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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Six Hacks to Beat the Heat

Robert Manni - Friday, August 25, 2017


It was ninety degrees in New York City as I sat naked at my writing station. And it felt great.

But here’s the catch—even when it’s hot as hell outside I stay cool the old school way by just keeping the windows open. No AC, not even a ceiling fan humming. Yes, I sweat, amigos, but I feel alive. As you can tell, I dig the heat, but I also like staying cool. I also believe thinking out of the box and using contrarian techniques when fighting those dog days of summer. With that in mind, here are your Guys’ Guy’s hacks to beating the heat.  Some may seem obvious, while others may make you scratch your head. But these have been deployed with success by yours truly so let’s get to them right now before I need to take another shower.

1. Hydrate – Studies show that almost 80% of Americans are dehydrated. And, aging is directly connected to dehydration. So if you want to get older even faster than you will, don’t hydrate. You’ll get old and wrinkly before your time. There is an easy solution though. Drink lots and lots of liquids, and especially water during the summer months. I know it can be a pain in the ass, but carry a bottle of water wherever you go. Water provides a critical component of your body’s cooling system. Instead of drinking tap water, which in the vast majority of communities has been proven to hold too many carcinogens, my wife and I use a Zero filter at home. We also make “living water” by placing a pitcher of filtered H2O on a bed of ancient crystals that are billions of years old. We purchase these mini stones online and they activate the water. We also take Mega Hydrate capsules. These little capsules provide the body with negatively charged ions, they may slow aging, while increasing the absorption of hydration elements in the body. Check them out online. Hydration is rule number one in maintaining your cool and health during these hot, sticky months. Stay away from sugary drinks, soda, and even alcohol as much as possible. You don’t need the sugar and alcohol speeds up dehydration. I like a margarita or a cold beer, but it’s got to be in moderation.

2. Dress to chill – Dressing appropriately during a heat wave seems like a smart idea, but in a city like New York people have trouble switching from their black outfits to lighter colors no matter what the temperatures are outside. I still marvel at folks wearing all black, long sleeves, and heavyweight jeans when its 95 degrees outside.  It never changes. But this obsession with black is not for me in the summer. As soon as the temps pass seventy-five degrees, I ditch my dark clothes, my underwear depending on the situation, long sleeves, and long pants also depending on the situation. I remember my early days in the city in the eighties when people in advertising still wore suits every damn day. I can still feel my body dripping with sweat while I’d stand on the subway platform in my suit and tie. It was horrible, and I was drenched before I got to the agency. I’m so glad we’ve made some progress there. But guys in the banking, insurance or legal professions still have to suit up. It looks good, but what a drag. And who came up with the idea of wearing a necktie? What a douche. If you’re still wearing a jacket and tie to work, at least buy tropical weight suits. Me? Whenever I can get away with it, you’ll find me in a short-sleeved shirt, a pair of shorts, and lightweight sneakers or sandals. Since I keep my hair close cropped, I also bring along a hat to protect my noggin from the searing sun.

3. Ditch the AC – This may sound crazy, but I firmly believe in the body’s ability to adjust its internal thermostat. Sure, there are times when the temps are unbearable and you need that AC cranking. I’ve found that if I am outdoors I adjust pretty easily to the heat and when I’m indoors I feel better when I’m being cooled by a ceiling fan versus an air conditioner. When I’m home alone, even when it is really steamy outside, I forego the AC and simply go full commando in my crib, like right now. Don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it. The main point is that, for me at least, the AC plays games with my body’s thermostat. I find that I come down with random summer colds that I’m sure are related to going from an environment with blasting AC into the heat and then back again. It feels unnatural to me and my body never seems to properly adjust quickly enough to those changes in temperature. I do better when I put my body in charge of cooling itself.

4. Get a haircut – I realize that hipsters rule these days, but those big bushy haircuts and wooly beards look real hot to me. I keep my facial trimmer at level two and make sure I shave down to that point at least once a week throughout the summer.  And bacteria builds up in those hairier parts if we don’t keep ourselves cool and clean.

5. Think cooling thoughts – Don’t dismiss this one. The incidence of violent crimes escalates during the hot months. It’s because people get heated up mentally as well as physically. The mind is very powerful. There’s a reason behind the terms, “blowing your stack” or “things getting heated up.” It’s because our minds play a role in how we feel. So if your thoughts are pleasurable and chill, you’ll feel the difference in how you handle the heat and humidity. I begin each day with a series of affirmations and I do my best to meditate for thirty minutes each day and journal any spiritual thoughts and feeling that may bubble up throughout the day. This practice helps me to keep things in perspective, when the temps are soaring. Another way to cool your mind is to read a book, preferably while sitting in the shade of a tall oak tree.

6. Sweat - Here is another contrarian concept. It’s baking hot outside you go for a long run to cool down. Sounds nuts? It’s not as long as the weather is not too, too hot for any kind of physical activity, sweating is very healthy and it will keep you cooler. When it’s too hot outdoors, hit the gym and work up a good sweat. Your body has a natural way of cooling down. It’s called perspiration and it works very well. During the summer months one of my favorite activities is to get up early, before it gets too hot, and go for a long slow run around Central park or along the boardwalk if I am near the beach. After my run I’ll go for a swim in the ocean, hit the chilled waters of Lasker Pool, or head home and take a long shower to cool down. During the day, when I get hot, I drink water and jump in the shower every few hours.

These are but a few ways to stay cool when the weather heats up and the summer gets long, hot, and humid. Like right now.  What’s important to beat the heat is staying hydrated, maintaining your cool under pressure, and thinking contrarian when seeking ways to perspire and cool down. The summers in New York City are long, and hot, and sticky, but we get through it every year. In a few months we’ll be griping about the rain and the cold while counting the days until next summer. So enjoy the hot weather while you can, amigos. The summer goes by quickly.

This week’s GUYS’ GUYS OF THE WEEK are people like me who thrive in the heat and when under pressure. Some, like your Guy’s Guy, like it hot while others are shade-seeking creatures. It’s all good, so let’s give it up to all of the hot shots that are actually really cool. Peace out until next time.  

10 Guy's Guy-Approved Books with Life Lessons (Part 2)

Robert Manni - Monday, August 21, 2017


Great books find a permanent place in our consciousness. Their wisdom and teachings can be tapped at any time we need them.

Last week I took you on a tour of five books that rocked my world and gifted me with important life lessons. This week your Guy’s Guy presents the next five on the list, and they are equally important in their quality and teachings. So, let’s get right to part two of The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Ten Books with Ten Life Lessons.

6. CARIBBEAN – James Michener – I read this entire 882-page book years ago during a vacation to Anguilla. It spans the history of one of the most beautiful and culturally diverse areas of our planet. The book details the back-stories of all the lands and peoples bordering the Caribbean Sea, including Mexico and parts of South America. Michener is a master at “historical fiction”. In this massive tome he retells the stories about the beginnings and journeys of the indigenous peoples and their treatment by the Europeans. The tales are fascinating and horrifying. It all began with two tribes, the Caribs and the Arawaks. The Caribs were cannibals who viciously conquered and over time, wiped out the Arawaks and their way of life. The heat really gets turned up when the French, English and Spanish sailed to these lands and committed atrocities against the locals. The Europeans treated the peoples of these conquered lands unmercifully and with cruelty beyond comprehension. They were pure evil incarnate. Imagine French soldiers pulling a guillotine by cart from town to town, picking out random villagers to “test” out their killing machines as a way of maintaining fear and terror to hold sway over territories that often switched ownership between their European conquerors. And you wonder why at times the locals can seem a bit testy when you vacation to the islands. They have good reason, amigos.

What I learned: This fascinating book taught me that there is duality and often an unseemly underbelly to even the most beautiful places on Earth. And the levels of cruelty men foster upon their fellow humans are often unfathomable.

7. LIFE – Keith Richards – The man, the legend and the symbol of the rock n ‘roll lifestyle, wrote a lengthy and surprisingly well-written autobiography spanning his early years growing up poor in post-WWII London to his ascendance as the rock god we know and love. First and foremost, this is a story about a man’s love of music. We get insights into Keith’s open G tuning and the behind the scenes tales of his writing process and how he came to create the songs that Stones fans know and love. After reading the book I listened to the audio version that featured three separate narrators including Johnny Depp and finally Keith himself taking us through the final chapters of the book. It’s well done and it added another dimension to his life story. This is the best book on rock and roll to date, bar none.

What I learned: Keith Richards puts his pants on the same way you and I do. He’s got a unique personality and way about him, but ultimately he is a consummate professional and a very self-aware guy. He’s more layered than the drugged out image we have of him. And, he knows how to manipulate that to his advantage without selling out. He also taught me that artistic ideas can be picked out of the air if you are aligned and open to the right frequencies.  Richards takes who he is in stride and is a real Guy’s Guy. I had the opportunity to meet him by chance during the intermission to a Broadway show and found him to be friendly and very much himself. He taught me that it is possible to maintain who you are even when blessed with global success.

8. SIDDHARTHA – Herman Hesse – This short book might be the best book I have ever read. I find myself pulling it off my shelf for another read every 5-10 years and it never disappoints. It only takes a day or so to finish it and each time I’ve read this book it held a different meaning that coincided with what was going on in my life at the time.

What I learned – This book taught me that life is a journey with many twists and turns. We will be up and down, but we are always in the now and learning what we need to know whether or not we know it at the time.

9. SIDEWAYS – Rex Pickett – I picked this book up after watching the very entertaining feature film adaptation starring Paul Giamatti. The story is about a struggling novelist who grows as a man while learning about life, love, and friendship during a weeklong bachelor buddy trip through the wine country of Santa Barbara. It’s beautifully written. The book takes a few different turns from the movie and I think the screenplay puts a tighter focus on the tale. But, let’s give credit to Pickett for a very fresh idea and a well-crafted story that holds up well.

What I learned: This book and the film inspired me to write my second book and first published novel. Like many writers and the book’s protagonist, Miles, I experienced my share of rejection. But my belief in crafting stories about modern men in relatable situations about relationships and life in general provided the catalyst to write a second novel and get published.

10. THE GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO LOVE – Robert Manni – You probably knew this was coming, but how could I not include my first published novel. Since its publication I have never sat down and read my book cover to cover, although I will read a chapter now and then to my amusement. It’s a really fun story and about something dear to my heart. Since its publication I’ve launched the various components of my Guy’s Guy brand platform in an effort to bridge the communications chasm between the sexes and make the world a better place for men and the women who love them. I’ve got a popular website and blog, my podcast Guy’s Guy Radio, and lots more on the way.

I think you’ll agree that reading is one of the best tools for self-education. Beyond the mental muscles utilized while reading, books can take you to places you may never visit except in your mind.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK are all the readers and writers who contribute to our world through embracing the power of story.

10 Guy's Guy-Approved Books with Life Lessons (Part 1)

Robert Manni - Friday, August 11, 2017


Books can be powerful teachers. The special ones are just as influential as the most important people in our lives. I have been a voracious reader my entire life and cannot think of a time when I wasn’t in the process of devouring another book. Every book I’ve read has influenced me in some way, but a few stand out for their lessons and how they impacted my life. Some of them are funny, some are sad, but each one shares key insights and lessons on how to face this thing we call life. With this I mind, I’d like to share ten books that made a mark on my thinking, my knowing, and my life. I hope you will check a few of them out and see if you connect with them the way they connected with me. Here goes, in no particular order, the first five books in what I am calling – The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Ten Books with Ten Life Lessons.

1. I AM THE WORD – Paul Selig – Sometimes you enter a bookstore to seek out a book you’ve heard about or have been looking for. Other times the book finds you. This book, by channel and empath, Paul Selig, caught my eye while I was biding time, waiting for my wife to buy crystals at a new age store off Fifth Avenue and 14th Street in New York. I Am The Word is the first in a series of five channeled texts (more are on the way) from a group of Guides that work through Paul. Selig describes himself as a radio frequency that picks up communications from the Guides that focus on man’s vibrational frequency and ascension. I had to read this book a few times before the message took root in my consciousness.

What did I learn? Simple. After reading Selig’s books, I now recognize every person who crosses my path as an aspect of the Divine Source. When you start there, amazing things happen.

2. POST OFFICE – Charles Bukowski – Many people who’ve seen the movie Barfly think that Bukowski was simply a humorous drunk. But he was much more. Bukowski grew up in an abusive household where he survived regular beatings from his father. When he was of age to leave, he wandered around California and then all of America, working sporadically in odd jobs like in a pickle factory before returning home to make his mark as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. He is an amazing poet, as well as a talented essayist and novelist. Post Office is a novel. It’s a fictional depiction of his years toiling as a mail clerk before finally quitting his job at age 49 to write full-time on the advice of the publisher of Black Sparrow Press. All of Bukowski’s books are truthful, funny, and sad at the same time.

What did I learn? As an aspiring writer and a fellow human being who deals with pain and rejection like we all do, Bukowski’s works and writing skills both fascinated and inspired me to never stop following my dream no matter what obstacles confronted me.

3. MANCHILD IN THE PROMOISED LAND – Claude Brown – My older brother is a big reader also, so there were always books bursting from the small set of wooden shelves in the bedroom where we grew up. I was not even ten years old when I picked up his copy of Claude Brown’s tome about growing up in the very rough edges of Harlem in the fifties. This was the first serious book that I’d come across and I still recall it to this day. Junkies, pimps, whores, beatings and death splatter the pages of this incredible personal story of loss and redemption and triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds. Brown describes a world that I knew nothing about.

What did I learn? I began to see the world from beyond my cushy suburban perspective and wanted to learn more about what too many people have to go through to survive and grow. And who knew? Now I live in Harlem.

4. STORY – Robert McKee – If you want to write, you need to find your voice and learn the craft. McKee’s book is considered the bible of screenwriting and of the art of crafting a story. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and penchant for creating characters and conflict, but until I read Story and attended a few of McKee’s seminars I’d never fully grasped the components that make up the engine of a good story.

What did I learn? I learned a lot from McKee, but the key takeaway was that a successful story consists of a main character that really wants something and faces an escalating set of obstacles to overcome before he can get it. Sounds simple? Try it sometime.

5. BALL FOUR – Jim Bouton – When I was sixteen I wrote a novella called, Off The Bench about our high school baseball team. I’d always been a good athlete and ballplayer, but by the time I reached my junior year I found myself riding the pines more often than I preferred. I used this time to observe my coaches and teammates, and the state of our team in a time following our coach’s death from a fishing accident and having the school’s legendary football coach taking over. Bouton’s book about the New York Yankees had come out the previous year, and it made a mark on me. He wrote the first behind the scenes tell-all about a professional sports team. And he made headlines when he aired out the behind the scenes shenanigans during the rise and fall of the Yankees teams of the sixties. It was a fun, rollicking, and eye-opening romp.

What did I learn?  After devouring this well-written book, I wanted to write more than ever. Bouton inspired me to write what I knew, to tell the truth, and make it fun.

Those are my first five books that taught me real life lessons. I think you can figure out why I enjoy reading so much and what it has meant to me over the years. I’ll be back in a week and I’ll reveal five more great books that provided some lasting lessons. Until then, enjoy the weather and bring a book along wherever you go.

Do I Stay or Do I Go? (5 Reasons to Leave NYC, 5 Reasons to Stay)

Robert Manni - Thursday, August 03, 2017


Although more and more people are moving out of New York, it feels like the city gets more crowded every day.

The first few years of living in New York is a love affair. But over time it can turn into a love-hate affair. When I was a kid, my dad worked in the Empire State Building. New York was a beacon to me. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I knew I would live and work there when I grew up. After graduating college I knocked around suburbia for a few years before landing a job in the city. Whoot! I was a young buck working at global corporation in huge skyscraper in midtown traveling the globe selling bubble gum. Since then, I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else but New York. That is, until now. After a few decades of city living and finally settling down and having a child, city life has changed. These days, my wife and I are discussing our future and we’re not sure if New York City is going to be part of it. We’ve done so much here, but there is so much more out there for our son and us. So soon, we may be saying adios to NYC.

I don’t want to move and find myself bored with the pace of a So Cal beach town, freezing my ass off in New Hampshire, or feeling like I’m much too far way in New Zealand. I also don’t want to be so jaded to think that there is no other place to live besides NYC. And although I grew up in New Jersey, sorry Chris Christie, but I do not want to return to my roots in the Garden State. I’ve had enough of the tri-sate area.

So, I’ve mapped a handful of the pros and cons of living in the big city and whether or not it is time to move out. To stay or leave NYC is a big decision, so let’s explore the criteria.

REASONS TO STAY IN NYC

1. NYC is a 24/7 playground - There is always something to do in New York. Unless you want some quiet time, being bored is virtually impossible in a city that never sleeps. If you dig people, they are out and about at all hours of the day and night. If you don’t believe me, hop on a subway at midnight and chances are it will be overflowing with people coming home or going out. If you’re the type of person that often gets that late night itch to find some action or some great food, there is no better city in the world than NYC. Once you become accustomed to the lifestyle and having all the resources at your fingertips, it’s hard to fathom living anywhere else in the world.

2. The people, the energy, the culture - New Yorkers are a high-energy, purposeful, intelligent, and cultured group. People with that purpose-driven mindset come here from every other country to follow their dreams and become part of the fabric of this amazing city. We’ve got some crazies here, but that’s understandable when you jam eight million people together and expect them to fall into some semblance of order and organization. Over the years I’ve had neighbors from every continent on Earth all drawn to New York like flies to honey. And there is no other city in the world with the cultural diversity of New York. Open any issue of Time Out New York and hands down you’ll find more things to do and places to go for the arts, music, theater, and film than anywhere else.  You get four real seasons and you can hit the beach, the slopes, or a golf course relatively easily from midtown.

3. The food, the drink – Not only does New York offer indigenous foods and drinks from every culture on Earth, it’s also a leader in inventing and fusing new foods and cocktails, whether it’s Korean tacos, cronuts, or alcohol-infused ice cream. If it’s new and it tastes good, it usually starts here. And, you can get it delivered at any hour of the day or night. Check plus, plus.

4. If you can make it there… - Deep down, I think every New Yorker carries pride knowing they are making their mark in arguably the toughest arena in the world. Unlike life in other areas of the country, many New Yorkers live to work and take pride in being the best in their jobs. Of course all work and no play gets old, so most careerists know how to cut loose in their down time, often in extreme ways. If you don’t believe me, check out the action at the clubs and after-hours dens of diversions in sex, gambling, and other extreme activities. If you’ve got an itch for something edgy, yeah, you’ll find it here.

5. It’s constantly changing – If someone asked me what’s the one thing that I’ve learned that stands out about living close to three decades in New York, I’d have to say that New York City never stops moving, evolving and changing its shape. Nobody can keep up with the city, even if a lot of New Yorkers roll 24/7/365. No one person has the time, stamina or resources to harness the pulse of this ever-changing magical city. Hot new neighborhoods like Hudson Yards and Gowanus pop up like weeds all over the city.

There. I’ve laid out a strong case for living in and never, ever leaving New York. If only life was so simple. There is a big wide world out there, amigos and it’s important to know when it’s time to pack up the caravan and move on.

REASONS TO LEAVE NYC

1. The rent, and every thing else is too damn high – Can you really afford to pay $3,000 a month for a studio in midtown or would you rather live with four random roommates in a two bedroom walk up in Bed Stuy? That’s just the tip of the financial iceberg that impacts your quality of life in New York City. New Yorkers can handle it, but after awhile living like you did in college gets old. New Yorkers like convenience so they eat out for most of their meals. That along with cocktails, the daily Starbucks, and a trip to Whole Foods on the way home gets expensive. Unless you are a savvy New Yorker who has been here long enough to stay ahead of the housing trends, it’s tough to keep yourself out of debt when you are renting, raving, and rolling in the clubs until dawn and all the while working a backbreaking entry-level job. Over the past few decades the situation has gotten worse. Unless you got a break on a Wall Street job, most kids fresh out of college to wheel and deal and improvise just to find a place to live, and that sucks. Back in the day, you might have to live uptown or on the west side, but at least you could plant some roots and live relatively comfortably with some privacy when starting out. That’s tough now. Almost a deal breaker if you ask me. I would not want to have to commute from the depths of Brooklyn or the Bronx for an entry-level position. I always managed to live near my office and relatively close to the nighttime action. I’m not sure that’s possible these days. And it’s very expensive raising a child in this town. Swimming lessons go for $50 a half hour. That’s just the beginning, folks.

2. Mass transit is worse than purgatory – Unless you have a trust fund to draw on or a corporate Uber card, you are probably using the subway. Over the past few decades the subways have gotten way more crowded, and much less reliable. And now we’re in the mass transit “summer from hell”. Very simply, riding the subway sucks more than ever. The cars are dirty, unreliable, and overcrowded, even in the dead of night. New Yorkers, and human beings in general, deserve better. Did I mention subway service on the weekends? Hahahaha. For a long-time New Yorker, traveling by mass transit has become a sore point and an actual embarrassment that is below the standards of a quality of life that New Yorkers deserve. And I don’t see the situation improving.

3. The noise, the lights, the crowds – After three decades you’d think I’d be used to the sounds of pounding jackhammers and blaring sirens at all day and night. Nope. Where I live uptown, we are also treated to churn of motorbikes plowing down the streets at all hours. All the lights from the streets and businesses that stay open all night make it challenging for us New Yorkers to get a proper night’s rest. By now I’ve learned to sleep through anything but why should I have to shut my windows to dull the roar from the crowds outside the bars at 3 am? Did I mention the lines New Yorkers stand in for a cool movie, event, or a bargain? I now pass on anything requiring me to stand in line, unless they are giving out free money or sex.

4. City living can be toxic – New York City living is a stress-inducing experience. Don’t discount the effects of living in a cramped metropolis filled with all types of Wi-Fi, radiation, and radio waves bouncing around and throughout the entire city. Humans soak this stuff into our bodies and over time it collects in our systems and causes havoc to our health. Recent studies show that our once-thought-as-wonderful city drinking water is filled with carcinogens and heavy metals. Get a water filter and walk in the park whenever possible. And even though New York has come a long way since 9/11, it is still number one target for terror.

5. Been there, done that – Black outs, 9/11, hurricanes, massive snowstorms, a garbage strike, the AIDS crisis, sweltering heat waves, and blinding rain and floods have all been part of my life in New York City. Like Mick Jagger sang, “I’m in tatters”, after surviving these tumultuous years. After decades of running wild and finally settling, there comes a point of diminishing returns for living in the big city. It’s that, “do I really want to put up with this shit?” feeling when you’re dealing with the cable company, mass transit delays, broken elevators at the train station, “show time” on a crowded subway, or witnessing general bad behavior on the street in front of your kids. This stuff gives even the most ardent New Yorker pause about continuing to live in this crazy town. Admit it. You’ve thought about living elsewhere.

So where does this leave me? I’ve put myself on a two-year plan before making a final decision about leaving New York. After working for major corporations, ad agencies, start ups, I’m not sure if I want another nine to five gig in the city. Nowadays businesses no longer require employees to come into the office every day. More and more jobs are done virtually, so it doesn’t matter where you live. I’ve done or tried just about everything I’ve wanted to in this city. So I ask myself, why not cash in and check out of New York to start a more peaceful life with my wife and kid somewhere less interesting, but saner? It’s a decision I will be considering over the next twenty-four months. Until then, I’ll keep fighting the good fight. Now I’ve got to go back into the bowels of the sweltering subway and get on that filthy C train to take my kid to his expensive swimming lesson.

This week’s Guys’ Guy’s Guys of the Week are all the folks who have taken the leap and lived in the New York City. Some like it hot and some do not, but everyone here adds a bit of spice to this human zoo. I’ll see you in the crowded streets, amigos!


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