Friday, August 28, 2015

Tennis Week Day 3: At Taste of Tennis Gala, Serena Quits Early, Leaving John to Wow Crowd


John Isner and Juan Santamaria at the Measure Lounge station at the Taste of Tennis. Photo by Yours Truly.

HEADS UP: Once again, it is the week (roughly Tuesday through Saturday) leading up to the U.S. Open. At VEVLYN’S PEN, we call it U.S. Open Tennis Week. Before the players get down to serious business, they do a little lightweight partying. Stay tuned, as we bring some of the action to you.

JOHN Isner was the belle of the ball. Serena Williams relinquished that title when she went as soon as she came.


Everywhere the highest ranking U.S. male tennis player went, he was trailed and swarmed by an adoring public literally looking up at his 6’10” self. He took it all in stride.

It was one of several stories at the Taste of Tennis gala last night where JI helped serve Sesame Crusted Fried Camembert and Smoked Salmon with Shallot Jam from chef David Vandenabeele’s Measure Lounge. Elsewhere, that other Williams Woman took culinary cues from Marc Murphy.

Venus Williams appears to be paying attention as Marc Murphy demonstrates how to move asparagus around the pan. Photo by Getty Images for AYS.

At 16, the annual fundraiser that pairs the world’s top tennis players with the world’s top chefs, shows no signs of staleness. More shortly

Visit http://www.tasteoftennis.com to learn more about the Taste of Tennis.


Jerk Chicken Balls with Mango Chutney found a friend in Yelena Jankovic who helped chefs Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow (The Meatball Shop) serve them up. Photo by Yours Truly.

Chef Eric Gabrynowicz (Restaurant North) shows off his Poached Gulf Shrimp w/Fennel, Tapioca and Tomato Broth, while Yelena Jankovic shows off her new haircut and hair color. Photos by Yours Truly and Getty Images for AYS.

Chris Shea from The Wayfarer set out chicken and Dumplings. Photo by Yours Truly.

Taste of Tennis co-hosts the Bryan Brothers said they hope to come to the event next year with gold medals, a repeat of 2012. Meanwhile, Eugenia Bouchard has a golden spot in her heart for one certain dish. Photos by Getty Images for AYS.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tennis Week Day 2: Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge Cooks Up Own Rules; Elsewhere, AMEX Presents First at 'Rally on the River'

The winners of the Taste of Tennis Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge are Chef Christian Pappanicholas and Lisa Goldstein. Photo by Yours Truly.

HEADS UP: Once again, it is the week leading up to the U.S. Open. At VEVLYN’S PEN, we call it U.S. Open Tennis Week (roughly Tuesday through Saturday). Before the players get down to serious business, they do a little lightweight partying. Stay tuned, as we bring some of the action to you.

A nail-biter is in progress. The score is 3-all, 40-30. The next score is the winning point …

The day before they serve up chow at a certain gala fundraiser, some top chefs served at court – the tennis court. The second annual Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge – the newest dish in the growing Taste of Tennis franchise – went down yesterday morning into the afternoon at CityView Racquet Club in the New York City borough of Queens.

The Celebrity Chef challenge showcases the court techniques of top chefs and sundry others. The all-doubles competition attracted serious tennis lovers, including former New York Mayor David Dinkins, a major friend of U.S. Open tennis.

George Duval births the London Mule: Earl Grey Infused BULLDOG Gim, Ginger Beer and Lime Juice. Photo by Yours Truly.

In its early stages, the Celebrity Chef challenge is a very informal affair as it regards the rules of the game, but the likes of Iqram Magdon Islmail (Kottu House), Samantha Davis (Savor), Marc Murphy (Landmarc), Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto), retired tennis pro and foodie forever Sarah Mayer (ContextMedia Health) as well as Admir Alibasic (Ben&Jack’s Steakhouse) were very sporting, if not all together certain of what the blazes was going on.

Of course, Chef Admir can be excused for his inability to discern whether he advanced to the semi-finals. After all, the man had just returned from his Mexican honeymoon – at midnight. “And we did not go to bed until 3 a.m.,” his tired, but happy wife, Hana disclosed.

Alas, Chef A did not advance, but Lisa Goldstein (LI Tennis Challenge Winner) and Christian Pappanicholas (Resto /Cannibal) did. At the end of the day, or rather around noonish, that doubles team emerged the winner (4-3, 40-30) of the Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge. (See video above).

For their efforts, the duo won a trip and some steaks. The runners-up walked away with Breville. product.

After the victory, the gathering repaired upstairs for an awards luncheon. Players and guests were watered with BULLDOG Gin speciality cocktails prepared by self-described humble barkeep of Open Bar Hospitality, George Duval (http://www.openbarhospitality.com), Rose and Sauvignon Blanc from Mouton Cadet and specially named Goose Island beer (Matilda and Sofie).

The Newlywed Alibasics: Chef Admir and Hana. Photo by Yours Truly.

For the feeding, Master Purveyors set out Prime Original Blend Burgers and Kobe Beef Hot Dogs. On the side, Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse placed Mac&Cheese, Mixed Greens and German Potatoes.

And strictly for tasting: Prime Dry-Aged Sirloin, Bella Bella Fois Gras (sausage), Brooklyn Cured All-Natural Chicken Apple Sausage, Lamb Merguez Sausage and Duck Fennel Sausage. Lastly, North Country Smokehouse Bacon.

The business was taxing on the whole, but all muddled through. And all of the losers can redeem themselves at the Taste of Tennis Gala, ToT's jewel in the crown.

Michelle Yu of SNY, Chef Kerry Heffernan (Grand Banks) and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins. Photo by Obed Cepeda.

The BULLDOG Gin Raspberry Thyme G&T and the Herbaceous Lemonade, featuring thyme and cilantro. Photo by Yours Truly.

Visit http://www.tasteoftennis.com to learn more about the Taste of Tennis.

Rallying on the Hudson is American Express

Actor Kevin James and Maria Sharapova make a winning doubles team at the "American Express Rally on the River." Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

As promoted, it was a spectacular water and light show last night at Manhattan's Hudson River Park at Pier 97 for the "American Express Rally on the River." To say VIP card members were impressed is an understatement.

Light and water weren't the only impressive elements. Keeping the crowd in a groove was the Montreal-based electro-funk duo Chromeo. Sometimes sporting racquets were John Isner, Monica Puig and Maria Sharapova.

The latter, the world No. 2 women's tennis player and the highest paid female in sports, was also nominally celebrating her new AMEX partnership, "You vs. Sharapova." The interactive game is a major part of the "American Express Fan Experience" at this year's U.S. Open.

On a clear night with a gentle breeze, AMEX presented a "first-ever" hydro-interactive tennis experience, featuring legends who were there, yet not there. Words don't quite capture it. To that end, enjoy the video.

Visit http://www.americanexpress.com to learn more about “Rally on the River,” “You Vs. Sharapova and other tennis-related American Express initiatives.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chew on This Daily: A Shitake Mushroom and a Pomegranate-Date-Date Pit Cocktail Can Also Keep the Doctor Away

A daily dose of pomegranate juice and dates can do wonders for the heart. Archive photos.

YOU know the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

But if you’re tired of eating that Red Delicious or Royal Gala, chew on a shitake mushroom. Or how about a cocktail of pomegranate juice and dates? According to two, separate studies the aforesaid can keep the medicine man at bay, too.

First, the shitake mushroom. Essentially, the study showed that by eating one, four-ounce serving of the Asian fungus a day, 52 healthy adults between the ages of 21 and 41 had a stronger immune system. Of course, a stronger immune system makes a body less susceptible to illness because it can defeat many and various strains of viruses that might take it upon themselves to attack.

Incidentally, the researchers disqualified vegans and vegetarians from the study. They also required participants to restrict their intake of alcoholic beverages because alcohol suppresses the immune system. Further, they asked participants to avoid foods, supplements and probiotics that strengthen the immune system.

In short, a shitake can be good to you and possibly better for you than you thought. To that end, gussy it up a la Shitake Mushroom Brown Rice from Aaron McCargo Jr. of the Food Network show, Big Daddy’s House. Or soup it, sauté it, sprout it, or sandwich a shitake mushroom to your hearts delight. (see video above; http://www.bit.ly/1LqyjHy)

Shitake Mushroom Brown Rice
1 tablespoon sesame oil, for frying
6 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 cup brown rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup mushroom broth
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup scallions, sliced

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large cast iron pan add 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add all the remaining ingredients and combine. Cover with a lid and place in oven for 30 minutes. Fluff rice when ready to serve.

For dessert, consider a four-ounce glass of pomegranate juice, three dates and their pits. That daily quantity is the precise amount that will decrease the likelihood of hardening of the arteries, another team of researchers discovered.

Hardened arteries can cause a heart attack or stroke, and high cholesterol is one of the causes of hardening of the arteries.

Shitake Mushroom Brown Rice. Yum! Photo courtesy of Food Network Web site.

In this second study, one of the researchers asked a “what if” question to reach a life-saving discovery. Taking into account that both pomegranate juice and dates have cholesterol-fighting antioxidants, what would be the outcome if these two Middle Eastern foods were combined.

And EUREKA! The two different strains of antioxidants worked better as a team than they did individually in lowering cholesterol.

Drink up! Eat up!

Visit http://www.bit.ly/1JdyIfV to learn more about the mushroom study; visit http://www.rsc.li/1NtVSCK to learn more about the pomegranate-date study.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Would-be, Wannabe 'Prince' ('Prins'), or Boyz n the Suburban Dutch (Amsterdam) Hood; Elsewhere, Boyz 'Straight Outta Compton'

Ayoub (Ayoub Elasri) experiences many growing pains in "Prince" ("Prins"). "Prince" photos courtesy of FilmBuff.

SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD Ayoub (Ayoub Elasri) has a decision to make, and his fate is in his hands. Will he choose life? Or will he choose death?

It is one of a number of choices that the main character must make in “Prince” (“Prins”), the debut feature from Dutch director Sam de Jong.

The film makes its North American premiere today in select U.S. cities and on VOD. (See video below).

Also opening today in U.S. theaters is the much anticipated, searing "Straight Outta Compton." The film is essentially an autobiography of the Compton, California rap group N.W.A. and takes its title from the group's debut album. Two of the film's producers – Ice Cube and Dr. Dre – were members of the now-defunct N.W.A., which attracted many supporters and detractors for its first hit and rallying cry, "Fuck the Police." (See video below).

Meanwhile, nothing is spoiled by disclosing that in "Prince," Ayoub chooses life. It is the events preceding that decision that are worthy of discovery in the coming-of-age tale about acceptance, self-esteem, self-identity and R-E-S-P-E-C-T in this global, digital, uber consumeristic age.

Like many first-time feature directors, SdJ draws heavily on his life experience for his maiden project. “I highly identify with growing up and trying to belong to a group and chasing this idea of being a rock star. And that’s what Ayoub was trying to be,” he reveals during an intimate chat at an afterparty at a swanky Lower East Side loft following the New York premiere screening of “Prince” at the New Museum.

It’s summertime and the living is uneasy for Ayoub and his friends in their suburban Amsterdam housing estate, or project. Everything about this crew, as prescribed by its insular world, is wrong. They are awkward, virginal, sartorially challenged, without wheels and without funds. Further and most lowering, Ayoub yearns for a mocking girl, a blond siren who belongs to another. Another who has everything Ayoub does not.

Life is so unfair!

Ayoub&Co. spend their long days, wishing for rain, popping pumpkin seeds like they are going out of style and bragging about what they would if they could. When Ayoub discovers that his half-sister is involved with one of his friends, he explodes, leading to the turning point in “Prince.”

“He tried to stand out and be swaggy,” SdJ says of his protagonist. “And in order to become that he loses sight of what is important to him and slides into criminality. I find that is an interesting mechanism in modern-day, 21st-century life growing up on the outskirts of a big city.”

An award-winning director, SdJ has several short films, music videos and commercials to his credit. He makes the most of a miniscule budget with "Prince."

Virtually all of the film is shot on the premises of the project that is its setting. There are no sorties into Amsterdam. No police, just the drudgery that is the day-to-day existence of these youngsters, part of the underclass of The Netherlands.

Yet, viewers of “Prince” should not feel cheated. With an economy of words – spoken and unspoken – scenes, moods and a generous amount of propulsive and sometimes anachronistic music, SdJ delivers a portrait that is rich, deep, thoughtful and utterly engaging.

The acting is almost universally strong and credible, considering that many of the young players are street kids.“ I met them while making several short films and a doc," SdJ explains. “They live in the streets where we shot the film.”

As for impromptu acting lessons: “We grabbed each other’s hands and we just walked into the abyss together sort of. Yeah,” the director recalls.

One player who is not a street kid is Dutch rapper Freddy Tratlehner. His performance is weird and borders on some indefinable caricature. What he does manage well, however, is the menace threatening to ejaculate from his madness.

AE as Ayoub puts in a particularly strong performance. He is by turns vulnerable, adorable, loyal, principled and optimistic – a natural actor. The scenes with his father are heart-wrenching. Here is a manchild about to negotiate the treacherous rapids of adulthood seeking guidance, connection and love to no avail.

A response to "Prince" of many U.S. viewers may be that of Yours Truly – and …??? The film had its world premiere in February at the Berlin International Film Festival and earned an honorable mention. Essentially though, “Prince” is one of myriad iterations of “Boyz n the Hood.”

The film’s saving nuance, however, is a depiction of an underclass in a country that most Americans – in fact most people in the world – don’t readily suspect of having one. It does. At the bottom of the economic heap, along with the white Dutch, are immigrants and children of immigrants, mainly from Africa, Asia, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.

Laura (Sigrid ten Napel) turns heads in "Prince."

“I feel like whether it is in Europe or the whole world now, it is liberal and consumer-driven. Our new religion is being a pop star or looking like one – at least that is what the music industry and the fashion industry tells us to be,” SdJ says by way of explanation of the designer label-fueled striving of much of the world’s poor. “But many people can’t be that, but still their dream is still to become like that.”

Unlike in the United States, in The Netherlands and most of the countries in the European western world, the poor white are not mainly integrated into the middle-income white population. Instead, they are warehoused with all of the poor regardless of skin color or citizenship status.

“…If you don’t have access to higher education or certain talents, you don’t have a lot of ways to achieve such [pop star] big dreams, so you can either settle on mediocrity, so to say, or you can drift into criminality,” asserts SdJ, a 2012 graduate of the Dutch Film Academy.

“Or you try this new religion, this pop religion. It’s intriguing and difficult for many people and that is what I try to relate to in my film.”

The Amsterdam native makes subtle references in “Prince” to the racism that is all-too prevalent among the Dutch. In June, for instance, The Netherlands inherited an Eric Garner-like incident when Aruban tourist Mitch Henriquez died in the custody of police in The Hague.

Considered the latest of too many troubling encounters between Dutch law enforcement and men of color, the death by asphyxiation set off several days of protests in July in The Hague.

In “Prince,” Ayoub’s mother is white Dutch and his father is Moroccan. More than once it is pointed out that Ayoub’s sister is only his half sibling. Presumably, her father is white Dutch. Further, many damning references are made about Ayoub’s father. A junkie, a bum. And a Moroccan.

Many among the Dutch do not think highly of Moroccans. Like blacks and Latinos in the United States, Moroccans are too often singled out by police for questioning. As recently as last year, a Dutch public official asserted that Moroccan culture is inferior to Dutch culture.

In "Prince," Ayoub takes the denigration of his father in stride, as he does so much. Still, the film leaves the viewer with cautious optimism, much to the chagrin of SdJ’s street players.

“They think it’s too sweet. They want it to be portrayed more badass,” he says, chuckling. "The ending for them is too positive. The ending it’s like … it just flirts like with a fairytale. And I think their lives are more gritty than that.”

Don't shoot, Ayoub.

Indeed, there are several parallels between the life of SdJ and his principal character. Both come from broken homes; were raised in an Amsterdam suburb. SdJ discloses that he, too, had a complicated relationship with his sibling brother. He was in want of some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Why leave off on such a sanguine note?

“Because my shorter work always ended in a negative way, but I am pretty optimistic as a person and I wanted to exude that. I wanted to exude hope.”

“Prince” (“Prins”) is not rated; visit http://www.princethemovie.com/ to learn more about the film.

"Straight Outta Compton" is rated R for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use; visit http://www.straightouttacompton.com/ to learn more about the film.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Laughing Admiral Takes Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender NYC Competition. Meanwhile, the People Like the Taste of Lavender in Their Gin Cocktail

The Laughing Admiral is the judge's favorite in the 2015 Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender NYC Competition. It is a gin-based cocktail that includes almond biz and hard cider. Photo courtesy of Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine. – Rick (Humphrey Bogart) in "Casablanca"

AT this gin station, there are two choices: One with egg yoke and one with egg white. These tastebuds favor the egg white concoction, which also includes sparkling wine. It is subtly sweet, very light and one cannot detect the presence of egg white.

However, Jesse Vida’s (Parlor) delicious cocktail would not win the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender NYC Competition, a showdown that went down last night at the upmarket restaurant and nightclub, Lavo New York.

Jesse Vida's entry in the Bombay Sapphire NYC competition includes sparkling wine and egg white and/or egg yoke. Photo by Yours Truly.

Based on appearance, aroma, imagination and taste – in the estimation of the judges – that honor is Greg Buda’s (The Dead Rabbit) for a mixture that includes Hard Cider, Mace Tincture and Almond Biz. The almond is one of 10 botanicals that gives Bombay Sapphire Gin its distinctive flavor. The name of the libation that beat out five others from New York City and Connecticut is The Laughing Admiral. (See video below).

The victory earns GB a spot in the United States Bartenders Guild's (USBG) Most Imaginative Bartender Cocktail Competition sponsored by Bombay Sapphire Gin and GQ Magazine on 2 Sept. in Las Vegas.

Like a great fool, I went ashore with them, and they gave me some cursed stuff they called gin – such blasphemy I never heard ... this was the unchristianest beastliest liquor I ever tasted… – Edward John Trelawny, “Adventures of a Younger Son”

The general public has a say in the Bombay Sapphire regional contests, casting votes during the Consumer Cocktail Hour for the People’s Choice Winner. In New York, the people tap Connecticut’s Dimitri Zahariadis (Shamrock/Vasi's/Spartan).

“You have to try it,” one fan of DZ’s purple potion recommends to all who have ears during the consumer tasting session. “It’s beautiful; you can smell the lavender!”

A good heavy book holds you down. It’s an anchor that keeps you from getting up and having another gin and tonic.” – Roy Blount, Jr.

The dirty half-dozen that competed in the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender NYC Competition, from left, Bob Wagner (Seamstress), Connecticut’s Dimitri Zahariadis (Shamrock/Vasi's/Spartan), Brett Hughes (Madame Geneva), Greg Buda (The Dead Rabbit), Jesse Vida (Parlor), and Jaime Rios (Top of the Standard). Photo courtesy of Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Meanwhile, the maker of The Laughing Admiral (recipe below) is humble and laconic in his acceptance speech. “Awesome job, you guys ... I loved it. I am surprised by this. I look forward to representing New York in a couple of weeks.”

Greg Buda creates The Laughing Admiral. Photo courtesy of Bombay Sapphire Gin.

The Laughing Admiral
1.5 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin
2 dashes mace tincture
0.25 oz. almond biz (2 orgeat: 1 noyau du poissy)
0.25 oz nardini acqua di cedro
0.5 oz cardamaro
Top with 2.5 oz. of Christian Drouin Hard Cider
Stir and strain.
Glassware: Flute
Garnish: Lemon oils

At the USBG Most Imaginative Bartender Cocktail Competition, GB will compete against 28 others, a number pared down from around 1500 in 37 U.S. markets. In addition to the title, the winner earns a cover spot on GQ’s “Men of the Year” December 2015 issue alongside his cocktail.

Jerry Rios with Kim Nastro and his Bombay Sapphire Gin creation, featuring jalapeno pepper and cherry tomato.Photo by Yours Truly.

Finally, the winner will represent North America in the World's Most Imaginative Bartender Global Competition at a date to be announced in 2016.

Gin is a confusing drink. It’s the only liquid that’s both wet and dry. – Jarod Kintz, “99 Cents For Some Nonsense”

Visit http://www.mostimaginativebartender.com to learn more about United States Bartenders Guild's Most Imaginative Bartender Cocktail Competition; visit http://www.bombaysapphire.com/en-US/default to learn more about Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

If Only All Tall Tales Could Be Oh-So Uproarious, Oh-So 'Something Rotten!'

"Something Rotten!" cast members in costume back stage. Photos from "Something Rotten!" Facebook page.

BY TAMARA BECK

IF
the telling had been left to the History Channel, there would have been less tap and more truth in it. And a lot less musical theater!

So, take a bow, “Something Rotten!. At the St. James Theatre through 3 Jan., the award-winning musical plants its genesis of the musical tale deep in the 16th century.

The Bottom brothers, Nick (Brian d'Arcy James) and Nigel (John Cariani) are unsuccessful theatermakers, overshadowed by the dynamic Shakespeare, billed as The Bard (Christian Borle.) CB won a Tony – his second – for his performance in “Something Rotten!.”

Nick, in particular, is jealous of The Bard's idolized popularity. Nigel, however, is in awe of his colleague’s talent and seeks him out to critique some of his own work. Shakespeare thrives while the Bottoms … well … hit bottom.

In desperation, Nick seeks out the soothsayer Nostradamus (Brad Oscar) to point him toward success. His goal is to create what the public wants. Meanwhile, Nostradamus sees "Cats!" in the future of the theater.

Elsewhere, the Puritan Brother Jeremiah (Brooks Ashmankas) finds theater altogether repugnant and works hard to shut down all such entertainments, while his daughter, Portia (Kate Reinders), falls in love with Nigel.

Rounding out the main players in the “Something Rotten!” cast are Peter Bartlett in the dual roles of Lord Clapham, patron of the arts and the Judge who ends up condemning them; Michael James Scott, a minstrel and part of the ensemble, and Gerry Vichi as Shylock, a money lender, as is well-known, but also a patron of the Bottoms.

BO is a standout in a superbly talented cast, as is BdAJ. Under the direction of Casey Nicholaw the ensemble shines and sparkles like the stars. Speaking of which, everyone in the production is a longstanding Broadway star.

In the world of “Something Rotten!” even the marketing (SPOTCo, Inc.) is hilarious. The musical was conceived by first-timers (to Broadway, at least) Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick. The latter also wrote the music and lyrics to John O'Farrell's book (written with KK.)

Rotten actors on the streets of New York City.

“Something Rotten!” makes up its musical theater history from the bits and pieces of musicals we've seen and scraps of theater through the ages with all the assurance that make-believe can have.

It's so not true, and oh-so plausible.

Visit http://www.rottenbroadway.com/index.php to learn more about"Somthing Rotten!.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

From Castle Craze to Mattress Money, Consumer Behavior Is Fairly Predictable Depending on the Stage of an Economic Cycle

Dan Geller is a behavioral financial scientist. Photo from Money Anxiety Web site.

BY TAMIKA CODY

AS
soon as the economy improves and starts to expand, consumers return to their favorite "sport" – bigger and better homes.

The Castle Craze is a strain of financial behavior that describes our fascination with status symbols associated with success. It is one of six financial habits consumers repeat each time the economy goes through a cycle, says behavioral finance scientist Dan Geller.

The craze goes beyond the practical consideration of having a place to live and making smart investments, it also as a statement of status and achievement. In good economic times, consumers will over extend their finances just to win in the bigger, better and nicer national competition, DG says.

The second financial habit is the Durable Diet. It comes into play when the economy is in a recession and there is a desire to save money by prolonging the life of the most expensive possessions – automobiles and appliances.

During the Durable Diet spending phase, consumers tend to maintain the lifespan of their more expensive possessions such as automobiles. Pictured is the Land Rover LR2 SUV. Photo from Land Rover Web site.

Typically, consumers will hold off on replacing such durable items until the economy improves, or until the item breaks down and must be replaced. The reason car sales have increased dramatically in the last couple of years, DG says, is exactly because during the recession many postponed replacing their cars as they would normally do.

DG discovered these patterns of consumer financial behavior – or Behavioralogy – during high, normal and low levels of money anxiety after some study. The results of his recent findings are published in the book, “Money Anxiety.” The study found that consumers repeated these six behaviors in each of the economic cycles during the last 50 years.

Tiny Treats is the third of the financial habits. Like Cattle Craze and Durable Diet, it is related to spending. Consumers, DG found, turn to Tiny Treats when they can't afford the expensive items they really want. When the economy is transitioning, many are unsure if they should buy a new big-screen TV or put the money aside in case things don't get better economically. Tiny Treats make up for the big things they are not buying.

"Money Anxiety" explores consumer spending over the last 50 years.

According to DG, during the last recession the only category that exhibited a high growth in sales was personal care products and services. These are items such as beauty and body treatments that are relatively inexpensive but make people feel good.

One of the three behaviors related to savings and the fourth of the financial habits is Power Play. When the economy is in transition, consumers are not sure what to do with their money – spend it or save it for a rainy day. Consequently, there is a power play between the urge to spend and the instinct to save. Once the economy improves and expands, spending wins. When the economy transitions to a recession, savings wins.

Each financial behavior pattern corresponds to a stage in the economic cycle e.g., recession, recovery, expansion and decline. For instance, Power Play occurs during both recovery and decline.
Rate Race, however – the second of the savings behaviors – begins as soon as the economy starts expanding and consumers start to chase after the highest interest rate, or return on their money, they can find.

Six consumer financial habits have recurred during economic cycles of the last half century.

In this fifth financial habit, since financial confidence increases during economic expansion, consumers are willing to take greater financial risks. Thus, diverting more of their money from bank savings to the equity market where rates of return are much higher in return for higher risk.

Our most basic behavioral orientation in response to economic downturn and looming recession, DG asserts, is Mattress Money. It is the third of the savings behaviors and the sixth financial habit. It stems from our instinct for self-preservation.

When people feel financial danger, owing to an economic downturn, they start hoarding money by shifting their bank deposits to liquid accounts that can be immediately withdrawn. Today, says DG, $8 of every $10 in bank savings is in Mattress Money compared with only $6 before the last recession.

"If you want to know what people will do with their money when the economy improves, just look back at what they have always done – Rate Race and Castle Craze," DG says.

Burt's Bees Hand Salve is in the personal care products category, the only sector of the economy that experienced growth in the last recession, according to financial behavioral scientist Dan Geller. Photo from Burt's Bees Web site.

"Similarly, when the economy will slow down in the future, people will go back to Mattress Money and Durable Diet."

Visit http://www.moneyanxiety.com to learn more about “Money Anxiety” Behavioral Finance Scientist Dan Geller.

Tamika Cody is an NYC-based multimedia journalist with a niche in finance. She currently writes about topics trending in arts and culture at http://www.ArtsOfCultures.com; visit http://www.tamikacody.com to learn more about her ventures.
 
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