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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

A Tale of Two Cities: New York vs. San Diego (Part 1)

Robert Manni - Friday, September 28, 2018


East coast / west coast comparisons are nothing new. For years conversations have pitted the Big Apple against the City of Angels. But after decades of New Yorkers migrating to L.A. beyond cars versus taxis and subways, is life that different in these two cities?

Sure, L.A. is an industry town while New York is the capital of finance, media, many other businesses, and arguably the world. But over time, the world has gotten smaller and the cultural chasm between these two coastal metropolises has shrunk. In fact, although I am a New Yorker, I feel right at home in L.A.  I can get all the same stuff and I deal with lots of New Yorkers who, by the way, brought their attitudes along when they moved out west.

That said, during the course of a recent two-week trip to San Diego and the gorgeous surrounding area, I noticed major differences between coastal lifestyles than I’ve observed when visiting LA over the past decade or so. In fact, some of those differences in San Diego living reminded me of So Cal back in the 80’s and 90’s. Simply put, San Diego is a picturesque laid-back So Cal city that is not L.A. and nothing like NYC. With this in mind, I offer you a tale of two cities or my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to the Differences between New York and San Diego.

So, in no particular order here’s the insights your Guy’s Guy absorbed over the course of a few vacations to San Diego and a short stint living there back in the 80’s.

1. People – People are people. Every one of us comes from the same source. We all share divinity and deserve to me recognized as such, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, sex, etc. In my opinion, the differences we see in people who live in various places around the planet can be attributed to culture an environment. So, let’s be clear about that and get that issue out of the way first. We are all the same.

That said, life in San Diego versus New York City can be very different and as a result people’s behavior in each city can be very different. San Diego reminds me of how I always saw So Cal: laid back, sunny and warm, gorgeous spaces and healthy people. The pervasive attitude in San Diego is chill and friendly. If you ask someone for directions they come to a full stop, consider your question and do their best to be helpful. When you buy something in a store or visit a restaurant, the staff is polite and friendly, every time.

In NYC, when a tourist asks for directions on the street or in the bowels of the subway, the natives are helpful. But if you are a local and you need help to ask someone something you’ve got to make a real effort to connect with people. And they might even give you shit.

Quick story. The other night, I was heading home on a crowded C train. I saw an empty seat and was ready to sit my ass down when a guy across the car yelled, “No, no!” I did not realize he was speaking to me so as I began to sit down I realized there was an undefined puddle of liquid on the seat. The guy saw my lowering my tush and yelled again, “Man, I told you not to sit down!” Only in New York do people try to help you and then yell at you. I only got one cheek wet and I thanked the guy while he was shaking his head and looking down like I was a total idiot. Hilarious.

New Yorkers move and think fast, real fast. When you attempt to ask a question to a New Yorker, the other person immediately begins qualifying you. While they remove one ear bud, they size you up and ask themselves, “Is this person going to hit me up for money? Does he have a knife? Will he rob me? Is he going to expose himself?” A million thoughts blow through New Yorkers minds when a random person attempts to ask them a question. After you’ve past the “he’s not going to kill me” test, I’ve found most New Yorkers to be empathetic and helpful. But is this a healthy way to live? I’ve gotten used to it over the years, but this hard truth hits home whenever I return to New York after visiting another city or country. The tone of life can be harsh in New York.

Not so in San Diego. People migrate there for the lifestyle and the weather. They like to relax and hang out. They are proud of their city. In fact they love it. I have never heard anyone complain about San Diego, especially the way New Yorkers often bitch and moan about our urban landscape with all its warts. Even New Yorkers who love the city complain about it when warranted, and that is often.

There is also major difference in the level of anxiety between people in the two cities. I was not subjected to any anxiety or anxious people in San Diego. Here in New York, the level of anxiety is palpable. The people and life in general in New York is intense and competitive. Upon my return to New York I noticed a difference in how people communicated to each other, even in friendly situations. There is an underlying level of competitiveness and need for validation. Someone asks you what school you are sending your kid and you find yourself feeling that you need to justify your choice at the risk of being judged by your neighbor. It can be that crazy here.

I reckon a lot of these types of interactions also take place in San Diego-- maybe it’s who lives in the better neighborhood—but I did not experience the same level of nervousness or paranoia as I get in Manhattan.

To me, the people in San Diego seemed a lot happier and relaxed compared to life in New York.

Score a point for SD.

2. The service – When you go out to eat in New York City the service can be harsh, but it is usually efficient. In New York, how many times has a server tried to take your plate away before you are finished eating? Lots of times, right? The good news is restaurant service usually is swift and often works like clockwork no matter how busy a restaurant gets. The waiters can be friendly or gruff, but you’ll rarely wait for your entree or the check. Retail shops are another story. There are some great salespeople in New York, but often the staff in stores can be amazingly unfriendly and borderline rude.

Last night I met a friend for a drink. I’m a boomer. My hair has lots of gray. When I entered the restaurant filled with business people, the guy working there blocked my path. I attempted to sidestep him, but he would not let me pass. He asked for my I.D. I asked him if he was actually carding me and he asked for my ID again. I pointed to my hair. I was way older than him. He told me if I did not like it to go somewhere else. This was an interesting way to treat your customers, but that type of nonsense often happens here. I also notice that many times store staff does whatever they can to prevent you from getting the right price. Like if something is marked on sale and it rings up at the old price or a sales sign offers 30% off and the staff insists the sign should have been moved because the sale has ended or some similar nonsense. We New Yorkers put up with this crap on a regular basis.

Of course there are lots of very nice folks in New York working retail. The issue is training. Staffs need to be taught the importance of being respectful to customers and not viewing the customers as the enemy. But unfortunately in New York, I have often learned that the “the customer is not always right”. Too often customers have to fight for our bargains.

Not so in my limited exposure to San Diego and the surrounding area. The peeps working retail are friendly and polite. Frankly, it does no cost anything to be civil. That said; service is faster and more efficient in NYC.

I’m still going to give another point to San Diego.

3. Food – Overall, the cuisine in New York City is the best and as varied as any city I’ve visited in the world. In New York, you can get anything at any time and it’s usually tasty and fresh. Like everything else, food in New York can be pricey, but you can also find authentic and affordable versions of anything and everything somewhere in the city. New York has it all.

Well, let me rephrase that. We have it all except for good Mexican food. You would think that since Mexican food traveled east in the 80’s that by now we’d have our pick of cheap tasty Mexican food and walk up taco joints that could compete with those on the west coast. But, it never happened.

In San Diego, Encinitas in particular, the food at the Taco Shop is fresh, fast, casual, delicious and cheap. It was just one of a plethora of casual Mexican joints that are better than any Mexican food in New York, and over the years I’ve tried most of the Mexican places in the city.

San Diego also has a Little Italy that is much nicer than the tourist trap in Manhattan. So Cal has many fine dining establishments. But overall, you can’t beat NYC for food. And yes, the pizza is still better here than anywhere.

Let’s give one point for the home team.

4. Real Estate – We all know how expensive it is to live in New York. But, So Cal, and especially the communities south of LA are no bargains. The locals say that you pay for the weather. That’s true, and although you can buy a house for the price of a 2-bedroom condo in Manhattan or Brooklyn, like NYC, it’s going to cost you over a million. During our trip, with Berkshire realtor extraordinaire, Susan Deetman, we explored the lovely coastal communities around Del Mar, Encinitas, and Carlsbad, as well as a few other bedroom communities further inland where the temps are ten degrees hotter and the risk is higher if the economy craters again.

In NYC you can make money by staying ahead of the curve. In other words, in New York you can still find neighborhoods that are ready to turn. We moved to Harlem in 2010, two years after the crash, and we bought a two-bedroom condo a few blocks from Central Park for under a million. In just eight years the price of similar units has doubled as Harlem undergoes its renaissance. Unlike NYC, in San Diego, the only new areas to buy a home moderately cheaper are further from the coast. But, in the areas north of the city of San Diego the public schools are highly rated. Yet, overall it isn’t cheap to live in San Diego, and your investment will not appreciate at the same pace as in NYC.

Another major difference between housing in NYC and San Diego is there is more variety when looking to rent in NYC. You can rent a new condo in downtown San Diego, but the prices are not that different from NYC.

Let’s give another point for New York.

We’ve covered a lot so far in my tale of two cities, but there is a lot more to consider when comparing these wonderful, but very different areas. Next time we’ll match up the beauty of the cities, recreation, entertainment, sports, getting around, weather, and the pace of life.

Until then, this week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is the late Tony Gynn, a former San Diego Padre, true Hall of Fame talent, and one of the greatest hitters in NL history.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Patience (and Perserverence)

Robert Manni - Wednesday, December 14, 2016


If you’re like me and most New York Guy's Guys, you want what you want when you want it.

You like your pizza hot, your beer cold, your payments on time in cash, and your woman’s skirts short and tight. Okay, that last one was a bit sexist, but everyone’s bundling up as we enter another long, dark New York winter. We live in a fast-paced town where people rarely demonstrate patience, a key personality trait of people who know how to win at the game of life. I’m as guilty as the next Guy’s Guy—I want my shit now. But, over time I’ve learned that sometimes not getting that thing I wanted when I wanted it, even if at the time I believed it was perfect for me, was not in the cards for good reason.  It was either wrong, or it wasn’t the right time. The Universe was protecting me.

Over the years I’m still learning how important having patience is to personal development, maturity, and an appreciation of life. Maybe you didn’t get that job, that girl, that deal, or that fantasy football championship when you thought it was in the bag. But, when your ship comes in, even if it happens long after when you wanted it to enter that harbor, you’ll eventually find out that everything falls into perfect timing and what’s right for you.

Before you put your hand up and say, “Hey, Guy’s Guy. What about that time when I was supposed to win that blah, blah, blah?” Sorry, it wasn’t meant to be, amigo. Your path still remains on track even if at times it feels like you’re stuck in a ditch along that the long road to enlightenment. You will get there and so will I. All we need is patience. The Universe hears us. It knows what we want to experience, but it has a different concept of time than our hyper demands for getting what we want now, now, now. With all that in mind, here are my Guy’s Guy perspective for learning patience and why it’s a very good thing.

Remember that job you applied for after college, thinking it was the perfect? Even though you may have landed the job and thought it was the right one for you, that opportunity doesn’t matter very much now, does it? If you were like me, you got the job, but over time had misgivings. I thought working for a big corporation that sold cookies and confectionary was the perfect gig. I met a lot of smart people, and I got solid experience and international travel under my belt. Then, after a few years and endless rounds of bosses, teams, and changing rules and politics I came to the realization that the people marketing a fun products like bubble gum and candy bars were some of the least fun people I had ever met. Packaged goods marketing was a notch on my career belt, but it was not what I wanted going forward. So I took my time and got a solid job in the image industry that suited me much better. In fact, I was much happier. It took time to make the change, but it was worth it. I was bored and miserable in the packaged goods industry, even though at the time it was the perfect place for me to start out. I got what I wanted when I wanted it, but I also learned that it there was something better out there. I took what I could get out of the experience and forged ahead. In this case, patience prevailed.

Here’s another example. Have you ever run into a former high school, college, or ex from your twenties and then suddenly experienced that “what was I thinking?” moment? Someone you had previously thought was the hottest, coolest partner. Maybe she dumped you, and left heartbroken. It made your desire for her become even hotter. But now, after a few years you see and there’s really no attraction whatsoever. You still respect her, but you’re not in any way, shape or form attracted to her physically or energetically anymore. What happened? Life happened. Aren’t you glad that things didn’t work out the way you had wanted back then? That’s what I’m talking about. You’re probably a lot smarter, happier and hanging with a partner who is better suited to you. It took me years to learn this valuable lesson. I learned that the hard way. In more than one relationship, I tried to force something to work that deep down I knew was not meant to be. I didn’t have the belief or the patience with myself and my abilities to just take a deep breath and move on. So I burned my time and probably hurt some feelings. But eventually I learned to be patient with change. And when I was more mature and ready to share my life, I met the woman who became my wife, my best friend, and lover. I’m glad the Universe taught me the rewards of patience.

Final story. A few years ago I took a break from the advertising game and began building the Guy’s Guy brand in earnest. I knew it would be hard. At the time I sat in a personal reading from a famous spiritual channel. The Guides that channeled in knew me inside out. At the time, I was eager to cash in on my novel, screenplay, TV script and treatment, podcast, non-fiction book series and all of the bricks I’d been laying in the foundation of my Guy’s Guy brand plan. I wanted it all right then and there, but there was more work to be done.

The Guides asked me an interesting question. “Would you be willing to do what you are doing without knowing if you would make money?” It was a striking question about my personal beliefs and intentions. I considered what I was doing and why. I felt the same way I did as when I was writing my novel. This was not just something I wanted to do; it was something I had to do.  I knew that I had to be patient, learn my craft, and hone my message so I would be properly prepared when my ship came in. After the reading, I went to work.

It’s been a few years since that reading and it’s not always been easy. I could have given up. At times I’ve said to myself, “WTF?” But overall, things are good. I’m healthy, strong and wiser than before and my family and my personal needs are being met. And, even though I still don’t know exactly how or exactly when my dream will manifest, I know it will happen at the right time, in the best way possible. That is my intention, and I am patient in my knowing.

So what’s the take away, Guy’s Guy? Do we sit here and just wait for our ship to come in? No, you do your work, set your intentions, and live, live, live in the moment. As you develop your patience you’ll eventually know that all things in your purview are happening in perfect timing. Good luck.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Abraham Lincoln. Here is a list of thirty years of his failures, plus a few successes on his way to becoming one of our greatest presidents. The man had patience and perseverance.

  • 1831 - Lost his job
  • 1832 - Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
  • 1833 - Failed in business
  • 1834 - Elected to Illinois State Legislature (success)
  • 1835 - Sweetheart died
  • 1836 - Had nervous breakdown
  • 1838 - Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
  • 1843 - Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress
  • 1846 - Elected to Congress (success)
  • 1848 - Lost re-nomination
  • 1849 - Rejected for land officer position
  • 1854 - Defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1856 - Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
  • 1858 - Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1860 - Elected President (success)

Image courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov 

The Guys' Guy's Post-Election Guide to Managing Your Friendships, and Social Media

Robert Manni - Tuesday, November 15, 2016


More shocking than the host of Celebrity Apprentice becoming our 45th President-elect has been the hate and vitriol spewed between so many friends who supported different candidates this recent election.

As you know things have gotten personal and real nasty. The levels of hate and toxicity have been surprising and it’s saddening that things have come to this in our great (yeah, it’s still great) country. 

Who out there hasn’t been taken aback by the sheer anger and bile projected by our friends, countrymen, and fellow patriots at one other? Those who voted for Trump ask others to give him a chance before jumping down his throat. The HRC supporters respond and say how can we, when it was it was Trump who started and then fanned the fires with his inflammatory comments throughout the campaign? His early picks for key positions that include members of his immediate family and Republican insiders—how is this draining the swamp?

Many people are afraid of the early signs of backlash from the Trump victory by his fervent supporters, including racial slurs and swastikas slapped onto public buildings. Others point to Clinton’s cronyism and the screwing over of Bernie Sanders as proof that she really was Crooked Hillary. A match between Bernie and Trump may have been more interesting and might have yielded different results, but that’s not what we got. Instead we had six months of WWE style putdowns, slanders, and nastiness that either embarrassed, enraged, or galvanized supporters for these two flawed candidates.

How did this happen? For months, and even after the Wikileaks emails surfaced, it looked like Hillary had the election in the bag. But the pundits were wrong. They were so, so wrong. The polls and the TV talking heads either misread or weren’t paying attention to the pent up anger that spread not only through Middle America, but also resonated with a surprising number of women, blacks, and Latinos, all voting for Trump. It’s amazing, but true. So let’s agree that people were fed up, and now here we are. A country more divided after the election.

Social media, and Facebook in particular, have become war zones. Friends, friends of friends, and trolls continue the diatribe of incendiary and often highly personal remarks about their fellow Americans. Disgusting democrats, racist Republicans, Nazis, and rapists are just a sample of the descriptions I’ve witnessed today on my FB feed. And I, too, was sucked into the fray early on and may have tossed a few verbal bombs as well, especially towards friends who seemed out of touch. The bottom line is that many voters are going to be in for a major surprise, especially for those in the lower income levels who need positive change and a bit of luck. It’s still early, but unlike Brexit, I have not seen any buyers’ remorse by Trump supporters. In fact, most of them are either gloating or doubling down on the “whiny loser” rhetoric. Clinton supporters have refused to take a “wait and see” approach, but this only leads to more frustration as we are going to experience change whether we like it or not.  To be fair, Trump won, and his supporters were really, really pissed off and many didn’t expect to win. But after the celebratory mood quiets down, I suggest they fasten their seat belts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Many who hate the costs of Obamacare will find themselves on the short end of the stick when it comes to healthcare and rising costs from private sources, which was why we got Obamacare in the first place. The bottom line is that it’s going to get ugly and to survive as a nation we collectively need to stay peaceful, focused and educate ourselves about the positions and policies that we’re about to face. 

So what’s a Guy’s Guy to do? I suggest first taking stock and then taking action as warranted. To the protestors, you have the right to assemble and make our voices heard. Trump urged revolts when Obama won in 2012, so we have to be fair about that. Are some of these bused-in, paid supporters? Maybe. If so, it’s not a good thing, but do we get truth from the media anymore? Let’s face it—the mainstream media outlets are partisan. And most of the crap reported on the internet is mostly just that, crap. But, lots of people believe what they want to believe and that is not going to change. So here’s what I suggest:

1. Don’t attack what you hate. Promote what you love. Whether that means protesting, marching or joining a group that seeks to advocate transparency or make positive change, make sure that it is built on love, not just fear.

2. Block nasty strangers and snarky trolls on social media. People get whisky muscles on social media and, as you may have noticed, there are a lot of jerks on the internet. So unless you feel like wasting your time arguing with people who love to drag a spirited discussion into the gutter, the most effective way to deal with their bullshit is to simply block them. End of story.

3. If you have to, UNFRIEND people who are toxic. If they really are your friends in the offline world, they most likely won’t fall into this category. But, if offline friends become impossible and copy you on endless threads of hateful emails, rethink that friendship.  Whatever you do, don’t respond to those emails, especially if you’re being baited and if members of their CC list expose strong and divergent opinions from yours. Ask yourself if that person is really your friend and the kind of dude you want in your life now.

I’m not pointing a finger solely at Trump supporters. They have a right to celebrate and even gloat a bit. But, I would ask them to at some point soon, get past the euphoria and actually go deeper into what their candidate has discussed, including the wall, tariffs, repealing Obamacare, handling ISIS in a secretive fashion, etc. Our new President-elect was voted in on the winds of change. Change can be a good thing, but not when it’s simply for the sake of change. There needs to be substantive reasons and concrete plans we can embrace. At this point, we all need to watch our new administration closely and hold their toes to the fire when they consider any actions that could curtail any of our hard-fought freedoms.

So let’s all take a deep breath, stay vigilant, and choose love over fear. It’s the only way to go.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Yeah, remember that guy? He promoted equality, space exploration, physical fitness, and justice for all. And no one called him crooked or the second coming of Hitler. But sadly, we all know what happened. God bless America.


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