Monday, October 31, 2016

There is almost no place like home


Last week I did something I hadn't done in a good eight years, I went home.

Some of you may recognize the little hamlet as it was recently showcased on national TV. That cute little 12 year old girl who plays the ukulele and sings like a beatnik Ella Fitzgerald, is also from Suffern.

It's odd to think of this place as my home when in reality I lived there less than ten years -- from when I was 12 until I was 22. But of all the years of one's life, these perhaps are the most formative.

To the dismay of their wives, I spent most of my time in Suffern with my high school buddies. The drinking, the cavorting, and the storytelling resumed as if we were on a camping trip and the 8 year gap was simply me stepping away to the bushes to take a leak.

My neck and cheekbones are still in agony from all the laughter and I find myself chomping on Tylenols as if they were chicklets.

Despite our better judgment, we went to our high school reunion. Which one, you ask? The number doesn't matter. I'm 44, you do the math.

The turnout was light, but it was more than fascinating to talk with people who I knew in a different life. Jocks. Stoners. Band Nerds. Each one had their own surprising tale to tell. And, had I not become instant friends with the bartender and his industrial-sized bottle of Maker's Mark, I might even be able to remember some of them.

Also, apologies to any classmates (who generally don't read this) if I cornered you and pimped my latest book. That was the bourbon talking. As my California friends will attest, I'm very shy about self promotion.

On a less jovial note, my hometown visit also included some obligatory trips to the cemetery, to pay respects to our friend Jim, who we lost way too early.

And to see the final resting place of my parents. The sight of their matching side-by-side tombstones stopped me in my tracks and immediately opened the floodgates. It also sent me scurrying throughout the nearby woods for tombstone-appropriate pebbles and rocks -- those of you who are MOT or friends of MOT will understand.

But perhaps what I miss most about Rockland County/Northern New Jersey are the diners. There is something about sitting in a booth, thumbing through a 38 page menu and being served by a salty waitress named Donna or Karen, that just cannot be beat. We found ourselves at the Stateline Diner so often, that on the third visit my buddy Jamie - one of the funniest people on the planet -- remarked to the hostess,

"Look at us, we're like homing pigeons."

It all felt good.

And if you'll excuse the tired cliche, going home was like wrapping yourself in a warm, comfortable, cozy blanket.

But coming back to California (not Cali, Suffern people, no one says Cali) to my other home was also good. Here, I don't need a blanket.

And if the Santa Ana winds kick in, I have my brand new air conditioning.





Thursday, October 27, 2016

The rising high morale in the ad industry


Last week Campaign Magazine released the results of its latest survey and found morale in the ad industry had dropped 36 percent from last year's dangerously low levels.

Among the many reasons for the cliff dive: lack of agency leadership, lack of work/life balance, lack of office space, lack of Christmas bonus, and lack of anybody who has any clue about what the fuck anyone is doing.

It would be easy, too easy, to pile on and in Trumpian fashion say, "See? I told you so." After all I've been writing about these issues for more than 8 years. And has any agency ever reached out to me and said, "Rich, here's a million or two million dollars, come on board and help us turn this around?"

The answer is no, they have not.

Not surprisingly I'm tired of harping on the same old tropes. So I'm not going to.

You've heard that old managerial axiom, "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

Well, it's true. Because the ad agency folks I talk to the most are fellow veteran freelancers who are no longer at the agencies.

We've sat in the cruel 8 AM Monday morning status meetings.
We've occupied the middle seat on the flight to Des Moines.
We've eaten enough shit to fertilize a farm the size of Mongolia.

We took the beatings. Left the cubicle farm. And now our morale has improved.

Two weeks ago, my art director partner and I had a meeting with our client, a small start up company. There were only four of us in the meeting and the enthusiasm was quite contagious. Before long we were not only talking about the ideas on the table but collaborating on new concepts that could be implemented in the future. It was fun, productive and invigorating.

Afterwards, my partner and I looked at each other and thought this is the way advertising should be.

To summarize:

We're happy with agency leadership -- it's us.
We're happy with the work/life balance --I can take a nap anytime I want to.
We're happy with the office space --my partner will often blast Miles Davis from his desk, but his desk is 11.8 miles away from mine in Culver City.

At the risk of jinxing everything, you might say we're the happiest people in advertising.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hack Attack


Last Friday there was a massive shutdown of several major commercial websites, including Amazon, Netflix and Spotify. This was not a normal cyber attack, where hackers typically extract information.

Instead, servers were flooded with inbound requests, thus crippling many of your favorite shopping sites.

The Department of Homeland Security is looking into the matter, but I think what they're likely to find is that millions of readers were rushing to get my new book, The Big Book of Rants, A Gentleman's Guide to a Life in Advertising.

I'm no cyber expert but if we default to Occam's Razor and the simplest possible explanation, I think it's pretty clear the pent up demand for my book crashed the internet.

The book is already getting 5 stars reviews from people who haven't even read it yet.


Moreover, I'm getting a ton of private emails from advertising planners who can't thank me enough for publishing this tome of useless, uninformed rants.

Mark Thompson, a senior planner from Foote Cone in NY, writes...

"We had some joist damage from a recent storm. Our new 36" Wolf Range was listing to the left. Your new book, measuring 3/4 of an inch, worked perfectly to even out the tilt. Thanks." 

I'm happy to report the computer glitches have been unglitched. Which makes this a good time to get out your eleven dollars and ninety eight cents and make with the clicks.

Look at it this way, the more books you buy, the less I have to promote them. And I think that's what we all want, right?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Yellow Rain in Syracuse


I'm still on the road and unaccustomed to writing these blog posts from anywhere but the comfort of my den, so you'll have to excuse me one more trip down memory lane, in this case 714 Euclid Ave.

Do not be fooled by the quaint exterior, this place is a dump. A massive dump. If I had to guess, I would say it is well over 6000 square feet of living space, on 4 floors, three you can see and a musty unfinished basement you can't.

The owner of the joint called this a Boarding House and he would rent out the TEN individual bedrooms to Syracuse university students seeking affordable living.

As luck would have it, I was renter #9 and the landlord agreed to house me in a large bedroom in the aforementioned basement. The price was right. The proximity to campus, about a mile, was doable. And the heat was included in the rent, in Syracuse that's a win-win.

However, the landlord failed to inform me that the bedroom was located right below the kitchen and that some of the hardworking law students were early risers. It became painfully apparent this basement room was going to drive me bonkers.

I asked if I could be moved to a still vacant room on the top floor, see dormer window. The answer was no. In fact the answer was "no" on several occasions. So I did what I think any normal college student, short on sleep and other viable options, would do.

I picked the lock on the empty room. Moved all my belongings up there. And then -- and here's the dastardly part -- I ran a garden hose into the basement window and flooded the room with an inch of water. I called the landlord right away and told him there was a plumbing leak and I had to make an emergency evacuation from the room.

Suffice to say, the plumber arrived within minutes and could not find any leaks.

As you can imagine many unpleasantries and threats were exchanged.

And I know you're thinking less of me right now for taking such extreme measures. I'm even embarrassed to write this. However before you start empathizing with the landlord, keep in mind the man was actually a slumlord.

The house was a city ordinance nightmare.
Floorboards were missing.
The fire exit doors were bolted shut.
And the man had no respect for the students living at the house.

He would show up at the house unannounced. Eat our food. Drink our beer. And on several occasions walk in on the female students, once while one lass was entertaining a male friend -- coitus landlordus interruptus.

One more annoyance.

The driveway, on the left side of the picture, can accommodate 7 cars. Which can come in handy during an upstate NY winter. But Chuck, the landlord, kept his white working minivan parked there all year round. Meaning those of us with cars had to battle the 150 inches of snow and the battalion of army grade snowplows.

If you look back at the picture of the house, you'll see there are two dormers windows on the very top floor. The second is a bathroom that is conveniently situated right above the spot where Chuck would park his vehicle.

Am I saying several of the guys in the house would do their business out the window onto the van? No.

But I'm not not saying that either.




Monday, October 24, 2016

A Visit to the Orange Nation


It's a well documented fact that cats have nine lives, but has anyone calculated how many lives belong to humans?

Today, and for the past two days, I have been holed up, under a wilting $9.99 umbrella, in Syracuse, NY. This place does not belong to me in this life, but it did a few lifetime's ago.

The memories of going to college here are quite fuzzy. Did I have a Calculus class in that building? Did I get in a screaming argument with a Film History professor in that building? Did I throw up in the bushes beside that building?

And while I may be light on the specific details, there is no problem recalling the feelings of being here. The confusion. The cold. The crippling insecurity -- (maybe my father is right, maybe I should study accounting and give up this stupid dream of becoming a writer.)

And of course there was the abject poverty.

In the four years I was here, in that other life, I never had two nickels to rub together. I was born to a family of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants. People from the shtetls of Eastern Europe and the gritty mills of working class Scotland. In other words, there was no money.

So if I wanted to go to college -- and my father convinced me I wanted to -- I had to pay for it. Not all of it, but enough of it to keep me washing dishes, tending bar, or waiting on tables, while many of my excessively wealthy classmates were driving new BMW's and buying the good weed.

But as a professor recently told us while touring colleges for our daughters, "The best teaching tool at a university is a little adversity."

In hindsight, it's easy to look back on it and smile.

I stopped in at the Varsity Pizza the other night for a slice of nostalgia. And at one point it occurred to me, I could buy everyone in the place a pie and a pitcher of beer. Then my pepperoni pizza arrived and it wasn't nearly half as good as I had remembered. Then I thought...

Let these spoiled bastards pay for their own pizza.

It was another life, an invaluable one at that. Because after four years, I left with something more important than any sheepskin -- a sense of self and $25,000 worth of confidence.

Three weeks after graduating from Ice Station Zebra, I packed a duffel bag full of clothes, bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles, and got a room at a UCLA frat house, technically it wasn't a room, it was a mattress on the roof, but it was place to lay my head.

The beginning of another life.




Thursday, October 20, 2016

Superbad


Live in LA long enough and certain locations begin to take on a lore of their own. It goes beyond the corner of Pico and Sepulveda or Olympic and La Cienega.

Locales become know by the movie scene that made them famous.

When my wife and I dare to put up with the hourlong wait, we treat ourselves to Mexican food at Pacos Tacos, known to the rest of the world where Jerry McQuire (Tom Cruise) pitches woo to Renee Zelwegger.

The Culver Hotel is a stone's throw from my house. And this, as any visitor to Culver City will tell you, is where the munchkins stayed while filming The Wizard of Oz. I like to picture dozens of drunken midgets (can I say that?) or little people drinking bourbon and chasing statuesque women through the Victorian styled lobby.

Speaking of getting tanked, there's the little Quick E Mart at Overland and Braddock. From my rooftop, I could hit this place with a well struck fairway wood. This little strip mall convenience shop was made famous by Jonah Hill and Michael Cerra in the movie Superbad. It's here, the boys plan to buy enough booze to make them big men on the high school campus.

From the picture I snapped the other day (above) you can see why the location scouts picked this place. And I guarantee my standard iPhone 6S is not doing it any justice.

Two of the four load-bearing walls holding up the roof are lined with every brand of gin, rum, vodka, tequila and whiskey ever committed to a bottle.

Including many you've never heard of.

I did not know, for instance, that Peruvians loved their scotch whiskey, nor that they had found a way to distill it from old llama hooves.

I find myself at this Quick E Mart at least 3 times a week for various sundries and such: coffee filters, Tylenol, paper towels and Johnson & Johnson's Aloe Vera Baby Oil in the 16 ounce recyclable container. And though the clerk, a very outgoing man of indistinguishable Southern Asian descent is always chatting me up -- "How are you today, Boss?" -- I can't understand a word he says.

When I am there I constantly distracted by the visual and alcoholic assault from behind the counter.


There is enough liquor in this place to get through two armageddons.

Should things go squirrelly on November 9th, I know the first store I'll be looting.




Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Garage that built Hewlett Packard


This is where it all started.

This is where William Hewlett and David Packard put their brains together, along with $538 in funding, to begin their legendary company.

By the time I began calling them a client (back in the mid-90's) they were worth billions and billions of dollars, with offices on every continent of the planet. Had there been people in Antarctica with a need for some slow inkjet printers, I'm sure they would have set up shop there as well.

My dealings with this printing behemoth were never very pleasant. But today's post is not about that.

You see, recently I have begun work for another start up.

They don't operate out of a one car garage, but they are in their infancy. And, I hope, they have more than $538 in funding.

I'm not going to divulge the name of this new client. I don't have their permission. Plus, I don't need other freelance creatives trying to poach them away. I know that sounds crazy, but from various social media postings I can see that fellow copywriters and art directors are absolutely desperate for work.

What I will tell you is that working with them, even at my greatly reduced day rate, is a true joy.

For one thing, it's just a bunch of young, energetic guys, gathered in a frumpy 3 story townhouse. It's a half living, half working type of environment that has all the appearances of a well maintained frat house. They all wear shorts, flip flops and three day facial hair.

So, it's casual to say the least.

But make no mistake, these guys are smart. They're are some MBAs in the crowd. Maybe a Phd. And they all seem very enthusiastic. Everything is "awesome" or "super" or "super, awesome". Last week I showed the CEO and founder some possible new tagline and he was over the moon with giddiness. I know I've developed a thick skin after all these years, but it was downright refreshing to have someone actually appreciate the work I do.

The work we all do.

It stood in dark contrast to the countless meetings of stone faced corporate executives who see what you've pinned up on the board and launch into their well-rehearsed career posturing, box checking and devil's advocate playing...

"I like what you've done here but let me just play..."

Oh fuck you!

Here's the thing about working with people you actually like, people with a passion, people who see value in what you bring to the table -- you want to give them everything you've got. I've already gone way beyond the original scope of the assignment. Way beyond. So I'm already operating in the red.

But you know what?

I don't care.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Winners and losers


On November 8th my wife and I will do as millions of Americans will do. We'll sit glued to the TV and watch the outcome of the presidential election. Or Shitstorm 2016.

I'm confident that our better angels will prevail.

However, I'm far less confident about the result of those results.

More specifically, I'm talking about the pitchfork and torches crowd who are already taking the safeties off their Glock 9's and AR-15's.

They're already convinced the ballot boxes have been stuffed.

And with a lot of encouragement from their pussy-grabbing leader, they're already to pin the blame on a group of nefarious outsiders.

Who?

The global elitist international bankers, that's who. Maybe some of you are new to the world of alt. right euphemisms, but I'm not. I've heard them all. New World Order. Trilateral Commission. The Bielderberg Group. FreeMasons. ZOG. Illuminati.

It's all code for Joos!

There's this crazy notion that 16 million of us are the cunning puppet masters of the other 8 billion people on the planet.

I don't know whether I should be flattered, belonging to a supergroup with super intelligence and a supernatural ability to manipulate the comings and goings of an entire race of people.

Or whether I should be shaking in my boots because the gig is up and the truth is out. Unmasked, undone and uncovered by a merkin-sporting, tit-groping, illiterate shitgibbon.

One thing is for sure, three weeks from today, on November 9th, we're going to throw the deadbolt on the door and sleep with baseball bats at our side.








Monday, October 17, 2016

The Reviews are Already Coming In



Days like today don't happen too often.

In fact, since I've only published three books, they've only happened to me twice in the past.

Once was in 2005, before there was Facebook or Twitter or Blogspot or all manner of social media, so apart from my short interview on KABC radio, no one even knew of Tuesdays With Mantu, My Adventures with a Nigerian Con Artist.

Last year I released my second book, RoundSeventeen & 1/2, The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Inefficient and the subsequent social platforms were widely available. I don't think any of us can forget how I bludgeoned and digitally abused the 13 readers who come to this blog on a daily basis. And I apologize for my shameless self-promotion and liberal use of the Guilting Stick.

Today, I am officially releasing my newest opus: The Big Book of Rants, A Gentleman's Guide to a Life in Advertising. And I hope to strike a more appropriate balance.

However, I'm not saying that's going to be easy.

When CNN is breaking news stories, almost on an hourly basis, about a presidential candidate bragging about "grabbing pussy", swinging his alleged big billionaire dick around, talking like a 14 year old, and copping feels on every blond shicksa he's ever come in contact with, it's ridiculously hard to break through the clutter.

So here's the soft sell.

If you can part with eleven dollars and ninety eight cents, this timeless collection of caffeine-fueled, disgruntled employee rants can be all yours. The photo alone, snapped by my good friend and book cover designer Robert Prins is worth the price. Moreover, the book has been thoughtfully customized to sit perfectly above most makes and models of today's modern toilets.

But don't take my word for it.

Listen to what some of the most experienced advertising planners in the advertising industry have to say about my new book.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cancel everything


According to a recent article in Ad Age -- not as reliable as Agency Spy, but still a legitimate source of news in our industry -- 2/3 of all accounts are planning to go into review this year.

Two thirds!

I hope you've spent some time with your kids because you won't be seeing them for a while.

I hope you've taken care of all the repairs around the house because all that's going on the back burner.

I hope you've managed to get some stability in your life cause shits about to get real.

If you're a staffer it's enough to make you start Googling things like: arsenic, cyanide, high caliber pistols, and industrial grade sleeping pills. I feel your pain.

Especially if you're employed by the incumbent agency and your tone deaf management decides to mount a sturdy defense.

"We're going to retain this account. We're going to put on our smiley faces. We're going to be agreeable to all client demands. And we're going to reignite the spark that made this pain in the ass client come to our agency just 18 moths ago."

Mind you, I'm not complaining. One of the first tenets in the freelancer's handbook is, "turmoil is your friend."

And as an outsider it's quite amusing to watch an agency go through the wild machinations of trying to retain an account. When you don't have skin in the game, when you're emotionally disconnected from the daily grind, and when you're granted the privilege of being an observer, it's so much easier to see things how they actually are.

Years ago, I had a front row, courtside seat to all this mishigas.

The client had brought in a new CMO, who as all new CMO's do, initiated a lengthy, expensive and futile review. Seems that despite year-to-year double digit sales growth, a content dealer body, and a wealth of work that was some of the smartest in the automotive arena, the brand was simply not being defined to his liking.

He felt, or at the least he told us, that the agency needed to shore up the notion of Luxury. And so, week after week, presentation after presentation, we attempted to redefine Luxury.

I've been doing this a long time and can tell you, it's a fool's game. People know what luxury is and the minute they sit in the driver's seat they know, the car either has it or it doesn't. And no planner-speak or wave of the copywriter magic wand is going to change that.

Mr. New CMO would have none of that.

And so, before the account changed hands and during the last gasping breaths of the review, the agency produced this one last spot. Which, in light of all the idiocy, nonsense and unmitigated torture this one particular assnugget client inflicted on some of the best and brightest people I've had the pleasure of working with, amounts to a delicious 30-second, color-corrected, celebrity-announced Fuck You.

You want luxury? Here's luxury.

In retrospect, and even though I didn't write it, this could be my all time favorite commercial ever committed to celluloid.




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I hate you Fan Duel


Pictured above you'll see one of my recent Fan Duel entries. It might be from last week. It might be from last month. It might be from last year. Doesn't matter. They all look remarkably alike.

By noon, Pacific Time, I'm usually in the green. Meaning I'm winning. Cam Newton has thrown for 5 touchdowns. Dan Bailey has kicked 7 field goals, all from 60 yards out. And the Denver Broncos defense have 14 points just on safeties.

And then the tide turns.

Demarco Murray gets a concussion. Or Julio Jones starts dropping passes in the endzone. The players of the NFL seem to conspire against me.

My $100 winnings become 75. And then 50. And then 25.

By the time Al Michaels and Chris Collingsworth start calling the Sunday Night Game I'm no longer in the green. And find myself rooting for Carson Wentz to throw an 80 yard touchdown pass to some third string tight end from Southern North Dakota State, just to get me one fucking point so I can win $9.73.

That's not frustration you're sensing, that's paranoia.

I am convinced the folks at Fan Duel have rigged the system.

You see I resisted the whole fantasy football thing form the very beginning. But then 3 years ago, I caved and gave in to the phenomena, perhaps influenced by the constant playing of the Ed Norton-voiced commercials. I signed up, dropped a small deposit and made my very first picks for my very first entry.

Call it beginner's luck or call it doing my homework, but right from the get-go I was a winner.

45 bucks right out of the gate. Blessed with a fervent imagination, I saw myself as some budding Ace Rothstein. If I played this right I could up my ante, start bringing home some serious cash, and pay the girl's college tuition based solely on the performances of Andy Dalton, Eli Manning and Da'brickashaw what's-his-face.

But that's not the way it went.

Week after miserable week I found myself a point shy, a half a point shy and in one case, two tenths of a point shy of being in the green.

Now, I'm convinced I'll never recoup my losses.

Unless there's stunning performance turned in by Ha Ha Clinton Dix.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dare to suck on this.


Heard while watching football last Sunday...

"Only those who dare can drive the world forward. The all new Cadillac CTS."

Holy horse shit on dry white toast!!!

Drive the world forward?
Have we become this divorced from reality?
What a load of psycho-babble, brain-bashing, marketing malarkey.

Do the genii at Cadillac, or for that matter so many other automakers, truly believe the words that are coming out of their mouths? As well as their very intensive rigorous fact finding focus groups, which are apparently attended by the next generation of Edisons, Einsteins, and Galileos?

I don't know about you but I'm so god-damned tired of hearing about people who dare.

People who are driven.

People who are refreshing the world with their enlightened choice of brown fizzy sugar water.

Granted, I didn't see the 398-page "People Who Dare" Powerpoint presentation, so I'm not privy to all the big data deep dives and the demographic hair splitting, but I'm going to go out on a limb and state, unequivocally, that people don't buy a Cadillac because it aligns with their altruistic nature or their desire to leave the planet in better shape than they found it or their seemingly perpetual need to drive the world forward -- whatever the fuck that means.

They buy a Cadillac to rub their noses in their neighbor's face, the obnoxious neighbors with the barking pit bulls and the yard full of crab grass.

They buy a Cadillac for the massive 973 horsepower, V-8 engine and the hope that one day America will have its own autobahn.

They buy a Cadillac because they like the boaty feel of yacht but are landlocked in Kentucky.

They buy a Cadillac because it harkens back to an earlier time, when you had to own a schmatta factory or captain one branch of the Gambino family to drive a Coupe de Ville.

They buy a Cadillac because there's a lot of shit going on this world. Shit they can't control. Or understand. Or dare to change. But they can work hard. And they can save money. And they can make their driveway the envy of all the other poor saps on the block who are also not out to alter the course of humankind.

You want daring? How about we dare to ignore so much of this useless planning bullcockery and inject some human insight into what we do. You may not like this, but at least their are some nuggets of truth in this...






Monday, October 10, 2016

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

In the box


Months ago I was sent a rather ominous letter from the County of Los Angeles. Turns out I was summoned to jury duty and failed to show up. It wasn't because I didn't want to be on a jury, I did.

If you know me at all, you can imagine how I treasure the opportunity to deliver some justice to the imbeciles and cretins of this world.

I answered the letter with an immediate call to the county officials.

I told them that with two girls in college, a very hectic freelance schedule and a blog with 13 insatiable readers, I simply forgot to show up. The woman on the other end of the line was very understanding. She said she would forgo the threatened fine if I showed up to serve the following Tuesday.

Guess what? I forgot to show up for that appointment as well.

Again, not because I'm trying to avoid doing my civic responsibility. I actually enjoy witnessing the entire judicial process. And did I mention the possibility of putting away some imbeciles and cretins?

A few weeks ago, I was summoned again. Not by a simple envelope in the mail. This time somebody showed up at my front doorstep.

That got my attention.

So I showed up at the Inglewood Courthouse ready to do my duty. And as luck would have it, I was one of the first to be paneled, meaning I sat in the box and answered all the questions by the judge. All was going well until late in the interview the judge asked if there was anything about the case that could make me feel impartial about serving?

For one thing, the defendant was defending himself. Which might have been entertaining. On the other hand, the charge was a routine DUI.

He didn't hit anyone. He didn't cause any physical damage. It was just a simple DUI. Only it wasn't that simple and I was more than willing to share my opinion with the 75 potentials jurors seated in the audience on a hot day when the air conditioning wasn't working...

"I have a problem your honor. I can't help notice, and I don't think it has escaped anyone else's attention, the tremendous amount of resources being wasted to bring this case to justice. Look at all these people missing work. Look at all the time being spent. All the schedules re-jigged just because this guy doesn't want to pay a $1000 fine? All due respect to the court, but this feels incredibly irresponsible."

My little ramble didn't elicit a standing ovation, but I certainly heard about it at the break.

"Thank you for speaking up."

"I'm with you, brother."

"Man it's hot in this motherfucking building."

Truth is, I would have been more than happy to adjudicate a robbery or an assault or even something more juicy like a carjacking. But I had no interest in giving up a week of my time to listen to TEN police officers (they told us how many witnesses the DA planned to call to the stand) telling me the defendant was drunk.

Then I heard the magic words reserved for only a lucky few.

"Juror #9, you're excused from the panel. Thank you."

By the way, the guy looked guilty.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hail to the Shitgibbon.


Against my better instincts, today I am delving into the political arena. More specifically I plan to talk about the 6'3" shitgibbon from Queens.

I've seen a lot of insults hurled at the man who grew up not far from my two NYC residences in Jackson Heights and Flushing, and shitgibbon is by far my favorite.

Also, and this needs to be stated, I'm not here to campaign for, or defend, or proselytize for Ms. Clinton, so you can spare me the comments and smack-talking. She strikes me as a politician. I don't have much heart for politicians, but at the very least she has the intellect for the position.

SG (shitgibbon) does not.

Along with countless other attributes one might expect in someone seeking the highest position in the land.

For me, his character defects are all the more glaring considering how he makes hay of his otherworldly business acumen. And has called himself America's favorite billionaire.

If I may paraphrase Lloyd Bensen, "I have shaken hands with America's favorite billionaires and I can tell you Sir Gibbon, you are not one of them."

Though I'm only 44 years old, I've had the pleasure of meeting several billionaires or, at the very least, multi-millionaire CEOs: Bob Iger (Disney), Tom Siebel (Siebel Systems), Elena Ford (Ford) and through one or two degrees of separation, Warren Buffet (Warren Buffet).

I'm not saying that in any kind of braggadocious manner. I'm just saying I've had personal contact with folks with bigly money.

Despite their varying wealth, stature and political leanings, these were people who carried themselves with a certain air. They spoke eloquently. They had a sense of who they were and their place in this world because they had a more than rudimentary knowledge of history, a sense of diplomacy, and a general abidance to play within the rules of the game.

In layman's terms, they had class and decency.

Shitgibbon, I'll use his formal name, has none.

NONE.

Unfit for POTUS?

His vulgarian surliness makes him unfit for a clerical position at the DMV. That's a pretty low bar.

The man has no ability to restrain himself and pick his battles. Witness his recent 3 AM twitter bombs launched at a disgruntled former beauty queen. I could stroll into my local Starbucks and have a 100% chance of finding someone with a more suitable temperament.

"You, over-caffeinated guy with the wool knit cap and the shaky hands, working on that stupid screenplay you'll never sell, come over and put your right hand on the bible."

Our domestic problems are solvable and I have no doubt we can ride the ups and downs of poor infrastructure, unfair income distribution and social unrest.

But with the rise of Islamic terrorism, fluid superpower dynamics and escalating regional conflicts -- is anybody paying attention to Pakistan and India right this second? -- we are just a few bad decisions away from a total nuclear meltdown.

Do we want to trust the fate of the human race to a merkin-sporting, illiterate, billionaire shitgibbon whose fuse is even shorter than his tiny dick?







Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Who wants pie?


If it happened once, it might not be worth writing about.

Twice, and I could chalk it up to misguided coincidence.

But the Pie Chart is now making a regular appearance on advertising briefs and I cannot let it go.

Well, 27% of me wants to let it go but 73% of me says otherwise.

This is now a thing.

Planners are not happy to do their job and find for us the single unique selling proposition, they've taken the extra step to find two. Sometimes three.

And because they are so committed to bringing their strategic insights to life, they have thoughtfully prescribed an informative ratio to guide us through the heretofore un-navigationable forest of dichotomous communication.

Due to signed NDA's and delicate agency sensitivities, I can't mention names or cite specifics, not that it matters as this is becoming acceptable point of procedure wherever I go, but I have seen pie charts for:

Luxury/Performance      75%/25%

Technology/Humanity    60%/40%

Durability/Safety            55%/45%

and my favorite

Bacon/Non-Bacon/Crust  33%/33%/20%  (remaining 14% for urgent CTA)

Look, there isn't a household in America without a DVR. Even poor Appalachian ginseng root pullers, who don't have two shoes to their name, possess the ability to fast forward through our ridiculously-labored commercials for heartburn relief and disposable adult diapers.

And is there anyone who doesn't hit the SKIP ADS button on youtube?

There are literally 38 people in this great country of ours that actually see TV spots. And now we want them to split their minuscule attention spans along some fakakta proportions that make sense to no one but our navel-gazing MBAs?

Good Night Nurse!

The quantification and commoditization of what we do, what we create and what we say is the clearest indication that people who profess to have an insight into human behavior and acumen in the field of communications, have none.

Perhaps I'm not making myself clear.

Maybe this will help:







Monday, October 3, 2016

Welcome to Hilton/Doubletree/Hampton/Conrad/Waldorf/Embassy/Curio/Tru/Canopy/and Homewood suites



If you look at the end of any Apple commercial you'll see the apple logo.

What's more telling however, is what you won't see.

It doesn't say Apple.
There's no phone number to call.
There's not even a hashtag.

It's just a silhouette of an apple with a bite taken out of it.

It's rumored that a few lieutenants asked Steve Jobs to include all that additional information. It's also rumored that he answered them...

"Why the fuck do I want to make it harder for consumers to remember our spots? If they're interested they'll find us. I think they're smart enough to do that. And if they're not that smart they can jump on Windows 95."

Well, apparently the marketing genii at Hilton never got that memo. I've been seeing a bunch of Hilton commercials lately, and believe me, they're all indistinguishable from each other. I see what's on the air and I troll through my files from last year's Hilton pitch and can't help wondering...

"Really?"

But that's not even the point of today's rant.

Having endured 27 seconds of hospitality tropes that have more wear and tear on them than the hallway carpets at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, the consumer is assaulted with an eye chart of proud Hilton properties (see above).

14 properties in all.

Once again, leaving me to wonder, "Really?"

What purpose could it possibly serve? And mind you this is 3 seconds out of 30, that's a full 10% of the messaging unit.

Let's say I'm intrigued by the pristine well-made queen size beds, lured by the sparkling indoor pool, and convinced by the khaki-pants wearing business fellow eating gourmet scrambled eggs and bacon served by an unnaturally happy room service attendant.

And let's say I book my room at the downtown Topeka Hilton for just $149 a night (offer not valid Thursdays thru Sundays).

Why on earth do I need to know that the mother company also operates the Doubletree in Fairbanks, Alaska? Or the Hampton Inn, in Middletown, NY?

If it were me, I'd sell off the Embassy Suites, and use the proceeds of the sale to open up the walls on the remaining 13 properties and put some goddamn soundproofing insulation between the goddamn rooms.