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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

NYC vs. SoCal - Part 2 (The Subtle Differences)

Robert Manni - Monday, August 25, 2014

This isn’t your usual comparison between LA and NYC. We’re not talking movie stars and masters of the universe or beach bunnies and fashionistas or the Yankees and Dodgers. Those comparisons been covered quite well by numerous insightful writers and bloggers. This post targets those under the radar differences in how people live on both coasts. For context, my in-laws are in Temecula, ninety minutes southeast of LA and I visit them every summer. So through my Jersey-bred Guy’s Guy lens, I’ve spent the last week studying the day-to-day nuances of the people and the area. Here are my findings on the nuances between the two coasts. 

Oil and Water

In most cases, these two liquids don’t mix. But in SoCal they’re fundamental resources that drive the economy and lives of the vast population of this sprawling state. The highways are jammed with gas guzzling vehicles at all hours across the myriad highways woven through the mountains, plains, cities and beachfronts. For the most part, the vast terrain is stained brown and parched except where developments have been built and landscaped. All the foliage needs constant hydration to counteract the impact of an ever-blazing sun. Without oil for transportation and water for hydration, this state is cooked. Back East, we don’t see the importance of these resources in the same way. We have the option of mass transportation. And, the ravages from flooding far outweigh the infrequent dry spells. In SoCal, drought is the norm. There have been rumblings about privatizing the water supply since. If the water supple continues to dwindle, watch these closely.

Old vs. New 

In SoCal, you constantly see land being cleared and vast, new developments being built. In New York, it’s all about gentrification and the re-re invention of neighborhoods throughout the boroughs. What was once a ghetto is now a million-dollar listing. In New York, old becomes new. In SoCal, everything is new except those off the beaten path, barren and forgotten small towns in the valleys that look like they were built in the seventies.

The Ubiquitous Taco

In Manhattan, if an establishment serves decent tacos, it gets a write up in the coolest city-centric blogs and publications, lauding its creativity and authenticity. In SoCal, there is a Mom and Pop taco shop or chain store situated on every other street corner. And most of them still beat the pants off any Mexican food you can find in the Big Apple.  The inverse is true for pizza and bagels. They’re great in NYC and for the most part still fall short in SoCal. Go figure.

Health Foods

Advantage SoCal. Chains like Sprouts and Roots are light years ahead of Whole Foods and the small health food stores permeating the city. The produce is fresher, bigger, tastier and far less expensive. I bought a gluten-free tuna wrap the other day for three dollars. I did a double take on my way to the register, thinking the sandwich dude had messed up. But, no, the cost was one-third of what I pay in NYC or Jersey. In fact, all the food in SoCal is way cheaper than in New York. But with the exception of mahi-mahi, the seafood in SoCal is in no way comparable in quality or taste to what we get on the East Coast. Go figure.

Stores and Service

Let’s face it. Everyone in New York who works in retail hates their job and most of them let you know it. Who hasn’t dealt with the grumbling, grunting retail employee whose idea of friendliness is a curt “no problem” when you ask for a bag to carry your groceries? In SoCal the vibe is looser, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Yesterday the check out guy at Ralph’s in Temecula looked at my San Diego Padres baseball cap and exclaimed, “Cool hat!” I wondered if he was talking to me. After all, the Padres are the local team. Does anyone say this when you wear your Yankees cap in New York? The other night I ran into Albertsons to buy ice. The check out guy looked at my paper coffee cup and said, “Ah, having a late night cup of Joe?” People just don’t say things like that to you in New York. As innocuous as this comment is, it would feel intrusive.

Another example of the differences—my wife and stopped by a local Coffee Grind at 9:15pm for a decaf lattes. The Place closes at 9:30. We’d had not been there in a year. However, the owner told us we looked familiar. Then he gave us one half dozen doughnuts that he was planning on tossing. And they were really good. A bonus example: I called Sports Authority to find out the stores hours. The place was closed. Yet, someone answered the phone. “Sports Authority. Hi, this is Eric.” Never happen in a New York minute. I chalk all of this up to the fact that unlike in the hectic grind of New York City, people in SoCal have more time to be friendly. Another cool thing. The supermarkets sell wine and booze and most have banks under the same roof. And for some crazy reason, despite the non-stop, scorching sun and baking heat, the tanning salons do quiet well out here. Go figure.

Parking

In New York, pedestrians usually seek out the sunny side of the street. In SoCal, drivers keep their eyes peeled to find a spot in the shade. What the heck do you call those silver and black mats drivers prop up against their windshield to block out the sun? Go figure.

Proximity

In SoCal you can hop in the car and be in the mountains, the beach, golf or gambling within an hour. Technically you can also do this in New York, but the Catskills are not six thousand feet high, as far as I know.  And my beloved Jersey Shore is not Malibu. And the number of accessible and affordable golf courses in SoCal dwarfs New York. And all the Indian Reservations in SoCal are less seedy than Atlantic City or the dumps in Queens.

Sounds like your Guy’s Guy is contemplating a move west. Maybe. But despite all of its crabbiness and dirt, there really is no place like New York. There is a passion that permeates the air, the energy and everyone you meet in the five boroughs. Hell, even the guy flipping pizza on Carmine Street dough has attitude, gravitas and a few stories to tell. I’m an East Coast guy through and through, but I do love the So Cal lifestyle and with each trip out west I find more to enjoy about it, despite things that seem weird to a New Yorker. Go figure.

Is your vibe East Coast or West Coast?

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are all the people who love New York and SoCal and find the joy wherever they’re at.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to When Guys Get Together

Robert Manni - Friday, June 20, 2014


When the boys get together and hoist a few cold ones, they discuss almost everything under the sun… except their relationships.

As guys congregate, the general topics of conversation are work, money, toys, sports, politics and jokes all around. Is this a bad thing? Let’s discuss. Here are the things men usually discuss when they get together with their best buds.

First round of drinks: Career and Money

Men like to share their business success with their friends. In general, men want their friends to get ahead, but they want to succeed on a bigger scale. There's an unspoken, healthy competition between guys. A lot of guys keep score and measure their lives by who has the biggest job, bank account, house, or hottest wife or girlfriend. Is this America? Is this capitalism? No worries. This is human nature in the alpha kingdom. Men understand this.

Let’s say one guy has recently been overlooked for a promotion. He probably won’t tell his friends because he thinks of it as a fail. So, when one of the other guys at the bar announces he’s landed a huge new job, the first guy is happy for his buddy, but also asking himself, “what’s wrong with me?” That’s how men roll and I'm sure women react the same way to a certain extent.

Fortunately, over time, a Guy’s Guy’s priorities change. They realize that their relationships, family, health, and friends are what make the difference in the quality of their lives. But that’s for another column.

Second round: Toys, Sports, and Politics

We don’t need to spend much time on this. Men love to crow about their cars, vacations, golf clubs and wine collection. They all have their favorite teams and their favored politicians. While the games drone on in the background, the guys argue endlessly about the Red Sox, Yankees, Obama, the Tea Party, or which club they used on the par three at Winged Foot. Of course nothing changes until the next game, golf match, or election.

Round three: Women and Relationships

Even if a guy is having relationship issues, he’s not going to share them with his boys. Whenever I overhear two or more women having drinks, the subject of men invariably comes up. Women seem comfortable discussing personal stuff and emotionally tinged issues with their girlfriends, all the way down to joking or bragging about a man’s size and performance. But regardless of things being good or bad in a relationship, guys don’t share the details, and especially not with a group of friends.  Here’s why.

Let’s say a guy is dating a woman who's dynamite in bed. There's no way that he wants the other guys to know this; you never know what they think of her. And we all know that men sometimes poach another guy’s partner (it happens). If the woman he’s dating is bringing him down and he’s not sure what to do, he won’t tell his friends. That’s a fail. So when it comes to finding an objective voice to discuss a relationship issue, it’s not that easy being a guy. Guys will never discuss their relationships in a group unless one guy announces something major like he’s gotten engaged or his wife is having a baby.

Round Four: The Details

If a guy has come to a major decisionmaybe breaking up or divorcing, he’ll probably pull a close buddy aside and spills the beans. He’s not looking for advice. He is looking for support for his decision and to be heard by a trusted friend. The other guy knows this, so he actively listens and does his best to be supportive. If he thinks his friend is using his left-brain to address a right-brain issue or if he’s making a tragic error, the friend will weigh in with a few pointed questions. Again, this is a one-on one private conversation, not group bar talk.

Closing Time

So you see that being a guy can be a lonely experience. In the male culture we don’t often talk about our feelings or relationships. And we rarely discuss what we are thinking with other men before we make our decisions. Even when it comes to relationships, men make their choices independently and then tell their friends. Is this a good thing? I’ll let you decide. One way you can help men out is by being available to any guy who seeks you out with a problem that he wants to discuss. This means you’re a trusted, special person to this guy, and that’s a good thing.

So next time you see a bunch of guys hanging at the bar, they are probably talking about their careers, toys, sports, diversionsanything but their relationships.

Our Guy's Guy of the Week is your neighborhood barkeep, who hears all the chatter from the other side of the bar and focuses on his task at hand while keeping his point of view to himself.

So, do you know what that group of guys across the bar is talking about?    

Our Negative Culture

Robert Manni - Thursday, May 22, 2014


Seeing all the videos, parodies and effusive comments on social media about Pharrell’s omnipresent hit song, “Happy” makes me scratch my head.

If everyone is so damn happy, then why do we wallow in a bottomless pool of gory, violent, toxic stories in the movies, on television and in the news? The common denominators on our palette are negativity, human failure, and buckets of blood. Welcome to 2014.

For some reason, studios and networks insist on showcasing deceit, vengefulness, violence, and dishonesty as entertainment. I thought that’s what we have to deal with at work. Who wants to experience this angst again in their free time after hours in HD? Could it be the hypnotic power of that 54” screen dominating our living room and minds? Your Guy’s Guy takes his media medicine in small, detached doses and decries, “Is this the best we can come up with?” Here are a few considerations for consuming content.

Violence

A Guy’s Guy likes a good dust up and action-packed films, but lately, things have gotten out of hand. Even the Hollywood legends have gotten into the act. Stallone’s “Expendables” franchise is really just a bunch of aging action stars shooting, stabbing and punching their way to a paycheck. Sly’s latest endeavor is something called, “Bullet to the Head”. What can I say?

Ah-nold? His recent film comeback includes “Expendables 2” (number three is on the way), “Escape Plan” with Stallone, and “Sabotage” (a B version of an Expendables movie). The poster features the usual cadre of buff guys and gals wielding machine guns of varying sizes. And the next generation of stars is on a similar path of death and destruction. Have you seen the trailer for the new Tom Cruise movie, “Edge of Tomorrow”? Its tagline is, “Live. Die. Repeat.” We see Tom wrapped in futuristic battle amour, toting an assault weapon that appears to be welded to his arm. Didn’t Matt Damon already do that in last year’s futuristic death match, “Elysium”? This is just a sampling of what the big stars are up to. Let’s not forget, “Machete” and “Machete 2013”? Wonderful.

Some say Hollywood is simply giving the people what they want (lots of video game action) and anti-heroes like we had in the seventies. When I think of anti-heroes, Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry” and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” or Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” come to mind. Sure, their movies had selected violent scenes, but the acts were focused on moving the story along.  They didn’t glorify killing and maiming as an art form. With all the hype about Dirty Harry’s Magnum, he rarely used it.

Fast-forward to today and we see blood spurting and mayhem starting from the first scene. Even the once car-based “Fast and Furious” franchise has gone ultra-violent. After seeing the first two “Fast and Furious” movies a few years ago, I recently watched the first fifteen minutes of “Fast and Furious Six”. I was amazed at the non-stop violence. No breaks: just kicking, punching, and fighting amongst all the main characters.

I’m not even going to get into the video games aimed at kids and teens. So many of them are hyper violent and focused on deception, thievery, and war.

Shady Characters

We also are inundated with hit show and films like “Penny Dreadful”, “Scandal,” “Revenge”, “Breaking Bad”, “House of Lies”, “Shameless”, “Wolf of Wall Street”, and “American Hustle” all focused on human failure with main characters lacking in moral fiber. The industry tells us they’re always looking for “interesting and intricate characters”. Yes, I know that conflict drives storylines, but do you have to be an a-hole to be interesting?

For a change of pace there is “True Blood”, “The Walking Dead”, and all the shows about zombies, vampires and creatures bent of exterminating mankind. Want a change of pace? How about those housewives, the slippery realtors in NYC and LA, the backstabbing contestants on “Survivor”, and lying bachelors and bachelorettes? There is little escape from bad behavior and dysfunction unless you turn to the talent shows.

And Now To The News

Adding to this Gatling gun of toxicity, is our news industry. Regardless of which network we watch or what newspaper or major website we follow it spits the same selected, fear-inducing stories at us.  If you don’t believe me; just turn on any local or national news network and you’ll see the same stories rolled out and read to you in almost the same order by a different talking head. Fire in the Bronx kills three, measles on the rise, the world economy on the brink of collapse, voter fraud, and on and on. Until you reach to the last two minutes, it’s all bad news and human failure. During the breaks, most of the ads are for cars we can’t afford, fast food that makes us obese, and from pharmaceutical companies selling us medication for all of our diseases. Your Guy’s Guy is getting a stomachache.

The Solution

We live in a culture that requires connectivity, so it’s almost impossible to simply tune out. We need to be mindful of our media consumption and make the effort to unplug whenever possible. The folks running the networks and studios need to make a buck, so they are not going to change unless we stop consuming what they push our way. Here are three suggestions: Don’t watch the news or violent shows before going to bed. Do not keep your TV in your bedroom.  I know we all need to check email and do our jobs, but each morning, see how long you can go without tapping into mass media. Your mind will become more peaceful and quiet, and you’ll get to know that wonderful person hidden inside you a lot better.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is George Clooney. No, it’s not because he’s getting married. It’s because he chooses to make movies that are well-told stories that are never ultra-violent.

When Guys Cry

Robert Manni - Thursday, May 08, 2014


I’ll admit it. I shed a tear at the end of “Silver Linings Playbook” and when Joaquin Phoenix retakes the stage as Johnny Cash towards the end of “Walk The Line”.

It doesn’t matter what film it is. A successful Hollywood movie expertly knows how to evoke emotion from their audience. At the same time, I recently watched a segment on ESPN about NFL draft picks crying after teams call out their names. These are big strong, manly men reduced to tears while being made instant millionaires. That’s seemed a bit much for this Guy’s Guy, so let’s discuss.

Guys need to be mindful about managing their emotions, even in this new age where the men moisturize and the women play the alpha role in so many relationships. It’s gotten to the point where if I call to get a friend at home with the hopes of luring him out for a round of golf, I have to ask him to put his supervisor on the phone before I get a decision. That could be, “Sure, Larry is free on Saturday, but he needs to be back by six to pick up the kids,” or “ Sorry, Larry promised to sweep out the garage this afternoon. Give us a call next month.” That said, Guy’s Guys celebrate women’s ascension and long overdue recognition. Even if many guys roll over and let their women call all the shots now, Guy’s Guy see the change as a win-win for both men and women when handled evenhandedly. But even with the new freedoms each sex is experiencing, unlike women, men remain under the microscope when it comes to their emotions.

Today’s world needs men to be men—more evolved, less ego, more caring, but men just the same. And women want men to be men. So how do our newly sensitized guys deal with their emotions, and specifically, crying? Good question. I would not dare to lay down a strict set of rules on this delicate issue, but I will throw out some loose Guy’s Guys parameters to consider when it comes to men shedding tears. Let’s call it, Cry—No Cry.

CRY

A family member, close friend, colleague, or pet passes. The birth of a child, marriage of a daughter, break up after a long-term relationship. During a movie or piece of music that strikes an emotional chord. When a son or daughter returns home after serving their country. Did I leave anything out? Probably.

Within the context of a relationship, a guy can cry once. And it doesn’t matter why. He gets a free pass. After that he’s walking a thin line where his lady might secretly think the worst. So guys need to be mindful that women don’t want to date a blubber puss.

NO CRY

Following the last episode of “True Blood”, “Breaking Bad” or any favorite television series. When you get a promotion. When you are selected by an NFL team to play left tackle. When KISS gets elected to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. When you graduate anything. When she lets you bed her for the first time. When opening your Christmas presents, unless you get a Maserati. When you win your fantasy football championship. When your son says, “Da Da” for the first time—be proud, but don’t cry. When you finally beat her in tennis or Scrabble. When you finish your first marathon (hydrate, don’t cry). When you lose your job—wallowing won’t pay the bills.

I think you get the picture. Crying is certainly acceptable for men, but we have to be careful no to allow the waterworks to take over our emotions. There is still something to be said for a guy who can on occasion still be the strong silent type and someone a woman can lean on when the going gets tough.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Lou Gehrig, the famous New York Yankees first baseman, who shed tears when referring to himself as the, “luckiest man on the face of the Earth” during his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium after being diagnosed with the fatal malady now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. 

Things to be Cheerful About in 2014

Robert Manni - Friday, January 03, 2014


Let’s leave 2013 where it belongs…over, done, in the past.

I hope it was a good year for you, although many folks might prefer to deposit it in the dumpster. The good news is that every 365 days we get to reset. Never mind the resolutions we don’t keep and the baggage and pounds we need to shed. Those are just details. Here are some things, Guy’s Guy style, to be thankful for as we dig our teeth into a fresh and juicy 2014. Let’s do this, amigos!

1. You made it!

It’s no minor accomplishment. You’re alive. Think about that and be thankful. If you decide to stop reading here, that’s cool, because this is the most important point. Actually, on second thought, please keep reading…

2. You’ve got a second chance, again.

Okay, so you didn’t quit drinking and you never made it back to the gym after Valentine’s Day. So what? You have a fresh start, a new beginning, and another shot at your dream. You scored a do over. Now make the most of it.

3. No one cares if you screwed up last year.

Bottom line, we take ourselves way too seriously. Most of us feel that everyone is watching us and judging about our every move. Guess what? They’re not. Most of your friends don’t really give a shit about the sordid details of your life. They’re more interested in how you make them feel. Come to think about it, isn’t that what you feel about your friends? Gotcha!

4. The World Cup.

Soccer (the real football) keeps growing in popularity and this year’s tournament in Brazil should be a dilly with top teams from Europe and South America duking it out in the global matchup. Bet on Spain or the home team.

5. No presidential election.

Yeah, I know this was also the case in 2013, but it’s worth mentioning that we won’t be subjected to an endless onslaught of candidates political and personal slagging each other for eleven straight months. And think about it, once the person elected sits get in the big chair, they all drink the Kool-Aid on wars and the economy while ignoring the environment and our food supply.

6. The New York Super Bowl.

This could be a colossal success or fail. With no tailgating and temperatures anticipated in the teens for a night game, I’m betting fail. Also, I find it hard to believe that two wealthy New York football teams who share one stadium couldn’t come up with the scratch to install a retractable dome. Really? Either way, all eyes will be on NYC this January. I just read that they are building a giant toboggan that will run down Broadway. Only in New York.

7. New York has a new mayor.

Bloomie’s gone so you can drink your Big Gulps without worrying about being stopped and frisked. Park Slope rules now. The new administration could be a great tonic or a disaster. How much does anyone know about this guy anyway? I like his kids, but when they played such a major role in determining the election, I begin to wonder what’s behind the curtain. We’ll soon find out.

8. The government is still printing money.

I suspect we’re safe for another year before the bubble bursts again. The hogs gorge at the trough while the struggling masses continue their hope for a ray of light on immigration reform, a minimum wage hike and a return to full unemployment benefits—which, by the way, haven’t risen in value for the past twenty years. So what’s there to look forward to here, Guy’s Guy? Many now have health care and awareness is on the rise for other issues because…

9. The Internet is calling out more key issues.

Just a few years ago, was anyone talking about GMO’s, our food supply, or the NSA and our privacy?  Technology has been a great contributor to our collective knowledge base and wellbeing. Okay, so we’ve taken a few too many twerking pics and selfies, but news spreads like wildfire now. This is a good thing if managed with the right intention.

10. The Stones are still touring.

Just thinking about it keeps me young.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Baby New Year 2014. Here he is decked out in his diaper and sash. Let’s give him a collective slap on the ass and hope he’s a Guys Guy.

What makes you happy about 2014?

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Swinging Cocktails

Robert Manni - Thursday, December 12, 2013


Guy’s Guys appreciate the finer things in life, the company of friends and an occasional cocktail.

So it should come as no surprise that if and when a Guy’s Guy decides to savor his down time with a few compadres or that special lady, drinks might be included drinks in the schedule of activities. Not all Guy’s Guys drink, but the ones that do know how to handle their booze. Disclaimers aside, here are a few tips from your Guy’s Guy who has worked with distilled spirits brands for many years.  So cheers, skol, gan bei, salud and chok dee (that’s Thai, for those keeping score).

Vodka

This clear spirit accounts for 35% of all alcohol consumption and can be distilled from almost anything—winter wheat, grapes, potatoes, and rye, to name a few. Since it’s tasteless and odorless by definition, vodka mixes with everything. You can add fruit juices, energy drinks, tonic or club soda and in some countries like the U.K., they add cola. You can’t go wrong combining vodka with any of these beverages on ice with a piece of lime, although I prefer a wedge of orange.  Pour it all into a tall glass and you’re good to go.  Other methods are filling chilled shot glasses with a brand that’s been distilled at least three times and sipping. Or, just pour some of the good stuff on the rocks and garnish. I store my top shelf vodka in the freezer. Drinking note—I find that the more highly distilled the vodka consumed usually has a direct relationship to the severity of the hangover.

Let’s not forget martinis. When drinking vodka “straight” or in a martini, I suggest avoiding vodkas produced in places like Bayonne or Leonia, N.J. (although there is nothing inherently wrong with these fine habitats) and spending a few extra bucks for high-end brands made in the U.S. or northern Europe. Just sayin’. I prefer Russian vodkas made from winter wheat, but there are many excellent choices if you spend more than $20 for a 750ml.

As far as the plethora choices of flavored vodka, use your head and avoid anything like bubbleberry or flavors based on your favorite cereals or candy bar. We’re Guy’s Guys, remember?

Tequila

Distilled from the agave plant that grows in a pina beneath the ground for eight years, tequila mixes wonderfully with any citrus juice. Mix your favorite 100% agave brand (all agave is “blue” by the way) with fresh squeezed limes and citrus juice, pour on ice, blend or shake it up and you have an awesome margarita. You really don’t need the mix and other ingredients they try to sell you. Although silver tequila is all the rage, it’s actually the cheap stuff. Make no mistake, there are some very good ones, but silver tequilas are only aged for a short time so they don’t have a chance to mellow out and turn that golden amber color. I prefer “reposados” that are laid down for about six months. They taste like tequila (herbal and distinct) and make great drinks and tasty shots. You can also sip the higher-end tequilas on ice. Make sure to keep a few wedges of lime on hand. Drinking note—tequila used to be the drink you chose when you wanted to cut loose and go crazy. Not sure about that anymore, but again, the cleaner the booze, the less severe hangover. Go for the good stuff and drink less. You’ll have a better time and minimize the wear and tear on your body.

Rum

Rum is an underrated spirit. I adore fine rums. We’re all familiar with the mass brands that are mixed with colas and lime.  They can also be mixed with a variety of juices, and because rum is sugar-based, the drinks usually taste pretty good. Nothing wrong here, but if you want to go deeper, sample some dark aged rums from the Caribbean and South America. Do your research because they can be pricey, but for sipping neat, on the rocks or with a good cigar, there is nothing that beats an aged dark rum. There has been some progress made on producing higher-end clear rums, but for some reason they haven’t caught the consumers' attention. I prefer rums distilled from pure sugar cane juice instead of molasses. An added bonus is that the high-end and dark rums are much easier on the palette than scotch, bourbon or rye. Drinking note—too many sugary drinks will cause a hangover.

Gin

This clear spirit is distilled from various botanicals and has a distinct taste that is not for everyone. Although marketers are constantly trying to invent new ways of consuming gin, your best bet is to stick with the basic gin and tonics and classic gin martinis. I always choose a high-end brand name and make sure not to overindulge. For some reason, consuming more than two gin cocktails can mean entering dangerous waters, for me at least. What’s that old saying about martinis? They’re like women’s breasts. One isn’t enough and three are too many. Try making your own blue cheese stuffed olives next time you are mixing a batch of martinis. Your guest will love them. Drinking note—again, note the possible mood change when you have one too many because you may not be that much fun to be around. I do not have empirical data to support this. Do your own research and let me know.

That’s enough for now. We’ve got other spirits to discuss, at another time. Until them, do you know your way around the bar when it comes to distilled spirits?

This week’s Guy’s Guys are all those bartenders who are mastering their crafts and evolving it into the art of “mixology”. Cin cin!

Pro Football: Our National Passion, Obsession and Distraction

Robert Manni - Sunday, November 17, 2013


Professional football is a ten billion dollar enterprise. Ever wonder why it’s gotten so popular, and I mean really popular over the past twenty years?

There have been numerous articles written about the game’s relentless rise.  Of course a lot of its success has to do with the league’s brilliant marketing. But there are cultural reasons as well for its ascension as football has now surpassed baseball as our national past time. Sounds like fodder for another tasty Guy’s Guy post. So, in no particular order, here is your Guy’s Guys Guide to Pro Football.

1. The game is built for television.

From left to right or right to left, it doesn’t matter. The teams keep moving back and forth across your set. Unlike baseball, the game is played horizontally across your giant 62’’ LED screen, making it easy on the eyes and simple to track along the ten-yard markers. The game is easy to watch and understand the basics, like ten yards for a first down, six points for a touchdown, an extra point or a field goal. Okay, the scoring is a bit more complicated than soccer or hockey, but it’s fairly straightforward stuff. And it’s got lots of hard-hitting, violent collisions which audiences love.

2. Women like football.

Over 50 million women watched the big game. That’s more than the Oscars. Amazing, when you think about it, how bad can it be for women to soak in well-built athletes strutting their stuff in tight uniforms. And the female fan has not gone unnoticed by marketers. They have come out with plenty of cute fashion designs using team logos. Plus the game is fun and full of energy, and frankly it’s not a bad idea to be able to jaw a little football with the guys around the water cooler.

3. The pageantry.  The game features an array of constantly changing uniform designs and colors. Every year there is a smattering of new logos, hat designs, color schemes and merchandise all designed for the fans purchasing and wearing pleasure. And it is big business. This year we’ve seen an explosion of baseball style caps embellished with pro football logos. They’re everywhere and I have to admit that they are pretty cool.

4. Fantasy football. Pro football has wisely unlocked and embraced this treasure trove of fan involvement, social media connectivity and ongoing consumer discussion about the brand. Drafting and managing your own team on a weekly basis is fun and challenging. There are now weekly and daily cable and radio shows devoted purely to fantasy football. Oh, did I forget to mention that women now make up over twenty percent of participants in fantasy leagues?

5. Ubiquity. It used to be games were on Sunday at 1pm and 4pm, and viewing was primarily limited to local teams. Now we have pro games every Thursday, three or four every Sunday and the now traditional Monday night tilt. Once we get to December there will be a sprinkling of Saturday games also. That’s a lot of pro football to digest. 

Notice that I did not even touch on the highly popular and numerous college football leagues, plus high school and Pee Wee leagues all over this country. Face it, for better or for worse, this country puts a lot of focus on football. Maybe it’s too much of a distraction from all of our real issues and problems or maybe it’s the right tonic to give us all a short break from our stressful modern lives. Every way, it’s probably getting close to kick off time, so thanks for reading.

Is America too crazy for football or is the game a healthy national obsession?


This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Nick Foles; a back up QB in Philadelphia who recently started and threw seven touchdown passes in one game. Hope you had him starting for your fantasy team!

Things We've Had Enough of, Thank You.

Robert Manni - Friday, November 08, 2013


Guy’s Guys are optimistic by nature, but even we have our limits.

Of course there is an endless supply of things to complain about, but let’s put a twist on it and shout out a mini-rant featuring a handful of those people and things that we’ve had our fill of. Let’s send them off with a wave, our best wishes and a kick in the pants. Here’s your Guy’s Guy list of people and things that need to take a hike.

1. Housewives Shows

What began as a fun send up on Orange County has turned into a 24/7 marathon mash up of bad behavior from groups of entitled, mean-spirited, and materialistic and intellectually challenged rich women in various cities. At what point will the viewers finally say, “Enough!” Close behind are the growing number of reality-based real estate programs. Bitchy men, anyone?

2. Yoga pants and scrunchies

Ladies—complain all you want about men and their ball caps. Your addiction with yoga pants and pulled-back hair has drowned out women’s fashion like a tsunami. Okay, we get it. Black tights are slimming, but everyday, everywhere and for every occasion? Yoga pants are like tracksuits were in the eighties. I've got nothing against comfort or seeing fit women coming from yoga class, but remember when track suits were worn by athletes, not Tony Soprano?
Have some creativity, ladies, and I don’t mean digging out the leg warmers.

3. Ads for Insurance Companies

Let’s get this straight. We don’t need our insurance company to be our goofy friend when they’re really creeps that keep their hands in our wallets. They want our money. That’s all, amigo. Hey global insurance conglomerate, kindly send us the bill, STFU and otherwise leave us alone.

4. Flavored booze

I worked on the launch of the first round of Stoli flavors. Great natural tastes like vanilla, orange, peach and even coffee. Twenty years on we have bacon, wedding cake, strawberry swirl, and even rang tang-flavored vodka. I think the flavor spectrum has been more than adequately covered, thank you. And now the flavor explosion has infected rum, rye and even tequila. No thanks, Snooki. I’ll stick to my vodka on the rocks and take my chances.

5. The whole "Mumford and Sons" music genre

I don’t know what you call this, but I have to hold myself back from bursting out laughing when I see and hear guys grooving to this mush like it’s the second coming of U2. It’s not. It’s dudes with long beards strumming their guitars too vigorously and pining away for their girl to come home. Grrr. Guys, man up. Really.

6. Sequels

With due respect to a great film like The Hangover; this is not a concept that lends itself to a trilogy. Four guys go nuts in Vegas. That’s one, maybe two movies. Grown Ups 2?  I’m sorry, but no sequel necessary. Same with Basic Instinct, Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, Jaws, and Speed. I won’t mention all the animated “franchises” and their sequels. Enough with the rehashing, Hollywood.

7. Scandalized Politicians Returning

If you get caught with your pants down and just your socks on, you messed up. You guys are already rich. Get another job and move on. Your trust has been compromised for public service. It’s more than your ideas about helping the middle class. It’s about integrity. You know who you are. Adios, amigos.

8. The Decline of Food

The more they lower the bar, the higher the sales go at the burger and taco chains. And for those who think deli meat or chicken laced with pink slime are healthy alternatives, think again. The irony is that belly fill is expensive. First your wallet takes a hit, then your gut. Unfortunately, even the meat and produce we buy at the supermarket is suspect and potentially laced with pesticides and hormones and sedatives. And I did not even get into GMO’s. If they are so good for us, why can’t we see what foods have them?

9. Biased Reporting

Now we have to filter the news based on which outlet it’s coming from. That sucks. One network hates Obama and the other worships him. Where do you go for the truth? It’s a problem when news and propaganda walk hand in hand. A handful of mega global conglomerates own the major news outlets. Is this a good thing?

10. Too Much Texting

Hey you, I’m walking here. I’m sure we’ve all had to dodge those nitwits who can’t step to the side when tweeting or texting. So it’s up to us to pay attention and avoid a major collision on the subway stairs. And while you’re at it, get a life, tweetie. There are so many people in New York who need to unplug once and awhile and connect with real people in the flesh. When I came to New York I wanted to meet people, not text with my BFF’s.

Okay, enough, Guys Guy. We hear you.  I guess it’s better to let off some steam than take it out on those we love or even those people we’ve had enough of.

What things annoy you enough to make you sound off? 

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is comedian Louie CK, for his recent rant about cell phones on Conan. Even though comedy is an attack, the best works are philosophical and circumspect.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Things That Are Better Now

Robert Manni - Thursday, October 10, 2013


There are so many things wrong today—government shut downs, GMO’s, NSA snooping and Miley’s coated tongue.

It’s too easy to add to the list and bemoan our plight. Instead, let’s go back thirty years to 1983 and compare notes. That was the year Michael Jackson dominated the charts, the Swatch was launched, McNuggets came out and Lotus 1-2-3 was our preferred software.  Here is my Guy’s Guy Guide to Things That Are Better Now. One caveat—technology is more advanced than in 1983, so we’ll put the tech-related items into context. Enjoy!

10. Central Park – From its lush greenery to the calming energy that permeates the sprawling fifty-block area to the expanded running paths and new playgrounds, Central Park keeps getting better. Central Park was, for the most part, a scrubby dump in the seventies and eighties that you could not venture into after dark. With the commitment from the city and the hard work of the Central Park Conservatory, it has been transformed again into the wonderful oasis as it was imagined.

9. Beer – No longer are we limited to old standbys like Bud and Miller. The beer industry has exploded with creativity, craft brews and innumerable fine selections available in bars, taverns and delis. You can even brew your own beer. This is very good news for beer lovers whose idea of excitement in the past was waiting for that shipment of Coors in a refrigerated container to show up on the East Coast.

8. Cooking – I thought about calling this, “Food”, but with the advent of GMO’s and factory farming, food has not gotten better. That said, the world of gastronomy has expanded and in many cities you can sample any kind of cuisine at any hour of the day. The “foodie” movement has given us an education on preparation and matching flavors. If you want more proof, check the frozen food aisle of your local supermarket. The section that once offered a merger selection of TV diners and frozen pizza has now become a smorgasbord of global offerings.

7. Clothing – Let’s face it, people can showcase their personal style a heck of a lot better now than in 1983. Men’s suits are more flattering, mixing and matching of patterns has become an art form and women have an endless selection of shoes, bags and hairstyles to embrace and call their own. Of course there's a down side: we’ve seen the casual movement turn air travel into a parade of tracksuits and ladies, those yoga pants are a bit too ubiquitous now. That said, it’s hard to argue with being comfortable.

6. Publishing – Instead of following the music industry's demise until it embraced digital offerings and sent more bands out on tour, the publishing industry was taken by surprise when self and hybrid and independent offerings created stars. Before they knew it, sales of eBooks were in line with physical book sales. This is great news for both readers and writers. Meanwhile, the publishing industry is busy peddling celebrity books because they don’t require “breaking” a new name or building a brand. Snooki had brand awareness before her novels launched.

5. Social Media – Okay; we didn’t have social media in 1983, and you may not care for those pithy, inspirational sayings from your Facebook friends, being on the receiving end of a poke, reading political rants or seeing photos of someone’s sushi lunch, but keeping in touch with long lost acquaintances can be fun. And if you’re not interested, you can turn it off at any time. Period.

4. Weed – We’re moving from draconian Rockefeller laws to medicinal use, and that’s only the beginning. Pot is going to become legal at some point during the next decade. Why? Follow the money. Marijuana is the next cash crop and it’s ripe for reaping tax revenues.

3. Gay Rights – Who would have conceived of legislation legalizing gay and lesbian marriage back in 1983? We’ve come a long way in accepting and protecting the rights of everyone regardless of their sexual preference. There isn't enough love in the world so let’s hope this will soon become a non-issue.

2. Coffee and Tea - Similar to beer, we’ve moved from a handful of mass brands to a plethora of exotic, great-tasting blends from around the world that are featured in small independent stores on every corner of the city. The same goes for tea. Once there were two big, boring brands on the shelves. Now we have dozens and even yerba mate comes in an array of flavors. That’s a good thing.

1. Broadcast Media – Cable grew from a handful of new channels to the thousands of selections we have today in a short period of time. We can watch whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want, with or without commercials on a multitude of devices. That's cool. Okay, I don’t like those housewives shows either, but you know what I mean.

This is just a first pass. There’s also been advances in traditional medicine, an increased awareness of holistic healing and yoga, cell phones with cameras that capture so much more good and bad behavior, and of course Duck Dynasty.

Now that doesn’t necessarily make this a better world than thirty years ago, but it’s too easy to fall into a malaise and cry about once what was. Hey people: things change and they will keep changing faster than they did over the past thirty years. Guy’s Guys look on the bright side. How about you?

Do you appreciate the many changes in our culture since 1983?

 

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Frederick Law Olmsted who won the Central Park design competition in 1857. Nice work, amigo.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Drinking

Robert Manni - Thursday, September 26, 2013


Guy’s Guys can handle their liquor. No drunk dialing, no picking fights, no hurling out of the cab window on the way home.

I’ve had my share of nights out on the townsome that have turned into morningbut for the most part I stayed out of trouble and knew when to call it a nightor sometimes, a day.

Being in the ad business, I’ve worked on a number of very successful spirits accounts. I’ve spent hours and hours sitting behind the focus group glass listening to consumers of various age groups discuss how they drink. It’s been an education, and as in other areas of culture, things have changed. People drink differently now. Some Millennials are in a mad rush to get drunk when they go out with their friends, and their spirit preferences have evolved, too.  From clear brown goods to sweet candy-like lower proof vodka, it’s all about choices. But it’s alcohol, so it’s important to be careful that those cocktails that taste like our childhood (cereal, cake, and cookie flavors) don’t sneak up and lead to problems. Since there is no rule book that tells men how to behave when imbibing in beer, wine and spirits, here is a distilled version of your Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Drinking. Pull up a bar stool and enjoy. Cheers!

Shots.

Many drinkers under thirty-five start out their evening pounding trays of shotseverything from cupcake icing-flavored vodka to “pickle backs” (Scotch chased with pickle juice). That’s the new way of kicking off the festivities.  This can make the night random, unpredictable and reckless. That’s part of the fun.  That said, Guy’s Guys are built for the long haul. They stay in control and can hold their booze. One way of maintaining control is by forgoing shots until the end of the evening.  If you need to down a shot to respect your posse, fine, but don’t become a victim of too much too soon, or it will quickly become night-night and you’ll be considered a lightweight.

Women.

Women are not attracted to guys who are drunk. Never. After a few rounds, you might start believing that you are a ladies man, but be careful not to let the alcohol clown you. Don’t get drunk around women and do your best to keep your date sober. Drunken women, especially on dates, can turn into a handful. When you’re on a date, take it slow, have fun and go easy on the champagne. If you are out on your own or with friends at a club, keep your distance from the ladies who have had too much to drink. You might think they’re easy, but that’s a coward’s way and you’ll more likely find yourself with an unwanted problem in the club or when she throws up in the back of the cab.

Know When To Say When.

This is the toughest challenge, but it is the most important skill to learn.  Quick story. I became a non-smoker twenty years ago. During my first decade of not smoking, I’d know that I had had too much to drink if I had the urge to light up after a few drinks. That was my trigger and signal to stop drinking and call it a night, and it worked. Find something like that if you can because once you go over the top it’s tough to stop the roller coaster until you get the spins or worse, are hugging the bowl. There is no reason to get drunk. Nothing good happens when you’re wasted. That’s why you need to…

Pace Yourself. 

It’s easy to get caught up in a party atmosphere and keep up with your friends, but it’s a losing game. Every guy has his own rhythm. Find yours and stick to it. I have a couple of friends who are big guys. They can drink a helluva lot of beer, fast. These guys really pound. I can’t. For some reason my belly fills up faster. I was not enjoying that sixth, seventh, or thirteenth beer, so over time I dialed down my pace. And don’t try matching rounds of mixed drinks or wine with rounds of beer. No way, amigo.

Hydrate and Consume.

Drink a glass of water after every cocktail, beer or glass of wine and you’ll feel a lot better the next day. Eating something besides salty cocktail peanuts or a slice of pizza on the way home is also highly recommended. It soaks up the alcohol and provides necessary nutrients.  If you can, down a big glass of water or a sports drink before hitting the sack and repeat immediately upon awakening. A bloody Mary or another beer will not start the next day off the way you want, even on the weekend.

Hey, like any Guy’s Guy, I enjoy a good time, but I’ve seen far too many good men make fools of themselves or get into unnecessary trouble with the law after too many drinks and an overly long night of partying. Take it easy on yourself, fellas.  You will have a better time, be more appealing to the ladies, and feel and look a lot better in the morning.

Can you or your guy handle alcohol?

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week are Bradley Cooper, Eminem and Colin Farrell—three dudes who have learned how to succeed and party without booze.


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