Bad Lighting the Leading Cause of Spontaneous Low Self-Esteem Among Middle-Aged People…[or any people over the age of 17]


I don’t care how good you think you look, how many days a week you work out, how clean you eat, how smoke-free you are, how moderately you drink, how much rest you get, how hydrated you stay, or how reasonable your stress levels – one day you will find yourself trying on bathing suits at Nordstrom’s and walking out with your therapist on the phone.

Blame the lighting.

Fluorescent lighting has shown to agitate, depress and turn violent aging rats, so you know its true of humans.

Of course, kids love bright lights.

They can see themselves and everyone else with crystal clarity, imperfections and all…which is the point since you can’t find any.

They aren’t conscious of harsh shadows, crows feet, sagging skin, thinning hair, or any of the other line items of attrition that aging ushers forth in the rest of us with a smirk.

Old people also like bright light because they don’t want to trip on something and break a hip. It also bears noting that because they’re old beyond anything lighting can further damage, vanity isn’t on the table. Now it’s just plain physical survival.

Additional note: Old people also tend to read things once known as newspapers, which don’t project, but rather absorb light.

For the rest of us, it’s an existential nightmare.

In my case, bright overhead lights can trigger ocular migraines, and sometimes, the things I cited about rats.

With lighting being such a big deal to people caught between youth and old age [the same demographic with all the money and power], why then do businesses not seem to take this into account?

Let’s take a look at the 5 worst offenders, “1” being the worst:

#1 Department Store dressing rooms.

#2 Restaurants

#3 Coffee shops

#4 Office buildings

#5 Art galleries

~~~  ~~~  ~~~

#1 Walk into most department store dressing rooms [Nordstrom’s being the worst], and every positive thought you ever had about the the way you look – all the trials and tribulations you endured to get there – are now in ruin.

When I enter the dressing rooms at Neiman Marcus in Houston, there are two sets of lights: One set in the front, and one behind. They are controlled by light switches next to the door. What I do is turn off the ones in front of me and use the back lights as fill-only. They are indirect, so what I experience is bounced light [off the back wall] which is plenty enough to fill in all the spaces without burning out my brain cells. The guys who bring clothing to me often flick the other switch back on when entering the dressing room as if something was wrong, but explain to them that something will be wrong if they touch it again, they get the idea.

See, their idea is to highlight the clothing, while the customer is far more interested in seeing how animate and inanimate objects work together.

If I ran a department store, the first thing I would take into consideration is how good I can get my customers to feel about themselves in my $1000 jackets.

#2 Have you ever wondered why restaurants are such dumb-asses about lighting? You have all these people spending a fortune on clothing and prep time to come to your establishment to look the best they possibly can, and you single-handedly destroy their evening with your crappy drugstore lighting. When I walk into ANY high-end restaurant, I have the same expectations I have of live theater. Great performances under beautiful light. Unfortunately, that table for 4 in the corner corner has a spotlight on one of the seats, which is why the last person to arrive gets it.

Restaurants should make flattering light a priority, but for whatever reason don’t. There are exceptions, but not many.

Note: I have offered my lighting advice to restauranteurs throughout Houston, but have yet to find a taker. Stupid is as stupid does, I guess.

#3  Coffee shops are places people go to socialize and/or get work done outside of the house. But they’re greater purpose is providing a more civilized environment to hook up under the pretense of everything but. With this in mind, would it not best serve the financial objectives of these establishments to make them as comfortable [and flattering] as possible? Notice that, once again, most people tend to sit in the seats without the halogen over them like a death star.

#4 Yesterday I had the occasion to walk into the sales offices of my health club. What I noticed was that the entrance area was lit with florescence, but every individual was lit like a psychiatrist’s office: Warm, soothing, and serene enough to calm even the most anxiety-ridden patient. No wonder the place has over 7000 members.

#5  Art galleries must come to a place of acceptance that the art on display is secondary to how people feel about themselves when looking at it. I can’t count the number of galleries [many of the same ones I exhibit in], that place spot lights on both the art and the people viewing it. Why is this? Please tell me why we need to light the people in attendance?!? Is is laziness? Stupidity? Both? I don’t get it. Focus on the art, flatter the people and the sales will mount. Enough already.


Not everyone is like me.

Some people my age just don’t care what they look like.

I’ve been told this is true, but have yet to meet any of these people.


Why Men Act Strangely at Middle Age…and Beyond?

bruce jenner 1979 ap

Bruce Jenner, 1976 Summer Olympics, Montreal.

bruce-jenner-gender-surgeryBruce Jenner at age 65, and transitioning into a woman.

Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer, 2015.


Eventually, we all reach a point in life when we start running the actuarial tables, and realize that less days are ahead than behind.

We’ve done it all; been successful, respected, loved and experienced life in all its glory more times than we can count.

Now what?

Here we are at the precipice of twilight, with money in the bank, time on our hands to be the person we always wanted to be, and a stopwatch on the horizon the size of the sun. 

It has a way of pressuring us in ways that you have to experience yourself to appreciate.

Some men continue doing what they’ve always done: making movies, transplanting hearts, writing books.

Others explore hobbies they never had time to pursue during the career years, like sailing, skydiving or marathon running.

Among them there are those who lived their lives in ways they considered disingenuous, in spite of all the professional accolades, familial surroundings and beers with the guys during football season.

Men, in general, are not comfortable discussing anything but radiator leaks and headaches, so visualize an aging, one-time Olympic gold-medalist and reality television star with an gender identity issue and Bruce Jenner begins to make sense.

The carnage has to find its way out somehow, and since he’s not getting any younger, and can afford the procedures and security details, why not?

If I were a gay man trapped in a heterosexual relationship, this would be a good time to get a divorce.

If I felt trapped in corporate conformity for the sake of the almighty dollar, I might find myself ditching it all for a job as a trail guide in Telluride, or bar owner down in Acapulco.

Again, if not now, when?

Older men of ambition and drive are still fueled by the same forces that paved the way for their success. These forces don’t die. They do, however, morph, often resurrected when time starts running out and fantasies are still doable.

Jenner’s transition may or may not be a symptom of some severe psychiatric disorder, but he still manages to function in society, pay his taxes, do a reality television show…and show up on time for an interview with Diane Sawyer.

Insanity is not the first thing that comes to mind. Curious, is.

The extreme juxtaposition of masculine Olympian with transgendered person.

But contextually, it’s no different than a “traditional family man” and closeted homicidal sociopath, so there’s that.

And besides, most older men I know are not the people they present.

Some are men of the cloth, and child molesters; others happily married to one woman and happily screwing another. You just never know.

At least Jenner was open about it.

Whatever else he may or may not have done in his life is his business.

You may not like it. You may find him repugnant, deluded, lost. But it’s not your life. Thankfully, you don’t stand in his shoes.

As for it’s impact on society, it’s all about parenting.

Without it, there is no society to speak of as evidenced by children running the streets like revenants from hell.

Steroid Use Among Affluent Urban Boomers Considered “Maintenance”


What you’re looking at is a close-up of Sylvester Stallone’s left arm, wrapped in what appears to be distended tunneling, courtesy of steroids.

It was then shaven and bronzed to set off the highlights.

This is what aging gracefully looks like to many affluent urban men; the same men who berate older women for plastic surgery overkill, but I digress.

Taking testosterone in combination with Human Growth Hormone [HGH] usually starts when a man hits his mid to late 50’s and realizes his endurance isn’t what it used to be.

He may also notice that losing body-fat requires twice the effort and ten times the pain, not to mention the emotional pain of endless dieting.

So he turns to testosterone because on a certain level it works as advertised.

You bleed body-fat while building muscle on half the sleep and twice the energy.


It’s become so “mainstream” I’m sure Prada will soon design cases for all the syringes.

My trainer knows which of his older clients ” juice” and which don’t and then trains us all accordingly.

I happen to be in the minority of men who do not take testosterone, which means I can only train hard 3 days a week for one hour, instead of 6 days for 3 hours a session.

As a result, my arms also don’t look like Stallone’s in spite of the fact that they are still lean and muscular.

As for my abs, they are visible, but not distended and sunken around preternatural ravines.

Remember, steroids build muscle everywhere except for the sexual organs, where they tend to have the opposite effect.

The upside for me is as follows:

1] My body can still produce its own testosterone naturally

2] I don’t need regular blood-work to scan for high PSA levels

3] I don’t succumb to things like road rage in spite of my already passionate nature. 

The downside for me is psychological: I am at a disadvantage around the men I train with who recover like teenagers on 4 hours of sleep.

It can be depressing, believe me. I’m walking wounded while they bounce off the walls like rabbits on methamphetamine.

Needless to say, the pressure to capitulate to the testosterone craze allure is constant.

I literally struggle every day to remain sober, this as the cacophony of radio and television ads and infomercials extol the virtues of the needle under the pretense of wellness.

With this as a backdrop, I have a power-lifting meet this July.

In order to exceed my previous records, I not only have to train brutally hard, but even more importantly, brutally smart given my mortal attributes.

At this writing, I’m still on the wagon. But it takes ever fiber of willpower not to indulge just once in the fountain if youth.

Fortunately, the USAPL drug tests, so there’s that.

But I know that time alone will tell whether or not I take the plunge because I certainly can’t guarantee it at this writing.

Stay tuned.

According to New Reports, Middle Age Lasts Until 74


Pierce Brosnan, 61

“For many people, 70 is the new 50 and signifies the quiet revolution that has taken place in longevity”


Among the many trending narratives of the day is the one about Baby Boomers who refuse to age, as if that’s a bad thing.

Would you want to age “gracefully” if you didn’t have to?

Before you answer this question, allow me to put forth my definition of “graceful aging:”

“The process by which a middle-aged male agrees to accept natural physical attrition in exchange for a gated community in Florida.”

In my view [and I’m not alone] this is akin to suicide in slow motion, otherwise known among my circle as the dragging out of the end to eternity until you can’t remember where it all started.

So no.

I don’t know anyone willing to “let go” unless they’re in a psych ward for clinical depression or dying of colon cancer.

An average man who retired in 2012 can expect to live until the age of 86.2 years, while a woman who turned 65 last year would have 23.9 years still to live on average, the ONS estimates.

That’s a lot of time to “drift.”

In my socioeconomic demographic. men are often in the best shape of their adult lives, working out regularly, eating right, getting medical check-ups on an annual basis, and making damn sure their teeth look better than they did when they were in their 20’s, among other things. Believe me, I could go on.

I might also add to this [because it wouldn’t make sense if I didn’t], that most of the men to whom I’m referring are well-educated, urban folk of an upper income variety.

They tend to be ambitious, successful men who carry these traits with them throughout their lives, which are then shaped and molded by the pressures of big city life.

These are not frumpy men in cardigans and distended bellies.

They’re a lot like men half their age, only richer, wiser…and, in some cases, more mature.

They take their health seriously because they would rather go out in a blaze of glory than to fade into irrelevance and obscurity.

Examples in popular culture alone are legion.

Such men don’t lay down for the next generation not only because they’re not finished with their own, but because the generation behind them represents the lion’s share of the women they date and marry.

If this trend continues, and I see no reason it won’t, the next generation will consider a man of 50 “young” and his wife of 25 age-relevant.


Older Man “Lost”


“We are caught between the old model of being the breadwinner and the new model of being the co-washer-upper and feeder…”

The article describes “middle-aged” men to be in the 45-54 range, but based on my own personal experience, I would raise the upper end to 62.

The angst to which the article refers began for me in my mid to late 40’s when I first came to the realization that I was no longer a young man of endless promise, but rather, a fully assembled commodity.

Has my professional life been well spent? Should I have taken another path? If so, why didn’t I? Does my current line of work have more juice in the tank, or am I running on fumes? Who am I? 

We start adding up our attributes, our accomplishments – whatever we think belongs in the plus column – then subtract our perceived liabilities, and come up with a number we hope we can live with. 

If not, we tend to do one of three things:

1] Taunt the hand of fate with alcohol and crack.

2] Buy things we can’t afford.

3] Pretend to be someone we’re not. 

I don’t believe any of these require further explanation, particularly the last one.

The unfortunate truth about contemporary life is that the timeline to produce wealth is relatively short.

In that time we are expected to amass a nest-egg capable of producing income without our having to punch a time clock or cash a paycheck.

That’s a lot of pressure.

So let’s say you’re 50 and just lost your 300k/year job. Now what?

If you don’t have income-producing savings, you go through what savings you do have in a heartbeat.

Then your wife leaves you. Your “friends” disappear. You’re alone. Really alone. Too alone without the coping skills necessary to move past the obstacles.

You’re officially in crisis.

It’s too late to change things. You’re merely surplus in a hungry world. You perform no function and, are thus, forced from the herd.

Making matters worse, men are not particularly flexible, and don’t bond well with other men, which makes for a far more difficult passage through this period in life.

The article suggests that men reject the old masculine code that “men don’t need relationships, men don’t need to be connected, men don’t need to be heartfelt,” and I wholeheartedly agree.

Without the ability to bond through the rough times, middle-aged men are damned to a life of painful reflection.

it is only through emotional connectedness that we can begin to discover meaning, hope and resurrection from the outdated models that set the bar for men so high – and room for deviation so narrow – that most simply can not handle the journey.

In my life I have known quite a few men who took their own lives after a divorce or the loss of substantial capital. There was nothing left to turn to. They had done it all and lost it all in a flash.

This is how older men tend to see themselves: Reflections of their accomplishments.

When the fruits of their accomplishments are gone, they go with them.

Unfortunately, friends and loved ones don’t fall in the “accomplishments” category as many men subconsciously assume that the people in their lives value them solely in dollar bills.


Personal Trainers: Secret Weapon of Older Men


Many older men have resigned themselves to the notion that their best years are behind them, and that what’s left is a long, drawn out epitaph, otherwise known [around here] as death in slow motion.

This is a mindset, not biology.

With motivation and the proper training, many achieve feats of athleticism they couldn’t come close to in their 20’s.

So what stops them?

Many battle clinical depression.

For others, it’s a chronic injury.

But for the most part, it’s just plain laziness.

The refrain is common:

“Why should I work out? I’m an older man for god’s sake! Who cares?”  

I guess the person who should care died a long time ago, which is why people tend to look right through them, reinforcing their sense of irrelevance.

For those who do go to the gym, they often do so to just to avoid injury, or to “stay alive,” as they put it.

Needless to say, this attitude never won a Superbowl or anything else for that matter.

Challenging the forces of nature is not a slam-dunk, but it’s well worth the view if you have the will to climb the mountain.


There are 3 primary reasons why middle-aged men should hire a personal trainer, in this order:

1] Mental Health

Hypochondria is a pandemic amongst mid-lifers.

Everything is a potential apocalypse: The annual prostate exam, an impending stroke, a heart attack, colon cancer, or the ever-popular brain tumor paranoia. It never ends.

“That shoe will damn well drop, so if not now, when?”

No wonder Xanax sales are through the roof.

But here’s something I’ve learned: The 3 hours a week I spend with my personal trainer are enough to obliterate depressive episodes, anxiety and transient existential pain.

2] Physical Health

One of the biggest fears expressed by middle-aged men is failing health.

I’m not referring to a terminal illness, but literally, physical strength.

Without it, men begin to feel vulnerable and defeated.

“No longer can I protect those close to me,” is the way it comes across, but rapidly escalates into “I am no longer physically respected and relevant.”

From here it’s down the rabbit hole.

3] Medical Bills

“OMG everthing is falling the hell apart. My back hurts, my shoulder hurts, I have stomach pain, headaches, arthritis, I can’t lift a toothbrush…”

Sound familiar?

Poor health costs a hell of a lot more than your self-esteem.

In many cases it can rival your home mortgage. A typical hospital stay is somewhere in the 6k/day range, if this helps.

For less than that amount over 365 days, you could hire a personal trainer and tell the hospitals to kiss your ass.

Preventive medicine is the future. Without it, there is no future.

If after all you do you still land the the emergency room, it’s probably genetic.



I like being physically strong. There’s something about lifting a lot of weight that’s emotionally transformative.

And while professional achievement is always a great picker-upper, having both is 10 times the high.

No longer are you a fading older man, but rather a successful older man who can stand should-to-shoulder with men half your age, dignity in tact.

With this as a backdrop, if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that personal trainers are probably responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in lost therapy revenues.

There’s only so much you can do on the couch before you have to get your ass up and get back to living.

Nobody “looks right through” a man’s who super fit no matter what his age happens to be.

Billy Joel [65], and Alexis Roderick [29] Expecting.


Congratulations to Billy and Alexis!

See folks, life is not an actuarial table. It’s a journey with no particular timeline.

In the end, love is wherever you find it…no matter what the accountants say.

There is a God


I think I speak for most health-conscious types that eating can be a pain in the ass.

Everything has to be clean, unadulterated fuel. The enjoyment for me was in how “light” I felt after a meal, rather than how much I enjoyed eating it.

Needless to say, simple carbohydrates like bread were NOT on my menu.

So a few weeks of this new “paleo” diet of mine passed and I started noticing that my lifts in the gym were suffering, that I was more irritable than usual, and I was also lethargic and depressed.

By the way, I have zero to be depressed about, which is a pretty good indicator that something was amiss.

My blood work is good, my body uninjured. So what was it?

So I kind of drifted into the gym in a haze yesterday at 2:15 PM, slightly off balance and weak, and my trainer took one look at me and asked what I’d had to eat before coming in.

My answer shocked even me, which happens when you don;t check in with yourself from time to time: I told him that I had “a whey protein shake and two bananas.” Period.

Are you kidding me?

I’m 6’2, 230 and I had almost zero calories in my body.

How does this happen? Easily.

You get wrapped up in healthy everything until you start losing touch with life’s simple pleasures.

After an abbreviated workout, he sent me packing directly to Whole Foods where I was told to purchase a “loaded” pizza, and rediscover life.

I think it’s safe to say after taking one bite, I remembered all that I have missed about food and life in general.

Moral of the story: Give yourself a break and you’ll never need anti-depressants.

Denial’s a Bitch

madonna-624-1375114464Where she started…


What’s left…

After belting out her classic song of female empowerment “Express Yourself,” at Coachella, the 56-year-old pop legend, Madonna, pulled the 28-year-old singer, Drake, back in his chair to plant a heavy kiss on his lips.

Then all hell broke loose.


Naivete in grownups is often charming; but when coupled with vanity it is indistinguishable from stupidity. Eric Hoffer


Madonna is closing in on 60 years old and a shadow of her former self, which I know is shocking to those of you who think she resembles the woman on the cover of her new CD.

If she were a writer or folk singer or politician or television actor or newscaster or cashier at WalMart she could go on and on and on. But sex symbol? Please.

And that gold dental grill!!! Seriously??? What drugs drive people this far off the ranch???

I guess it has everything to do with being at the top of the pop music world for decades only to feel pressured to pass the baton to the next generation.

If it were me, I’d do the same damn thing as long as I had no idea how ridiculous it made me look.

I’m sure no one let’s her in on this dirty little secret, though.

Why would they? Their careers rest on her perpetuity no matter how desperate she looks in the process.

But what propelled her to stardom is still part of who she is today. In this sense, she is stuck in the past, always looking for the next opportunity to resurrect herself, this time around with an undercurrent of indignant rage.

The bottom line is that she is no longer “herself” on the outside, which means that she has to redefine who she is on the inside.

At this writing, this does not appear to be happening.

Nonetheless, what she’s going through is not unique to women.

Men become the punchlines of jokes when they live the way they did 30 ago, refusing to acknowledge that 30 years have passed.

We all age. It sucks. It’s nature’s cruel joke. Call it what you will. But it’s a reality we all face no matter who we are.

Some fare better than others, mostly because they’re not Madonna.

They don’t have to fill stadiums, pander to fans, focus on trying to bend and shape perception of aging until people no longer see it.

In this sense Madonna as “Madonna” is her own worst nightmare.

If she wants to salvage her dignity and assure a resurrection of sorts, she should take her own advice and perform alone on a simple stage with an acoustic guitar.

No dancers, backup singers, pyrotechnics and god’s knows what the hell else.

Now that would be a concert worth seeing.


Who attends Madonna concerts?

1] Older women who relate to her midlife delusions.

2] Gay men who imagine Madonna loves them more than she loves herself.

3] No one else that I’m aware of.


Now Drake has said that, in so many words, he was delighted to have had the opportunity to be kissed by the queen, Madonna.

Yea right, dude.

Best to cover your ass.