Thursday, September 30, 2021

On small toadstool shaped penises.

As many of you know, my house is awash in books about the Trump regime. I have figuratively devoured each and every one. Often moments after it lands on my doorstep from the confused Amazon Prime driver...

"WTF is this guy doing? Starting a library?"

The obsession stems from the fact that if I'm going to argue politics online, I want to come to the gunfight with my own howitzer. Armed to the gills with facts, statistics, and first hand quotes from people like Bob Woodward and Pulitzer Prize winning authors like Rucker and Leonnig. This is in addition to my daily consumption of WaPo and The NY Times. 

It makes destroying the arguments of Fox News bottom feeders or Newsmax/OAN dumpster divers so very amusing. 

By the way, it's also good for the metabolism. 

Nothing will get the heartbeat going and the blood pulsing like finding out how close this country was -- and still is -- to the brink of fascist self destruction. Thank god for people like JCOS Mark Milley, former Vice President Dan Quayle and even Pat Cippillone, the White House lawyer who often talked Grandpa Ramblemouth off the West Wing ledge.

Also by the way, my wife and daughters have sampled none of these books which now take up inordinate space on the coffee table, my nightstand and the dusty bookshelves that frame our 55 inch Samsung Smart TV.

But that's about to change. On the way to the oncologist yesterday, I was sharing some of the excerpts from the latest tell all book by Stephanie Grisham, the former press secretary who never once conducted a WH briefing. That's one for the books.

Ms. Grisham was also Melania's former personal assistant. And as you might expect has a Dyson removable container's worth of dirt. Including a fascinating account of how Captain Fuckknuckle was thoroughly embarrassed by Stormy Daniels appearances on national tv. 

Which prompted our red-faced president to place a call, from the inner sanctum of Air Force One, 45,000 feet above sea level, to Ms. Grisham...

"...I want you to get the word out that my penis is NOT small and it is NOT shaped like a toadstool."

It's safe to say that in the 250 years of American democracy, there has never been an American president who has ever uttered those words or even words that were similar to that effect. 


I like to think that quote will make the presidential archive and will be memorialized for time to come in the hallowed hallways of the Smithsonian.

In any case, the book has been dutifully pre-ordered. And when it arrives, it will be hand delivered to my wife, who after 18 months of various chemo/radiation and other invasive procedures as well as 30 years of living with me, could use a real good laugh.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021


By now you'd think I'd be used to it. But I'm not. 

I know this happens to EVERY other creative person in the business. And I know they've come to much better terms with it than I. So when it happens, it just makes my stomach turn. And it stirs within me a fire that will not be extinguished. Usually followed by an audible outburst, 

"...fucking clients, you should've bought that idea 25 years ago when we put it on the table."

The year was 1996 and I had just started working at Chiat/Day for my second stint. My return was not going particularly well and I could tell there were closed door meetings to the tune of "let's get rid of Siegel. He's a hothead who thinks his shit don't stink." 

I'm pretty sure Lee intervened and said, "not yet, I think Brian gonna do something good for us."

Somehow I managed to survive the political snakepit and lasted long enough to save my ass with the ABC Yellow campaign. But before that, John Shirley and I got involved with the pitch for Sirius XM, a category busting company that was about to change the world of car radio.

Our idea: Sirius XM featured close to 150 different channels, everything from roadhouse blues to classical to spoken word comedy to Jesus Rock. So let's build an imaginary factory/warehouse where all the DJ's work and co-mingle with each other. And let's eavesdrop in on the random encounters between celebrity DJ's, status meetings, office parties, etc.

In essence the factory would be a stage, complete with lots of Sirius XM branding, from which we could generate hundreds of spots, big and small, that showed, not told, Sirius XM in action. 

Hints of ESPN Sportscenter? Admittedly yes. But were convinced we could make it our own with celebrity appearances by Bowie, Springsteen, BB King, Alex Jones and the like.

Fast forward to 25 years later and now airing on every damn football game I watch, the same idea, though now it's not a factory/warehouse, now it's a home (suspiciously similar to Nissan's Heisman House) where many of the hosts live, a bit contrived if you ask me. 

Plus some of the spots feature Kevin Hart, who is uniquely unfunny in so many ways.

It stings. 

And it stinks.

But it's also a fair reflection of a life toiling in advertising and characterized not so much by, "Hey look what we did" but more of, "damn, we had that idea, stupid clients should have bought that."

And we've all sang that song.

I coulda been a contender.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

You're In The Know (SWIDT?)

I don't have the intellectual wherewithal to tackle the big weighty subjects of our time. 

I leave that to Professors Tannenbaum, Hoffman and blogging newcomer Jeff Eaker (check out his exquisitely written Kingdom of Failure). On the inconsequential and minuscule and sometimes offensive aspects of life however, I consider myself uniquely able.

In these days of raging wokefulness and hypersensitivity, you'd be lucky to get ten words on the page without offending someone. With that said, if discussion of certain bodily excretion functions causes you to reflexively reach out for the thought police in HR, may I suggest you close this tab and check out the throw pillows on

Last week, while trolling the interwebs and ruthlessly mocking Trumpsters, who had a miserable week that included subpoenas, a failed Arizona Fraudit and the release of Bob Woodward's new damning book, Peril, I came across a most interesting article about pee pee. And its indicative abilities to gauge one's health.

According to top Pee Pee doctors, the average man or woman should empty his/her/their bladder for a full 21 seconds. Not 20. Or 25. Twenty One!

This, according to those who have made it their lifetime work to know the bladder and all its associated tubes, lobes and blood vessels, is the ideal time for a full and complete emptying of the tank, as it were.

As someone whose family medical history includes many enlarged prostates, dating back to shtetl days, I found this particularly interesting. Especially, since at the age of 44, I now find myself repeatedly staring at a toilet bowl that mercilessly taunts me.

"Go ahead... what are you waiting for...let's have it...ok, go back to bed, I know you'll be here again in half an hour...loser."

The inconsistent stream is the bane of my existence. But it has met its match --Me.

The article detailing the perfect pee pee time didn't suggest this, but given my competitive nature and my fascination with numbers, I decided that on my next trip to the can, I would put myself up to the 21 second challenge.

And guess what? Right as rain, I stood before that contemptuous toilet bowl and let him have it for a good 21 seconds. 

I was strong. 

I was in command. 

I was fully relieved. 

It was, dare I say, a golden moment.

That was last week. And though my wife has tired of me exiting the bathroom with the count: "21 seconds", "19 seconds" "23 seconds", I continue to tick off the seconds in my head. Because it works. Like magic it brings on the waterworks, as reliable and as spectacular as the fountains of the Bellagio.

Here's the other thing. 

Because I know how the bladder works. And because I consider myself a well-versed student of human behavior (which has no currency in today's ad world, but that's another blog), I suspect that after reading this post, you will do the same thing I did -- you'll do the count the next time nature calls.

Good luck and please let me know how it flows.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Uber Feats of Genius

Every week my colleagues get together on a Zoom meeting for something we call a Brand Pod. 

As we all work from home or remotely, this serves as a gathering of like minds (experienced curmudgeonly creatives in the increasingly less rewarding business of building brands) and an arena for what we jokingly used to call at Team One, "false employee camaraderie." 

Though I have a few years on these creative co-workers, each is a well established, successful veteran of this biz, coming from places like 72 & Sunny, Goodby, Fallon and others. Each week we pause to discuss noteworthy advertising work that we might have seen. Each week there is a noticeable silence. 

This week there won't be.

Of course, as the picture would indicate, we'll be talking about the new spate of spots from Uber Eats.

 More specifically, the one featuring Elton John and a guy called Naz. I could feign ignorance and tell you I know nothing of this artist. And given my advanced 44 years of age, you'd buy that whole silk cloth. But I make it my business to stay current on pop culture and often surprise my two grown daughters with my familiarity of today's icons.

First thing I love about the spot is the absurdity of two gazillionaire musicians, from wildly different genres, riding atop colorful carny rides, in the parlor of a stuffy old mansion. 

And then there is the dynamic of Elton unable to get his machine to go while pestering Mr. Nas for spare change. Moreover I love how the spot is fully committed to the joke which takes up a good 20 seconds of the spot. And even moreover, the rambling off of English slang names for money, any of which might be considered patently offensive (pearl clutch) to people.

Those are 20 seconds that could have been used to spew dry copy points about the omnipresence of Uber Eats. Or fast delivery times. Or excellent customer service. Or whatever bullshit the marketing people have convinced themselves must be driven home because... well, the data says so.

But they don't. 

Instead, they do what advertising people have seemingly forgotten to do -- entertain, charm and persuade. 

The salesmanship, is in the subtlety. Because prior to the needling conversation, which some would call mean, and negative, and irrelevant, each star cleverly discusses the meal he is so looking forward to. Followed by a bag drop, which graphically and reductively conveys the "value prop" of what Uber Eats is all about -- restaurant quality food delivered to your doorstep.

It's deceptively simple. 

Noteworthy, because they didn't film the brief.

And effective, considering the crowded competitive landscape, which includes Doordash, Grubhub, and Chownow. 

I can't remember any of their commercials or advertising. But do find myself mindlessly walking around my house imitating Mr. Nas' perfectly delivered punchline...

"Funny, you don't look broke."


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Stars and Strips and Straightjackets

This is Benny Johnson. Chances are you don't know him. I didn't until Facebook started polluting my feed with posts from him. And other right wing clowns like Tom Tancredo. Dan Crenshaw. And the infamous Kelly Macenany Fan Club page. 

One of my Facebook cohorts alerted me to the fact that this is no accident. The algorithm detected my hyper aware political streak and started populating my page with posts they know I could not resist engaging with. And they were right. 

I cannot let these asshats ago unanswered. Especially when they spew such nonsense. And a cutting retort flashes in my fingertips before I can say to myself, "just keep scrolling."

Benny, for those who can't read the small type, is the Chief "Creative" Officer at Turning Point USA. Never heard of Turning Point? Put simply they are the reincarnation of Hitler Youth. Swallowing up uneducated, unquestioning youth into a cult of junior fascism and flag fetishism.

And on that I'd like to sidetrack, take a hard turn to the right and ask what the fuck is it about Americans and their flags? 

The unbridled adoration and near religious fanaticism about the flag is unreal. It is hard not to draw correlation between our obsession with the Stars and Stripes and our 20th century Aryan nationalist counterparts and their ruthless devotion to the swastika.

Figure A.

In normal times, I would have nothing disparaging to say about the American flag. I love the flag. In fact, following the tragedy of 9/11 I bought one and waved it proudly on the flag post that still remains on one of the wood beams that hold up the overhang on my porch.

But these are far from normal times. 

Figure B.

Republicans and the GQP have misappropriated the American Flag. 

They took the piece of cloth and left everything it stands for behind, including the pillars of our Republic, like trust in the Constitution (all of it not just the 2nd Amendment), a belief in justice, equality, separation of church and state, and faith in free and fair elections, the institution that arguably separates Americans from all other nations of the world.

Figure C.

As one of my Facebook friends put it so eloquently, "Pageantry is not patriotism." 

In 2021, it's something scarier.

Figure D.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

On being Bad

Let me state at the onset this post runs of risk of appearing like a humblebrag. I assure you it is not. 

I like to think of myself as a good copywriter. Not a great one, by any means. I know the names of great copywriters. And many of you know them too. I don't put my name among them by any means. Moreover, I feel less-than-adequate referring to myself as a good one. 

Mostly, because for so many years I have not been practicing or more importantly, paid to be a good one.

For instance, we all stink when we start out in this business. I stunk harder. Writing crappy recruitment ads for both Bernard Hodes and J. Walter Thompson Recruitment. Both agencies now go by different names as they were swallowed up by huge holding companies. I did that for way too long than I should have.

Those years of writing help wanted ads were followed by a short stint writing ads for a hunting and fishing ad agency. You don't know the glamour of advertising until you start waxing poetic about the magic of Deer Urine. 

Then came the journeymen years working at Abert, Newhoff & Burr, Bozell, Chiat/Day, BBDO, Team One and Chiat/Day again. I cannot even bear to read some of the crap I, and the Fortune 500 companies foolish enough to pay for it, committed to ink. 

When I aged out of the agency world, I turned to an almost 20 year career as a freelancer. In other words, the bulk of my copywriting career. That included a short stint as an interim Creative Director at DirecTV, where I composed banner ads and statement stuffers. 

Who can forget, "Spring into Savings with DirecTV's Super Spring Package"? or "It's Fall, Who's Ready for Some Football? NFL package now only $99"?

You think I jest, I do not. 

Incidentally, I was more than happy to crank out this commerce-driven crap. And so much more. Because they paid my day rate. And as a freelance copywriter I was no longer interested in building a portfolio and much more interested in building my "Stay Out of a Dirty Nursing Home Retirement Fund."

I can't begin to tell you the number of times I came to this shameful compromise and gleefully ate the bowls of shit placed before me. Submitting what I considered good copy only to be overruled by ACD's or clients with not one wit of taste. 

As my friend and fellow freelance copywriter Tony Stern once told me, "They're not paying for your heart, or even your brain, they're paying for your wrist."

In other words, stop fighting the current and start swimming with it.

If I were to be brutally honest -- and when am I not on these supervisor-free pages -- I have barely spent 10% of my career as a good copywriter and 110% as nothing more than a word whore. Not bad considering I could have pursued a different vocation as a CPA or an engineer or a lawyer, and had no opportunity whatsoever to pimp my semantic abilities, modest as they are.


Bonus material: While looking for an image for this post under the search term: Bad Copywriting, I can across the magic of Daniel Lok, the self-styled Tony Robbins of Copywriting. 

Here are some more must-see images from his Copywriting Self Help Seminar...

Note to self: must buy a Velvet Blazer and bow tie. And plants for my desk.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Fuck AT&T

At the risk of sounding like the Get Off My Lawn guy that I am quickly becoming, watching TV was so much simpler than it is today. And considerably less expensive. My monthly TV bills are almost as high as my monthly expenditure on books about the failed Trump Regime.

I'm tempted to cut the cable that runs from the ugly satellite dish parked on my roof and snakes its way down the side of my house that no one can see, but the truth is I'm not a "streaming" guy. As my nocturnal trips to the bathroom can attest.

I like to work an old school remote control. Channel Up. Channel Down. And presets for NFL football, ESPN, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, you know to see the latest in ignorance and fall fascism.

Lately, the DVR in my office has been on the blink. The picture is freezing and pixelating. Which is no way to watch the NY Jets stumble down the field and snatch humiliating defeat from the jaws of just a regular defeat.

After 3 hours of phone trees and corporate non-customer service I was finally able to talk to an AT&T representative (Assholes Tried & True), who spoke English in the same broken fashion of my DirecTV. After an unbearable series of "excuse me", "can you repeat that" and "I'm sorry I didn't catch that", she said the technician would arrive between 12-4.

Naturally he showed up at 4. 

Also naturally, before I let him into my house I asked if he was vaccinated. 

And, as Siegel fortune goes, he was not. 

My triple vaccinated wife was upstairs. My double-vaxxed daughters were working in the backyard patio. And my office is just off the front door. Plus, the Giants were playing the Washington Football Team  (really?) that night, so I took a chance and let him swap out my DVR for one that actually works. 

Later, I decided to brave the corporate phone mishigas and go all Don Quixote on AT&T's ass. That's when I ran into Miranda...

"I'm sorry you had an unpleasant experience. We use third party contractors for service calls. And cannot enforce our corporate policies on them. The good news Mr. Siegel is that you are covered by the AT&T equipment protection plan and the new DVR comes to you at no additional cost."

"The Equipment Protection Plan? Am I paying for that?"

"Yes, but I'm going to waive this month's fee for your inconvenience."

So I'm paying an outrageous monthly fee to rent AT&T's equipment. Then I'm paying another outrageous monthly fee to pump in shows like "Say Yes to the Dress" and "Backwoods Bargain Cabins For Sale." AND, I'm paying another outrageous monthly fee to insure the shitty equipment that electronically recreates the shitty programming that I don't even watch. 

In the words of Yaakov Smirnov, "America, what a country."

Monday, September 20, 2021


I met Norm Macdonald twice. 

Three times if you count the encounter in the hallway at Margarita Mix (the recording studio in Santa Monica), when I decided it would be best not to say anything, lest he think I was some kind of celebrity stalker.

Occasion #1 -- This was close to 25 years ago when my art director partner John Shirley and I were riding the crest of ad world notoriety with the ABC Yellow campaign. 

We had been in NYC for the TV upfront, where the network rolled out its slew of new programs and peacocked them in front of easily-excited media buyers. It was such a panoply of shit shows, including one season wonders like Hiller & Diller and Over the Top, it was no surprise the people wanted to talk about our campaign. 

At least that was mildly funny.

Following the big production at Radio City Music Hall, where I had the displeasure of watching Dan Ackroyd mangle a manifesto I had written, the small ABC team headed out for some over-served, Omnicom-paid celebration. We walked over to Rockefeller Center and rode the elevator up to the Rainbow Room. If it hadn't been for all that top-shelf bourbon and champagne I might even begin to describe the experience. But I can't.

On the way down, however, we were exiting the lobby when young Norm Macdonald was walking in. I could not resist the opportunity to fanboy the man who had provided so many laughs.

You cannot beat his many appearances on the Dennis Miller Show (before Dennis Miller turned into a fascist). You can see them here

Norm shook our hands and exchanged some pleasantries, which are also lost in the ether.

Occasion #2 -- The second time I ran into Norm he was nearly naked. 

It was in the tiny locker room at the Playa Vista Condo complex at the corner of Jefferson and Lincoln Blvd. The health club served as one of the luxury amenities for all residents of the sprawling Playa Vista complex built atop the former Ballona Wetlands. My brother also had an apartment there and generously let me use his key card to swim in their heated, outdoor Olympic sized pool, which I often had to my self. Aqua-Heaven.

Norm lived in one of the much more expensive buildings and was using the gym facilities as well. I almost didn't recognize him wearing his tightey whiteys. I took the opportunity to apologize for our previous encounter, which of course he did not remember, but he graciously accepted my apologies. 

This happened about 7-8 years ago, when I was swimming regularly. In hindsight, I can tell Norm was not well. His complexion was pale. And he didn't look like he does on TV.

Upon further hindsight, I can tell he was bearing the great load that cancer puts on a body.

I will miss Norm Macdonald. He was a channel stopper. 

If you ever come across his many late night appearances or clips of him doing stand up, do yourself the favor and watch. The labored deadpan delivery, the giggling, the infectious smile, and the inimitable timing, made him that one in 10,000 comedians that you will never forget.

Rest In Peace, Norm.

And thank you.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Un-United States of America

I caught the end of Meet The Press last Sunday. For the record, I don't watch these shows as I get my fill of political punditry during the week. Some would argue I indulge too much. Like Mike Huckabee reloading his plate for the 5th time at the local Golden Corral. Mmmmm, bacon macaroni & cheese.

Nevertheless I did hear Doris Kearns Goodwin (too many names) ask why Americans, who exhibited such unity in the past when faced with crises, including 9/11, Cuban Missiles, WWII, etc., found themselves so divided when confronted with the Covid pandemic?

An outstanding question in my view.

George Will, a Republican I actually respect on some occasions, seized the microphone and blathered on about how Americans are suffering War Fatigue. Citing the endless Wars in Asia, the War on Drugs, the War on Religion, the War on Women, blah, blah, blah.

He couldn't be more wrong on the matter. 

We're divided on Covid because Captain Ouchie Foot divided us. Let's recall the first words out of the gate were to the effect of, "Covid is just the next Democratic Hoax." His first response to a worldwide pandemic that has taken the lives of millions was that it was nothing more than a weapon, used to make him look bad.

Holy horseshit, that is some nuclear grade narcissism! And because Covid was a personal attack on him, his Hale Boppish followers perceived any news, warnings, medical alerts that were Covid related, as an attack on them. 

He never took Covid seriously. He said so, to Bob Woodward, "I like to play it down."  He liked to play it down, not because it would panic people as he stipulated, he liked to play it down because it hurt him politically. And how it would effect his economy. His re-election. His legacy, such as it is. 

When Republican leaders failed to criticize his cavalier approach, he went from downplaying the deadly disease to mocking it.

"I'm not wearing a mask."

"People who wear masks are trying to make a political statement."

"...the Kung Flu, you like that? The Kung Flu."

Even as the death toll climbed from three digits, to four digits, to five and then 6, he relentlessly positioned the disease as a political cudgel against him. And by proxy, 75 million American Red Hats.

It makes my twice-vaccinated blood boil. And it has drained me of all sympathy for those who refuse to get vaccinated, who refuse to have their children vaccinated, who balk at mask mandates, and who, despite two impeachments and an Insurrection, cling to this worthless sack of diseased camel haggis.

The descendants of Benedict Arnold, Robert E. Lee, Jeffrey Dahmer and Timothy McVeigh will forever be indebted to the Trump family for stealing the crown of America's Absolute Worst.

Take your Ivermectin and go to hell.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Go ahead, tread on me

Came across this gem the other night on Twitter. It struck such the right note with me I decided to make it my cover photo for Facebook.

I sat with it for a day or two and then decided to challenge myself to meet or beat the line. Don't know if I sufficiently rose to that challenge. My colleague and advertising legend Ernie Schenck seemed to think I did and suggested I find a spot for the many attempts I put together.

I'll let you be the judge.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

It's Simian Tuesday

I wasn't introduced to the notion of children's books until I was a Dad. I cannot wax poetic about the stories and characters that charmed my childhood because frankly there weren't any. 

My father, still attending night school when I was a kid, had his head buried in the exciting books of Chartered Accountancy. And my mother, corralling three kids less than 4 years apart in age, was too tired at the end of the day to crack open a children's book. Which in hindsight and through the eyes of a spendthrift CPA-to be, were inordinately expensive.

"It's 29 pages long, most of them are pictures and they want $5.99 for the book, getouttahere."

Nevertheless, I do remember some books that left an impact. 

Maybe I saw them in kindergarten class. One was Curious George and The Man with Yellow Hat. I hadn't thought much about CG, my daughters's were more fond of the Hungry Caterpillar, Max and the Wild Things and Zundel the Tailor. That is until I came across an interesting piece on the authors.

Turns out the Jewish couple, Marget and Hans Rey, have quite a story of their own. Living in Paris in 1940, they had heard of the German advancement and the French army's decision not to resist the oncoming Nazi onslaught. So Hans got his Jewish ass working and fashioned a tandem bike together using spare parts purchased from a local shop.

With the rickety bike working, the young couple packed their belongings, including the manuscript for Curious George, and hightailed it for southern France, then Spain, then Portugal, then Rio de Janiero and finally landing in New York.

The rest is history.

It's a fascinating story shaped by world events at the time. And made even more fascinating when you take a closer look at George.

Do you see it?

How about now?

Can't see it? 

Of course you can't because it's a trick question. Monkeys have tails, a strong appendage used for mobility, climbing and a host of other functions. George doesn't.

Mmmm, that's curious.


Monday, September 13, 2021

On the wondrous wizardry of PR


My daughter was cleaning out her room the other day. 

That alone is cause for celebration. If one were to neglect the fact that she chose to do it at 2 in the morning. With the hallway light on. And shattering the darkness in my bedroom, thanks to a partial glass wall my architect thought would be a nice touch. 

She found the sheet of adhesive stickers (pictured above) that I had given her some 20 plus years ago. 

Those in the business will recognize images from the iconic Chiat/Day campaigns of the past, including Apple's 1984, The Taco Bell Chihuahua (RIP Ginger), Sony PlayStation and Levis. I'm thinking Lee Clow had these made in the late 90's, when the agency was arguably at its finest. We were doing great work-- and let's be honest, it's advertising, so great is a relative descriptor -- firing on all cylinders and riding the crest of that sweet early internet money. Mmmmm, no budgetary limits.

You could argue that spending company money on self promoting stickers, not to mention T-shirts, the oversized foam core posters, and various other swag displaying the company's work, was indulgent. And an exercise in narcissistic navel-gazing. 

But you'd be wrong. 

Because in clear eyed hindsight, and a new perspective gained by watching the political shenanigans of the past 5 years, it's obvious there was a method to all this freewheeling spending.

It was all about building buzz and controlling the narrative. It was major league Public Relations. And I had a front row seat to watch its magical machinations, executed by the finest PR team in all of advertising.

Not to detract from the brilliance of my creative colleagues at the time, but there was an unseen reason why Chiat/Day was always being talked about. And winning awards. And generating growth through the acquisition of new business. And that reason was PR. 

A lion's share of the credit goes to my friend Jeremy Miller (currently working his magic at McCann), who, together with Lee and Bob Kuperman, orchestrated the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that was part and parcel of every campaign that made its way into pop culture. 

I'm not sharing any recipes for the secret sauce here. Agencies, and for that matter Clients, know about PR, they just haven't exercised the imagination it takes to master it. Nor, sadly, are they willing to make the investment. And make no mistake, that's what it is. Because done right, PR can pay dividends. See Apple. See The Kardashians. See (unfortunately) Trump.

Upon even more hindsight, there's no more obvious demonstration of the power of the free press than this blog. 

Started more than 12 years ago, and worming its way into the morning routine of fellow disgruntled advertising creatives, I can safely and immodestly say RoundSeventeen and its steady stream of irrelevant "content" and puff pieces, has helped distinguish me from the hordes of other freelance copywriters and accounted for the bulk of the revenue that went towards tomahawk steaks, two college tuitions, and my prized 2015 Audi S5.

It even paved the way for my return to the corporate world. Who in their right mind would hire a washed up 44 year old copywriter, whose best days are way, way behind him? 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Forgive me father

As noted on Tuesday, we are now in that period, known to 16 million Jews worldwide, as the High Holidays. 

I know you're thinking, only 16 million! How can such a small group have an iron grasp on the world's media, financial and accounting institutions? If you were so inclined, you could probably find 10 million dentists who were MOT, Members of the Tribe. 

That 16 million number makes no sense, it's got to be much larger, particularly if you ever tried to get a good parking space for services at the Monsey Jewish Center. Or lined up for bialys at Oasis bagels on Horace Harding Blvd.

But I digress.

Next week, in accordance with tradition that dates back 5781 years, when two goat herders, Morty and Saul, felt bad about letting their flock graze on Irving's small patch of land, and thought, "That was wrong, we should take a day to reflect on our poor judgment and atone for our sins", is Yom Kippur.

"Should we give Irving some extra shekels?"

"What are you meshuga? Let's just feel bad and not eat for a day."

I'm not sure I have a favorite Jewish holiday. But I am sure I have a least favorite one. All that somberness. All that somberness without a chicken salad melt or a toasted everything bagel. Topped with even more somberness.

Worst of all, Yom Kippur is a mindfuck for me. 

Chalk it up to my inflated self-righteousness, but there's little in the year that I feel the need to atone for. Particularly in the past year, where in addition to taking care of my wife, I've had the additional task of taking care of my uncle, who is in hospice care at a shitty, ridiculously-expensive assisted living home that serves as constant reminder to bank some money for the golden years.

Can I be better husband, father, and friend? Absolutely.

Can I have a cheese stick?  Absolutely not.

Nevertheless, I will cop to major sin of schadenfreude. Lately, as I'm sure you've noticed, there has been a panoply of anti-vaxxer, right wing, Christian evangelical DJ's who regularly spew disinformation, giving deathbed pleas to Red Hat listeners about taking Covid seriously. You know, like the rest of us have been doing.

When more than 600,000 of their fellow Americans (perhaps because many were old and brown) needlessly died, these hillbilly boneheads had nothing but contempt and blind allegiance to their former president. But moments before a foot long stainless steel intubation tube was desperately rammed down their gullet, they finally saw the light.

Fuck them. I hope they went to the hot place.

In which case, I'll see them on the flip side cause I'm gonna celebrate their departure with a plate of thick cut applewood cured bacon. And I won't wait until sunset.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

A fabulous day in the neighborhood

Generally speaking, I usually refer to Suffern, NY as my hometown. The reality is I only lived there for little more than a decade. From when I was 11 years old until I was 22, graduated from college and spent every last dime I had to get away from Suffern and my parents. 

In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time with them, particularly now with the hindsight of my own abysmal parenting skills. 

"How hard is it to put away the dishes?"

But I can't, because with $99 in my pocket I bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles, knowing no one, having nowhere to sleep and no job to go to, and I never looked back. I literally spitballed the rest.

Truth is, Culver City is my hometown. And it's why I love when the local CC Facebook page digs up old photos of this once sleepy and ignored suburb of Los Angeles.

The picture above is a race driver rounding the turn and gunning it up the straightaway of what is now Jasmine Ave.

Here's another cool pic.

What I wouldn't give to jump in one of these jalopies and bury the gas pedal into the floorboards. 

You see, prior to the housing developers swooping in and turning this fair city into the real heart of Screenland -- now home to two major studios, Sony, Culver, plus Apple, and Amazon -- there was a motorway on the land I call home.

And prior to the motorway that perfectly encircles my neighborhood, there was an oval-shaped horse-racing track. The current streets mirror the old track.

In fact, while excavating a section of my backyard, one of the crew pulled an almost-pristine horseshoe out of the ground, which we had mounted for display and had brought us a host of good luck. 

Until the year 2020.

My favorite picture in this collection of historical photos is the overhead, which in the absence of drones or helicopters, must have been snapped by a barnstorming yahoo who had mastered the biplanes of the era. 

I like to think his name was Red. Or Bessie, a hard drinking woman who picked barfights in what is now the Backstage Cafe, where Bogart and Cary Grant were regular patrons.

Here's a look at my neighborhood from 1000 feet above sea level.

And finally, here's one last photo taken years later, when the track was disassembled and the homebuilders built their fortunes. You can see one of my neighbor's original Spanish style homes as well as the aforementioned location of the local watering hole.

Look closely and you can  even spot the Y in the road and the street which is now Jackson Ave, home of the legendary Jackson Market. If you ever come to my neighborhood, I highly recommend a stop there for the best custom made to order sandwiches. 

Mine is the Panina-pressed oven roasted turkey sandwich on ciabatta with cheddar, pepperoni, sun-dried tomato, avocado, and light aoli-mayo. 

Mmmmm, melty.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Te- Qui-La

Today is a Holiday. And I'm not referring to the Post Labor Day Mattress Sales that are raging across the country, in suburban strip malls festooned with balloons and air tube dancers.

Today is Rosh Hashanah, aka Yom Teruah, aka Feast of the Trumpets, aka The Day of Shouting and Blasting. 

Though I must say, I have several Israeli contractors putting in an outdoor deck in my backyard (a present for my wife) and they don't need a holiday for shouting. Everything they say to each other is in triple digital decibels. I'm thinking this may account for the inability to strike a peace deal in the Middle East.

I have in the past poked fun at Rosh Hashanah, as I will today, but I'm intentionally going to tread lightly as I have new friends who are deeply religious and take this stuff seriously.

I, uhhh, don't. 

For me Rosh Hashanah will always conjure up childhood images of the end of Summer and my parents dragging our asses to the Monsey Jewish Center -- that's right we lived in the Mecca of America Judaism, Monsey, NY -- where we sat for 8 hours in stiff wool suits that were only carted out for high holidays, bar mitzvahs or the passing of an aunt or uncle I never knew.

My perspective on going to temple has changed. 

It's more bearable on the West Coast, where the weather is more accommodating and the congregants often show up in Hawaiian shirts and summer dresses. Also, we all have iPhones now. So when the service turns to

"...David son of Solomon, married Ruth, who begat Saul, who married Esther, who begat Jedidiah, who lusted for Rebecca but married Mindy, who begat..."

I can always divert my attention to what's going in the real world of 2021 and not the genealogical family tree of 943 BC.

Did a little digging on the etymology of Rosh Hashanah, and by that I mean I went to Wikipedia. This was necessary as all my Hebrew school learning has been lost or erased by my adult ability to exercise critical thinking. The New Year was originated as a celebration of the new agricultural year, that is the cycle of sowing, growth and harvest.

I know as much about farming as I know about cricket, Shakespeare and dime store romance novels, and no idea that seeds were sown in the fall. Even in the Fertile Crescent which is in the Northern Hemisphere.

Here's what I do know, when it comes to holidays and celebrations, we don't measure up to our Abrahamic brethren. For instance, here's a picture of some foods favored by Libyan Jews to ring in the new year.

You gotta be the world's greatest lover of stewed fruits to get excited about that.

This is a point I have made in the past. But it's made even better by Sebastian Maniscalo. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021


Weeks ago, I started a new themed series here on RoundSeventeen. As some of you might have noticed over the years -- I'm talking to you 8 regular readers -- I like doing themed series. In a very measurable way it saves me a lot of time and trouble trying to come up with new material.

Moreover, the practice leans into my training in advertising. 

After all, a big idea is only a big idea if it can be pooled out. Given legs. Executed thematically in many different ways.

To that end, when I stumbled upon "Shit I Will Never Understand", I knew instinctively that this would be an easy Go To topic. Particularly at the end of the week. And even more particularly in the year 2021, where every day the news cycle delivers more and more Shit I will Never Understand.

First up...

IVERMECTIN -- Two months ago it looked like we would finally emerge from this Covid Hell we've all been struggling through. Shots were going into arms and we were in striking distance of Herd Immunity. 

But then came along a bunch of shyster degreed clowns pimping their own medicine, leveraging the distrust of government (fueled by Q and the GQP) and sending thousands of fishbrained Americans to their local veterinary clinic.

"I'm concerned about Covid, but I'm gonna take a hard pass on those mRNA based vaccines which have been in development for more than a decade and cleverly mimic the attributes of Covid thus triggering the body's proclivity to produce antibodies. Instead I'm gonna score some horse dewormer from the guy who makes stable visits and puts food on his family's table by expressing the anal glans of dogs, cats and the occasional pet ferret."

AFGHANISTAN -- We are out. And that is a very, very good thing. I will concede that the initial footage from the withdrawal was chaotic. And the optics looked terrible for President Biden. And he will have to own that. Nor did it help matters when ISIS-X or ISIS-K, cowardly sent a suicide bomber into the soft target and took the lives of 200 people including 13 US soldiers. 

But had we reneged on Precedent Shitgibbon's Surrender Plan ("I make the best deals") the Taliban would have escalated the warfare and many more US soldiers would have died, especially when you consider the troop totals had been drawn down to 2500.

And the military hardware left behind? Well that was given to the Afghan Army by three previous US presidents, not President Biden. And what exactly are the naysayers concerned about? Have you seen a map of Afghanistan? Who are they going to turn those weapons against? Iran? Pakistan? Tadjikistan? None of whom are all that friendly to US interests. Have at it.

and finally...

WATER -- It is accepted as fact that humans can go up to a week without food. Given my girthiness and my current inability to exercise (hip replacement), I could probably last two weeks, but not be very happy about it. Conversely, the human body can only go 2-3 days without water.

It is, without a doubt, our most precious resource. Which doesn't stop my neighbor from diligently washing his 18 motor vehicles at least twice a week. 

Out here in the West, our water supply is at its lowest in decades. You might have seen pictures of the Colorado River. I've seen my dog produce more powerful and robust streams. Meanwhile, our supply of fresh water is dwindling. At the same time, due to global warming, our sea levels are rising.

Riddle me this Batman, why are we not undertaking a huge engineering project, like generations before us, and building a pipeline, tunnel or canal, that would funnel water from the Pacific into vast reservoirs in Nevada, Utah and Idaho, where, through the process of solar powered desalination, that water could be used to irrigate farms, power top hydroelectric plants and restock our lakes, rivers and water tanks.

It would also relieve the inconceivable guilt my neighbor must be harboring for wasting all the precious H20 on his small fleet of vehicles.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Florida Man, he's 100% Florida

I am nothing if not easily amused. I have often written how I spend hours laughing at my own material. Mostly because others won't. 

But the sad fact is, it doesn't take much to make me laugh. I even made the mistake of copping to enjoy the first few iterations of the Emu Limu campaign. That not longer holds true. Nevertheless my funny bone is easily tickled.

That's why I am so pleased to have discovered the Florida Man challenge. This was brought to my attention the other day when, after slapping my hand for pushing a creatively-driven agenda a little too hard (old habits), my boss turned me on to a meme that may or may not be old.

Here's the upshot. You simply go to a Google search, type in "Florida Man your birthday". No years, no quotation marks, eg: Florida Man February 28.

This is what pops up on mine...

That is simply genius. I could argue that this treasure chest mitigates all the downsides of the interwebs including the pernicious way it has destroyed the advertising industry. And vaulted data miners to the top of the communications food chain. But I'm gonna stop right here.

I did a little digging beyond this newspaper snippet and read Mr. McLemore, the unhappy man in the MyPillowGuy Suicide Suit, in addition to holding a SWAT team at bay during this tense hostage standoff, was also torturing his prisoners by reading aloud many lyrics from ColdPlay. 

Oh The Humanity!

If that doesn't sum up Florida in one complete nutshell, I don't know what will.

But I will cut this posting short because I can tell you have an itchy keyboard finger and want to find out what weird and unimaginable shit happened in Tallahassee or Daytona or Naples on your birthday.

Let us know in the comments.