Thursday, April 27, 2023

I pity the fool.

The term Pity Party got a lot of play last week.

It was errantly used by the CEO of MillerKnoll, makers of overpriced aerodynamic chairs and other assorted furniture, in an address to employees who apparently needed to work harder. 

It's hard to take seriously the thoughts of a whiny CEO taking home seven digits worth of salary, stock options and free uncomfortable dining chairs. Especially one who is making upwards of 50-75 times what the average employee at MillerKnoll takes home every year.

In fact, it's hard to take seriously the words of 99.99% of CEOs these days, who are more concerned with managing their way upwards, instead of paying attention to the people they stepped on to slide into their mahogany cocoons.

And let's not even mention self-congratulatory CEO's -- a redundant phrase --  who foolishly threaten to take a $2500 bite out of customer's hides and then have to layoff substantial number of employees because of the resulting lost revenue. 

Nobody said Capitalism was fair.

But today, I want to conduct my own Pity Party. Not for me, mind you. I am acclimating nicely to my semi-retirement and in no way miss participating in what today's advertising business comically calls advertising.

It's not.

My pity extends to the people, creative people, legitimately talented people, who find themselves dotting the i's and crossing the t's on absolute garbage. Digital detritus that regularly arrives in email mailboxes across America and then, within nanoseconds, gets dutifully transferred to email trash boxes never to be seen again. 

Or even once.

I feel sorry for the folks wasting countless hours and zoom meetings laboring over insipid subject lines that can and probably were written by ChatGPT or Google's Bard. 

"Over 40% savings now in our Super Spring Sale."

"See the power drill the internet is talking about."

"18 things you never knew about air fryers."

And let's not forget those CTA's. 

There are Copywriters and Art Directors who spent years learning and honing their craft, with the proven ability to change the trajectory of a Fortune 500 company, now dicking around with shouty CTAs. And arguing with unlearned staffers who will say stuff like...

"I don't know ...DISCOVER MORE, doesn't seem like it's our brand tone of voice."


If I were a grown adult, in the prime of my career, with a mortgage and three mouths to feed, in this ungodly situation, I'd be taking a serious look inside my medicine cabinet for a hasty and hopefully painless exit.

There were times, back in the 80's, 90's and early 2000's, when I thought, "advertising these days, sucks."

Boy, was I wrong.


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Let the Show Begin


Live from Riverdance 25!!!

As you can see from the photo above, when the good folks in charge of selling tickets to shows at the Pantages, Dolby Theater and other assorted venues, want to make good on a mistake (see yesterday's blog post) they cough up the goods. 

In this case we were literally 7 rows behind all the stomping, flailing, spinning and the bad bagpipe playing.

I had high expectations (in a limited sense of the word) for this theatrical production. After all, they were in their 25th year. Things that capture the attention of the public for more than 15 minutes usually have some redeeming quality. Or at least they have good whiskey served in the sprawling lobby bar.

And to be fair, there was plenty of production value. BTW, this is often mentioned in the ad world when a project is completed and the results are less than stellar. 

"The writing wasn't great, the director was a hack, the casting was all wrong. But at least we got it down to 30 seconds and the production value was incredible."

In the case of this event, the lighting was innovative and beautiful, the sets were glossy, even the filmed portion at the rear of the stage was eye catching. But when all is said and done, Riverdance is a lot of people (beautiful, young, athletic people) stomping their feet in unison and spinning around in circles.

I hate to be so reductive, but I also have to be honest.

If one were to read between the lines and look for something more significant, one observe the similarities of Irish folk dancing to the flamenco dancing found in Spain just 1500 miles to the south. And, as I had mentioned weeks ago in my review of Outlander, the series on Netflix, there is ample evidence that connects Ireland to the one of the lost tribes of Israel.

Indeed, there were many dance numbers that looked similar to the Hora, a messy, less disciplined dance often seen at shabby weddings and bar mitzvahs.

Though Ms. Muse (a whopping 91.2% Irish) and I left before the no-doubt rousing conclusion, where toes were tapping and the floor joists at the Dolby Theater were beaten like a street musician who could only afford one drum, the evening was not without its entertainment. 

All of it outside.

Where imposter Spidermen, Batmen and Wonder Women, plied their wares in dirty costumes in the heavily weed-scented air of Hollywood Blvd. Additionally, there were rovings gangs of teenage boys aboard dirt bikes, screaming up and down the boulevard, popping wheelies and terrorizing the visiting Nebraskans who were hoping to see Tom Hanks. Or Vin Diesel. Or Aubrey Plaza.

With every crane of the neck there were tawdry reminders of why I never want to play that game of being a tourist in my own town. 

One last aside. Hollywood Boulevard is famous for its Walk of Fame, where the names of stars from the entertainment fields have been immortalized in industrial grade cement and tile that is often puked upon by those over served at the countless open air bars and grimy cantinas.

There are so many stars that jaded people, like myself, don't even look down or take any notice. But, to her credit and perhaps out of some random fluke, Ms. Muse, spotted a star that has some personal significance.

Bob Cummings, who the hell is Bob Cummings, you ask. 

For more on that, I direct you to a posting I put up not too long ago:

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Aye, let's dance

Today's post is being in written in two parts.

It is Saturday morning as I write this. This will be Part One.

Part Two will be penned after tonight's festivities. Which, if you haven't guessed will be a whimsical, magical celebration (fingers crossed) of my surprisingly dominant Irish heritage. Tonight Ms. Muse and I will be at the Dolby Theater in glamorous downtown Hollywood to experience Riverdance™.

BTW, as she and I are both members of 23andme, we both had access to a geographic location of our wooly, alcohol-loving, poetry-quoting ancestors. 

Her map looks almost identical to mine. Though I am happy to report we have no common distant relatives.

Lest you think I have questionable theatrical taste, you should know the story behind tonight's attendance at the Riverdance™ extravaganza. 

Months ago, we went to see Aaron Sorkin's take on To Kill a Mockingbird. Because we might have over-imbibed at the restaurant across the street, we showed up at the Will Call office five minutes before the curtain opening. Where I was told, I had inadvertently purchased tickets to the day's matinee showing. The woman behind the bullet-proof Pyrex window, scurried to find us two tickets in the nosebleed section. 

Evening rescued.

Later that week, I decided to write to the ticket office and inform them of the incident. And bring up the issue of their confusing web interface. How was I to know there'd be two shows in one day. That seems very unfair to the actors, but very profitable to the residual collecting writer. 

To their credit, the theater people offered us a chance to attend another show. 

On them. 

And a month later, we found ourselves in the second row of the magnificent Dolby Theater, to see Annie. Not my cup of tea by any means. But two free tickets in the second row certainly were. Did I say two tickets? Because the ticket office had reserved FOUR seats in our honor. 

Have pen, will schnorr.

Shortly after enjoying Annie (I'm always open to new experiences), I decided to write another appreciative letter. And mentioned that our friends (Mr. and Mrs. John Doe) were unable to join us for Annie, due to Covid (it's important to entail some viable plausability.) Hence the two unrequested seats, sat unsat in. 

As a result, the front office invited us to another show, Riverdance™.

Hell, I thought, it's an opportunity to get some mileage out of my blazer and honor the excessive frugality of my Scottish roots.

I'll let you know if it was worth my while in tomorrow's blog. And how I can spin one more letter out of this fortunate turn of events. 


Monday, April 24, 2023

Tiny Confession Time

 "I see dead people."

You may remember that line from M. Schmaylayalayan (I'm not going to bother to get the correct spelling) movie, The Sixth Sense. I saw it coming. Tiny confession: I guess a lot of movie endings and have a 37.1% success rate. I think it stems from my brief foray into screenwriting and knowing that one must expect the unexpected.

But it's also what I think when I see fellow freelance copywriters and art directors trying to hawk their wares in today's very competitive and less-than-lucrative job market with the Open To Work hashtag.

It's something I would never do.

About twenty years ago, I started my life as an advertising mercenary. And for a very long time was up to my large aquiline nose in projects. Double Dipping. Double double dipping. And double stuffing my bank account with beautiful 1099 checks from all four corners of the Earth. I was national. And international. For lack of a modest term.

Not once during those halcyon days did I announce my availability. I didn't have to. This blog was my self promotion. As well as my many worstselling self-published books. I did what I had to do to stay on the radar. 

And the work found me.

But here's the thing. Another tiny confession, if you will. 

Even when I wasn't busy, I was more than happy to have people believe I was. The demand might not have been there 24/7/365, but the perception of the demand being there 24/7/365, was invaluable. And I did little to dissuade people of that notion.

In retrospect, I wish I hadn't let the infrequent slow periods freak me out so much. I should've enjoyed the lapses and made more time for my family. And myself. 

Stupid Jewish Neuroticism.

I'm in a different boat now. Rocked by the loss of my wife, I'm older, gentler and wiser. Though all those points can easily be argued. And while my phone no longer rings off the hook -- mostly because phones don't have hooks anymore -- I am seeking work.

But there's a caveat. In the past few years, I've been steeped in client side performance marketing. I've written enough subject lines, CTAs, referral cards, and heavily ignorable landing page copy to stuff a thousand email trashboxes. Don't want to do that anymore. Hey ChatGPT, it's all yours.

In short, I'm Open To Work.

I'm just not Open To Desperation.


Thursday, April 20, 2023

Abrahamic Discords

There's a chance this post could get me in trouble. Or leave a bad taste in the mouths of my 8 regular readers. But I've never been shy about speaking some truth. And with the Dirt Nap nipping at my heels, don't see a reason to start now.

I will however attempt to be evenhanded in my disbelief. Which came into incredibly clear view last week while scrolling through my social media feed(s).

Last week was Passover (and Easter and the beginning of Ramadan). I saw a cartoon that has stuck with me. Sadly I can't find it, but I can render a reasonable facsimile. The visual was of several ancient Hebrews, living in bondage in the land of Egypt, painting their doorways with lamb's blood. I guess the local Home Depot was out of Navajo White.

The caption below the cartoon read: We paint our doorways with blood so God knows which babies not to kill.

Wow. I thought god was all-knowing and all-powerful. Why does he need a makeshift GPS system for his rampant infanticide?

Moreover, why is god so intent on killing humans? I can't even begin to count the Old Testament stories that bear witness to god's testy and homicidal temper. I thought god loved us.

Speaking of love. I was under the impression that Jesus was all about love. You might find this surprising, but we learned quite a bit about Jesus in Hebrew School. All of it good, btw. Now, however, if you listen to some Red Hats, Jesus was not so soft spoken. Or, dare I say, woke. Apparently he was a closed border zealot and a gun toting warrior, hell bent on sticking it to the man.

They also taught us about the Christian origin story. Which, if we're all being honest, is as irrational as the god needs a kill-by-numbers paint set. 

God had a son? Who is also him? Plus there's a ghost? 

Wait, what?

Seven hundred or so years after the Trinity notion spread around the word, Arabs swung the pendulum back the other way and vigorously embraced monotheism. And following the example of their predecessors appointed certain men (always men) to be their prophets. 

Mohammed was the last in a short line of prophets, who all arrived on Earth, all coincidentally in the Middle East, all between 6000 BC and 700 AD. How convenient.

Compare that 6700 year span to the life of our cosmos, which according to scientitians -- people who knew more than just goat herding--has been around for more than 13 BILLION years.


Oh and if I'm reading the Wikipedia page correctly, prophets are not divine. They are human. But for some reason drawing Mohammed or depicting him in any manner entitles one upset human being to kill another.

It's always about the killing.

I apologize in advance of my atheism rubs you the wrong way. My skepticism is in the red zone.

The other day I got into a little online political argument. Shocking, right? And my worthy opponent would have none of the facts. In the end he decided he wasn't buying what I was putting down (as the kids might say.) And, out of the blue, he offered to pray for me.

Yeah, sure, go ahead and pray for me, I'll be on the Peloton.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

A link to the past

Never in a million years did I think my two beautiful, wonderful daughters would follow in my clunky size 11, triple EEE footsteps. And if I had my druthers they wouldn't have.

But life can be surprising. In bad, and in good ways. 

I thought for sure my eldest, with a degree in Public Health from the very esteemed University of Washington would be a nurse. Or a Physician's Assistant. Or, if she hadn't been sidetracked by so many Kardashian adventures, a full-fledged doctor.

I was equally confident that my youngest, whose cup runneth over with imagination (and sometimes, worldly angst), would fall in love with a keyboard and make with the clicking and clacking. Preferably not in the field of advertising.

And maybe, since they're both very young, fate will have other ideas in store.

But for now, they're both in the biz. On the production side of things. 

I suppose it's not bad. After all, had they fallen into chartered accountancy or law or any number of other fields for which I was woefully unequipped, I would be miserably unable to assist them. 

To that end, last week one of the girls asked if I knew a particular vendor. Know them? Hell, twenty years ago we stuffed their gills with money from our Earthlink client.

That sent me scurrying in a fit of nostalgia to YouTube to track down some work from my inglorious past. In the couple of years my partner John Shirley and I were creatively managing the Earthlink account we managed to churn out a dozen or more commercials. 

I couldn't find most of them, but did locate these two for your viewing pleasure. Oddly, enough, the internet issues addressed here are still issues that are concerning in 2023: privacy and data harvesting.

In fact, the astute observer will notice these commercials are eerily similar to new spots from Internet providers and Big Tech. And with the advent of AI are even more critical.

You can view the work here:

I was also able to find another spot, directed by the great Michel Gondry on what could have been the most boring shoot I've ever been on. A 30 second spot with a cast of more than 100 actors. All shot 5-10 frames at a time. 

"Wake me up when it's over, I'll be in the trailer, napping."

You can view that one here:

And now for some important accreditation. 

First, to my friend and former client, Claudia Caplan, who gave us free rein to do good work as long as it was strategic and smart. I like to think it was. Cory Mitchell and Valencia Gayles steered us through the Nincompoop Forest. And then there were the young creatives who wrote and and art directed the work including Chuck Monk, Jeff Maki, Margaret Keene, Raymond Hwang, and probably some others I don't remember. My apologies. 

Oh yeah, our producer Guia Iacomin makes a cameo as the woman on the street asking Harris if he'd like to know his future.

Not surprisingly, they've all gone on to do great things in and outside the business. I'm hoping my daughters follow in their footsteps as well.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2023


Today you're getting a bonus edition of Geezer Internet Influencer. 

I don't normally do this, but as of late, and out of necessity, or what I deem to be a necessity, I have been buying stuff lately.

You might say I'm in SKI mode. That is, Spend the Kid's Inheritance. 

I'm told this is a true phenomena. And it makes sense considering the alternatives. I can't take the money with me to the next life. Though my understanding is, because of my militant atheism, I'm going straight to the Hot Place. And if there's a bar, which one would assume there will be many, I'd like to have some cash on hand to tip appropriately. 

The other alternative is to leave the not-so-insignificant dough to my daughters, who might reverse course and decide they do want to get married. With my luck it will be with some Ralph Kramden-like, get rich quick schnook who will want to pour my lifetime's worth of hard earned $$$ into something like a Bungie Chord Repair Shop. Or Gonzo, a new corn-based crypto currency.

No, thank you.

So I splurged and bought myself the Shockz Bone Conduction Swim Headphones™. BTW, that's not me in the picture up above. I never wear a swim cap.

If you know anything about Bone Conduction (which seriously could be a title from Stormy Daniels long list of filmography) you know the headphone does NOT actually go in the ear. 

Here's a better look for the one curious reader who is still with me at this point....

I know that's counterintuitive. Particularly if one wants to hear music, especially while churning through the 80 degree water with what a biased Ms. Muse described as a "beautiful, graceful freestyle stroke." Nevertheless, I decided to give the Shockz a shot. 

I must acknowledge that my conspicuous consumption has risen lately, due in large part to Amazon's free return shipping. I believe Bezos is making a big mistake to start charging for this, but then I'm no billionaire. 

I'm an involuntary semi-retired word mangler wrestling with the idea of pulling the trigger on my SS benefits before the GOP snatches it and spends it on a useless 25 foot high brick wall just outside Yuma. 

My first mile in the pool with the Shockz was shockingly disappointing. The sound was bass-y and muddled. You know it's bad when you can't distinguish between a Mark Knopfler tune and one from Bruce Springsteen. Maybe, I thought, I'll keep it for my bike riding. The sound was perfect outside the water.

Then I went back and read the instructions (note to self: read the damn directions you dumbass) and discovered the headphones have two modes: Normal and Swimming. I also discovered that the headphones came with long, deep earplugs and that would reduce the sound of the bubbling and breathing and enhance the sound of Santana and Sonny Boy Williamson.

Turns out the devil is in the details. Because the next day -- my obsessive swimming addiction is returning to form --was incredible. 

I plopped my formerly fat ass in the pool. Set my headphones/MP3 player to Shuffle (another thing I discovered in the instruction manual) and sailed through 1825 yards without a hitch. Just me, my old man Speedo and 2000 of my favorite songs EQ'ed and played flawlessly. 

I was, and thanks to the Shockz Bone Induction Swim Headphones™, in heaven. 


Monday, April 17, 2023

Life's Good

The world at large has still not beaten a path to my sagacious doorstep with regard to what's worth buying and what is not. But if I've learned anything in my 65 years on this Earth it's that persistence is the key. And that my initial attempt to plug in a USB device will ALWAYS be the wrong one.

Today, in my foray into senior online influencing, I take on my biggest and most expensive purchase yet. I'm hoping when the folks at LG read this glowing homage to innovation, value and thoughtful human design, they will move my name to the top of the list of brand loyalists due free and unfettered access to their full line of home appliances and electronics.

But first.

Replacing a 27 year old KitchenAid with a bum compressor is not at all as easy as one might assume. For one thing the model we had barely fit into the space we had designed, which due to some last minute compliance with Culver City coding necessitated a soffit (above the fridge) for HVAC purposes.

I dutifully measured twice and scribbled the dimensions on a paper towel (Bounty or Brawny, more on that at a later date.) The nearby Best Buy had just what I wanted. French doors, check. Bottom freezer, check. Ice/water dispenser on the outside, check and check.

It's actually what Deb wanted, but like a schmuck I never got around to getting it for her.

I evacuated every last food item from the old refrigerator, including a jar of capers from 1989, to the spare fridge in the garage. And lived like a Bohemian for a few days. Last Tuesday the new unit arrived. It was even more exciting than Trump's indictment. 

But it was short-lived.

The delivery guys came in and measured. It was 36 inches wide at the top. As I knew it would be. However, due to settling and wood warping, the gap at the bottom was only 35.75 inches. 

I was crestfallen. 

Only to be more crestfallen when the delivery guy pulled the old KitchenAid out and discovered I would need a T-valve to accommodate the 2023 plumbing standards. So, not only were my Bohemian days going to be extended, I would have to hire a plumber -- always a dicey proposition -- to get in there and install in a T-valve. Whatever the hell that is.

I would've done it myself, but my plumbing experience is rather limited. Mostly it's about jamming an auger down my sometimes-reluctant toilet. BTW, the $75 auger was the smartest purchase I've EVER made. 

If you know, you know. If you don't, you don't want to. Just don't think too long or hard on my mighty fiber intake.

The next day, the plumbers arrived. And just as I didn't have the money for the hydraulic rehauling, they didn't have the parts. Another day of shuffling off to the garage for an apple. OK, for the special whiskey ice and tonic water.

I'll spare you the details, suffice it to say, another day and half a mortgage payment later, the kitchen was ready to welcome the new LG LRFDS2503, in all its glory. 

The water dispenser worked. The ice maker worked. Even the wifi connection worked, so I can control the temperature and even diagnose the LG's flawless operation from my iPhone. I don't know why I'd want to re-jigger the temperature via my iPhone, I only know that I can.

And that makes me smile.

I also have well-labeled compartments for my fruits, veggies and deli items. As well as numerous, deep pocket shelves on both doors for mustard, Chulala and horseradish, both red and white for when I want to remind myself of the bitter labors of my swarthy semitic ancestors, who could not only build pyramids but could also gerry rig a T-valve.

I know it's just a stainless steel box that's keeps my beer and raspberries and creamed herring cold. And I know I shouldn't get too excited about it. 

But damn, look at that thing. Just look at it!


Thursday, April 13, 2023

Success is on

At some point in my advertising career, I simply gave up. 

I traded in my ambition for the dream of financial security. The only portfolio I was interested in was the one I had squirreled away at Charles Schwab. I had neither the stomach nor the inclination to smile and explain to clients that bland, stupid, contrived advertising (the kind they wanted) was the riskiest.

That has not changed. But the ad landscape has.

The bite and smile spot has shape shifted into the pedantic and exceedingly clear email newsletter. The ear-worming jingle has been replaced by the omnipresent and exceedingly ignorable banner ad. And, as my friend George Tannenbaum often points out, when brands do decide to go on TV, there's too much fucking dancing!

A prime example of my vocational apathy took place about a dozen years ago, when I accepted a job as an interim Creative Director at DirecTV in El Segundo. For about half a year I spit out hundreds of crappy little flyer ads and digital knick knacks with gems like, "Spring in to Savings" and "Great tv is in full bloom."

Am I embarrassed? No more than the bursar's office at University at Washington and University of Colorado should be for sticking me with outrageous tuition bills.

Shit shoveling notwithstanding, you can imagine my delight when I came across the latest effort from DirecTV.  And my alma mater, Chiat/Day Los Angeles. 

If you haven't seen the new campaign featuring the Logan Roy facsimile as their Overly Direct (good branding) spokesperson, you can watch it here:

For starters, you've got to admire the casting. I'll watch anything starring Brian Cox, who was born just 94 miles away from my mother's birthplace.

He brings a certain gravitas to the screen that few actors can. In the same breath he also brings some seriously sly comedic chops. If you haven't seen him in Super Troopers, you should.

In this vignette driven spot, Brian shits on people who are still stuck with bad cable service, which could be the world's most redundant phrase. I'll never understand why clients shy away from showing the consumer pain points. That's the low hanging, but incredibly harvestable fruit. Moreover that's where the tension, and hence, the funny lies.

"Does it have to be so negative?" said the reluctant client.

"Yes. Yes, it does," replied the professional ad agency creative. 

I seem to have drifted off into a version of my past self. My apologies. 

In short, the new work from Chiat/Day is deliciously dark. It's good to see them returning to funny. I can only imagine the laughter on the set as they filmed the spot. I don't have to imagine, I know from experience. I also know that while the punchline in the final scene ("Fascinating") is pitch perfect, the crew would have been remiss if they had not recorded some alternate juicier takes. 

It's a shame we'll never see:

Brian Cox: Now, get outta here, the game's on.

MOM: But...we live here.

Brian Cox: Oh, Fuck Off!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The game is on

Memory is now officially jogged.

As documented on these digital pages, I've been spending a great deal of time decluttering my house and going over the accumulated detritus in my garage. While rummaging through the flat files and the  ancient remnants of my print work I came across this...

Not the best print ad John Shirley and I ever did, but it was for PlayStation and all their gaming ads were required to show game footage. On the plus side, the headline was a secret homage to The Simpsons. And in the late 90's, that's all that really mattered to us. 

That and bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

Little did I realize that the print ad was a significant clue. 

You see we had also produced a TV spot that went with the launch of the game. These days my cranium is clogged with more cobwebs than an overzealous Halloween home decorator. And there was no way I could ever remember that spot without the aid of this less-than-stellar print ad which revealed the long forgotten game title.

Bingo, bango, a click here and a clack there and I can now share a surprisingly high-resolution version of the commercial we shot with Director Doug Liman. It was for Omega Boost, a single person shooter game. Doug had just finished SWINGERS and GO, and was in preparation to shoot his first action movie with a character named Jason Bourne, maybe you've heard of him.

Pretty sure Doug was intent on beefing up his action film cred. On our dime. 

While reminiscing about this commercial and the long night shoot (I hate night shoots), John reminded me that at one point, Doug strapped himself into the Vomit Comet, and filmed our main character while holding a steadicam and pulling 4.7 G's.

That scene didn't make the cut. And was tossed in the can like so many half-eaten, midway hot dogs and color coated cotton candy.

You can view, or mock, the 25 year old fruits of our labor here:

And while neither John and I are embarrassed by these efforts, let's be forthright and completely honest. It doesn't hold a candle to this, my favorite all time gaming spot created by our former colleagues, the extremely talented Gary Pascoe and John Payne.

I still love this: case you're wondering, this JetMoto spot is how it's done. 


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Un minuto por favor

Last week, Ms. Muse and I found ourselves eating on the cheap. We stopped by Tacos Ensenada, her local taco shop and for less than 20 bucks had enough food in our possession to feed a small family of 8.

We hardly talked through dinner and mostly communicated with an assortment of mmmm's and more mmmm's. 

The food was good. 

It wasn't great.

And that brings me to my observation about Mexican food, which I will divulge at the risk of incurring some politically correct raised eyebrows. 

I've lived in Southern California for more than 40 years. Holy shit, I'm old. And have almost lost my status as an ex New Yorker. Although I still don't say "dude" or burn sage or surf Goofy Foot.

Quick aside, my youngest daughter recently moved to the Big Apple to experience life outside of LA. And to see if she can meet a nice Jewish boy and make me some grandbabies. Maybe that's my hope and not part of her plan.

In short, I've eaten a great deal of Mexican food. A lot less lately since I have a 31 inch waist and a slew of pants I aim to never replace.

In all that time, I've had bad Mexican food (I'm looking at you Taco Bell), and good Mexican food, but again, never great. 

Maybe it's the nature of the beast. Call me pedestrian but Mexican food is basically cheese, beans, rice, meat and tortillas, configured a thousand different ways until Domingo. 

Don't get me wrong, I've eaten at the best Mexican restaurants in the city, including my favorite, Paco's, famous for its appearance in the Tom Cruise movie, Jerry Macguire. 

I love Paco's. I love the homemade tortillas, the meaty (sometimes chewy) carne asada, the generously poured margaritas, and the always-changing though never-changing festive decorations. And while I always leave Paco's with a smile on my face and a Hindenburg's worth of gas in my belly, I never come away thinking, "Damn, that was great."

The funny thing is, nor do I want to.

I've been to Mexico as well as Spain, and sampled gourmet eateries. Never worked for me. In the way I don't ever want to go to a gourmet delicatessen. It felt too fancified. And actually detracted from the experience. 

I don't want my salsa painted on a dish as chefs like to do for some unknown reason. I don't want a dab of guacamole, I want a trowel full of it. And spare me the amus-bouche. Just plunk a plastic bowl of warm salty chips and some pickled carrots and onions in front of me and I'll leave a more than generous 20% tip. Throw in some intestine-scorching habaneros and I'll make it 22%.

For me, the best Mexican food is served from a cart. On the street. By a guy with a thick mustache (like mine) who assumes because of my limited Spanish speaking abilities that I am from Guatemala and not Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.

That's the beauty of Mexican food. It's authentic and simple people food.

It could be the one thing in life where good enough is good enough.


Monday, April 10, 2023

A gut punch

I hope you'll pardon the red squares on the photo above, but I'd like to steer clear of the Community Standards police on Linkedin, Facebook and even Twitter, though Elon's platform is annoyingly forgiving about hate speech. 

I've been in social media jail more times than Donald Trump has been called in for a deposition.

In actuality, the photo above is not a photo. 

It's a screen grab from commercial created by my dear friend, Mike Folino and his partner, Lu Romero. It's one a few produced for the Stand Up to Jewish Hate campaign that made the little blue square famous just a few weeks ago.

All the spots land, but this one in particular landed hard. And brought back painful memories of the first time in my life that I was confronted with antisemitism. 

I had spent my childhood days in the Bronx, where you couldn't throw a matzo ball without hitting a bagel shop or a cranky old man sending his cold soup back to the kitchen.

Same went for Jackson Heights and later Flushing, Queens, where every kid in my classroom had a name that ended in Berg, Stein, or both. I suspect Sarah Silverman, the self-deprecating comedian of similar Hebraic Seasonings, grew up in the vicinity as well.

And then when I was 12 years old, we moved to the burbs. 

Suffern, NY, to be precise. 

A town that was seemingly only familiar with one particular soft-spoken Jew. The one seen on the 3000 crucifixions in every church on every corner of this distinctively gentile hamlet. Suffice it to say, we were not exactly welcomed with that "love thy neighbor" warmth, as depicted in Bedford Falls. 

No one painted a swastika on our garage door, but there was plenty of name calling, harassment and fisticuffs-a-flying. 

On one memorable occasion, my oversized nose got bloodied. But I'm happy to say so did the undersized piggish nose of my intellectually challenged opponent. Oh Gosh, I wish I could remember his name and his fat fuck, twin brother. 

We were both called into the principal's office as well as our respective fathers. In a Come-to-Jesus moment we all agreed there would be no more taunting. 

And more importantly, no more violence.

However, on the car ride home, my father turned to me and said, quite defiantly, "I don't care what that half-wit principal says. If that kid, or his fat fuck twin brother, ever calls you a Dirty Jew again, I want you to haul off and punch him in the face." 

That was my father through and through. I was more than happy to oblige.

Sadly, we have not progressed too far in the fifty years hence. This country still has a lot of work to do. On multiple fronts.

Without further ado, here is the must-see spot you must see:

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Photo Funnies (apologies to National Lampoon)

It's Thursday. You know what that means, right?

It's Photo Funnies Day, my standby blog post when I draw a blank on what to write or when I'm still in a Joy Coma from this week's earlier Trump arrested Schadenfreude. God that was sweet.

Lately, as a Man of Semi-Leisure, I've been trying to get my house in order. In addition to the decluttering, cleaning out the garage (which has produced many goodies) and getting to stuff that just needed to be getted to. 

Like my couch cushions. They're lumpy, misshapen and perhaps not so hospital clean. So I attempted to remove the covers...

That's the down from ONE pillow. 
I don't know how many Canadian geese gave up their coats for my benefit,
but apparently Karma has come around.

Found this amongst all the crap in my house.
It's a See's Candies Barbie. 
File this under, "Sales Rise when you Merchandise."

I also uncovered this photo of me and my brother.
A rare moment of camaraderie when we weren't fighting, 
punching or kicking each other off a bunk bed and causing the loss
of 4 permanent front teeth. (mine)

Fast forward 15 years or so and I was dressed as a greaser
for our office Halloween party. 
Those are partial dentures in my mouth.

Not to indulge in too much nostalgia,
that's Ricardo Montleban and me 
on the set of a Chrysler Plymouth commercial.
(I'm the one on the right)

When I walk around the neighborhood I like to snap shots of stuff I see.
Don't ask why but I have an obsession with
sidewalk transformer boxes and the people art they collect.

I also spotted this.
It's the same forklift I used to drive
when I worked in a warehouse in Compton
and was the only worker without a felony.

Sometimes I'm in Ms. Muse's neighborhood, 
the bucolic Sierra Madre, whose residents are big on 
unusual lawn decorations.

Spotted this beauty, a 1969 Blue Beetle. The same car driven by
Bob Bergquist, my friend for more than 53 years.
The heater on the passenger floorboard could not be turned off.
A blessing in the winter, not so much in the summer.

Speaking of automobiles, Sierra Madre puts on a good car show.
I love when the owners don't take it too seriously
and exhibit an odd sense of humor.

While I had enough to fill a big brown dumpster with stuff,
I could not part with my old records, so I brought them in.
And made good use of an old armoire. 
Now Playing: Santana's Abraxas.

I also located my Slapshot Jesus statue. 
Please no letters.
It's not heresy, it's sold by

Finally, here's a shot of the cleaned out garage.
Everything is in crates. Everything is labeled.
Everything is in order.
At least for 6 months.


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

No bueno

My foray into the world of Senior Influencing would not be complete if I didn't take this opportunity to bring up The Beach. Not the beach that is just three miles from my doorstep. I have nothing but love for the vast Pacific Ocean which, compliments of the atmospheric river, has so generously brought us one of the wettest winters in Southern California history. 

Today I'd like to talk about the Pacific's smaller and less scenic cousin, the Atlantic.

Years ago, 2015, to be exact, before we sent our youngest daughter off to college, we decided a family vacation was in order. As it turned out it would be our last vacation as a foursome. And it was not without its issues. 

Namely, ironically, because of The Beach.

We had booked two rooms at this luxury resort in Tulum. For those of you who slept through geography, that's on the Yucatan Peninsula or what the travel agents so quaintly refer to as the Mayan Riviera. It's just south of Cancun, you know, where Senator Ted Cruz runs to when there's an energy emergency in Texas.

Make no mistake, the hotel (again, named The Beach) is beautiful. The picture above was shot just 50 feet from the beachside restaurant that is more than happy to sell you an $18 mojito using exclusive rum that was hand squeezed from...oh, whatever it is they squeeze rum from.

But look closely at the photo and see if you spot what turned our seemingly idyllic vacation into a stinky, smelly nightmare. 

Hint: Sargassum.

If you've never heard that word, I would not hold that against you. I hadn't heard it either until I had shelled out a shit ton of money and traveled 4000 miles to came face to face with it. 

If you hadn't guessed or done a quick Google search, Sargassum is seaweed. Every beach in the world has seaweed, but, because of climate change (yes, it's real and not some figment of the Leftist, radical commie imagination), the south Atlantic is smothered in Sargassum. And in 2015 it lined the entire Yucatan Peninsula from its most northern tip to southern Belize. 

Everywhere you looked, there was Sargassum. 

Not just a sight that created sore eyes, but also one that would do a number on the nostrils. I don't wish to get too graphic, but it was if the Atlantic had gone boom boom and left its used toilet paper all over the sand.

This didn't just happen overnight. And so it would have been nice if the hotel, again, named The Beach, had told us in advance that The Beach was off limits. Or even if we could have swapped out our water-adjacent beachfront rooms for the less expensive, but now more desirable rooms, away from the ocean and facing the dreaded garden.

The proprietors of the hotel didn't see it that way. Nor, because the hotel was practically empty and they needed the revenue, were they willing to offer us any discount. Nor did they assist me in any way when I couldn't extract much needed cash from the local banks. My Spanish is serviceable, but the ATMs were not.

You may be thinking, "this happened 8 years ago, why are you writing about it now?" And you'd probably be right to doubt my sanity on this matter. But the truth is, it still feels like an angry polyp I need excised from my body. 

And if my bitch about The Beach can dissuade one R17 reader from booking a reservation at this smelly inhospitable dump I will have earned a mojito. 

Even an $18 one.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The Story of Stormy

The year is 2123.

It's 10:40 AM

Mr. K's 11th Grade American History class is about to start. The students are still groggy from the previous night's festivities and misguided genital fumbling.

Mr. K: Let's open our books to page 138. We're going to look back at the country's 45th President, Donald J. Trump, who was the first president to be indicted on criminal charges in March 2023. Anybody recall the nature of his offenses?


Mr. K.: Anybody?...Yes, you Student 49J@#48

49J@#48: Didn't he get in trouble for something to do with a porn star?

SFX: Chairs scraping the floor as many of the boys in class have sprung to attention.

49J@#48: Wasn't her name Story Daniels?

Mr. K: Stormy. That's right. 

49J@#48: He paid her money so she wouldn't talk about him slipping her baloney pony...their sexual affair.

SFX: More chairs, more scraping.

Mr. K: Yes you, student 27%^93

27%^93: I remember her, my dad kept holograms of her "work" in his Confibulator. She was the biggest porn star of her time. 

Mr. K: Let's get back to the president...

27%^93:...She was in Pussy Sweat, Sexbots, Programmed for Pleasure and Porking with Pride 2.

Student 63#*749 chimes in from the back of the class.

63#*749: My dad had the whole Porking With Pride series. All the way up to Porking With Pride 47.

27%^93: Personally, I didn't think the later work in the Porking With Pride franchise held up to the early versions. 

87@1902: I agree with 27%^93, I'll be doing an internship at USC's film school in the fall and found the early Porking With Pride work had much more cinematic flair and production value.

63#*749: You gotta give a lot of the credit to Stormy. She broke new ground. I did a term paper on her last year: Stormy Daniels, She Saved Porn & She Saved America.

Mr. K is exasperated.

Mr. K: OK, we're gonna stream a video of the court proceedings...

63#*749: Is there any Porking With Pride?

Mr. K: No.

SFX: Students groaning


Monday, April 3, 2023


OMG, the new Pepsi logo is here!

I don't know how things are in your industry, whether it be healthcare, finance, education or big tech, but in the marketing world, everyone is buzzing, and not just from the caffeine. 

There's hair-on-fire excitement everywhere you look, from the mahoggany-festooned C-suite boardrooms to the millions of Zoom/Teams/Skype meetings that never seem to end because Chad has one more question.

Pepsi is on people's lips.

OK, let's be honest, it's not. I don't know if the folks at Pepsi are just plain dumb or if they're a victim of news cycle misfortune. The introduction of their new logo has all the pop of a half-drunken can of Diet Pepsi inadvertently left behind a garage refrigerator from 2007. 

They got upstaged. 

Not by the mass school shooting in Nashville and the murder of three young children. Thanks to 250 million ammosexuals and gun fetishists, that's hardly news anymore. 

On top of that there was the kerfuffle over the I (Heart) NY redeaux. I know purists and old timey art directors are pining for the original iteration, but personally if more than three of my cerebral axions concerned themselves with this, it would be three axioms too many.

And of course, there was the news of the first (though more are sure to come) criminal indictment of a US president, you know if we're forced to call him that.

The lead balloon failure of the new logo stands in stark contrast to the previous Pepsi Logo reinvention. You may recall that in 2008 or 2009, I'm sketchy on the dates, the Pepsi brain trust spent $18.9 billion on a logo refresh mission that had more moving parts and granular examination than Oppenheimer's Manhattan Project.

Do not doubt me on this. See for yourself and checkout this amazing pdf that details all the critical details

They left no stone unturned. Nor did they bother to run the document through anyone's Bullshit Meter.

It's still amazing to me that multinational corporations, with billions in market cap, can be so blindsided and distracted by such nonsense. When, and I may be biased here, they could have applied their marketing dollars to hire the best and brightest copywriters in the land to reverse their misfortune, instead of chiseling them down on their already paltry day rates. 

What effect will the new red, white and blue can have on the Pepsi-resistant drinkers of brown, sugary, fizzy water? I suspect, NONE.

To wit:

CUSTOMER: ...and I'll have a Diet Coke.

WAITRESS: We don't have Coke, is Pepsi OK?

CUSTOMER: Nah, just water then.


At the urging of my friend Dana Markee, I tried the new Bard AI machine and asked it to write a blog post about today's topic. I like to think I emerged the victor in these blog posting Cola Wars, you tell me...