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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

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.

5 Things Men Can Do Right Now

Robert Manni - Friday, September 13, 2013

Nobody knows what men are doing anymore—especially the men. There's no denying that the glass ceiling still exists, but things are changing. While women are on the rise, both in work and education, young men are experiencing a lag. They lack role models and many of their older counterparts are falling behind (and in some cases, falling off). Here are a few suggestions to help men thrive.

Celebrate women.

Men need to realize that women are not the enemy. They should encourage women's gains in the workplace because it's a very good thing for everyone, including men. When women take on more of the heavy lifting and financial burdens, it frees men to evolve in other areas. Women want you to be at your best—not just financially or at your job, but in all aspects. We can make tremendous strides in bridging the growing communications gap between the sexes when everyone wins.

Go inside.

It's an old adage, but the answers do come from within. The media is constantly bombarding us with fear and worry. We become hypnotized by multiplatform messaging and its intrusion into our subconscious. As a result, much of our behavior has become reactive rather than thoughtful. It's necessary to find ways to "tune in and tune out." More and more people are turning to holistic ways of getting in touch with themselves. Energy work like Reiki, hypnosis, meditation, tai chi and yoga are but a few of the practices that are having positive effects on men's wellbeing.

You are what you eat.

Going inside also means cleaning up your body. Cutting back or eliminating smoking, alcohol, red meat, preservatives, GMO's, etc. not only improves physical well being, but also increases your mental clarity. It's a quality of life issue that many men overlook. Unfortunately, many men choose what tastes good rather than what's good for them. As a result, they find themselves talking about what they used to be able to do rather than still doing it because their bodies aren't what they used to be. Even modest changes in diet have long-lasting benefits.

You are more than your job.

Many of my middle-age male friends define themselves solely by their jobs and weekly paychecks. Sure, the economy's tough and we need money to function, but we can define ourselves beyond a position or salary. A man can be much more if he chooses. Jobs and titles change and eventually fade away, leaving men with themselves. Fellas, it's important to know that guy you're going to be spending the rest of your days with—You. Fortunately, we live in a culture rich with outlets for learning and personal growth. Take advantage and you might find you're a lot more than you ever thought you were.

Keep learning.

The secret to youth is remaining curious. No matter how smart or successful you are, it's game over when you think you know everything. Learning also keeps our brain healthier so we can be at our best. There are infinite ways of feeding your mind and nurturing your soul. Take a class, read a book, study a language or learn an instrument. Just do something that brings you joy, regardless of your age or lot in life.

Our world is changing rapidly, but there has never been a better time to be a man. It's up you, guys—take advantage and live vibrantly.

Our Guy's Guy of the Week is Gary Zukav, for his positive works and his book, "The Seat of the Soul".

The Guys’ Guy’s Random Guide to NYC and SoCal

Robert Manni - Thursday, August 29, 2013


I’m an East Coast guy who feels at home in SoCal.

I’m not sure if it’s because America has become so homogeneous or because there are so many New Yorkers who’ve relocated out west.  But for some reason, as soon as the plane lands and I get my bearings, I’m good to go in SoCal. For context, I’m a Jersey guy living in Harlem, and like many New Yorkers, I’ve traveled the golden state numerous times for business or vacations. I spent the past two weeks in Temecula, which is not LA. By the end of the trip I realized that I could be happy living in NYC or SoCal. Hey, a Guy’s Guy needs to be flexible. So, with respect to the great interior of our nation, here are some musings and differences between our two coasts and how they impact culture, Guy’s Guy style. Some are obvious while a few are only found below the radar.

Geography and Culture

Tall buildings anchor NYC. SoCal is spread out. Duh. But, this creates makes a major difference in how people live. Subways, buses, taxis and walking dominate city living. We’re in each other’s face all the time, so like it or not, there is a constant energy exchange.  And that’s good. But, that also means that you’ll never experience loneliness like you do in the big city. In Manhattan, everyone is in a hurry and there are a lot of crazies, so unfortunately, at times, the vibe can feel more suspicious than friendly, unless you are a tourist.

In SoCal you drive and drive and drive, so you’re literally alonewith your thoughts or Sirius Radio.  That’s not a bad thing, but it makes a difference. You hear “hello” and “have a nice day” and “no problem” a lot more in SoCal, but I’m not sure there isn't much behind the words beyond a subconscious desire for a human connection.

Food

Is it me, or do the portions seem a heckuva lot bigger in SoCal than NYC?  You also get more bang for your food dollar in SoCal.  And, understandably, with all of its farms, the produce and veggies in SoCal are big and fresh. Taste? Let’s give that to New York, where you can eat any cuisine from any part of the world at anytime. However, for some reason, New York still struggles with Mexican food.

Names of Streets and Towns

In New York we have global iconic, old school names for streets like, Fifth, Madison and Lexington Avenue. We coin names for new nabes like Chumbo and LoLo, but there are no new towns in New York. In SoCal, new towns are being built every day, many with American Indian or Mexican names, like Temecula, San Marino and Aliso Viejo.

In Temecula, if you make a right off Galleron Avenue onto on Butterfield Stage, then make a right on Rancho California Road you’re in wine country. There are a lot of “Vistas” and "Ranchos” out there and a growing wine country. There are also a lot of “Old Towns” in SoCal, built on what were once the actual centers of frontier towns. Pretty touristy, but they can be fun if you can stop thinking like a New Yorker for a few hours.

Fitness

In NYC, we run in parks like Central, Prospect and Hudson River Park. It took me a day to figure out where to run in Temecula. First, you have to hit the pavement before 8am and then it’s all sun, hills and asphalt. I thought Central Park had challenging hills until I took a few laps around my mother-in-law’s community. Because there is no real mass transit, there are a lot of stay-at-home moms who are really into fitness. They hit the gym regularly and it shows. Check plus for SoCal on that one.

Ambience

New York is one noisy place to live. Pulsating jackhammers, rumbling subway trains, police sirens, taxis honking their horns and people yelling are standard sounds we New Yorkers are accustomed to hearing before 8am. During my two-week stay out west at times it was so quiet that I could actually hear the wind pick up at about 5pm every day. Wonderful.

Sports

Padres or Yankees? We don’t even have to go there.

Music

Believe it or not, many radio stations still play the big hits of the Eagles, Doors, Jackson Browne, Beach Boys and the other the west coast icons all day, every day.  Cool.

I’m all in on New York. It’s my favorite Guy’s Guy city and there’s no place else like it for people, energy, women and opportunity. That said, a Guy’s Guy is open-minded and I could actually see myself living the quiet life out west in a few years. Well, maybe. It’s really about what works for your state of mind and lifestyle.

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the week are the New Yorkers who moved out west for a mellower life and the actors who chose to live in New York because of its vitality and energy.

Are you East Coast or West Coast, or does it even matter?

 

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Buddy Movies

Robert Manni - Saturday, August 10, 2013


Every Guy’s Guy has a best bud.

In the case of my novel, The Guys' Guy's Guide to Love, Max Hallyday, our protagonist and a guy with integrity is set against his lady-killer, roguish BFF, Roger Fox. And because summertime is all about moviesalthough summer 2013 seems to be a dismal one for movies—I humbly offer my top ten list of classic Guy’s Guy best bud films in no particular order. Drum roll, please.

The King of Comedy- In this DeNiro/Scorsese classic black comedy, Rupert Puptkin (gotta love the name) sets his sights on his comedy career breaking through after a chance encounter with the Johnny Carson-esque late night talk show host magnificently played by Jerry Lewis, of all people. The results are poignant, original, uplifting and somewhat creepy, all at the same time. When I saw the film in the movie theaters back in the 80’s the audience was not in on the joke and many were dumbfounded by this story about a comic who really isn’t funny.

I Love You Man – Jason Segel and Paul Rudd at their finest in a story about an engaged guy who does not have a male friend worthy of being his best man. With his soon-to-be wife’s encouragement, he befriends a smooth-talking slacker who teaches Rudd’s character the ropes. Twists and turns ensue, but Hollywood’s Happy Ending Police make sure that it all works out with a heart-tugging outdoor wedding finale. Regardless, it’s a damn funny film.

Midnight Run - DeNiro again flashes his comedic chops in this cross-country road trip caper about a bounty hunter who learns about love and his feelings from his prisoner, a crooked accountant played by Charles Grodin. Dennis Farina sparkles as a Chicago bad guy.

Wedding Crashers – The best thing Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson has done in the past five years, this instant classic also features Bradley Cooper as an annoying antagonist named “Sack”. What? Add Christopher Walken to the mix and you have two hours of mayhem and one-liners.  If you haven’t seen this film yetgee, I don’t know what to say except you might have something personal against fun. Just kidding.

Sideways – One of your Guys’ Guy’s all time favs. Paul Giamatti plays a struggling novelist who accompanies his womanizing best friend, Thomas Hayden Church, on a weeklong boondoggle to the wine country outside of Santa Barbara. They meet Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh and discover a lot about wine and themselves. The movie has an indie feel, but it’s pure Hollywood at its finest, and highly recommended, especially if you like pinot noir.

Easy Rider – Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper star in this dark sixties classic buddy, road trip that introduced America to the talents of Jack Nicholson.  Great theme, outstanding music, and a poignant message about the direction of our culture are rolled up in a film many consider as the ultimate buddy flick. It very well could be.

Rain Man - Let’s face it. Tom Cruise can act.  We all know about Dustin Hoffman’s Academy awarding winning role as an autistic savant, but Cruise totally nails his role as the selfish brother who ultimately learns the importance of family. A touching drama that may even bring a tear to your eye, amigo.

48 Hours – Nick Nolte meets Eddie Murphy in a ham-fisted, cops and robbers tale about a stolen suitcase full of cash. Sounds familiar, but no worries. This is a hilarious character study set in the underbelly of San Francisco. Murphy shines throughout the film and in particular in a not to be missed scene that takes place in a red neck bar.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Many consider this one of Hollywood’s greatest all-around films. Based on the story of the real-life train robbers, there is plenty of action, great dialogue and a saucy love triangle between two men on the run and their female accomplice. The story eventually takes them to Bolivia where they meet their destiny in a classic climatic shootout.

The Hangover – This is a case of a movie tapping into the culture at precisely the right time and then more than delivering the goods in a fresh, unexpected way. The three leads have all become stars in their own right in Bradley Cooper’s unlikely breakthrough role. I almost feel sorry for the cops in Las Vegas after this film caught fire and created so many wannabe’s.

I’ve only scratched the surface with these ten male buddy flicks and it’s no wonder that being a Guy’s Guy is always accompanied by a best bud…or two…or three.

What are your favorite buddy films?

Beatles or Stones—The Guys' Guy's Perspective on a Classic Rock Debate

Robert Manni - Friday, July 12, 2013


Was Nolan Ryan a better pitcher than Sandy Koufax?

Okay, I’m dating myself, but Ryan’s twenty-year body of work on the Mets, Astros and Rangers dwarfed Koufax’s brief, unforgettable stint with the Dodgers. But Koufax left an indelible impression on any fan that had the opportunity to watch him pitch. He was an artist. That’s what we’re dealing with here. Debating The Beatles and The Rolling Stones is like comparing the beauty of a shooting star with a massive constellation. It’s subjective, but as a Guy’s Guy, I will do my best to be objective while taking on this thorny topic where everyone who loves music wins. Let’s break this down to its basic components.

Songwriting – John and Paul versus Mick and Keith. On sheer volume, The Stones clobber the Fab Four. That said, McCartney is our generation’s Cole Porter. He is the singular songwriting talent of our lifetime. Yesterday, Hey Jude, Blackbird, Let It Be, The Long and Winding Road, Eleanor Rigby, Michelle and And I Love Her, to name a few, are classic ballads frequently covered by other artists. Add John Lennon’s global vision and impetus with George Harrison’s spirituality and musical chops to the team and you’ve got a winning combination. For the most part, The Stones have relied on Keith’s riffs and Mick’s underrated and often ironic lyricsGimme Shelter, Angie (surprisingly their top selling song), Brown Sugar, Ruby Tuesday, Sympathy for the Devil, Paint It Blackthe list goes on and on and on.

Innovation - The Stones excel in blues, rock, country and reggae. In six years, The Beatles broke new ground with every album released. They did what Miles Davis did for jazz in terms of pushing boundaries and creating new genres and sounds. Their producer, George Martin, is underappreciated. He was invaluable. That said, for the most part Mick and Keith, aka the Glimmer Twins, are responsible for the Stones’ production. They’ve had help, but they’ve driven the train for five decades. They have that unmistakable vibe driven by Keith’s crunching riffs and Jagger’s growl.

Live Act – The Beatles were a short-lived phenomena. A few appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium, and the Apple rooftop jam are all we have. The Stones are grounded in the blues and have been touring for fifty years and counting. They continue to rule the roost as the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” for good reason.  Their shows draw from close to five hundred songs, feature the greatest guitar riffs in rock history and are backed by an amazing rhythm section led by a jazz drummer. And their lead singer is Mick Jagger, rock’s greatest front man, and at seventy, a consummate professional and uniquely talented performer that you cannot take your eyes off of.  Stones shows are visual spectacles that are not to be missed.

Cultural Impact – I’ll take the contrarian position here and give it to The Stones. Here’s whyThe Beatles music is harmonious and ethereal with a sound that feels like it has been channeled from above. People of all ages all over the world love their music. That said, the Stones’ sound and message is more grounded and representative of how we live. The Stones spit their grit, gravitas and swagger at modern life. Shattered, Beast of Burden, Under My Thumb, Start Me Up, and Get Off of My Cloud tap into the everyday trials, tribulations and tumultuousness of our crazy world. And, over the past week they played in front of a half million fans at Glastonbury and Hyde Park.

The Verdict – Let’s call it a draw. The Beatles are like Mozartmusical, magical, and even mystical in their infectious allure. They are more popular and less polarizing than The Stones. But five decades later, The Rolling Stones are still touring to great reviews. After six years, The Beatles called it a day. The Stones took on punk, disco, glitter, grunge, boy bands, hip-hop, and whatever you'd call Mumford and Sons and withstood them all. Let’s raise both their hands in victory and keep both bands in heavy rotation on any Guys’ Guy playlist.

So which camp do you fall into—Beatles, Stones or none of the above?

This week's Guy's Guys of the Week are the surviving members of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Thanks for bringing us the soundtrack to our lives.


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