Testosterone Zone Ahead

The ultimate guy's guide to hunting down all those snazzy big-boy toys and keeping 'em in tip-top condition.



Big Boy Toys

And other manly essentials

 

Clothes may make the man, but they won't make him happy like a new power drill, video camera, golf club, or big screen TV will. Here's where to acquire stuff guaranteed to increase your testosterone levels and

boost your XY-quotient

 

By Dave Donelson

 

There comes a time in every guy’s life when he needs to put the lid back on his exfoliating cream, hang up his ballroom dancing shoes, and just say no to a slice of quiche. But that’s not as easy as it sounds in Westchester, where shopping for the latest fashions is often considered wild excitement and where instructing your broker to sell short a hundred shares of GE produces a heart-stopping thrill. For a guy to survive, he needs to get some sweat on his chest, some sawdust in his hair, and some horsepower throbbing through his bones every once in a while.

 

A guy’s survival depends on tools with power and toys with panache, cars that turn heads, and tee shots that intimidate. To nourish your inner Clint Eastwood, you need to spend time in places other than Fortunoff or Bloomingdale’s. Answering the call of my rising testosterone, I cleaned off my bifocals and sought out those underutilized and underappreciated places where guys could be guys, where you could find the stuff guys need, and do the things guys need to do.

 

Power Tools Rule

 

WHERE TO BUY: There’s something about a circular saw that enlivens a guy. Maybe it’s the raw power that surges to life in your hand when you squeeze the trigger. Or maybe it’s the inherent danger to nearby fingers, toes, and other appendages that sharpens your senses. Regardless, guys need tools—lots and lots of tools, preferably with lots and lots of power. You can find them in Sears and Home Depot, but for a serious selection of serious tools, the place to go is The Tool Nut in Yorktown Heights. Bobby Ackerman opened The Tool Nut in 1994, mainly because his wife wouldn’t let him bring any more tools into the house, which may be why the 10,000-square-foot store is packed floor-to-ceiling with about 40,000 items, and is open seven days a week. One of the best values in the store: a Bosch 18-volt cordless tool collection, which includes a drill/screwdriver, jigsaw, planer, impact gun, circular saw, reciprocating saw, flashlight, two batteries with charger, and carrying bag for $529. No real man should be without one.

 

WHERE TO RENT: You can rent tools, too, which is a good solution when you’re faced with one of those bigger jobs around the house or yard. At Decker Tool Rental, in Hawthorne and Bedford Hills, you can rent everything from a carpet cleaner to a five-ton hydraulic excavator, which might come in handy the next time you want to dig a moat around your castle. On a more practical note, you can also rent a garden tiller for a day for $48. 

 

The shop caters to professionals, but owner Michael Decker says, “The do-it-yourselfer is going to get the same kind of respect and attention as a contractor.” Fear not, weekend warriors: “Nothing leaves here without being demonstrated,” Decker promises. 

 

A lot of guys, considering the price of heating oil, rent a log-splitter ($66 per day at Decker). It saves a lot of labor if you pick up a load of firewood at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Somers, which is a good option if you don’t own a forest. County Forester Ted Kozlowski says, “The firewood is already seasoned and we cut it to length, although it is not split.”  Most of the wood is ash, a hardwood that burns well. You can fill your car for $10, your SUV or minivan for $20, or your pickup truck for $40. Wood is available December through March.

 

Wheels Make the Man

 

Some misguided social scientists will tell you that a guy’s car defines him. That’s simply not true. What really matters is the car the guy had (or wanted to have) when he was 16 years old. Fortunately, there are many ways to fulfill your adolescent automotive dreams here in Westchester.

 

If you’ve got speed on the brain, call John Viola, owner of Chassis Dyno Performance at Petagines in Port Chester, where he’ll build you a drag racer from the ground up or tune your street machine for top performance. He’ll start by putting your car on the chassis dynamometer, which measures and graphs its horsepower, torque, and air/fuel ratio at various RPMs. “The cool thing about this machine,” he says, “is that it has a quarter-mile simulation, so you can actually run the car just like in a drag race. It will give you your reaction time, 60-foot time, eighth-mile, and quarter-mile speed. It’s almost like you don’t even need to go to the track anymore, though you don’t get that thrill in the seat of your pants.” A standard test is $100. If you want to go to the track and get that thrill, you can join Viola and other like-minded nitro-burners when they rent a drag strip in New Jersey for the day.

 

If the spirit of James Dean lurks within you, a street rod might be the answer. Ward Jones is a member of the Westchester Street Rod Association and builds unique head-turners in his shop, Hot Rods by Jackson and Wardick, in Mount Kisco. Somewhat loosely, he defines a street rod as a car based on a pre-1948 production model. Saturday mornings, many of the club’s 40 members meet for breakfast, then adjourn to a conveniently located member’s garage to work on their cars. If motor oil doesn’t run in your veins, though, you can still participate. “We have a lot of members who can’t find the handle of a screwdriver,” Jones says. “You can buy a car; you don’t have to build it yourself.” Expect to pay $25,000 or more for a nice one.

 

Sometimes, though, you just need to give the family SUV a little TLC. For a quick but thorough wash, try Oakley’s Car Wash in Yonkers, or any of the three nearby Splash locations (White Plains, Mahopac, and Bedford Hills). If you want it scrubbed a little deeper and buffed a little harder, go for detailing at Preferred Auto Appearance Specialists, in Mount Kisco, or the Mamaroneck Auto Detail Center.

 

Boy Toys and Other Stuff

 

It’s obvious, a guy needs stuff. You know, stuff. Like cameras (digital or otherwise), and darkroom equipment, and lenses, and tripods like you’ll find at Sam’s Camera Exchange, believed to be the county’s oldest full-service camera store, with three locations: Mount Kisco, New Rochelle, and Scarsdale. Then there’s other important stuff like top-of-the-line bikes and ski gear at Armonk-based Hickory & Tweed Ski & Cyclery. For golfers, the Pro Shop at Fairview Golf Center allows you to try out name-brand clubs on its all-weather outdoor driving range. I bought a new set of Ping irons there myself this year after swinging a half-dozen other brands to see which set promised to take the most strokes off my handicap.

 

The wine enthusiast will want to head for, where else, The Wine Enthusiast in Elmsford, for everything from corkscrews to complete wine-cellar cooling systems. Still don’t have enough stuff? You can fill your shelves, walls, and that addition you’ve always wanted to put on the house with sports memorabilia from Last Licks in Scarsdale, Armonk, or Thornwood. The stores combine a fascinating array of autographed baseballs, Sports Illustrated covers, jerseys, and more from Steiner Sports Marketing with some of the finest ice cream treats in the county—how sweet is that?

 

Big Guys, Big Screens

 

Some boy’s toys rely on the mysteries of electrons and the vagaries of bits and bytes to help a guy get through the day. Music systems, big-screen televisions, and, increasingly more elaborate home theaters are essential to the good life, according to Dan Mondoro, owner of Lyric Hi-Fi in White Plains. One recent installation Mondoro completed was featured on the cover of Audio/Video Interiors Magazine. “The guy brought me into his handball court and said he wanted me to turn it into a home theater,” Mondoro explains.

 

Mondoro, whose company has handled installations for Paul Newman, Madeline Kahn, Al Pacino, and the late Isaac Stern, describes one system in which thousands of CDs are stored on a computer server that is connected to an amplifier that feeds speakers in every room in the house. “The guy takes a tablet computer and can walk all around the house, seeing what he has in his library, hit the button and it will play. Plus, he can play Internet music with it.” Basically, it turns your house into a giant iPod. A system that will handle 800 CDs will run about $4,000, and you can do the same thing for your DVD collection for around $30,000.

 

If making your own music is your thing, the place to go is Toys in the Attic in White Plains where there’s a great selection of guitars of all types, not to mention audio gear and a superb watch department. You can outfit the rest of the band at Sam Ash Music across the street.

 

And a guy can’t very well survive these days without a solid computer system, either. Enter Chris Rie, owner of Crest Connect Communications in Valhalla. Rie and his staff will come to your home and take care of your machine. “We clean up your computer, install programs to protect it, then show you how to use it for the future.”

 

The service call is $85 per hour and most spyware eradication requires a one-to two-hour job. Rie worked for Compaq before starting his repair service five years ago. The company also installs wireless networks and handles in-home telephone repair and installations.

 

Another place to turn for computer assistance is Geeks on Wheels, a year-and-a-half-old service in Somers owned by Dylan Hall. As he puts it, “Nobody wants to wait on hold for a telephone support agent in India.” Geeks specializes in computer security, he says, “so that our customers can be sure the neighbor’s kid isn’t hacking into their files while they are sleeping.” They’re also often able to recover data lost to major hard-drive crashes, a boon to those of us who back up our systems once a year whether we need to or not.

 

Perspiring Actors

 

A guy’s life isn’t all gadgets and toys, though. A well-rounded man needs to shoot some hoops every once in a while, too, or dazzle his buddies with his prowess with a cue stick or a golf club. 

 

To work up a good sweat, you can choose from nearly a hundred health clubs in Westchester county, but few offer the extensive sports-centric resources of Athlete International, where members can take advantage of the Purchase College facilities, which include one outdoor and three indoor basketball courts, a six-lane lap pool, a diving pool, a climbing wall, four racquetball courts, two squash courts, 10 outdoor tennis courts (six lighted), and four handball courts. That’s in addition to the club-member-exclusive cardio room, weight training equipment, body-core training equipment, and the spectacular locker room, which was originally designed to serve the New York Knicks. One of the club’s owners is Barry Heyden, former fitness director for the Mets. A basic monthly membership is $125.

 

For a your very own Rocky experience, call former World Middleweight Boxing Champion Doug DeWitt and schedule some private or semi-private boxing lessons. In a typical lesson, DeWitt says, “We go into the basic techniques: left jabs, right crosses, left hooks, combinations, defense, weaving, slipping, blocking, and footwork. We do a little light weights just to break it up.” Need some extra attention to get and keep yourself in shape? Call Shawn’s Personal Fitness in Katonah, where Shawn Mallon and his staff of seven full-time personal trainers specialize in functional fitness training instead of muscle building, and open at 6 am and close at 8 pm to accomodate commuters. In fact, they offer a special workout designed to stretch those Metro-North-cramped legs and backs. To get ready for your next Iron Man Triathalon, head for Push Hard Multisport in Peekskill, where Josh Gold has the special equipment and skills to teach high-performance biking, swimming, and running.

 

For a slightly less physically demanding workout, head for the Rack & Cue in New Roc City. Grab a cue, chalk it up, and do your best Fast Eddy Felson imitation on one of the 25 regulation tables. Thursday and Monday nights seem to be when a lot of guys stop by after work to shoot a few games and have a beer, according to employee Clark Ruggeri, who says you might also see the comedic Wayans brothers there from time to time. Weeknight evenings are $15 per hour for two people to play.

 

If you’re tee-shot-impaired, the go-to guy for swing repair is Robert Baker, one of the nation’s Top 100 Teachers according to Golf Magazine, who divides his time between clients in Miami Beach, Europe, and New York. He teaches out of Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson during the warm months. Baker, a South African native who has coached or consulted five No. 1-ranked golfers (Ernie Els, Greg Norman, Nick Price, Seve Ballesteros, and Nick Faldo), says, “Most people need to be a little more accurate. Their wild shots destroy the round. To be more accurate, you need an excellent grip, an inside approach, and you need to synchronize the club head with your body.”  That’s what I always say, too, but I still spend a lot of time in the woods looking for my ball. Lessons with Baker are $400 per hour. 

 

R&R Required

 

All that masculine exertion calls for a little rest and recuperation. An expert sports massage is a good place to start and Mike De Feo, a massage therapist for 38 years, is the man to give it to you. “Sports massage is primarily to take care of and prevent injuries,” De Feo points out. To treat tendonitis, for example, “you work on the muscles that are tight. By loosening up the muscles, you relieve the stress in the tendons and ease the tension.” He also recommends a massage for the morning-after blues. “Get a massage and drink a lot of water” to cure a hangover, he advises. “A good massage is equivalent to a good eight-hour sleep.” Other great muscle soothers are Ron Statler at Park Avenue Medical Spa in Armonk, and Olof Kjellberg at Nordic Spa in Chappaqua.

 

Hot towels, good conversation, and a master hand on a straight razor will make you feel better, too. My favorite place for a close, old-fashioned shave is 48-year-old Michael & Joseph’s Barber Shop in New Rochelle. The shop’s proprietor, Vincenzo Palermiti, starts by massaging your face with a cream loaded with lanolin and vitamin E to soften your beard. Then comes a moist towel—ahhh—so hot you can barely stand it. After a few heavenly minutes, Enzo removes the towel and slathers on steaming white lather that smells slightly of menthol. He puts a new blade in his straight razor and deftly goes to work, re-applying the lather and shaving you again just in case he missed a spot the first time. Then comes a soothing cocoa-butter cream to make the skin smooth, followed by another hot towel and a refreshing spritz of witch hazel to tighten up the skin. The hardest part of the experience is making yourself get out of the chair when he’s done. 

You’ll also enjoy the shaves (not to mention the haircuts) at Arturo’s Barber Shop in Hastings-on-Hudson, the Briarcliff Barber Shop in Briarcliff Manor, Giovanni’s in Mamaroneck, and The Gramatan Barber Shop, in Bronxville and Mount Vernon.  

 

Life-Saving Techniques

 

With all these distractions, it’s easy for a guy to forget little things—like his wedding anniversary. If you have no imagination, you’ll call the nearest florist and have them deliver a dozen fragrant something-or-others to your offended better half. If you want to really show you’re sorry, though, get creative and go to Chocolates Plus of Westchester in Rye Brook. For a real big apology, owner Anthony Cioffi says his shop will make an 18-inch-tall white chocolate swan for you and fill it with a hand-picked assortment of chocolate-dipped strawberries, blueberries, apricots, and oranges. Don’t forget to add some petit fours and a few chocolate-covered raspberry-filled graham crackers. It will set you back about $85, but it may just save your marriage. For a later, perhaps happier, time, bring home some chocolate body frosting and follow the instructions: light candles, open jar, fluff up paint brush, apply gently.  Apologies can be real sweet.

 

Oh, and since you’re already there anyway, you might as well indulge yourself in the shop’s walk-in cigar vault, where you can choose a cigar from the 50 to 75 vintages in stock. The selection includes sticks ranging from an $8.99 Hoyo de Monterrey to a $32.95 H. Upmann Chairman Reserve that comes in its own individual wooden box. Since you’re already there and everything. A couple of other great humidors are located at Donahue’s in West Harrison and Pure Indulgence in Thornwood,

 

I don’t care what anybody says, being a guy is tough. Your inner tough guy will wither and die if you don’t give in to his urges now and again. So grab your nail gun, jump in your muscle car, and let’s see if we can get in 18 holes before the little woman gets home from work.

 

Guy Guide To Survival Essentials

 

Arturo’s Barber Shop

Hastings (914) 478-8421

 

Athlete International

Purchase College (914) 251-7925

 

Briarcliff Barber Shop

Briarcliff Manor (914) 941-9636

 

Chassis Dyno Performance

Petagines

Port Chester (914) 490-4306

 

Chocolates Plus of westchester

Rye Brook (914) 937-0101

 

Crest Connect Communications

Valhalla (914) 673-6831

 

Decker Tool Rental

Bedford Hills (914) 666-6622

Hawthorne (914) 769-6800

 

Donahue’s

West Harrison (914) 288-9246

 

Doug Dewitt Boxing

Scarsdale (914) 723-7338

 

Geeks On Wheels

Somers (914) 562-1800

 

Giovanni’s Barber Shop  

Mamaroneck (914) 698-9607

 

The Gramatan Barber Shop

Bronxville (914) 961-2920

Mount Vernon (914) 667-6616

 

Hickory & Tweed

Armonk (914) 273-3397

 

Hot Rods by Jackson & Wardick

Mount Kisco (914) 666-2057

 

Lasdon Park Arboretum

Somers (914) 864-7268

 

Last Licks

Armonk (914) 273-3551

Scarsdale (914) 725-5932

Thornwood (914) 747-7455

 

Lyric Hi-Fi & Video

White Plains (914) 949-7500

 

Mamaroneck Auto Detail

Mamaroneck (914) 777-0514

 

Michael & Joseph’s Barber Shop

New Rochelle (914) 636-9481

 

Michael De Feo

Rye (914) 967-8884

 

New Roc Rack & Cue

New Rochelle (914) 637-7575

 

Nordic Spa

Chappaqua (914) 238-1558

 

Oakley’s Car Wash

Yonkers (914) 779-7760

 

Park Avenue Medical Spa

Armonk (914) 730-3333

 

Preferred Auto Appearance Specialists

Mount Kisco (914) 666-6626

 

Pro Shop at Fairview Golf Ctr.

Elmsford (914) 592-1666

 

Pure Indulgence

Thornwood (914) 747-0029

 

Push Hard Multisport

Peekskill (914) 734-7194

 

Robert Baker

Hastings-on-Hudson (786) 276-7042

 

Sam Ash Music

White Plains (914) 949-8448

 

Sam’s Camera Exchange

Mount Kisco (914) 666-3383

New Rochelle (914) 576-3878

Scarsdale (914) 725-1616

 

Shawn’s Personal Fitness

Katonah (914) 232-4462

 

Splash

White Plains (914) 328-9020

Bedford Hills (914) 241-2266

Mahopac (845) 628-5547 

 

The Tool Nut

Yorktown Heights (914) 621-0200

 

Toys in the Attic

White Plains (914) 421-0069

 

The Wine Enthusiast

Elmsford (914) 345-9463

(800) 356-8466

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