I was 21 when I moved to New York from a small Kentucky town. I had never eaten a bagel. All I knew about MetroCards I’d learned from Le Tigre. Back home, I’d been surrounded by a few hundred people, but in New York, I was one in eight million: transplants like me, natives like Lou Reed and daily pilgrims. Passion brought me here. Actually, it was a freelance job at Rolling Stone, but it was a love for music and words that got me moving. I’d idealized the city like a myriad musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers and composers before me. I tapped its energy for my own creative currents, and like any capacious metropolis, New York siphoned that energy right back.
My longest, and arguably most significant, relationship has been with New York, even with all its discomfort. It’s stolen all of my money. It’s a city I share with many, but also one I’ve uniquely created. I’ve made my own landmarks—the basement of Generation Records on Thompson Street, the basketball courts on 52nd in Woodside, the hidden hotel bar in Midtown with the freshest limes, the $7 movie theater on Queens Boulevard, the Colombian coffee place that only sells Turkish food, the bistro on Jane with burgers that can erase any evidence of the bourbon that came before, the ink parlor in the East Village that misspelled my tattoo, the corner where I said I love you and the waterfront where I said I didn’t. Many other landmarks have since given way to new ones. Every morning for four years, I rode the 7 train past 5 Pointz, that graffiti mecca. I memorized every tag that faced east. Now, when I take the 7, I see a building painted in patches of white where names and stories from years past once were. I just close my eyes; the art reappears.
New York, at the moment, is caught in a large, looming metamorphosis, particularly post-Bloomberg. So when we set out to do a photo essay about the city for this issue, we wanted to explore the idea of change, documenting spaces around the city that are either vibrant yet threatened, awaiting destruction, in general transition or completely transformed. Similarly, our cover stars Ratking represent a new generation of youth culture in New York. And while our other cover artist, FKA Twigs, may not be from New York, her work suggests possibilities for change all the same, specifically in how women are represented in music and the digital space. We’ve had a bit of change internally, as well. This is the first editor’s letter in 30 issues not written by former editor-in-chief Matthew Schnipper. He spent six years at The FADER living and documenting New York culture, as well as culture across the globe. To create an issue thematically anchored in change is bittersweet serendipity at its best.