Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mysteries of life

Today, this woman, former TV show contestant, Omarosa is working.

Today, as of this writing, I, a 44 year old freelance copywriter, am not.

Mind you, I have been busy lately. Last week alone, I handled a B2B campaign for a manufacturer of plumbing valves. A manifesto writing exercise for a maker of malware detection software. And some promos for some reality housewives wannabe show that will air in C-SPAN's prime 3AM slot.

But today there is nothing on the plate. And so I'll be dialing for dollars. Pounding the inter web pavement in search of agency reviews, unsatisfied clients and small production houses in Sacramento looking for some branding expertise.

It's not glamorous by any means. But it is the life I've chosen. And it's the poison I prefer.

I can't sit at the Long Table of Mediocrity™ (a term I'm seeing my colleagues use more and more.) Nor can I stomach the unpalatable gruel of jargon and process that is force-fed on staffers at an ad agency on a daily basis.

And yet I cannot help but to scratch the Omarosa itch.
She is working today.
And I am not.

Not to appear immodest, but seriously?

Here's a woman whose sole qualification seems to be her willingness to blow smoke up Precedent Shitgibbon's arse. She is seated near the levers of power. She has the capacity to shape what happens here and around the world.

And here I am hoping to get booked with a startup company that makes avocado-flavored butter.

I can't help but to be reminded of a conversation I had way back in 1998.

I was at Chiat/Day and we had just been named Agency of the Year. We were hitting on all cylinders. Winning awards. And producing campaigns that transcended into pop culture. It truly was a golden time.

We were pitching some new piece of business. And going up against some lightweight competitors. It was at this point when I found myself in a conference room sitting next to Lee Clow. Those of you who know me know I don't do the flattery thing. Sycophancy has never been in my wheelhouse, and probably goes a long way to explain my current situation.

In any case, I thought this was a good opportunity to ask Clow a question that had been on my mind.

"Lee, I don't get it, Chiat is arguably one of the best agencies in the country. In the world for that matter. We're winning awards for Apple, Levis and Taco Bell. Why do we even have to pitch clients? Shouldn't they be coming to us?"

Lee looked at me, slightly befuddled. Like I lacked some fundamental understanding of how the world was not fair and how business was conducted in the real world. And I'll never forget his response.

"I left my coffee in my office, can you go get it, Brian?"

Monday, September 18, 2017

Хороший мальчик

One of the joys about working from home and not with a gun to my head to meet some falsified deadline, is the liberty to step away from the computer and the shoestring budgets and the fakakta strategies, to do as I please.

Yesterday, I did just that.

I was pleased to take my oldest daughter on a little field trip. We got in the car and drove to a Culver City gem, the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Turns out she had never been there.

This is odd considering the museum's incredible proximity. I could literally land a golf ball on their roof with two mighty swings of a titanium driver.

Why then didn't we walk? Because even though my wife are avid hikers and log more than 50,000 steps a week, my daughters are not walkers.

It's just an incongruity of life one must accept.

Not unlike the little known Soviet Space Dogs, who pioneered our extraterrestrial adventures in search of rubber balls and meat treats. Here we learned the exploits of Laika, Belka and Strelka, canine predecessors to the much more famous Sputnik program. The efforts, and drugged napping, of these dogs has been immortalized in beautiful Soviet style posters.

In a weird (perhaps intentional) turn of fair play, the museum also featured a unique display outlining the history and magical lyricism of the Cat's Cradle.

This multimedia display had everything. A look back to the origin of the Cat's Cradle. Artwork depicting its use in torturing political prisoners. There was even a tactile area, where a disembodied voice (there are a lot of disembodied voices at this museum) will guide you through some of the more intricate Cat's Cradles you can do should you choose to pick up one of the loops of strings handled by thousands of other visitors.

Sadly, one of my favorite displays was gone. Or, perhaps we missed it. Some of the rooms in the museum are very poorly lit. Others, simply smell bad and are very uninviting. Of course, I'm talking about the robust exhibit of ancient cures and medical treatments.

We humans have some strange ideas on treating illnesses. Today, we put hot stones on our backs. Pour melted wax in our ears. Or go on 7 day lemon juice/yoga cleanses. But our ancestors knew much better.

To cure bedwetting for instance, they would make their children or husbands eat this...

Do yourself a favor and visit this incredible museum, wedged between an auto body shop and a bodega that sells awful smelling Indian spices. It's well worth the $8 admission. And you'll exit the place wondering...

"What the fuck was that all about?"

Which is quite an achievement considering the President of the United States is still defending the fine character of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In search of 44 year old men

It's Thursday and most of you know what that means.

However, we also have a whole bunch of newcomers to Roundseventeen.

Thanks in large part to Tuesday's post, which sort of caught fire, went semi-viral in London and skyrocketed to the top of the heap -- the most viewed post in the 9 plus year history of this blog.

And so, to welcome new readers, allow me a moment to explain.

I have a penchant for scambaiting, that is messing with internet scams by getting the heads of those seeking to exploit others via the web. Years ago, I engaged with several Nigerian con artists and collected all the back and forth correspondence. I even turned it into my own book/website available here: www.tuesdayswithmantu.com

Lately, and for the last several weeks I have pointed my laser focus at Asiadate.com -- an internet scamming site designed to separate lonely middle aged American men from their money.

I created a phony profile, under the name of David Goldstein, and have been having fun answering selected would be mail order brides.

With that, I give you the obscenely young Hai Bo.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chuck E's In Love

Before I started my career in advertising and rocketed to fame, fortune and jetsetting around the world, I toiled many years in the restaurant business.

I washed dishes.

I flipped burgers.

I chased rats out of the ceiling rafters and killed them with a mighty swing of a whisk broom.

I also had the opportunity to work in two of the coolest nightclubs in West Los Angeles.

The divey, dirty, gritty Hop Singh's on Lincoln Blvd.
And the tonier, more upscale At My Place on Wilshire Blvd.

Though separated by only 4.1 miles as the crow flies, they were worlds apart, musically.

Hop Singh's was built for jazz and blues aficionados. The place was tiny, meaning the rent was cheap. The liquor was watered down, meaning the business costs were cheap. And the labor was overworked, meaning the boss was cheap.

And he was. His name was Rudy and he was an old school Jew from the old country. And though he was sweet and funny and treated us all like his kids, I'll never forget watching him pluck swizzlesticks from the drinks that had been bussed back to the kitchen.

"What? I should let these go to waste?"

Besides getting to see great jazz greats like George Benson, Big Joe Turner and Pat Metheny, live on our tiny little stage, I also had the pleasure of hanging out with them in the Green Room. Well, it would have been Green had Cheap Rudy sprung for a paint job.

Mostly, I remember the old black guys.

I remember them in their grimy rented tuxedoes. Smoking cigarettes, telling road stories and drinking Couvoisier. And laughing. Damn, these guys could laugh. When I think back on it, the sound coming from the Green Room was sweeter and more full of life than any random plucking of bass strings and snare taps coming from the stage.

Today, the building that was home to so many legends is the now the service department for Kawasaki Jet Ski Dealership.

Across town, At My Place is now BelCampo, some fancy upscale butcher shop/restaurant where over-indulged westsiders can pay through the nose for kale-fed, hormone free porterhouse steak.

Here too I got to hang with musicians.

Ricki Lee Jones (who was in the news recently and inspired this post) played there. So did Robben Ford, Richard Eliot and the great Billy Vera and the Beaters.

The Beaters were always the most memorable. Not only for the way they would take the show off the stage and parade the audience up and down Wilshire Blvd, but also for they way they would stick around after the show. With the doors closed and the cash registers locked up for the night, the club owner would open up the bar. And we, the staff, the beaters and even the crew of Mexican busboys, would drink.

And not stop drinking until just before the sun would rise.

Now, if I'm awake at 4:30 in the morning, it's to make my fourth trip to the bathroom.

Good times.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Advertising: "I'm not dead yet."

Last week, Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman of WPP (Wire & Plastic Products) explained why the advertising market is struggling.

With clients slashing budgets, taking marketing in-house and questioning industry metrics at every turn, struggling may be the understatement of the century.

In any case, you can read Marty's jargon-fested autospy here. He cites three reasons for the ominous downturn:

* Digital disruption

* Activist investors

* The low cost of capital money

I'd be lying through my ceramic-implanted teeth if I said I understood any of that. I don't. But having spent the past 20 plus years working in advertising and NOT Wire and Plastic Products, I have some thoughts on our current supercharged race to the bottom.

It starts with getting emails like this:

"Thanks for attending this morning's 8:30 AM briefing. By now you should all have a copy of the 56 page briefing deck. The junior planners will be coming by at 11AM to check in on your progress, answer any questions and take a peek at your first blush of work. Lunch will be brought in so that you can continue working and have material ready to show the senior planners at 2 PM. Additional check ins will include GCDs at 4 PM. ECDs at 7PM. And a team check in with the CCO (via Skype from her home) at 11PM. Please be prepared to show work in progress to the Partnership Council Committee at 7AM. There will be bagels."

Of course this is hyperbolic and in no way a true representation of how ad agencies work -- there would never be free bagels after only one day on an assignment.

Again, I have no idea what activist investors do or even what they are, I've never met an activist investors or had one hand me his or her business card. Though the other day I did read on linkedin that someone at a London ad agency had been named Chief Making It Happen Officer.

Stupid pretentious titles could be another factor in our collective demise.

This could be another:

Can you spot the difference?

The employees on the left get Summer Fridays (you know when workload permits.)

As if all that weren't demoralizing enough, finally there's the not so insignificant matter of wage disparity. I'm no Alan Greenspan, though there's a good chance I sat next to a Greenspan at last year's Rosh Hoshanah services. I don't understand the meaning of "low cost of capital money" nor its impact on our industry.

But I can pick up a Wall Street Journal and I can see that last year Sir Martin earned more than $100 million in compensation. I can also work a calculator. And can tell you that $100 million is equal to the salary of TWO THOUSAND staffers making a decent wage of $50 thousand a year.

Think how many banner ads 2000 people could crank out in a year.

Or put in other terms, 2000 workers could sew enough schmatta in one year to cloth the entire population of New Jersey.

Want to know why advertising is dying? Because the people at the top are choking the life out of people not at the top. That's why.

I'm going home to watch Jeopardy.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Hink Full Av Hästgödsel

You know that old saying about "half my advertising budget is a complete waste of money. I just don't know which half?" 

I do.

The waste stems from a fundamental brand-to-retail disconnect. That money gets flushed down the toilet every time the behavior espoused by the brand in big million dollar marketing campaigns is not mirrored by the behavior on the ground, where the rubber meets the road.

Or in this case when the dealer tries to fleece the customer.

In other words, Tier 1 spends the money. Tier 2 sets fire to it.

Allow me to backtrack.

Weeks ago, my daughter finished her three summer sessions as a camp counselor. She served in a supervisory role. And worked her butt off. When it was all over, the staff decided to celebrate with a trip to Las Vegas. Against my better judgment, I let my daughter drive with three other counselors.

She took her 2005 Volvo S40 and hauled off the other girls who were equally happy to be done with the overprivileged whiny kids of West LA. When they hit Paradise Blvd., they ended up in hell. The car seized up and they were literally lost in Las Vegas.

This is where it gets interesting.

She had the car towed to Volvo Cars in Las Vegas, at 7705 West Sahara Blvd. A place to be avoided all costs. This is not only borne out by my experience but by other equally outraged Yelpers as well.

On TV and in my head, and perhaps yours as well, Volvo is that nice caring brand. Quirky Swedes who are looking out for the safety of me and my family. And our general welfare. In reality, or at least at Volvo Cars of Las Vegas, that couldn't be further from the truth.

The estimated cost of repairs was over $2700. For a car with a blue book value of $4000. Moreover, I had just done a major service on the vehicle three months ago, including four brand new tires. This was the mother of all flim flams.

Don't believe me?

That's a $335 charge for a new battery!

If you know anything about car repairs, and I know a little, that's about three times what it should cost. I can only imagine how they inflated all the other costs. 

$58 for a wing nut, welcome to Vegas.

Truth is, they had all the cards in their hand. And since I was 250 miles away, I decided to cut my losses and donate the vehicle to the local chapter of the Wounded Warriors.

And to give you an idea of how skeazy these sunbaked taintlickers can be, they wanted me to pay a $170 diagnostic fee (for work that was never done) before releasing the car to the charity. 

If you know me and you know this blog at all, I think it's fair to say that I can bring them well over $2700 worth of bad press.

See Trump

See Kim Jung Un 

See Jillian Richards and See NordicTrack.

See my Yelp review and click Useful.

Moreover, while I most assuredly can muster up $3000 worth of pain, it goes without saying, I will be enjoying every minute of it.

As the Swedes might say, Volvo Cars of Las Vegas is in for an Ikea-sized helping of Fukkenslaggen.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Yan to my Yin

Last week we had an unscheduled break to the AsiaDate routine.

For fans of this continuing series, I apologize.

To those who wish I'd stop this little phishing expedition, more apologies.

Today, we meet Yan. A near perfect match to my Yin.

Will she be the one? Only time and a temperature check on her feelings towards swarthy men will tell.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

School Daze

My daughter's college experience is turning out to be the complete opposite of mine.

She spent the summer studying abroad, working with an NGO in Kenya and then traveling to Tanzania and Zanzibar. I once made a trip to a bar in Skaneateles, just outside Syracuse, because they were pouring 99 cent Genny Cream Ales.

The dissimilarities don't end there.

The other night while scarfing down some vegetarian meal (another one of her new interests) she sprung it on us that she had made the Dean's List during the Spring Semester.

The Dean's List!!!

I don't even know what that is or what it entails, only that it was so unobtainable. Not unlike all the women at the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house.

I once got on a list during my sophomore year in college. But it was Residence Hall Disciplinary List on account of our stealing a fetal pig from the Bio Lab and crucifying it on a coed's door. True story.

But here's the biggest shocker of all.

With my daughter's graduation just 8 tantalizing months away there's talk of her extending her studies. Graduate School. And not just any type of graduate school, she's hinting at possibly applying to law school.

The talk is just preliminary. And she probably doesn't want me even whispering it -- Hint to family members: shhhhhhhhh.

But three more years of tuition bills does throw a kink, albeit a pleasant one, into my carefully laid out financial plan.

Which brings me to my lists of wants that will just have to wait:

An Audi S5

A second suit

A new jacuzzi with the Vibra-Fingers 9000 Spinjets

A 4K Flatscreen TV

Those 45 lbs. dumbbells for my Body Beast program

The Bosley Mr. Man About Town Hair Replacement Program

Calf implants

The HydroWorx Endless Swimming Pool

Guess, I'll just have to get by on nachas.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Gone Hollywood

I grew up on television.

As a kid it never ceased to amaze me how technology could beam the best, and the worst, of Hollywood right into my living room. Nor did it ever occur to me that one day my living room would be the setting for all this movie magic.

But it has.
And it did.

Two weeks ago a car pulled up in front of my house. An older guy got out and made a beeline for my front door. I thought for sure he was serving me papers for some random act of political disobedience I might have committed while under the influence of Makers Mark.

Turned out he was a location scout for a new Zach Braff TV show called Alex, Inc.

I'd been through this drill years before when the cast and crew of Vegas showed up to shoot for two days. I also know that having a film crew pick your house for a shoot is akin to winning the lottery. They pay serious money. And you never have to lift a finger.

You can imagine my glee when, a few days later, the scout called to tell me that among four possible choices they had selected my house.

The day before the shoot, the art department showed up to remove everything the Siegels had in place and redecorate the house to look like the home of an older Italian (Roman Catholic) woman from Queens, NY -- a little ironic since I spent my formative years in Jackson Heights and in Flushing.

The next day, Zach and the cast showed up. Here they are captured in rehearsal on my handy dandy Nest camera. Excuse the poor lighting.

Zach is in the blue T-shirt. 
And the gentleman in white is none other than Michael Imperioli, who you might remember from The Sopranos. 

I didn't stick around for the shooting. I had a gig that day. 

And, to be completely honest, watching a shoot, whether it's TV, film or even a commercial, ranks up there with the least interesting pastimes known to man. It's more boring than this blog.

Nevertheless, it did occur to me that with Micheal Imperioli (also seen is Goodfellas) showing up last week and James Caan (The Godfather) showing up ten years ago, I've now had two characters from two seminal Mafia movies in my living room. 

I just need Bobby DeNiro for the trifecta.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Call In Sick of This Shit

Over the past two weeks, perhaps because of my relentless Internet memes, I've been deluged with emails.

Some from friends.
Some from Facebook folks I've never even met.
But all to the effect of, "...this fucker is going to destroy our country, what can we do about it?"

I don't know why anyone would think I have an answer to that question, but in any case it got me thinking. And that's not always a good thing.

It also got me to take another look at the 2016 electoral map.

Those spatterings of blue, that's where our major cities are located. That's where millions of people go to work each day in high technology, finance, manufacturing, education, service and retail. And despite what any Tiki-Torching wielding Jethro, Cletus or Bufford wants to tell you, we are in the majority of this country.

Moreover, we produce the revenue that fuels the economy.

While we, the sane, empathetic, rational people who are not fond of Chinese-made golf caps, khaki pants and fascist flag waving do not control the land masses of this great country, we do control something of more importance -- the levers of Capitalism.

We may be pixel pushers or marketing mavens, but we have the power to send a mighty message to Precedent Shitgibbon and to the spineless congressional members who acknowledge the danger he represents to our country (and the planet) but refuse to act swiftly. Or accordingly.

If they won't move on the 25th Amendment -- the amendment that gives his cabinet the right to remove POTUS from office because of mental instability -- we have to force their hand.

To wit...

The idea is very simple. 
And requires little energy, if any.

On Monday September 25th, we can all just call in sick. If we don't work, the companies don't work. And if the companies don't work, the country doesn't work. At least for one day. 

Plus, we get a 3 Day weekend to boot.

It's a powerful way to send a message to Congress and to the captains of industry that we will not let this Fascist flap-dragon flush our country down the toilet. 

We, myself and Jean Robaire (poster art direction and design) are going to spread this message the best we know how.

But we're not kidding ourselves, we need help. 

And we're hoping our very influential friends will get the word out.  Looking at you: Lee Clow, Ted Royer, Matt Ian, Pete Favat, Rob Schwartz, Eric Silver, Rob Reilly, Jeremy Miller, Claudia Caplan, George Tannenbaum, Bob Hoffman, Ernie Schenck, Karin Birch, Luke Sullivan, Jo Shoesmith, Barbara Lippert, David Angelo, Mark, Montiero, Jason Sperling, Jim Lesser, and many many more.

Take a screen grab of the poster and/or this handy dandy button.

Share it on FB, Instagram and Twitter. 
Join the Facebook group and get others to do so as well.

If you fancy yourself a keyboard warrior, now is the time to go to war.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Scrubs Part Two

Due to an unusual confluence of activities, personal and business-wise, there will be no posting today. Other than this hastily snapped shot of me and Zach Braff standing in the living room of my house, which has been transformed by a 150 person film crew into something unrecognizable.

More details to follow.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Make it stop

If you suffer from Misophonia you might not want to continue with this post.

Or, if you suffer from crotchety 44 year old freelance copywriter bitching about crappy ads on TV, you might also want move it along, there's nothing to see here.

If however you are like my wife and I, I suspect you share a guttural, stomach-turning experience every time one particular Beneful dog food commercial graces our screen.

This has nothing to do with my bipolar feelings towards dogs.

As readers of this column know I am a dog lover and I'm still heartbroken over the loss my rescue retriever mix, Nellie, a little more than three months ago. I loved my dog.

My neighbor's dogs, with the constant yapping, yard-shitting and 3 AM barking wake up calls, not so much.

This little rant has more to do with advertising than animal husbandry.

Feast your eyes on the commercial in question. I could only find the 15 second version of the spot, but you'll be thanking me for not posting the longer snuff-film variation.

I managed to get through 6 seconds of it again before the little hairs on my toes started sprouting new hairs of their own.

The grain-free food might be bursting with pumpkin and chicken and blueberry and spinach, yum, but it's also got a bushel's worth of cringeworthiness.

Every time we see it, we make a mad dash for the remote control.But sadly the double AA batteries are on their last legs. By the time we attempt to change the channel or mute the volume, the masticating dog has ear-wormed himself into our brains and made us nauseous for the next 90 minutes. And we're already halfway into the Liberty Mutual spot about that cloying woman and her boyfriend/car named Brad.

This is where a little bit of knowledge can be scary.

I know, and many of you know, that before a commercial makes it to the airwaves it goes through rounds and rounds of post-production. Every flaw must be fixed. Every pixel must be polished. Every decibel must be deconstructed for optimal persuasiveness.

That means this spot, and its more tortuous 30 second kin, has been pored over at least 100, perhaps 200 times by the sound mixer. In a dark, sound proof room. With booming industrial grade speakers.

My heart aches for that poor man. Or woman.

I can't help but to be reminded of the theme song from MASH: Suicide is painless.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Is there a doctor in the house?

I'm fine.

There's no need to get worried.

Or, for those of you who find me insufferable and eagerly await my demise, there's no need to get excited.

This picture is from a few years ago, when the family and I went to Great Britain and France for a little vacation. Now, I've told this story before, but today I'm going to put it through a different filter. One that is germane to our national politic -- healthcare.

I'm not going to get all wonky on this issue, because quite frankly, I'm just not that well informed. And unlike some of the folks who are fond of waving flags and shouting USA, USA, I'm honest enough to make that admission before running off at the mouth in a fit of verbal diarrhea.

And make no mistake that's what it is.

The big knock I hear on government provided healthcare is that the whole notion is somehow un-American. That it stands in contrast to our hyped-up sense of rugged individualism. That it de-incentivizes hard work. And picking one up by their own bootstraps. That healthcare will just become another entitlement abused by lazy masses of moochers.

This simply defies all manner of logic.

"Hey I don't want to look for a job today. Oh I know, let's take the kids to the doctor and hope they have some kind hepatitis so we can score some antibiotics and gauze pads and nasal draining tubes."

That's just not how it works.

I'll tell you how government provided healthcare (in the UK) worked from me.

After a grueling 12 hour flight and intermittent fits of bronchitis, I arrived in London in sad shape. The next morning my wife insisted we visit the hospital across the street from the hotel. We walked in, signed some papers, and showed my passport. In minutes, not hours or days as Sean Hannity or Mitchy McConnell might have you believe, I was attended to by a doctor.

Not just one doctor, a team.

They quickly determined that because of the long flight, my blood oxygen levels had sunk to a very dangerous level. They hooked me up to several machines, complements of the Great British people, and monitored my progress until I was fully oxygenated.

I left the hospital with an armful of medicines and an open invitation to return to the hospital for admittance if need be, should any complications arise. Again, this was all on the dime, or the shilling, of Tommy Teacups and Betty Bag of Crumpets.

For the life of me I don't know why the British or the French or the Swedes or the Germans or the Russians or the Croats or the Italians or the Swiss or the Spanish or the Irish or the Serbs or the Greeks or the Israelis or the Chinese, should have free healthcare, but we should not.

Maybe Precedent Shitgibbon could spend less time on the links and more time putting that very big brain of his and those legendary deal making skills to better use.

Or, for that matter, to any use.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Comprehensive High Quality

You know what time it is?

It's time to take a break from the havoc wreaked on this country by Precedent Shitgibbon.

Time to step away from the khaki pants and Tiki Torches.

Time for a refreshing pause from the possibility of multiple nuclear conflagrations and Jewish doctors, physicists and Nobel prize winners being replaced by underachieving Neo-Nazi pizza makers and burger flippers.

It's time for another adventure in AsiaDate.com.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Out of Africa

Summer is almost over.

And I couldn't be happier.

That's not a sentiment I often express, but I couldn't wait for June, July and August to pass. Because during that time my eldest, Rachel, was cavorting (yeah studying) in Kenya.

And sight seeing in Tanzania.

But this Thursday, she'll be boarding a plane for Amsterdam. With enough layover time to visit a hash bar, I'm sure. And then back on a plane to come home.

When she steps through the gate at the Tom Bradley International Terminal I will exhale.


I'll be the first to admit the experience was more gut wrenching before she got on a plane headed for Nairobi. I was a total wreck. Sure I understand the desire to spread the wings and see the world, but couldn't she do that in Arizona? Or maybe even Vancouver, Canada?

No, she had to fly herself to Eastern Africa. To a country shoehorned between the failed state of Somalia and the machete-wielding assholes of Sudan.

But the truth is, once she settled in, so did my stomach.

She had a great teacher at the NGO. She met a thousand schoolchildren who still could not get over her whiteness. And she kept us updated with wifi enabled FaceTime chats that went a long way to lowering my heart rate.

The most disruptive part of her trip was having her iPhone stolen from her back pocket. We know it was stolen and not simply lost because the SIM card was placed into another device. After 13 bucks worth of data usage I quickly suspended that account.

Sorry, Mbuto, your porn is on your own dime.
Or your own Kenyan shilling.

But this too worked out because with the canceled account I magically qualified for AT&T's incredible buy one iPhone and get the second one free promo.

By this time tomorrow, I will have Rachel in a bear hug.

And by this time next week, I'll be yelling at her to get off Netflix and clean up the dirty dishes in the sink.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Sorry State of Now.

I didn't turn your Fortune 100 brand around in a day.

I'm not sorry.

I gave you a soup-to-nuts campaign, including TV, print, digital and brand activation units in 24 hours, but it wasn't on strategy.

I'm not sorry.

I wrote an anthem, actually I wrote five anthems, in that Apple Think Different voice we talked about yesterday, but it just wasn't right.

I'm not sorry.

I am sorry that you don't know or are willing to ignore the fact that quality thinking requires a quality time allotment.

This major gripe of mine isn't aimed at a particular client or an agency or any production houses.

This is aimed at an industry. An industry that has somehow grown accustomed to the notion that all marketing problems can be solved in less time than it takes for the Earth to complete one rotation. An industry that believes the best way to get creative work from creative people is to hold a gun to their creative minds.

I hate to be that old 44 year old guy in the corner, shouting at the plastic fern, "that's not the way it's done and things were better in my day." 

But you know what?

"That's not the way it's done and things were better in my day." 

I know I've said this before before but Great takes time.
Time to stew.
Time to talk with your partner.
Time to sleep on ideas to see if they're worth nurturing.
Time to experiment.
Time to shoot the shit.
Time to go back and forth.
Time to page through the annuals to see if it has been done before.
Time to build.
Time to shift perspective and deconstruct an idea.
Time to tear down and build again.
Time to craft.
Time to polish.
Time to polish some more.
Time to make a good idea a great one.

Rome was not built in a day.

And neither was the Chamber of Commerce marketing campaign for it.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Pride of the South

Things are picking up speed in this country.

Statues are coming down.

Bannon is out and girding for war.

And Precedent Shitgibbon is finally mastering those tricky double-breaking greens on the 15th hole at the Bedminister Golf Club in New Jersey. #PromisesMadePromisesKept

In light of this, and before all the monuments to Johnny Rebel are removed and replaced by statues of great Jewish Hockey players of the NHL, I thought it would be important to preserve for eternity the memory of several of the unsung heroes of the South.

Let us also remember Bucephelus Chandler Keaton...

Bucephelus survived the crushing defeat to the Yankees. As well as the humiliation of post war reconstruction. When a shifty carpetbagger from New York City, Sid Blechnaven, came to Memphis and literally sold poor Bucephelus a worthless bag of flea-bitten carpets. Bucky went on to found the Western Tennessee Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. He died in service to the cause, when a burning cross accidentally fell and impaled him to the ground. All because Duane "Can't Read" Cooterbottom failed to follow proper Klan procedures.

Let's pause for moment to remember Staff Sergeant Douglass Walker Wambles...

Prior to dieing on the fields of West Virginia to fight for Dixie's honor, DW Wambles owned 83 slaves and grew soapberries and rhododendron on a small farm outside of Biloxi. It was only after a record harvest did DW discover nobody wanted rhododendron. And that soapberries were poisonous. Pondering his dismal failure, and because the construction of the first Walmart was still 150 years in the future, young DW downed a pint of moonshine and said, "Ahh, fuck it I'll join the Confederacy."

And finally, let us also remember William "Hushpuppy" Jackson...

William fought alongside Duane "Cornpone" Johnson, Luther Magnolia Owens and Tucker "Goatskin" Clementine on the battlefields at Appomattox. Well, actually he never got a chance to lift his mighty musket as "Hushpuppy" died before the first shot. He was administering "personal" animal husbandry to one the battle horses in the barn and was found the next morning with a horseshoe print on his forehead. Nevertheless, we salute his bravery.

Today we honor these Confederate heroes who fought so valiantly for the right of American people to own other American people. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why a duck?

These Thursdays seems to be coming faster and faster.

We're already up to #10 in this continuing series.

Some of you might be wondering, "What if Rich runs out of AsiaDate letters?" 

I'm here to tell that's not gonna happen. I literally have an embarrassment of riches in this department and still have 487 letters left to answer in my gmail inbox.

What's more upsetting is that with all these beautiful ladies vying for my attention and the "warmth of my strong, muscular" arms, my wife is not the least bit jealous.

Not the least.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Digital. Yeah.

Don't know if you've noticed but lately Digital has been taking it in the shorts.

And not just by me.

Recently Proctor & Gamble announced they had cut $100 million dollars from their Digital budgets. This caught the attention of Professor Bob Hoffman, a fellow blogger who regularly makes the case against Digital.

As well as all the other bullshit that pervades our business. You can read his compelling argument here.

In his stinging diatribe, he also takes a mighty uppercut on the prophets of Digital, namely the head prophet himself, the alpha male of Digital Bullshit, Shingy (pictured above.)

Bob's disdain for Shingy is hardly singular. As you might have guessed, or even remembered, I have also gone a few rounds on this bloviating blowhard who has no doubt mastered the Steve Bannon Yoga move.

You can read my take here.

Make sure you watch Shingy shilling his wares in this cringeworthy video.

That was three years ago. Not sure any of his predictions about Digital have come to pass. I know I have yet to cultivate my brand love with a like-minded tribe of evangelists, but it's only Wednesday.

And just when you think you've seen and heard it all about the Shing man, you haven't.

Thanks to one of Bob Hoffman's eagle eyed viewers we now have the ultimate Shit on the Shingle.

A little video piece from David Cross and Bob Odekirk of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bring me my petard.

Almost every art director or copywriter I've ever had the pleasure of working with -- that is, being on the same company staff -- is no longer working with the company and no longer working on staff.

A convoluted way of saying, "we're all freelancers."

This didn't happen overnight.

Nor did the process happen in a vacuum.

My good friend Mike Folino, who bills himself as the World's Greatest Freelancer, blames me. Not in totality. But nevertheless he lays faults on this blog, which had been running for close to nine years and which has regularly glorified the freelance life. Vis a vis my regular rants against the open office plan, the inhumane work/life balance, the salary inequality, and the general inefficiency of the holding company model.

"Mike," I would say, "You can't pin the overcrowding in the freelance pool on me. How many people do you think read this stupid blog, 8? 13? 21?"

Well, that little show of false humility no longer holds any water.

The happy truth is, in 2017 RoundSeventeen has enjoyed record readership. Five of the six previous months each had more than 20,000 page hits.

And that's without the normal spikage I would receive through irregular links and appearances in AgencySpy, which in the past would send web traffic through the roof.

But since the good folks over at AgencySpy dropped their anonymous comment section (always the highlight of any disgruntled ad worker's day) I suspect their site has been unbookmarked in inverse proportion to the number of people coming here.

Because if they're not going to purvey vile petulance and lob thinly-veiled insults at some of the drunken incompetent miscreants running the ad industry into the ground, somebody has to.

Anyway, back to my original point.

There's a shit ton of freelancers out there. And I may or may not have had something to do with that.

That's good news for those of you who may have been on the pointy end of one my past columns. Karma, and irony, could be coming around.

Because this monumental glut of creative mercenaries may end up sending me to a premature retirement and a one way ticket to a dirty nursing home.

In the words of the Bard, I could be hoisted by my own petard.

Monday, August 14, 2017

To Life. Long, Long Life.

As of this minute I am on the Methusalah Program.

I'm determined to live as long as I can.

I'm giving up meats for more grains, fibers and vegetables.

I'm giving up sugars and salts.

I'm giving up alcohol. OK, I'm not giving up alcohol completely, but I am cutting back.

I'm on a twice a day work out routine. Weight training in the morning with Body Beast. And an hour's worth of cardio in the evening.

I'm meditating. And being more mindful of my oxygen intake and my breathing patterns.

I'm monitoring my blood pressure.

As well as my heart rate.

I'm sleeping 8 hours a night. And when I can't get 8 hours a night, I force myself to take a daytime nap. Hopefully while I'm on someone else's dime.

I'm trying to reduce the stress in my life.

And being more grateful for all that I have.

I'm reading more.

And watching TV less.

I'm even supplementing all my efforts with lengthy yoga sessions. And if you're familiar with me or my body type you know that is not a pretty picture.

Why, you may ask am I going to such extremes?

Is it to guarantee my presence at my daughter's college graduations? And to see the fruits of my labor?

Is it to be here long enough to see them get married?

Have children?

Blossom into full grown adults?

Is it to spend more time with my wife, a saint among saints, who deserves the reward of worldwide travel and $10 hotel ice teas?

Those are all worthy pursuits.

But they are not behind my level 10 Zeal.

What's driving me, and what's driving others who are equally passionate, is the stomach twisting desire to keep drawing oxygen into my bloodstream long enough so that I may witness the ever-so-sweet demise of the colossal, beefwitted, boil-brained cankerblossom who currently resides in the White House.

That, is a day worth living for.

And it can't come soon enough.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

She's BAD

It's Thursday.

Time for broken English.

Weird algorithmic flirtation.

And credit-card fueled lonely hearts desperation.

Say hello to badminton aficionado, Yonghong.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

This Ad Life

If you've ever been to an amusement park or even one of those hastily assembled church parking lot weekend festivals, you've probably see the Gravitron. Affectionately known as the Vomitron. For it's uncanny ability to bring up copious amounts of undigested cotton candy, half chewed bratwurst and purple slurpy.

Most riders of the Vomitron, familiar with the detrimental effect it can have on their wardrobe, never return for a second trip.

This queasy uncomfortable feeling is also very familiar to those of us who freelance in advertising.

I know when I started, and hit the stroll as it were, I often felt breakfast churning in my stomach, bubbling and swirling upwards, almost past the point of no return. This was exacerbated by having two daughters in private kindergarten, where it cost me more than $20,000 a year in tuition for them to learn kickball, finger painting and nap time.

Eventually, I got my sea legs. And learned how to ride the ups and downs and professional discourtesy that so often comes with the course.

After a slower-than-I'd-like July, the phone started ringing.

And by ringing, I mean I was getting texts. At one point I was dealing with three separate inquiries. All for month long gigs. And all paying close to my normal day rate.

Damn, I thought, I should swing by the Bagel Factory and pick up a 1 lbs. tub of their delicious Smoked White Fish Salad. (That's how a 44 year old Jew celebrates by the way)

But, as is often the case in the unpredictable world of mercenary employment, each of these inquisitions fizzled out. It could have been logistics. Change in direction. A pitch that was going to go unpitched. Or, somebody said, "You called Siegel? No fucking way!"

That's the way it goes.

Naturally this left me feeling down in the dumps. Depressed. And I felt like I should swing by the bagel factory to pick up a 1lbs. of their delicious Smoked White Fish Salad. (It's good for consolation as well)

Then, what normally happens, happened.

I got a call from another agency that I do regular business with and they needed me for a great gig. A big juicy assignment that will allow my partner and I to spread our wings and do what we do best.

Cause for celebration.

So now the question is, who wants to come over for bagels and smoked white fish salad?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Photo Journalism

It's been a while since I've done this, but as I am running low on coffee and Precedent Shitgibbon is on vacation, I thought this was a good opportunity to randomly select some of the photos I found on my iPhone.

The two ladies pictured above were shielding their hairdos from the Culver City downpour ( a light mist) with plastic bags retrieved from the nearby garbage bin.

This beautiful bench sits at the Baldwin Hills Overlook and is dedicated to my amazing neighbor who left us all too soon.

A hipster dude who has $25 for a sandwich at Bako Shop but not enough money for a proper shirt.

Swastika carved into the pavement near Duquesne and Jefferson. Always nice.

A local Freemason Temple. 
I want to go in and hear their sales pitch but I understand it's by invitation only.

It's "Bring Your Inquisitive Son to Work Day."

Jesus Rocks. Fuck You. Love it.

I call this, "Bending down to scrape dog shit off my shoe and discovering beautiful landscape."

I've seen better.

Third Street Promenade: Street evangelism and the ubiquitous smell of urine is the winning formula for eternal salvation.

U.S.A., U.S.A.!!!

"If I only had a Canyon Arrow."

"See this hairline fracture, that's gonna cost you $2k."

"Who wants candy?"

I think I might be overwatering the garden.

And finally, there was this fellow who was seated across the aisle from me on a return flight from Seattle. He had a cold. A bad cold. Maybe bronchitis. Very productive bronchitis. 

For 3 hours he coughed, produced a mouthful of lung and then spit it into the blue latex glove he had furled up in his hand. By the time we had reached San Luis Obispo, he had filled the left handed glove. Fortunately, for the remaining 25 minutes of the flight, he still had the right glove. #FML