Manhattan Makeovers Blog for Attorneys, Businesspeople, and Artists

Coffee and Writers – a new survey

coffeeCoffee helps many writers increase their productivity. Some of the most prolific and successful modern writers have relied on coffee, including Honoré de Balzac, William Faulkner, Ayn Rand, and Jack Kerouac. When we look at the production of these authors, we often find that they were drinking copious amounts of coffee during their most intense writing periods. In fact, Jack Kerouac famously said that he wrote On the Road on coffee. He told his friend Neal Cassady that he, too, should drink coffee when writing. Although Cassady wasn’t a writer, Kerouac was always trying to get his friends to write, and he raved about the way coffee helped him finish his books in record time.

There are some interesting new findings about coffee that all writers should pay attention to, especially the recent genetic findings. According to the latest research, people are either rapid, average, or slow metabolizers of caffeine. Rapid metabolizers clear the drug significantly more quickly from their system. This means they also have a greater tolerance for coffee.

This research also indicates that rapid caffeine metabolizers will not experience an increased risk of nonfatal heart attacks, the way slow metabolizers will if they drink more than two cups a day. About 30 percent of people are rapid caffeine metabolizers. I found out that I was, too, by taking a fun genetic test from 23andMe.

If you haven’t taken the genetic test, but you still wish to know whether you’re a rapid caffeine metabolizer, just ask yourself whether you tolerate coffee well. If it keeps you up all night, if it causes you jitters if you just take a few sips, or if it makes you overly anxious, you’re probably a slow metabolizer. But if, on the other hand, you can have one, two, or even three cups during the day, without feeling overly jittery, then you’re likely to be in that 30 percent of the population who are rapid caffeine metabolizers. The good news is that if you’re a writer, you can still enjoy the beneficial effects of coffee if you just drink one or two cups, even if you’re a slow metabolizer. Rapid caffeine metabolizers can drink considerably more.

Jack Kerouac was almost certainly a rapid caffeine metabolizer because he would think nothing of having four cups of coffee at a time.

If you write for a living, or even if you just enjoy writing (such as on your blog), please take my new Writers and Coffee Survey. This short survey will help me with my new book about how writers use coffee to be more productive. The survey will only take a couple of minutes, and you’ll be redirected back to this website after you finish. Thank you!

References

  1. Cornelis MC, El-Sohemy A, Kabagambe EK, Campos H. “Coffee, CYP1A2 genotype, and risk of myocardial infarction.” JAMA. 2006;295(10):1135-1141.
  2. Nikolopoulos, Stephanie, and Paul Maher Jr. 2013. Burning Furiously: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (Alternately titled: The Saga of Young Jack Kerouac and Jack Kerouac’s American Journey) Morrisville, NC.

 

 

By |January 5th, 2016|Health|0 Comments

Photography and Image

Lewis Mason in Greenwich Village

Lewis Mason in Greenwich Village

Jack Kerouac sat down and wrote The Subterraneans in three days, hopped up on coffee and Dexedrine, not stopping to lift his fingers off the typewriter, pounding the keys at sixty words a minute, and telling the world all about his crazy relationship with a black girl named Mardou Fox . . . and his friends Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Neal Cassady and omitting commas like crazy so that he could get the words down and not pause to create any typographical effects instead creating all the effects he needed with the words themselves and the way he had the people talking and interacting and living their lives. You know if you know anything about him that Kerouac created and lived in a world that was fresh and vibrant and in high definition like a sharp image that burns through time and comes down to us fresh and pristine and the beauty of it is that although his time has come and gone the way he lived is still available to us and can be recaptured and is being recaptured by a new group of young people in Greenwich Village even today . . . and for what it’s worth I’m going to give you some photos of them so that you can catch up on what’s happening and get inspired to maybe get behind the lens of a camera and create your own 1960s images in black and white, which is what Kerouac and friends did with their lives, creating an image of the Beat generation that has captivated the interest of people the world over.

Here for example is a photo of one of these young people who can be found in the Village at all hours of the day and night in coffeehouses and cafes and pizza places and open mic clubs like The Bitter End and Cafe Wha? and others in the West Village. This is Lewis Mason, an up-and-coming actor and singer/songwriter who is currently enrolled in the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City and who associates with the habitués of theaters and clubs, creating work on the run and honing his writing skills and reading books and poems and plays in a way that most of his generation do not do today. The unfortunate state of affairs in the year 2015 is that there has been such a sharp decline in the reading of literature. The NEA recently issued a dire report on the sad state of American reading, Reading at Risk (2004), which explains that not only is book reading on the decline but the drop in reading is accelerating.

Lewis Mason at the Bitter End

Lew outside the Bitter End

Why get worked up over the decline in the reading of literature? Because if you’re a young person in America today they’re writing books about you (!) and speaking in unflattering terms about the dumbing down of the current crop of college and high school students, recent grads, working people, and almost everyone else. There’s a book that you have to read entitled The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30) by Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, and the reason the subtitle says “don’t trust anyone under thirty” is obviously because they don’t read and they don’t know the history of the culture they find themselves in, they have close to zero cultural literacy, and they lack a common understanding of their own culture. It’s a crying shame and it’s enough to make you want to tell your friends and family to click off the TV and the computer and the tablets and the cell phones and open a book, for heaven’s sake, read something and don’t just text your life away or fritter away your time with so-called social media, all of which, Bauerlein persuasively argues, is sapping the culture out of you like a vampire draining a corpse. E.D. Hirsch had a similar criticism of the vacuity of his students and actually wrote a book, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (1988) listing, like a dictionary, all the things they did not know.

Lewis Mason at The Bitter End looking up

Lewis Mason

Anyway, the key point is that if you want to preserve your intelligence and integrity as a member of contemporary culture—with a link to it’s deep core and roots—then you owe it to yourself to develop an understanding of that culture’s literature, specifically, novels, poems and plays, and start reading books. People who do that, according the the NEA study, are also more likely to attend arts events, go to the theater, visit museums, and become engaged with their community on a political level. Good photography is another way for you to participate. You could take photos or have them taken of you. Whichever you do, you’re likely to experience a boost in your self-image and become part of the artistic culture that is flourishing again in the Village. I encourage you to let people photograph you and to contact a professional photographer to help get your image on the move again. While you’re at it, stop in at a few of the bookstores in the Village. Lewis Mason even works at one, called bookbook, on Bleecker Street. Go in and buy a book and support the few bookstores that are left in this city.

Lewis Mason door NYC

Lew on 5th Ave.

By the way, The Subterraneans is a superlative novel, short and full of interesting observations, despite how fast it was written. Yes, Truman Capote famously said of Kerouac’s method of not editing his first drafts, “That’s not writing, that’s typing,” but the book still comes close to D.H. Lawrence in my opinion. And another thing, you might as well know it, John Giorno is still working and writing great poems in the Village. He was an associate of the Beats and was one of them, and has the most amazing delivery of poetry. I love his poem “Just Say No to Family Values.” You can catch him sometimes at the Bowery Poetry Club, which has devolved into a burlesque joint but which apparently metamorphoses into the old poetry club two nights a week.

Here is a list of books that, in my opinion, you should be reading:

  • Dynamic Speed Reading a nonfiction work by Norman C. Maberly (1966). You can get this book used for one cent on Amazon (plus $3.99 shipping), so you really have no excuse not to read it. It will enable you to absorb useful information like a sponge and you’ll be able to read very fast when you want to. If you’re already read this book, I suggest you reread it. It is one of the most important books you will ever read precisely because it will make you less afraid of reading.
  • The Subterraneans a novel by Jack Kerouac. Written in 1958, it is more modern than your iPhone and very short. Why not read it! Then you can boast to your friends that you’ve read Kerouac. The book dips into the love lives of Kerouac (called Leo Percepied in the novel), Allen Ginsberg (called Adam Moorad in the novel), William S. Burroughs (Frank Carmody in the novel), and more.
  • The Birthday Party, a play by Harold Pinter. The link is to the BBC production, starring the playwright, Harold Pinter. You’re lucky because today many great plays can be seen in their entirety on YouTube, including this one.
  • A Clockwork Orange, a novel by Anthony Burgess (1962). The novel uses a lot of Russian words and is about a violent boy who loves Beethoven.
  • Any book by Wilhelm Reich. Not to have read this man is to miss a liberating intellectual and emotional experience.
  • Any book by Friedrich Nietzsche. The writing is breathtaking, the ideas as well. You might start with Ecce Homo, his hilariously funny autobiography, which contains chapters entitled, “Why I Am So Wise,” “Why I Write Such Excellent Books,” and the like. The link is to the book online. Even if you don’t want to read it, why not at least click on the link and look at his writing style. This man, who has a reputation as one of the greatest philosophers of all time, is not difficult to read. On the contrary, he writes more clearly and with more excitement line by line than anything being published today.
  • The Armies of the Night a nonfiction novel by Norman Mailer (1968). A beautiful account of his antiwar efforts, the first part of the book is the best.
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1972) by Hunter S. Thompson, which is a comic novel about a journalist who covers a police narcotics convention while high on every imaginable drug. This is an example of gonzo journalism, in which the author stretches the truth for comic effect.

There are more books that I’ll add to the list at a later time, but this is a good start.

(Photos by William Cane)

Color analysis for professional people

Most people want a color analysis for the wrong reason. They mistakenly believe it will tell them what colors look good on them. This is not the case because unfortunately most image consultants use the now discredited Color Me Beautiful system, which categorizes people in one of four seasons, a system with no empirical basis.

president of argentina

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

The truth of the matter is that the real purpose of a color analysis should not be to tell you what colors you’ll look good in, but rather what colors will make you more effective in your profession. If you’re a socialite, a color analysis should tell you what colors will make you more effective when meeting with people at cocktail parties and social functions. Along the way you’ll also look good, but not because of some illogical reason like a seasonal color analysis, but rather because you will be highly effective in the colors in question.

Manhattan Makeovers has access to an extensive database which reveals which colors have tested best for law, medicine, academia, sales, PhDs, and numerous other professions. With this knowledge, you can be sure to be wearing a color combination that will make you excel.

What do we mean by effective?

The answer is that we mean you will be more accepted by clients, more respected by colleagues, and less offensive to decision-makers, such as judges and supervisors. The only way to know this is to test the colors in various professional environments. For example, we know that salesmen wearing blue blazers and beige pants sell more than the same men wearing gray suits. This kind of knowledge is available for almost every profession, and it is this knowledge that we share with clients.

If you are a woman and you wish to look good, we can also help you with that, of course. But we can do much more. We can also help you be more effective. And few image consultants can boast that they can do that.

BLACK OUTFITS

Black outfits, such as the one worn by Cristina Kirchner, the president of Argentina, are ineffective on most professionals because they are too severe and funereal. However, when you are the president of a country you can often bend the rules and wear what you want. Black outfits are, however, effective for short men and women, and for people who otherwise need to boost their authority.

Kirchner actually looks good in black because she has dark hair and fair skin. As a high-contrast person, she will enhance her appearance in high-contrast outfits. While the black outfit is not high contrast in and of itself, when placed against her fair skin, which is visible in her forearms and neck, it is a high-contrast outfit, similar to John Singer Sargent’s Madame X.

It goes without saying that everyone wants to look good. But for a professional it is ultimately more important to be effective than to be fashionable. This is why the critical color data we share with clients can help them improve their relations with others by making them more effective.

When we meet clients we also tell them fun information, such as what colors test best for impressing the opposite sex. Usually these outfits are completely different from the ones that are most effective at work.

Male Makeover at the Met

We like to take our clients on a journey when they get a makeover, a journey through time and space, and a personal transformation. That’s why we begin at the Met. Here you can visit places like Egypt, Europe, and America in the world of art and architecture. What we focus on is European and American art. We share our research with our clients about color and contrast analysis while showing them representative works of art from Cézanne, van Gogh, and others.

at the Met for a makeover with client

At the Met. Michael Christian (left) with client. (photo Paulina Glozman)

One of the first things we discuss is the client’s contrast level, which I also discuss in a video on this site. You can find out a lot about how to enhance your image by doing a contrast level analysis of a person. Then we show some works of art to illustrate these principles.

When we walk through the museum, we pass through exhibits from the Middle Ages, and our frame of reference changes. We allow the client to tell us what they wish to accomplish, and in this creative environment we begin to share our ideas.

When we finish looking at the works of art, we sit down for a coffee in The American Wing Café. The last time I was there I had two double espressos and a cup of tea. Then my associate and I go over the basis of our research findings. We share three decades of research on how to be more effective at work by improving various aspects of your image. We cover hairstyles, wardrobe, footwear, and accessories.

This process gives our clients a good orientation. Then we shop with them. We take them to the hairstylist first, if they wish. Then we go to Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue and shop with them to show them the styles we recommend. They are under no obligation to buy anything since we’re not affiliated with these stores we visit. But most clients find time to make up the deficits in their wardrobe.

The beauty of starting at the Met is that it gives the whole process a wonderful, timeless appeal. It lets our creative side thrive, and it allows a client to feel relaxed and at ease as we begin to open their eyes to new possibilities for their image.

By |February 11th, 2015|Makeover|0 Comments

Testosterone and an aromatase inhibitor for women

Dr. Rebecca Glaser, MD, recently reported a successful treatment for 1,000 women using testosterone plus an aromatase inhibitor (AI), which prevents conversion to estradiol. The AI is anastrozle. The patients have been followed up for 8 years and there has significantly been no recurrence of breast cancer, indicating that this approach works to stop breast cancer, as described by Ed Friedman in The New Testosterone Treatment.

The use of testosterone as part of hormone replacement therapy is highly advantageous to women on many levels. It boosts energy, fights breast cancer, and provides other health benefits.

An article summarizing Dr. Glaser’s remarkable results can be read here: “Testosterone / anastrozole implants relieve menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors.”

It is important to point out that testosterone is indicated for women even if they have not had breast cancer. As Ed Friedman explains, it is likely to protect against the occurrence of breast cancer.

By |November 11th, 2014|Health|0 Comments

Sitting is bad for your health

The video that follows features James A, Levine, M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and a world-renowned leader in obesity research. He is co-director of the Mayo Clinic/Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative.

He is also the author of a new book about the dangers of sitting. That book is filled with research that should scare everyone about sitting too much.

book by James A. Levine, GET UP!

In the following video he talks about the value of moving rather than sitting, and he explains that a sedentary lifestyle can contribute significantly to obesity.

As an image consultant, I recommend Dr. Levine’s book to everyone. It can help improve the way you look and feel, and it can do wonders for your health.

This is the video:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Joseph Mercola has also written a good article on this subject: “Walking more may be key for a longer, healthier life.”

By |October 17th, 2014|Image|0 Comments

The subliminal impact of men’s neckties

All you have to do is ask yourself whether you are affected by a man’s tie to realize that very few people have ever thought about this question. In fact, most men choose ties based on whim or guesswork. But the truth is that the tie contains a large association of subliminal messages which are being broadcast to other people. These subliminal messages are saying things about your competence, integrity, and intelligence. More importantly, your tie is a status symbol, and the most effective ties include 100 percent silk ties in certain specific designs and patterns, which I will discuss here.

By wearing the correct color and style of tie, a man can increase rapport and communication with other people. If you wear the wrong style tie, if you’re a salesman, for example, you are likely to alienate potential customers and sales will decrease. If you’re an accountant and have a high net worth client, wearing the wrong style of tie can cause him to trust you less, whereas wearing the appropriate tie for the wealthy and upper-class individual will tend to make him think you are on the same playing field, increasing trust and communication between you.

There are only six types of tie styles: rep, solid, paisley, polka dot, Ivy League, and knit. The rep is a striped tie and it works best with working-class and middle-class people, and is somewhat less effective with upper-class, aristocratic, and rich people.

Solid ties are relatively neglected by many men, who mistakenly feel that these plain ties are not sophisticated. In fact, the solid is a very sophisticated look and works with all types of people. It is also easy to match with any suit.

Paisley ties have big amoeba-like designs and are less formal and best used on days when you don’t have to make an important presentation or meet a new client. They are also good for the weekend and will work with all types of people.

Polka dot ties are effective with working-class, middle-class, and upper-class individuals, especially if you match the dot color to your shirt color. Smaller dots are more formal and effective than bigger ones, and huge dots should be avoided since they can make you look clownish.

Ivy League ties are like polka dot ties, except that instead of dots they have a repeating pattern in the form of the symbol of an Ivy League school. Other examples include a small figure inside another small figure, such as a square inside a small circle. These neckties work best when your client has graduated from an Ivy League school or if your client is ultra rich.

We will discuss silk knit ties in a future blog post.

Posture as a Class Marker

bad posture of Lou Costello in Nuck Privates

Lou Costello in Buck Privates had bad posture

Hut – hut – hut – hut! Hut – hut – hut – hut! Hut – hut – hut – hut!

The sound of Marines marching echoes in your ears if you listen for it. Marines, soldiers, sailors — even Abbott and Costello had to march when they were in the army. But you could always tell the real soldiers from the comedians because Costello’s posture was laughably poor.

In fact, posture is such an obvious marker of social class that Abbott and Costello were able to take advantage of that to get laughs in movies like Buck Privates. Unfortunately, if your posture is poor you won’t be getting laughs if you’re an attorney or any other professional; instead, you’re apt to be passed over in favor of an expert who has better posture, specifically, an upper-class stance.

Our research — conducted in law offices, college classrooms, airports, and urban neighborhoods over the past three decades — discovered trends that are significant with respect to posture and social class: it turns out that members of the upper class stand, walk, and sit tall, while working class individuals slouch, bend, and have a more curved posture in comparison.

We conclude one thing from this research, namely that posture is a clear marker of social class and that the way you stand, sit, and walk is a dead giveaway to new clients, judges, and colleagues about where you fall in the social hierarchy.

When we do image consultations, we offer optional help on posture for clients. Not everyone is interested in this aspect of their image; but they should be. If you have middle-class or working-class posture, you are a walking, talking advertisement for failure rather than success, especially when dealing with people from the upper class.

For this reason, we offer clients the option of improving their posture through various tested methods, including horseback riding lessons. There is no question that these lessons, which you can see in the accompanying video, can result in better overall posture because the proper posture for riding a horse will carry over into your professional life.

“I’ve seen it many times,” says a New York riding instructor. “People with poor posture take riding lessons and they walk out that same day with better posture.”

The best way to avoid being a walking advertisement for failure is to mimic an upper-class posture. Horseback riding and other simple exercises can improve your posture and elevate you in the minds of others, ultimately leading to smoother interactions both on and off the job.

By |June 10th, 2014|Image|1 Comment