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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Six Hacks to Beat the Heat

Robert Manni - Friday, August 25, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Manni - Thursday, August 03, 2017


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

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

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

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

REASONS TO STAY IN NYC

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

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

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

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

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

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

REASONS TO LEAVE NYC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Things about NYC I Could Do Without

Robert Manni - Friday, April 15, 2016


With the risk of dating myself, the year I moved into the city Madonna’s “Borderline” was a hit on MTV. Although I grew up in northern New Jersey and have traveled the world, over the past few decades your Guy’s Guy has become an authentic bona fide New Yorker. I’m not talking about the Hillary Clinton kind of New Yorker who comes from Illinois and needs five swipes of her borrowed Metro card to make her way through the turnstile. I’m talking about a night crawling, tar beach sun tanning, pizza eating, Yankees loving, roach killing, after midnight subway riding, “You lookin’ at me?” kind of urban warrior who has survived and thrived in the world’s greatest city for the past thirty years. Yeah, I’m that kind of New Yorker, amigo. And if you’ve read my blog you know that I adore this crazy-ass town. So, having been there and done that while putting up with the noise, trash, corruption, rats, blackouts, economic downturns, and even the 80’s, I claim my right to criticize my fair city when criticism is due.  You can call me a crank or the guy who shouts, “Get off of my lawn”, but I’ve earned my due, so at least listen up.

With all that in mind, I give you my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Things That Can Suck about New York. Drum roll, please…

1. Weekend subway service- Are you kidding me? Who wants to spend an extra hour or two milling around the 14th station waiting for a severely overcrowded A train on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? Weekend train service in New York is a chaotic mash up of delays, re-routed trains, and more delays. And as everyone knows, unless the station has Wi-Fi, hanging out on the platform watching rats scamper back and forth makes for anything but a winning weekend afternoon. The fares keep going up and the service keeps going down. These are the same complaints New Yorker’s had when I first moved in to the city all those years ago. Enough already. And, I’m not even getting into the filthy, often broken elevators that usually smell of urine. MTA, get your act together. More trains, cleaner trains, cleaner stations, clearer announcements…

2. Manhattan keeps losing its character- Although I love the other boroughs and get the whole Brooklyn thing; I’ve always lived in Manhattan. When you come from New Jersey, the city always meant Manhattan with all of its different neighborhoods and quirks. And the one constant about Manhattan is that it keeps changing. Unfortunately, over time Manhattan has grown bigger, taller, more structured and sanitized. It’s never boring, but I preferred the times when independent shops and cool neighborhoods had a chance to thrive. Not anymore. Now in every hood there might be a Chucky Cheese, Baby Gap, and definitely a bank or drug chain store on every corner. That is boring. Nowadays you have to look hard and dig deep to still find that gritty NYC character in Manhattan. I live in Harlem, which still yields an old school vibe, although the coffee shops and bearded hipsters have finally discovered my neighborhood. Oh well, at least the value of my apartment has skyrocketed. Maybe I’ll move to the South Bronx next. Maybe not.

3. Rising cost of living – Although New York has the best variety of restaurants in the entire world, unless I am on an expense account I don’t go out as before to eat and drink. I don’t believe in paying twenty bucks (tax and tip included) for a good tasting cocktail or $300 to eat a GMO meal for two at a decent restaurant with loud music. And you know that the louder the music is, the worse the food. And rent prices in Manhattan are beyond ridiculous. A cup of coffee and a designer doughnut runs you ten bucks. A take out lunch is about $12. A haircut? Forgetaboutit! I bought a Wahl trimmer and it works just fine, thank you.

4. Noise and bright lights – I often hear jackhammers pounding on Sunday nights at midnight. Really. There seems to be no laws, or at least laws that are enforced about noise in this city. I live in a residential neighborhood, but the ultra hip coffee house around the corner stays open until 4am and features live music or dee jays seven nights a week. Before calling 311 to lodge a complaint, I asked the owner if she could turn the music down a bit after midnight. Her response was classic New York, in a bad way. She suggested that the next time I thought the music was too loud I should let her know so she could come up to my apartment, go into my bedroom and listen for herself. At which point she would tell me that the music wasn’t loud.

My other peeve is bright lights and such on the walls of residential neighborhoods. People seem to think you can project anything anywhere in this city. Last year a new chicken joint owned by a famous television chef opened on my corner. Seeing that the building across the street, which faced my apartment, was blank, they began showing a thirty-foot high video loop featuring a mash up of urban culture mixed with footage of chicken breasts basting in a pan or proudly strutting around every night, all night. I complained through 311and also deployed social media posts until thankfully, the videos were pulled. But no blank space can be left alone. The same building has been refurbished and the wall in question now has super-bright LED light strips shining directly towards my home. Just because people and business owners can’t leave any open space alone. 

Although I enjoyed getting that out of my system, I did not even take on traffic, parking, Times Square, Port Authority, over flowing trashcans, dog shit and bikes on the sidewalk, etc.  If I keep going I may end up moving back to Jersey. Nope, I think I’ll take a deep breath and get back to extolling the virtues of my favorite city. Peace.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is Mike Bloomberg, who over 12 years made a real difference in amenities and the overall quality of life in the city, even at the expense of some of the local character that we all miss in Manhattan. Of well, in New York, you can’t have everything. 

10 Tips for Wellness at Any Age

Robert Manni - Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Guy’s Guys like staying healthy and fit, so consider this a greatest hits package for your wellbeing.

Over the past few years I have devoted a number of blog posts to relationships not just relationships between people, but the relationship between our body, mind, and spirit. Your Guy’s Guy will be migrating to new topics to write about, so I wanted to summarize the learning I’ve gleaned from reading, interviewing guests on Guy's Guy Radio, and from personal experiences, including a few health challenges. Guy’s Guys believe in paying it forward, but take these insights as you see fit. I’m not delving deep into the science behind these nuggets—there is ample material online and offline you can find supporting these suggestions.

So, in no particular order here is a summary of what I’ve learned over the past few years about staying healthy and fit. Drum roll, please…

1. Hydrate. Our bodies are composed of two-thirds water. Aging is dehydrating. Think about all of the old people who cross your path. Over time, a lack of drinking enough water speeds aging because our bodies dry up. Experts suggest we consume a minimum of eight 12-ounce glasses of water per day. That does not factor in incremental hydration needs from working out or drinking beers with your friends. Now, how many of you are quaffing the right amount of water on a regular basis?

2. Eat organic. Let’s face it, most of the food offered in the supermarket is processed, GMO-based or lacking in micronutrients due to the time it takes to get the food to the supermarket. It is now estimated that 96% of consumers in America are undernourished when it comes to micronutrients. The solution, and it is the only solution, is to choose organic and locally grown food whenever possible. Never eat farm-raised fish. Even the EPA suggests that we should only consume one serving of farmed salmon every six weeks! If that doesn't open your eyes to how messed our food supply has become, take a look around at the growing cadre of obese people we see and think about all the folks with auto-immune diseases, adult diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. This is just the tip of the health iceberg, so it’s time to choose your foods wisely, amigos.

3. Walk. One of my favorite things about living in the city is that I get to walk around a lot. And I love walking the streets of New York…at least most of the time. I avoid cluster-f-cks like Times Square and Fifth Avenue due to the out-of-control influx of random tourists now, but for the most part, walking the streets of New York is stimulating, great exercise, and a superb way to learn your way around town. When I first moved into Manhattan back in the eighties, every Sunday I would walk from my flat on West 34th Street to Chinatown for lunch before taking a different route home. I'm also referring to taking the stairs instead of the escalator and not clogging up the stinky elevators at the express subway stops. They're not there for lazy people who could use the exercise of walking up the stairs. They are for parents with strollers, seniors, and people with disabilities. Period. Sorry, I have a toddler and I had to mention that.

4. Rest. What ever happened to eight hours of sleep? If you are a city dweller with a high-stress job and a penchant for going out on the town a few nights per week, you're probably not getting more than five or six hours of sleep. Over time, this adds up in a bad way and eventually falling into a deep, restful asleep becomes a challenge. Consider grabbing a power nap whenever you can spare 30 minutes. It helps. And by all means treat yourself to at least one evening per week of staying home and hitting the sack early. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your batteries recharge.

5. Meditate. Mediation is a gift. It will clear your mind, keep your cool, and unleash your inner self for guidance. Sounds ethereal? Maybe, but over time, this age-old practice has been considered one of the most important ways to stay physically, mentally, and spiritually sound. Many people think that they're not capable of meditating. Their mental monkey chatter has taken over and they cannot quiet their minds. Here’s a tip. Limit your media intake. Don’t worry about having so many incessant random thoughts when you meditate. Like clouds, they will pass across your mental skyline and dissipate. If you stick to it, over time these monkey mind thoughts will lessen and you will become a blank slate. That’s when you get answers. Just let go, amigo, and the universe is yours.

6. Run. I live near Central Park and there is no better training run than the outer 6.2-mile loop circumnavigating the park. It’s filled with rolling hills, beautiful scenery and lots of good-looking runners. And it never gets any easier. I realize people break down and due to injuries many have to forego running by the age of forty, but if you don’t have any physical limitations, a run in the park, no matter the distance, is a great tonic for the body and mind.

7. Eliminate sugar. Sugar is the enemy, people. It’s a killer and it is hidden and disguised as corn syrup or other terms in almost all of the processed foods we eat. It causes obesity, diabetes, and other issues for the heart, blood, and organs. Scientists say that over 85% of Americans suffer from hidden Candida (yeast) overgrowth due to sugar consumption. And, folks, we see how many obese people there are today who are breaking down with autoimmune diseases. If there was one tip to take away from this post, it is to cut down or eliminate sugar from your diet.

8. Gluten. There are various opinions about gluten, but the truth is that much of the wheat and grains we consume is infected with mold and sprayed with pesticides before it gets to a factory to be baked and then sent to the supermarket. That’s why many people feel bloated after every meal. Our systems are not built to process all the pesticides sprayed on grains. And our bodies need to expend too much energy on this at the expense of tending to other areas of our health. Our immune systems become overtaxed and we get sick. Studies have shown that all disease begins in the gut. But what can we do? We like bread. The only answer is to limit your gluten intake (that includes pasta) and eat organic and sprouted breads whenever possible. You may miss the indulgence, but you will feel better, and over time your body will thank you through better health.

9. No meat. I stopped eating meat eight years ago and have never looked back. I began dating a vegetarian who is now my wife. Although she never asked me not to stop eating meat, I did so anyway. It seemed like a good time to change my eating habits and I am glad I did. I got sick about two months after ending my meat consumption due to my cells releasing stored toxins, but I stuck with it and eventually it passed. Sure I loved a good porterhouse and sizzling strips of bacon, but I got over it. And although I initially did not stop eating meat due to my feelings about factory farming, after a few years this became another factor in my decision and I will never go back to eating meat again. As a result, my energy is sky high and I feel younger than my years by a good margin. If you eat meat, may I suggest that you only choose grass-fed beef and animals that are farm-raised? It’s the least you can do to stop the cruelty and protect our environment.

10. Forgive. This might be the toughest choice of all. Throughout life we are faced with a lot of a-hole behavior that challenges us in many ways. Do we lower ourselves to respond in kind? Do we simply turn our heads away and ignore the slights? Or do we acknowledge the bad decisions people make and forgive them? I suggest the latter choice. When we forgive, we release negativity and we grow as individuals who are connected by the oneness of spirit. Forgiveness does not require you to forget the transgressions, but it allows you to rise above the darkness. I assure you it will lighten your mental and spiritual load. Try it and you’ll see.

There are many more ways to tend to your physical, mental and spiritual health, but any of these ten tips will add to your wellbeing regardless of your age. Thank you for reading and considering integrating any of these tips into your lifestyle. I wish you all the best.

This week’s GUY’S GUYS of the week is you, and all the folks who have read my novel or any of my 250 blog posts, listened to any of my 150 podcast episodes, or visited my website. The growing Guy’s Guy movement is all about making the world a better place where men and women can be at their best. It’s that simple. Better men. Better world.  

Why I Live in Harlem

Robert Manni - Friday, June 13, 2014


Growing up in suburban Bergen County, New Jersey, I never thought I’d live in Harlem.

That was then, but this is now. Having migrated to the city back in the eighties, I’ve see our metropolis transform its once tattered landscape into what many refer to as the “capital of the world”.  And as a result, as the years flew by too many Duane Reade, Chase, The Gap, and now even Seven Eleven stores have replaced the quirky independent businesses and local flavor that made up its neighborhoods.

Brooklyn is the latest victim. What was the coolest nabe on the planet just a decade ago has seen its real estate prices go through the roof while its streets got jammed with baby strollers and urban woodsman. We can only hope that the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island can hold back total gentrification for another decade or two. But there is some good news.

Harlem is in Manhattan and it’s become a really cool place to live. The once downtrodden 125th Street now has a Gap outlet, DSW and Joe’s Crab Shack, but thankfully most of the big brands have limited themselves to this main thoroughfare. Most of the Harlem’s sprawling landscape is checkered with brownstones and small independent business that have only recently set up shop. Sounds like Brooklyn circa 2000? Maybe, but Harlem has been a tough nabe to crack. And I’ll say it again—it’s still in Manhattan.

Here are a few reasons why almost four years ago your Guy’s Guy chose to move to Harlem and has never looked back.

Proximity.

Might as well finish this thought first. I live in the Morningside area so all I need to do to get into “the city” is hop on the B or C train and boom; I’m there in ten minutes. That’s a lot better than squeezing in to a G train filled with twenty-somethings in Williamsburg or taking an hour on the F from Park Slope. Bay Ridge? Great place, but it’s a serious commute.  Guy’s Guys like to stay out late so while my friends are either waiting for a train at Port Authority or taking the subway to an outer borough, I’m already home and snuggled in bed. Yes, lots of people still live all over Manhattan, but the rental and purchase prices are now skewed to one-percenters or foreign money.  That’s just the way it is. So if you don’t mind paying $4000 or more to rent a 800 square foot one-bedroom in a walk up or the same for a  studio in a high rise, then you’ll love overcrowded Midtown.

The Parks.

Many Guy’s Guys enjoy sports and exercise, although it’s certainly not a mandatory requirement for the GG moniker. I’m a runner and it’s great if you live in south Harlem. I walk five blocks and I’m in the serenity of Central Park, a respite from urban life that keeps improving with age. And, if I want to stay closer to home, I put my infant son in his stroller and within two minutes we’re walking along the path around a pond in Morningside Park, watching the turtles sun themselves on the rocks. There is also Riverside Park, Marcus Garvey and many other well-maintained parks strategically located throughout Harlem.

The People.

Of course there is always an understandable push back against gentrification, but what I’ve noticed in my nabe is a lot of new jobs and business opportunities for the folks who lived in the area prior to the changes. And for the most part, most of the businesses are independent and privately owned and operated, which is a good thing. Hopefully, that will hold true for the foreseeable future. There is also a diverse mix of race, creed, color, sexual preferences, nationalities, and students.  That is what New York is all about. And from what I’ve seen, everyone seems to see the glass as half full as the communities evolve.

The Culture.

 Harlem has gone through so many changes over the last century that it has authentic culture. We all know the wonderful Apollo Theatre and the jazz clubs, but now there is a growing foodie movement led by hot chefs like Marcus Samuelsson and his always packed Red Rooster. They now refer to Fredrick Douglass Boulevard between 110 and 125 as Harlem’s Restaurant Row. To be honest, it’s happening, but slowly. Using that name is putting the cart in front of the horse. The good news is it’s a reflection of optimism and hope.

The Cost.

Like Brooklyn, Harlem real estate prices are going up, up, up. That said, there are lots of buildings and a massive stretch of blocks between 110th and 165th Street, so depending on where you look, you can find a bargain if you put in a little footwork. If you were fortunate and smart enough to buy between 2008-10, your average cost per square foot has increased by over thirty percent. If you are considering Harlem, my suggestion is to start looking now.

So if you are Guy’s Guy who doesn’t mind living in a quickly evolving area that might still be a little rough around the edges, a “middle class” family that has been priced out of the Upper West Side, or a student or artist who needs to keep their living costs in check, Harlem may be just the place for you. It’s the last affordable outpost in Manhattan and it will keep you close to the action—which is probably why you moved to New York in the first place.

Are you ready to make a move uptown?


This week's Guy’s Guy of the Week is the famed magician, Harry Houdini, who lived in Harlem at 278 West 113th Street for many years. There is still a plaque in front of the brownstone.

Five Fresh Ideas for New York City

Robert Manni - Thursday, May 30, 2013


Life in the Big Apple has been polished under Mayor Bloomberg.

The smoking ban in public spaces is a major success, the parks are more picturesque and utilitarian than ever, people automatically scoop up their dog poop, and the influx of tourist dollars into the city is at an all time high. Sounds pretty good. But, that’s skimming the surface. Here is my Guys' Guy's Guide to polishing the Big Applemy list of suggestions to further upgrade our lives in the big city.  Some of these concepts have been discussed and dissected, but they are worth a closer look from a common sense perspective.

1. Ban All Motorized Vehicular Traffic in Central Park.  The biking and jogging lanes have been significantly expanded, but New Yorkers are still forced to dodge speeding taxis and private limo services as they speed through the park throughout the day. There are numerous cross streets where these vehicles can cut through the park form the outside without snaking their way inside the park while polluting the air and endangering pedestrians, joggers, and bikers. We are diluting our quality of life to save a minute’s time for speeding taxis. Really? Hey, Mr. Mayor—which is more dangerous, enjoying a large soft drink or sprinting to avoid being run down by a taxi? At least ninety percent of the motorized vehicles in the park are taxis. Ridiculous.

2. Drop the Big Soda Ban Legislature. This well-intended law was justly shot down in court at the eleventh hour and is still being debated. This law is misguided. Sure, sugary drinks are bad, but why draw a line in the sand at 16 ounces? That’s not going to cure obesity and diabetes. People will find a way to get their fix. Do we ban soda, ice cream, Oreo cookies and pre-sweetened cereal? Educating the population to the dangers of sugar is a timely concept. Choosing one size of one product and ostracizing it is lunacy.

3. Require GMO Labeling for Foods in NYC. This is a better idea than a 16-ounce soda ban. Our mayor is known for suggesting bold moves to protect our health. What about GMO’s? Let’s discuss requiring labeling of all products that contain GMO’s that are sold in New York. It would be a true show of leadership by the most forward-thinking, sophisticated city in the world. Could it work? It’s worth a deep discussion. Nothing will slow the onslaught of GMO’s until our leaders take a stand. Washington? Forget it. How about it, Mr. Mayor?

4. Stop Serving Alcohol at 2am. Maybe I’m getting old, but having spent many a long evening in our city bars, I assure you that only a few things happen when people continue drinking for two more hours between two and four am. You either get totally wasted, argue meaningless sports trivia, get into a fight, or wake up next to a woman named Brenda who looked far better at three o’clock than at ten in the morning.

5. Upgrade Weekend Subway Service. Now that we have to cash in our 401K’s to ride in a taxi, the subways are teeming with people 24/7. The advent of the $1 penalty for replacing your Metro Card has generated a boon in revenue. Yet our weekend service flat out sucks. Weekends are cherished times for hard working New Yorkers. Who wants to spend an extra hour underground waiting hopefully that the C train will show up and be running local? You get the picture.

I could continue about overflowing trash bins, subway acrobats blasting music and dangerously swinging around poles, bike riders on the sidewalks, but I’ll save that for another post.

What are your ideas for improving the quality of life in our fair city?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Mayor Bloomberg. He’s well intended and has improved our quality of life, but he has a long way to go before he leaves office. Be bold, Mr. Mayor! Be a Guy’s Guy.

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?

Do You Still Want to Live in NYC?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Image courtesy of Shmuli Evers 

Back in 1978, Mick Jagger sang about “rats on the West Side, bed bugs uptown” in the Rolling Stones’ eponymous New York song, “Shattered”.  Hey, those guys really did know a thing or two.  And now it’s over thirty years later and people from all over the world still look to our fair city as the modern-day Rome. It’s still the perceptual global center of culturefor better or worse, finance, media, food, arts and attitude. And despite the news reminding us each day of how our western world is crumbling, like millions of others, I choose to live here.

But What About Paris, London, and Shanghai?

There are lots of great cities spanning the globe and as new media and mega brands shrink our planet, there is only one New York City. Having traveled extensively, although far less than some, I can honestly state that no city has the mash up of people and energy of New York. Everyone here seems just a bit more intense and into what they’re doing, even if they aren’t doing much of anything. From the Central American guy spinning pizza dough, the sidewalk bucket drummers, the struggling artists who’ve been forced to create the next great neighborhoods beyond Manhattan, to the titans of a damaged Wall Street, New Yorkers are a buzzing group that refuses to be stopped.  How can you not like that?

But It's So Damn Expensive!

I have no sane response to this except that the runaway cost of living and punitive taxes we face make every New Yorker scrap a little harder.  That’s what we do. We make it happen. We may vent about the snail-paced subway service on weekends, having to spend $10 for that sandwich we wolf down at our desks, or the stifling aroma of broken garbage bags landscaping Manhattan’s sidewalks during summertime, but we still chose to live here and we’ll be damned if anyone is going to say anything negative about our town. That’s what sets New York apart and that’s why people from all over the world continue pouring into our city. And many of them never leave.

Not necessarily a pretty picture, so are you convinced that this is the place to be? 


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