Category Archives: Letters from The Gentlevan

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

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

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.

Sincerely,
[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

2011 TMGB Superlatives & Awards, Part 3

The 2011 Dry Trousers Award
Andy Bean – Gentleman
A grown man should never have to make the explicit promise to himself not to wet his own trousers on stage.  But, such a promise is occasionally forced upon him.  This was the case for Andy Bean, who in November of 2010 in Portland, OR became the first member of The Two Man Gentlemen Band to release a not-negligible bit of pee-pee stuff into his britches during a performance.

In Andy Bean’s defense, the release was not without provocation. It came, rather, in response to The Councilman’s debuting of a new bit of stage antics – “The Japanese Finish” –  without properly warning his partner.  I think we can all agree that when one’s otherwise sedate and reserved man-friend pantomimes a full blown samurai sword battle and ritual suicide while you slap bass notes for emphasis and a crowd of several hundred looks on in silent horror before erupting into rapturous applause, a small display of celebratory urine is not entirely uncalled for.

Further, the incident occurred at the very conclusion of The Gentlemen’s very last song of the evening.  And it was not until The Gents were safely backstage that the offending wet spot presented itself.  Had Andy Bean had the good sense to wear a sensibly dark pair of trousers or had the audience been satisfied with their scheduled helping of two-man music, the spillage may have gone unnoticed.  Alas, Andy Bean was wearing a sky blue suit and the audience demanded an encore.

Toiling as they are on the very periphery of the music industry, The Gents can little to afford to alienate their meager fan base by withholding encores.  And so, bravely, Andy Bean returned to the stage.  Any hopes he had of keeping the half-dollar sized patch secret, however, were dashed immediately by a few giggling, pointing concertgoers in the front rows and the creepy alacrity of the spot light operator, who lost not a moment in focusing all the illuminating powers at his disposal squarely on Andy Bean’s crotch.  The offending wet-spot was seen easily and clearly from every seat in the house.  And there was much snickering.

With some success, The Gents deflected this unwelcome attention on their midsections to comedic advantage.  But, there was no deflecting the truth.  Extenuating circumstances notwithstanding – the Japanese finish, the sky-blue trousers, the roaring audience, the mischievous spot-light man – Andy Bean had wet himself on stage.

Appropriately, when New Year’s Day 2011 came and the discussion turned to New Year’s resolutions, Andy Bean was quick to share with all his just intentions.  This year, he declared, I will not wet myself on stage.  And here, on this 2nd day of 2012 twelve, we are proud to announce that he kept his promise.

To many more dry years!  Happy New Year, Friends!

-The Gents

2011 TMGB Superlatives and Awards, Part 2

Most Convenient Stage Placement for Rum Consumption
New York, NY – May 2011
It is, we’re happy to say, not entirely unheard of for we Gents to be the official two-man band at some medium-to-high class event.  However, the  fine foods, drinks, and unusually clean people at such gatherings are typically kept a good distance from us.   So, when we are entertaining at an event with such lavish displays of food and beverage as the James Beard Awards (the so-called “Oscars of Food”) and the organizers plop us down directly adjacent to the “Rums of the World” tasting table with the explicit instructions to “play from 8 to 10 pm and eat and drink as much as you like,” we don’t look our gift horse in the mouth.  Which is to say we drink rum all night and high five to our good fortune.

Most Successful Distraction of a Rental Car Employee
Kansas City Airport – July 2011
Our midsummer’s swing through Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming found The Gentlemen abandoning their official Gentlevan for the convenience and comforts of airplanes and rental cars.  Little did we know what misfortunes the plains and mountain states held for our poor temporary vehicle.  Within a seven day span, we suffered two not-negligible windshield cracks upon the more gravelly sections of interstate 70 and watched as a Wyoming hail storm pressed a few dozen permanent dimples into the car’s exterior.  Rolling the battered thing back to the Kansas City airport, we braced ourselves for lengthy insurance claims, upset rental location managers, or worse.

Luckily we were in possession of a jar of Norm-a-Q, the homemade BBQ sauce concocted by our pal Norm in Abilene, KS.  Norm, who among other things only stays up past 8pm when The Gentlemen are in town, makes a really good BBQ sauce.

We were greeted by a friendly gentleman at the rental depot.  He smiled at us and asked for some paperwork, which we presented.  He began a survey of the vehicle, but was immediately intercepted by two smiling grown-man faces (us!) asking him if he liked barbeque sauce.  Do I!?  He shouted.  I love it!   We presented him with the Norm-a-Q and watched with delight as all the energies the man typically devotes to the inspection of a returned rental car were diverted to a long and loving examination of the tender bits of pork and peppers floating in the jar.  To our knowledge, he never got around to checking the car for damage.  Thanks, Norm!

Yours Very Truly,
Andy Bean