It’s become a tradition for alt-weeklies and other publications to put out a yearly 40 Under 40 list. Why 40 is the cut off age has long since been lost to the hungover, frenetic haze of 1980s editorial decisions, along with “three examples is a trend,” “let’s do a swimsuit issue which also reinforces terrible notions of beauty” and, of course, Dilbert. And there are those who, swayed by cynicism and Gen X irony to the point of blindness, argue it’s all a farce, that it’s corny, or that it’s a bought and paid for distraction from the evils of the world.
While I won’t speak for those behind the “30 Sexiest Staffers on Capitol Hill” or “50 Under 50 Most Ruthless Financiers on Wall Street,” I can tell you with absolute confidence this list is none of that. Gambit weighs any number of considerations in deciding on our list: Are they unique? Are we representing as wide a swath of our community as possible? Are we selecting people who aren’t just good at their job, but making sure they shine in other areas? Are they civic minded in their work and lives? In short, do they stand out in a city filled with remarkably talented, hardworking people?
And it is worth it. Selecting a group of people from a list of stand out New Orleanians, nominated by readers, is a worthy exercise, especially in these difficult times. It gives us as a newspaper — and you, our kind and gentle readers — a chance to pause and remember the world is not just a nightmare collage of petty cruelty, selfishness and mundane meanness.