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.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Doing Time.


I don't know how many times I've landed in the social media clink. I have literally lost count. This time, thankfully, it's only for 7 days. To say I'm confused, would be a wild understatement.

Upset with the way the spineless Democrats handle, more accurately, don't handle their business, I let loose with a little invective on an article about how House Committee may "consider" criminal referrals for the Trump fascists who have conveniently thumbed their pig noses at the recent subpoenas.




Bring up for discussion.

It's maddening.

And so I vented, claiming the Dems need to start playing hardball and needed to "kill the filibuster". 

That is the only reason why I can see they have accused me of violating Community Standards. Ha, the same standards that permit Russian propaganda, harmful posts to teenagers and a cornucopia of hateful white supremacy. None of which merit any action. I know because I have reported on them.

Instead the schmucks at FB single me out for using a phrase that is more commonly heard than Fake News.

I have tried to appeal the decision and the outcome is still TBD.

As a hardened repeat offender, I have taken a new perspective on these temporary respites from Facebook, where I am allowed to view posts but not allowed to interact or respond or post new ones. It's actual a welcome phenomena.

It gives me time to cool off. And, in light of the slow moving coup and the daily Republican attacks on our nation, and my sanity, a little time off is in order.

Besides I know my daily ranting and memes have become an irritant to some. And a red flag of my rapidly increasing mental decline, to others.

And so, I'll take my medicine. And spend more time reading Stephanie Grisham's new book, I'll Take Your Questions Now. I'm sure that will have a calming effect.

See you all in a week.

Monday, October 11, 2021

NASA called

Got a strange Linkedin invite the other day. 

This, in and of itself is not that rare. At least three times a day I get Linkedin invites from India/Pakistan/and the Far East. For unknown reasons I seem to have developed a following in Southern Asia. 

I like to think it's because the folks over there have a dry, discerning sense of humor and appreciate my observational wit, unlike the apathetic slobs here in the US. 

But more than likely it's because they think (falsely) that because of my 30 plus years in advertising I might be able to hook them up with a connection that would further their fledgling career. Or perhaps an entre in the wonderful, glamorous and incredibly lucrative world of advertising in America. 

Anyway, this particular linkedin invite came from a closer locale. Pasadena to be specific. It was from the Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Holy shit, I thought.

Finally someone wants to utilize my proven creative background --such as it is - with my unproven, and dormant capability for understanding and using advanced Calculus and higher mathematics. Did I mention I once scored a 660 on the Math SAT?

At first I thought about blocking out Chris's name, but since a simple search of my Linkedin profile would reveal the connection, I figure it's public knowledge. Plus Chris seems like a good sport.

As in all things vocational, I seem to have gotten ahead of myself. I probably won't be commuting on the 405 to to the 10 to the 5 to the 2 to the 134 to get to Pasadena any time soon. So Alec, my boss at Honey, if you're reading this, you can take a deep breath. 

Or sigh in frustration, "we finally got rid of that cranky old man."

Which is a shame, because I had some initial thoughts and hair brain designs for harnessing the power of Mentos & Diet Coke and employing that untapped energy source to get us to Pluto. Also had some interesting concepts, just in rough form, I haven't put together a deck or anything, on Baking Soda and Vinegar.

But all kidding aside, I do wish there were a way to bring the imaginative minds in marketing to bear on other, more meaty issues of the day. 

My friend Ernie Schenck writes about this all the time. Government, industry, and even the Pentagon, could and should tap the shoulders of those being sent home with a cardboard box full of ad awards and a miserable excuse for a severance check. Because we have something to offer.

I've had the pleasure of working with some of the smartest, most colorful thinkers on the planet. And I have to believe they're all a lot better than cranking out crappy banner ads and stupid "brand activations."

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

Got a message from my friend Jeff Bossin the other day. Jeff took time out of his busy day building brands and making award winning Super Bowl commercials, to tell me that he loved when I dropped my reference to "Stay Out Of Dirty Nursing Home Retirement Fund."

It is a foil I use quite often, as the words have a nice rhythm, but also in the vernacular of Homer Simpson, "It's funny cause it's true." 

It's true because over the course of the last few years, I've become intimately and unfortunately familiar with the senior world living situation. Not mine, I'm only 44. 

I'm referring to my uncle's situation, who, if you read Monday's edition of R17, you know just passed away. 

Unable to maintain the house in Palm Springs, my uncle started looking into a different living situation here in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, due to a miscalculation and the purchase of so, so many extension chords, measuring cups, and reams upon reams of printing paper, his funds did not last as long as he thought his body would.

That precluded taking up residence in any of the Sunrise facilities, a brand Southern Californians will all come to know. And aspire to.

You see Sunrise is the Ritz Carlton of assisted living facilities. A minuscule room with the barest of services can cost as much as $6500/month. And that's before any kind of caregiving or special meals or premier bingo seating is added in.

For a brief moment I thought about supplementing my uncle's meager funds to get him into Sunrise, but then I remembered Father Time had my name on his list. Once you step off the Sunrise ledge, the quality of the facilities takes a steep drop. Moreover, the process for admission is quite rigorous. It's worse than getting your kids into private school.

We thought we had finally secured him a position at a place in Culver City across from Sony studios, but two weeks before he was scheduled to move in, they called and told me they had to give up his spot. My wife and I are convinced it was because my uncle called and got into one of his famous tantrums with the management.

And so, for 4 miserable months my uncle ended up here, at Holiday Villa East.

Pleasant enough looking on the outside (I guess) but a nightmare on the inside. The carpet was installed when Eisenhower was president. And never changed. The staff have permanently implanted AirPods and cannot hear a single request from the residents. And the vegetable lasagna doubles as a tool of euthanasia.

My uncle chose the cheapest room they had. 

It was barely 250 square feet, the size of a Motel 6 room. And it was situated next to the creaky elevator shaft, which warbled through the paper thin walls. My wife and I rejected it immediately and sprung for the additional funds to get him a room with a window facing the ocean, which would have been visible if the facility were 10 stories tall, not two.

When the situation became unbearable and his need for additional medical services expanded, we moved him to Terraza in Cheviot Hills. I'll have more to say on this shithole when I get the final bill.

The point is, as it has been for awhile, stash that money for your own denouement. Save regularly and make your plans well in advance. I'm speaking from personal experience here.

You don't want to go to Hell while you're on the topside of Mother Earth.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Read this Book

Apologies to Bob Woodward and to Robert Costa, for giving away the last two ominous words of the book. And apologies to anyone reading this blog with the intention of reading this book. However, I suspect if you plan on reading Peril, you already know the fragile state of our Republic.

If I had my druthers, and I rarely do, the book would have been trimmed by half. I don't need to know the inner machinations of how Biden's campaign was in trouble and was rescued at the last minute by South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn.

Nor did I need to follow the travails of Biden in the early days of his presidency and his push to get the Recovery Act passed, with the help of obstructionist and grandstanding Joe Manchin.

I know Joe Biden and his team are competent, thoughtful leaders who have the best interest of the country,  not their bank accounts, in their hearts.

In a word or two, They're boring. Boring in that most refreshing America is back kind of way.

The rest of the book, the juicy parts, is about how ex Precedent Shitgibbon fucked this country over and came within a merkin's hair breadth of destroying it. And the brutal behind the scenes berating of Vice President Mike Pence to deny the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th, is both scary and heart pounding.

The election wasn't stolen. 

But it almost was.

The denial of the certification was based on a memo written by Constitutional Crackpot Trump Loyalist, John Eastman. It was predicated on the notion that 7 states had "questionable" election results. Leaving the eligible electoral votes in favor of Trump but short of the 270 needed for the presidency. That, in accordance to the Constitution, would have thrown the entire election to the states, who would be given one vote each. And given the 26 red states outnumbered the 24 much larger and more populous blue states, a Trump victory would have been announced on January 7th.

And what made the election results in those 7 states "questionable"? The toxic fucking ego of a sore loser who could not and would not accept the will of 81 million exhausted and dispirited people.

There was no evidence. There is no evidence. 

There were no bamboo fibers in the ballots.

No dead people voting.

No phony mail in votes.

No forged signatures

No switching of votes by corrupted Dominion voting machines.

No 165,000 dead chickens stuffed with Trump ballots and then incinerated to hide the evidence.

There was NOTHING!

And Rudy Giuliani, the morally bankrupt lawyer who famously called himself America's Mayor, testified to that effect. Telling lawyers under oath in a deposition this week that the only reason he thought the election was rigged was because he read it on Facebook!!! And the only reason he read it on Facebook was because he and his team spoon-fed that twice digested horse manure to his brain dead followers 24/7. 

And yet, he persisted.

The damage this fucker and his GOP enablers have foisted on this country is unfathomable. If Red Hats won't or can't recognize this then Woodward and Costa are more than right, the peril remains.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

On pearls, mushrooms and T-shirts.

I've been unfortunate enough to witness the slow death of advertising. That is, the abandonment of what some call legacy media , TV, radio, print and outdoor boards, in favor of 3 & 1/2" screens, 15 second Tok Tok videos, microscopic internet banners and Carpel Tunnel syndrome-inducing emails, or what most call spam.

It has not been pretty. 

One of my nostalgic colleagues, let's call him Gregg, regularly posts classic print ads from the past and longingly asks where the art and craftsmanship of that era has gone? I'd have a few choice words on that matter but I don't want to say anything that would risk my current stage of under-employment. 

Last week he put up this gem. 

A beauty I remember from the 90's and the many awards book annual it appeared in. It was written by Kara Goodrich, a legend in copywriting circles. And someone whose style I admired and freely mimicked. Correction, I would have mimicked, had I 1/10th the talent.

Full disclosure: Kara is friends with my good friend Jean Robaire, and we met not long ago at a fancy party, exchanged pleasantries and made the waiter with the appetizers come to a full stop while we gorged on piggies in a blanket and hoidy toidy mushroom/cheese canopies.

Do yourself a favor and blow the picture (above) up and read each and every carefully chosen word. And while you're at it, take time to admire the art direction and the utter precision of it all.

That's all gone. Supplanted by half-assed, slapped-together garbage that in many cases doesn't require anything more than a stock photo and a rudimentary knowledge of Apple Preview. Something, I can do.

Even sadder, and a clear indication that I don't know what I'm talking about, the new breed of advertising works. And by that I mean it rings up the register.

Case in point. 

I don't know how the Facebook algorithm knows that I have a closet full of ratty T-shirts, with worn out collars and the occasional coffee stain. Maybe my wife has been sending them missives. How else can I explain the barrage of ads that show up in my feed proclaiming The World's Best T-Shirt?

Moreover, many of these T-shirt companies know the pain points to hit. Namely fat guys with dad bods who don't want to look like fat guys with dad bods. 

And so a few weeks ago, in a rare moment when I found myself with some disposable cash, I pulled the trigger. 

Just for edification, that's not me in the picture. With an overabundance of chest hair, now Santa Claus white, I'm not cut out for V-neck t-shirts. I don't think I've ever spent this much money on a damn T-shirt. Prior to this I had always been a Hanes Beefy T, 3-pack kind of guy. But I must say I'm now a convert.

The shirts were soft. Mostly cotton, for maximum breathability. And incredibly flattering. Tighter around the chest and the sleeves yet looser around the torso, where evidence of my love of beer and fatty beef ribs and genetically enhanced habanero peppers continues to accumulate.

I was so pleased I went back for more. This time purchasing the more formal T-shirts that they call, and for all I know it may a fashion term known to everyone in the world but me, the Henley. These too were a welcome addition to my wardrobe, such as it is.

I am a happy customer. But the good people at Fresh Clean Tees could not leave well enough alone. Now they are sending me emails. Sometimes twice a day. I don't want to join your "club". I don't want to hear about 10% discounts. And I don't have any interest in the new colors you're introducing. 

I did what I suspect most people do -- hunted down that Unsubscribe button and went back to pining for the good ole days.

Monday, October 4, 2021

"Just ski, damnit."


My crazy uncle just passed away. 

No, not the crazy uncle who would go to funerals with little scraps of yellow paper inscribed with his phone number and then pass them out to fetching young ladies, or indeed any ladies, who might be interested. The one who lived high atop the dirty streets of Atlantic City with a commanding view of the Jersey shore, compliments of the New Jersey Mental Health Assistance board. The one who would pester me for winter overcoats.

"Jackie, is there anything you need?"

"Chinese food and a winter coat."

"I sent you 4 winter coats last month. What else do you need?"

"A winter coat."

Apparently, destitute descendants from the Belarussian shtetl could never be overly prepared for the brutal Eastern European winters.

My uncle Jackie passed away a few years ago. I'm talking about my Uncle Ron, for whom my wife and I became full time caregivers for about two years ago. This is him from better days on one of our many weekend trips to his Palm Springs home.

Nothing brought him as much joy as seeing my daughters. Nothing. 

Perhaps because as a gay man he never had any children of his own. And so we went out of our way to visit his modest little home with the postage stamp sized pool. The girls loved those visits. Except when they couldn't sleep in the overbearing desert heat. Nor understand why my uncle never lowered the temperature on the air conditioning to anything below 80.

"What am I, made of money?"

At one time in his life it seemed he was. He was my rich uncle, our only relative with any disposable income. So much for the trope that all Jews have money. 

He often brought my brother and I expensive birthday and Hanukah gifts from Saks Fifth Ave. (where he was one of their executive financial controllers). Lots of fancy woolen pants and scratchy sweaters, that never got worn.

He also introduced my brother and I to the sport of skiing. Not too many 8 year old boys from working class families in Flushing, NY were given the opportunity to slap on skis and boots that weighed 20 lbs. apiece, but we were. And we loved it. 

Starting with trips to Sterling Forest, where we would just bomb the hill and had to be dragged off the mountain. Then he treated us to Bellayre, a grown up ski resort with CHAIRLIFTS!!! A pleasant diversion from the T-bar at Sterling.

And one time he treated us to a weekend getaway to Mad River Glen in Vermont, home of the nation's only single chair lift (see picture above). Also home to some of the steepest and iciest terrain you could have the displeasure of finding yourself on. My brother took a spill and literally cut his face on the snow.

Ron, never long on patience, told him to brush it off and yelled at us to make our way down the black diamond runs. He might have been gay, but he was Jerome Ave., Bronx-born,  NYC street-tough gay.

Nothing was more indicative of his fighting nature than his half-life long battle with HIV. 

My uncle was one of the first to contract the disease sometime in the 1980's. At the time he was living in a house in La Jolla, near San Diego. My parents had decided to sell their house in Suffern and move in with him. And to provide care in what they anticipated would be his final days.

That plan never came to fruition, as Ron's body miraculously fought off the HIV, never graduated to full blown AIDS, and never affected him in any way, shape or form. I suspect the HIV was running scared or that my uncle gave that disease a good "what for", as he would often do.

Do the math, Ron Siegel was a 30+ year HIV survivor! Magic Johnson had nothing on my uncle.

He was also militantly irreligious. 

Given all the times he could never get a cab in NYC he came to the conclusion there could be no God. As such he had little care for post-humous rituals or ceremonies. Thinking his body might help unlock some secrets to HIV/Aids -- which took the lives of many of his friends -- he registered for the full body donation at UCLA.

As you are reading this, researchers in Westwood could very well be examining some of his body tissue under the watchful eye of the Microtron Mitochondria Splitter Series 7000. I don't know what will come of the study, but I sincerely hope something good emerges. 

It would make Ronnie happy.

Like all Siegels, at least the ones in my ever-shrinking family, my uncle was famously stubborn. And prickly. And could stir in me visions of Jack Nicholson putting Chief out his misery in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. He could be the pebble in my shoe.

But it was my shoe. And in the end there was no one left to care for him, except myself, my wife and my brother. We did the best we could for him. He went peacefully. And painlessly. In his tiny room at Terraza in Cheviot Hills. With the monstrously large 60" TV blasting at the highest possible volume level.

I'm already missing him.