As much as we at The FADER consider ourselves a global magazine, we’re still undeniably heche en los Estados Unidos. But we didn’t come to our annual Photo Special with a pre-determined plan to pull together an issue so completely focused upon America Today. Still, by a perfect confluence of timing, projects and the synchronized superconsciouses of our esteemed photographers and Creative Director/Photo Special curator Phil Bicker, that’s exactly what happened. Through a series of beautiful and sometimes harrowing photographic essays, we’ve spotlighted the important domestic issues that will not only inform our votes in November, but guide our concerns for our country: immigration, political refugees, the stateside AIDS crisis (particularly among young women of color), homelessness, poverty and, as ever, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At first it felt heavy, in theory, maybe too depressing or too much at once. But when we saw the photos, we felt terrific. Proud. Moved. The essays are presented as truthfully as possible. And far from being some grim missive from doomsday, they underscored the necessity of our generation to have an unwavering, fighting hope for our future. It’s not idealism so much as the old “rock bottom” adage, but these flicks lit the fire. This is our reality right now. Still we are pulling for change.
But then, if our cover stars get their way, our future will not be burdened with such archaic trappings as “state-issued paper money” or “electricity.” TV on the Radio are releasing the most dazzling music of their career, a deeply funky, transcendent statement album that, in part, meditates on the insanity of modern science. Edwin “Stats” Houghton accompanied the band to a Williamsburg laundromat to unearth the answers. He emerged, smelling like Downy, with the best TVOTR story I have ever read. As the band eulogize the Brooklyn where they were (and remain) kings, we also learn they are waiting for the night to fall—as in, readying themselves for The Final Countdown. And like the denouement of a good novel, back cover stars Brightblack Morning Light show how we’ll all be living if the apocalypse truly does come: off the grid, smoking hash at dawn, eating food from the garden and making room-encompassing soul-dirges on the Rhodes. Writer Charles Homans and photographer Jason Nocito (who shot both cover stories) took a four-wheel-drive and their own water out to rural New Mexico, where they slept under the stars on Brightblack’s property and figured out why these two Luddites are actually our future. Both bands, with their sanguine outlook and philosopher’s gaze, are perfect emblems of the Young Republic we’ve constructed in this issue of The FADER, wherein a grim disposition and an actual rainbow bookend a country in turmoil. We just have to hold on a little longer, friends.
JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD