November 2008


All hail our turkey masters!

These men were powerless to their gobbling masters.

    Every year it’s a traditional Thanksgiving news story: the official Presidential pardon of one lucky turkey.

    It’s a photo-op that newspapers and broadcast stations feast upon; a little sorbet to clear the ravenous appetite of the 24-hour news cycle. But this little news-nothing is NOT what it seems!!!!!!!!!!!(wait, let me add a few more exclamation points for emphasis) !!!!!!! (I’ll boldface and italicize them, too) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

   Get a load of this everyone:  turkeys are our real leaders, and have been calling the shots in these United States for a long, long time.

    It was no accident that Ben Franklin proposed the humble turkey as our national bird… he was ruled by an old tom turkey named Samuel.

    When the eagle was named the national symbol instead, Samuel the turkey had Franklin banished to France as punishment. But the turkey uprising had taken firm root, and the clever beasts would not be deterred in their insatiable lust for power. Let eagles have the glory of being a patriotic ‘symbol’; turkeys would seize the real power– ruling our country!

    For years, turkeys tried unsuccessfully to get a foothold in the corridors of political power. Six turkeys worked together beneath a large overcoat and tried to pass themselves off as Martin Van Buren at his inauguration, but the plot failed when they could not produce a hand to place on the Bible for the swearing-in ceremony. Years later, scandal arose when it was revealed Millard Fillmore’s Secretary of State was in fact a smooth-gobbling turkey wearing an ascot. The turkey was quickly removed from office and replaced with a human. But before long, a real power move was finally made inside the White House.

    An ambitious turkey named Daniel persuaded Abraham Lincoln’s son, Tad, to make a plea to the old man to spare his life before Thanksgiving. Tad made his case and his dad agreed. Daniel the turkey was spared. Daniel saw his opening, and the political pull of turkeys have gotten stronger ever since.

    Over the next decades, turkey insiders began working Washington hard. Clever turkeys formed K-Street lobbying firms and began greasing the inside track of American politics. Turkeys were bipartisan, funneling cash, sexual favors, and giblets to whatever political party was in power. By the time Harry S. Truman was in office, the turkey cabal was in full evil control of Washington, DC. Ever since, every president has made the pardoning of a turkey an annual event.

    The turkey receiving the presidential pardon is typically the Grand Gobbler, top dog, fatcat, head cheese. Said turkey will occupy the Oval Office and tell the President exactly what to do. A quick look at some legislation that has been quietly passed over the years proves the power of this ingenious poultry breed. 

   Did you know turkeys are not subject to ANY income taxes whatsoever? A turkey making $450 million a year pays $0 in taxes, a regular wealthy American could pay upwards of $6,200!

    Turkeys are legally permitted to carry nuclear weapons and may smoke openly in public places.

    Like some sort of brazen foreign diplomat, turkeys may park their cars wherever they like– even in handicap spots or way past the painted dividing line.

   Turkeys cannot be tried for manslaughter, gambling, libel, arson, kidnapping, piracy, child abuse, fraud, aggressive panhandling, perjury, drunk driving, squatting, speeding, graffiti, sabotage, bank robbery, spitting in public places,  jaywalking, embezzlement (note to self: NEVER EVER hire a turkey to handle any finances, no matter how impressive the resume), trespassing, petty larceny or sexual harassment. In fact, by law you cannot issue a restraining order against a turkey.  

    In short, turkeys are virtually immune from our judicial system. Talk about powerful lobbyists!

    The true disgrace is that turkeys openly flaunt their immense power and iron-fisted control of the country by staging the farcical annual ‘pardoning’ by the President. It all seems so cute and innocent, but at its core is evilness and unholy not goodness. 

Turkeys who threaten to snitch pay the price!

Turkeys who threaten to snitch pay the price!

 So why do these leader turkeys permit the senseless slaughter of millions of their compatriots every Thanksgiving? Well, they like the taste of turkey gravy. They also think that since millions of their own die, no one will suspect that the leader turkeys are really calling the shots. Typically after the Presidential photo-op, the “pardoned turkey”, the prez and key cabinet officials convene in the Oval Office where the Top Tom gives the human leaders their marching orders.

     Recently, a few brave turkeys were promised witness relocation and protection by the FBI if they came forward and gave sworn testament to the inner workings of the insidious turkey cabal. The turkeys were told they’d have their stories told on TV to Sarah Palin. Alas, when the cameras began to roll, the turkeys were silenced in the background as Ms. Palin held court on other subjects she deemed more important.

    Now that you know the true story of turkey power in America, those Thanksgiving leftovers have never tasted better.



I read the news today, oh boy...

I read the news today, oh boy...

   Heavy guilt had gripped me for days. Sleep was awfully scarce and not terribly restful. Dance was impossible because guilty feet have got no rhythm.

    I was having a horrible time wrestling with my conscience over whether I should go through with the request made by a relatively new acquaintance who sold me some life insurance. All this guy was asking from me was a kidney, my spleen and my liver in case he ever needed any of them. 

    Yes, I thought it kind of weird a perfectly healthy guy would want ‘back-up organs’, but being in insurance I’m sure he just looked at it as a safeguard. I had to admire that sort of foresight.

    I also thought it odd he’d ask me, a man he barely knew, to donate my organs on his behalf. He only knew me well enough to sell me a pricey insurance policy, for crying out loud! But, I did admire the fact he was persistent in pursuit of my innerds. That kind of moxie shows a winner, and who doesn’t like a winner?!

    The more I thought about it, the more flattered I became. He wanted MY organs in case he ever needed some. Pieces of me could complete him. I would be the winner he is. That’s a pretty high compliment when you think about it, and I thought about it a lot.

    So I made up my mind: I’d do it. I’d go ahead and get my organs cut out and put on ice for this guy who must have been an angel or something sent to test me. I mean, things happen for a reason, right?

    The morning I was scheduled to see my doctor and make the request to have him perform the procedures, I walked out to the driveway in my bathrobe and picked up the newspaper. I opened the paper, glanced at the headlines and slowly started walking back up the drive. The following words stopped me cold in my tracks: “Man Dies In Freak Accident”. Below the headline was a picture of my man, the guy who sold me insurance and wanted my organs for his life-extending insurance.

    I stood on the driveway transfixed as I read the tragic tale. The man, who shall remain nameless– no, strike that, let’s call him Mr. John Doe Anonymous NoNamer, Jr., was walking down the street when a flatbed truck carrying an antique trolley car to a museum in Birmingham, Alabama, was hit at an intersection by a garbage truck. The trolley car broke loose, toppled off the truck and crushed poor Mr. John Doe Anonymous NoNamer, Jr., killing him instantly. Dead men need no organs. I was saved.

    A cool breeze brought me back to reality. I was standing on my driveway reading a newspaper and a breeze had blown my bathrobe open. An elderly woman walking her terrier stood staring at me. I looked down, I was naked beneath my open robe. Clutching the bathrobe quickly, I tied the belt, shot her a cold stare and spoke sharply, “Good day, madame!” I pivoted  and ran quickly into our house as her dog barked.

    I wonder if Mr. John Doe Anonymous NoNamer, Jr. had insurance.

    Got out of my car in the supermarket parking lot and there HE was. THAT guy. The one who wants one of my kidneys and my spleen.

    THAT guy I’ve only met a couple times in passing at parties. The one who sells insurance. The one who sold me my ironclad policy that’ll pay my wife a cool $6,000,000 should I die as a result of a runaway trolley car accident on an odd numbered Thursday in July (it pays double if at the time of the accident the Dow Jones Industrial average is above 19,000 and Grand Funk Railroad has a #1 song).

    “Well, well, well,” he said, “if it isn’t Mr. Precious Organs.”

    “What? Where?” I asked looking around for the guy with the weird name.

    “You, man–– you’re Mr. Precious Organs! Don’t you get sarcasm?”

    “Oh, yeah, sarcasm. Nice. I love sarcasm.”

I'm no doctor, but I think I need this one.

I'm no doctor, but I think I need this one.

    “So, you ready to give me the kidney and spleen?” he asked leering at me as if he had X-ray eyes and was scoping other spare parts he might like on me.

    “Well,” I said slowly looking at my shoes to make sure they weren’t running, “I haven’t officially decided yet but I’m thinking I may just keep my kidney and spleen…”

    “Aw, great! Thanks a bunch, Mr. Precious Organs wants to keep everything for himself, because his organs are so precious and priceless that he can’t help out a pal who might need some back-up down the road…”

    “That’s sarcasm again, right?” I asked softly.

    “YES! Yes, it’s freakin’ sarcasm and here’s anger. I want your liver, too!!! See, I like to drink lots and lots of booze, and someday I might need a spare liver, so I want yours. You happy now? You keep procrastinating and it’s going to cost you. Kidney, spleen, liver. Pay up, man! You owe me! Pay up!”

    “Um, look,” I said, “I, uh… I don’t think I’m under any obligation to give you my organs. I mean, I bought an insurance policy from you and I think paying the premiums on it is the only obligation I’m under.” 

    “Oh, man, I’m bummed. I thought we were buds, man. Thought we were bros, dude. Now I see we’re just a couple strangers– and that is truly tragic because you’d have been me, man. Together we’d have stared down the Grim Reaper and kicked death’s ass.”

    With that he slowly turned and began walking away. I felt like crap– I’d never thought about my donating organs to him in a ‘we’re cheating death’ way. He had a big idea. All I had was my ‘precious organs’, including one heavy heart.

    “Hey, let me think on it some more,” I shouted to him.

    “Don’t make me ask for the pancreas, too” he shouted back without turning. He flipped me a bird.

    Is the pancreas precious?

    At 3:41 last night, the bedroom phone rang.     

    “Hello,” I mumbled into the phone half asleep.     

    “Well, you coming through for me, or what, jerkface?” a male voice asked sharply.     

    “Who is this?”   

     “Don’t play dumb, you know damn well who this is. Are you forking over a kidney or are you going to bogart them both for your greedy little self?”     

    “Oh, it’s you,” I said realizing it was the guy I met recently who requested I donate one of my healthy kidneys to him in case he ever needs a back-up. “I’m still thinking about it and haven’t decided yet.”    

     “Who is it?” my wife asked groggily.      

    “No one, honey, go back to sleep,” I said to her.     

    “No one! So I’m no one, am I?” the guy shouted into the phone. “You’ve got some nerve calling me a no one. Un-fricken-believa-bloo-kowski!”     

    “I wasn’t calling you a ‘no one’,” I said calmly, “I was just talking to my wife who woke up from her sleep. It’s almost four o’clock, you know. I don’t want her to worry, that’s all.”          

    “Yeah, right. Well listen up, kidney-hog… since you’re taking so long making up your stupid little indecisive mind, I want your spleen, too.”      

Is this optional equipment, or what?

Is it the body's cigarette lighter, or what?

    “My spleen?”     

    “Yeah, your spleen and one of your lousy kidneys. You don’t even need a spleen, it’s standard equipment that’s optional– like the cigarette lighter you get with your car if you don’t smoke.”     

    I thought about what he said and became confused.

    “Cigarette lighter?” I repeated somewhat perplexed.     

    “Never mind. Just give me a kidney and your spleen. No big deal, you’ll be none the worse for wear.”   

     “But I hardly even know you…”     

    “Oh, great, so now we’re strangers so you don’t have to care about me and you can just let me die because I’m ‘no one’.”     

    “Wait, what do you mean ‘let you die’– I thought you were healthy.”     

    “I am– now. But who knows what might happen? And if I should need a kidney or spleen, well, I’m out of luck because you’re so selfish. Yeah, great. Thanks a lot. Kill me. Thanks a whole bunch.”     

    “All right, look, let me just think some more about this, O.K.? It’s late, I’m tired, I need to sort this out and get back to you. I mean, this is a big decision, you know, we’re talking organs here…”     

    “Yeah, big friggin’-palooza decision– a little minor surgery for you– a few stinking scars that could be potentially life saving for no one. Thanks for nothing, man, thanks a bunch for two fistfuls of nadinski. I thought you were a friend, dude, but I guess I was wrong. Maybe dead wrong, thanks to you…”    

     “Hey, don’t be like that,” I said to a sharp click and a dial tone.   

     “Who was that?” my wife asked.     

    “Someone,” I said. “Someone I know. Never mind. Go to sleep.”     

    I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning and wondering if a spleen really was like a cigarette lighter. What to do?

    What to do…


These puppies come in handy, you know.

     This may sound kind of weird, but I feel like I’ve got to air it out… much as one might air out his/her favorite kimono that’s acquired a musty smell from too much must.

     This guy I met a couple weeks ago called me up out of the blue and asked if he could have one of my kidneys. I told him I was very sorry to hear he needed a kidney transplant and he got really agitated at me.

     “Look, Dr. Know-It-All, don’t jump to conclusions when you don’t know crap about nothing. My kidneys are fine.”

     I politely asked him why he was requesting one of my kidneys then, if his were fine.

     “I’d like to have one in the bank,” he said, “just in case.” “So, are you going to be a pal, a stingy prick, or what?!”

     I told him I’d need a little time to think it through. I’m just not sure this is a good idea…


Strange but true

A first-- ad characters get a 'Playboy' cover and pictorial

    Sixteen years ago, five scantily-clad women rode into the American consciousness and became lightning rods for political correctness. I am proud to say I had a hand in creating these advertising icons; the famous, the infamous Old Milwaukee Beer Swedish Bikini Team.

     What began as a joke ended as a joke. The SBT died in peace. I regret we never got the chance to properly bury these vixens of beerdom. This is the story of what could have been.

     In 1991, I was a group creative director at Hal Riney & Partners/San Francisco working on the Old Milwaukee account. The clients said they wanted a new campaign to appeal to  young beer drinkers. They were open to fresh ideas for changing their long-running campaign as long as we kept the equities of said campaign:

            l. Appeal to blue collar men

            2. Feature outdoor activities

            3. Maintain high energy

            5. Keep the slogan “It doesn’t get any better than this…”

            6. Be fun

    Exhaustive research was conducted indicating young men like women, rock ‘n roll and partying/drinking lots and lots of beer. Thank goodness for research.

    The premise of the Swedish Bikini Team campaign was to pick-up the action where the previous Old Milwaukee spots ended: a gathering of guys toasting the moment, saying, “It doesn’t get any better than this…” but then we’d show how it did indeed get better.

    It got better with the tried and true trappings one found in any dumb beer commercial at that time: with the addition of rock ‘n roll, sexy women who have an aversion to fabric, food, and fun, fun, fun.  Your basic youth fantasy.

    Here’s a taste of the SBT:  

     The campaign was a spoof of all beer advertising, even Old Milwaukee’s. The Swedish Bikini Team was a Monty Pythonesque notion: five women who magically appear in beer spots. They were a send-up of beer commercial babes. They were a running joke, the only constant in the campaign.

    The campaign was a blockbuster from the moment it hit the airwaves. It was written up in TV Guide as “this year’s Energizer Bunny.” The phrase ‘Swedish Bikini Team’ was used by Leno and Letterman in monologues, the Team appeared on “Married With Children”–– twice, and wonder of wonder, the women who played the Team agreed to do a pictorial for Playboy appearing sans uniforms. Imagine seeing a figment of your imagination on the cover of Playboy. It was surreal.

    But fame soon turned to infamy. The Stroh Brewing Company was hit with a sexual harassment suit. The female attorney made the case the SBT advertising promoted an ‘atmosphere that encouraged sexual harassment.’  It was the year of the Kennedy rape trial and the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court Justice hearing, with randy action accusations made by Anita Hill. The media had a sexy new story to turn its spotlights on.

    Soon the SBT came to represent the evil that lurks in all men’s loins. Maury Povich and other talk show pundits jumped on the bandwagon and took the moral high road against the SBT. These five women now represented Satan and all that is evil in the world. Other brewers  vowed no more sex (in new spots, men would ogle beautiful women in slinky dresses that rode high on thighs–– but no sexist swimwear!).

    In the thick of the controversy, I even got a call from a woman in Michigan upset because the Bikini Team members were from Sweden. “What’s wrong with American women?” she asked. “There’s plenty of beautiful women in this country!”

    Now we were getting knocked for being unpatriotic.

    Of course, the clients became concerned. While it was great to have buzz, it was awful to have notoriety. We proposed a final spot to make lemonade of the lemons we’d been pelted with.

    This last spot would be a :60 opus on the Super Bowl to properly bury the Swedish Bikini Team while fanning the flames of publicity. It would have guys gathered around a campfire by a stream. One man would raise his can of Old Milwaukee and say, “Guys, it doesn’t get any better than this.” Then, an announcer would tell us how it could get better. A trout jumps from the stream into a frying pan over the campfire. Then the announcer would say, “And when the Swedish Bikini Team bungee corded into camp… “ but nothing would happen. Suddenly, the commercial director would barge into the scene demanding to know where the Team was. A production assistant appears holding bikinis and blonde wigs and shrugs. The director slumps down and sobs into a wig saying, “They’ll never work in this town again!” 

    The announcer speaks again: “And so, the Swedish Bikini Team, America’s favorite import, was never heard from again.” Cut to a scene of a frozen tundra at dusk. A super reads Somewhere in Sweden. The camera rolls across the tundra toward a cabin in the horizon. Rock music plays louder and louder the closer the camera gets to the cabin. The announcer says, Although legend has it on cold nights out on the Swedish tundra, you can still hear the call of the wild.” The camera zooms in on a window where a shade is drawn and a silhouette of the SBT dancing appears. The spot ends with an Old Milwaukee logo and “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

    It would have been big. We even envisioned a promotional campaign themed “Whatever happened to the Swedish Bikini Team?”

    But none of it came to pass. The client was nervous and pulled the plug. Instead, a new campaign was rolled out and the Swedish Bikini Team joined Mr. Whipple and Josephine the Plumber in the unemployment line for advertising icons. Boo hoo.

    A few years back, Ad Age ran a survey on the most popular beer campaigns of all time. Amazingly, the Swedish Bikini Team came in second place, behind the first place Jocks campaign for Miller Lite in the 70’s and 80’s. Jocks ran for ten years and used a variety of celebrities and sports heroes. The SBT ran for seven months and used a bunch of unknown women who wore bad wigs and fairly conservative bikinis.

    I suspect the campaign will eventually be immortalized as an answer in Trivial Pursuit, if it isn’t already. And for creating an ad campaign, I suppose it doesn’t get any better than that.

    If you’re the CMO of a beer account, I’d love another at bat. Swimwear optional.

Making up one's mind can be a pickle!

    Despite the fact that the presidential election season has been going on for almost two full years, pockets of “low information voters” are still undecided, perplexed and generally in the dark.

    They are still not sure who to vote for on election day or who is running. 

    “I like a president who wears Sunday-go-a-courting clothes and who knows his gozintas–– like two gozinta four two times and three gozinta ten three times and change,” said one befuddled low information undecider.

    Many of these low information voters are frustrated because they feel rushed. “Why do we have to make up our minds every four or five years like this? Why can’t we just have a king like they do in those king-run countries like you see in cartoons? Seems to me we all ought to take a deep breath and think this thing through a bit more,” said the man breaking into sobs. “I just need some more noodle time is all I’m saying.”

    One determined undecided voter says he has a secret weapon. “I’m going to flip a quarter in the voting booth. Heads, I vote for George Washington. Tails, I vote for the eagle. Easy breezy!”

    Happy voting.