Wednesday, November 24, 2021

"Deb, where's the bourbon?"


No R17 posting today.

Or tomorrow.

We will resume our regularly scheduled curmudgeoness on Monday.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, this year we have much to be grateful for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

America Aborted


Need something to be thankful about this Thursday? 

Be grateful you still live in America. The America our forefathers pictured. The America that wisely put the First Amendment before the second one. The America governed by the Rule of Law -- for the most part.

A year ago, that was all put in question. By a turd of a man who could not bear the thought of losing and was willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING this country stood for just to assuage his shabby narcissistic pain.

Think I'm being hyperbolic?

Do yourself a favor and read this gripping new book by Jonathan Karl, Chief White House Correspondent for ABC news.

If you're like me and have been paying attention to the fumblings of our ex fat fascist POTUS, you'll see the book covers familiar ground, including the Covid fiasco, the dysfunction inside the White House, the Tulsa debacle and a host of other legendary fuck-ups. But it's the Election Night and pre-Inauguration seditious misdeeds that carries the day and sent post-Germanic goosebumps up and down my body. 

People, we came perilously close to LOSING this country.

The GOP wants to wave the flag of Election Integrity, yet conveniently ignores that their leader, who was leading, before all the ballots had been tallied, put out this uniquely UnAmerican tweet...

In what possible scenario could it be acceptable for an American President to call for American votes to be ignored and trashed? 

Imagine for a moment that Mitt Romney was gaining ground at some point in the 2012 election and President Obama put out a tweet calling for the vote to be stopped. 

This alone, qualifies as an impeachable offense and should make every flag-waving, pocket-constitution carrying, U-S-A-shouting citizen shudder in absolute shame.

But it doesn't. 

And that was only the beginning. It got worse, exponentially worse. Turns out there was no end to this fucker's willingness to abort America.

So much so that Mark Milley, the JCOS, had to issue a public warning to the Pentagon and the most powerful fighting force on the face of the planet that there would be no possible situation where the military would get involved in the politics of the election. 

Stunning, that this would even need to be verbalized.

And then there's this. When no respectable lawyer could offer a glimmer of hope to the losing candidate, he turned to MyPillowGuy™ and Sydney Powell, who famously stated in court, "No one could seriously take what I said as fact." But someone did, the fishbrained dolt who was still sitting with his stubby fingers on the nuclear codes and was still the most powerful man in the world.

Given the classified phone number for the Under Secretary of Defense, Powell called him and begged for a special commando force be sent to Germany to snatch up CIA Director (and Trump appointee Gina Haspel) who was on a special mission to destroy evidence of European servers that had switched votes to Biden during the election. 

You can't make this stuff up. But Powell did. And losing his grip on reality, Captain Ouchie Foot ate it up. At one point he even considered appointing Sydney Powell, perhaps the sleaziest attorney on earth (and doesn't that say something) to be a Special Prosecutor, charged with looking into non-existent Election Fraud. 

Believe me when I say I have merely scratched the surface.

Red Hats have long abandoned reading this blog. But if you know one does, do yourself a favor and give them this one book as a X-Mas or Hanukkah gift. Chances are they won't, or can't, read it because well...










Monday, November 22, 2021

The Molden Age of Advertising

A few prefaces before today's post.

Astute readers of R17 will no doubt notice that I am prone to typos, missed words and sloppy syntax. I type fast and I'm a terrible proofreader. I try to fix the mistakes on the fly, but apologize if I've offended, particularly you other writers out there. I know how that can be a pet peeve.

Today's post may contain slightly more  than normal as I am hunting and pecking and clicking and clacking at the keyboard with my one good arm. The left arm is still in recovery from my Covid booster shot, which did quite a number on me. Nevertheless I am triple vaxxxed and grateful for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Preface #2 -- lately I've been writing more about advertising (as I will be today). A quick scan of my analytics -- for juvenile reasons, I like writing that word -- and noticed that web traffic is up. In the past I said I don't care about that kind of stuff but who am I kidding? I like knowing that 8 people, now 11 people, come here for their morning semi-laugh.

Today, we are addressing the leitmotif found in many commercials of people in chairs falling through the floor. Haven't noticed it? That's alright, because I have. Here's one for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, a product that's near and dear to my salty lox loving heart.

OK, Rich, but one spot does not a trend or a leitmotif make. Indeed, but I have also noticed it the conceit used in an Apple commercial.

To be sure, I know the magic in the power of Threes. And so I give you yet another commercial featuring, well, you know...

Now, at this point you might be thinking, "Geez Rich you should develop a hobby. What about whittling decoy ducks out of wood or take up skeet shooting, something!" Well, I am happy to report that after a 3 month layover because of my hip replacement, I am now back in the garage, pushing plates and regaining my previous age-defying strength.

In any case, what's the deal with people in chairs falling through floors in order to escape their current environment. The junior psychologist in me says it has something to do with Covid and our homebound lives for the past two years-ish. 

On a completely different note, what is with the word 'Yes'? A different but even more annoying leitmotif.

It was even codified by the esteemed and scholarly planning department at one unnamed ad agency I used to work for. They called it, "The Yes Strategy." The spot that exemplified it featured vignettes of random people, all cast from the Overexcited Cliche Actors Casting Agency, answering questions written by the Clueless Clients Posing As Copywriters Club.

"You mean I can get two medium pizzas for just $5.99"


"Two pizzas with one topping?"


"And that includes Garlic Knots?"


Now, yours truly could not locate a copy of this advertising classic. But I did track down a 15 second version using the same vaunted Yes Strategy. Just imagine the dullness and insipid contrived situations doubled for your viewing pleasure.

I only mention this old ad because with my increased viewing of college and professional football games,  there have been copycat (GASP) advertisers now employing Pizza Hut's proprietary strategy of having clownish actors pimping mayonnaise, fizzy soda water, or some new lime flavored douche, by claiming, "Yes", "Yes" and "Yes." 

For the love of god, "NO."

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Sunday Night Blues

Succession is my new obsession.

I know I'm late to this party but the truth is Succession could have been my old obsession. You see I watched the first episode of the first season. And maybe part of the second. I picked up on the storyline. The dysfunctional characters. And the shifting family dynamics. 

I got all that but with such a wealth of good tv dramas out there, I decided not to invest my time in this one. Truth be told I haven't allowed myself to get sucked into the vortices of so many shows, on so many different channels and streaming services. I just don't have the real estate in my brain.

Also, because when the show was introduced I was captivated (and still am) with the drama taking place in Washington DC and the slow moving Trumpian coup that is still holding a dagger to the neck of democracy.

But, perhaps because of the constant promos and the social media chatter, I decided to watch episode 1 of Season Three. Fearing that I might not know what was going on and that I would be obliged to "binge-watch" (I hate that phrase) the first two seasons. Thankfully that was not necessary.

For better or for worse, we are right back where we started from. With the older son Kendall trying to oust, and pulling all the stops to do so, the old man Logan, from the Deathstar.

SPOILER ALERT: I'm not going to give away any spoilers. 

The plot of this show is kind inconsequential. At least to me. I'm much more interested by the family dysfunction, of which I am intimately familiar, the skullduggery and the duplicitous nature of all these greedy, narcissistic fuckers who populate Succession. And resemble many of the characters I've run into in advertising and entertainment.

What I find most fascinating is the backstabbing and the manipulation. 

Each of these scheming characters has an innate ability to play the angles. To say one thing with a completely earnest, straight face and a minute later, act in a manner that is diametrically opposed to their previous statement.

This, perhaps more than anything else explains their tremendous wealth. As well as my own lack of tremendous wealth. This was never a game I was good at. I come from the School of Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say. And stupidly, or naively, I assumed others would act that way as well.

Take this as a fair warning from a grizzled 44 year old, they do not.

Integrity has no currency in the Waystar world. Or it seems, in any other world.

It makes for good TV. But little else.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Old man ad rant #4,397

There are many great Porsche ads. This is my favorite.

There was a time in the 90's, while I was working on Nissan ads, when I'd pore through the car enthusiast magazines (remember those) and actively seek out the Porsche ads. Mostly to, mimic their style, wit and intelligence. 

Considering my less-than-storied career and what most of us are doing to put food on the table right now, it's clear I came up woefully short.

First look at the amazing art direction. The symmetry, composition and photography cannot be beat. But it's the headline. The one that, no apologies to Mark Reed, harkens back to the 70's -- GASP.

Not only is the line conspicuously short, it is packed with real human insight. I'll be the first to admit the seemingly redundancy of the two short sentences threw me. But it also stopped me. And consciously made me put the pieces of this magnificent puzzle together. That's what smart advertising does. It eschews spoon-feeding in favor of brain engagement - and heart engagement. 

How novel.

Of course the Porsche was sold close to 40 years ago. That's when young boys, and young girls, on the swing set first laid eyes on its distinctive profile and felt the throaty rumble of its 207 hp engine. That's when the first impression was made. An impression that didn't go away, but lasted. And lingered. And stayed dormant until a raise came through.

Or an IPO paid off.

Or, more likely, a divorce was settled.

There's impactful storytelling going on in this ad. And the astute reader, particularly ones who see themselves in the ad, know exactly where those goosebumps are coming from.

We don't do ads like this anymore. 

We don't dig for insight.

We don't trigger emotions.

We don't tell stories that spring from the DNA of a brand.

We don't engage and make people think, want or even crave.

We analyze, banalyze and regurgitate briefs. 

David Ogilvy was wrong. Because in today's prevailing ad environment , "the consumer is a moron."

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Dumpy, Frumpy Culver City

 Years ago there was a local rock radio station that had a unique tagline. Something to the effect of "...coming to you almost live from a dumpy little building in downtown Culver City."

It was memorable because the radio station was never LIVE, it was all pre-programmed, without any DJs, meaning without any banal DJ banter. Also interesting because it harkened back to what Culver City once was - dumpy. And frumpy. And as it turns out just the way I like it.

Since it seems, everyone in Los Angeles is now coming to Culver City, and by everyone I'm also including Amazon and Apple, who are eating up real estate faster than Chinese real estate speculators with their all-cash offers, you might recognize some of the landmarks that are still standing. 

In the photo above, you can see the Culver Hotel, which has now been fancied and gussied up. Though they still maintain a window display proclaiming the hotel to have been the home of the munchkins while filming Wizard of Oz. I'm guessing today's kids have never even seen that movie as it is 1000 times longer than any Tok Tok or Instagram video.

On the left, you might notice the circular-faced brick building which is now Akasha, home of the $25 Old Fashioned Cocktail. 

But most striking is the lack of people, with the exception of the shadow in the lower right hand corner of the amateur photographer. And, when there's no people, there's no cars. The only time I've seen the streets so clear and devoid of humanity (traffic) was when we first went in to Covid lockdown. 

Ah the good old days.

Don't get me wrong, since buying our modest little home in "dumpy little Culver City" we have seen the property value skyrocket. The selling price on my home is nearly ten times what we paid for it. Minus all the additions, the obligatory refinances, the taxes, the maintenance, and the remodeling, often with unscrupulous Israeli contractors (I'll save that for another blog post.)

So while I appreciate the appreciation, I do yearn for the quieter, sparser, dumpier days of yore. When my wife and I could walk downtown and get a booth at the S&W cafe and immediate service from one of the friendly waitresses who we knew by name. 

BTW, prior to the maddening crowds, the place was called Sam & Woody's. And it was favored mostly by lesbians, who were friends of the lesbian owners. I was often the only male in the place. And caught quite the dirty side eyes. "Fucking Breeder."

Prior to all this development, you could zip down Overland Ave. and catch every green light. At the time it was one lane on either side. Now it's a 6 lane boulevard that often feels like one of the three exit gates at Dodger Stadium. 

For the life of me, I can't figure how they widened the street. 

Maybe this nostalgic grumpiness has been brought on by an extremely busy and tough time at work. Perhaps I'll be feeling better tomorrow if the 18 person committee for my freelance client approves of the latest banner ad.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Presenting the all new 2005 XJ

I was going through my files the other day, cleaning out the bottom of the drawer with the hanging Pentaflex folders. Do people still have Pentaflex hanging folders? I know back in the day when I was a mailroom clerk they were all the rage.

Turns out my affinity for disorganization is only surpassed by my late uncle. 

As I was digging through the document dump he has been doing on me for the last dozen years or so, for reasons unbeknownst, he felt it was important that I hold on to a receipt for a new pool heater he had installed in his Palm Springs home in 2006. As well as the newspaper announcement in 1983, that he had been named a Vice President at Saks Fifth Ave.

Somewhere in between all those vital documents was his Last Will and Testament. Let me say loud and clear, especially since this is my third time at this forsaken rodeo, it is no fun being named the Executor of an estate.

However it is not without its rewards. 

You see while digging and sorting through all this paper mishigas, I came across a long copy advertisement I had written, you know when copywriters were actually allowed to write. It was an ad we had done, and by done I mean proposed in a pitch meeting, for Jaguar, close to 20 years ago.

The double page spread -- and yes I will share it with you -- was never produced. Mostly because the genii in the Jaguar marketing department never believed in telling potential buyers why they should want a new $80,000 luxury automobile. 

They lazily believed all we had to do was tell people the $80,000 luxury automobile was here. Hence a slew of outdoor boards with a picture of their fancy man car and the headline: Introducing the new 2005 Jaguar XJ. 

That, to them, was advertising. Turns out they were ahead of their time. If you take inventory of  advertising today, and not just Jaguar, you can see that simple-minded garbage approach has prevailed.

But I digress. here's the loooooong copy ad I wrote way back when. As regular readers of this blog know, I am prone to typos and I make for a terrible proofreader. So if you are inclined to spend a few minutes, please forgive me. (Because I don't know how to confibulate the html flick flacks, I'm not even sure the resolution will permit reading)

Again, this was just a rough, for a tissue session. One that ended quite quickly when the CMO said, "don't bother reading all that and I don't need a leave behind deck, we're not doing those kind of ads."

Ok, then.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Thank you Chase

This is my new Apple Watch 7 Series. I don't actually have it on hand otherwise I would have snapped a photo of this handsome devil wrapped around my overly thick and hirsute forearm. Why am I growing so much hair in unwanted places? 

Sometimes, being 44 years old sucks.

I will have this watch in 6-8 weeks, assuming the boats off Long Beach harbor make their way to land and unload their cargo. 

The funny thing is I never wear a watch. Never. Nor do I ever need one given I'm never far from my iPhone. But the price was irresistible so I caved in.

The astute among you might remember that my oldest daughter works in production at Media Arts Lab, a division of TBWA Chiat/Day. And you might assume she got me in on some kind of family and friends special pricing program. It would have been nice to shave a few hundred bucks off this expensive accessory.

But I did better than that. 

I got the Apple Watch, with the built in barometer, the dynamic Dow Jones Index meter, the calorie counter, the DNA analyzer, and the mini Hadron Collider for FREE!

How you say? I'm almost ashamed to admit but as my wife always points out I do not have the gene for embarrassment so here goes...

Yesterday, amongst the daily stack of highly ignorable emails in my inbox, I came across one from Chase. I've been using one of their credit cards since we signed up for a family plan years ago. Something about security or travel rewards, when my daughters were studying abroad in Kenya and Prague. In any case, we've been racking up the points on the plastic taskmaster.

The email notified me that I had close to 400,000 points on the card and that they could be redeemed for valuable prizes. So, in between a heated argument with my kids about dirty dishes and addressing the 17th round of revisions on some copy I had written, I indulged my curiosity.

After all, 400,000 is a huge number. And unless we're talking about Lira or some overly inflated currency in South America or Africa, surely it must be worth something, right? Well after signing up for a Chase online account to see what goodies awaited, I was in shock.

I'm still not over it. 


In fact, after splurging for the top of the line Apple Watch with my newfound points, I still had a considerable amount left. Enough for new Scuba gear. Or a Minibike. Or a circus sized trampoline. Or, all three!!!

Just don't tell my wife or she'll want to get in this action and get new bed linens. Or something stupid like that.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

PWMCT revisited

Earlier in the week, former UN Ambassador and current shameless flip-flopping sycophant Nikki Haley, stated that all presidential candidates should be required to pass a cognitive test. 

The implication being that our current President, the one who scored an Infrastructure deal, passed the American Rescue Act, ended our misguided involvement in the Afghanistan War (another GOP fiasco) and now leads a hard charging economy with over 5% GDP annualized growth and 4.6% unemployment, is somehow lacking in his mental faculties.

Yes, the current president occasionally fumbles his words. 

Yes, he walks slowly and with the gait of an older man. 

And yes our exit from Southern Asia could have been handled with a bit more finesse. 

But to insinuate that President Biden is not in full command of his faculties, as the GOP would have you believe, is to willfully ignore the endless and comical shenanigans of the previous POTUS, who on so many occasions referred to himself a "very stable genius."

So, on this the year anniversary of farce that took place at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot, let's have a visual recap of the previous 4 years under the Grandpa Ramblemouth Regime.

Garden hoses at a press conference, the new standard in excellence.

"Look at me, I'm dwiving the the big twuck."

"Who wants a filet o'fish samich?"

Sure, he's the world's most despotic Communist dictator,
but "we fell in love."

"The hurricane is going to hit Alabama,
just look at the map."

"I gave her $130,000 NOT to have sex with me."

"I meant to have the toilet paper on my shoe."

"I drink like a big boy."

"Hurricane victims need Paper Towels, look it up, they do."

"I wasn't briefed on this."

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

It happened.

As many faithful readers of this blog know, I'm not a fan of a lot what passes for good work these days. 

Or people who post their latest "achievement" in advertising for work that is nothing more than journeyman or journeywoman-like in nature, including tired rehashed manifestos, CGI laden swill, or contrived scenarios that defy description. Hey, nerdy guy on one knee proposing to his reluctant girlfriend with the new iPhone 13, she's way out of your league.

But perhaps because the airwaves are chock full of corny shit that would never pass muster in my day, it makes it so much easier to spot actual good work.

Like this 60 second spot for ServPro

I have always been a fan of their work. Mostly because their tagline is so perfect. And so succinctly taps into a human insight. ServPro, like it never even happened. 

As a homeowner who has experienced a leaky shower drainage pipe that soaked and destroyed an entire wall in my house, I know the feeling of wanting to put things back the way they were. 

Years ago, my neighbors let me know as much when my mainline, carrying raw sewage from my house to the big pipe under the street, burst open and turned my little enclave in Culver City into something more recognizable as Smell Segundo. naturally it happened late on a Friday afternoon so I would incur overtime charges.

Now ServPro has a new commercial, you might have seen the 30 second pool-outs on TV. It's a shame the 60 second version doesn't get airtime. But your intrepid author has tracked it down and invites you to watch:

Any commercial that starts with a humongous water balloon being hauled by a Sikorsky Helicopter has got my immediate attention. And that's just the beginning of the visual thrill ride that follows. You can tell the client and the agency folks who put this together were having fun with the premise. In fact, having been through this process many times, I can assure you the scenarios that made it to the screen were dwarfed by the many that landed on the cutting room floor.

Is all the mayhem and destruction gratuitous? Damn right it is. I wouldn't have it any other way. ServPro and the folks at Buntin (the agency) know that in the competition for eyeballs and attention, one must go bold or go home.

Also, kudos to the team for not skimping out. There's great production value here. Again, you don't see much of that these days. Like you, I can spot green screen effects a mile away. I know from experience there's some CGI work going on here, but for the life of me I can't find it. I've looked. 

In all, I am thrilled to see a return, even if it's just temporary, back to the impactful advertising that can't be accomplished in a banner ad or a social media tweet.

ServPro, like it never even happened. But I'm glad it did.

Monday, November 8, 2021

I feel roasted

I get a lot of stupid shit in my social media feed. Much of it is self inflicted. For instance, on Linkedin I purposely follow schmucks like Gary Vaynerchuck and Grant Cardone just to see their inane posts about "crushing it."

Last week Grant posted a video interview of himself, where he shamelessly tells the camera, "Everyday I get a sheet of paper that tells me how much CASH I have. It's not like I'm bragging or anything, it's just that I hate CASH and need to find ways to get rid of it so that it's bringing in more CASH." 

Followed by a pitch for another one of his shabby motivational books. Here's the latest cheesiness from this charlatan.

On Facebook, I intentionally join groups that will raise my heart rate and set me off, like the Kayleigh McCenany Fan Club Page. That right, the lyingest liar in the history of lying has her own fan club. 

And on Twitter I make it a point to follow, ok and to troll, folks like Stephen Miller, Mark Meadows, Kirstie Alley and until recently, Emerald Robinson. Don't know who she is? Well, she is rabid Trumpster who works (or worked) for NewsMax. 

She was just suspended from Twitter for posting disinformation about the vaccine. Claiming it contained bits of LUCIFERase, a bioluminescent that could be used by the government to track people. I'm gonna miss Emerald, particularly since she would often spar with me and put forth her wacky Red Hat opinions in digital ink. Oh Em!

A few days ago, something from came up in my scroll. Maybe because I'm 44 years old I'm a little out of touch with pop culture, but I had never heard of them before. Nor did I have any idea that kids today have been soliciting insults with the hash tags RoastMe

I never knew of this phenomena, but now that I do, I love it.

I won't go into the psychology of asking complete strangers to defile, mock and savagely ridicule one's self. I understand the need for attention. You could even argue that this blog and my never-ending potshots at the previous Shitgibbon regime make me guilty of the same.

I'm much more impressed with the roasts themselves. 

Some are so fucking good.They're colorful. imaginative. And cutting, with the precision of one of those granite-coated knives sold on late night TV. 6 knives for $29.99? They can't be any good right?

The picture above is one of my favorites. But there are so, so many. 

Of course, after the chortling and guffawing, I often find myself sad and depressed. 

As all writers, I like to believe I have a special and unique command of the language and a particular mastery of the putdown. That belief has been shattered by the millions of would be roasters who are lying in wait for the next attention-starved victim.


Thursday, November 4, 2021

Bitching about Pitching

It's Tuesday morning as I write this. And while the rest of America sits on the edge of their seats tonight to see who wins the governor's race in Virginia, I'll be tippling my Bulleit Whiskey and watching the World Series Game 6.

I'll also be grumbling to myself about how things, almost everything, like baseball, politics, advertising, movies, were all better "back in my day."

My gripe about baseball, and in this World Series in particular, are many. For one thing, I don't really care who wins this series. I rarely have a dog in this fight. It's only when the Dodgers or a team from NYC gets in, does it really matter. And this year, let's face it, it's not the Astros vs. the Braves, it's the Cheaters vs. the Racists.

My other peeve is the Pitcher situation. I have no idea who the Astros are sending to the mound tonight. And I only know the Braves starter because he's MOT -- Member of the Tribe. In fact, we have three Jews playing tonight -- Max Fried, Alex Bregman and the pearl-donning Joc Pederson.

As a lifelong fan of the game, I miss when teams had starting pitchers who were household names. It defined the World Series in a different way. 

McNally vs. Drysdale 

Billingham vs. Blue Moon Odom (great name)

Morris vs. Smoltz

Even if there were just one guy on the mound, guys like:












I don't know anyone who stands out now. Mostly because they're never in the game long enough to establish themselves as stars. Now you have managers sending out relievers to start a game. It's wrong in the same way it was wrong for ad agencies to make people sit at the Long Tables of Mediocrity™. 

OK, that metaphor is a bit strained. The point is I don't like it.

Nor do I understand it. The other night, one of the cheaters or racists had a No-Hitter going into the 5th inning. A no hitter in the World Series! That's rating's gold. I would tell you the name of the pitcher, but to my earlier point, I simply forgot. Or more accurately, never knew.

When the 6th inning came around the pitcher got pulled. 

SFX--Record Scratch.

In the ad world that would be the equivalent of creating, developing, casting, and shooting a mammoth Super Bowl spot and then handing it off to a pair of juniors to do the edit and finish. It's wrong and I'm not ashamed to say it's wrong.

Know what else I miss? 

Managers running from the dugout to swear/spit on the umpire and kick dirt on home plate.

OK, I'll step off my old timey soapbox now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Of bagels, bodies and star spangled banners

"Did you do anything exciting over the weekend?"

I went to the north end of the San Fernando Valley to retrieve my late uncle's ashes at the mortuary. At this point you might be wondering what the hell does a classically prepared Black Pastrami Reuben (pictured above) have to do with the somber visit to Bastian & Perrott Oswald for Funerals and Cremation and Free Parking?

Indulge me, your patience will be rewarded.

It had been some time since my last visit to a funeral parlor, as we used to call it. They're never pleasant. However the man attending to my uncle's remains could not have been nicer or more accommodating. And a special thanks goes out to the good folks at UCLA.

Apparently, in return for my uncle donating his whole body to scientific research and exploring his unique 39 year survival since first getting diagnosed with HIV+, the UCLA donor program picked up the costs for everything: the cremation, the death certification, and even the leather bound urn. BTW, an urn filled with the ashes of a 170 lbs. man can be surprisingly heavy.

Moreover, because my uncle was in the Army, I also received a meticulously folded triangular US flag in recognition of his service.

I'm not big on flag fetishism. I believe our democratic principles are far more sacred than the piece of cloth that symbolizes them. Nor am I a fan of those who have appropriated and sullied the flag in the name of Trumpism. And so I plan to fly the flag every time this country undoes the crimes of the past administration and takes us a step closer to more better and perfect union. Fuck You Red Hats! 

My uncle would have wanted that. 

As my wife and I left the mortuary, I suggested we grab some lunch. And this is when I sprung the news that a mile done Parthenia Blvd., in the auto body repair and marijuana dispensary heart of downtown Northridge, was a place called Brent's Deli.

I'm not sure Brent is the proper name for a deli. Morty, Bernie, Saul, Irving, Hymie, all seem better and more authentic. Nevertheless, westward bound we were.

It should be noted that my immunocompromised wife and I hadn't sat inside a restaurant for a proper meal since the beginning of Covid and her cancer diagnosis, so they could have served us cold soup and sandwiches slathered in mayonnaise and we still would have loved it. 

But I would not have teased this story out had our journey not been so fruitful. 

In short, it was as if we had walked into Noshing Heaven. The place was bustling, mostly with fat-assed people. You can keep your stars on Yelp or some hoity toity restaurant reviews, in my book, fat-assed people like myself are always the best indication of the quality of the food. 

My pastrami sandwich was over 2 inches in height. And because the Swiss cheese was properly melted, the meat slid back and forth between the melty, gooey slices, making the endeavor a challenge and deliciously messy. 

My wife's matzo ball soup came out in a soup bowl big enough for a Bernese Mountain Dog. The baseball sized matzo was too mas ball for my wife and I received a generous lower hemisphere on a side dish.

Indeed, after the inhalation came to a merciful completion, I still found 1/2 an uneaten sandwich still on my plate. As well as leftover rye bread with a crunchy crust and a pillowy soft interior. 

To Go containers were quickly placed before us. As you walk by the long counter at Brent's, wedged between the hanging salamis and the assortment of salted and smoked fishes, you'll see a mile high stack of To Go containers, also a great indicator of the food's quality.

On the drive home, I carefully and strategically placed the remainders of our lunch in the tiny trunk of my car. And separated it, with a wall of beach towels and golf shoes, from the flag and the remainders of my uncle. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Sheep of Madison Avenue

HBO is currently airing The Wolf of Wall Street. 

And as they do with all movies, it means it's also running on HBO 1, HBO 2, HBO 3, HBO Max, HBO Super Max, and HBO Super Max Deluxe. It's even appearing on the underside of HBO Hard Seltzer.

This is by no means my favorite Martin Scorsese movie. It's long. Way....too....long. If you ask me, Marty could use a good editor. In fact, the movie is much more enjoyable now that I am watching it in smaller bite size scenes every time I find myself channel surfing.

I caught the Margot Robbie party entrance scene last Wednesday.

The scene where Leo tips Jonah off that he's wired on Thursday.

And the Sell Me This Pen scene early Saturday morning when I was struck by a bout of insomnia. Later that morning, after dozing off, I caught the movie's finale where Wolfie asks members of his audience to sell him this pen and they all stumble and rehash the same the awkward dull as stagnant pond water pitch.

Here for your enjoyment is the first pen escapade:

The brevity and the clarity are simply brilliant. Sadly, however, we in the ad business don't sell pens anymore. Or cars. Or beer, Or burgers. Or anything. 

We twist ourselves into knots to tie our clients to some bullshit social justice purpose and hope to ride the karma brownie points to the sales register. 

Or, and you might have noticed this going on, we shimmy up to pop culture, woo dancers & rappers and try to appropriate their street cred and fleeting coattails of fame.

The last time I spent inordinate amounts of money for a car, I was not swayed by freewheeling ballet dancers or lithe, hair tossing hip hop girls. I was much more interested in learning more about the significant difference between supercharged and turbocharged engine performance. 

HINT: I'll bet there's a great campaign in that. 

You know, if ad agencies were doing campaigns anymore.

The greater truth in the Sell Me This Pen scene takes place at the very beginning, when Jordan reveals what really drives us: "We all want to be rich. And we want to be rich now."

I'm 44 years old and it may be too late for me. 

But if I did have oodles of money, I'd gladly spend some to buy a plane ticket & hotel accommodations and sneak my way into the Woodrow Wilson Conference Room where the agency was unveiling the aforementioned luxury car commercials to their national dealer association.

Oh, to be a fly on that wall.

Monday, November 1, 2021


Though chronologically impossible, I'm still old enough to remember the Space Race and our rush to put a man on the moon. In less than a decade, since JFK announced the intention in 1961, this country had done just that.

I watch the current debacle in Congress and wonder how the hell does anything get done? You could argue it it doesn't. We simply don't do big things anymore.

There are no bullet trains that traverse the nation.

There no solar powered desalination plants being built along our two coasts.

There are no flying cars.

There are no In-and-Out Burgers without lines that snake around the block.

We do have free porn, pocket phones that demand our attention 25/8/366 and about 10 billion Brekkie photographs floating around in the ether.

Why you may ask? If the current rift in the political class is any indication it's because there are too many cooks in the kitchen. A dilemma best demonstrated and immortalized in the following video...

It's why the Build Back Better program is, as former Adweek Editor Barbara Lippert so aptly put it, a framework stuffed inside a framework wrapped with framework. 

And, as you might expect, the same phenomena afflicts the ad world -- Too Many Cooks.

 It's hard to get two people to agree own anything. It's exponentially harder to get 3 people on board. And 4. And 5. And you can keep working your way up until you reach the legendary Death by a Thousand Cuts.

It's why we are all playing Small Ball. We're tweaking here, twisting there, optimizing a little here and re-optimizing there. And fooling ourselves that brands can be built with tweets, banner ads and 30 second commercials on YouTube that are quickly reduced to 1 &1/2 second commercials, as millions fumble for their mouse or trackpad to click the SKIP ADS Button.

By the time you read this perhaps the neutered, de-optimized Build Back Better program will be signed and delivered. I doubt it. The battle could drag on for another two weeks, maybe a month. 

In other words, the same amount of time it would take you to think of the last big ad campaign/idea/digital stunt/banner that turned the advertising world on its head.

We used to do big things in America. And in advertising. But now we don't.

Too. Many. Cooks.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Shitgibbon Gambit

This is Vladimir Putin.

He is a former Lt. Colonel in the vaunted KGB, Russia's foreign intelligence officer, where he served for 16 years. He speaks fluent German. He has a black belt in judo, samba and karate. He has a law degree. And is schooled in the way of the world.

In short, he is a cunning, knowledgable and often times brutal statesman capable of playing the short and long game of geopolitics. 

In other words, he is the polar opposite of our former president -- a laughable dolt on the world stage. Or any stage, particularly those in Tulsa.

If you were to pit these two against each other in a game of chess, or a hundred games of chess, Putin would win a million times.

And so when political pundits begin speculating about the alleged pee-pee tape or some other shady escapade that transpired on Russian soil, I find myself laughing. Not only at the alleged antics, I mean who doesn't find the notion of hiring top shelf hookers to pee on a bed amusing. But also because it's such a red herring.

Putin never needed to blackmail ex Precedent Shitgibbon. Nor did he need to collude with him. Though anyone who has read Volume One of the Mueller report knows that took place. And Volume Two, where the special counsel documents 10 cases of Obstruction of Justice, is even more damning.

Nevertheless, all Putin needed to do was to manipulate the forces at hand: the racial divide in this country, the wealth inequality, the legendary American illiteracy, and the ascendance of social media, to install the dumbest, most incompetent, most narcissistic self destructive man on earth to the highest office in the land. 

The rest would take care of itself.

And it did. 

* An Insurrection that almost toppled the country

* States are now openly discussing secession

* Raging culture war that now threaten local school board meetings

* Allies see the US as a weakened, untrustworthy player

* 78% of Republicans believe the election was stolen (despite NO EVIDENCE)

* 30% of Americans refusing a life saving vaccine

* Active preparation to incite another Insurrection

To top it all off, millions of brainwashed, brain dead Americans are already preparing to re-install this hair-challenged Russian stooge back in office in 2024. 

Putin got all the he could have hoped for. And so much more.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

I don't get it.

Months ago I started a new series right here on RoundSeventeen, entitled: "Things I Will Never Understand." 

Given my self-evident intellectual deficiencies and my 10th grader's understanding of work, women, the world at large, and the difference between foods with gluten and the foods without gluten, you'd think I'd be able to expand on this series twice a week. 

But today I come to you loaded for bear.

1. Murphy's Law. In general I understand the tenets of this axiom. And understand its universal application. If it didn't happen to everybody there's a good chance this fictional piece of legislation would never have entered our collective consciousness. What I don't understand is why Murphy has singled me out for repeated prosecution. 

Example: Years ago, my late uncle was no longer able to drive his newly-leased 2018 Nissan Kicks. This happened at the very same time my daughter totaled her car. So I took over the lease and handed the keys to my oldest. Unfortunately, the process of doing so is not as simple as one might expect. And I quickly fell into an abyss of bureaucratic hell, which included hours on the phone, several fruitless trips to the local DMV, and countless hours of phone calls with Sacramento officials. 

In short, it took 21 agonizing months of back and forth to finally get a valid registration and license plates tags. So for close to two years my daughter was driving an unregistered vehicle with no legal tags. Then the very day before I was going to hand the tags and the vaunted registration card over to her, she got pulled over by a cop and cited for the infraction. 


2. Parking Garage Fee Machines. I regularly take my wife to an oncology infusion center in Santa Monica. It's relatively easy to get to. The building is clean. The doctors and nurses are the best. And the experience is as pleasant as going to to take your wife to be pumped full of poisons can be. 

Leaving, however, is not so easy. 

To egress the said center one must scan the QR code on the back of the ticket, then feed the ticket into the given slot, then simultaneously feed a credit card into its given slot, then remove all the papers and then confibulate the flick flacks to the appointed settings. I don't know what the fuck they want me to do and neither do the other frustrated parkers who regularly form a line at the confounding machine trying to figure it all out. 

Fortunately, the building has a man with a very official looking blue polo shirt representing the parking company to help people figure it all out. Brilliant.

3. Music. I know this may sound odd, but to other non-musical people I suspect the bewilderment is all too common. When I attended public school in NYC we were all forced to purchase a wooden recorder, sit in a huge auditorium and play in unison. I can't imagine what they paid those music teachers back then, but to sit in that auditorium -- clearly the 7th Ring of Hell -- it was never enough.

Today, I play no musical instruments. And wonder how the people who do, do. 

Whether it's Jon Batiste banging the keys on the piano or Carlos Santana whirling his way up and down the neck of a guitar, or Fred Armisten of SNL fame, banging away on the set of drums, none of it makes any sense to me. How on earth do the hands, the fingers, the eyes, the ears and the brain, put it all together, in time, to make such beautiful sound? 

If I can clip my fingernails without drawing blood it's a miracle.

Years ago, I heard a well respected business woman say that she strives to be the "dumbest person in the room."

Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

America's last time

By the time you read this, Game 6, and hopefully Game 7, of the Dodger NLCS will have been concluded. Hopefully, if the Dodger bats wake up and the injury-ridden team rallies, they'll be making another World Series appearance. If not it will be the Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves and my baseball viewership will drop off the radar.

I hate both those teams. Houston, because they are convicted cheaters and because Houston is located in Texas:

Texas, now with 37% more Florida. 

Texas, the Lone Brain Cell State.

Texas, everything stupider in Texas.

Sorry, bad sloganeering habit.

Nor will I be rooting for the Braves and their obnoxious racist fans and their cringey Tomahawk Chop or whatever the fuck they call it. Only in America do we celebrate and mock the very people whose land we invaded and stole. 

Imagine a team called the Des Moines Caucasians. And their logo was a tiki torch or a jar of mayonnaise. Then you'd surely see some GOP Cancel Culture. 

That is not so say I won't be watching the World Series. I will. Just not for the baseball. For me the more fascinating aspect, particularly of late, is watching the fans behind home plate. My obsession began with this schmuck from years ago.

For the uninitiated, his name is Grant Cardone, a modern day Tony Robbins-wannabe internet charlatan. Seen here pimping his Profit Prophecy. Grant smartly purchased these super expensive seats ( and then promptly wrote them off on his tax returns, meaning we all foot the bill for this bullshit) during the playoffs in order to get national attention, peacock his trophy wife and hawk his brain-melting positivity.

To top it off, I just discovered Grant is a high level Scientologist. I think it's clear from last week's tete-a-tete with Kirstie Alley how I feel about these nutters. Fortunately, Grant accepted my linkedin invitation and I can, and have, trolled his feed. I will now step up my game.

Last week, during the Giants playoffs for the pennant (I miss them calling it the pennant), there was another obnoxious fan right behind home plate, who ignored his girlfriend, stood up for every foul tip and generally made an ass of himself. I know that because many observers on Twitter said so in digital ink.

But, by far the ones who annoy me the most are the baseball ignorant. The ones who spend upwards of $5000 (I'm guessing) to sit in these primo seats and then spend the next 4 hours chatting or texting on their phones. There could be runners at second and third, 2 outs, bottom of the 12th inning and a power slugger at the plate fouling off balls to extend the at bat, and these clowns are clicking and clacking as if they're sitting on the can at home.


I miss real baseball fans. Old guys in suits and porkpie hats, chomping on cigars, downing Rheingold beer and letting loose a rash of insults that would set your ears on fire. I miss people walking down the street with a tiny transistor radio glued to the side of their head. I miss the collective groan of apartment dwellers in Jackson Heights that would swell up from the open windows when Swoboda would strike out or Koosman would give up a triple.

I miss real baseball.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Get that Honey money


Last week one of my colleagues suggested I consider a career as a creative recruiter. Probably because of my vast industry experience, my easygoing nature and my superior people skills which are known throughout the biz.

But here's the less tongue-in-cheek reason...

There's a job opening at Honey for a Senior Writer. As you might expect for someone who has been around the sun 44 times, I know a lot of senior writers in this business. 

Mostly because I've worked, in some capacity or other, for every ad agency in Los Angeles, with the possible exception of 72 & Sunny (sorry gents, I have no desire to work until 5 in the morning, I barely make it to 5 in the afternoon.)

Also, because of this blog, I've been exposed to senior writers and senior art directors and cranky creative directors in all parts of this country. 

I believe people are drawn here and even more so to my friend George Tannenbaum's blog, because they appreciate someone giving voice to their collective vocational gripes. And there are many.

Neither George or I have ever shied away from that. You might chalk that up to our common secular Hebraic background, our common birthplace (the Bronx), our common familial situation (father of two grown daughters) and our shared experience of eating waaaay too many bowls of corporate bullshit.

In any case, back to my original point, there's a job opening at Honey. 

There's also a generous referral fee for any employee who successfully lures a new employee to the fold. 

And so I've been combing through my mental Rolodex (you kids go look that up on The Google) and loading up my colleague's inbox with a heaping helping of senior writers who are either tired of the freelance grind or fed up with holding company agency devolvement. 

I want that free money. Particularly now that the health insurance company has declined to cover a specific life saving drug for my wife's illness -- maybe I'll cover the sad state of American Healthcare in this country later this week.

In short, this is a great opportunity to join a creative department with stellar credentials including folks from the aforementioned 72 & Sunny, BBDO, Goodby and Chiat/Day. It's a company that lives at the crossroads of creative branding and data driven performance. 

Best of all, at least from my point of view, the work is done remotely. So you can practice your "craft" in the comfort of your own pajamas and skip regular bathing and hygiene routine until that raises the ire of your significant other.

If you're interested shoot me a note at

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Let's get blocked

 I've been on Twitter a lot, lately. 

I'll be the first to admit I was never a fan of the platform. And I had written them off as the new Four Square, where did they go (if you'll pardon the wordplay)? With so much social media at play it's difficult to tell which ones will make it and which ones will be the Cop Rock of the Internet.

My migration to Twitter was kicked into high gear by my recent incarceration in Facebook jail. Tweeting gave me an avenue to vent my borderline institutional hatred for ex Precedent Shitgibbon. And for that matter his brown shirt enablers in the GOP.

But what makes Twitter more engaging than say Facebook or Linkedin or Instagram (which I have abandoned) is the ability to interact with millions of more people. Including politicians, world leaders, celebrities and even Fortune 500 companies.

Last week for instance I got into it with two, not one, well known actresses: Kirstie Alley (pictured above on her way to the Tom Cruise Black Tie Bingo Night) and her friend Kristy Swanson (who is allegedly famous, just not to me.)

Swanson had asked why the Brian Laundrie search had slipped from the pages of national media. Kirstie Alley when on to say something about not fitting a leftist agenda. And I chimed in that perhaps there were more pressing issues of the day -- you know like saving our democracy. And that merited a clapback from Kirstie Alley.

You know me, I' could never pass up an invitation to lay some smack down on a celebrity, no less a Republican celebrity with all the intellectual firepower of a Scientology soup can.

Today I woke up and discovered Kirstie had blocked me. This, I consider a merit badge.

It goes well with the merit badge I earned last week when I got blocked by Liz Harrington. Wasn't she in Taxi? Or Doogie Howser MD? Or was it Hiller & Diller? Nope, Liz Harrington for those who don't know is the official spokeshole for our former president. Indeed she is the conduit for his daily statements. And his platform to beg for attention and retain any kind of relevance.

Not that I don't enjoy exchanging thoughts, memes and barbs on Facebook with my 2000 "friends", but going toe to toe with Hollywood's, and K Street's once elite, gets my trolling motor on the redline.

Today, I will focus on getting booted off Travis Tritt's Twitter feed. And I will circle back with other targets I have on my radar, including Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, Senator Mike Crapo (like shooting dead flat fish in a barrel) and one Stephen Miller, the Kapo, I call him.

Toying with this dead-eyed tool has been most enjoyable. I'm within two to three well-worded trolls before getting escorted from his toxic Twitter feed. you can follow my travails at @glasgowdick, a stupid name I conjured up in jest and in honor of my mother's birthplace.

Mostly cause I didn't think this Twitter thing, or gmail, would last. Shows you what I know about social media.

More merit badge updates to follow. 


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Middle Name Mystery Tour

For the third time in my life  I have been named an executor of someone's last will and trust. And by someone I mean family. BTW, Executor was the name of a ship in Star Trek or Star Wars, I was never a fan of either, but that's the image Google delivers for the Executor search.

The first time was for my father. This was not without its complications as he never composed a last will and testament. Or if he did, we were never able to locate it. And like idiots, throughout his two year journey with prostate cancer, we never approached the subject. Impending death makes those kind of conversations quite uncomfortable..

As a result, his not unsubstantial savings went into probate. And as the oldest (I was 31 at the time) I was put in charge. Having never supervised anything more complicated than the purchase of a motorcycle from a guy in the Pennysaver, I was completely ill-prepared for that experience. 

And like a schmuck, my bother and sister and myself, decided to give everything to my mother, who was also ill-prepared to manage a substantial portfolio of money.

When she passed 20 years later, that sum of money had gone into red ink. And again, I learned on the job, and managed the distributions of the assets, such as they weren't.

Now I am embarking on the third Executor endeavor, for my uncle. Which included 4 full days out of my life to clean out his tiny room at the shithole Terrazza Assisted Living facility. I couldn't bear to throw away all his extension chords, measuring cups and reams of printing paper, which will ironically outlast me,  they have all taken up residence in my already jelly-tight garage.

But here is where I discovered something very interesting about my family. Something that will remain a mystery, given there are no more descendants to explain the phenomena.

My uncle had no middle name.

My other crazy uncle also had no middle name.

And my father had no middle name.

Even my sister has no middle name.

My brother received a middle name, but it's Irvin, so maybe he'd be better off without one.

I've tried to research the mystery of the missing middle names but have found nothing. My initial thinking was middle names cost money and my pennywise dirt-poor grandparents just said, "we can't afford middle names. Besides we need that money for Kent cigarettes."

Then I thought this was a holdover from the old country. The old country being an enigma unto itself. I was always under the impression that my grandparents were from Poland. But a 2nd cousin I found on 23andme tells me to never say that again. She points out that the Siegels were not from Poland and indeed were from Belarus. 

And that they were Litvaks. 

Orthodox in nature, which I find hard to believe given my family's long history of atheism, and virulently opposed to to the irrational Hasidem at the time. I can buy into that. I have always found their misogyny and opposition to modernism and science a complete (((embarrassment.)))

But again, I have come up completely empty-handed on the middle name mystery. Just as I have come up empty handed while rummaging through my uncle's belongings. My wife was convinced he was stashing hundred dollar bills in his mattress or the stuffed Teddy Bear he got at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. There wasn't. Although there was $23 in his wallet. And a coupon for a free video rental at Blockbuster. 

Maybe I'll split the twenty three bucks with my brother and my sister. I'll take the 7 dollar cut so as not to stir up any legal entanglements -- which took place during my second executorship.

My hope is to never have to perform the duties of an Executor again. Having done so, I've learned the importance of getting things in order to make that final transition as easy as possible. And to that end I will be renting a big brown dumpster for another thorough garage cleaning.

And I will clear my browser history on a daily basis.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Nazis in the Round.

Today's post may be a two parter. At this writing (early Saturday morning) who knows what will happen.

First some explanation. 

Pictured above is former president Bill Clinton and his voluminous motorcade, being greeted by one of Culver City's mayors. We have a weird rotation system that gives each council member a turn in the big seat. I never understood. My knowledge of politics is all federal.

The year is 1999 and they are standing on western edge of Carlson Park. The street behind him is Le Bourget Ave. That's my street. My house is off to the right side of the photo about 150 yards north. With a good a 7 iron I could have hit Bill from my yard. You know if I don't duck hook the ball or hit one of my ridiculous slices.

Trouble is, I was not there when President Bill paid our fair town a visit. We were on the island of Kauai, spending thousands of dollars for a vacation that my kids don't remember. You know, other than vaguely running down the hotel hallway to press the elevator buttons. Seriously, that's all they recollect. I could've whooshed them off to the local Allstate offices on Mid Wilshire and accomplished the same thing.

Anyway, Bill had an adoring crowd and the event made Culver City lore.

Well today (again it's Saturday for me) Carlson Park stands to make political history again. Because the Proud Boys -- and I've never understood what they're proud of -- are coming to town. Rumor has it they have a small rally planned in our tiny park that measures 1/4 mile in circumference.

When word got out that they were coming, I was initially tempted to whip out the aforementioned 7 iron and walk down to the park to stir things up. Then I remembered I still have a bum hip. And haven't been bench pressing lately. And have a well maintained portfolio that any smart GOP lawyer (an oxymoron) could relieve me of. 

Also, and perhaps more importantly, what would I be accomplishing? 

The sad truth is we live among idiots. Hateful, privileged, myopic, ill-informed idiots who yearn not for democracy and a multitude of voices but for authoritarianism and a blowhard Daddy figure who promises to make things right again but has no idea how to do it. And in the case of TFG, was too fucking lazy to do any real work.

I know from arguing with these braindead numbnuts that facts, logic, empathy, and vision, are all like a bowl of broccoli to them. They won't go near it. Preferring instead, a deep fried corn dog slathered with ice cream and topped with a dollop of willful ignorance.

That is not to say that I won't be hooking up my 75 lbs. dog Lucy to her most intimidating leash and collar and strolling by with my iPhone Camera set to Burst, for a close up look at the Munich rally, circa 2021.

Stay Tuned.


Monday evening update: The Proud Boys never got a permit to come to Culver City. And the chickenshit Brown-Shirt wannabes scurried away at the last minute. Apparently they showed up somewhere else. No more than two dozen cosplay losers, flexing their biceps and shouting in unison, "Fuck Antifa." I looked for the video online but could not find it. I guess it didn't merit anyone's attention. But then testosterone-fueled Red Hats never do.


Monday, October 18, 2021

Meme-ories, like the corners of my mind

I've made hundreds of memes over the past 5 years. 

The one pictured above is one of my favorites, because it looks so authentic. It was one of two dozen in the Person Woman Man Camera TV series. A series that still makes me smile because of the sheer idiocy of it all.

Imagine a sitting president, with a compelling need to inform the country that he was still mentally cognizant, and peacocking his 3rd grader's performance in a Senility Test. As mentioned in his famous TV interview, he got extra points for getting it right


Two weeks ago, before I spent a week in the Facebook Hole, I stumbled upon another meme series.

There've been so many I've forgotten what I did. But I do remember one of my colleagues suggesting I make room for these popular Shitgibbon memes in my online portfolio.

And so I did

I carved out a whole new section on my incredibly outdated portfolio and uploaded what I consider to be some of the better and more graphic memes. I already threw 30-40 up there before I came to realize there are many, many more lurking on my computer, with its haphazard "filing" system. And on my Facebook timeline, which is impossible to navigate lest I want to grow a nasty callous on my scrolling finger.

You might be thinking, "Rich, do you think it's wise to pollute your portfolio with political -- and incredibly juvenile -- memes about TFG?"

You're probably not wrong to think that, but it makes a convenient segue. And the truth is, "I simply don't care."

The other truth is, and I don't mean this in a humblebrag way, no one wants to look at my portfolio. They haven't in a good twenty years. Though that never stopped me from a lucrative career as a freelance copywriter. For better or worse, mostly worse, I have a somewhat established reputation in the industry.

"Maybe we should get that old cranky snarky Trump Hater to write this. He's funny. Sometimes."

If potential clients or agencies wanted to hire me and see samples of my "writing" they simply turned to RoundSeventeen, which has in effect, supplanted my portfolio. 

I suspect the same holds true for my friend George Tannenbaum and his blog. Or Jeff Gelberg and his underrated but superbly written blog, Rotation and Balance. As well as Jeff Eaker, whose up and coming blog Kingdom of Failure is fast becoming a staple in the ad world.  

So why take the time to refresh my portfolio, other than to manufacture a reason to blog about something? Well, for one thing it makes a nice convenient place to store all the laughs we've enjoyed at Captain Ouchie Foot's expense.

And it serves as a sad reminder of a time when advertising was about ideas, creative expression and polarizing disruptive ways of thinking. All, unfortunately, supplanted by lifeless, anodyne, pedestrian data driven drivel. 

Have a great week.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Help Needed

I suppose it should come as no surprise that I'm an inveterate Help Wanted ad watcher. No surprise because the very first few ads I wrote were Help Wanted ads for Bernard Hodes recruitment Advertising. I read this week that Bernie passed on to that Human Resources Waiting Room in the sky. RIP Bernie.

I read Help Wanted ads because they have proven to be a good barometer of the industry. And I've made it a point to stay abreast of advertising for the past 40 years. And I'm only 44.

The Help Wanted ads show up in my social media feed and so naturally I read them. Not because I'm looking for a new gig, I happen to like where I'm at. Though it is often creatively stifling. And that, I'm told is not uncommon in this data driven world of slap dash advertising subject to constant A/B testing and the ceaseless need for .1% optimization. 

Oh to be writing a TV spot or an Outdoor campaign!

Thankfully I'm no longer looking to put work in my portfolio. Just neatly wrapped stacks of bills in my Stay Out Of A Dirty Nursing Home Retirement Fund.

With regards to the many Help Wanted ads I see these days, it's hard not to notice the one thing employers are not seeking out in new employees -- experience. 

To wit, I've seen ads like this:

ART DIRECTOR -- Growing digital agency seeks Art Director. No exp. necessary. Must be familiar with all social media platforms and proficient with ________, _______, _______, and________, plus __________.  (I don't know the names of design and illustration and photo applications, I stopped caring after they did away with Quark Express)

SENIOR COPYWRITER -- Worldwide agency seeks Senior Copywriter steeped in automobiles. Must have excellent presentation skills, and a portfolio of award winning work. 1-2 years experience preferred.

JUNIOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR --  starting salary $65K

Suffice it to say, the paradigm has shifted.

When I started out in this business, there were no openings for juniors in the Creative Department. None. 

To get a job as a copywriter or as an art director you had to have experience. And in order to have experience, you had to have a job. A Catch 22 that sent me scurrying to the minor leagues of Recruitment Advertising, "Meet the challenges of tomorrow, today."

There was a very good reason why the business operated that way. Because juniors in the business, by nature, suck. I sucked. My friends sucked. We all sucked. We didn't think we sucked, but in hindsight we all admit we did. 

We sucked. 

It took years for us to work past the suckage. For me, it took decades. And even that's debatable.

How will this new rob-the-cradle system work out for advertising and the communications business in general?  Time will tell. A decade from now we'll look back at the books and render a decision. 

Not the awards books, the holding company accounting books.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Walk away Carl

OK, I know I shouldn't be doing this, ragging on other people's ad work, but I'm in Facebook jail so the traffic is going to be so low no one will even read this post. 

Plus, it's prime sports season with baseball playoffs, college football in the heat of mid-season, and the pros just getting into rhythm, so I see this stuff all the time.

Plus plus, I'm old and I just don't care anymore.

I hate these Carl the Broker spots for Schwab. Keep in mind Carl, doesn't work for Schwab, he works at an unnamed competitor. And bears the brunt of criticism from random everyday people shilling for Schwab. Already there's too much math going on. And having sat in thousands of focus groups I can tell you 95% of the viewers will not "get it." 

The other 5% won't care.

The storytelling is beyond contrived. In this screen grab, Carl shows up on Career Day at a grammar school to talk about the exciting world of Wall Street. Yeah, we've never seen the Career Day conceit before. Conveniently, the classroom is filled with kids who are all armed with plodding data-driven RTB's, because...frankly, I don't know why.

I guess someone thought it would be funny. Not funny, with actuals laughs or anything. Clients don't like funny. They like soft funny. I believe Planners and wily Creative Directors call it "charming."  

I call it neither. 

Sadly there is a whole treasure chest of this running gag for Schwab. Even sadder the airwaves are awash in this type of insulting, film-the-brief type of advertising, including women going to a Tupperware party and commenting on how fresh the air in Madge's living room smells, or everyday people singing the Ozampic song, or other people who can't tell a Buick from a non-Buick. 

And then when the difference is pointed is pointed, exclaim some gibberish like, "Oh that is so you."


It rattles my cage. Particularly in light of my past connection to Schwab. And an ill-fated pitch that I wrote about in R17, ten years ago. You can read that here.

It also brings to mind an interview that Gerry Graf gave to Adweek some time ago. An intrepid reporter asked him why so much of his work entailed absurdist surreal situations, for example the Dead Mouse Theater for a Pest Control client, Sprint, Kayak, or even the Starburst Berries and Cream commercial which is now trending on Tok Tok  and has millions of young people, including my daughters, singing the Berries and Cream jingle ad infinitum.

Graf's response, and I'm paraphrasing here, is that...

"if you look in the broader context of advertising, there is nothing absurdist or surreal about the work. The real absurdity is clients spending billions of dollars on contrived crap advertising -- (ie. Carl)-- that nobody notices. And if they do notice, they wish they hadn''t."

Oh Gerry, that is so you.