Thursday, February 28, 2013

Get Some

Today marks another important milestone. Four years ago, this blog was born.

I never thought this venture would last that long. Nor did I ever believe that I'd be averaging close to 7500 page views a month. That means more than 250 people a day are willing to subject themselves to my nonsense.


I've learned a lot in these four years. I've learned that milestones are an opportunity to shut down the rage machine and just riff on the events of the day.

For instance, did you know that since its inception, roundseventeen has been through 6 tag lines?

At the beginning, it started as:

Round Seventeen
28,000 words, rotated daily.

Language experts say the average American has a vocabulary of 30,000 English words. Mine isn't that extensive so I downgraded myself to 28,000.

At about the 300 post marker, the tagline changed to:

Round Seventeen
Now with 27% more cynicism.

That felt a little pedantic, and shortly thereafter changed again to:

Round Seventeen
At the corner of West Coast optimism and Bronx-born nihilism.

That was one of my favorites as I know it sent many readers scurrying to the dictionary to look up the principles of nihilism. I also liked the way it rolled off the tongue. It had a certain rhythm to it that only other writers can appreciate.

Personal factoid, there is never a time when I don't have to look up the proper spelling of rhythm. Never.

For a short time that tagline changed to the very paternal:

Round Seventeen
Because I said so.

In retrospect, this may have been my least favorite. That brought us to the latest iteration:

Round Seventeen
Enough bitterness and cynicism for two blogs.

Of course, that was yesterday.

Today, in addition to a reader reaction section at the bottom of every post we're also sporting a brand new shiny tagline:

Round Seventeen
Not always well-written, but always well-priced.

If you don't like that one, tough nuggies.
You get what you pay for.

(BTW, this month, a short month, was the second highest ever in terms of web traffic here at R17. I consider that a nice birthday present. Thank you.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Louis Full-of-Shit

I am well schooled in Anti-Semitism. Growing up in the long shadow of the Holocaust, most Jews are.

I find it fascinating that someone I've never met, someone who knows nothing about my politics, my feelings, my love, life and work ethic, someone from the other side of the globe, would choose to hate me, or even do me bodily harm, simply because of my religious beliefs.

Even more fascinating since I, and the majority of us, don't even believe in those religious beliefs. Nevertheless, someone has a target on my back simply because I self identify as a Jew.

You non-Jewish readers have no idea what I'm talking about. You can say you're empathetic, you can say you understand, but the truth is you don't.

And you never will.

You see, you don't get emails from your church explaining the latest bomb-proofing measures and extra security being implemented in light of recent threats. You don't get skittish at weddings or Bar Mitzvahs, wondering if any of the "guests" are of the unwanted variety. And you don't read about the FBI intercepting jihadist plans against unspecified (your ethnicity here) targets.

The only people who could possibly understand this unwarranted hate are African Americans.

Perhaps this is why so many Jews were at the forefront of the civil rights movement in the early 1960's. Yesterday on a segment of the Daily Show, Jon Stewart displayed a picture of the three young men made famous in the film Mississippi Burning. Two of them were long haired landsman from Brooklyn.

That's what makes Black Anti-Semitism so puzzling, at least to me.

Last week I was on youtube looking for archived commercials. On the right hand side of the page there were 8 videos that the algorithms thought I might find interesting. And sure enough, there was one that was.

In 2010 African American leaders held a "We Count" conference in Chicago. It featured some of the most distinguished voices from the community including Cornell West, Tavis Smiley and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. These are men of letters, rational, intelligent, and open-minded.

In other words, everything Louis Farrakhan is not. And yet watch how they fawn and hang on every word from this uneducated, truth-twisting, Anti-Semite:

He even starts his rant with a canard about disproportionate Jewish power. As if there were something wrong with working hard and successfully adapting to the ins and out of the American political system.

I find it disturbing that Farrakhan has a seat at this table. I find it more disturbing that not one leader contests his ugly premise. His voice should be as welcome as former Ku Klux Klanner David Duke at an Obama Cabinet meeting. And oddly enough Farrakhan and Duke have so much in common.

Both are petty, hateful, over-achieving rabble rousers.

Both are convinced this country is being governed by the Illuminati, which puts them in agreement with this loon.

And both men blame the woes of their people, on the alleged actions of mine.

Politics doesn't make strange bedfellows.
Hate does.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Crap builds character

Last week I discovered that David Angelo, the CEO and namesake of David & Goliath, one of the biggest ad agencies on the West Coast, used to drive a fork lift.

This was quite a revelation, as I don't know of many fellow creatives who spent time toiling in a warehouse.

In fact today's creatives know nothing about real labor in the real world. Many go from their "lab" classes at VCU or University at Miami right into youngblood programs at publicly-held ad agencies who have commoditized the creative product in the pursuit of shareholder profit.

You couldn't find a callused hand in the Creative Department any more than you could find a junior copywriter familiar with the wisdom of Howard Gossage.

SFX: Junior creatives clacking keyboard to Google Howard Gossage.

Back to fork lift driving.

Way back when, I drove the Toyota KC Haulmaster 9000 at a small electrical wiring facility in Compton, CA. I was a white, Jewish college graduate, working shoulder-to-shoulder with tattooed Crips and Bloods who had graduated from places like Folsom, Chico and San Quentin.

The warehouse manager was a jovial 6 foot 5 inch, 400 lbs. redneck from Alabama, who everybody called Big Jim. His 12-year old son explained Big Jim got the nickname by eating a smaller man named Little Jim. That kid was funny.

As David and I can tell you, driving a fork lift and loading up trucks with shipping palettes is tough backbreaking work. It is not however the crappiest job I have ever held.

As a teenager, I worked as a fry cook at a local Jack in the Box, the first JIB ever built on the East Coast. I worked the graveyard shift. I changed the oil. And I wore a polyester polo shirt whose smell of B.O. and Bonus Jack Sauce could knock a buzzard off a shitwagon.

At Syracuse University, I worked the dining rooms. Serving the over-priviliged princes and princesses from Long Island. Despite the better advice of my student counselor, I worked 35-40 hours. This was in addition to classes I was not attending.

I often found myself working in the dishwashing room. When the shift was over, I'd walk a mile and a half back to my dorm, caked in lake effect snow and discarded mashed potatoes.

After college I was a sous chef, a landscaper, a caterer, a kitchen manager and finally, I worked as a bartender at a dingy jazz club where the owner was so cheap he would recycle cocktail swizzle sticks. The best tip I got from a customer was, "you should find a more lucrative job -- like driving a fork lift."

I mention all this because today marks the 48th day in a row that I find myself at the office. Late nights. Weekends. The constant churning of newer, better ideas. It can be quite draining.

Of course nowhere near as draining as some of my past experiences. And none of those jobs held out the carrot that is still a possibility, albeit remote, that is the dream of every Copywriter and Art Director:

Open on a soft-sandy beach in Moorea....

Monday, February 25, 2013

I'm right behind you, sir.

I was never a member of the Mutual Admiration Society.

I don't dispense many compliments. Too many people do. They've lost their value. And become as useless as currency in Zimbabwe. Did you know people in that country literally use money to wipe their butts?

"Honey, can you bring me a roll of million dollar bills?"

I hold back on praise and admiration so that when it is given, it means something.

The other thing about compliments is I don't get that many either. Which suits me fine. If you ever wanted to see me speechless or leave me tongue-tied, the best prescription would be a sincere, heartfelt expression of flattery.

Other than a shocked "thank you", I simply don't know the correct response. I suppose I could reply with, "Thank you, your hair looks nice." Or something along the lines of, "Thank you, by the way I liked the question you asked in the meeting," but those seem forced. They reek of pandering.

Of course, this hasn't stopped many folks today.
Particularly those in my line of work.

In years gone by, ad agency ass-kissery was practiced in confidential memos. Any face-to-face apple-polishing was conducted, discreetly but with great regularity, in the executive conference rooms fashioned from the finest Peruvian mahogany.

But, like so many fallen Arab dictators, discretion has become the latest victim of social media.

Today Lickspittling has it's own Facebook page.  A Tweetdeck. And of course the obligatory Foursquare account. Time, geography, dignity, these are all boundaries that have been successfully eliminated, so that the brown-nosing can rear its ugly head anywhere, anytime.

I call it PDS.
Public Displays of Sycophancy, and it's quite revolting.

I could go to my Facebook news feed or my updates and grab screen shots to show you some examples. But I don't want to shame the fawners.

Besides, if you're a sucker-upper, you already know it. And now, thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and company, the rest of us do too.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Copywriter War of 2013

God is not alone.

I hate CopyWriters too. Even though I'm friends with many. Perhaps friends isn't exactly the right word because the truth is these fellow word whores are my direct competition. They would gladly take food off my table to put food on theirs.

"You want a brand manifesto, you want a dealer ad, you want a nice package of banner ads?" they'll say, "don't call Siegel, I can do it for you faster, cheaper and with a lot less attitude. And I think you know what I'm talking about."

In fact, I was having this very discussion with another copywriter the other day. And that's when, I had this brilliant idea.

I call it the Anti-Portfolio.

The idea is very simple. I compile a list of all the writers with whom I compete. This includes copywriters in LA, NY, SF, Chicago and even Detroit. Maybe not Detroit, I have no interest in getting any gigs in Detroit and returning to the Dearborn Four Seasons.

Good falafel, but very depressing.

Then, I go through their portfolios or do a cursory search on adsoftheworld or ecreativesearch, and find their worst work. You know, the embarrassing drivel they wish their names were not attached to. I compile all this dreck on an easy-to-navigate website and keep it handy anytime an agency recruiter calls.

"Oh, you're thinking of bringing in Alex Grossman? Really, have you seen what he did for that other carmaker? Sure, you could hire Greg Collins, but you might end up getting work like this. Hepinstall? I know Kathy could do a fine job, but do you see what she writes on her blog and how she treats her mother."

On the other hand, I've produced a slew of work I never want to see again, so this may not be such a brilliant idea. On the other other hand, I don't care if anybody sees it, because as my wife often tells me, I cannot be embarrassed.

I simply don't have the gene for shame.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I hate when that happens


That's the only way to describe the experience of the other night, when I came across a VW commercial. Why? Because I had written the EXACT same commercial for Infiniti three years earlier. Of course, my script never progressed past being a script.

Either it wasn't presented correctly.
Or the Infiniti client couldn't see the same brilliance that the VW client did.
Or, and this is most likely the case, my script never left the building.

This snakebit feeling is quite common in the ad industry. It has happened to every writer and art director I've ever known. It's particularly common among those of us who toil in the automotive world.

And is commonly referred to as the 100 Monkey Phenomena.

The theory states that if you put 100 monkeys in a room with typewriters (or computers) that in 1000 years two of those monkeys will type the exact same thing. There's also the Bard Corollary, which states after a million years, one of those monkeys will type out a replica of a Shakespearean masterpiece.

It boils down to the math.

There are 26 letters in the alphabet. The average human being only uses 28, 000 words in the English language. After a while all those seemingly infinite combinations become less infinite.

Why do I give credence to the 100 Monkeys? Because I wrote about them right here on R17 about two years ago. And look, now I'm even plagiarizing myself.

So here's the commercial in question. Instead of the VW picture a muscular Infiniti M35. And instead of the couple in the slow moving hybrid, picture an older couple lumbering up the hill in a Lexus 350.

The Deutsch team did a fine job with my spot.
I like it.
I'm even tempted to slip this one into my portfolio.

But I won't. Mostly because I don't need to.
As I pointed out to a colleague the other day, I'm at a privileged point in my career where nobody even looks at my book anymore.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Two Biggest Flops in My Career

It was the best of times.
It was the worst of times.
I don't know how Dickens could have been so prescient, but he certainly pegged 1998 with surprising accuracy.

My Art Director, John Shirley and I, had just come off the whirlwind success of the ABC "Yellow" campaign. We had never experienced anything like it in our lives. Rolling Stone was writing about it, Bill Maher was talking about it, and pundits were buzzing about it.

Naturally folks back at the agency, Chiat/Day, were happy about all this free press. And for one fleeting moment in time, Shirley and I were unofficially named the unofficial creative Flavors of the Month. The Golden Boys, as it were.

But that Dickens fellow sure knew what he we was talking about.
When things seem too good to be true, they often are.

In February of 1998, something was amiss at the NY office. And when I say amiss, I mean a Vietnam War era, surrounded-by-Charlie, lost-in-the-jungle clusterfuck. A young creative team was about to go into production on a series of three new commercials. But a week before the shoot, the client, Outback Steakhouse,  decided they weren't happy with the concepts.

That's when Lee Clow, the legendary Chiat/Day Creative Director, came into our office. He asked us to stop polishing our awards, get on a private jet and fly down with him to Tampa to fix the mess.

The dismissive and disrespectful CMO and her fresh-out-of-college assistants ignored all our sage advice.

They wanted a spot with hot twenty year olds, frolicking on a beach, eating steak, shrimp and Bloomin' Onions. Nevermind that the Australian Outback is a vast desert inhabited by Aborigines. And that their "food" is served in a restaurant, usually in a strip mall and not on some non-existent beach populated by the rainbow coalition.

There's so much cognitive dissonance going on here, it could only make sense to people who choose to live year round in the Florida heat.

Oh and one last thing. The spots had to include the Outback Steakhouse jingle. That's right, I said jingle.

Flash forward a month after all the beach frolicking and onion blooming had been meticulously committed to film and my partner and I are in NY, at 57th and 5th Ave, at one of the premier jingle houses in the advertising business.

We laid down the first track (I can't believe I even wrote that) and not knowing anything about jingles, we mistakenly thought it sounded OK. So we corralled Lee Clow back in LA, on the phone and played it for him.

It wasn't right. Of course, having zero experience with jingles, how were Shirley and I to know what right was.

Lee didn't like it. So he did what could only be described as the unthinkable, he grabbed the phone and sang the jingle the way he wanted it sung. There are but a handful of creatives in this industry who have heard Lee Clow sing a jingle. John Shirley and I are two of them.

That experience made up for all the pain and suffering we went through for what I am about to share.
I think.

By the way, finding these two spots, made before the age of digital storage, was no simple task. It has taken me over two years to track them down.

And now I can't stop looking at them.
It's like when you have a stinging abscess in your mouth and you keep rubbing your tongue over it until your brain produces dopamine.

Mmmmmm, dopamine.

Monday, February 18, 2013

That's Some High Quality Stupid

My wife and I, and our two daughters, are entering into a new phase of life.

In little more than a year and a half our oldest will be going to college.

I'll spare you all the sentimental "life goes so fast" and "I still remember changing her diapers" cliches. That ground has been covered over and over again. Not here, but on the thousands of mommy blogs that have much higher web traffic than I'll ever see.

I once asked a friend, familiar with the media landscape, why there is no mommy blogosphere counterpart? You know, a specialized niche for white, semi-affluent American males. He looked at me and said there is, it's called: Life.

Point taken.

In any case, we're ankle deep into SAT prep classes, glossy college brochures and the rapid, emergency funding of the 529 accounts.

Naturally, my daughter is interested in schools in Boston, NY, even my beloved Syracuse. The kind of schools that will cost me a fortune in airfares. I'd like to keep her closer to home. Mostly for selfish reasons. Like the inevitable 3 AM call about a boyfriend dumping her and the "can you come get me I want to come home?"

I suggested UCLA, about six miles north or an hour away on the 405.

My wife looked at me as if I were crazy. She said that while our daughter was a solid A- student and would do sufficiently well on her SAT's, there is no way in hell she could get accepted at such a prestigious school.

Then I saw this:

If this is the state of higher education in America, I'm thinking maybe I should just save myself half a million dollars and encourage my daughters to pursue a career that doesn't require much in the way of intellectual rigor.

Something in advertising, perhaps.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our New Brand Ambassador

Everybody is doing it.

It's the latest trend in advertising. And pretty soon every major client will have its very own Brand Ambassador, that is, a pop celebrity that best reflects the attributes of the brand.

As reported in AdAge, Justin Timberlake signed on with Budwesier, though I have a very hard time seeing Justin at a club, with bottle service and a case of Bud Lights strewn about the table.

Will i. am, the consummate corporate whore, is the Brand Ambassador for Intel. He may have Intel on the inside, but I think we can all agree he could use a barber on the outside.

And Gwen Stefani is the Brand Ambassador for Hewlett Packard. If she cares anything about this flailing brand she'll high tail it over to my house and stop my OfficeJet 4500 from jamming every time I print a document with more than 5 fucking pages.

Well, I wasn't about to let this boat sail without hopping on.

I'm happy to announce that Round Seventeen, now with a new tagline, also has a brand new Brand Ambassador. His name is Patton Oswalt. You might remember Patton from The King of Queens, Ratatouille, or the very underrated, Big Fan.

Patton is stocky, acerbic and by no stretch of the imagination could he be called eye candy. In other words, he is perfect reflection of myself. Except he's shorter, wealthier and blessed with a full head of hair.

As I have noted before this blog is a non-profit organization. That's not the way I'd like it, that's just the way it is. So as a non-profit, we here at R17 will not be able to offer Patton any compensation.

Even sky cake.

However, he should not be dissuaded. Because like the other Brand Ambassador positions, there is absolutely no work, or responsibilities or duties, of any kind.

Welcome aboard Patton. And good luck.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yakitty Yak

I don't often do this, actually I've looked over the 800 plus entries here and found that I've never done this, but today I'd like to do my version of a restaurant review.

I have a colleague who writes reviews on yelp almost daily. He is a true foodie. And he knows what he is talking about. Despite working as a short order cook for many years at dozens of restaurants, from Denny's to chi-chi French bistro's, I simply don't have the gastronomic vocabulary or even the slightest credentials to pass judgment on local eateries.

However, last week we ventured outside our comfort zone and experienced the wonders of Himalayan cuisine.

Located on Venice Blvd. at 35 feet above sea level, is a little known place called Tara's. It's smack dab in the middle of a very multi-ethnic area. It's next door to a Brazilian restaurant which is adjacent to a Vietnamese bodega, which is butted up against a Pakistani Laundromat (I'm pretty sure the detergent is all halal.)

Tara's is uniquely authentic. From the food to the beer to the hand-painted prayer wheels.

One thing I love about Himalayan, or Indian, or most fare from the sub-Asian continent is the beer. It has a higher alcohol content than the swill that passes for beer stateside. And it often comes in very big bottles. In fact I had finished drinking two of these behemoth bottles before the food even arrived at the table. 

Which might account for my lackluster recollection of the meal.

I know we had some Naan. And then there were these dumpling things. An orangish kind of meat stew. Something with chicken. It might have been pork. Oh, and the Yak. That I do remember.

Go to Tara's and order the Yak Chili. It's spicy. It's chewy. And it's chock full of Yakki goodness.
Once you've had Yak you'll always come bak.

This will probably be the last time I attempt a restaurant review.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Further Adventures of Sassy Tugwell

As someone who gets paid a lot of money to sit in front of a keyboard and basically talk with my fingers, I can come clean and say I spend a lot of time goofing off.

There are people who can plop themselves down and clack away from 9 to 5 without ever taking a break, those people are called writers. As I have often claimed I am not one of them. I have a vocational ADD and need constant distraction.

Last week, during one of these non-writing jaunts, I took some time to see who has been looking at my profile. This wasn't completely recreational, because as a freelance consultant I always need to know where my next gig is coming from.

Here's what I discovered:

I can't explain why a Senior Client Manager from CIGNA in Charlotte, North Carolina was looking at my resume, but I'm glad she did.

Her name is Sassy Tugwell. I couldn't find any pictures of Sassy Tugwell on the Internet but I did find a drag queen from Key West, Florida and her (his) name was Sassy.

And that seemed to be good enough.

A few days ago I had another curious profile stalker by the name of Monica Slabyak. Clearly not as funny as Sassy Tugwell. Then it occurred to me, rather than wait for people with funny names to look at my linkedin, what if I were to set the bait by looking for them?

So, now I am waiting patiently, with fingers crossed, hoping to get pinged back by Kym E. Morehead, Fa Kyu and Aly Cummings Risings.

I'm also tempted to actually initiate a linked connection with this man...

I better get back to work now.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Ruminatti

The New World Order. The Trilateral Commission. The Bilderberg Group. Free Masons. The False Flag Killings of American Citizens by Drug-Induced Zombies. The Free Proliferation of Kosher Salt.

The folks who come up with this conspiratorial stuff have a vivid imagination. They have a lot of time on their hand. And they have the freedom to ruminate. What they don't have, are facts. But that has never stopped anybody from spreading incredulous non-truths on the Internet, where bat shit crazy paranoia is almost as prevalent as porn.

More recently, these tin-foil hat wearers suggested that the slaying of 20 children in Newtown, CT was nothing but a ruse to sway public opinion and bring about a ban on military assault weapons. I'm not sure whether they believe the children didn't actually die or that the parents, the local police, the neighbors and of course the media, were all part of a huge conspiracy and just "staged" the event.

Frankly, I have more important things to do with my time than to burrow any deeper down their little anti-Semitic rabbit hole.

Because in the end, that's what this is all about.

It's thinly-veiled propaganda pointing the finger of blame at the world's favorite scapegoat, the Jews. In case you hadn't heard, Jews were responsible for the Bubonic Plague, The Slave Trade, the birth of Capitalism, and Communism, the ominous design on the US dollar bill, and even the Holocaust. That's right, we Jews agreed to fabricate Aryan Anti-semitism and sacrifice 6 million of our own in order to gain the world's sympathy and tip their opinion in our favor.

We're just that clever. Of course all of this willfully ignores the impossibility of a conspiracy. After all, if you put two Jews in a room, you come out with three opinions.

I was reading one "Illuminatti Scholar" (an oxymoron if there ever was one) who claimed the movement was born in Scotland. He documents the Jewish origin of many of Scotland's leading families, the Sinclairs, Stuarts, Campbells, Caldwells and Cowans (Cohen, naturally). And claims they all took their lead from The Rothschilds, Sabbatean Jewish Cabalists.

This is all fascinating to me because I am of Jewish and Scottish descent. You'd think if there were some all powerful, all-knowing body of Hebraic/Gaelic world dominators, they would call me to do some of their banner ads. Or a brochure. Something.

Last week, America heard quite a bit about the Illuminatti when astute observers caught Beyonce flashing a 'secret' hand signal to the 2 billion people watching the Super Bowl. I don't know what she was signaling. Or what she was flashing. Me and the other billion men viewing the game were not watching her hands.

It's easy to scoff at such nonsense.

But I believe the Beyonce incident was simply a diversion. You see Satan was working his dark magic on that Super Sunday. He cleverly hid his End Times message in the form of a Hyundai commercial. While it's all good, it gets really good at about the 2:05 mark.

I've now watched all his youtube videos. The man is certifiably insane. But he is also doing us all a great favor.

You see, sane, rational, logic-loving people like myself could never discredit or even put a dent in the Illuminatti/TriLateral/New World Order/ZOG occupied movement.

But thanks to the democratizing technology of the Internet and accessibility of video cameras, stout, synapse-deficient men like Third Eagle, can.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Worthless Windbags

I know today is Thursday but as many of might also know I pre-write these blog entries in accordance with my very busy schedule. So while you may be reading this today (Thursday), for me it is actually Sunday.

More accurately, it is Super Bowl Sunday. I should be home preparing a sheet of betting boxes, dicing up habaneros for my signature 5-alarm chili, and icing up various flavors of low calorie beer.

But I’m not.
I’m stuck at the office working.
OK, I’m blogging, but I am at the keyboard, so technically I'm working.

Without getting into too many specifics, I’m involved with a very big project with very high stakes on the line. And so sacrifices have to be made. I’ve cancelled vacations before. Missed birthday parties before. And dragged my sorry ass into the office when I didn’t want to before.

These are accepted and expected parts of life in the glamorous world of advertising.

This notion of sacrifice however seems to have eluded our political leaders.

Back in December, when the media wasn’t telling us about the War on Christmas, they were pounding us over the head with the Fiscal Cliff. And how, if it wasn’t averted, our economy and the economy of the entire free world could go right in the shitter.

That didn’t seem to faze the 535 scoundrels who comprise both houses of Congress. They, supposedly committed to a career of public service, made it clear that had no intention of canceling or otherwise interrupting their important Christmas vacation plans.

Really? The fate of the planet and 8 billion people is less important than eating honey baked ham with your family and singing hackneyed Christmas songs written by old gay Jews.

The point is this.
If I can give up one of the most important days of the year, come in to the office and pretend to work, they should be willing, in a time of crisis, to stick around D.C. and pretend to lead.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Take your job and shove it

I'm coming up on 9 years as a freelancer.

It's the longest time I've ever held a particular job title. Previous to that, I had spent 6 years working at Chiat/Day. But I'm pretty sure my last year I was phoning it in and spending inordinate amounts of time on, or dozens of other job boards.

Lately, perhaps due to the seismic changes in the Los Angeles advertising community, I've been asked how I handle life as a freelancer. Which is often followed by, "Don't you ever want to go back on staff? You know, for the job security?"

If I did go back on staff it would not be for the "Job Security."

It'd be for the direct deposit checks. Or the paid dental cleaning. Or the opportunity to spend 12 hours a day with stunning 25-year old women who say charming things like, "Oh you're so funny. Just like my Dad."

You see "Job Security" is an illusion. It's a Unicorn. It's Sasquatch. It's The Ark of the Covenant. It's a Rosie O'Donnell String Bikini. These are things that simply do not exist.

Job Security does not exist because fairness does not exist. Fairness does not exist because meritocracy does not exist. And meritocracy does not exist because Careerism, with a capitol C, does exist.

I'll give you a good example.

A friend of mine was in charge of the Creative Department for a certain client at a certain unnamed Orange County agency. Prior to taking that job he had been a successful freelancer, but decided he wanted something more "permanent". So he re-entered agency life and poured himself into the work. Sales went up. Month after month after month. Then his client hired a new CMO.

The new CMO also wanted Job Security. So he did what all new CMO's do: disregard any success of the past, clean house and install his own people. And before you could say, "two years of aggregated growth and sales expansion", my buddy, who sat through countless meetings, who bit his tongue at countless stupid criticisms, and who fought off every instinct to throttle the numbnuts across the table, was shown the door.

A glutton for punishment, a year later he tried his hand at a different agency hoping for a different result. The circumstances changed, the outcome did not. Or as a brilliant account executive once explained to me: Same shit, different shithouse.

These stories, or permutations of them, happen here in Southern California, in SF, in Chicago, and all over NY. And, they will continue happening. Which might have bothered me in the past but doesn't bother me now. Because I have job security. Albeit, a not-so-conventional definition.

My job security comes from within.

It comes from knowing that I am my best resource. That I over-deliver on every opportunity. And that I control my own fate.

Of course it's not all internal. My job security also stems from the quality of work in today's advertising environment.

Did you see the commercials during this year's Super Bowl?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Our first guest blogger

Things have been crazy busy since I returned from Europe.

Late nights, weekends, and lots and lots of work presented and killed. In other words, I've been re-introduced to the life of an agency staffer. Minus the status meetings, free bagels and salary freezes.

It has taken its toll.
And I am tired.

So today we have a guest writer, my youngest daughter Abby, who recently handed me the letter pictured above. I particularly like her less-than-enthusastic sign off, which if you cannot see, reads:

Well I'm bored and my hand is tired. SO PEACE.

At 15 years old, she has already mastered the zippy, uber-ironic ending.

It makes a father proud.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Things Jews Don't Do

It's been a while since I've filed anything under this category, but with the country buzzing about guns and the possible wholesale deletion of the second amendment by these crazy parents who want to protect their kids, I'd thought chime in.

Back in December, during an unusual quiet week where I was not working, I thought I'd make a visit to the local firing range located about 20 minutes from my house.

It's in a sketchy neighborhood just east of LAX.

Sketchy, in that it's situated adjacent to an adult book store.

I'm pretty sure they're not selling copies of Lady Chatterly's Lover or Tropic of Cancer, so calling it an Adult Book Store is a little misleading. Even more confusing is, who still goes to an adult book store? There's this thing called the Internet. And if you so desired you could purchase both those saucy novels, and many more, as an e-book.

I parked next to a white van, thankfully it wasn't rocking, and opened the steel door at the entrance. Inside, I was greeted by a young tattooed, roid-boy perched on a stool behind three inches of bullet-proof glass.

There was no salutation. Just a buzzing. And a terse, "Come on in."

I pushed through the interior security door and walked into a large room that looked like it had been transplanted from a Marine Base Artillery Shack. There were guns and rifles and magazine clips of all shapes and sizes. Enough weaponry to storm Sacramento and take back our government from those train-building, fireman-funding Fascists.

The Jersey Shore Pauly D look-a-like (and I only know that character because I have two teenage daughters) asked what I wanted. What I wanted? I wanted to shoot a gun. I hadn't shot one since I owned a Daisy Rifle and pelted my fast-moving brother with a non-fatal round of BBs.

Guess what? He wouldn't let me. Because, and I had no idea, I needed to walk in with a friend. Turns out firing ranges are not allowed to simply hand a loaded pistol to some schmuck off the street with fifty bucks in his pocket and who knows what crazy ideas in his head.

At first I was annoyed at the inconvenience. Then I put two and two together and understood the common sense behind the procedure.

I didn't go into a rage. And didn't feel my 2nd amendment right had been abridged in any manner.

So I left the firing range and went next store to exercise my 1st Amendment Right. And browsed their excellent selection of fetish wear.