How Not to Keep a Good Man Down.

 

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What I’m about to tell you cuts a deep swath between what you were and what many of you are becoming.

Most men don’t have the balls to say [out loud] any of what I’m about to tell you, but saying it is the only way to help catalyze change in what’s often a foot-dragging passage into twilight.

Buckle up.

~~~

Over these past decades I’ve learned a few things about being a man that weigh on all of us after enough water’s under the bridge.

#1

The first is the personal assessment quiz, where we sum up all of our perceived accomplishments and hope that our backstories are sellable on the open market.

I say ‘open market’ because unless you live in a vacuum, you have an audience that determines your viability. I know. This sounds like every psychiatrist’s worst nightmare, but it’s still true.

We live in a society filled with people, not open land filled with livestock.

Remember, this is a blog about urban life, not rural isolationism.

In this world, our world, we need to matter. Some call it relevance. And while many claim this to be an exercise in pure nihilism and self-destruction, it’s critical to our emotional well being that we see our lives as having been well spent.

The resulting self-esteem becomes our fuel, our motivation to go on long after the glory years of imagined immortality and endless promise have passed.

But let me reiterate that we must pass muster with the world around us before we get the fuel. We can’t just fantasize it into being.

The world around us is a cold, objective force. It sees us as fully formed entities, each with a script in our hands that we read to ourselves before closing our eyes at night, hoping our dreams don’t contradict the plot lines.

Appreciating the gravity of this is an essential part of maintaining dignity no matter how much you try to ignore or deny it.

Okay, so let’s say we’re happy with what we’ve done with our lives up to this juncture. We have financial security and we’re proud of what we’ve done.

Great.

Now what?

#2

Now we have to figure out how to maintain what we’ve built so it doesn’t all come crashing down on top of us.

I’m talking about our physical health, and more specifically, our physical being; how we see ourselves relative to those around us, no matter what their age.

Like everything else in my life, I need to feel in possession of myself physically, to be physically strong, in control, and able to defend myself.

I’m sure that more than a few of you reading this will wonder why men our age [Baby Boomers] should give a crap about what sounds like an older man’s delusions of grandeur, but I don’t know any of you.

The men I do know care. A lot. They don’t want to be walked all over like party confetti. They live with purpose and dignity.

And while a few engage in endurance sports, especially anorexics, who swap one addiction for another, the answer lies in the weight room. Yes, being a man means lifting heavy weight. I know I know. I’m a superficial jackass who has no idea what brings true fulfillment to anyone but myself, but you’re still dead wrong.

Many of the men I’m around are luminaries in their respective fields, ranging in age from late 40’s to early 80’s. But one thing they share is a desire to build and/or maintain physical strength. In other words, no matter what they’ve done, if they’re wasting away it’s irrelevant. Soon, self esteem will erode away all that they’ve built, and they’ll end up dead long before you read about them in the obituaries.

This brings to mind a guy in my gym in his early 80’s who is not only a celebrated surgeon, but a world champion masters power lifter.

You think he feels irrelevant?

The respect he receives from people around him is palpable.

My motto: Be strong, live well.

#3

Our personal lives are the final cog in our wheels of fortune. While I cannot pretend to speak for gay men and their relationships, I do know a thing or two about living with women, which is kind of like living with an extraterrestrial biological life form, identical human DNA, notwithstanding.

Like #1 and #2, how we feel in the context of our relationships is inextricably tied to how we feel as men.

The first thing we men know about ourselves is that our egos are fragile, particularly when we feel vulnerable. Thus, we need our masculinity validated daily. We need to feel loved; we need to feel attractive; and we need to feel capable.

That’s a lot of need, but miss an ounce of it at your peril.

Memorize this list so you don’t lose it:

A] Admire Us.

Compliment us on the things we’re good at and our physical qualities. Beat on us and we’ll stop making the house payments.

B] Brag on Us

The first time I heard a woman complaining about her husband’s “many” shortfalls, I suggested he leave her. In my mind, she breached the trust and left him out to dry.

C] Ask For Our Help

Ask us to show you how to do something or to give you advice on a tough situation. We’ll be more than happy to show you, believe me.

D] Never, Ever Cut Us Down No Matter What.

Make you man feel like an idiot and he will show you the door. Men have massive egos. Why this is I don’t know, but suspect it has something to do with having to kill things so the rest of his primordial family didn’t starve to death.

Never, ever discredit us or make snide comments about our appearance, abilities or performances, particularly around others.

E] Learn How to Listen.

Men may not be as talkative as women are, but we still have things to say and emotions to vent or bad days we want to discuss. While we’re more about fixing things than just talking for the sake of being heard, sometimes we like being heard so we can justify fixing things.

F] Respect Us.

Respect builds the foundation of our relationships. Without it, we will look for it elsewhere, believe me. Incessant nagging comes to mind. It’s like rat poison for human relationships.

G] Believe In Us

We want the women in our lives to be our biggest cheerleaders. We’ll do anything for someone who believes in us. Even if what we try to do doesn’t succeed by someone else’s standards, the fact that we gave it our best shot deserves praise and love.

H] Do Little Things For Us

Whether you leave a love note somewhere we’ll find it, stuff an Oreo under our pillow…or just wear something that we can’t seem to live without, JUST DO IT!

FINAL THOUGHTS

As men get older it’s even more important to affirm us. First, because we are no longer 25. Second, because no matter what we act like, we’re no longer in college and running track for NYU.

Of course, back then we were flat broke, our trust factor was zero, and and our apartments resembled the wolf dens you see at natural science museums across the country.

As women who’ve spent your fair share of time with men, you already know all these things.

This is just a reminder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unplugging Facebook…and Other Mysteries Solved.

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If you’re anything at all like me you already know that Facebook is potentially catastrophic to one’s emotional well being.

But like any drug, some are better able to handle the ups and downs.

I’m not one of them, which is why heroin has never been a line-item on my bucket list, except in extreme cases where I’m terminal and don’t want to wait another week for the inevitable.

Digression notwithstanding, Facebook has a way of burrowing into your life without giving much in return, unlike, say, Instagram or Twitter where the entire friggin’ world gets to tune into your life, and maybe you end up with a new TV deal.

So today I decided to put an end to it — at least, for now.

 

How to Combat Aging: Real World Strategies

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-krauss-whitbourne/combat-ageism_b_9720708.html

Coming from someone who has handled the aging process about as well as a chicken about to be thrown into a jet turbine to test its ability to vaporize it without stalling, you will disintegrate to one degree or another no matter how much you spend, how much you do, or how much genetics are in your camp.

Live the perfect stress-free life, visit Aspen every 5 minutes, get daily massages, mud packs, holistic body treatments, facial fillers, Botox injections, face lifts, collagen, but no matter what you do, you can’t beat the shit out of time.

The best you can do is look better than your neighbors, which is something you can always count on at HOA meetings no matter how depressed you are about everything else.

Aside from the aforementioned obvious, there is a deeply psychological consequence of aging in we men that involves our primal role as protectors.

In short [because I know you don’t want to read a psych lecture], when men begin to feel physically challenged, their self-esteem hits the floor. And even when we are in exemplary condition for our age, we are always and forever looking back at where we once were. It’s inevitable. We all do it. And we all feel like crap about it no matter how much we are still able to do.

But there are a few things we can do to put an end to the misery, or, at least, hold it in abeyance while we get back into therapy.

Here they are:

1] Try to feel optimistic about aging.

Yea, right. There is nothing to look forward to about aging. Nothing. You’re just here. The best you can do is make the most of what’s left. So no, I’m not a fan of being older.

Is there any good news?

There is some:

      a] You get into fewer fistfights because younger men don’t consider you an equal match anymore than they do women.

      b] You have more money, so you can buy women who would not otherwise date you.

      c] People hold the door for you unlike the old days when they let it slam you in the face.

     d] There are planned communities filled with people your age, and with beach views.

      e] You get prescription drug discounts.

     f] People tell you how great you look when it’s not true.

      g] Young people look at you like you’re completely insane when you talk to them, but they still allow you to do it because they’re no longer afraid of you.

     h] The first person police question are the young adults. 

      i] Nobody expects much of you in the gym, so when you are reasonably competitive you get more kudos than you can count.

      j] Forgetting your own phone number is considered normal, and therefore, will not affect you job prospects since you’re not applying.

2] Avoid “senior moment” traps at all cost.

Never discuss your minor health issues to anyone but your physician or personal trainer. No one else your age wants to be reminded of where they are, and younger people dismiss you as irrelevant. It’s their way of squashing what they consider to be an existential threat, mainly because it is.

Instead, allude to what you’ve accomplished in your life and what your next adventure will be.

3] Have your affairs in order, but don’t bring this up in casual conversation under any circumstances, including all of them. 

One guy in my gym started talking about his living will and suddenly he had no one to talk to. Still doesn’t.

4] Understand and embrace technology.

Frankly, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t understand technology other than people in their 80’s. This is an even greater reason to make sure you are still of this world.

5] Ignore people will call you out on your age.

You’re going to get this at some point or another — the ribbing about where you are versus where you once were. Ignore it. Move on.

Getting upset about it will validate everything they just said.

Their time is coming.

6] There’s a “fountain of youth” clinic on every street corner [you best avoid]. 

You’re vulnerable, too hopeful for your own good. And for every soft target there are predators waiting to pounce on your insecurities.

My advice is to find a great Internist, stay in the best shape of your life, and keep your expectations in check.

If you check too many boxes you’ll start experiencing life through the eyes of a once great athlete who thinks he has another season in him, even if no one else thinks so, including his coaches and physicians.

~~~

when i allow it to be
there’s no control over me
i have my fears
but they do not have me

Peter Gabriel, Darkness

New Boomer TV Show!

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http://babyboomersinamerica.com/

And now for the bad news…

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/were-going-broke-chasing-the-american-dream-2016-04-27

As everyone knows, life exacts its pound of flesh one way or the other, but money is one reliable carbon credit for all the attrition.

Of course, you have to have it to use it.

My generation grew up with the misguided notion that we had to find a career that truly fulfilled us in order to succeed in life. the idea was that we wouldn’t put for the effort necessary to succeed doing something we didn’t personally enjoy.

What we weren’t reminded of is that money runs the world, and that without it, there are no vacations! where we get to do what we love.

I was guilty of the same misguided notions until I got lucky. But that’s for another blog…or you can just read my last book, Urban Dystrophy available on Amazon.

The article focuses on one Neal Gabler, who has written acclaimed biographies of Walt Disney and Walter Winchell among many others.

Unfortunately, Gabler was, as he freely admits, “a financial illiterate, or worse — an ignoramus.”

“I don’t ask for or expect any sympathy,” he writes. “I am responsible for my quagmire — no one else.”

His situation is the product of some bad luck and many poor choices, many of them common to all of us.

In brief, here they are:

1. He chose to be a writer, not the most stable profession.

2. He chose to write books, which don’t produce income for years.

3. He chose to live in high-cost New York City.

4. He chose to have two children, whom he sent to private school early on and then to Stanford and Emory for college.

5. His wife quit her job as a film executive to spend more time with the kids when they moved to eastern Long Island.

The article suggests that perhaps it’s time for us to redefine the American Dream beyond the purely material goals of the postwar years, when our growth seemed unstoppable.

It concludes that life should be more about the freedom to succeed or fail on our own terms.

But, in my view, there is no more “our own terms” because none of us lives in a box, impervious to media and life on the outside.

And while encompassing things like pride in our own personal achievements, family, friends, and community service that leaves a legacy of which we can be proud, we can not all afford therapy at $250/50 minutes.

Fitness: ‘Magic Pill’ Against Mid-Life Depression

Worried Male

 

When you get older, you expect to be depressed.

By “older” I’m referring to Baby Boomers stuck between the 3rd and final chapters, or Purgatory in the absence of an obituary notice.

But I’m hopeful because I have one weapon up my sleeve capable of blowing a gaping hole in hell…

EXERCISE.

In the minds of many, however, what I undergo is hell.

But as everyone knows, if you want to stop feeling like crap you have to punish yourself.

Eventually, you’ll learn to enjoy it like the rest of us.

It’s kind of like healthy eating. You learn to appreciate the way clean food makes you feel, rather than focus on its taste.

Soon, you’ll convince yourself that steamed quinoa tastes better than a Big Mac.

As implausible as this may sound, it is critical that you embrace certain delusions at any and all cost.

Understand that nature wants you dead. Thus, it’s your job to earn it’s respect in order to stay alive.

Many guys throw in the towel because it’s just too much on top of everything else.

But there is nothing else without it.

A FEW FACTS

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/01/23/brain-benefits-exercise.aspx

Super Ripped, Super Shredded Men Over 50 – and Reality

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Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’ve been active in the fitness lifestyle my entire life.

In fact, it could be argued that fitness interfered with my personal and professional life on more than one occasion, and over a period of many, many years.

Thus, to suggest in any way that I’m an outsider where this is concerned is naive.

I’ve been in this world, know the player-profiles, understand the mindset.

So let’s get real.

By the time you’re my age [60], things change. You can no longer pack on dense muscle while bleeding fat. It isn’t going to happen –– not naturally.

This means you’re going to need extra help, like testosterone supplementation coupled with 3 or 4 other pharmaceutical agents designed to “compliment” one another.

One helps build strength, another cuts inflammation…you get the point.

Going down this road is a conscious choice many men make when mortality is beating down the doors and there’s nothing left but an aging body.

The psychological profiles of these men are all similar: They are most often vain, arrogant, entitled and filled with rage.

Why?

Because there is nothing else in their lives to help mitigate the attrition.

They’re left with a disintegrating asset, rather than an expanding mind and soul; and asset on a collision course with destiny no matter how many syringes they jam into their bloated veins.

Do I feel the psychological pressure of mortality?

Absolutely. I feel it every day of my life, which is why I have a life beyond my physical body.

I know this is a shocking revelation to many, that there is anything at all worth exploring beyond the physical.

Surprise surprise.

My creative pursuits alone are a full time job, not to mention my relationship, which also includes two dogs and two cats as big as dogs.

This scenario is what most refer to as a balanced life, which does pull time away from workouts, perfect eating and regular blood work necessary to monitor elevated liver enzyme and PSA levels while on steroids.

In this sense, fitness can become ab addiction like alcoholism or drug addiction or sex addiction or gambling addiction or any of the other addictions that raid the dopamine mines and turn one’s life into a living nightmare of emptiness.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/07/what_is_dopamine_love_lust_sex_addiction_gambling_motivation_reward.html

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Third law of Motion

But I’m not here to beat up on men who take care of themselves. Hardly.

I think men should take exemplary care of themselves, but to understand that we are all human, and to expect results beyong what the body will naturally deliver will require more than a healthy lifestyle.

Go back to the blood test. If it’s normal, the rest is up to you and the genetics you were born with.

But no matter what your genetics have to say about it, age is the Supreme Court of physicality.

You’re not getting out of life unscathed.

We all pay the price, which is why it is so critical for all of us as older men to have lives outside of the gym.

In the end, there is nothing more pathetic than an aging man with nothing to show for himself but low body fat and a dark tan.

Now you know why so many of us are punchlines.

Media Versus Reality

 

Media_DigitalChannels

Ask Americans to name the Vice-President of the United States and most haven’t the vaguest idea.

Mention the name Kardashian, and anyone with a heartbeat can tell you what they had for breakfast.

This illustrates the quintessential disconnect between media [aka popular culture] and reality [everything else].

If everything in our world is driven by ratings, and everything in our world is media-driven, you can see where this is going.

I’ll leave this one here where it belongs.

Next.

Jerry Hall, 59 Engaged to Rupert Murdock, 84

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3394897/Jerry-Hall-59-announces-engagement-84-year-old-Rupert-Murdoch.html

Needless to say, this story is not really about Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdock.

It’s about age differences, and how money and power are balanced against relative youth and relative beauty on a very public stage.

What’s obvious is that Hall stands to inherit a massive sum when he dies, which, from an actuarial perspective, is just around the corner.

So she gives up a few years of her life in exchange for vast riches, while he gets to sleep with a younger woman with whom he shares common interests and lifestyles.

In this sense they both win.

But is this it?

Is it just a business decision?

Does Murdock think he’s being used? Probably not.

Does she love him in the way most people think of love?

I don’t know and neither does anyone else.

What I have found through personal experience that most older women – of which Hall is certainly a member – are far less interested in sex and romance than they are companionship.

There are exceptions, but not many.

The “Old Man” and the Motorcycle

Memorial-Day3-580x464Nothing quite says midlife crisis like the Harley Davidson Motorcycle, right?

Another day, another stereotype.

I’m accused of being in the midst of one for many reasons, not least of which being that I have a young girlfriend.

1] It’s all about money.

2] He’s intimidated by women his own age.

3] He’s a narcissist who can stomach his own reflection.

yada yada …

It never ends.

Not to bury the lead, I don’t own a motorcycle – but I find it interesting on many levels.

For one thing, I like it’s group nature. It’s an activity – and for many, lifestyle – that people of all socioeconomic backgrounds can share.

And it’s also damn manly in the traditional sense most men think of it. Think Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

I think of it as an antidote to the PC virus.

I’m also drawn to the sense of adventure, hanging out with a bunch of guys who, after decades of work, family and Little league, are finally able to bond once again over beer and broads.

It’s an adult rite of passage where the holy “hog” unlocks the key to death with dignity for all, the penultimate send-off into oblivion, finger in the wind at the Devil’s Crossroads.

Come on, tell me you’re not intrigued.

One last shot at youthful defiance.

Don’t tell me you don’t watch those old Zeppelin videos on YouTube in the dead of night.

A 2010 market study by J. D. Power & Associates discovered that the average motorcyclist in the United States is a man who is about 50 years old, and Forbes Magazine confirms that the “sweet spot” for motorcycle buyers is the mid 40s to the early 50s. The problem is especially acute for Harley Davidson, as the 109 year-old company has a customer base that is almost as old as it is. It may just be an urban legend that Harley handlebars are now designed to comfortably support a beer belly during a ride, but it makes sense, given the fact that most older men [not to mention younger men] are out of shape.

Nonetheless, “Google” searches turn up ad after ad of sexily clad young women and handsome, fit young men to fuel the fantasies of middle-aged guys. Motorcycle manufacturers lure older buyers with a promise of a return to their youth and vitality: Male bystanders watch with a mixture of respect and envy, as the women of the town are smitten by the eye candy rolling into town. The riders wink at the ladies and act like the masters of all that they beheld, since they could now afford the luxury of motoring slowly through town.

Yea, and everything else in the universe is also reduced to a cultural stereotype.

My point in all of this is, WHO CARES?

If a guy wants to ride a motorcycle after spending his life chasing the dollar let him have his 2nd Summer.

I agree that Harley’ are loud and obnoxious. So is my stereo system.

Getting older is a drag, folks. We’re gonna act out.

This is because there’s not a damn thing we can do about universal absolutes, so we will absolutely, positively garnish the journey to make the ride smoother.

I might add that many guys ride for charities, raising lots of money for good causes. Others just for the hell of it. So what?

These guys are tough enough to deflect your punchlines, ageist stereotypes, and general ridicule.

Time Magazine in June of 2014, wrote “It’s bike night at the Harley-Davidson Museum near downtown Milwaukee . . . bike night in Milwaukee sure looks like Old White Guy’s Night.”

Green with envy.

~~~

Life is supposed to have a beginning, a middle and an end. The same ones, usually.

But for many, myself included, the story arcs are backwards.

‘Dad Bod’ Coming to a Store Near You!

30C0BA1000000578-3425007-image-m-39_1454237321408Mattel’s new ‘Dad Bod’ doll…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3425007/Where-s-Dad-Bod-Ken-Twitter-calls-plastic-doll-beer-belly-Mattel-s-curvy-new-Barbie-unveiled.html

One of the many sacrifices we health-oriented older men make is the enjoyment of eating bad things that taste good. 

To us, food is fuel. Nothing more.

I know. Depressing, right?

Not really.

See, the payoff is not looking [and feeling] like a Mattel ‘Dad Bod’ doll.

For those of you who don’t already know, ‘Dad Bod’ is the physical representation of what the typical middle-aged man looks like.

Of course, I don’t know any of these people personally because I live in a big city.

Here, pot bellies constitute Class-A misdemeanors, punishable by hard time at a “wellness” center that specializes in testosterone implants, orals and injectables, coupled with psychiatric counseling for clinical depression.

However, in smaller places where appearance and good health are secondary to gluttony and death in slow motion, being too fit after a certain age is a Class-A felony.