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Reason Mag Turns 45, Editors Have Managed Not to Kill Each Other

Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch fucking hate each other. Put them in the same air space and you’re likely to hear them discuss their persisting feelings of blind rage for each other. Without even a trace of a smile, Gillespie, dressed head to toe in his signature black frock, explains the dynamic between the two. “We have a tight relationship that usually ends in physical violence,” he says.

Welch, who is editor-in-chief of the magazine, casts a weary glance in Gillespie’s direction: “He’s from New Jersey.”

The editors of Reason Magazine, Reason.com and Reason TV flaunted their hatred Wednesday night at a party in the company newsroom off Dupont Circle to celebrate the mag’s 45-year anniversary. The scene wasn’t raucous. It was peaceful, pleasant and a rarity in Washington parties in that you could breathe, hear and get a drink easily.

One senses that the above scene between Gillespie and Welch has played out in variations before. No less funny, whatever the case. Gillespie, who edits the online publication and Reason TV, has been at Reason for 19 years. Welch, since 2002. “I took two years off for bad behavior at the LA Times,” says Welch.

When I bring up their searing hatred to another employee, it’s explained that they couldn’t possibly have that much friction between them — Gillespie spends a portion of the month in Ohio, where his kids live, and Welch moved to Brooklyn a year ago, but visits D.C. often.

Weave around the newsroom and there is a relaxed vibe along with a mix of various accented employees. A week old intern with spiky hair and English accent greets us outside. Ahh…he’s Guy Bentley, the greeter and the guy whose key fob card is letting guests upstairs. “Great, fantastic, really well,” he says, when asked how his internship is going. “UK is a little depressing,” he adds, explaining that he wants to move to the United States. He says he would’ve been here a week early but for a visa issue.

Later on we run into Guy again who’s chatting with another intern named Zenon Evans. He’s blond, sort of exotic looking and in red trousers. Maybe we were duped by the British intern, thinking all their interns are from around the world. “Where are you from?” we ask.  Clearly expecting him to say Sweden or Munich, he says, “Cleveland.”

Our faces fell as we dipped into complete and utter disappointment. Who comes to a Reason party to encounter an intern from Cleveland? (Only kidding, Zenon.) “I love writing,” he says. “I’m dedicated to the libertarian cause. I feel like I’m actually accomplishing something.”

Reason‘s newsroom is unique in that there is a glass-encased fishbowl of a room plopped in the center. It apparently has poor acoustics and who wants to be on display like a fish with everyone pointing? Nonetheless, it’s a unique place to chat and tonight it’s where the cuisine — a low-key mix of wraps, vegetable platters and such — is situated.

It’s here in the fishbowl where we bump into Matthew Feeney, a British (we think) accented assistant editor. He was born in Scotland, but his parents are from England and New Zealand so his accent is all fucked up. Asked what his pet peeve as an editor is, he replies, “Not for the record.” (Seriously. A softball question to end all softball questions and he can’t say on the record what his editorial pet peeve is? We make fun of him to his face about it, but eventually let it go.) Here’s what he will tell us. Spoiler alert: It has nothing to do with sex or violence. “I’ve been working here since May. I enjoy my colleagues and the freedom to write about what I want, when I want.” Don’t mess with this guy! He’ll kick your ass.

By far the weirdest thing in the newsroom is the male pants-less mannequin located by the bar in the main newsroom. It’s showing off the black Reason T-shirt. (See it after the jump…)

In the back of the office is a library complete with a gargoyle and skeleton head. The library is the place where journalists go to “think great thoughts,” Gillespie explains. It’s just outside the library that we meet Preston Cornish. What kind of a name is this? We have no idea, but he seems to be a solid American. He manages the business advisory council for Reason. Like Feeney, he loves his colleagues, but he doesn’t own any Reason apparel. “It’s a great group of people who are committed to advancing freedom,” he says. “We punch above our weight.”

Somehow we get into the topic of cussing in the newsroom. “First time I heard ‘bloody f–ing c-word’ at 10 a.m. I was like, ‘alright mate,’” said Cornish. (By the way, “c–t” in England isn’t nearly as bad as it is here.) He glances at Feeney, who is apparently a pretty foul-mouthed bloke.

Spotted in the crowd…Lisa Kennedy, formerly of MTV and a video host for Reason, The Weekly Standard‘s Andy Ferguson, Peter Suderman, his wife, Bloomberg View‘s Megan McArdle, C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman, ReutersJack Shafer and Reason‘s Katherine Mangu-Ward.

Photographs by Austin Price.

Above: Guy Bentley, the greeter and summer intern.

The Library.

Gargoyle.

Zenon the intern.

Pants-less mannequin shows off a Reason T-shirt.

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