Wednesday, May 31, 2023

No harkening back

There's a 50% chance many of you don't recognize this guy. Those that do will already have a frown on their face, because this is a man who has made very few friends in the ad industry. And spent the majority of his life making money off the ad industry. 

Hoarding. Grabbing. And stuffing his tiny 34 Regular suit great wads of cash.

Notice I said 'off' the industry. Not IN the industry. Because this useless tool has never made an ad in his life. Nor has he had a hand in anything remotely creative. Or inspiring. Or altruistic. Sir (and I use that word lightly) Martin Sorrell is a bean counter, whose sole interest is to count the beans in his personal account and grow it exponentially.

All, I might add, at the expense of you, and I, and the sad lot of worker bees who are dashing for the door before the lights are turned out and it all falls into the un-sentient hands of ChatGPT.

But before that happens, Marty, would have us all to go back into the office. 

When I say 'us' I use that in the collective, swirling-my-arms-around-in-a-meaningful-gesture kind of way. Because I'm not going anywhere. I'm semi-retired and have better things to do than cranking out landing page copy. Or urgently urgent CTAs. Or snappy subject lines about swollen testicles for emails no one wants, or ever, reads. 

How many of you would like to wake up tomorrow and not have an email box stuffed jelly tight with spam from AppleBees to Zentra, makers of fine CBD gummies guaranteed to make you last 7 hours in bed? 

I could do a joke about "lasting" 7 hours but choose to take the high road. You know, the road Marty has never seen. And not just because the hedges exceed 5 feet in height.

I don't know enough about the WFH v. Return to Office issue to speak with any authority. I do know that I loved working from my den, drinking my own coffee, using my own bathroom and jumping on my Peloton whenever I wanted to. Can't begin to tell you how many completely useless one hour all hands marketing presentations I sat through, while burning up hundreds of calories with Sam Yo. Or Kendall Toole.

But I do know the "decline and fall" has little to do about where the work gets done and much more about the lack of creativity in the work that does get done. 

Moreover, I would posit the lack of creativity is driven by greedy holding companies and nickel-squeezing CEOs who bottom line every challenge to make sure whatever money is made, is sent upstairs to the mahogany C-suites.

I still can't get the taste of shit out of my mouth, when in 2004, after 2 years at Y&R, I had the temerity to ask for a raise but was told the company was tightening its belt. That was the very same day Adweek published a story about how Sir Marty (Chairman of the Holding Company that held Y&R) cashed in and signed a 5 year contract worth $110 million.

Martin doesn't know me from Adam. But if he continues to pepper social media with his thinly-veiled, greed-driven postulations, I'm going to go all medieval on his pint-sized bullcockery and make sure he does.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Walking the Walk

It is incumbent upon the Man of Semi-Leisure to stay busy. Particularly one who is also widowed. It would be far too easy to wallow in self pity, pre-empt Day Drinking with Morning Drinking and fall into some kind of sloppy Bukowskian dystopia.

That's not for me.

My current vice is exercise. I've always felt like an athlete but never lived like one. Now, with time on my hand, a Peloton in my daughter's old bedroom, a clean pool within 7 minutes of my front doorstep, and a pair of barely broken in hiking shoes at my disposal, I plan to go all Bruce Jenner on myself.

Well, not all.

To that end, I thought, why not make good use of the time I've set aside for walking and put this shrinking torso to good use by marching with the writers up the street at Sony Studios. And so, with nobody to tell me, "What are you crazy Rich, you can't just stroll up to one of their pop up tents, grab a sign and pretend you're in the Writer's Guild?"

Fast cut to:

The astute reader will notice the words on the sign coincidentally match up with one of my suggestions, in a post I had earlier on the topic. Let's be honest, the Ray Liotta line from Goodfellas was some low-hanging fruit. Let's also be candid and note that writers make terrible art directors.

For a group of professionals who make a living in the communicative arts, writers have no idea how to achieve readability. It's almost as if they don't want their disgruntled bon mots to be noticed.

Similarly, it was sad to see the collection of signs that were NOT witty or funny or even worthy of a Writer's Strike. "UNION! STRONG", "Corporate Greed Sucks" and "Bite Me, Netflix".


No offense, but I think the Teamsters could do better. 

This morning I go back out there on the line. My Bolshevik grandmother from the Litvak area of Belarus, who used to organize labor marches on behalf of the Garment Workers Local 451 in the Bronx, would be proud. 

And so would all the art directors I've ever worked with, for making my headline excessively readable.

PS. Originally 'Angry' was 'Unsafe', but that wouldn't fit on the sign. 

PSS. There's nothing better than making other writers laugh.

UPDATE: I went out there late yesterday with another handmade original...

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Work from the Never Produced File

When you've been in the business as long as I have, you have the opportunity to participate in many new business pitches. Occasionally, you even get to pitch the same piece of business more than once.

My memory is a little fuzzy, but I think I pitched Pizza Hut about 38 times. 

Then again, given they're proclivity for agency hopping and brilliant pizza communications strategy (see Figure A.) who hasn't.

Figure A.

I've also had the pleasure of pitching Barnes and Noble twice. Once, in the pre-Bezos era, before brick and mortar became sick and mortal. 

And later when B&N found itself competing against Amazon in strip malls for the coffee clatch crowd who found the online book buying experience as rewarding as buying a jug of cleaning vinegar.

It was during the second pitch that we, my partner Jean Robaire and I, came up with a campaign that made  us happy, but made the hopeful agency nervous and anxious about their decision to book us in the first place. 

We had been told that B&N had invested significant amounts of money in their lounging facilities. That is, they brought in fancy furniture, big comfy chairs, barristas, free snacks, anything and everything to put the  B&N customer at ease. And hopefully spend more time in their stores. 

Ideally, whipping out their credit card or iPhones to make all kinds of impulse purchases. Of course you need a schpelunking reading-light headband. How have you survived this long without one?

I suppose we could've prepared scripts and mood boards of smiling happy people splayed out on big leather couches, gobbling up Faulkner and some fresh baked blueberry muffins. But we chose to go a different route and focused our attention on Jenny and Jeff, two Barnes and Noble staffers who just wanted to close up shop at 9 o'clock and go home.

But they couldn't.

Because the returning loyal B&N customers would never leave. 

They would linger, browse, kibbitz and make themselves "at home" (as the brief suggested) but they would never look up at the clock, or the dimming lights, and get the hint to am-scray. Our proposed tagline:

Barnes & Noble
At some point, you have to leave.

You could describe it as the Maytag Repairman approach. (You kids will have to look that up.)

I'm not sure if our work ever made it into the pitch. Nor am I convinced Barnes & Noble would've had the courage to put the necessary money behind prematurely curmudgeonly Jenny & Jeff.

I am positive however, that had we the opportunity to execute and produce the work as presented, including some obligatory bite/smile/browse footage, it would've been more memorable than anything B&N did produce. 

But just as bacon has taken a back seat to crust in Pizza Hut's Bacon Stuffed Crust Pizza, memorability did not seem all that important to Barnes & Noble. 

Or anyone else, these days.


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

A tribute to Minneapolis

It took me a while to start understanding this advertising thing. Sad to say, but I paid a lot and learned very little of value at Syracuse University, one of the premier institutions of higher learning when it comes to the Communication Arts. 

Or so I'm told.

My real education came elsewhere.

Last week, someone had posted an homage to Tom Lichtenheld, one of the many talented art directors at Fallon McElligot in the 1980's. I recognized his name from the many years I studied, and held in awe, the work of that great agency. Most notably the print. Most specifically, the glorious headlines.

In retrospect, I can now see that while my alma mater, Chiat/Day and our neighbors to the north, Wieden Kennedy, were doing the sexier, flashier TV work, it was Fallon in Minneapolis, that carried the torch of outstanding print done by DDB in the 60's.

That was the kind of work I wanted to do. And for good reason. 

TV was expensive. Meaning, there were always too many eyes on every project. Those watchful eyes were often attached to faces, that also had mouths. And to be quite frank, I wasn't much interested in creative by committee. I'm still that way. Even in my semi-retirement. 

One of the great campaigns to come from Fallon during that era, was the business to business campaign for Rolling Stone magazine. Not only did it win a ton of awards it earned a place in pop culture and the Perception/Reality device became as ubiquitous as "Got Milk?"

In that grateful spirit, I offer my own homage. 

Inspired by the previous work of Fallon McElligicott and a tip of the hat to Nick Adams, the world's most pathetic Trump fanboy/sycophant, who calls himself an Alpha Male (a self-defeating proposition) and who regularly posts doctored images of the object of his deification. 

I offer a sobering counterpoint.


If anyone has TDS -- Trump Derangement Syndrome -- I'd suggest it's the delusional folks with the Red Golf caps. 

They'd be funny. If they also weren't dangerous.

Monday, May 22, 2023


There's been a lot of chatter about the Patriarchy lately. Or maybe I'm hearing it all the time because I'm the father of two vocal and opinionated young daughters. Shocking, right? 

What you don't hear much of is the counterpoint. I'm talking about The Matriarchy. You know it's significant when it's preceded by the word THE. Any Buckeye grad will tell you that. Indeed, I learned it from some advertising done years ago by my friend John Hage. 

Moreover it was confirmed by Ms. Muse who let me in on the little secret and informed me the official nomenclature is The Matriarchal Industrial Complex. And their sole mission is to counter the omnipresent Patriarchy, with a sneaky effort via a series of micro, micro-aggressions, almost too subtle to notice,  to take men, and all of mankind, down a peg or two. 

Which, let's be honest, is not all that difficult.

If you've ever seen me trying to remove and wash a king size duvet cover, and then spend an entire afternoon trying to put it back on, you know it's working.

Add to that, the whole top sheet/no top sheet kerfuffle, and you begin to see the far-reaching impact the MIC. But their devious ploys goes way beyond the cleaning, maintenance and proper folding of bed linens. 

Case in point: Zip lock bags. 

It can't just be me.

I see the tongue and groove injection-molded onto the top of expensive sandwich bags and I begin to sweat. At one time, these bags only required a simple fold. But now, and I place the blame squarely in the knowing hands of the MIC, apparently I must read an owner's manual -- like I or any other man is going to read an owner's manual or follow the instructions -- to achieve the hermitic seal I had been promised. 

I am convinced there's a secret locking code. And furthermore, I'm convinced that code was distributed to womankind on January 21, 2017 -- the day of the Global Pink Pussy Hat Protest.  

This seemingly minor annoyance was magnified tenfold when I attempted to store clothing in some hefty size vacuum locked bags. Turns out that if the bags are not sealed, in the yard-long seam at the top, the sucking of air will not properly proceed. Resulting in a massive time suck, which robbed me of vital hours on the Internet to school unschoolable Red Hats.

Look around and you'll begin to see the insidious ways The Matriarchal Industrial Complex goes about their surreptitious business of man-shaming. 

I'll leave you with this: Tik Tok.

Fearmongers will tell you it's a data stealing scheme of the CCP. I think it's more dastardly than that. Do you suppose it's a mistake or a coincidence that the majority of the 13-14 second clips feature dancing? I don't. 

Furthermore, have you noticed the majority of the participants are women? I did.

Often clawing at their boyfriends/husbands/significant others with significant two left feet and involuntary overbite to get out there and dance.

I don't dance.

I can't dance.

And if you're a fella reading this, I'm betting you can't dance either. It's all part of their plan.

You hear a lot about the Glass Ceiling, but does anyone want to talk about the pitfalls out there on that  thoroughly-humiliating Glass Dance Floor? 

Friday, May 19, 2023

In the guest seat

As the 9 regular readers of Roundseventeen know, I don't usually post on Fridays. After a grueling week of semi-retirement, afternoon napping and duvet cover-washing, I'm just plain bushed. But this Friday is different. 

And I'll tell you why. 

Last week, I had the pleasure of going to a graduation party for a USC student who works with Ms. Muse. It was at the nearby Shay Hotel. And since I hadn't seen the latest results of the Culver City gentrification I was naturally eager to attend.

It was there, between my 2nd and 3rd Bloody Mary -- I mentioned I was semi-retired -- that I met John Michelman, a soft spoken 85 year old man who happened to be the grandfather of Rachel, the aforementioned graduate. In addition to being mishbuchah, John is an accomplished scientist from Harvard with an abiding interest in the world of writing.

He told me he had written a short essay on the value of Surface Tension as it is applied to airport public facilities. Being scatologically-inclined, I told him to send it to me and I'd "publish" it here on R17. 

In the spirit of sharing this platform (see my story on David Sedaris sharing the stage with other writers) and encouraging anyone willing to pound the keyboard, I bring you John's tale of the reluctant ass gasket.



The year was 1985.  I am at a very busy Atlanta airport.  

After eating a Big Mac, fries for lunch, an untimely urge arrived.  It was not to be ignored.  

I headed to the men’s bathroom to attend to Nature's Call.  

After entering an empty stall, I shut the door, closed the latch, hung up my suit coat (I was on a business call that day) checked the TP supply and dropped my pants and Jockey tidy whitey underwear to my ankles.  

This is when the disaster happened.  

I tried to extract a super thin tissue toilet seat cover from a full box affixed to the stall wall.  There is no way this could be done without sufficiently tearing it to a totally unusable state.  

Attempt number two had a similar result.  Remember I was much too ready!!  

Attempt number three took several minutes, but I was successful at having a useable cover.  At this point I pondered, as I have in the past, over the orientation of the tissue on the toilet seat - flap in front or flap in the rear and was it gender related.  I laughed and decided, who gives a you know what?  


I carefully placed the third toilet seat cover on the toilet seat itself and before I could get my butt on it, with a loud WOOSH, it was sucked into the toilet and flushed away.  That’s when I started to get really angry.   

The only way to take care of what I had come to do in the first place was to out-smart (as a highly-trained scientist) this situation. 

I carefully extracted a new toilet seat cover, opened the stall door, ever so slightly to see if anyone else was in the bathroom.  With my pants and underwear (with a strong elastic band) at my ankles restricting my stride to about 8 inches, and the toilet seat cover with me, I scooted very slowly across the room to the closest sink praying to myself that no customer would come in.  I then wet both hands and slapped water on both butt cheeks, pasted the toilet seat cover to my bare rear end, scooted back to the toilet and sat down on it like a gentleman and couldn’t stop chuckling.  

What if someone saw me? What if they had a camera? Even worse, what if it was the cops?  

No one came. I had defeated a catastrophe with ingenuity and this story is imbedded in my mind forever, as crappy as it is.  

Agnes Pockels would be proud.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Where does the time go?

You would think that as a MOSL (Man of Semi-Leisure), who has involuntarily joined the ranks of the retired, I'd have nothing but time on my hands. I've come to discover it doesn't work that way. 

In fact, it seems I have less time to do in a day what needs to be done in a day. Particularly given my self imposed need to exercise between 2-3 hours between waking up and going to sleep.

It's hard out here for a gimp.

It's even harder to get all my reading done. 

Last week, I completed The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka. I bought the book on impulse while strolling about the Village Well, Culver City's own private book store. Just half a block away from our own private boutique-y weed shop, where one can purchase nuclear-powered strains that yield fits of laughter, giggles and ideas that are not remembered the next day.

Never let anyone tell you you can't judge a book by its cover. Having re-entered the pool as of late, I was sold on The Swimmers before I even cracked it open for a sneak peak. Same with Why We Swim, a book recommended by my friend and former colleague Mark, who assiduously asserts, without cause, that "I'm a racist." (I'm a curmudgeon, but I'm not a racist)

And now I am back to reading Spitting Chiclets, the second in a trilogy of books written by my friend and former colleague Cameron Day, who has never once called me a racist. 

Like every author I know, Cam wanted me to review his book. Which I'm more than happy to do. And not just because my name is credited in the back on pages 213 and 214. 

Reviews equal digital ink. 

Digital ink equals algorithm hits. 

Algorithms hits equals sales. 

Though I know from experience there's not a shitload of money to be made in book publishing. Nor, sadly, as this Advertising Survival Guide points out, is there a shitload of money to be made in advertising. Anymore. A cursory look through today's Help Wanted ads will verify that. I was shocked to discover that a GCD in 2023 literally earns 1/3 of the salary I was commanding as a GCD 20 years ago. 

And I sucked at it.

Nevertheless, if you should be in the industry, and want to succeed in the industry, and want to survive in the industry -- one that is fraught with politics, incompetence and enough ego to fill the Rose Bowl -- you owe it to yourself to read Spittin' Chiclets.

Many of Cam's stories are mirror-like images of my stories. And many of those stories are likely to be repeated by today's crop of cynical clickers and clackers and art directors who can't spell. All of whom would benefit from not making the same mistakes we did. And navigating their way while preserving their integrity and sanity all the way to the finish line.

Where, hopefully, they can exit this crazy business on their own terms. 

Get the book, read the book, live the book.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get to Mr. Jeffrey Asch, who has gracefully sent me a copy of his new book, which I promise to read and review. 

After I get the hutch in the dining room cleaned out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Robots, spam, and happy cows.

Got an email the other day. Apparently someone from my distant past saw my profile and wanted to chat more. 


Maybe they were interested in buying my 1966 Plymouth Valiant with the cracked rear windshield, compliments of Johnny C. 

Or were wondering if I had found their WalkMan™. Oh who am I kidding, the WalkMan™ wouldn't hit the shelves until a good ten years after I graduated high school.

In other words, I'm old. The Walkman is old. is old. Anything old is invariably going to be replaced with something new. Particularly if there's legal tender involved.

This got me thinking. Always a dangerous proposition.

If you were to buy a new car today, would you spring for the $3000 optional NAV system. Actually, I'm not sure if NAV systems are even offered anymore. Maybe Infiniti, a company with its head on backwards is still selling them, but who's buying? Even stupider, who's buying Infiniti's?

Just as the Walkman was replaced by the iPod, which was then replaced by the iPhone, that fancy schmancy dashboard NAV systems with its yearly $300 map updates, have been replaced by Apple CarPlay. Or Google Maps with turn-by-turn voice navigation compliments of Siri. 

Did you know you can change Siri's voice and have it spoken it to you in various accents? I may not be politically correct on this matter, but I have chosen the Indian voice. Perhaps because I love Indian food. Perhaps because I am fascinated by Peloton's scenic rides throughout the Indian countryside. It is a beautiful country. Or perhaps because I still count Peter Sellers in The Party as one of my all time favorite movies

The onslaught of technology continues to gather steam like a Trump boat parade over Niagra Falls.

Even jobs once thought to be the domain of humans are falling like so many seditiuous J6 conspiracists. In days of yore, for example, cows, which are generally much cleaner than pigs and therefore on God's acceptable dining menu, would be lovingly washed by farm hands. 

Not anymore...  

See for yourself:

I could even argue that I too was replaced by technology since my previous job required me to write Subject Lines, Pre-Headers and anodyne, useless, pun-laden newsletter copy that could easily have been written by ChatGPT. 

Why pay me, when an open source application can spit out perfectly serviceable, easily ignorable, spammy drivel and never ever run the risk of mentioning "swollen testicles" or "10 lbs. babies" or "Brazilian Bum Bum Cream?"  All, by the way, offenses that made someone in HR put yours truly, on The List.

I'm afraid the striking writers up the street at Sony Studios, the ones mentioned in Monday's blog post, are in for a rude awakening. 

If next generation AI can spit out scripts that are indistinguishable from the ones currently being incubated by studio heads, focus groups and liaisons from Heritage Foundation, why bother with these pesky people who get paid?

Writers, who were once at the bottom of Hollywood's totem pole, may soon find themselves off the totem pole completely. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

My recent de-platforming


In the spirit of AA, let me state from the onset, "I am a Social Media Recidivist."

I have been in Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin jail more times than I like to recall. I've even been thrown into digital re-education school for writing on one platform, about being jailed on another. 

My words are that toxic.

All of this is the price I pay for having strong opinions and articulating (though not very diplomatically) my strong and occasionally uninformed opinions. I have no doubt it will happen again. Though I will be more vigilant in my attempts at self-editing. It's made all the more difficult because sensitivities on both sides of the aisle are sky high.

Considering this, I will no longer call people of different political stripes any type of derogatory names:

A. Because it's weak, though deeply satisfying. Even I will admit that a cheap shot is a cheap shot. 

B. Because I've run out of good three syllable insults that trip off the tongue in such a pleasing rhythmic way. (Google: Shakespearean Insults) 

C. Because those names are flagged immediately by AI and result in longer and longer jail sentences, including the possibility of PERMANENT removal. Don't let anyone dissuade you of the notion of a Permanent Record.

Even when I try to do a work around and force my brain to be snarky without being snarky, I have landed in hot, malarial prison water.

When the good folks at Linkedin flagged me last week for quite the innocuous remark, I was in danger of forever losing my platform and a conduit to this blog, which now proudly boasts 9 faithful readers, including Ms. Muse.

I'm glad to have been reinstated on LI, but probably could've survived. 

I'm semi-retired now. And it's not like I can compete with today's young copywriters who are willing to work for $35/hour and the promise of foosball and free microwavable popcorn. 

Nor are clients or ad agencies, particularly those with automotive accounts clamoring to get me on their next car launch. And that includes Infiniti, whose work is so dreadful and cliched that even ChatGPT refused to work on their advertising and told them, "No thanks, you guys have Four I's and no vision." (If I may quote a former colleague who was equally uninspired by their marketing Insipidity)

To summarize, maybe I'll spring for one of those mobile mindfulness apps. And resist the urge to snap back at those with failing synapse connections. In the words of Ali G., "I need to check myself before I wreck myself."

Monday, May 15, 2023


For all intents and purposes I should not be writing today's post. Or any other posts for that matter until my creative brethren up the street at Sony Studios get paid what they are due. 

I should be on strike. And walking the picket lines alongside the 30 and 40 year old clicker and clackers who put so much good television on the air and so many mediocre Marvel superheroes up on the silver screen. 

I might even try to join them if they'll allow me to carry a sign. 

Sadly I'm not a full fledged member of the Guild. I was an associate member for a while (I think) but if memory serves -- and often it doesn't -- I didn't have enough credits/points to be eligible for full status in their little club. Faithful readers of R17 know my relationship with clubs and club membership is tenuous at best. 

I spent years attempting to get into the Illuminatti. Even writing the word, Illuminati, will now trigger a flood of scammy invitations.  And who can forget the many emails I sent back and forth in my failed attempts to join the prestigious Mara Lago Country Club.

This, however is different. 

Granted, TV and film writers have always looked down their noses at those of us who pimped our ability to put words on a page, to the highest and often stupidest corporate bidder. Advertising and ad people have always been the poor stepchild in the entertainment industry. Perhaps rightfully so, since apart from those wonderful Ozampic commercials, there is very little in the way of entertainment in any advertising these days.

Nevertheless I feel a certain kinship to the young writers who were and still are willing to sit in a writer's room until two in the morning, eating Whoppers and cold onion rings, and figuring out the next beat or the next snarky snippet of dialogue to emerge from the mouth of Young Sheldon. That's not an easy gig.

Plus, there's the signs. 

You give a writer a blank slate, a marker pen and an opportunity to spew some red hot anger towards the overpaid, under-talented Man and you're gonna get some gold (see handwritten sign above and Google for more.)

Naturally, I thought I'd try my hand at this...

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Kids, don't do this

This is the first time you've ever seen this ad for Whole Foods Market. That's because it never ran. It, and two others were part of a campaign Jean Robaire and I came up with for a new business pitch. The agency never used our work. 

I don't remember what they came up with to win the account and rebrand Whole Foods. And I'm sure you don't as well. Of course it's frustrating but as Hyman Roth tells Michael Corleone, "This is the business we've chosen. It's all about business."

Here are two more from the same campaign which used minimalism and simplicity to set Whole Foods apart from any other grocery store.

I'm taking this little nostalgic trip to the past and unproduced work because a Creative Director (Kevan Kalyan at ThumbTack in Canada) who has been following this blog asked me to speak to his creative department today and selected this campaign (among many) for me to reference.

Frankly I don't know why anyone would think my jaded, cynical and acerbic opinions on our little business would be helpful to anyone. But he promised me a nice bottle of bourbon for my troubles and I thought hell yes.

People like giving me bottles of bourbon.

In preparing for today's little speech I became painfully aware of how dated I am in this industry. Close to 40 years as a copywriter. Plus two more years as a Mailroom Clerk and a Media Estimator. Both of those positions have been eliminated via redundancy via technology. In fact, with the ascendance of ChatGPT and Bard, I'm guessing half the kids I'm talking to today will no longer be working in the Creative Department. 

Fuck Elon Musk!

I probably won't be talking about that today, the point is to be encouraging. 

The other point, and this is becoming crystal clear to me, is that I and many of my friends and colleagues, were in the business at just the right time. 

While I'm tripping the light fantastic down Memory Lane, here's a Subject Line I wrote for PayPal at the height of the Pandemic and the introduction of the new vaccine. This one line, which never left the building and was only for internal presentation, almost got me fired and necessitated a phony heart in hands apology letter to the department :), went as follows:

"The most viral thing on the internet since Nikki Minaj's cousin's swollen testicles." 

How do you NOT open an email like that? 


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Out through the In door.

You might have noticed I no longer appear on Linkedin. 

Oh, who am I kidding, no one notices I've been absent from that platform or any other. That's the problem with social media, we trick ourselves into believing the digisphere is waiting on our every clever word. It's not. And I have the thousand rejection emails to prove no one wants to see what I can cook up on a keyboard.

Hell, even the folks at Aha -- they, of famous ghosting fame -- sent me a rejection letter.

And it's not like I really need Linkedin. Now that I've been shoved into semi-retirement and have grown a bushy white beard thereby cementing my status as an unemployable old man. So while my needs have grown less vocational, I nevertheless lament the loss of a valuable social media platform. 

Particularly as it gives me a chance to school the unschooled masses. My new self-appointed, remuneration-free job. 

Which leads me to the circumstances behind my untimely dismissal from Linkedin, which to be honest, has become more like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A result of the rapidly growing cultural chasm in this country, fueled by both sides. But let's be honest, it's the ones wearing the red golf caps who are throwing huge chunks of super flammable magnesium on the pyre.

Last week, a gentleman posted a meme that was clearly taking a potshot against the LGBTQ community. It was something along the lines of:

If you put 10 men and 10 trans on a deserted island.

And left them there.

In a hundred years you would come back to that deserted island and find nothing but 20 skeletons.

Funny, huh? I guess it is if Greg Gutfeld and the Fox Five is your idea of humor. To me it's not funny, nor is it insightful. In any shape or manner. 

No one on my side of the aisle is suggesting trans people can bear babies. Maybe they can. People who work wonders have figured out how to put hair on the former president. 

Naturally, all those binary folks who have no idea what non-binary is all about, were thrilled that somebody boiled their troglodyte thinking into a bite-sized meme. And were howling and cheering on the author. Also, naturally, I chimed in to offer an opposing point of view. Because let's face it, I can't spend all my day on the Peloton. Or at the local pool. Or at the dog park. 

I have venting to do.

One particular fellow in the "discussion" said, and I quote, "You sound like you're an idiot." I looked at his profile and replied, geographically accurate I might add, "You sound like you're from Florida."

Being no stranger to community standards violations, I assumed this was the comment that put me in hot water. It was not.

Another vocal member of the digital mob, one who is woefully uninformed on the fluidity of human sexuality and its nuanced gender expressions, went on to tell me there were Males and Females and nothing else. Heterosexual males and females, that is. 

Anything else was just a perversion.

It was my response to this comment that resulted in my permanent removal (at least as of this writing on Monday morning) to the Linkedin platform.

"Greg, the human brain is an incredibly complex organ. Yours, however, may be the exception."

That little bon mot, written in the style of Winston Churchill, if I may flatter myself, got me the boot. The seemingly permanent boot.

Will I miss Linkedin and my 10,000+ followers? Probably.

Will Linkedin and my 10,000+ followers miss me? Probably not.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Is it Safe?


You probably wouldn't know it from my pearly whites, OK, let's be honest they're not as pearly white as I'd like them, but dentistry and me have a troubled history.

It started when I was 7 years old and my brother kicked me out of the top bunk bed (we were fighting over who would get to sleep at the higher elevation) and I landed square on my face. Knocking out my two beautiful formed permanent front teeth. 

That, in turn, kicked off a tortuous lifetime journey involving flippers, bridges and many exceedingly long needles inserted into my upper gum.

I won't bore you with the details of those adventures because frankly I'm not sure anyone wants to read about anyone else's dental issues. Nevertheless I'm going to proceed telling the story of the Tooth #30, First Molar.

Oh you didn't know your teeth were numbered and had names?

Last week I was returning home from my second afternoon walk of the week to the local dog park. I'm semi-retired now and rapidly spending my Stay-Out-Of-Dirty-Nursing-Home Money, so I have have time for long leisurely walks. The walking, I'm told by my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Sassoon (yes, a relative of the famed Sassoon clan) produces a natural lubricant that quiets my creaky Titanium hip replacement joint.

Wow, apparently I've moved into that stage of my life where not only do I have multiple medical maladies but I've also become friends with the folks who treat them. We can't be that far away from riveting tales of my constipation and Haiku poems regarding temporary loss of bladder control.

On my return from the dog park, I decided to make a detour to the Bill Botts baseball fields, just to tack on a few more steps and fractions of a mile. I've become a slave to my iWatch and the useless data it collects. 

Making me what some would derogatively term, "a mileage whore." But the magnificent view makes the name calling worth it.

The mighty Pacific Ocean is seen in the distance on the left. And my humble abode is somewhere near the center, close to the famed water tower of Sony Studios (formerly stately MGM studios). 

As I was minding my business and grumbling to myself about the park patrons who choose not to use to employ the many well placed garbage cans, I bit into a piece of Trident gum. The gum bit back and I heard a god awful cracking in my mouth. 

I knew immediately that it wasn't good. And it wasn't.

Earlier that day I was told by Dr. Stern, my jovial dentist who likes to tell me that he has an advanced degree in administering pain, also told me that tooth (#30 for those keeping track), needed a root canal, which he would schedule for next week. 

The next day I was back in the dental chair which, after so many visits, seems to have contoured to my 177 lbs. body. Oh yeah, I'm gonna work in a weight loss humblebrag.

As Greg (Dr. Stern) and his new assistant hovered over me...

"We're gonna have to take out half of #30, the part that's wiggling."


"Lower surgical forceps, please, " he said to Vivian. (I'm not sure her name but she looks like a Vivian)

"Anesthesia?" she replied.

"Oh no, we won't need that."  (we might not need it, but I do)


There's nothing dainty about lower surgical forceps. Which is a euphemistic term  for what amounts to be Mouth Pliers. It was like a scene from an old Marx Brothers or Three Stooges movie. He grabbed Mr. Wiggly Half A Molar and started yanking. When the yanking did not produce the desired result, he started twisting and torqueing the tooth. If you're grimacing while reading this, just think how I felt as this glorified dental carpenter went about demo-ing my mouth.

What I thought should be a 5 second removal turned into a 55 second sneak peak of Dante's 6th Ring of Hell.

"It's a squirmy little bastard, isn't it?"

That's not what you want to want hear when you're going with no Novacaine. After the tugging and pulling, twisting and turning, #30 finally yielded. 

Before leaving, I asked Vivian if she could wrap the squirmy little bastard up. If I wasn't going to get Novacaine, or even a lollipop, I thought, at the very least, I'm coming away with a blog post.

Monday, May 8, 2023

"The soup is cold."

Went to see David Sedaris last week. It was the second time I've seen him in person. He never disappoints. Don't know if I've mentioned this before, but Sedaris is my favorite author. 

I know many would consider him a literary lightweight, but he's my literary lightweight. Unlike many of my friends in the writing world, I'm no devourer of books. Particularly the heavy ones. With run-on sentences. Fancy syntax. And enough allegories and similes to confuse a Mensa. 

I'm simple that way. Moreover, Sedaris is to wit what Trump is to buffoonery. He can also work blue. This was a snippet from his show:

A little kid and his mom are driving to school…

… and as they’re driving, a garbage truck cuts them off.

This rumbling truck is bouncing along in front of them, and the back is slightly open.

Out pops one of the biggest dildos mom’s ever seen, and smacks their windshield with the unmistakable, squelching thud of a giant dildo hitting the windshield.

The kid goes “WHAT WAS THAT?!”

Mom, not wanting to have to answer a million questions, or actually explain what thunked their windshield, she goes, “Oh… it was a bird.”

The kid sits silently for a moment, and says “Wow. I don’t know how the poor little thing got off the ground in the first place with a big ol’ dick like that!"

But don't get the wrong idea, Sedaris is also a keen observer of human nature. And often stops me in my tracks with his keen discoveries. 

Before he even started the show, David brought out an Irishman he met while on tour in Europe. He was also a writer. And being generous in nature, David invited him to come on the tour and onstage to recite some of his poetry. 

He blew the audience away with his soliloquy about being bald. I couldn't understand about 30% of the words delivered as he prowled the stage with great zeal. And perhaps, I'm a little biased on the matter, but it was amazing. 

I'd like to say it was inspiring but I'm too old and cynical to make a claim like that. I don't need inspiration, I need to get off my lazy ass, ease up on my current exercise obsession, and make with the clicking and clacking. 

On the drive home, I told Ms. Muse... 

"I need to do that kind of writing again."

"What kind of writing is that?"

"I just pick a small topic and dive into it."

"Like what?"

"I don't Soup."

Soup, I observed was probably the very first food the cavemen and cavewomen ever cooked over a fire. You get a big pot of water and throw in everything you can find, carrots, pine cones, grass, a dead cat, a lemon, whatever. Mind you I don't have any science to back that up. It's just a pure anecdotal thought that seems to make sense to my lightweight brain. I mean, come on, it would be a good 500-600 years before they invented the non-stick teflon pan.

That night, sure as a Red Hat can come up with a hundred excuses why the 2020 election was rigged, I had a dream about taking a book off a shelf, following a recipe and making soup.

Only, I'm not going to run to the supermarket, gather all the necessary ingredients, carefully measure all the items in the recipe and spend hours in my kitchen over my noisy Wolf stove making soup. The non-stop snapping of the electronic ignition thigamajigs make that impossible.

Maybe soup is not the best way to kickstart my personal writing.

What about salad? 

Thursday, May 4, 2023

The Write Stuff

Last Saturday was a newsworthy day. At least it was for me.

It started with a trip to La Canada, a section of northern Los Angeles that has only merited 3-4 trips in the 40 plus years I've lived here. So what brought me to this fancy, if not remote, area of Southern California? 

The better question is: who?

Chris Erskine is an accomplished author and former columnist for the LA Times. He has a wicked sense of humor which would explain why my daughters bought me his book Dadditude for Father's Day in what seems another lifetime ago. It was another lifetime ago because like myself, Chris is a widow and sadly belongs to the Club No One Wants To Be In.

His writing and observations on human foibles is not unlike that of Erma Bombeck, another writing hero. I count myself lucky to be friends with Erma's son, Matt, and his wife Jackie. I recently became friends with Chris on Facebook and decided to join him on his semi-regular hikes. 

I like hiking. Moreover, I like hiking that includes post-hiking drinking. 

I like drinking even more than I like hiking. I think day drinking and semi-retirement go hand in hand.

In any case, it was a great opportunity to meet some of Chris' fans and to clink a glass of reasonably priced beer. Ms. Muse, a native of the foothills for all her life was equally excited to meet Chris. Here we are before the excessive sweating began.

I'm the not-so-pretty one on the left. Ms. Muse is trying to curb my inclination towards self-deprecation. It's clear she still has some work to do in that arena.

But the day and the brushes with LA Times royalty did not end there.

Later that night we hopped on a train and made our way to the South Pasadena (aka Willoughby for you fans of Twilight Zone) for the South Pas Eclectic Music Festival. Unlike similar type of events here on the tony Westside, these shindigs draw a crowd, but not an overwhelming one that necessitates an hour long wait in line just to get a cold brew.

I mentioned I like drinking, right?

That night we met a group of friends for dinner, where I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jim Rainey, another star writer for the LA Times. Fingers crossed that Jim and Chris don't mind me mentioning their names. I'm gonna fly without a net and hope they don't.

Jim regaled us with stories of his recent trip to the Motherland -- still hard to believe that my people come from County Donegal. You can be sure a guy named Siegel is gonna milk that for all its worth. We also chatted a little about writing and was fascinated by his observation that "it must be incredibly hard to write funny." 

"I don't know" I demurred, "you'd have to ask Chris."

The following day, we went to the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to see David Sedaris, who did not write for LA Times, but knows a little about writing funny. My neck is still hurting from laughing so much.

In short it was a great weekend. I'd like to say it left me inspired, but, and here's comes the self deprecation, it left me with a serious case of Imposter Syndrome. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Why I hate Democrats

I make no bones about it, I am a political animal. 

Moreso in the last 10 years than ever before. Perhaps because with two daughters I have a stake in the future of this country. Or perhaps because of my Hebraic Seasonings I see the rise of neo-fascism as an existential threat to my people and to the American Experiment. 

Or perhaps because of the deep dive the Republican party has taken in the abyss of stupidity (Gazpacho Police, COVFEFE, Person Women Man Camera TV, Four Seasons Landscaping, etc) the low hanging fruit is just too hard to resist.

As a result of my increasingly political nature and my debating forays on social media, I am often accused of being a Democrat. More specifically, a "leftist, radical, bolshevik, Soros-funded Democrat." All of which is inaccurate. And amusing.

Truth is, I have no love for the Democratic party. And see their operatives just as craven, just as power hungry, and just as myopic as their less intellectual brethren on the other side of the aisle.

I hate them for failing to act on the Mueller Report. I may be one of the 17 people in this country that actually read the report. Here's my copy next to one of my many unsold books and one of my many novelty coffee mugs...

It's clear that Mueller stood by his conviction that a sitting president could not be indicted. 

It's equally clear from the second half of the book that the former president had been guilty of Obstruction of Justice. Nevertheless, because of the political calculus at the time, the Dems refused to impeach Trump, thus denying the citizenry of any justice.

I hate the Democrats for their messaging incompetence. While the GOP hands out tax cuts -- like pedophiles hand out candy -- to super wealthy people so they can buy more yachts and vacation homes, it comes at the expense of working people who have been conned into believing the trickle down theory of economics. 

I've seen rich people. 
I've broken bread with rich people. 
I know rich people. 
Rich people aren't creating jobs or wealth, rich people are hoarding that shit for themselves and their great, great, great grandchildren.

I hate the Democrats for their inability to move the masses like the rabid Red Hats on the right. The best the Dems have is Robert Kennedy and if that lobotomized, vaccine-hating half wit had his way we'd all be at the local Chipotle spreading polio and chicken pox.

And I hate the Democrats for being on the wrong side of fiscal responsibility. You're not going to win the hearts and minds of Americans by reaching in their wallets for money to fund studies on the complex mating habits of the North Atlantic White-Bellied Sea Egret. 

You're just not.

It's enough to make me throw my expensive noise cancelling headphones and my frustrated hands in the air.

Or maybe, just maybe, my hat in the ring.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Enjoying the sounds of silence

You probably guessed from the photo above that it's time for pimping for dollars, aka another step forward in my journey of Senior Influencing.

Today's guest product comes from Sony Electronics. 

I once had the unfortunate experience of being the Group Creative Director at Y&R (now VLMWMDFVY&R) in charge of the Sony Electronics account. Two months after being named to this new position at this new agency, I was asked to present campaigns that had to fit the Sony's ridiculous decentralized marketing matrix. A chart that looked like Oppenheimer's blueprint for the Manhattan Project and whose sole purpose of was to intentionally confuse the customer.

Unbeknownst to me, the presentation would also include some talentless hacks from the New York office who, because they had history producing garbage-y work (think MicroSoft lackluster creative), threw me and my teams under the bus. 

Nevertheless, I'm not letting any of that ugly advertising history shade my fair and balanced review of the Sony WH-XB910N. Though the folks at Sony, my neighbor up the street now commandeering the old MGM studio, really ought to hire a Product Naming Specialist Team. 

Not just for the headphones (Ear Candy, Drumbones, Headspace, for example) but the entire line of Sony goods.

I came by the Sony Headphones by way of my youngest daughter, Abby, who has for years seen me wearing the Bose QC 35s. 

"When are you going to replace those Dad? The foam is ripping and those earpads look like they've been run over by a lawn mower."

And she was right. 

Besides, I was getting tired of the flimsy craftsmanship and the need to replace the expensive pads every 6 months. Shit that cost more than $300 ought to last longer than that. Plus fitting those pads into the muff (for lack of a better word) requires the dexterity of a neurosurgeon.

Enter the Sony WH-XB910N. These feel significantly sturdier than the Bose. Of course, they're still brand new. Check back with me in a year of everyday use in order to silence the barking dogs that now have me cornered and torture me from every room of the house.



"For the love of god stop the damn barking!"

How is it the people who own these mutts are not bothered by 25 hour a day yapping, howling and setting a blowtorch to my ears.

The first week with 910's was a little hinky. They're extremely comfortable, but I didn't like having to fumble for the On/Off switch. Nor did I care for the fact that there is no light to indicate whether they're on or off. But after some muscle memory kicked in, I got the hang of it.

Moreover, unlike the Bose, they immediate paired up with my computer. And a very sexy woman whispers in your ear...

"Bluetooth connected."

I don't know if she's actually sexy but her voice is melodic and I have a good imagination. 

Additionally, the music reproduction is flawless. It's like Billy Vera and his Beaters (all 9 of them) are living, and playing, in my head.

And then I discovered why my daughter was so sold on the WH- XB910N. It took me two weeks -- I would've known sooner if I had bothered to read the owner's manual -- that there was a button that activated the super noise cancelling function.

OMG. I was, and continue to be, in heaven. 

I have always wondered how my dog-owning neighbors can tolerate the endless racquet coming from their  outrageously vocal fur babies. 

Maybe, just maybe, they all bought their WH-XB910Ns before I did.

Monday, May 1, 2023



This may come as a surprise to you, but it is shocking to me that I still find myself railing against this malignant pus-filled boil stuck to America's hind quarters since 2015.

Surely by now, I mistakenly thought, the nation would see what a narcissistic traitor, hellbent on raiding our country's wealth and selling off our democracy to the highest foreign bidder. But that hasn't happened. 


I firmly believe there will be a turning, just as there was in 1974 when even the most stalwart Republicans saw Richard Nixon for the Machiavellian Monster that he was. Still, it boggles the mind to believe that a significant number of the GOP still believe this man.

They believed him when he said Barrack Obama was not born in Hawaii. And believed that he had a team of first rate detectives who uncovered amazing evidence that he was not an native born citizen. The Hawaii birth certificate proved otherwise.

They believed him when he said Hillary Clinton had purposefully mishandled classified information and deserved to go to jail. 22 GOP hearings and THREE of his handpicked GOP Attorney Generals said otherwise.

They believed him when he said he did not bang a porn star while Melanoma was at home nursing (or having a hired wet nurse) his newborn third son from his third marriage. The facts showed otherwise.

They believed him when he said he'd build a 2000 mile long, impenetrable Wall on our southern border and that Mexico would cut the check and pay for it. WRONG!

They believed him when he said US Steel had just opened 6 new manufacturing plants. They didn't open any.

They believed him when he stood behind Vladimir Putin and took his word over our own Intel community. Remember this (:29):

The very next day, when there was a huge uproar, he stumbled through a lame correction and said he misspoke and meant to say, "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be." Rewatch the video and substitute that word with wouldn't. See if that makes any sense. Hint: it doesn't.

They believed him when he said he produced the greatest economy in US history. The BLS, Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows he didn't even come close.

They believed him when he said Covid would disappear, just disappear. A million American corpses and it still hasn't disappeared.

They believed him when he said he had a big new beautiful healthcare Plan that would cover every American and for less than the cost of Obamacare. He promised to unveil it in 2 weeks. And 2 weeks after that. And 2 weeks after that. It's been 3 years. He still hasn't unveiled it.

They believed him when he said Hunter Biden and his father were being bankrolled by the Chinese government. And have no evidence to support their scurrilous claims. NONE.

They believed him when he said the election was stolen and thousands of redneck hillbillies stormed the capitol and almost took down our government. The only person trying to steal the election was him.

Each of these are easily verifiable FACTS. And I have barely scratched the faux gold-plated surface.

And yet, according to the latest poll, 68% of Republicans still support this existential threat to the American way of life.

They believe him. 

And I can't believe it.