Jan 28

Captain Jack’s too frail to get you by tonight

I like to think my music tastes run to the eclectic. I love listening to Thelonious Monk as much as to T.Old
Rex. And, Liszt is just as cool as, say, Lionel Hampton. But, there’s nothing like working out to classic rock. I like those pulsating sounds as I’m pumping or pedaling away.

So, with my iPod still nursing its post Mt. Kilimanjaro wounds, I tuned in my favorite rock station this morning and stepped onto the elliptical trainer. What immediately stuck me, though, wasn’t the same old, recycled songs but, rather, the dramatically different radio commercials.

I’d grown accustomed to hearing banal spots for drag racing, blue collar beer guzzlers hitting on hot babes and the latest, greatest winter sporting gear sales. So, imagine my surprise when I heard one spot after another for cancer, heart disease and other afflictions associated with aging boomers. The effect was striking to say the least.

So, I began thinking what a smart image move it might be for aging rockers to update their classic songs, and make them, shall we say, more age appropriate?

Here are some suggestions:

Van Halen’s no longer screaming ‘Dance the night away’ anymore. Now, they’re unplugged and suggesting, instead, to ‘Sleep the day away.’

Bruce’s ‘Born to run’ has many possibilities and could be altered to ‘Born to limp’, ‘Born with the runs,’ or ‘Born to run (to the bathroom several times a night)’

The Stone’s signature song could be updated to: ‘(I can’t get no) erection’

Neil Young’s ’24’ becomes ’64,’ and it’s most poignant line changed to ‘…64 and there’s not much more.’

Jim Morrison’s long gone, but I’d like to think a simple update to his classic Door’s ditty would resonate with aching Boomer fans: So, with just a little editing, we now have ‘C’mon baby, light my fireplace.’

And poor, bald and battered Peter Frampton would now lament, ‘I hope you don’t feel like I do.’

Last, but not least, let’s not forget The Who, who could really hit home with, ‘Talking ’bout what’s left of my ggggggeneration.’

The opportunities are endless. If classic rock radio audiences are willing to listen to commercials from the likes of Mount Sinai Medical Center, Montefiore’s Heart Clinic and the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute, why not bring the message full circle with updated tunes that tell it like it really is?

Jan 25

Fit to be tied

A government sponsored study of more than 15,000 black and white men over a 23-year period hasExercise
proved that fitness levels are better indicators of longevity than age, blood pressure or body mass index.

The researchers, who work in the cardiology department of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC, say their studies also show that even moderate exercise can ‘dramatically’ prolong a man’s life. By ‘moderate,’ they mean walking as little as 30 minutes a day four days a week. And, that’s a piece of cake for most of us.

In fact, the more one exercises, the greater effect on longevity, says the study. ‘Very high-fit’ men cut their risk of early death by 70 percent, ‘high-fit men cut it by. 50 percent and even low-fit guys had a 20 percent lower risk, said the researchers.

And, yet, the couch potato generation continues to proliferate at an alarming rate. What don’t American men get? Here’s proof positive that just a little exercise can have a profoundly positive effect. But, two-thirds or more of American men literally fail to take the steps necessary to prolong their lives.

The most common excuse I hear is a lack of time. Then, there’s the complaint about not being able to afford a health club membership. Last, but not least, is the lament that, ‘Well, I don’ know how to use those complicated exercise machines, and I don’t want to get hurt.’

The researchers emphasized that none of these excuses hold water, stating: ‘What’s really important to understand is that you don’t need special clothes, special memberships or special equipment…It’s something everyone can engage in.’

My take on all this? The average joe could care less that he looks just like the Pillsbury dough boy. And, he’ll continue to channel-surf his life away until, and unless, it hurts him in the wallet. So, here’s hoping that more and more organizations start mandating regular fitness as a condition of hiring and ongoing employment. After all, it will simultaneously increase productivity while lowering health care costs (and force all those sedentary souls off the friggin’ couch).

I’d say more, but it’s time for a run.

Thanks to Greg Schmalz for the idea.

Dec 26

Is it Murder?

Guest blog written by Deb Brown.

Recently, a 17-year-old girl desperately needed a liver transplant and, which we hear too often, theCigna
insurance company — in this case CIGNA Healthcare — refused to pay for the operation. It wasn’t until 150 teenagers and nurses protested outside CIGNA’s offices that the insurance company finally decided to reverse its decision.  But, it was too late.  The young girl died last Thursday.  And, the family is planning to press murder or manslaughter charges against CIGNA.

Maybe we do need insurance companies to be charged with murder and have several top executives thrown in jail for callously refusing to try to save a person’s life.  Why does it take producers like Michael Moore, protests from teenagers, or the media in general to force insurance companies to reverse their decisions and pay for life-saving operations? This is the reason we all pay insurance premiums in the first place…so we don’t have to worry about critical procedures or medications.

Apparently, the health insurance industry doesn’t seem to care too much about its reputation.  According to a Harris poll from 2006, health insurance companies and HMOs are only ahead of oil and tobacco companies when it comes to doing a good job. 

The attorney of the family who just lost their daughter during this holiday season says, “The insurer ‘maliciously killed her’ because it did not want to bear the expense of her transplant and aftercare.” 

Maybe it has something to do with H Edward Hanway’s salary and compensation? According to Forbes in 2006, Hanway, CIGNA’s CEO, had a total compensation package of $28.82 million. 

It’s tragic that insurance companies can continue to make these heartless decisions.  This is certainly a case to follow.  If CIGNA is charged with murder or manslaughter and some executives spend some time in jail, maybe then, and only then, will they see a child as a child and not as a claim form.

I wonder if Hanway has a 17-year-old daughter?

Dec 21

And now, it’s on to Kilimanjaro and let’s win there

Chris ‘Repman, Jr’ Cody and I are leaving for Tanzania and a climb of 20,000-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro. At the veryKilimanjaromap_2
least, it should prove to be the adventure of a lifetime (at least for me).

In my absence, a variety of Peppercom executives will be posting their thoughts on the Repman blog. Considering the talent and personalities of those who’ve volunteered, things should be anything but dull.

I thought I’d end by paraphrasing Bobby Kennedy’s final public utterance, ‘….And now, it’s on to Kilimanjaro and let’s win there.’ I’m just hoping Kili doesn’t prove to be my personal Sirhan Sirhan. 🙂

Nov 13

Chris, Brett and Toulouse-Lautrec would be pleased

In a true triumph of facts over fiction, absinthe is once again being peddled to non teetotalingAbsinthe_3
Americans.

Yes, the bad boy of the spirits world is no longer ethereal. Two new
brands of absinthe, which was banned in 1912, are now available for
purchase. And, how cool is that?

Scientific tests have proven that, when consumed in moderation,
absinthe is not the liquid version of heroin or crack cocaine. Nor will
it drive drinkers to emulate the excesses of van Gogh, Lautrec or Oscar
Wilde.

I first became aware of absinthe’s effects a few years back. It was
then that Ted ‘Ludicris’ Birkhahn and I traveled to Munich for a
combination business and pleasure trip. Once ‘in country,’ we connected
with Chris ‘Repman, Jr’ Cody, his fellow Peppercom/Europe Intern, Brett
Lichtmann, and P’com Euro MD Jacki Vause.

It was there that Ms. Vause introduced Chris and Brett to absinthe (an experience I don’t think either will ever forget).

Continue reading

Oct 18

Who’s next? Librarians?

It’s so sad to see our nation’s police caught up in the steroid abuse scandal.Steroids

According to reports, the fuzz who are ingesting and injecting are doing so to become bigger, stronger and more nimble in their never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.

I guess that makes some sort of schizophrenic sense, but how can the coppers be so ignorant about the long-term dangers of roids? I understand why athletes dope: they have a limited period of time in which to perform, and the monetary rewards can be enormous.

But, what’s with policemen who pop? Not only are they endangering their health, they’re breaking the law. Talk about not walking the walk.

The real losers in this latest scandal are, once again, our nation’s kids. The role models I grew up with have systematically disgraced themselves and their professions (think priests, teachers, entertainers, cops, politicians, and athletes, to name just a few). There’s literally no one left to look up to.

Continue reading

Oct 16

Vegan diet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

An in-depth article in USA Today (sounds oxymoronic, doesn’t it?) says vegan diets aren’t all they’reVeg
cracked up to be.

Citing two experts, the article warns that a vegan food plan doesn’t provide enough nutrition and can lead to serious deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids. Even worse, vegan diets can do a real number on growing children, who can be placed at risk for malnutrition, digestive distress, allergies and immune system breakdowns. Holy cow! That’s enough to make anyone lose his or her appetite.

The zealousness of many verbose, proselytizing vegans reminds me of those smarmy, born-again Christians. Not content to munch away on their beans, soy and carrots, many vegans insist on telling you how much healthier their systems and lifestyles are. They love to drop words like ‘cleansing’ and ‘purging’ in every other sentence. And, in restaurants, they love to alert the waiter (and every fellow diner within earshot) of their very special dietary needs.

To each their own, I always say. But, narrow-minded, crusading vegans can be just as off-putting, if not as dangerous, as fundamentalists. And, I do worry that the health of large numbers of unsuspecting kids is being marginalized by their vegan vamping parents.

Worship who you like. And, eat what you like. But, like your Bible-quoting brethren, you vegans need to open your minds to facts and reason.

Aug 08

Forcing employees to be healthy is penny wise and pound foolish

Clarian Health, an Indianapolis-based health care system, announced it will begin fining employees ifImages_3
their blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and glucose levels are too high. Ditto for smoking.

Clarian says rising health care costs are forcing them to enforce such Draconian measures. And, according to various reports, they’re not alone. Other organzations have done the same thing and more are expected to follow suit.

Scaring employees to become healthier may sound like a smart business idea on the surface. But, I believe the constant threat of monetary punishment (Clarian will charge empoyees $5 per infraction per paycheck) will cause a boomerang effect. In fact, I can foresee the ‘solution’ causing more problems than it was designed to solve. I think it will cause heightened employee stress while destroying morale. And, while the Street and shareholders may initially applaud such cost-conscious management practices, I believe they’ll change their minds if worker productivity suffers as a result.

I’m all for fitness and smart living. But, penalizing employees because they’re 35 pounds overweight or can’t maintain a recommended blood pressure level reeks of too much ‘big brother’ in my book.

Jan 11

Penn Station security guards should make weight loss their number one New Year’s resolution

I’m not sure if it’s the plethora of New Year’s resolution stories, the pantheon of reality TV shows or such provocative Discovery Channel fare as "I was a 687-pound teenager," but it sure seems like Fat City for the overall subject of weight loss.

Which may explain why I’ve been so weighted down by the sight of portly security folks at Penn Donut_2 Station. Today alone, I espied one weight-challenged security/military type after another waddling around the bustling train depot. As I did, I thought to myself, "Hey, what’s going on? Are we securing our city’s most vulnerable transportation hubs with the creme de la creme of our nation’s guards and soldiers? Or, instead, are the morbidly and grossly obese among the rank-and-file simply being posted to seemingly ‘out-of-the-way’ venues?"

Regardless of the reason why so many obviously out-of-shape security people are at Penn Station in the first place, the real concern is this: if an untrained eye like mine is picking this up, what must our enemies be thinking?

One would think our nation would want an image of a fit, lean and mean fighting machine, both here and abroad. Yet, the exact opposite is the case, at least at Penn Station. Instead of thinking "Army Strong" when I saunter past these ladies and gents, I’m thinking "Army Slow," "Army Ponderous" or, worse, "Army Vulnerable." It’s time for the Penn Station guards to shape up or ship out. And, here’s hoping a serious diet and exercise plan is on the New Year’s resolution list of many, if not all of them.

Nov 01

So, what’s McDonald’s excuse?

You know the artery-clogging, trans fat issue is heating up when a major fast food chain like KFCB89340  says it will switching to soybean oils by April, thereby eliminating trans fat from the stuff they sell.

KFC’s move comes in the wake of Wendy’s yanking trans fat out of its french fries and Walt Disney agreeing to remove trans fat from food sold in its theme parks.

But, McDonald’s, the 800-pound gorilla (and, how appropriate that phrase is in this instance) of the fast food sector, is sitting tight. While a spokesperson says Mickey D’s is "researching and testing alternatives," patrons continue to belly up to the counter and order super sized food portions loaded with trans fat oils.

Unless it’s weighed down by ingesting its own product, McDonald’s should be a little faster on its feet. As the industry icon, it should be leading the debate and setting an example with swift, decisive action.

Ted "Ludacris" Birkhahn, my podcast partner, and I recently discussed the obesity epidemic in America and agree that "frequency" is the real issue with fast food. Too many people visit fast food chains too many times in the average week. As a result, they’re loading up on empty calories and bulging in all the wrong places. If more fast food chains don’t follow KFC’s example soon, waistlines won’t be the only thing bursting at the seams. Our nation’s hospitals will be overloaded with supersized, artery-clogged fast food patrons who’ve stuffed one too many burgers or french fries down their throats. C’mon McDonald’s’, let’s make trans fat a "to go"…permanently.

Thanks to Moon Kim for sending me the KFC story.