John Varvatos Sparks Revolution in Fashion Nostalgia


John Varvatos was born February 1, 1966, which means he missed the Baby Boom by 2 years.

Note: Baby Boom lasted from 1946-1964.

This notwithstanding, he captures the spirit of my generation better than any designer in memory. Period.


As I gotten older I seem to grow closer to my roots.

I guess it’s true what they say about early impressions being the strongest.

Most therapists would be willing to corroborate this for $200.00, by the way.

Anyway, my deepest passions were those rooted in music, specifically, rock ‘n’ roll.

Why this is I don’t know, because while others were off playing soccer, I sat in dark rooms with electric guitars and vinyl records, playing and replaying Clapton licks, among others.

My dorm room was plastered with glossy posters of Ozzy, Zeppelin, The Who, Cream, Hendrix and other musical gods of the day.

Empty packs of guitar strings were scattered all over the place, picks even worse.

I think it’s safe to say my adolescence was experienced through the fulcrum of music.

Then time passed, decades, and here I find myself with the same music, the same string and keyed instruments, and library of music I can’t live without.

So one day I’m walking through The Galleria in Houston when I happen upon the new John Varvatos store.

Feeling transported back to a place where it all started is to grossly understate the experience.

Joplin’s “Down On Me” was in the air, rock biographies neatly stacked on shelves under framed film photographs of rock stars.

and the clothing!



Could this really be?

Did I actually find my long lost home in the world of John Varvatos?

At this writing my closet looks like his showroom, with a few exceptions, very few.

Once I got my hands on those threads 90% of my clothing went the way of the wind.

Finally a designer was channeling the same vibe.

Though my career has been spent as a photographer and writer, nothing keeps me more tethered to myself than music.

Obviously, I’m not alone.


Brilliant ad. Generations merged.

Fitness Guru and Author, Shawn Phillips, Talks “Balanced Life”


Shawn and I are Facebook friends.

We have never met, though I had long-standing professional relationship with his brother, Bill, as a cover and editorial photographer for Muscle Media and Energy magazines.

Shawn posted this essay on Facebook recently, and I decided to share it here.

It speaks to the wisdom of age and how it challenges our perceptions of life and how many of us live it.


Everyone already knows the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

To the faithful, I’m preaching to the choir.

But like everything else in life – and I mean everything – we reach a point of diminishing returns.

Training 2 hours a day, 7 days a week, AND eating perfectly, AND getting enough rest and recovery tend to sideline everything else, like family, friends, and loved ones who will eventually forget your name in the process.

The fact is there isn’t enough time in a day to do everything you want to do if other people in your life mean anything to you.

All those hours in the gym, on the track, in the pool mean what if you have nothing else in your life?

Your world gets really small, really fast.

This becomes more obvious at middle age when the time available to balance health and family are on a short fuse.

The time have come to reassess priorities if you want to live a fulfilling life.

Middle age is a wake-up call for men who’ve lived their lives for themselves: their goals, their objectives…themselves.

It’s fine when you’re in your 20’s and chasing a gold medal, or in your 30’s 80-hour weeks and endless travel are the only way to financial freedom.

But once you hit your middle 40’s – and beyond – you realize that the most important things in life involve people other than yourself.

In other words “being 7% bodyfat, ripped and living your life obsessed with fitness, exercise and some radical diet” is not a panacea.

Coming from a guy recognized as the epitome of fitness, this is something worth pondering.


At my gym there are more exercise addicted middle-aged men than there are gold-diggers, which is saying a lot in a town like Houston.

These men live for themselves all day, all night until one morning while on another in an endless series of runs, a torn Achilles tendon flips the switch and all they have left is a wheelchair in an empty room.

I’ve seen it more times than I can count.

Most of these men are single, divorced, living alone.

No cats. No dogs. Nothing to slow them down, interfere with the seamless obsession with me.

To those of us who’ve been around a while, we know the symptoms well.

The carrying on about how “working out is better than the alternative,” and “addiction is in the eye of the beholder” crap is as transparent as an open door.

Addicts with ever-shrinking lives memorize every excuse in the book to justify what they do.

But in the end, they’re talking to themselves because the rest of us have left destiny to do what it does best, which is pummel the weak.

As Shawn says [and I’ll leave it to his article to elaborate], “if you are using fitness to chase self-esteem vs. using self-esteem to fuel your fitness, you are on the infinite treadmill to nowhere.”

I finally leaned the meaning of this around the time I hit my 50th birthday and landed in a hospital with a high fever and sky-high liver enzymes due to over-exercise.

My life looked a lot like the people I describe.

I was told to stay out of the gym for a month, get a trainer who could help me get my workouts back in balance…and maybe see a shrink for what was obviously exercise addiction.

I was single, self-obsessed, spiritually lost.

Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom before we can land on our feet.

Long story short, I now cross-train with weights 3 days a week for 1 hour, not 3.

I do 1 hour of cardio, stretching and foam rolling on the days in between, and take a day off.

I still eat well, but I allow myself to enjoy a glass of wine, french toast, and yes, the occasional caramel chocolate treat.

And since I’m not working out all day long, I also have time to spend time with the woman in my life and our zoo of animals.

It took a long time for me to learn and appreciate the art of balance, but now that I have I have never felt so fulfilled, or been more productive.

It’s amazing how much time you can waste chasing your tail.

Thanks for that, Shawn.

Ronnie and Sally Wood at The Races


I’ve covered this couple in another blog [search bar], but I thought it was worth further mention, given Sally Wood’s illuminating comments.

Among them:

Speaking of their age gap, Sally told the Telegraph: ‘Um, well, I know it’s there. And I wish it wasn’t, but it is. I think I had to say “I can’t do this because of the age”, or I just had to let it go and take it all on board. At no point, years ago, did I say to myself: “I think I’ll go out with someone twice my age”, but that is what has happened.’

Up Next!

Without Savings Boomers Totally and Completely Screwed [with a few exceptions]

Full75210As everyone this age already knows, life is not exactly a joyride in the absence of cash.

You look down the road and there’s nothing to see but a tunnel and a light because there is nothing else.

As everyone by now knows, the most important thing in the world is health followed closely by money.

The rest can wait.

According to Vanguard’s How America Saves 2014, which provides statistics about the more than 3 million people who have a defined contribution retirement plan managed by Vanguard, the median 401(k) balance for those over 55 was less than $75,000 in 2013:


Please explain to me how the hell you’re going to hang out in Cabo or Aspen without a large career income or passive income from investments?

You’re not.

You’re going to stay home with your cats and hope your death is swift and painless because the rest isn’t worth the journey.


1] Yogis

2] Tenured University Professors

In the first case, the senior yogi may live in a tree, but women in his classes find his acetic existence and peaceful vibe an extraordinarily attractive alternative to the wolves of Wall Street.

So he can expect to get laid by beautiful women who don’t care what he doesn’t have until they do, at which time they go back to the wolves for another round.

Tenured university professors make a couple hundred grand a year, never lose their jobs, get Summers off, and hold the destinies of their students in their hands.

It kinda’ sells itself.

The only problem is that most women at ivy league schools envision large homes in nice neighborhoods, expensive cars, private schools for their kids, and at least 3 vacations a year.

Needless to say, his salary won’t cut that, nor will his eventual savings which are destined for social security support.

So we’re back to square one.

With this as a backdrop, how exactly do Baby Boomers acquire enough capital to retire comfortably without robbing the Federal Reserve or winning a slip and fall against Kroger?

First, they have to have something of value to sell that offers windfall potential. 

What about their homes?

Yea, I’m laughing because homeowners between age 50 and 65 are most likely to carry a mortgage.

The percentage rose from 60% in 1992 to more than 70% by 2010. 

What about saving more money?

For guys 50 and older looking at potentially 20 more years of putting whatever away, if you can invest an extra $5,000 per year for the next 15 years, you would have an extra $146,000 at age 65:


If you can leave it alone until 70, you could have approximately $220,000 in added net worth based on historical stock market averages.

But what kind of life are we looking at here?

Most people in better neighborhoods spend $200,000 in 6 months just maintaining their lifestyles.

You’ll be watching every single solitary bill, praying your roof doesn’t leak, and clipping coupons while annoying the people in line behind you at Whole Foods.

You’re better off dead.

The sad truth of the matter is that your priorities were ass-backwards back in your 20’s when you thought you were immortal because you could nail dates at the drop of a hat even if you couldn’t afford to take them to Jack-In-The-Box.

It didn’t take long to notice that no matter what you looked like all the wealthy older men were taking your girlfriends to the Bahamas for the weekend.

Then it dawned on you that youth and beauty only work for highly-precisioned gold-diggers of exceptional beauty; actors, models and entertainers with the wings of angels; and singers like Robert Plant.

And since you couldn’t find a niche for yourself in any of the above, you were screwed.

After all, what’s the point in getting old if you can’t afford to enjoy it?

People are always talking about people pursuing things they love.

But understand that love is always secondary to common sense.

If piano tuning does not pave the way for millions in an investment account by age 50, do something you hate.

You’ll love yourself in the end.


For you older men of average means who have daughters of exceptional beauty, please explain to them how to leverage what they do have in exchange for everything you don’t so you can piggy-back on their success.

You’re welcome.



1] Lots of money won’t make you happy, but not enough of it will make you miserable.

2] One million dollar homes in large cities are often tear downs situated in up and coming neighborhoods.

3] 250k/ year is considered upper middle class.

4] When politicians talk about raising taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” they’re including everyone who falls in #3.

5] The average 0ne bedroom suite at a luxury hotel property is $1000/night and everything else is a la carte.

6] Dining out in a big city usually costs $200 on up with wine and tip.

7] The average luxury automobile starts in the $80,000 range.

8] Whole Foods bills usually run 20k-30k/year with wine.

9] Luxury handbags usually run $2000, and women’s shoes, $500-1000 which you’ll need to keep in mind if you happen to live with a woman.

10] First Class airfare from Houston to Los Angeles is in the $1200 to $1400 range. Double it if you’re taking your girlfriend.

Meet Badass Sam Bryant, Jr., 70, Bodybuilder.

Sam-Sonny-Bryant-Jr-70-Year-Old-Body-BuilderSam Bryant, Jr., 70

Brief synopsis: After a failed relationship 20 years ago, Sam Bryant, Jr. started lifting weights to exorcise the emotional pain and never looked back.

Articles like this one are an inspiration to us all…especially those who assume aging denotes decrepitude, irrelevance and existential drear.

You Baby Boomers can also breathe a sigh of relief  as Sam is older then you.

One Reason Older Men Like Me Work Out

The guy you see in the foreground is me.

Directly behind me is a 9-year-old kid –– my competitor.

We will both perform what is referred to as an “icky-shuffle” that most know as ladder work.

This particular movement requires a lot of focus and agility rarely seen in males my age, but even more notably — HIS!

Yea, I was just as blown away.

Rock on, kid!

Why Some Stars Age Badly?

beautiful-stars-who-aged-horribly4Axl Rose, 53

You can blame a crappy appearance on the passage of a few years.

But you can also blame yourself for how you spent them.

In other words, “You make the bed you sleep in…” as my grandfather, Shelley, used to say.

Unfortunately, Axl Rose started out with a bed in complete disarray.

Thankfully, his voice and ability to write memorable music were enough to carry him through a lot of the turmoil.

But he is still a tragic result of his past.

So did misfortune cause him age badly?

Indirectly, yes.

But with help, most of us are salvageable.

In his case, he was either unable – or unwilling – to overcome the demons that laid waste to his childhood, and what we now see is a reflection of how he feels about himself.

There are many talented celebrities who have aged incredibly well.

In every instance, though, it’s because they took great care of themselves –– not because they visited a Devil’s Crossroads or were born divine.

Sting comes to mind as he always does in these narratives.

Aging is not a death sentence in the context of appearance.

It’s a series of choices.

I bring this up because MSN is fond of writing attention-grabbing headlines about how badly some celebrities have aged, like they were somehow struck down by God while shopping at Whole Foods.

Does a 53-year-old man look like he did at 22?

Of course not.

But many would argue that an exemplary 53-year-old actually constitutes an improvement.

A few lines, harder features, a fit frame, success, maturity, wisdom, knowledge all combined can equal a far more appealing individual.

While youth and beauty are synonymous in absolute terms, aging well balances the scales because it is one of life’s consummate achievements.

Just ask anyone who’s ever won an Oscar.


Aging badly is most often tied to two things:

1] Obesity

2] Over-indulgence in plastic surgery.

Both are tied directly to self-esteem, and both are treatable psychiatric disabilities.

There is a third possibility, but delusion doesn’t count.

Advertiser Stereotyping 101



Some people claim I’m in denial, that my chronological age has had such a devastating impact on my self-esteem that my only recourse is to pretend that I’m somewhere else in life.

This could not be farther from the truth.

My real problem is with stereotypes about aging, and how they never apply to me.

Ever notice that whenever there’s a product targeting “mature adults” the photo caption resembles the one above?

Who the hell are these people? Certainly not “me.”

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I never grew up. I was fortunate enough not to have to: No kids, always self-employed, fitness-obsessed, financially free.

I did what I wanted to do [more or less] and nothing has changed.

I have friends of all ages, both men and women; gay, straight and somewhere in between, religious and not…some brighter than others.

It doesn’t matter to me. The murkier the merrier as long as they’re good people who haven’t given up on themselves.

With this in mind, there are many “well-known and respected” blogs written in large part by physicians who target the Baby Boom generation.

The vast majority focus their attention on those at the very edge of that era, or people born somewhere in the vicinity of 1946.

The rest are ignored because they don’t fit the narrative.

In other words, if you’re not in your middle to late 60’s, you’re too young.

Nonetheless, these “medically-based” blogs are everywhere.

You can learn all about how to keep your aching joints healthy, check out the latest in pocket catheters, or discover the wonders of bingo.

Even my 83-year-old mother laughs at them, quite frankly.

This is why Baby Boomers like me feel so alienated by advertising that targets my age demographic.

For example, here’s a “typical” couple used in an ad for mature dating:


Happy senior citizens clinking glassesI know. Weird, right?

This is more like it:


So why don’t ads like this exist?

Because there aren’t enough people like this to justify the advertising cost, so they pander to the averages.

How about nutrition ads for dads that look like this?

dad-son-playing-video-games…Instead of this:

Senior CoupleI don’t personally know any couple that looks like this.

The woman could be his mother, for god’s sake.

But I have to assume that this is what advertisers think average couples look like.

Call me a juvenile delinquent, or clueless, or whatever. But it’s just not relevant to me or my demographic.

Here’s one more.

This is a typical group of older mature people lifting weights looks like:

Group of older mature people lifting weights in the gym


This is what it looks like for me:


I’m not telling you that everyone I know is a consummate athlete.

But what I am saying is that many older men don’t come even close to fitting the stereotypes perpetrated by advertising agencies.

If I actually bought into the advertisers version of reality, I’d put a bullet in my head.

This isn’t a rant about denial. I know where I am in the scheme of things.

But I also know that I will never throw myself under the bus unless life takes a bigger chunk of flesh than I can afford to lose.

It better be huge ’cause I’m not going down without first going to the wall.

Remember, life’s not over ’til it’s over and not one second sooner.












I only know this stuff because I see what happens to older men who buy into someone else’s version of the truth.


Affluent Older Men Remain Targets of Scorn for Dating Beautiful Young Women […as if we give a crap]

CIDRpEqWcAAOIPoDuncan Bannatyne, 66 & Nigora Whitehorn, 35

The fact that Bannatyne is rich and his girlfriend a native of Uzbekistan is all people need to know before piling on.

The familiar refrain from women is laced with the same tired adjectives: ““Cringe” “puke” “vomit” “creepy” in any order.

From young men it’s the all-too-familiar realization that “rich guys still get the girls.”

And feminists consider it a complete betrayal: “Women prostitute themselves and somehow betray those women who, for example, choose to tough it out in the workplace.”

I understand the vitriol, the envy.

I understand that it’s life out of order, and that it is threatening to those who want a predictable, linear story.

But that world is long gone, except in smaller enclaves outside of big cities where groups like Quakers live as people did 200 years ago.

From all of these stories – and there are more than I could possibly count in a lifetime – there are a few things I’d like to share with the detractors:

To young men —

1] Rather than hurling invective at your older brethren, you should relish the fact that in exchange for a life well lived, you earn bigger dividends down the road.

To young women —

2] For those with enough youth and beauty to barter, the 60-hour work week is a thing of the past.

To feminists —

3] Life’s a food chain.

Baby Boomers Edge Closer to Oblivion

o-FREYA-900Photo: Freya Najade

If You’re Lucky You Get Old is an exhibition by photographer Freya Najade, chronicling the first thing she learned from the elderly people she visited whilst traveling the United States. At a time where the elderly are ostracized, or, in Najade’s words, ‘hardly seem to exist’, conjuring images of ‘wrinkles, disease and decay’, the artist was surprised that the people she met and photographed were not only proud of their age but were ‘still falling in love and breaking up.

Many of you will find these images difficult to look at.

They are largely UN-retouched, straightforward, brutally honest.

In short, not something we see a lot of in in a culture obsessed with youth and beauty.

Most older people are invisible to us, irrelevant, and for all intents and purposes, gone.

But as the oldest Baby Boomers edge closer to 70, we’re about to fall victim to the very culture we created.

Of course, we don’t all age at the same rate.

This is a result of our lifestyle choices as you will see.


Richard Gere is decades younger than the man in the above photo, but you’d only know this from a birth certificate.

Unlike many men his age, Gere has chosen to let himself go.


This is a choice, not an inevitable destiny.

That he is dating the stunning Alejandra Silva, 32, mother of one, only adds to the cliche that love is only as deep as one’s investment portfolio.

So let’s take a look at other men his age and then let you decide what constitutes “old”

If any of the following 5 men were seen in the company of a 32 year old woman, you’d never hear a word from critics who claim “it’s all money, honey,” followed closely by “Ewwww,” and, of course, the old standbys, “Creepy” and “cringe-worthy.”

1] Sting, 63


2] Bruce Springsteen, 65


3] Samuel L. Jackson, 66

article-0-03DFE9B40000044D-947_634x814Jeff Bridges, 65


Kurt Russell, 64


In this case, I chose rich, famous actors who’s job it is to stay fit. 

But many civilians [men not known in the context of popular culture] who happen to be in their middle 60’s are even fitter.

Men who practice Crossfit, for example, are some of the fittest guys I have ever known, shaming men half their age.

It’s all a choice.

How much effort we’re willing to put forth to be the very best that we can be?

For many, it’s very little: Consume a few veggies [when absolutely, positively necessary], do a little walking…and maybe add a glass of water between shots of vodka.

This is normal, average.

For the rest of us, life is a full-on crucible filled with challenges no one ever thought we’d be strong enough to face.

But here we are in the midst of a never-ending war of attrition, doing what we have to do to stand tall in the face of adversity.

Talk about relevance.

Staying fit is the very definition of it, closely followed closely by money.

Of course, there is disagreement about the order, as evidenced by Richard Gere.