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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

A Guy's Guy's Observations About The NYC Subway System

Robert Manni - Wednesday, September 19, 2012
          


The NYC subways are fascinating. 


Sure, it is a matter of taste, but there are some interesting things happening below the surface of the greatest city in the world. Over the past month, I decided to turn the drudgery of my subterranean journeys throughout the city into a palette of observations to share with you. Mind you, as filthy and unbearable as the subways are in general, they reach a new level of tedium during the summer when the temperatures soar and the air stagnates along the platforms. I’m sure that I am only scratching the surface, but here goes. Let’s file this one under “the Guys’ Guy’s pursuit of happiness”. 

1-    New Yorkers read. Having spent a few months handing out branded bookmarks for my novel, THE GUYS GUY’S GUIDE TO LOVE, to unsuspecting riders who either had a physical book or e-reader in tow, I can happily report that reading is not dead my friends. I see novels, non-fiction, graphic novels, magazines, newspapers, and mobile devices all being used for reading. Of course it’s done partially to pass the time, but it is still good news. We have a literate population in transit below the city right now. Reading nurtures the mind. Digital games can be fun, but many are based on reaction and nothing more. Read on, New York! 

2-    Tuning out. I’m not one for plugging my ear buds in the second I leave my apartment. New York has plenty of stimuli without my requiring a soundtrack for every moment of my day. Of course if it’s a long ride and I did not remember to bring any reading material, I too enjoy listening to some tasty tracks while the trains rattle along. But what concerns me is that too many people stare straight ahead with ear buds connected to their iPods. And as a guy I notice way too many pretty young women doing exactly that. They are basically unapproachable. Yeah, I know there are creepy guys everywhere, but if you want the New York experience, you’ve got to mix it up with random people now and then. It’s called communication. Live a little. 

3-    Entertainment. Yesterday as I rode and switched trains between Lafayette and Broadway to West 116th Street, I was treated to an accordion player, a magician (this was a first), acapella singers, a man playing Chinese songs on the flute, and those “dancers” who swing around the poles inside of the cars. If this had been, “American Idol”, the magician would have gotten my vote. So if you forget your mobile device and your book, you can still be entertained underground. 

4-    Dress code. Let’s face it. People dress poorly in general, and although there are always good-looking women (and dudes) in skimpy outfits riding the train in the summer, I’ve noticed that a major portion of subway riders wear something with the Nike swoosh on it. Lots of chunky basketball shoes, sweats, shirts and hats are adorned by this popular symbol. If you don’t believe me, spend one ride counting how many pairs of Nike footwear you see on the train. You’ll be amazed. 

5-    Strollers. God bless all of the Moms who have to schlep their kids, toys, and that stroller on and off of the train and up and down those flights of stairs. This is no easy task. Hey fellas, if you see a lady wielding one of those heavy strollers toward the stairs, please offer to help her carry it for her. 

6-    The Happy Tourists. If you want to spot the tourists on the train, look for the animated faces that look like they are on a ride at Disneyworld. If you want to identify the New Yorker, look for the impassive, detached faces staring straight ahead or at their phone. Tourists seem to love the subway, but of course that’s because they don’t have to deal with it every day like we do. But, it is refreshing to see some semblance of delight underground. A great thing about New Yorkers, though, is that they will stumble over each other to be helpful and give directions. 

7-    The Map. Don’t sit in front of it unless you enjoy leaning to the side while confused tourists stand directly in front of you and stare past you at it…for what seems like an eternity. Not a big deal, but just sit there sometime and you’ll see what I mean. 

8-    The Ads. For every boring global brand that patronizes New Yorkers with one of those cars dressed up in a series of ads that say, “Hey, New York, grab some (European-owned mass-produced beer that was formerly an iconic American brand),” we have the local ads that delight the locals. Accordion wrestling, Dr. Zizmor-the dermatologist, and the storage facilities are but a few of my favorite brands that have produced fun local campaigns. 

This is but a smattering of underground observations. The point is that if you maintain a positive perspective, you can even have a few laughs while riding the NYC subway system. 

Guy’s Guy of The Week: Ralph Kramden of “The Honeymooners” for being a hard-working transit worker with a dream. 

Seen anything interesting lately while riding the C train?

Are You Ready To Make This Your Personal Summer Of Love?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, July 04, 2012

 

As always, things are upside down in good old NYC. Somehow this past winter took a left turn on Route 80 and missed us. Throughout those dreary days though, you were checking out Page Six and the photos of young Hollywood flaunting their beach bodies in St. Barths. And from spring up till recently it’s been rainy and relatively cool. But we are now waking up to a parade of steamy, sweltering days that New Yorkers lovingly refer to as, “Summer in the City”.  Ah, the smell of the 116th Street subway platform wafting along the dark tunnel.   

I’m a Guy’s Guy that has lived and thrived throughout many summers in the city.  When the temperatures hit ninety-five and you feel like you are melting on the subway platform then you may ask yourself why you’ve been pining all winter for this. But, summer is the best time of year, especially for love, and you’ll start missing it the moment that first cool breeze blows through your hair in September. So, the time is now, ladies. There are hot guys prowling everywhere in the city and you’ve got to be prepared if you want this to be your summer of love. And that means have a plan and execute it like a pro. Let the others panic about those extra pounds they packed on over the non-winter. You’ll be way ahead of the game and here’s how you’ll win: 

Be positive, but get busy. So what if you’re dreading squeezing those thighs through your bikini bottom for the first time under the harsh lights of your bedroom. How did that bathing suit shrink, anyway? The fact is that you’ve got plenty of company and you’ve still got time to shape up. Physical activity is a great way of shoring yourself up from the inside and translates in how you project yourself to others. Plus, it feels good. And, you know all the tricks for peeling off the pounds like pumping up the cardio and putting down the shots of wedding cake vodka. Give yourself six weeks, but get on the stick right now. Soon enough, you’ll be on the way to having those Madonna arms.

Get outside. I have a cat named Sooki. She stays indoors. I don’t. You shouldn’t either. This is that glorious time for year when the days seem to go on endlessly. Take advantage of this time and get your butt out of your apartment. Go for a run, a bike ride, or a walk in the park and breathe in nature. Remember that inside you’re a sinewy animal. Go hunting. There are lots of guys in the park. And most of them are in great shape and aren’t wearing raincoats. Want to catch some rays?  Besides tar beach, you can always chill on the Great Lawn or enjoy a day trip to the beach. And there are guys everywhere.  Like Jagger sings, “It’s time to get up and get out into something new”. 

Take a class. Maybe this year you can’t afford that Hamptons’ share. That’s okay. There are a million things to do in the city. Taking classes is fun and a great way to learn something new. Even minor accomplishments are good for the soul and for your confidence. The city offers so many fun classes and meet-up groups all over the five boroughs. So whether it’s sailing, wine tasting, marathon training, bird watching, yoga, etc., there are a million things to do on a budget and some of the best things are still free. 

Love yourself from the inside out. New York is lousy with narcissists, so that’s not what I mean. I am referring to being kind to yourself. You work hard and you deserve the best. Let your friends lament the small stuff like the amount of foam on their frappuccino.  Your answers come from within. You’re in your prime and only go around the track once so you might as well enjoy every day like it’s your last one. You see a cute guy? Smile. Guys have it tough and they appreciate a smile from a pretty lady like you. Send out positive vibes and they will come back to you twofold. Maybe I’m simplifying things a bit, but that’s part of the message. If you want to enjoy life, it starts with you. If you want this to be your summer of love, make it happen. Whatever you put out, you’ll get back. So make it about love. Before you know it, that first cool breeze of autumn will blow through your hair and you’ll wish that summer would never end. 

Guy's Guy of The Week:
The Beach Boys - for their 50 years together and their songs of summer love.

Will this be your summer for lovin'?

The Guy To Avoid - Part One

Robert Manni - Wednesday, April 25, 2012

   
    Image Courtesy of www.beirutnightlife.com
Now for something a little different: I’d like to introduce Rod, the quintessential Guy’s Guy who bats for the ladies by dishing out the truth about men. Rod is the pseudonym of Max Hallyday, the protagonist in my novel. In the book, Rod teaches women how to win by penning a column exposing the deepest and darkest dating secrets of men called, you guessed it, The Guys' Guy's Guide To Love. I would like to share the first one with you here.

The Guy to Avoid - Part One 

Last time we met I made a few promises. But you know about men and promises. In future columns, I'll give you behind-the-scenes looks into the lives of men in this city and the ways they get you into bed. But before I begin, you need to be honest with yourself. You're part of the problem. If you weren't so intent on having everything your way, right now, you'd be able to protect your heart from a guy who's made a science out of the art of seduction. 

There are lots of good guys out there, but how exciting is that? We've all heard that nice guys come in last. But part of their cellar dwelling is because of you. It's understandable. People respond to clever advertising and slick packaging. And as smart and intuitive as you are, there's always that one guy who convinces you to break your rules. I'm not referring to "The One." No, I mean that OTHER one - "the guy to avoid." He's the game changer. The guy who cracked your pin code and hijacked your password. Deep down you know that he was wrong for you, but you let him in anyway.

Maybe you met at a friend's party, or business function, or in the parallel universe known as online dating. It doesn't matter. He sold you a bill of goods, sweet-talked you out of your panties, and was gone. Don't be embarrassed. It happens all the time.

Guys know him, too. We all have a friend like that. He's good-looking, quick-witted, athletic, and fun to be around. The social connector. And even if he seems to work half as hard as we do, he gets twice as much in return. 

We know that when we're in his company we've joined an exclusive fraternity that gets us near the prettiest girls and into the hottest clubs.  He's a cool guy, and although this isn't a man-crush, there are benefits to being his friend. That is, until we leave him alone with our girlfriends. Then we find out the hard way, too.

When you met him, it was the same. His eyes sparkled and his stories made you laugh. He seemed sensitive. He traveled, had a good job, dressed well, and lived in a great apartment that was clean and filled with really cool stuff. Your first date was short and fun. A second glass of Sancerre at a bustling lounge and then a quick bite to eat because you were having such a great time and he didn't want you to leave. At the end of the night, he leaned over and stole a kiss after hailing you a cab. 

On the second date, he takes you to that hot new fusion place in MePa where the staff smiles at you approvingly and whisks you to a prime table. He takes charge of everything, picks a wonderful bottle of wine, and again keeps you laughing throughout dinner. There's no waiting in line at the club and the champagne makes you feel sexy, so you cut loose and grind on him a little on the dance floor. This is how a date should go. And then you give into his soft lips and deep soulful kisses in the back of the cab. But what flips your switch is the way he looks into your eyes and tells you how different he feels and how comfortable he is around you. So you go back to his place, and when it feels right, he leads you into his room. You slip off your dress and you ravage one another all night. The next morning, after making love a second time, he cooks you breakfast. You're thinking that this is different and he might be "The One." Then, an hour later, you're sitting in a cab wearing the same clothes you wore the previous night, already wanting to call him. A day goes by and you wait, and then wait some more, but he doesn't call. So you phone him and your call goes directly to voice mail. This can't be happening, not to you. So you call again. No response. Later, your self-esteem reaches a new new low while you type that e-mail - the one where your emotions get so tangled up that you're not sure what you can say without sounding like a pathetic fool. But he never replies, and finally the reality hits you in the gut. You've been had. 

I'm sorry. Did that upset you? I'm sure it did, because I know how much you give and how much "The Guy to Avoid" takes. But you're too smart and work way too hard to let yourself be used that way ever again. And please try not to take it out on the next guy. Hang in there with me and I'll break this down further when we get together again. And that's a promise. Maybe nice guys aren't so bad after all. 

Until next time,
Rod 

Why The Rolling Stones Matter To Guys' Guys

Robert Manni - Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Image courtesy of thenjunderground.com

Guys’ Guys need good music and for the past fifty years, the Stones have spun a wicked soundtrack. Like them or not, you have to admit the Stones have withstood time. Despite the arrival of disco, rap, hip hop, electronica, house, world, and competitors as talented as Nirvana, Guns and Roses, and Led Zeppelin, only the Stones have kept it together and rolled for five decades. And while in six short years the Beatles songs lifted us to ethereal heights that will never be matched, the Stones grounded us in the real world. No yellow submarines or Bungalow Bills here. The Stones wrote classic rock songs about the challenges we face every day, and that’s why they matter - especially to Guys’ Guys.  In this rapidly changing world and a music industry that breeds acts as disposable as a soiled pair of Depends, the Stones have time and gravitas on their side.   But can they still roll or are their steel wheels too creaky?   Their golden anniversary tour has been pushed back a bit because “they are not ready” and with no new music for the past seven years, this seems strange. But, the last standing vestiges of the classic rock era get a well-deserved pass. As quick as you can say “Start Me Up”, Mick will once again move like Jagger. Okay, you have probably figured out that I really like the Rolling Stones. The main reason is that in a strange way, their music helped me develop from angry young man to my hopefully mellower current persona. Here are a few songs that were guideposts for my evolution as a Guy’s Guy.

1- Brown Sugar - Every few months, my mom would drive to the retail district of Hackensack, NJ to shop. There was a record store near the Fox movie theater that carried the latest records. I was in school so I’d write her a list. I’d give mom the money and she’d buy me one or two albums. On one particular trip she returned wielding copies of, The Monkees, “Headquarters” and the Stones epic “Sticky Fingers” albums. Needless to say she frowned when she handed over the Stones album with Andy Warhol’s black and white photo of a guy’s bulging package and the silver zipper on the cover. Hilarious. The moment I heard the song’s opening riff of Brown Sugar that sounded like the gears of a high-octane V-8 engine kicking in, everything changed. I was alive. Since my family lived only minutes from my school, I listened to that song and album every day for the next year when I’d stop home at lunchtime and have a sandwich and a dish of Jell-O with my Mom. I applaud her for never complaining as she was subjected to songs like  “Bitch” and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?” as we ate. It was a great time in my life-bonding with mom while listening to the Stones. Although I was now bursting with testosterone, I realized that my mom was also my friend. Cool.

2- Shattered - “Some Girls” was all about New York City. It was raw and insidious in its charm.  The final song, “Shattered” featured lyrics like, “Love and hope and sex and dreams and still surviving on the street” and “Rats on the West Side, bed bugs uptown”. It painted the Manhattan of that time with a brazenly accurate brush. I was still living in Jersey in those days, but I’d drive across the bridge to visit my friends in the city. We partied like wild boys until five in the morning and crash wherever. I remember walking up after an all-nighter on the closet floor of a woman’s apartment with my body entwined with one of her girlfriends.  Those were fun, innocent times and compared to today’s hard-edged nightlife. I found my drug and it was New York City.

3- Start Me Up - Probably one of the most overplayed radio songs of all time, but infectious just the same. Who could shy away from Keith’s opening riff and Mick’s declaration that the girl he sang about could make a dead man come? That’s some woman. I heard the song for the first time while partying in the back of a car cruising up Wilshire in LA while with a buddy from college and his friends. It was the eighties now and things were changing. I was too. At the time, it was all about heading west and discovering America.

4- Anybody Seen My Baby? - The underrated “Bridges to Babylon” album featured a single with Mick sing-speaking his lament about a great girl that had disappeared into thin air. At the time, like my character Max Hallyday, the protagonist in my novel, THE GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO LOVE, I had just left a job I really loved for the promise of money and power. I got some of that, but I also got a wake up call about what really matters in life and it really stuck in my brain. I learned that you could never go back.

5- A Bigger Bang - When the Stones last release came out a few years ago, everything in my life had been blown up in some way. I was completely on my own. It was a very free feeling so I decided that I’d take a risk and write a kick-ass novel that would make people feel good. The CD sounded like the Stones were playing in my living room and the songs were relatively light versus their former harder edge. The digital download provided a great soundtrack for my long runs in Central Park and at the shore and the more circumspect songs helped me work out the novel’s plot twists and turns as I loped along. The music was transformative and the collection of songs provided an ongoing narrative and tone for my protagonist, Max Hallyday.

For most of us music plays a part in modern life. The Rolling Stones have grown up with me and for that I will always be grateful. While they pull themselves together for their final tour, I’m working on my next book and waiting on my lifelong musical friends.

So which songs have inspired you? Maybe it's time to listen to them again.

Interview with Robert Manni (Part Two) – by Matthew (The Bibliofreak)

Robert Manni - Wednesday, March 14, 2012



It’s hard to place The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love in a particular genre – how do you describe it to people?

Great question. At first agents told me that since I was a guy, I should write a thriller. No, thanks. Then it was, why don’t you write the book with a female protagonist? No, thanks. Then they told me, the title sounds like the book is a non-fiction guide to getting laid. Why don’t you change the name to Shark Tank or something like that? No, thanks.

Maybe this book will help guys connect with women better. I don’t know, but I write what I’m passionate about and the story is universal. Most readers can relate to Max, Roger, or Cassidy, so I don’t see why the book must be squeezed into a specific genre beyond general fiction. Once you start chasing the market, you’ll end up writing about a stripper-turned vampire detective. If you write what’s hot - like young adult or Harry Potter - they’ve already seen it. If you write something new, they don’t know where to slot your work. The market keeps evolving, but good stories about human nature with conflicts and choices characters face never go out of style.

Do you have any plans to write further novels set in the world of advertising, or even to revisit the characters in The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love?

Definitely. I have a fresh concept for the sequel in the works. I can’t wait to jump into it head first. I’m not done with the world of advertising yet, either. There are other issues and subjects I plan to tackle, though I’m just getting warmed up.

How long did it take you to write The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love?

The initial draft took about six months. The editing of this novel took over two years to get right.

Describe your life during the writing process.

I wrote GGG2Love during a period of career and personal transition. From working in a high-powered executive position, I went free - lance. I was single for the first time in many years and I was also introduced to energy work. Everything was open - ended. I did not know where the process would lead, but I had faith. This period of time tested me.

I learned that writing is psychically draining and cathartic and exhilarating all at the same time. I ran many, many miles and used that time to mentally sort out and sculpt a muscular plot for the book. I was spending a lot of time at my beach house. I was so deep into the writing process that on some days I would begin my work in the early morning. Then after what seemed like only a few hours later I’d find myself looking out at the ocean noticing that the sun was going down. It was a special time for me.

And when you’re not writing?

I’m president of a boutique ad agency in Manhattan so that keeps me hopping. I also read, write, play and rest. Of course, I spent a lot of time dating or chasing women in an effort to find the right partner.Thankfully, I finally swam into her net. It was a gentle capture. I was ready.

What first inspired you to start writing?

Once I realized that I would not be playing centerfield for the New York Yankees, at a young age writing became my primary passion…that is until I discovered girls. Although I spent my childhood playing outdoors, I read constantly - early mornings, evenings, and quiet afternoons sitting on the front steps.

I wrote a short memoir about our school baseball team when I was sixteen. My teacher, Cosmo Ferraro, read passages from my short book to his students and they loved hearing about their classmates. And that was it. I was all in - hook, line and sinker.

I majored in English Literature, but like my father I was interested in business and world travel. After graduation I worked my way into a marketing position at a corporation and took classes for my MBA. During this time I travelled extensively for business - across the U.S. and globally during a time when the world didn’t feel so connected by technology. I recall how alienated I felt having dinner in a colleague’s backyard in a suburb in Kuala Lumpur when three weeks prior I had never uttered the name of this wonderful city. I think that all the travelling I did early on provided a strong foundation to better understand the human condition with all of its ticks.

What do you hope readers will get from The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love?

I hope they have fun and are reminded that by giving give people a chance, you open yourself up to surprises. Or not. It keeps life interesting, and of course I hope they become aware of Reiki, too.

Which authors, if any, do you compare yourself to, or aspire to emulate?

I admire so many authors -  Mailer, Hesse, Camus, Carlos Castaneda, Hemingway, William Hjortsberg, Dan Wakefield, John Fante, Lawrence Block, Sogyal Rinpoche, even Harold Robbins, but I don’t attempt to emulate them. It’s challenging enough for a writer to find his own voice.

The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love is your first novel; did you attempt any other full length works or short stories before you started writing it?

I wrote a “practice” novel like many other writers and shopped it around a bit to learn the ropes of the marketplace and how the business worked.

How successful were they / What did you learn?

The entire process was an education so I consider it a major success. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote about the wonderful experience of writing a book about one’s life and he was right. I had a powerful emotional release after completing that project. It taught me about possibilities. It also reminded me that story is paramount and my life was not necessarily as interesting to others as it is to me.

What aspects of writing do you find most challenging?

An editor who read both my first project and GGG2Love told me that I had a unique voice that the publishing industry might try to change. He urged me to stay true to my personal style.

I find the publishing industry challenging. The agents and publishers are inundated with material that is not ready for prime time. So some agents begin their process from a negative perspective. Reading takes time and time is money, so you can’t really blame them or take their feedback personally. Your writing needs to follow the rules, yet stand out. It’s tricky.

What advice would you give to people wanting to write?

Writing is not a matter of wanting. That takes no effort. To succeed at it, it must be something you have to do almost a compulsion or an addiction of sorts. Otherwise, it’s too easy to give up. A writer must be driven, passionate, and relentless like a sled dog mushing his way through a blizzard. Onward!

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m now blogging regularly at robertmanni.com while prepping the sequel to The Guys’ Guy’s Guide To Love. I like the spontaneity of posting things that I’m experiencing, noticing, and feeling while hopefully adding value to the readers’ passions about life, love and their pursuit of happiness.

What are your long-term writing ambitions?

Do you mean beyond selling enough books to buy my own Caribbean island and building an amazing writing hideaway? There has been already interest in the TV treatment and film rights so we’ll see where this takes us.

What sort of books do you enjoy / Favourite authors or titles?

My all-time favorite book is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I read it every few years or so. The message remains constant, but the story touches my heart in a different way every time.

Are there any new writers you’ve read recently who you are particularly excited about?

I’m not sure if they are considered new, but I really enjoyed Rex Pickett’s Sideways and I think Michael Lewis is brilliant. I also loved Keith Richards’ autobiography.

What, if anything, would you change about writing and publication of The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love?

Like most writers, every time I go back and read the book I see things that I’d like to play with. But I’ve made the tweaks after the first short run, so the story is set and I have to let it go.

Favourite word, and why?

Om. It is the last word in Siddhartha and it means everything.

Interview with Robert Manni (Part One) – by Matthew (The Bibliofreak)

Robert Manni - Wednesday, March 07, 2012


You’ve worked in advertising for the past two decades, what inspired you to turn your hand to literature and write The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love?

About ten years ago I was walking across Sixth Avenue when something inside told me that it was time to get serious about my passion for writing. I read every book that I could get my hands on about writing or subjects that interested me and began writing in earnest.

Before writing this book I noticed a growing chasm between men and women, particularly the ascent of women and the lack of support and thoughtful response from men. That old macho routine was no longer working and it seemed like it was time for a new type of contemporary male to evolve. I call him a “guy’s guy”-the guy who is a bit more casual and generally understanding, but still a man in every sense of the word. Along with these thoughts I was also also fuelled by the irony of this division between the sexes; this despite all the technology that keeps us connected. I hoped these ideas could turn into a story that connected emotionally with readers.

I gave myself ten years to make all of this happen and here we are.

With all that experience it’s inevitable that people will wonder, were any of the characters based on real people you’ve encountered?  

When building the cast for GGG2Love I used archetypes. Who hasn’t met a smooth Lothario like Roger Fox or an entitled rich girl like Layla or a type-A Veronica? As choices define characters, in GGG2Love the challenge for the guys, particularly Max, is how they manage their “inner Roger”. Since I used archetypes to build characters, they are not specifically based on real people.

And did you identify with any of the characters yourself?

I found myself relating to all the characters, including the females. They all faced personal challenges and decisions that defined their true character and possibilities for success, failure, and redemption. Max is the universal everyman and hero, Roger, the contemporary sexual male, and Alejandro is the more spiritual modern man - the moral compass of the story.

In the novel you switch between a range of narrative perspectives, did you find it hard to write from the female characters’ point of view - what helped you gain an insight into the female psyche?

I recall reading Michael Crichton’s “Travels” a long time ago. It is a fascinating memoir about his days as a med student. He stressed the equality and similarity of men and women behaviourally. It really hit a nerve with me. Beyond the nuances, I found it much easier to know women when I treated them the same as I treated my best guy friends, instead of as mysterious, unpredictable creatures, although I admit that at times they may seem that way.

I did my best to imagine how I would behave if I were experiencing what one of the female characters was going through. Then I ran things by my female friends to check the emotional content and the latest fashion trends. I feel comfortable because nothing rang false to the women who’ve read the book.

Manhattan, its inhabitants and their lifestyles are central to the book. What is it that excites you so much about the big city?

After travelling for business for about ten years I realized that America is a concept, a grand idea. New York is like that also. It is a special place with powerful creative energy and it is always changing. The city draws talent from around the globe like moths to a flame. From the guy spinning pizza dough to the cab drivers and people you work with, there is a sense of pride and urgency that permeates Manhattan. You can smell clean fresh fish at the Chelsea Marketplace or the stench of the subway on a summer’s day- all within five minutes of each other. The restaurants, bars, and patrons constantly change, as do the neighbourhoods and the people living in them. The array of food is amazing and it’s true, the city never sleeps. Underneath it all, there is a sense of romance that acts like an undertow to even the most mundane activity. You can find new love at the laundry, gym, bookstore or a cooking class. What’s not to like?

The novel presents an interesting discussion about masculinity and modern man. How do you see the role of men and masculinity in today’s society?

Men need to pay attention and face facts. This is the time for women to ascend and I believe that this is a great thing for everyone, including men. But it’s all in how we view a situation. Instead of putting more pressure on men, women are actually taking on more responsibilities and allowing our male roles to evolve. That’s a good thing for men who see this in a positive light. And if they take their frustrations  out on women, they will be in deep trouble because women are not going to take a step back. Why should they? The ball is in men’s court.

Few of the characters are irredeemably bad or manipulative, do you think this is representative of business in Manhattan generally?

Sure, there are plenty of bad apples in the big city, but my goal was to show the eternal hopefulness that is baked into humanity. Even history’s most despicable dictators believed that they were doing the right thing, so my focus was on the character’s intention and the possibility of good that resides in everyone. I believe in the now, and no one has convinced me yet that people cannot evolve. Of course many fail, but that does not preclude the inherent ability to change for the good. It can happen.

Spirituality, in one form or another, plays a large role in the book (reiki, etc.). These things must be important to you?

This is the question I was hoping for. Although The Guys’ Guy’s Guide To Love is fast, frothy, and fun, ultimately it is about being self-reflective and doing the right thing. 

I’ve been drawn to “spirituality” since early childhood and have no idea why, but once I fell into my studies of Reiki and hypnosis, my energy shifted and my perspective evolved. Everything seems closer and connected now. If this book introduces Reiki to readers then I have achieved something special. I would not have had the energy to overcome the innumerable obstacles I faced while writing this book without my energy work. It is a gift I want to share and I charged this book to do exactly that.

There is a real sense that your characters get what they deserve by the end of the novel, was this internal morality something that was important to you from the outset?

I prefer accentuating the positive and providing possibilities for redemption. Either with characters or with people, I believe in giving everyone a chance, knowing too well that many will fail to live up to my expectations or their own standards. In this novel, as in all stories, the outcome is predicated by the choices the characters make. I left that for them to decide…for now.

Did you have a particular audience in mind when writing the book?

I thought the story would connect with women, men, and readers interested in the world of advertising, New York stories and spirituality.  Lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails from men telling me that they have finally read a story about the sexes that resonates. This inspires me to believe that what sets GGG2Love apart from other male versions of “Sex and the City” is that our guys don’t behave like women.


Is He A Guy's Guy?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Image courtesy of Jonathan Mueller

With all the momentum around the ascent of women, it is easy to overlook men in general. They have enjoyed a 40,000-year day in the sun and contrary to popular culture myths, like alligators traversing the sewers of New York City, they are not going away anytime soon. But there is a new guy in town, and he’s someone you should meet. He’s a guy’s guy and in my opinion, he is destined to become a very important representative of our culture.

So Why Is It Time For The Guy's Guy? 

Throughout history and particularly the twentieth century and modern times, the role and definition of the ideal man has shifted like the sands in a Rudolf Valentino movie. Over time, the man’s man archetype as presented to us by Hollywood and pop culture was initially portrayed as a dashing, swashbuckling hero in the mold of Errol Flynn and Douglass Fairbanks, Jr. Smooth, handsome, and brave. These guys were mostly action, with a flair for the dramatic and a sense of fearlessness that could not be ignored. The women swooned. Then came John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and Kirk Douglas. Less talk, not as pretty-boy, but alpha males that you did not want to mess with. But, in most cases these fellas were not encumbered by the stresses of modern life that we face now.  The anti-heroes of the seventies as portrayed by Eastwood and Bronson are no longer relevant, despite Ryan Gosling’s character arc in “Drive”. People didn’t quite buy it, yet, but there is a subtext to Gosling’s version of the slow, but steady disconnected male who strives to belong and do the right thing.

So, Is Seth Rogen A Guy’s Guy?

He could be, but a guy’s guy is not the Judd Apatow male that we have witnessed clogging up our movie screens for the past decade. These characters are hilarious, but have actually hastened our need for the guys’ guys to step up and be counted. Women want men to be more manly, but not in a macho-jerk wad way.

So What Is This Guy's Guy?

A guy’s guy is a contemporary take on a man’s man, but without the testosterone-fueled veneer that ultimately alienated women and motivated them to transcend a need to be taken care of by men and placed in a never-ending purgatory called second-place. A guy’s guy has many of the traits of the archetypal expectation of a “real” man, but in a more digestible way. He likes women and wants them to succeed. He gets it. He doesn’t have to punch his way of out of a jam or burst into the bad guy’s hideout armed with a knife and pointed one-liners. But he will be there for you and his friends if trouble breaks loose at the local tiki bar. He’s reliable, flexible, non-judgmental, and always ready for a good time. He works hard, plays hard, and doesn’t ever forget who his friends are or where he came from. Women feel comfortable with him, yet are attracted to him in ways they cannot easily describe. He’s a man that other men like and respect. He might enjoy playing sports, but no longer lives and dies with the teams he watches. He puts the journey into perspective, he has a plan, and he is always finding ways to help make you, the world and him better. He sounds simple, but he is far from it. He’ll treat you like a woman, he’s physically warm, and will always make you feel comfortable on his arm. He’s not a chauvinist, but he likes it when you put on that pretty green dress every so often. He knows how to drink and is nice to your family, old people, kids, and small animals. His family might not understand him, but he realizes that we don’t pick our relatives. He is someone you enjoy hanging out with…anywhere, and ladies, he is one helluva lover. Unselfish, pleasing, and lusty as a mountain goat.

Why Are Guy's Guys Important?

Do I really have to explain? Are you, or is your guy, a guy’s guy?


Can You Change Your Outlook on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness in Ninety Seconds?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Image courtesy of Jason Tromm

I’m glad I caught your attention, and yes, it’s true. Ninety seconds is all it’s gonna take if you stay with this blog on a regular basis. You’re probably thinking¾do I really need to read another blog? I guess that’s like askingdo you need a vodka that tastes like whipped cream or another recipe using bacon or a way to make your pores look smaller. Maybe you don’t.  But, hopefully you’ll choose to read my regular posts here about life and love and the pursuit of happiness. Surely you have a fleeting interest in those topics. So it’s on me to make your ninety-second investment a game-changer. In this age of Facebook drama (look at Jason on his tricycle) Foursquare revelations (I’ve just checked in at McDonald’s on 34th Street) and the souls of the world crying out across Twitter (Be takin’ a showaaa now), I might be able to win you over.

I promise to be direct, to call a spade a spade and a heart broken after it’s been replaced by another’s after your guy’s endless visits to that dating web site where you met.  And I’ll call out the guys and gals and anyone who is not playing fair. Because life should be fun and there is too much negativity spewed from our leaders, the media, and our collective egos. Yep, this blog is gonna tackle all that and more in an increasingly “all about me” world.

So Who Am I?

Wonderful question. Please let me know when you find out, but in the interim, I live in NYC, I work in advertising and help convince consumers why they really DO need that whipped cream-flavored vodka, and I care about people and how they treat one another. And, in relationships in particular. We’ve all searched for that one true love and have been disappointed, but we rarely take a look at ourselves and ask what messages we’re sending out, what we are manifesting, or how we can do better.  Somehow, I’ll help you with that, even if it means holding up that mirror so you can see things a bit more clearly.

Am I An Expert?

Like all of us, I’m a work in progress, but I’ll do my best to remain open-minded and share perspectives and find answers that help you.  That’s my goal and I hope you find it worthy enough to invest those ninety seconds every few days so I can weigh in on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness as it relates to your personal experience.

Fair?

The Fastest Way to Move Your Online Dating Offline

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Photo courtesy of Adrian Nier

After you’ve created and polished your online dating profile to the point where you’d even date yourself, distinguished it with pics worthy of a mash up of In Touch and Vanity Fair, and managed to score a written response from a woman who looks like Angela Jolie, thinks like Oprah, and who your Mom would love to hang out with (not that hanging with Angelina or Oprah is bad), you are ready to take the connection to the next level. Here are a few easy steps to make things happen quickly.

1- Do not respond instantaneously, but do so within 24 hours. 

Don’t play games, don’t be coy by waiting a week, but don’t make her think that she’s the only fish in the sea just yet. Show her proper respect and do the same for yourself. Women are like exotic wild animals. They smell fear and will instinctively use it to get take the advantage. This is not a criticism. This is about women being turned off by desperation. They prefer a man who wants them, but can live without them if necessary.  Maybe I’m being overdramatic to make a point, but if you think about it, it’s true. So clap your hands and feel free to strut like Jagger around your bedroom when you receive her response, but wait just a wee bit before sending her the all-important note #2.

2- Add new, unrecorded information to your next e-mail and include your digits.  

The objective of this correspondence is to attach a last name to your first (and always use your real first name), proudly, so she can Google the hell out of you, which she will and offer her a way of connecting with you by phone. This shows respect and empowers her by having the option of protecting her identity and calling you with her number blocked, or offering you her number so you can make the first move. Then follow her lead as to how she responds when you include your number and an offer to call her if she prefers. It really doesn’t matter who makes that call, as long as you get an opportunity to take the notch up the energy exchange by hearing each other’s voice for the first time. It can be a deal maker or breaker. 

3- Keep your note short and respond to any questions she might have included in her note.  

It might be about your stated profession or where your kids from your previous marriage are living. And, throw in something relevant that you did not mention in your first note─like your family also raising bison when you were a kid growing up in Montana. 

4- Actively listen and synch with her energy during that first phone call. 

It’s amazing what is revealed when you put a voice to someone’s photo. This can be a special moment or the end. If she looks like Katherine Heigl and sounds like Joe Pesci, you may not feel quite the same after a few minutes on the horn. It happens, so don’t take it personally, and just let you heart guide you. Inevitably, the heart wants what it wants. Maybe you like hearing Pesci‘s voice.  It’s your call, no pun intended.

5- Ask for the order. 

First phone calls can be expedient or lengthy. It doesn’t matter if it’s ten minutes or two hours, you’ll know what feels right and so will she. If there’s a connection, make sure that you tell her that you’d like to meet her and then prepared with a suggestion for meeting before winding up the call. This is the moment of truth and if you follow the previous steps and share a phone vibe, you’ve just taken things from online to offline. Congrats!

Are you ready to meet her?


Is Harlem the New Brooklyn?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Image courtesy of David.R.Carroll

Seems like every five years or so another undiscovered, gentrified neighborhood emerges from the scrap heap of old-school construction, independently owned shops, and a bouillabaisse of ethnicities. For the past decade it’s gone section by section through Brooklyn. From Brooklyn Heights to The Slope to Billyburg, and more recently a resurgent Bushwick, Brooklyn has become the place to live in New York.

While Manhattan gentrifies with a Baby Gap, Starbucks, and Duane Reade on every corner and the usual suburban white table cloth restaurants like Olive Garden and Chuck E Cheese showing up for the tourist and even some tri-state inhabitants,  Brooklyn has been a beacon to disgruntled Manhattanites fed up with the homogenization of its once proud neighborhoods. And, although many real estate experts are touting Midtown West Side as the next place, I can tell you first hand that it is noisy, increasingly expensive, and clogged with traffic.

So, if you don’t want to move to Bushwick or Sunset Park, where can a New Yorker go to get that neighborhood feel, a culture hodgepodge, and access to the greatest park in the world?

I moved to Harlem, or as they call my “new” neighborhood, SoHa. I live off Frederick Douglass Boulevard, which I had no idea where it was until I took the C train uptown to check out the hood. FDB runs north past Central Park, picking up where Central Park West ends at 110th Street. SoHa, on the West Side at least, runs between 110th and 125th. There are lots of surprises in store if you decide to check it out. First, one of the best things about Harlem is that there are no true high rises so there is lots of blue sky, sunshine, and great views.  Depending on what avenue you live on, there is almost instant access to Central Park and Morningside Park. Columbia University is right up the hill and St. John the Divine is a breathtaking piece of architecture. There are wild peacocks roaming freely on their grounds, too.  Subway access is great with the A, C, B, and D all within a short walk and the price of real estate per square foot is about sixty percent of that which is ten blocks south and west.

But the real allure to SoHa is the exquisite mix of people and cultures and businesses that make it feel like a real New York neighborhood. My neighborhood is a mix of Senegalese, African Americans, Europeans, Asians, Latinos, and an endless wagon train of Upper West Siders and families fed up with the prices and congestion in their former neighborhoods. FDB has a string of restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating and of course now Starbucks has planted its flag with a sprinkling of shops.

So, do you really need to move to Brooklyn to experience that local neighborhood flavor? Let me know. I’m off for a run in Central Park.


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