Owning It

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Norman Lear is 94 and working hard with his new Netflix reboot of boundary-breaking sitcom "One Day At A Time." We asked Norman: After all these years, the shows and the awards, of all the characters you have created, which is the one you identify with the most? “Mine. Me. I wake up every morning with it. I go to bed every night with it. I am my own creation.” 

The Queen’s Health Regime

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The Queen of England is 91 years old, been on the job for 6 decades and seems to be holding up rather nicely. Normally in this space we would feature something about the antioxidant value of some new superfood, but this week we have an entirely different view on diet and longevity. It seems the Queen enjoys consuming 4 cocktails a day spaced throughout her busy schedule, has a fondness for chocolate, and has a special slice of cake every day. This is not a recommendation to take up heavy drinking and cake eating — well, you can if you like, but we won’t be doing that. It seems more that one should figure out what works for them and go with it.

Haleakalā Volcano, Maui

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Mark Twain called it "The sublimest spectacle I have ever seen."

Most people who go to Maui are there for the Polynesian beach-ocean experience, which is pretty great, especially if you are over near Paia. Some people prefer the cooler cowboy culture of up-country Maui near Makawao. Then there are about 100 people who drive to the top of 10,000 ft Haleakalā to see the sun rise. If you are up for it, it’s astonishing, and rare. Most Hawaiians have never been up there. The reason? It’s cold, as in ice-on-the-ground, sometimes-snowing cold. Bed sheet and a comforter from the beach hotel is what most do, but if you really want an experience, you are going to want to climb down into the crater and hike to the other side. You can get a permit from the park service; they limit how many people can go per day. When we went there were exactly 3 other people in there. It’s about a day hike to the far side at the Ko'olau Gap, but it will be something you never forget: 4,500 ft over the ocean, a clear view, dense green like the rice fields of Bali, but no snakes or bugs. Note: you may be tempted to try to descend the gap, but we advise making the round trip back up the other side. The local cowboys have been known to mess with the visitors by putting up disorienting signage, and there is some seriously steep terrain over there. Check The National Park Service for more details.

The Anti-Florence

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Staying with the theme of challenging one’s self, we bring you the city of Naples, Italy. This city is not for the faint of heart, for the package tourist, or people who enjoy their reality mediated.  Naples is the anti-Florence. It is the wild, woolly west as compared to the lovely but Disney-esque experience of Fierenza. Naples is the home of the Camorra — the mafia — as well as the place that originated pizza. It can be a dangerous place, a strange mix of poverty, style, wealth, body guards, Roman Catholic hierarchy, corruption, and chaos. A place where I was told the children are not children, they are small criminals; a place where at any minute you may be in a frame from a Bond or Jason Bourne film. In short, it is an intense place filled with dramatic, operatic people, who to me were fascinating, but to some would be terrifying.  We stayed at this Airbnb, it was fantastic. They have a few rooms, go for one in the back away from the street. Ask them to hook you up with a guide-there are places you will want to go that you really shouldn't without a local watching your back. 

Cindy Sherman, 63, The Queen of the Selfie

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If you didn’t already think of her as a genius, check out her IG feed. Maybe you are thinking awesomeness on digital social channels is only for the digital-native younger person. Think again. Always the shrewdest observer and commentator of popular culture, Cindy takes on the craze of the moment: the IG feed as a staged narcissistic declaration of self-branding.  Here we have someone at the very top of her game — the very best galleries, the very best museums — a legend now at the age of 63, taking her sharpest of sticks to a genre that so many aspire to use as a tool of gauzy self-promotion. Not Cindy. Her IG is something completely different, something that humbles us mortals. She also wins the best captions award. Groundbreaking transgressive digital work here

Consuming Longer

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There has been a considerable amount written on the downsides of the so-called demographic time-bomb that is associated with longer lives, and the proportion of the population over 65. But we humbly suggest that there is another side to this that is getting overlooked. If people are living longer, and they are functional much longer, then guess what — they are also consuming longer and paying taxes much longer. That means if you are living just 3 years longer, that's 3 more vacations, maybe an extra car purchase and maybe another phone upgrade. It’s true, as is pointed out in this Economist article, that there will need to be a substantial rethink in what we think of as old (hello AGEIST), but the truth is that by adding a decade of expected life to the retirement math of the 1930s, you are also getting an increase in consumer spending, and all the demand that will create for goods and services. Some notes about the graph above- see the slope of the curves and how they are steepening. We expect those to become much steeper within a few years. Also these are composites of the entire population, including a lot of people who are not taking such great care of themselves. 

STAYING PROTECTED

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We here at AGEIST are sunblock nerds. We have been fascinated by the substance for a long time, probably since we read that Australian skin cancer rates started to soar right about the time that "suntan lotion" became available. Interesting, right? The quick reason: UVB is what gives you a tan and a sunburn, and this is what is blocked by most chemical-based products. But it is UVA that is far more powerful and does most of the serious damage. UVA breaks down the blocking chemistry within most sunscreen, rendering it useless. If you really want to join the sunblock nerd world check out Environmental Working Group.

What do we use? That depends on what we are doing. Around town and for general use we like a mineral-based product that is more or less invisible on the skin like Avene 50, and if you have access to it, we like any of the Mexoryl-based products by La Roche or L’Oréal. If we are going to be out to get wet and sweat, we use Ombrelle 45 sport. If we are going for some ocean fun, surfing in the tropics, then we use Shiseido Sun Protection Stick Foundation, which is a trick we learned from the lifeguards on Waikiki. 

colette retiring?


The famed boutique on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris has announced it is closing: “Colette Rousseaux has reached the time when she would like to take her time, and Colette cannot exist without Colette.” Humm. We were initially saddened. After all, we remember when it opened and have since made it a must-see every time we are in the City of Light. 

Pardon our skepticism but we felt the need to investigate, and having made some calls to the inside fashion crowd in Paris, no one seems to believe they are really closing. For one thing, the brand is worth zillions. But more importantly, what is Colette going to do with her time? Play golf? It’s like with Ian Schrager after Studio 54; people of this nature (like most of our AGEIST tribe), don’t just stop. It’s not in their nature. Some suspect this may perhaps be an opening gambit to sell the brand (Tokyo maybe?) or the beginning of a new venture for Madame Rousseaux. Retirement for someone like her, at such a young age — doubtful.

the digital native is a myth

Whenever we see a job listing “digital native required” we read it as code for “someone under 30 please.” Exclusionary perhaps? The idea of “digitally native” comes out of the assumption that people who were teethed on smart phones think and intake information fundamentally differently from the rest of us. An editorial in Nature this month takes issue with this belief. Essentially, millennials and younger are no better at technology than the rest of us. Shocker. We all learn at the same speed, and we all intake information at the same speed. Maybe someone should let HR know about this?

POWERFUL EFFECTS OF PERCEPTION

There was a study released last week by Stanford that revealed that how people view their fitness program has a material effect on their longevity. That is, if you think you have a good program, or you feel that your work is keeping you in good shape, your perception has a powerful effect on what is actually happening physiologically. Mindset became a powerful variable. This is the placebo effect writ large.

We find this particularly fascinating as it confirms something we have been observing: that people who feel they are engaged, who feel they are going to live a long useful life, behave in ways to make that actually happen. The converse being: if a person doesn’t feel they have a positive future ahead of them, they will behave in ways to confirm that belief and not take such good care of themselves. This is not exactly the argument that Stanford is making here, but it is corollary enough that it caught our attention.

the ageist summer read

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One of the hallmarks of getting a bit older is that we value our time more, and we tend to avoid bringing objects into our lives that we may need to discard. Thus the quest for the perfect summer book.  We have given this question a ridiculous amount of brain space, examining book lists, following up with in-store research and online reviews. It’s exhausting, all with the idea of selecting the perfect summer read.

Here is what we are liking: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. For something less heavy in your beach bag, our friend Richard Godwin thinks we should be reading Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. Lucy Kellaway recommended Hot Milk, for a feverish, funny and surreal read about mom and daughter.  Beatrix Ost, future profile subject, recommended we pick up a WG Sebald book The Rings of Saturn: fact, fiction and a warping of time.  We have also spotted Claretta: Mussolini’s Last Lover: passion, love and fascism with Il Duce.  Awesome. 

ageist in the news


We were wonderfully surprised to see that the Palm Beach Post did a great article on AGEIST this week called "Is Age Your Superpower?"  We are grateful for this solid, well-researched piece on what AGEIST is all about. An excerpt:

“We’re servicing an emerging group of people," says Stewart, 58. "This is the first time in human history that we have this group of people who are in their 50s and halfway through their lives." If you’re a college-educated 50-year-old woman, he says, you can expect to live to be 94. If you’re a guy, it’s 89. 

"There’s this black hole of media visibility from age 35 to Betty White (95)," says Ageist founder David Harry Stewart.

We are also quoted as a reference in an additional story on Brigitte Macron. 

our new DTLA restaurant obsession ... but don't tell anybody 

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If you are in Los Angeles, go to Manuela, it’s our new favorite spot. The room is perfection: the colors of the tiles, the artwork, the brass coordinates; we appreciate that someone put a lot of consideration into this place. Then there is the food: all sustainable, no cows or farmed fish. The elk steak grilled on a wood fire is tremendous, as are the grilled vegetables. The homemade hot sauce is reason enough to go there. Service is smart, attentive and attractive. So far, it’s not on the tourist radar; it’s mostly just locals in the know, but that’s not going to last long. As with everything notable in LA, it’s totally hidden from the street, sitting in the center of Hauser and Wirth. Go there. It’s super cool.

roman fountain mania

Rome, such a magical destination for so many reasons. But the eternal city is known to get oppressively hot this time of year. You may want to take a short trip out to Tivoli Villa d'Este. It’s higher than the city, so it's cooler, and filled with an astonishing array of fountains.  We have been told that this was the model for what has come to be known as the Italian style of a formal garden. Feel the power. It’s amazing.

Just down the road is Hadrian’s villa, a bit of a wreck, but worth the visit, especially with an informed guide.  The whole trip can be done in half a day, in time to get you back to town for that evening drink in Trastevere.  We used Gray Line tours, $80 all in.

isabelle huppert

i don’t feel old. 
Asking women about aging is very negativeIt doesn’t concern me; it’s other people’s problem, not mine.” We here have a thing for Isabelle Huppert, and for her blithe amorality. Remember "The Piano Teacher"? Fun facts: she is highly claustrophobic and can't ride any subways, is terribly impatient, and refuses to exercise, preferring sleep to yoga. The exercise avoidance is a bit of a surprise; maybe it's just a French thing, and certainly the opposite of most of us here at AGEIST, but it seems to be working for her. Read more here.

"Elle"  starring Isabelle Huppert available on DVD and Blue-ray July 10.

the anti-cruise ship

We knew that someone was going to reinvent the tired cruise line model, but who would have guessed it would be The Ritz?  We rather love the design of this yacht, sleek and sexy; for style it gets an A+. It’s a manageable size, like a pleasantly-sized urban hotel: 139 suites in 190m length. Thanks to this smaller size, as compared to usual monster mall cruise ships, it will be able to call at some of the sweeter, less traveled spots in the Caribbean and Med. And with this smaller scale, the inter-guest experience will be more interesting and the staff more personalized. It’s a Ritz-Carlton, so we know the service will be impeccable.  Private balconies, as opposed to little port holes, are a welcome improvement. Word is they are upping the food game with Michelin-starred chef Sven Elverfeld helming the restaurant. Civilized and stimulating all around, the way we like it. Reservations open next May for voyages beginning in 2019.

Booking information here.

curiosity as a way of life

If there’s one single characteristic of AGEIST people it is curiosity. It’s rather remarkable -- every person we have spoken with has a deep-seated inquisitiveness. But as we think about it, how could it be any other way? I had the privilege to hear Brian Grazer speak last year at the Airbnb Open, and his entire life is driven by intense curiosity. He actually has a weekly self-directed curiosity program where he spends 20 minutes speaking with someone interesting who he doesn’t know. He wrote a book about it: A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life.  It’s a quick summer read, and a glimpse into the mind of a curiosity master.

is the $100 billion back industry a hoax?

is the $100 billion back industry a hoax?
I’ve been reading this new book, Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry, which makes a point that some cures, $100 billion worth to be exact, are worse than the disease. As a professional photographer my neck and low back are constantly pushed to hold positions that are terrible for my back health. Add in the iPhone forward-head disorder that we all seem to have, and I find myself speaking to some sort of doctor, massage therapist, or physical rehab person regularly. These professionals really save the day for me. But clearly not all professionals have our best interests in mind. 

To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old

In 1946, a 23-year-old Army veteran named John Goodenough headed to the University of Chicago with a dream of studying physics. When he arrived, a professor warned him that he was already too old to succeed in the field.

Recently, Dr. Goodenough recounted that story for me and then laughed uproariously. He ignored the professor’s advice and today, at 94, has just set the tech industry abuzz with his blazing creativity. He and his team at the University of Texas at Austin filed a patent application on a new kind of battery that, if it works as promised, would be so cheap, lightweight and safe that it would revolutionize electric cars and kill off petroleum-fueled vehicles. His announcement has caused a stir, in part, because Dr. Goodenough has done it before. In 1980, at age 57, he co-invented the lithium-ion battery that shrank power into a tiny package.

We tend to assume that creativity wanes with age, but Dr. Goodenough’s story suggests that some people actually become more creative as they grow older. Unfortunately, those late-blooming geniuses have to contend with powerful biases against them.

“Young people are just smarter,” Mark Zuckerberg pronounced at an event at Stanford in 2007, when he was the 22-year-old chief executive of Facebook. He added, according to a VentureBeat writer, “I only own a mattress,” and then expounded upon the putative correlation between youth and creative power. His logic didn’t exactly make sense (and he later apologized), but his meaning was perfectly clear: Middle-aged people are encumbered by boring possessions (gutters, dental floss, orthopedic shoes) and stale ideas.

Since that speech, Silicon Valley’s youth worship seems to have grown even more feverish. Recently, a 12-year-old inventor named Shubham Banerjee received venture-capital funds from Intel to start his own company.

Read more here: NYTIMES

kick-ass middle-aged women are the heroes in this video game ad

I’ll be honest: I know nothing about video games, or almost nothing. But when this came up on my radar I just had to share. I mean, what’s not to like? Middle-aged women out there doing the action movie thing like they are 24-year-olds. Rock on ladies! But the reason for the ad is what really got my attention. The game developer’s research found that 80% of the active players are women aged between 30 and 55. Another stereotype bites the dust. Turns out that the 15- to 21-year-old male demo aren’t the only ones getting the bad guys.