By buckybit 0 Comments
(Parts previously posted on the "In Memoriam" thread - rewrote it today. It turns out longer (=worse) and also English is not my 1st language, nor my 2nd, nor 3rd ... It is so heavily edited, that I lost track if it is readable at all now - or worth your time. Apologies.) Also - full disclosure: I never met Ryan Davis. (Yes, I am one of those sad bastards).
"Lights, Camera, Action!"
I remember watching the first times, when Ryan went in front of a live camera at Gamespot. The glorious "On The Spot" days. Very early on, it was clear, HE was not the kind, to be intimidated by lights and cameras and 'live streams" - he had panache. He was cocky. He showed an attitude, while others, like Brad Shoemaker, got nervous, or poor Brian Ekberg almost froze in fear of "live action".
Live TV is hard.
But Ryan not only was a smooth operator, a natural talent, in front of a camera, he was the first - despite Jeff's blonde hair and singing Brittney "Baby, Baby" while being recorded - to crack the clean, corporate "let's have a good time" polish, Rich Gallup was so great putting on. While Ryan MacDonald was as enthusiastic, as he was nervous, with Rich, the East Coast "intellectual", the "college kid", wearing a "Celtics" shirt in studio on a video game show from the West Coast Internets, you could see, he was 'acting'. He had his "We're LIVE, folks..." Persona, when the lights went on?
Ryan Davis was the first to break the rules in front of the camera? At least, visible to "us", from outside looking in? From early on, you could see him not hiding his "grumpy" side ... and it was funny to watch. His personality poured through harder and harder, while trying to do the "corporate thing" - presenting video games, to this supposedly kid-friendly, clean audience. "Video games - it's for kids" was still the mantra of that dot com era period. Just like comics are always "funny" and nobody heard of "graphic novels". At some point during "On The Spot" live shows, it became "Oh great, Ryan Davis is going to play a game, in this (standing) segment and hopefully shit about it and lose it!"
That's when I started to favor him over many others.
Presenting games they received in the mail only hours ago, without having time to play them, before the Thursday live show - the origin of what we all now know as "Quick Looks".
Was it E3 2006, when Carrie Gouskos did her quick "video updates" on the side, while they were all working in the Gamespot war room? (I like Mondays always reminds me of that) That E3 was the thing, people would think of, when they think of "The Golden Years". Those "video blogs" (vblogs ... vlogs ... podcasts? .. the confusion of these earlier days) had a raw and intimate quality to them. Sure, it was fun to watch 'video game' things on the big live stage, when the microphones stopped working and shiny games were presented. But being able to watch your favorite TV Show characters "behind the scene", was even more thrilling. And to me, Ryan, Jeff and the rest of them were just like a TV Show for "my" generation. No Network TV, no Cable TV ... the "Internet TV".
Is it not an irony, that it really worked, although not in the intended (corporate) way, in the 1990s?
And then, one day, Gerstmanngate blew up in all our faces.
Jeff & Ryan - "Rolling, Rolling, Rolling ..."
My fondest memories of Ryan Davis are all recorded, since those are the only memories I myself (and most of us) now will ever have of him. As much as I was on board, when they tried to shake up the world, with Shelby and the Whiskey Media Rebel Club, my interest was all about their 'private lives' - the hours AFTER their job. The selfmade (non-profit) "Reality TV" they started to broadcast for themselves. They did not do it out of vanity or to seek attention, like many do these days. They did not do it, to "sell" you something, nor convince you of something ("Let me tell you about ..."), they did it because they COULD? And they wanted to share those moments with others?
I loved their Audioboos. Those where amazing.
I loved their commutes from and to work. Most often Ryan driving the car. Jeff holding his phone up the road ahead (I always wanted for Jeff to point the camera at Ryan(!) and not the road ahead). Real people - friends - having a conversation. No matter how ridiculous or random.
You cannot beat the magic of Jeff & Ryan rolling down the Route 101 from SF to Petaluma. This was more then "Reality TV". Them, streaming their commutes, I was reminded of early Italian and French cinema. (Neorealismo/Nouvelle vague - Ryan would probably equally enjoy and hate the film analogy). But it is true. On my Desktop screen, watching them drive, listening to them having a conversation, even the eclectic Quentin Tarantino could not imagine, nor write better dialog then what they came up with while talking to each other. It had a quality, I only rarely find in novels. William Gaddis "JR" comes to mind. A book Ryan would have never read, probably, but which captures the hilarity of life in pure sounds and voices. And neither Jean-Luc Godard, Truffaut, Rosselini nor Visconti, could have filmed it better, then they themselves, holding their "hot" iPhones. Life itself, happening, right now ...
You could hear the life long friendship in their voices? It reminded me of my own oldest, closest friends and friendships I had over the last decades. You cannot fake reality. What was it? "Video games"? That "theme" only was a conversation starter, the surface topic. Michael Mann's HEAT is in it's core a movie about lonely men. Ryan and Jeff's ustream drives, are in their core about never ending friendship? The comfort of the company of each other. Thousands of miles away, at 4 am in the morning, some cold electronic signals reached me, reminding me of that warm, fuzzy feeling, how it is like, having "one" real good friend, by your side.
I didn't care if it was "funny" or serious. If they talked or enjoyed the silence.
I didn't care about 'video games' on Giant Bomb - I cared about Jeff and Ryan - my extended (online) brothers, who don't know me. I was perfectly aware, that this appreciation was a one-way street. I did not exist in their eyes. I was just one dot on a canvas, next to thousands. And they, in return, were fictional characters to me. The most, realest fictional friends you could have. Like Ernie and Bert. Like Tubbs and Crockett. Like Mason & Dixon. Or, yes, like Jake & Elroy!
You could point a microphone or a camera at those two and they would just "go". Media pros, before this was something millions of people are still failing to do, while having their own "YouTube" channels and trying desperately to seek attentions or make money of it, or both.
Jeff and Ryan did that shit, for personal fun.
You cannot beat fun. You cannot compete with fun. Ryan Davis was the perfect entertainer! He was the real Master of Ceremonies. I myself saw his career going to network television eventually. He would have been the best, freshest late night show host a modern, Internet savvy America (and the world!) could have ever hoped to get to know? Our loss.
Over the years - 10+ years now - these guys stuck with me. Again, they never knew, nor will ever know. It doesn't really matter. Who the fuck cares? It's never about the audience. Never about you and me. 10.000s of us. It's about them, sharing their lives in public ... and being admired by thousands and thousands of complete strangers, making their lives better, feeling just entertained or distracting them from the bullshit in their meat world life, or letting them feel less lonely.
Admired by those fans, almost just as intimately, as with their peers and friends?
In the "Age of the Internet" privacy becomes a delicate flower. It can sound creepy and weird and scary, to those, living their professional life on the web, while the borders between public and private become less and less clear?
As far, as I was able to see from outside, Ryan Davis lived his life on the fast lane? He burned the candle from both sides? Sometimes, you could see him on a live stream and would start wondering about his health? One time - during the "swine flu" summer, I was scared about him, but it turned out to be not "it". This particular motherfucker lived a full life?
We are not supposed to be sad for him. We are selfishly sad and angry for ourselves! Angry and sad, to have lost him. We all have lost a wonderful human being, who was raw and real and kind ... and yes, funny on record.
Relationships in times of the Internet and Twitter can be strange. I never understood the mass hysteria when Elvis died, or "Lady Di" - but now, I am starting to get it. You can feel the loss of someone you never actually met or knew. It is pathetic. "But it is real, if you feel it", my doctor would say.
But this is not a time to cry or feel sad? This is a time to celebrate a "Life well wasted". As far, as I can see, Ryan did everything right in his life! If you are young, you can only hope to aspire to be like him. If you are old, like me, he beat you. He has the perfect score. We can only get drunk - which I am intending to do, despite my own health troubles - and celebrate him! Everyone, the way you can. The ones, who really knew and loved him, the ones, he loved back ... and us, strangers on the Internet.
Someone on Twitter wrote earlier tonight: "somewhere else just got a lot funnier."