Monday, November 30, 2009

Prisoner 27439


Last week, I misspoke, I said I had never had any run-ins with the law. But after seeing a promo for MTV's new show "Jersey Shore" about the douchebags and douchebaguettes of Seaside Heights, I remembered a particular incident from the summer of '89.

Somehow, my buddies and I found ourselves sharing a huge rental house in Belmar with a bunch of gumbas and guidos. There was drinking. Drinking. And more drinking. At 2:30 AM we found ourselves on the porch enjoying the rancid ocean air and a joint. By 2:32, I found myself in the back of a squad car. With Stacey. Or Mindy. Or Donna. Who knows what her name was.

I only know that two undercover cops, slipped out from behind a bush and slapped some cuffs on us. Stacey/Mindy/Donna started throwing a fit. I, on the other hand, thought we were being Punked. Keep in mind that in 1989 Ashton Kushton was 11 years old. (Ironically enough, his "kids" and my kids go to the same expensive private school -- but that's another story.)

Fingerprints followed.
Mug shots were snapped.
And at 3:15 AM, I was escorted off to my room...uh, cell #8.

Though it smelt of of old urine, the cell was relatively clean. And I didn't have to bunk with anybody. So it gave me some quality time to think about the crime I had committed.

I wish I could show my appreciation to those undercover cops for selecting me out of the thousands of drunken hoodlums running around the streets of Belmar that night. I'd thank them for giving me a quality life experience and for setting my life on the right path.

And then I'd ask them where I could secure a copy of my old mug shot.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Here come da judge

I consider myself a fortunate man. I've never had a run-in with the law. And thankfully, never needed the services of a lawyer.

I almost had to evict a lazy tenant living in my condo a few years ago, but that worked itself out amicably. And there was an immediate family member threatening to drag my ass in to court over a few thousand dollars. That never reached litigation. (Though it still makes my blood boil to think about it.)

However if I ever found myself in need of a good lawyer, there's no way in the world I would reach out to an attorney named Binder. Or for that matter, Binder.


The truth is I wouldn't want my barrister to be sporting any type of head accessories,
with the possible exception of this one:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

He shoots, he scores


Last week, in my posting about Jesus Camp, I pulled an image from catholicsupply.com. Years ago I stumbled on their site and found all kinds of fascinating Jesus paraphernalia. I had almost forgotten, but that fascination actually sent me to the telephones. That's right, I ordered one of those sports statuettes. (It was an easier time when employment was steady and disposable income was...well, disposable.)

So this weekend I went through the boxes in my garage to locate the errant Jesus Statue. Here is a picture of the Savior, hip-checking the boy in yellow and green and slicing his way through a porous defense to make the winning goal.

As you can see from the site, there were many statues to choose from. But I chose Gretzky Jesus. I'm no hockey aficionado but I do remember why I selected this particular piece.

You see in all the other sports, the Messiah is wearing sandals. But in hockey, he opted to lace up the leather and blades. Leading me to conclude that, while Jesus may indeed be able to walk on water, when that water is frozen, he needs skates.

Just like everybody else.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Lunatic Bin

I was freelancing at Saatchi and Saatchi recently, where I ran across a column written by my blogosphere buddy Ernie Schenck. Ernie is a legend in this business with more awards than I have gripes.

In his latest salvo, "I Miss the Lunatics", Ernie makes the case for the old days of advertising (like 10 years ago) when the creative department hallways were filled with tormented hotheads who simply wanted to do great adverting and get paid outrageous sums of money.

He pleads, "God almighty, people, doesn't anybody fight for creativity anymore?"

I can't speak for the current crop of creatives, but as a former purist with a volcanic temper I can tell you that fighting, throwing tantrums and displaying contempt for the bullshit that pervades this business, has not served me well.

Oh sure, I've won the awards, fathered several universally-recognized campaigns, made a full-length documentary film that premiered at Sundance, even got to jet around on a Gulfstream IV with Lee Clow, but look where that fiery lunatic-ism landed me -- the hard-scrabble land of freelance, where, if I'm lucky, I'll be awarded the assignment to write the next batch of coupon ads for the Mr. Mattress Sleep Emporium.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bowling with Jesus

It's a few weeks past Halloween, but I still find myself disturbed by a very scary, scary movie I caught on TV.

The movie had all the classic elements of a great fright flick: blood, death, and a charismatic cult leader with a voracious appetite for followers and triple-buttered blueberry scones.

The movie is called Jesus Camp.

A documentary that follows the lives of three young children and their brainwashed summer with 300 lbs. Pastor Becky Fischer -- she is, if you'll pardon the malapropism, evil incarne asada.

It takes place in Devil's Lake, North Dakota. Which is somewhat appropriate since Pastor Becky is literally doing Satan's work. Soaking these kids in a pool of intolerance, self-loathing and intellectual bankruptcy. In other words, everything Christ was NOT about.

In the most telling scene of the movie, a bowling excursion at the local lanes, 9-year old Tory is hearkening the Lord to bless her with a good shot.

Tory: Please Jesus, give me a strike. I beseech you Lord, let this ball be an instrument of your ever-lasting love and knock down all the pins.

Sadly, the ball did not comply. It snaked its way through the left side of the rack. Setting up a most difficult spare shot.

Which had me thinking, if Jesus, or Allah, or even G-d did exist, would he have left this poor misguided little girl with the highly unmakeable 4-10 split?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Early Thanks


Once again, I need to apologize for the two previous lengthy posts.
Today will be much shorter, promise.

We are closing in on Thanksgiving. And one of the things I am very thankful for is the fact that we are no longer subjected to this aberration of the English language.

A hundred dollars goes to the reader who can make it through the entire video. (OK, not a real hundred dollars, a metaphorical C-note if you will.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Try the poi

I know how uncool it is to admit listening to Smooth Jazz. But I do. I said it. And I'm not going to apologize to anybody. Particularly to my daughters, who love to mock the station ID.

Girls: Ninety four seven, The Wa-a-a-a-a-v-e.

Years ago, I worked as a bartender/cook/waiter at several jazz clubs in LA and enjoy the hearing the music of people I used to know in a previous lifetime. It was at Hop Singh's and At My Place that I met Kenny Burrell, drank with Ricki Lee Jones and greeted the sunrise after all night parties with Billy and the Beaters.

Right now The Wave is running their Trip A Day contest and offering to send lucky listeners to any destination around the world. Yesterday, Mary from Silverlake drew the winning ticket. And guess where Mary from Silverlake wants to go on this once-in-a-lifetime excursion?

If you said, Norway or Thailand or Madagascar, you'd be wrong.
You see Mary likes the comfort and convenience of strip malls, Burger King and Costco.
Mary wants to go to Maui.
Maui, Hawaii, USA.
That Maui.

I have a low tolerance for stupid people.
It's only surpassed by my intolerance for stupid people who win things.

Way to go Mary.
Bring us back a picture of a pig with an apple in its mouth.




Monday, November 16, 2009

Do you remember your first?

I do.

She was cheap. (I paid $400 for her)
She was experienced. (Clocking more 200,000 miles before I got my hands on her.)
And she could be temperamental. (Throwing mechanical hissy fits at the most inopportune times)

But she was mine. And memories of her came flooding back when I spotted her doppelganger on the streets of Culver City. I particularly remember the day our relationship came to a crashing halt.

It was a summer day. Four buddies and myself were on our way to NYC to partake in the beauty of Brew Burger -- cheeseburger, fries and all the beer you could drink for just $7.95.
To five teenagers from the suburbs (with unsophisticated palates and an unquenchable thirst for Schaefer, the one beer to have when you're having more than one), this was nothing less than Nirvana.

Of course, we never made it past the county line.

Coming down a steep incline on Rt. 59 I applied some light pressure to the brakes. They did not respond. I pushed harder. Still nothing. The '66 Plymouth picked up speed. So did my heart rate. My buddies, who were too busy passing a joint around, seemed unfazed by the events. That is, until I swerved over the double yellow line to avoid a decapitating collision with an 18 wheel truck.

We ran a red light.
Then another.
I yanked on the emergency brake.
I threw the transmission into Park.
Nothing would stop her.

Then Sir Isaac Newton intervened. I made a hard swerving right turn and aimed the car up a hill. I angled toward the curb and brought the car to a stop. I exhaled and looked down at the speedometer and it mercifully read "0".

We pushed the car to the nearest gas station, where an amused grease monkey popped the hood and quickly determined that I had sprung a leak in the brake fluid line. He unscrewed a wing nut and handed me the Master Cylinder, "Take a look, boys. It's bone-fucking dry."

That phrase might conjure up images of a sun baked desert or a Martian landscape.
But to this day it will always be a reminder of that fateful day in Spring Valley.
And it explains why I have never owned or even step foot in another vehicle manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation.



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reading, writing and algorithmics

I almost didn't get to today's post because I had homework last night. Of course, when I say I had homework, I mean my youngest daughter had homework. Which makes it mine by proxy.

Her English teacher had assigned what could be the most ridiculous assignment I've ever seen. She had to write a complete page and a half story that had incorporated 12 rather difficult vocabulary words. The list included: sentinel, arable, posthumous, ignominious and impromptu, to name a few.

As you can imagine the resulting story was fragmented, forced and barely comprehensible.
It was not interesting in the least.

Which bares a surprising resemblance to this thing called SEO copywriting.

According to wikipedia:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results as opposed to search engine marketing (SEM) which deals with paid inclusion. Typically, the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search,video search and industry-specific vertical search engines. This gives a web site web presence.

If I understand SEO correctly (and there's a good chance I don't) this rather un-funny post entry could attract the most traffic with the simple inclusion of this meaningless but SEO-optimized statement:

Nude celebrities and President Obama were caught in a orgy at the home of Elizabeth Lambert. Also participating were MILF-y Nancy Pelosi, Nicholas Cage and Major Nasan Hidad. A sex tape involving Joe Jackson, Carrie Prejean and Dede Scozzafazza was found at the premises but was eaten by a lingerie-wearing donkey. Police report the donkey was high on Viagra and steroids.

Tomorrow I'll look at my analytics counter to see if this SEO thigamajig generated traffic.
If it does, look for a lot more posts about Sugarland, Lou Dobbs and amputee blowjobs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Man with the Plan

It's all too easy to find fault with greedy Wall Streeters, unregulated banks, and unscrupulous insurance companies. But at the heart of our current economic crisis, there is the short-sighted, status-loving American consumer living well beyond their means.

Take this savings-challenged Mercedes driver for instance.

I'm the polar opposite of this Colorado cretin.

I'm all about funding the 401K plan. I don't need a shiny, new black car. Or a 15 megapixel digital camera. Or private golf lessons (OK, I could use private golf lessons.) But the point is I don't live beyond my means. I'll wear a snuggie to save on heating bills. I'll eat off-brand ketchup. I'll take the complimentary shampoo and conditioning bottles they put in hotel rooms.

You see I'm saving for a rainy day. And planning for the future. Because I've seen too many movies. And don't want to end up in some dirty assisted-living retirement home where I have to rely on a cranky, snaggle-toothed nurse with foul cigarette breath to change my diaper.

I want to be in my clean, comfortable house. And have that done by my wife.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Jew Say?

According to Reuters, anti-semitism in the United States is at historic lows.

Naturally, I'm very happy about that. It's comforting to know I can walk into a Walmart or go to work and not have to hear someone grumble, "Dirty Jew". That wasn't always the case, as I put up with many of these type of indignities at my almost exclusively all Roman Catholic high school.

Reuters drew their conclusions from a poll conducted by the Anti-Defamation League. In that poll, respondents were asked to agree or disagree with 11 index statements. Though I'm not so sure about their methodologies, given that I alone disprove 10 of the the 11 statements.

Statement #1: Jews have too much power in the United States.

Really? When I was Group Creative Director at Y&R, one of the largest ad agencies in the world, I had no power whatsoever. I have even less now.

Statement #2: Jews have too much control and influence on Wall Street.

I wish I had known that before I bought stock in MCI Worldcom, KooKooRoo Chicken and Sun Microsystems.

Statement #3: Jews are so shrewd that others don't have a fair chance at competition.

That might explain why I've been driving the same used car for the past 7 years. Or why I haven't shelled out $5000 to replace my main sewer line which threatens to erupt and spew raw sewage over a large portion of Culver City.

Statement #4: Jews have a lot of irritating faults.

OK, this statement happens to be true. Having lived through countless Seders and Rosh Hashanah dinners, this statement is 100% true. In fact the words "a lot" are a bit of an understatement.

My only qualification is (and this blog has offered ample proof),
"Yes, Jews do have a lot of irritating faults, but then so does everybody else."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hi-Ho, Hi-ho

I'm pleased as punch that the federal government is beautifying the landscape in Culver City. I love a tree-lined boulevard as much as the next fellow. Especially when the net result is higher property value for my house/retirement fund.

But I'm trying to see the logic behind these large metallic signs.

How many construction workers did it take to dig the posting holes, pour the cement, assemble the framing structure, and erect this monstrosity? That's not even accounting for the transport, the printing, the paperwork needed to approve this vital conduit between the government and the governed?

How much money was wasted telling us our tax dollars are not being wasted?

In the interest of accuracy perhaps the top sign should read:
Putting America's Bureaucrats to Work.




Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Felching No-No

Years ago, I had the greatest job in the world.

I was a permalancer at TBWA Chiat/Day. I basically floated from project to project and put out fires wherever necessary. I had the opportunity to help on several victorious new business pitches (Visa & Sara Lee) and helped engineer a fully integrated campaign for Uncle Ben's Rice.

Free from the curse of ambition, I gleefully ignored any office politics and focused squarely on the writing and the concepting. Though not much of the work I wrote actually got produced, I might have been the happiest person in the 100,000 square foot building.

I was also happy that I met another freelancer. He turned me onto some magical software that enabled me to "share" the music on the internal network and fill my iTunes library with all kinds of great music and great podcasts. Everything from classic Led Zepellin to Ben Webster to the incomparable Ricky Gervais.

Well, yesterday while running my daily 3 miles, I came across this selection that had somehow made it into my files. I found a duplicate of the audio on YouTube and today I share it with you...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Abe's kids

Here, in a nutshell, or a screengrab, is the biggest difference between Muslims and Jews.

(WARNING: BROAD POTENTIALLY OFFENSIVE GENERALIZATIONS TO FOLLOW.)

Let's face it, all parents are disappointed by their children. It goes with the territory.

My father, for example, openly weeped when I dropped out of the accounting and engineering programs at Syracuse University to pursue my dream of being a writer. (On those slow days between freelance gigs, I secretly wish I had listened to his wisdom.)

Nevertheless, when Jewish kids fall short of parental aspirations, Jewish mothers and fathers reach for the oft-played guilt card.

Faced with same dilemma, Muslim parents on the other hand, check the deductibles on the Allstate policy and reach for the keys to the Buick.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Have you ever noticed?


I run the risk of slipping into Andy Rooney mode here, but this latest observation really chafes my butt.

Figuratively, that is.

My photography skills aside, take a look at this roll of toilet paper. It's short. Not on sheets but on width. There was a time, way back in 2007 perhaps, when you'd put a new roll of toilet paper on the spool and you wouldn't see the spool.

But any fool can see they've shaved centimeters off the width of my toilet paper.

I understand companies trying to squeeze every bit of profit they can by tinkering with the packaging. Mayonnaise jars with 15 3/4 ounces of mayonnaise instead of 16. Pickles, with less pickles and more water. Even razor blades, available in the convenient 4-pack priced the same as the now unavailable convenient 5-pack.

But this is Toilet Paper. A product we've been trained to use since stepping out of diapers. We have a lifelong familiarity with its shape. Its texture. Its quilted 2 ply comfort. You can't start changing that and not give us any warning. It alters our rhythm. Interrupts our routine. It throws a monkey wrench into what was once a well-oiled operation.

It creates the potential for an Exxon Valdez-like accident in the bathroom.

And that's messed up.
Literally, that is.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Karen Salkin, have you no shame?

Ms. Salkin is the restaurant reviewer for the Culver City News, a rag of a paper that shows up in my driveway. Often unwanted.

Ms. Salkin has apparently never met a meal she doesn't like.

Her critiques never contain any criticism. She fawns over the simplest of dishes. Sugarcoats everything. And plugs away like a reincarnated Billy Mays. She's not so much a restaurant reviewer as she is a gastric gusher.

If I didn't know better I'd say she does it all for the free lunches.

This week for instance she ventured down to the Del Amo Mall (not exactly in the vicinity of Culver City) to sample the quote, food, unquote, at Hometown Buffet.

Sadly, I've eaten at this establishment.
Years ago, while working for an ad agency with one foot already in the grave, we pitched any business that moved, including this sad excuse for a public eatery. We didn't get the account but a planner and an art director got food poisoning.

The food was inedible. But as the name would indicate, the portions were limitless.

As faithful readers of this blog know, the trip was not a total loss. Because the experience inspired my favorite poopenism,
"Excuse me, I'm going to dump all my shares of Hometown Buffet."