Quick Conversations with The Gentlemen, Vol. 16

Dear Friends,
It’s another thrilling installment of Quick Conversations with The Gentlemen!  There’s an election coming up, ain’t there?  Let’s get topical!

The Scene:  A post-show conversation with a new fan.

Fan:  Good show!  I’m a new fan!
Andy Bean:  Terrific!  We can always use one more!
Fan:  But, I think you guys should talk about the election during the show.  It’s important.
Andy Bean:  Really?  The opinions of a two-man novelty band would influence your decision?
Fan:  Yup.
The Councilman:  As Councilman, I declare you ineligible to vote.
Fan:  I don’t think I like you guys any more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Quick Conversation with The Gentlemen!

Yours very truly,
Andy Bean

Handkerchief Lending Practices

Dear Friends,
Here is a common scene:  A lady is about to sneeze, and just before she does, a man reaches into his pocket and whips out a crisp, lily-white handkerchief. It is monogrammed, stamped with a family crest, or perhaps hand stitched with one of his favorite sayings, and he thus presents it to her, just before she has lit the fuse to her nose cannon. A gentlemen can do this very quickly, even though sneezes can travel at hundreds of miles per hour according to science. He performs this sacrifice not because he desires to have a stranger soil his perfectly creased handkerchief, or because he is a fan of flashy gestures involving fabric (except for sleight-of-hand magic tricks of course), but to offer the lady, in this brief instant of panic, a safe place. He has constructed a secure landing pad for her flying sneezy bits.

Having finished her business, the lady will usually thank the man, and then enter the next stage: the confusing, post-sneeze time where one wonders about Handkerchief-Return policy. Now, a lady’s sneeze, properly folded into the handkerchief, can be handed back to the man, whereafter he will place it in his back pocket and immediately put it in the laundry upon returning home. He will not consider using it himself, nor will he offer it to another sneeze victim. If the lady holds up the newly moistened vessel with thumb and index finger, “stinky diaper” style, then the man is well within his right to smile and offer that she keep it. Handkerchiefs are not that expensive, and this small loss provides the man with the opportunity to try out a different set of stitched-on sayings, with differently colored text on his next handkerchief shopping excursion. Additionally, the lady now possesses something of the gentleman’s, and she may want to try to return it to him at a later date. The gentlemen has already considered this last option before even unsheathing it in the first place.

Handkerchiefs Among Friends:  

When your friend sneezes, he is on his own. Just as one need not offer to hold a friend’s urinating instrument while he excretes his waste liquids, a gentleman is expected to take care of certain things himself. Either he will have his own handkerchief to deftly draw when the sneeze itch comes, or else he will not, and he’ll deposit it in the crook of the elbow, as is the current fashion, or perhaps do something funny, like spray it all over the inside of a car window. Either way, it is his choice. Handkerchiefs between friends, especially male ones, are shared mainly in emergency situations. Spills are the most common, and a potentially embarrassing stain can be quickly mopped up with a friend’s handy clothpiece. Non-sneezing bodily fluid mishaps are the next most common, and those are, of course, “Keep it” situations. Rarely–but it has been known to happen–the gentlemen gives his man friend a handkerchief for an emotional emergency involving tears. Offering a friend your handkerchief signals that he is not alone in his crisis and that you are there for him. Also understood is that by giving him this handkerchief, you are absolved of any possibly awkward comforting-through-words duties. The handkerchief has taken over that job, and it will do the talking.

For any of the above situations involving someone whom the gentleman is not that familiar with, a male acquaintance, a coworker, etc., the gentlemen quickly goes through a series of tests. First, assess your friendship level. Does he even know that you are carrying a handkerchief? Probably not. Might as well keep it that way for now. Next, assess the possible receiver’s cleanliness level. What kind of sneezer is he? A dainty misting type? Or is he in the midst of a full-blown illness? Will the force of his face exploding onto the handkerchief damage the fabric? Will what you see him do to the handkerchief leave you with lasting low-level psychological trauma? Lastly, is this person worth impressing? Like a business card, a gentleman’s handkerchief should be a reflection of the man himself, perfected, and can be an effective networking tool when used in certain situations. Having the right person defile your handkerchief can lead to upward mobility in many fields.

A handkerchief is a gentleman’s multi-tool, made of fabric. It is first-aid for a variety of embarrassing situations: it can heal in both the physical and emotional realms, it is quite absorptive, it’s easy to clean, and it dries quickly when spread out and hung up. Most importantly, it can be personalized to the heart’s content. The knowledge that one’s handkerchief lies ready to commit good deeds of sanitation at any given moment will give a gentleman confidence throughout his day.

Stay Clean,

-The Councilman

She’s on YOUR Side: Having Mom Shop for You Effectively.

Dear Friends,
When out for a peaceful, contemplative stroll, it is best to avoid crossing paths with small- to medium-sized groups of teenagers. The same goes for taking an angry stroll as well–steer clear of teens. They can be too loud, and are always yelling dumb things that don’t make any sense, even to themselves. There is nothing like the power of a group of unruly teens to shatter one’s tranquility. Besides having to abort the self-fertilized fetus of great ideas developing within oneself, such encounters can make one really dislike teens. In the worst of situations, the dislike can become so great that it can infect one’s love of strolls–which in turn makes one dislike teens even more. It is a vicious cycle, one that unfortunately starts when teens inflict their damage upon innocent strolls everywhere.

On one such occasion, I was on my own perfectly innocent evening walkabout. With purposefully rhythmic walking, at a brisk pace just below the sweat threshold, I was really gliding. Upon turning a corner, teens.

Teen1:  “Hey nice shirt.”
Me:     “Thank you.”
Teen2:  “Your Mom’s got good taste.” (Some quiet teen chuckling sounds)
Me:     “No…She has GREAT taste.”

Now, I could have substituted an “Unlike your mom’s,” or “So does yours” kind of ending to the encounter, or even a positive “Stay in school!” but the goal was to get out of the situation as quickly as possible, without violence or some kind of never-ending mom-related insult back and forthing.  Luckily, they were caught off guard enough to saunter off in search of a less weird victim.

You might be asking, “What, besides the temperature-appropriate perfectly fitted shirt itself, gave you the power to defend your choice against tasteless teenagers?  Was it the confidence of knowing that you and your mom were on the exact same men’s style wavelength?” Yes, to the second question. And then that one answers the first one!

When a man and his mom are unified stylistically, no sarcastic teen can break that bond. Some people might disagree with the practice of a man’s mother occasionally buying him clothes, citing it as something that a man grows out of on his journey towards becoming a Fully Grown Adult Male. But, it is not the practice that men grow out of; rather, it is the lack of great results that is tiresome. How many gentlemen have suffered under moms who were unable to pick out the right clothes? And if those failures kept repeating, who can blame the man for giving up? At some point one has to put a stop to it and go off on one’s own. And many do. Some succeed, some fail. But even among the successful, I feel a great loss when imagining what they could have become, what they could have looked like, with their mom on their team as well.

So, how did mom and I get to that point of being on the “same men’s style wavelength”?

Part One:  The Mimic
In the beginning, it’s hard for a mom to know what kind of clothes you will like as a Fully Grown Adult male. You’re your own big man now, an independent entity. You do your own laundry, or you pay someone else to do it. You’ve been buying most of your own clothes, and the observant mom’s first strategy is–wisely–to mimic. Now by copying the choices you’ve already made, she learns the subtle stylistic differences between what appears to the mom to be, “the same thing.”  As in, “What’s wrong with this shirt? It’s just like that other one you have.”

Part Two: The Thrill of the Sale
Clothes can be expensive, and if you’re trying to help out your offspring by clothing them–an important part of parenting–one has to spend wisely. Here is where the smart mom’s mastery of sales, discounts, coupons, etc., comes into play, and enables her to carpet bomb a Fully Grown Adult Male with a variety of cost-conscious clothing options. One of those options is bound to explode on him in the right way.

Part Three:  Mind Meld
The adept mom eventually understands your clothing likes and dislikes so well that she can predict future tastes. It is a skill developed over time, and is constantly being refined. Sure, sometimes there’s a misfire, and a weird item shows up (“It was on sale!”), but the speed with which the observant mom adapts is incredible. Most important to keep in mind, however, is that these acts spring from pure generosity. Moms have millions of things to do; yet there they are, keeping an eye out for slim fitting fifteen-and-a-half thirty-five white Irish linen dress shirts with double front pockets and a medium spread collar, on sale.

So be thankful, and respect your ally.

-The Councilman

Fancy Beer of The Week: Name Tag Lager

Dear Friends,
We are proud today to introduce a new feature – Fancy Beer of The Week – in which The Gentlemen will consume and review the world’s Fancy and not so Fancy Beers.  Beers will be judged on inconsistent criteria of our choosing.

This Week’s Beer!

Trader Joe’s Brand Name Tag Classic Lager
Retail Price: $0.49 per 12 oz can!

Why we chose this beer:  There are some, perhaps many amongst you who are no doubt shaking your head in silent objection.  This is no fancy beer, you say.  You have lost me, Gentlemen, as a blog reader and a music fan.  Forever.  Please allow us to explain.

A cursory glance at The Two Man Gentlemen Band’s touring history over the last few years reveals that these winter months are slow months for us.  Not because of a dearth of concert opportunities.  Far from it!  Rather, after a few attempts at deep winter music making – and the snowy drives, freezing winds, and general dangers contained therein – we gentlemen, and The Councilman especially, became deeply concerned about the overall health of our hands and fingers.

The Councilman frequently summarized his concerns thusly:  “My hands are my living, Andy Bean.  Frostbite and finger chapping are real. I can’t feel my fingers, Andy Bean.  Why are you doing this to me?  My hands are my living.”

And so, rather than subject ourselves to such career-threatening peril, we’ve decided these past few winters to stay, for the most part, off the icy highways and close to home.  And hey!  Guess what?  Staying in the same place for 2 or 3 months can be kind of pleasant.  Who knew?

There is just one problem.  Those of you who have ever seen a Two Man Gentlemen Band concert have probably noticed that we lack the self-control necessary to pace ourselves.  At a typical recital, we come out of the gate quite hot.   The first few songs are barn burners.  But, by song four or five, we’ve begun to sweat profusely.  Another few tunes and we’re well out of breath.  A few more, our throats are raw, are fingers are bleeding, we’ve probably broken some strings, and we struggle to get to the end of our set before the crowd begins booing, departing, or both.

One could argue (though no one has yet) that there is a certain charm in this approach: raw bursts of youthful energy followed by a sweaty, heaving decline.  But no reasonable person would suggest that this is a wise method for managing one’s off-season finances.  And yet, this is how we manage our off-season finances.

Our slow-season begins just before Thanksgiving, and both The Councilman and I head to our respective family Thanksgiving celebrations “flush” with cash from the year’s concert winnings.  (We put “flush” in quotations here as a reminder that we are still, in fact, an obscure two-man band playing an unpopular style of music.  “Flush” for us means something quite substantially less than the common understanding of the term.)   Feeling quite fond of ourselves and unreasonably generous, we splurge on nice wines and liquors for Turkey dinner.   Any beverages presented to the family are, of course, voraciously and completely consumed.  So, not wanting to ignore our own supplies, we employ the “a bottle for them, a bottle for me” approach at the liquor store.

That one booze run typically eats through a good quarter of each man’s winter dollar reserves.  A repeat trip before Christmas dinner burns through another quarter, a lavish New Year’s eve celebration makes its dent, and our annual MLK Jr. day “I Have  a Dream (About Having a Wicked Awesome Party on a Monday!)” Party eats up most of the rest.  So, you can see how we Gentlemen, by February, might be in the throes of our own respective personal financial crises.  The private stores of booze we so wisely and squirrelishy squirreled away when our pockets were full help a little.  But they, too, are soon depleted.

So it is around this time of year, friends, when our bank accounts are overdrawn and our first tour of the year is still a few weeks away, that a gamble on $2.49 six pack seems a gamble worth taking.  Note:  If you are thinking “Why don’t you just give up beer for a few weeks until you have money again?”  it is safe to say that you are not the target audience of this missive.

Your preamble notwithstanding, you may say, this is no Fancy Beer, Gentlemen!  To which we respond:  Fanciness is, of course, relative.  And when the alternative is no beer, we are happy to give even the stalest macrobrew a temporary field promotion to “Fancy Beer.”

With this lengthy explanation in mind, we now present our brief review of Trader Joe’s Brand Name Tag Lager.

Our Review:  Pretty good if you’re a little short on cash and like beer in a can.  Most definitely tastier than Stroh’s, though we didn’t have a Stroh’s handy for a head to head comparison.  We hear that Stroh’s also comes in a can, which is nice, though a sixer of it can run as much as $3.  Come to think of it, I don’t think we’ve ever had Stroh’s.  Perhaps we’ll review it next time our wallets go thin.

Added bonus for the fashion conscious: Since Name Tag is sold exclusively by Trader Joe’s, you’re bound to buy it from a man or woman wearing a Hawaiian shirt.  For those of you, like The Councilman, who like to have a Hawaiian shirt be a part of most of your commercial transactions, this is a definite plus.  Were we working with some sort of 10 point flavor, quality, and intangibles scale, this alone would add 1 or 2 points.

What does it taste like?  To be honest, I don’t really remember.  Not because we had too many.  Rather, we focused most of our mouth efforts on such exclamations as “Holy crap!  Pretty good for $2.49!  Eh, buddy?”  I don’t know that in the excitement we tasted it at all.  Councilman, do you remember the flavor at all?  (The Councilman, via e-mail, says “No”)  But I don’t recall either of us feeling particularly like death the next morning, which is a plus.  Councilman, do your recall feeling like death the next morning?  (The Councilman, again via e-mail, says “No, I don’t.”)

All in all, I suppose this is neither a very helpful or comprehensive review of Name Tag.  But we’ve had some fun, haven’t we?  Let’s summarize.

Summary:  On the 0 gentlemen to 2 gentlemen scale, we award Trader Joe’s brand Name Tag Lager TWO GENTLEMEN!  Highly recommended for those in dire financial straits for whom waiting a few days to get some cash together before buying beer is not an option.

Your comments are welcome.

Yours very truly,
Andy Bean, Gentleman

Quick Conversations with The Gentlemen, Vol. 15

Dear Friends,
It’s another Quick Conversation with The Gentlemen!  All the fun of The Two Man Gentlemen Band in ten lines or less!

The Scene:  A fan visits The Two Man Gentlemen Band merchandise table.

Fan: You guys are awesome!  How much for a CD?
Andy Bean:  Thanks!  For you, ten dollars.
Fan:  Oh.  That’s a bit more than I wanted to spend.
Andy Bean:
  That’s less than two beers!  And you can listen over an over again.
Fan:  Yeah, but beers are awesome.
Andy Bean:  I thought you said we were awesome.
Fan:  Yeah.  But, well, not as awesome as beers.
The Councilman:  He’s right, Andy Bean, we’re not as awesome as beers.

Now that’s the cold, hard truth, friends.  We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick conversation with The Gentlemen.

Yours very truly,
Andy Bean

Quick Conversations with The Gentlemen, Vol. 14

Dear Friends,
We hope you enjoy this quick conversation with The Gentlemen!

The Scene:  The Gentlemen are taking some photos in a city park, circa 2006.

The Gentlemen:  Hey kid!  Wanna be in a picture?
Kid:  Uh.  No, thank you.
The Gentlemen:  Ok, stay right there.

Thanks, kid!

-The Gents

A bit of TMGB History!

And now for a bit of Two Man Gentlemen Band history!

Early adopters of our cause might recall that we began our quest for two-man musical perfection under a different name.  In our earliest years, we peddled our amateurish fumblings under the moniker:  The New Original Country Gentlemen.

A nice name, don’t you think?  And descriptive, too, as we spent a good deal of time in our performances emphasizing a new kind of young man’s gentlemanliness (i.e. taking breaks, drinking in public, adjusting our neckties, etc).  We  were indeed behaving as a new, and yet original, brand of country gentleman.  The notion that some other supposed “gentlemen” might have claimed the title of “Country Gentlemen” as their own and wished not to share it was not a consideration.

Not a consideration until we received an angry letter from an indignant member of the bluegrass community.  (Note:  Indignation is common amongst members of the bluegrass community, though it more typically occurs when they are presented with something that “ain’t bluegrass.”)  We reprint the letter for you below, lightly edited for clarity and anonymity.  And we’ve added some notes, too.  Other than that, this is how it was delivered to us.

To:  The New Original Country Gentlemen
From:  [Name Withheld]
Subject:   Surprised by your Name

As a member of the bluegrass community, I have had the pleasure of working with Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen for decades [Note: This was a bluegrass band that, at the time, we’d never heard of].  He recently passed away, and I’m curious if you have purchased the rights to his brand name from his estate. [Note: A silly question to ask two guys who perform exclusively in subways and city parks.]

If not, I would suggest considering re-naming your act.  I seriously doubt that the many talented and tenacious lawyers in the bluegrass community will take very kindly to the misappropriation of a legally registered trade name. [Note: In the longer, unedited version of this letter, the author uses the phrase “bluegrass community” eight more times.]

There are plenty of names out there.  Pick one of your own.

[Name Withheld]

Geez, we thought.  What a dick.  But, having no knowledge of any lawyers (not to mention talented or tenacious ones) then working within our nascent two man music community, we relented and began considering new names.

And that search for a new name, friends, is the bit of Two Man Gentlemen Band history we’d like to share with you today.  From deep with in our archives, we present the list of band-name finalists we held before ourselves seven years ago this month.  You’ll notice, that our current appellation is the only one of the choices to emphasize our two-man-itude.  And good thing, too!  Had we chosen differently, unrestrained by a “two” in the title, we might be an octet by now.  And who likes octets?  Anyone?  Really?  But, I digress.  The list!

The Gentlemen Man Band
The Young Gentlemen’s Antique Music Revue
The Two Man Gentlemen Band
The Gentle Man String Band
The Brothers Gentlemen
The Gentlemen Friends
The Almighty Gentlemen
The Constant Gentlemen
Heavenly Gentlemen
Holy Crap! It’s The Gentlemen

Is it me, or do most of these sound like names for a gay men’s choir?  That aside, I think we chose wisely.  Please let yourself be heard if you disagree.

Onward as ever.

Andy Bean

Quick Conversations with The Gentlemen, Vol. 13

Dear Friends,
It’s another installment of Quick Conversations with The Gentlemen!  Recorded in full by the official TMGB band stenographer!

The Scene: Andy Bean and The Councilman in California.

The Councilman:  Why aren’t you wearing a tie for the show?
Andy Bean:  Because we’re in California.
The Councilman:  So?
Andy Bean:  So, I’m going for the Malibu Ken look, to fit in.
The Councilman:  Well, if you’re Malibu Ken, then I’m gonna be Malibu Dave.
Andy Bean:  Who’s Malibu Dave?
The Councilman:  Malibu Dave is Malibu Ken’s best friend.
Andy Bean:  Was there ever a Malibu Dave doll?
The Councilman:  Nope.  No doll.  Just me.  Malibu Dave.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Quick Conversation with The Gentlemen.

Yours very truly,
-The Gents

Quick Conversations with The Gentlemen, Vol. 12

Dear Friends,
We hope you enjoy this Quick Conversation with The Gentlemen.

The Scene: The Gentlemen chat with an old-timer after the show.

Old-timer:  So, where did you guys meet?  In the Navy?
Andy Bean:  Huh?
Old-timer:  You kept calling him “sailor” during the show.
Andy Bean:  That’s cause he’s wearing boat shoes.
The Councilman:  Yeah, I’m wearing boat shoes.
Old-timer:  That doesn’t make him a sailor.
Andy Bean:  OK.  Sorry, old-timer!
The Councilman:  Yeah.  Sorry, old guy.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Quick Conversation with The Gentlemen.

Yours very truly,
Andy Bean
The Two Man Gentlemen Band

Quick Conversations with The Gentlemen, Vol. 11

Dear Friends,
We hope you enjoy this Quick Conversation with The Gentlemen.

The Scene: Andy Bean and The Councilman, in the minivan.

Andy Bean:  Have you noticed that during your bass features and I announce with great enthusiasm, “That’s my good friend, The Councilman!”
The Councilman:  Yeah.  My bass features are the best.
Andy Bean:  And everyone goes wild when I announce you.
The Councilman: Yeah.  My fans love me.
Andy Bean:  Well, I think you should shout something out during my 4-string guitar solos.
The Councilman:  Like what?
Andy Bean:  Whatever comes to mind.
The Councilman:  How about “I didn’t really enjoy that!”
Andy Bean:  Or…
The Councilman:  “No refunds!”
Andy Bean:  Almost there.
The Councilman:  “You’ve just been Andy Bean’d!”
Andy Bean:  Bingo.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Quick Conversation with The Gentlemen.

Yours very truly,
Andy Bean
The Two Man Gentlemen Band