Sunday, February 22, 2009

State of These Gentlemen

Awhile ago, I had a radio show called The Identity Crisis on WMUC, my college radio station. That show was an important part of my college career and went through a number of permutations. At times it was a really good show and some great radio, and at other times it was just okay. At it's best, the show had a very simple premise - each week I'd have a new co-host in the studio with me and we'd take turn playing songs and exchanging banter. That way every week there would be a musical base (my sensibilities) as well as something new. Along the way a number of people become regular co-hosts or contributors, each with their own segments. I started to become less interested in making mixes and finding new music, and started to really jones on talking more without ever making the full on commitment to go that route (talking for two straight hours, being funny, and not letting a room full of people go totally awry is pretty hard - and the planning to do it well is time consuming). At a certain point the idea for what I wanted to do with the show changed, my interests and priorities shifted, and radio stopped being the best medium for what I was at the time half-heartedly trying to attempt.

In many ways this site is a continual pursuit and realization of what I wanted that show to become before I burned out. I have smart, funny, insightful friends whose words and opinions I want to read and share on a daily basis. This site is my attempt to create a forum where they, and I, can grow and develop. These are high quality writers who continually challenge, entertain, and inspire me. People with thoughts, ideas, interests, and values that may sometimes differ from mine but are always articulate, valid, and often very amusing. There is an art and discipline to writing - and almost an arrogance to sit and state that what I have to say is worthy of being read and heard by anyone else. But without people willing to take on that challenge and that burden, we as a society would be bereft of the ideas that can only come from the act of sharing and collaboration. The people on this site are writers - their words are absolutely worth being both read and heard - on topics as fundamentally important as race, gender, sexuality, and politics - to the esoteric. We're attempting to establish a community of writers out to share ideas and we're all hoping you'll be a part of it too. Each of these posts is a piece into and of themselves - but they're also the starting point for a longer conversation we hope to have. Some of those conversations will be more insular than others (any time I mention the word 'multiverse' I'm sure half our audience enters a catatonic state) but when you see one that interests you please join in.

There's a responsibility that takes place in writing as well, and it's one that we embrace even as the internet sometimes absolves people of it - standing behind your words. Each Gentleman is going by his or her name or nickname - but never anonymously. When we have something to say we're willing to attach ourselves to it, or else it doesn't belong here. I'm hoping that when people comment they'll embrace that as well. The internet offers untold connectivity and exposure - but at the same time seems to breed a sense of invulnerability and cruelty - anonymous posts that attack or defile because there never has to be a sense of ownership. We've never experienced that here and I hope we never do - mainly because we really want to hear your honest thoughts and responses. Agree or disagree, slightly or vehemently, we're totally open - and we want a community where everyone realizes, embraces, and stands behind the power of their words.

It's no surprise to me now, seeing where the show was headed, that so many of the contributors here were active parts of the IDC as well. And those that weren't are getting in on the ground floor of something we all really care about. It's truly an honor to write in the company of Gentlemen such as these. All of which leads me to proudly welcome our newest and last Gentlemen for awhile - John Barkmeyer, Brittany Graham, and Ali Daniels. I'm really excited about what each of them bring to the table, and I think we're all going to benefit from their input. With these additions our roster is now set at 12 and for now that's where we're going to stay.

If you're interested on becoming one of These Gentlemen in the future, this is the best way to do it - write. Comment consistently, express an interest, and write Guest Gentlemen posts that you can send to me here. If a slot opens up that's going to be one of the biggest ways we'll determine who gets it. Get involved and please stay involved. It's way more fun for all of us when you do.

One of the most important aspects of the site is the name - These Gentlemen. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but coming soon I'll be writing a follow up post about exactly what that name means to me, and what constitutes the making of a Gentleman - in both society and as it pertains to this site.

We never really did this before so now please - meet These Gentlemen. Brief words on who they are, where they come from, and (while there are NO limitations on content) a general idea of what they write about.

Jason Heat - The unofficial ringleader and Editor in Chief, Jason is a freelance writer, actor, and director in the DC area and the founder of These Gentlemen. An avid lover and practitioner of theatre, his prime interest in the art is as a storyteller, a passion he carries over into his writing here. He's probably most known for putting 9 people onstage naked and actually making it work in an artistic and non-gratuitous fashion (he likes to hope) this past summer with his original play The Naked Party. Chances are his posts are going to be slice of life stories or deep ruminations into people wearing capes, and he is a hopeful idealist - which may explain why his explanation of how Superman is cool boils down to 'He's not a nice guy, he's the nicest guy.'

David Pratt - David truly intends to one day serve this country as an elected official and is on the way to making that dream a reality. Having just completed his LSATS, he intends to start law school in the fall with a focus on constitutional law. His passion for public service is only matched by his dedication to his family and his obsession with MMORPGs (okay, just one, but boy he loves it). Extremely well read in American political history, David is currently undertaking a multi-post series on the history of the electoral college, and has a lot to say about the current political climate as well.

Steve Bragale - In rough economic times, Steve has functions as an inside eye into the recession given his job as Teller Manager at a retail bank. He's been following stocks and economics since he was 7 years old, and he's These Gentlemen's go to guy for all thing related to the economy - especially important now. Steve is no one note writer though - an avid fan of video games, poker, and online games of skill and chance - Steve's gentle and poetic look at day to day life in the nation's capital has produced some of my favorite work on the site so far.

Max Nova - A former Music Director and General Manager of WMUC, Max Nova has both listened to and reviewed more CDs than the average person knows exists - which has in no way diminished his passion or love for music, it's only developed and refined an already sharp sonic pallet. He's an intellectual in the best sense of the word - well read, well listened, and well spoken - and at times he's also our very own curmudgeon. His dry wit and crusty exterior shouldn't fool you though - Max is consistently making this planet a better place than when he found it with his extensive volunteering and tireless work ethic. He's known on the site for his insights into music, art, and culture - just don't call during a soccer game.

John Ozkirbas - John is a first year law student at the University of Baltimore, with a degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice. One day he's going to be making our streets safe as a crusading DA, but John has always been trying to help people in tough times - especially as a peer counselor with Student Advocates for Education about Rape. He's Turkish (he would have told you if I hadn't), addicted to or in love with coffee, and has more continuing series than any other Gent so far - most notably Video Games and Myth which seems him analyzing the metaphorical structures underlying one of the most overlooked modern artistic mediums.

Daniel Strauss - An aspiring actor/improvisor in the Chicago area, Dan is also the funniest person I know. That's a high pressure title to lay on someone, but he's never once failed to meet the challenge. In addition to his theatrical performance work, having trained at both the Second City and IO, he's also a heck of a songwriter and a filmmaker to boot. In addition to being one of These Gentlemen, you can find Dan at his personal site, or performing with his improv team Computer. There's a lot of stuff Dan loves, but one thing he hates is Brett Ratner.

I'll have profiles on our six remaining Gentlemen tomorrow!


Blogden Nash said...

Yes! Finally Barkmeyer! Back in December, I was going to nominate him for Gentleman of this and every year, but I didn't have a Blogger account at the time.
Jason, here is a suggestion for your upcoming profile of Barkmeyer:
"John Barkmeyer is the greatest man who ever lived. He writes about being awesome."

Ozkirbas said...

John Barkmeyer is god and his word is scripture

David Pratt said...

"Obsession with MMORPGs?" I've played one, ever, and it wasn't WoW.

B.Graham said...

Hooray gentlemen!!! I'm nervous about my introduction.

Jason Heat said...

But are you obsessed with it?

I would say yes.

David Pratt said...

That's more accurate.

Blogden Nash said...

Ozkirbas, where have I heard that before? Oh that's right, I started Facebook group about it

Stephen said...

Thanks for the introduction, it's great being here.

ali d said...

JASON. Finish the State of These Gentlemen. You said you'd do it on Monday, and it's almost THURSDAY.

B.Graham said...

ALI. Why don't YOU post???

Jason Heat said...

I'm workin' on it.

Damo said...

Don't worry about it Jason, allow me.

The State of These Gentlemen IS:



ali d said...


I was hoping to wait until I was introduced before I started posting. It was an arbitrary decision that I made, and I hate not sticking to my decisions, but I'm getting antsy, so I wanted to make sure Jason hadn't forgotten us.

Jason Heat said...

It'll be up today (setting what may be a record number of posts in one day for us...)