiliar experience, knowing intuitively this was one of life's adventures that would make a good story. 

And I haven't even reached the most important part of the tale. 

You see, one of the guests at the shore house was a guy named, Kevin, or Jeremy, or Doug, something also typically Jersey. And "Doug" was an undercover FBI agent, who had the badge to prove it. He told us great stories about how he was assigned to shadow a known KGB agent.

As we were being arrested, "Doug" looked at me surreptitiously and held his finger to his mouth. Meaning don't blow his cover and say anything to the police. A request I faithfully respected. The next morning, Bob and "Doug" showed up at the jail and bailed me and "Stacey" or "Donna" out. We were told he pulled some strings on our behalf.

As I was gleefully exiting the jail, I was handed a green sheet of mimeograph paper (this was in 1989.) It was my official notice to return to Belmar in two months for a hearing on my misdemeanor. Suffice to say, I didn't show up.

Nor did I ever pay the $967 fine. Nor have I ever paid attention to the bench warrant that is probably still on the books for my immediate arrest should I ever return for a visit to the Garden State.

But now, with the legalization of marijuana in the fine state of New Jersey, I am free at last.

Free at last. 


Monday, November 9, 2020

"Ladies and Gentlemen, please assemble, the news conference is about to begin..."

As I have stated on many occasions, I often do my R17 blogging in one sitting. 

That is, I have carved out some alone time for myself, early Saturday morning and usually knock out 3-4 first drafts of the postings that will appear the following week. My wife and daughters know not to disturb me. And they have faithfully honored my everlasting wish for some damn peace and quiet.

This week that became impossible this Saturday morning because of the historic, joyous, life-giving news for 52% of the country.

Almost lost in Saturday's orgasmic experience was a small story that has had me laughing out loud, in unexpected spurts, like Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck in JOKER.

A short recap.

Attempting to fend off the inevitable election news, Precedent Shitgibbon told his taintlicking amateur lawyer, Rudy Ghouliani to stage a press conference. But instead of arranging it at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia, an oxymoron if there ever was one, he tweeted that it would be held at FOUR SEASONS TOTAL LANDSCAPING.


Astute observers naturally chalked this up to the Commander Assnapkin's declining mental facilities and took it as another of a thousand gaffes, like Hamberder. Or Covfefe. Or Frederick Douglass. 

But the White House, unwilling to admit a mistake, like 63 million Americans circa 2016, went through with the "news conference." 

At the FOUR SEASONS TOTAL LANDSCAPING offices in an industrial park area of Northeastern Philadelphia. Right next store to an Adult Boutique that sells oversized dildos, oddly shaped butt plugs and streams Stormy Daniels flicks in their sticky peep booths.

This is my favorite photo from the debacle. I love how it reads left to right in ascending order of intelligence. Trump -- Giuliani -- Garden Hose.

I added the editorial commentary.

But there he is, the official lawyer for the President of the United States of America, making his case to annul the results of the 2020 election and literally seeking to change the trajectory of American Democracy, standing next to an industrial garden hose, because he and his colleagues didn't have time to clear the surrounding area, at the FOUR SEASONS TOTAL LANDSCAPING  -- "the home for all your gardening, landscaping and sewage draining needs. Serving the North Philadelphia/Tristate area since 1973."

As one pundit and professional comedy writer on Twitter put it, "in all my years of writing sketches and jokes, I could not have possibly come up with anything funnier. Ever. Never."

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the same clownish legal buffoon, who only a week earlier, was caught on film, compliments of Borat, in the hotel room of an attractive young lady, "tucking in his shirt" while trying to awaken Mr. Happy for a ride on the Poontang Service Elevator.

Again, this is the official personal attorney for the President of the United States of America!

It's Sunday morning as I write this. Monday morning as you read this. And hours before the late night TV hosts give this nugget from the Comedy Gods a thorough thrashing. As is often the case, I frequently beat them to the punchline, mediocre comedy minds think alike. 

With that in mind, there's a chance Colbert or Kimmel or Fallon might offer Rudy a legitimate excuse for staging a news conference at FOUR SEASONS TOTAL LANDSCAPING, only because there was insufficient parking at Ritz Carlton Roofing & Gutters.

Rimshot, please.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

so close to the end

Today's post is going to be exceedingly short. For a number of reasons.

It's Wednesday, late afternoon as I write this. Coming off a hangover from an Election Night that could not not have been worse. What should have been a landslide and a total repudiation of the Trump Fascist regime was not. Leaving my less than stellar impression of fellow citizens, impossibly even less than stellar. 

Not only did we not flip the Upper Chamber, a roomful of old white bloviating douchewaffles, it appeared we were going down to defeat in the White House. Leaving all us staring at four more years of misery, incompetence, sickness and death. 

And leaving me staring at bottle of Woolford Reserve Rye Whiskey that was doing little to ameliorate the agony.

I went to bed, tired, broken and with a throbbing headache. Lady Insomnia, and my dog with her noisy collar, came knocking around my at 4 AM. After a whiskey piss I returned to bed but could not fall asleep. I opened up my iPhone to check on last night's disaster and lo and behold, Minnesota, a pillar in the northern rust Belt Blue wall, came through.

I took to twitter and what was last hopeless had now turned hopeful. I watched through the day as Biden picked up Wisconsin and Michigan and Arizona, with great momentum still in Pennsylvania. Nevada is the only obstacle standing between Joe Biden and the rebirth of our once great nation.

It has been exhausting. And, I suspect, it will continue to be. Particularly after watching the Rudy/Eric/Cory Lewandowski side show in Philadelphia. 

He's going to go down, kicking and screaming and scorching every square inch of the earth in his vicinity.

I am hopeful, but I also wish I could fast forward to January 21st, 2021.

As readers of R17 know, for me at least, this nightmare can not end fast enough.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Bionic Copywriter

Went to a doctor the other day, third one in 5 months. He's an orthopedic surgeon. And I was hoping he could help relieve the nagging pain in my upper thigh that has me wearing an ice pack 24/7.

My first doctor thought I had a hip flexor strain. Brought on by my excessive weightlifting in the gym I've installed in my garage. I have more gym equipment in my garage that I have tools, nuts, bolts and other necessities needed to repair household shit. I don't want to repair or paint anything anymore, I'd rather just pay someone to do that stuff. The privilege of being 44 years old.

The second doctor, a sports medicine doc from UCLA, thought I had a groin pull. A little more serious than a hip flexor. He put me on Tramadol, an opioid pain reliever often given to dogs. I think Lucy, my golden retriever has been pilfering pills. They haven't done me much good. Lucy has begun work on her first novel.

The Sports Med. Doc also recommended torturous, physical therapy... I've been doing that for two months. To no avail. But with all the grunting and groaning, my neighbors think my wife and I are on our second honeymoon.

My wife suggested I see a third doctor and insist that he look inside with an MRI or an X-ray, so I was off to see Dr. Millstein, a casual guy who came in exam room wearing a track suit and a mask. Much to wife's everlasting delight, Dr. Millstein --mishbucha--did an X-ray. Millstein took one look at the film and said, "were you a runner?"

And indeed for 30 years I ran religiously, 3-4 miles a day. It was the only way I could burn off enough calories to even out my insatiable appetite and my equally unending thirst for beer. I also trained and ran in several marathons as well as a few triathlons. Just another humblebrag.

"That's it. You see this gap between your femur and your hip socket?"

"No," I said.

"Exactly, it's not there anymore. you wore it out. You have bone scraping bone."

"It hurts."

"Damn right it hurts."

He doesn't want to rush me into a hospital anytime soon, thank you Covid and thank you Precedent Shitgibbon for dropping the Pandemic Meat in the Dirt. But if it continues to get worse we're gonna have to get in there and put in a new ball for that socket. I don't like the sound of that anymore than I imagine I'd like the sound of tiny circular saw cutting through my marrow.

Fuck. In my 44 years, I've never spent a night in the hospital and don't want to now. 

Nor have I ever had surgery, except for the time they had to sew up my finger after flaying it open with a dropped dumbbell on my birthday two years ago.

As a precaution, the good doctor is having me get a cortisone shot right into the deep, dark recesses of my hip. I'll probably pass out when I see the needle.

However, if it keeps me off the OR table, I'm all for it.

The most painful part of this story is that my wife was right. 

I'll never hear the end of that. Never.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The tale of Kris Kyle Kobach

It's Election Day 2020.

But before we get to that let's go back four years to Election Day 2016, when the electoral college, in all their wisdom, gave the presidency to Commander Assnapkin. He won 306 electoral votes, from states where people who, in addition to having no higher education, often have no foot coverin's either.

However, and much to Grandpa Ramblemouth's dismay, he lost the popular vote. 65 million Americans voted for Hillary Clinton and 63 million shoeless, witless clods voted for Captain Ouchie Foot.

This did not sit well with our newly crowned prince. He claimed there were voter irregularities. And demanded an explanation. He went so far as to posit 5 million illegal voters boarded busses (?) and went to New Hampshire and other places in order to cast fraudulent votes for Hillary Clinton.


The picture above is 5 million dollars. In hundred dollar denominations. So imagine each bill were a phantom illegal voter, and multiply that by a 100. Ridiculous right? 


Pulling his new found levers of power, he appointed Kris Kobach, the Matthew Spencer Peterson of Midwestern junior politics, to spearhead a commission to track down these 5 million illegal voters.

He looks reputable. Kobach was given a sizable budget and the charter to begin the laughably-named Voter Integrity Commission.

Office space was leased. Computers were purchased and jacked into high speed wifi. Lunch and dinner accounts were set up at local restaurants, so that Kris and his team of political sleuths could sniff out leads and track down every Paco, Louissa, and Pedro that not only entered our country illegally, but risked their lives and a stint in federal prison in order to cast a vote for Crooked Hillary.

Now it is not easy for 5 million people to scheme, plot and execute an election fraud of such magnitude. Were they communicating by text? Were they holed up at Motel 6's throughout New England? Were they captured on security cams at local 7-11's to pick up some Slim Jims and Modelo beer? 

Nor is it easy for 5 million people not to leave a SINGLE trace of evidence. Not so much as a discarded Dasani Water bottle with foreign fingerprints.

Well, Kobach's Voter Integrity Commission did not find much in the way of voter fraud.
In fact they didn't even find a little.
In even more astounding fact, they found NO evidence of voter fraud.


Keep that in mind when the man who altered a weather map with a sharpie, 
the man who said noisy windmills cause cancer,
the man who said he'd never have time for golf,
the man who said US Steel built 6 new plants,
the man who said he didn't blackmail Ukraine,
the man who said Mexico would pay for the wall, 
the man who said he had a new healthcare plan ready, 
the man who called Covid a Hoax and now has the blood of a quarter million Americans on his hands, tells you today's election was rigged.



Monday, November 2, 2020

In the business of Bullshit.

The other day a piece of copy came back to my desk, my virtual desk. 

I had errantly used the word "precision." It's a good wood. It connotes attention to detail. It imbues commitment. And a sense of demanding rigor. But an eagle-eyed account person flagged me down because in the context I was using it it was puffery. It could not be substantiated.

In other words, my word was Bullshit. 

Upon reflection it occurred to me, that I, and perhaps you, and perhaps many of us have been gainfully employed in the Bullshit Business. We try to sell, what somebody pays us to sell, stuff to people who either don't know about what we're selling, or don't know that they need, or want what we're selling.

In the process of doing so we have become masters in the art of bullshitting. 

We can smell an overpromise from 100 miles away. We can spot weasel words the way a barn owl can spot a yard rat with a gimp leg. We can catch a whiff of ovine feces while standing in the eye of an F5 hurricane.

That is why we are so triggered by this Lyle Lanley clone who has bullshitted his shabby way into the White House four years ago, destroyed this country and done everything but sell us a Monorail to escape our current woes.

"You don't need a Covid cure, 

you don't need a vaccine.

What you need is a monorail

to get you from Boston to Racine."

"Mon O Rail, Mon O Rail, Mon O Rail."

By the way, if you haven't seen this Simpsons episode, make it a point to do so. The first few seasons featuring the work of Conan O'Brien, the talented David X. Cohen and Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein (the savant genii who hired Rob Schwartz and I to write an episode of their show Mission Hill), were incredible and prescient.

The allegory -- I think its an allegory -- stands the test of time. 

Because while Lyle is peddling his unique brand of manure, the unwashed masses of Springfield are gleefully eating it up. Suspecting they are being sold a bad bill of goods but swept up in the populist euphoria that has done in, so many civilization in the past.

This is where we are at today, the day before the election. 

Tomorrow 100,000 million Americans will cast their vote, close to a 100 million are already have via early voting. 

And they will decide whether we listen to science, the counsel of experts across all fields, and return to the rule of law, or whether we let the spray tanned, wig wearing Lyle Lanley continue to gorge himself at the taxpayer revenue trough, sell our national security secrets to the highest bidder, and wave something shiny in our face to distract us from the atrocities he has committed and will continue to commit for the next four miserable, unbearable, fucking years.

Something shiny, like a Monorail.