Thursday, February 16, 2017
If you ever need to find me there's a good chance I'm at the top of the Baldwin Hills Overlook.
You see, I used to be a compulsive runner. Knocking out 3-4 miles everyday; it takes a lot to maintain my girlish figure.
Then the foot doctor warned that unless I wanted painful surgery to remove the bone spurs from my heels, I'd better stop.
So now, instead of running, I'm hiking.
I'm always running into people up on The Hill. Last week it was two women from past lives at past ad agencies. Before that it was the art director from Deutsch, a kid half my age, who always seems to be galloping up and down the faux mountain.
Hell, I meet so many people up there, a month ago I stopped this very attractive young woman on the switchback and asked if I knew her from somewhere. She looked so familiar. I was positive I knew her from a recent freelance gig at an ad agency.
I was being ridiculously innocuous. But I'm sure she went home and relayed the incident to her roommates.
"So some fat old bald guy, with holes in his T-shirt, stopped me on the Hill today. Yeah, as if..."
Yesterday, as I summitted the top and went to take my seat along the cement bench, I came across this clown (pictured above.) He was, well there's no other way to put it, prancing around, doing some kind of performance dance.
I wished I had videotaped him so you could appreciate the full measure of this guy's desperation. It was hard enough to sneak a snapshot of him. And I think videotaping people without their permission may be illegal.
If you zoom in on the picture, you'll notice the man's electric green fake fingernails.
He also wore a mask, long fake eyelashes and a wig.
I have no problem with how this guy wants to out in public. I've seen myself in the mirror and am in no position to pass any judgment, whatsoever.
But if you don't want undue attention, you can't be doing cartwheels, flailing around like some rejected Broadway chorus line dancer and then engaging with fellow hikers, loudly telling them in a booming voice that can be heard in Pacific Palisades...
"N***a, I got to keep it real. My shit is my shit. I don't force it on no one. Cause deep inside, I mean really inside, I'm a introvert. For realz."
OK Mister, you're going on the blog.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Woodward and Bernstein had their Deep Throat, I have mine.
He's an award winning copywriter of some renown. And he still slaves -- meaning he has to sit at the long table with the industrial noise canceling headphones -- from the inside of the salt mine, so I'm going to maintain his anonymity.
But he likes to send me presents from the Orwellian world of agency/client nonsense.
Months ago he clued me in to the 2016 Planning-Ness Conference.
I'm still kicking myself for missing that one.
He also sent me to the it-never-gets-old Youtube channel of Planners Talking Planning. If you like hemming and hawing and jargon-filled winging and dinging as much as I do, you'd better clear your plate and start popping the popcorn. This is a video nirvana of vacuous, self-important navel-gazing.
Last week, my Deep Throat dropped another winner on me.
It comes straight from the Coca Cola Company, which I find shocking since I always thought of them as much smarter than their brown fizzy water brethren at Pepsi, who you might remember spent close to $83 billion dollars for a simple logo redesign. (Tell me you didn't bookmark that website)
Before I unveil the Coca Cola video, it should be noted that I did not make it all the way to the end of the 17 minute chefs d'oeuvre. And perhaps the piece comes around after the grating VO no longer grates. And maybe the audience will walk away far the better for enduring the fakakta marketing jib-jabbery.
I simply couldn't.
I felt the gag reflex coming on the minute the narrator started shitting his pants over the difference between Creative Excellence and Content Excellence.
Then again, what do I know? I've never been able to...wait, let me quote the video..."Create ideas so contagious they cannot be controlled, we call this liquid content development."
I'm old school and have no idea what liquid content development means, maybe some guy named Farkwa or Shinji or Dinsdale could explain.
I say, give me the brief.
I'll write the script.
You send me the check.
Like I said, what do I know? Enjoy.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
If you're acquainted with this blog, or any of my other social media activities, you know I have been on a tear lately.
Railing, as hard as I can, against the regime of Precedent Shitgibbon -- a term I started using more than two months ago and recently popularized by a Pennsylvania Congressman Daylin Leach.
Last week, another week filled with monumental precedential embarrassments, the lumpy, scurvy-valiant, cockwomble got his horse hair in a knot because the capitalists at Nordstrom decided to stop selling his daughter's overpriced, Chinese-sewn schmatta.
They claimed it was a business decision. He claimed it was a political statement. Either way, so what?
I don't know if this fucknugget has read the Constitution, but we don't work for him. Nordstrom can sell hats woven from dryer lint if they choose to. That's the way this country operates you mewling, tardy-gaited flap-dragon.
The incident sparked quite a bit of outrage. And a flurry of humorous responses from the increasingly-funny American public.
I chimed in with...
I know many of you saw this. And started spreading it around.
At this writing it has more than 100 shares.
And if I'm reading my analytics right, has more than 100,000 impressions. One of those impressions includes Ricky Gervais. No offense to Lee Clow, who has retweeted severals of my missives, but when Ricky Gervais enters the fray and publicly likes your Tweet, that's some humblebrag material.
But what was most flattering about my hastily-generated faux Trump tweet was the number of commenters, across all media, who cocked an eyebrow, scratched their collective chins and said aloud, "Is this real?"
That, my friends, is so satisfying.
Years ago, my very scholarly friend and fellow blogger George Tannenbaum, described for me a new literary motif. He calls it Plausible Implausibilty -- a defining characteristic of good satire.
Last week, I achieved some of that.
Monday, February 13, 2017
I've been busy lately.
I'm happy I've been busy lately.
Nothing pleases me more than delivering on a freelance assignment and having the Creative Resource Manager ask if I can be extended or if I'm available for another assignment or would I mind working on the weekend.
Yes, yes, and no.
I've also been busy answering emails. From other freelancers. Or newly-minted freelancers who have escaped the galley ships, the cold Pad Thai Noodles and the incessant house music blasted by other "creatives" seated at the long table of mediocrity. If I've had one of these inquiries, I have had a hundred.
"Rich, what do I do? How do I get jobs? I have a family to feed and the only skills I have are writing manifestos or laying out 700 X 98 banner ads. I think I'm gonna buy a gun."
You might want to believe I'm exaggerating.
I am not.
Compound that anxiety with the new fascist regime that is itching to drop a light tactical nuke on the first country that slights Precedent Shitgibbon and you can tell the fear is real.
No more so than right here in Southern California where my alma mater, Chiat/Day just lost the Nissan account to the NY office.
It is not easy watching the sad slow decline of what was once the juggernaut of Southern California advertising. It's enough to make you want to break out the cracked ice and Tanqueray and stir up a stiff Tom Collins.
The truth is, I don't have the answers. There is no secret formula. And if there is I certainly don't have it. Look, I'm 44 years old, there's no way my phone is going to continue to ring. I know that.
So how have I put food on my table and partially shepherd two daughters through two outrageously expensive state universities?
There's no other way to put it. When fellow freelancers are golfing or taking ski trips to Mammoth Lakes, I'm making phone calls, I'm writing emails, I'm bugging the shit out of people on social media.
And not just people I know. Hell, I'll write inquiry letters to CCOs, CMOs, CEOs, anyone with a dime in their pocket looking to make an impact in the market.
Months ago, I read that Brad Jakeman from Pepsi wasn't happy with the standard operating procedures in the ad agency world. As soon as I had finished reading the article, I hunted down his address in Purchase, NY and fired off a two page letter telling him why it would be smart to farm out a pet project to a seasoned freelance veteran.
He hasn't written back yet.
But I'm confident he will.
Because when he does, as I tell my wife, the bathroom remodeling can begin.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
This post is about Donald J. Trump. But, if I can help it, it will not be about any of the national disgraces we have seen over the course of the last two weeks, which include:
* The Bowling Green Massacre
* Frederick Douglass
* Hanging up on the prime minister of Australia
* The botched Yemen raid
* The phantom 3-5 million illegal voters
* The promise to send US troops into Mexico, as well as Chicago, to get Bad Hombres
* Deregulating Wall Street, you know those fuckers who caused the collapse of 2008
* Removing sanctions on Russia our new BFFs
* Disgracing the memories of 117 fallen CIA operatives
* Sean Spicer's suits
...just to name a few.
This is about the Trump National Golf Course in California. Years ago, while toiling at Chiat/Day, our client Energizer (remember the Bunny?) wanted to play golf. My boss thought it'd be a good idea to take him and his assistant down to Palos Verdes.
I was not about to pay $350 for a tee time on a course that is nothing more than a miniature golf playland on steroids. It had fake waterfalls. Moats. And swirling greens that I believe mirrored the pattern on Precedent Shitgibbon's head.
Not to mention narrow fairways that also accurately reflected Dear Leader's narrow mind.
I hit and lost more than a dozen balls into the Out of Bounds that were, not surprisingly, infested with rattlesnakes. Or so the sign said, perhaps just to force the purchase of more balls at the turn.
Before the 10th hole I had to run inside to the pro shop and get myself a few more sleeves of balls. All outrageously priced. None of which were reimbursed.
There's an old saying that, "even a bad day on the golf course is better than a great day at the office." I'm not sure that applies to Trump's National Course.
If I use the current administration's fuzzy math, I shot an appalling 74, which is far worse than my average 67.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
That's Hello Kitty Motor Oil.
What, you don't use this high quality lubricant in your car?
You don't keep those cylinders prrrrrring so your engine can respond with cat-like reflexes?
Damn, I can do these shitty feline play on words all day. And sadly, some poor copywriting schmuck already has.
But I've got better things to do today. We're only two days removed from the Super Bowl. And with it all those clever Super Bowl 360 degree brand extension consumer engagement thig-a-majigs.
Between Wendy's Frozen Other Guys website and signing up to follow the Michelin man's twitter account, there's no way I'm going to have time to get on The Google and hunt them all down. But I am all too familiar with the time and energy wasted creating this clutterific salesfuckery™.
You see it's not enough to wring every last ounce of energy from a creative team in order to come up with a winning Super Bowl idea, today, in 2017, that idea must also be accompanied by a digital gamechanger.
And that's no small order. Particularly when that game changing idea comes under the scrutiny of a team of seasoned 26 year old Content Strategists -- whose collective business acumen is simply unmatched.
"We should do something with Snapchat. People who drive $90,000 BMWs' love Snapchat."
"I like the idea of giving Mr. Clean a makeover, I'm just not sure it's "on brand", know what I'm saying?"
"Last year we had a fundraiser at Kappa Alpha Theta using Instagram. It was really fun. It was a fun fundraiser. We should do something like that for Ameritrade."
That's all the time I have for today. I have to upload a backlit picture of me eating an unwrapped Snickers bar from a side angle...
Wait a minute.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Super Bowl 51 is history.
It's time to get back to the business of toppling this regime. I've been writing lots of letters lately. Here's one I think you might enjoy...
I hope you don’t mind the informality. It’s not like we know each other.
I’ve never even been in Indiana. In fact, in light of the 1987 NCAA Championship game in which my Syracuse Orangemen lost at the buzzer to the Indiana Hoosiers, I don’t have fond feelings for the state.
Nevertheless, I’ve been married close to 25 years and consider myself a keen observer of human behavior.
With that, and without the aid of any hypersonic listening devices, I’d like to replay for you a conversation that has taken place in the Pence household between you and your wife, Karen, who you call Mother.
Mother: …he’s a Pig.
Mike: Please don’t refer to him that way, he’s my boss.
Mother: Well we’re not pussy-grabbers. We’re Midwesterners. We’re nice people.
Mike: Now, Mother.
Mother: And we don’t lie, either. 5 million illegal voters?
Mike: Up to. It could’ve been 3 million.
Mother: Do you even hear yourself, Mike? Do you hear him?
Mike: I know he can be a little rough around the edges.
Mother: The toilet paper at the statehouse can be rough around the edges, he’s just crude.
Mike: Are you gonna bring up the speech at the CIA again?
Mother: OK, how about we talk about the National Prayer breakfast?
Mike: Oh jeez.
Mother: Don’t jeez me, Michael Richard Pence.
Mike: I don’t know why he’s so obsessed with the TV ratings.
Mother: He’s the President of the United States of America. And instead of talking about Syrian children, unemployed factory workers, skyrocketing college costs, or homeless veterans, he’s blabbering on about that German muscle-head and Celebrity Apprentice.
Mike: He’s Austrian, not German. Schwarzenegger is Austrian.
Mother: The point is, the man is unhinged, unfit and unconnected to reality. You and some of the other senators need to get going and pull out the 25th amendment before this so-called president gets us killed.
Mike: OK, Mother. Can we just turn on Wheel of Fortune now?
And, like many a husband who has been on the pointy end of a good henpecking, you probably ignored her wise counsel and went about your business.
But I’d be shocked if you don’t wake up every day and just before brushing your teeth and combing your perfectly coiffed white hair, look yourself in the mirror and wonder if Mother knows best.
Because in this case Mike, she does.
Monday, February 6, 2017
It's the day after the Super Bowl and everybody is talking about the commercials. Well, everybody in my little echo chamber.
I'm here to talk about a spot that you didn't see. And a system that has most assuredly taken ten years off my life.
Allow me to back up the story a bit.
Two months ago I was brought in by a small agency to pitch Super Bowl spots to GNC. It was typical jump ball situation as GNC had no real AOR. We were given two days -- two days at a highly reduced rate mind you -- to crack the brand and come up with a bunch of Super Bowl-worthy spots.
It gets even stupider, because throughout the two days we "checked in" with one of the clients. That's always fun, because client-driven spots are always the ones at the top of the USA Admeter. It's as sure as the Bowling Green Massacre.
Long story short, our spots were not chosen. That's the good news.
The agency that won the golden opportunity then spent the next two months of their lives slaving over weekends and cold Pad Thai Noodles to hastily craft their masterpiece. You can see it here.
That's right, it's another yawn-fest manifesto. I could've save them a lot of heartache and pulled one of these from my drawer of sleepy dog-earred corporate manifestos.
The reason you didn't notice that spot during the Big Game -- not that you would have remembered it anyway -- is because the NFL objected to some of the dietary supplements sold at GNC stores. Supplements that are on the NFL's banned list of substances.
So, you see, it's a good thing we didn't win the fakakta jump ball situation. Because no matter what we produced -- and god knows that would've been painful -- it wasn't going to ever get on the air during the Super Bowl.
Add this war story to my other Super Bowl fiasco and it's pretty clear I'm never going to see any of my work aired during the big game. And that's fine, as long as the check clears I get just as much satisfaction writing invisible banner ads for the local colonics clinic.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
I dread this time of the year.
You'd think as the son of a CPA and coming from a family of CPAs and having at one time considered a career in CPA'ing, I'd have some affinity for accounting and financials and such.
Apart from my wife, I may be the world's worst record keeper.
Moreover, I dread looking over the paystubs from last year and realizing I didn't make as much money as I should have. This stems from many factors.
The gigs that got booked and then mysteriously got unbooked.
Jobs that went to junior writers, you know those pesky 43 year olds.
And of course, the obligatory lowering of my day rate...
"Sure I can be flexible. I wouldn't want my exorbitant fee to impede your CEO's plans to buy a new yacht."
To make matters even worse, earlier this year the hard drive on my computer crashed. And with it went all my elaborate financial record keeping, such as it were.
So now I'm dependent on paper. And as you can see from the correspondence above, even that is not of much help.
The mauled envelope is actually a perfect metaphor.
You see, not only does the government take a bite of my paycheck, you know for important things like a Mexican Wall.
Now, it appears the postal service, aka the government, is taking a bite out of the paper that documents how the government has taken a bite out of my paycheck.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
When it comes to Shakespeare, I often don't go.
We are barely on speaking terms.
If, while watching Jeopardy with my wife, the The Bard comes up, I simply shout "Macbeth" at every opportunity. It's the only play I'm familiar with. And then only because I had a small role as the Drunken Porter while in high school.
All that might be changing. Or, as Willy might have put it,
"aye, the gods be frothy and there's a howlin' in yonder peat-covered hills."
But, probably not.
Thankfully, somebody sent me a handy-dandy Shakespearean Insult Kit. You might have have even seen it floating around the interwebs. I've got mine permanently bookmarked.
And have referenced it twice, sometimes thrice daily. I love it that much.
It's quite genius in its simplicity.
There are three columns of words. Adjectives, followed by adverbs, followed by nouns. To assemble a proper insult, you simply choose any random combination of the three. It's like a Chinese menu, you know if you replaced sweet and sour shrimp and lo mein noodles with canker-blossoms and malt-worms.
Keep in mind these are not the same English words you're likely to see in any online flame war. This is not Fuck You. Or even, Fucketh Thou. No, these are the ancient remnants of the Queen's Tongue that frankly pack so much more punch.
Which makes them particularly handy when discussing Precedent Shitgibbon.
For instance, you might go with the more contemporary Cheetoh-Face. I've seen that a lot.
I prefer, dribbling, ill-nurtured skainsmate.
You might elect to use a malaprop, like Drumpf.
I savor something more descriptive like unmuzzled, doghearted bum-bailey.
And you might opt for the straightforward rather pedestrian, Shithead.
While I choose to tack on with surly, spongy, wart-neck, malmsey-nosed foot licker.
Do I know what any of these terms mean? Only in the vaguest sense. The same way I sort of get Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet or The Tempest.
But none of that matters.
Because the Shakespearean insults have a tone. And a timber. And an unmistakable rhythm. And what they lack in clear definition, they more than make up for in raw, unfiltered, unmistakable disdain.