Daily Inspiration: Alex Frank

On Alex Frank’s last day at The FADER, the editorial staff bids him a fond farewell :,-)

June 26, 2014

Alex Frank started at The FADER six years ago as an intern, worked for years as the unreally in-tune Style Editor (not to mention covering a metric ton of music, including writing our recent Blood Orange cover story and editing the one on Lana Del Rey), and rose in recent months to Deputy Editor. Today, on his last day, the editorial staff bids him a fond farewell.

MOBOLAJI DAWODU: Alex Frank is that dude for real. Anything you want or need to know about him is all in this video.  

DEIDRE DYER: Alex and I have worked side by side in The FADER style department for over three years. He was promoted to Style Editor three months before I was brought on as the Style Assistant. For all of our differences—Alex, a gay Jew from Pittsburgh, PA and I, West Indian from Flatbush, Brooklyn—the one thing we've shared and have truly bonded over in our time together is a love and awe of Divas. Diana, Whitney, Mariah, Patti, Barbara, Aretha and the Diva-est of all, Oprah. Alex and I spent countless days sending each other YouTube clips and archive images marveling at the magnitude of their talent, the grace in their swagger and, most importantly, looking to them as beacons of wisdom and motivation. I'd be a fool to think that I could succinctly and adequately convey my love, respect and admiration of Alexander G. Frank in a simple blog post. Thankfully, where my words fall short, the Divas, possessing more soul, sass and spirit in their well-manicured pinky fingers, carry my adoring sentiment further than I ever could. In honor of my dear sweet friend Alex, I've selected this clip from Oprah's 2005 Legends Ball, where a veritable pantheon of Divas came together to celebrate life and honor one another's achievements. More than the fact that I'll miss working alongside Alex, I'm wholeheartedly proud of him and stoked for the Next Chapter of his career. Cheers to my fave Diva of them all, Alex Frank.

DUNCAN COOPER: There was an amazing period shortly after I started at The FADER where nearly everybody working had previously been an intern, Alex and myself included. New interns have gone full-time since, and I'm sure that'll continue forever; what sadly won't is Alex's role shepherding everyone's taste. More than knowing when to say yes, which often comes easy, he's taught us that running a place like this is about having the discernment to slow down and say no when something's wrong for the brand. Sometimes, that meant saying no to writing about things he was really passionate about, e.g. Britney Spears. (Pop music's a notoriously tricky thing for the music internet, though it's been getting better over the past year or so; I wonder how keeping up his new column Popping Off might've changed things.) One of the first conversations he and I really had, shortly after I started here, was this heady jag about Britney, posthumanism and The Cyborg Manifesto—jesus christ, on the one hand, but on the other, exactly why this work is fun. I always told him, non-jokingly, that I'd love to read his Britney Spears book. Maybe he won't have time to work on it just yet, but there's not much I'd rather read.

EMILIE FRIEDLANDER: Earlier today, I could hear Alex playing some hip-hop out of computer speakers in the room next door. I couldn’t make out what it was, so I chatted him about it, and he goes, “Soulja! Who else.” Then he starts chatting me how Soulja Boy came to The FADER office one day and started skateboarding through our hallways, and how it was once of the highlights in his six years of working here. Then I hear him telling Duncan the same anecdote through the wall (they share the office next door), and then Alex comes into the room where I work and repeats the same story to everybody in here. You can tell when Alex gets excited about something because he’ll start sending rapidfire texts and rapidfire chats and talking about it to everybody who will listen; when the thing he’s excited about is music, he’ll start blasting it. This is also how you can tell that Alex is processing something new, beginning to become convinced (and perhaps, subconsciously, hoping to convince all the rest of us) that we should cover it.

It’s that instinct to share his latest music and style obsessions with everybody and anybody who will listen that makes Alex a born journalist. It’s also something that makes Alex a writer very much in keeping with the spirit of The FADER, where we only really write about the things that we feel strongly about, either because we can’t get enough or them or because they deeply intrigue or disturb us. More than a given work of art or music or design, I think it’s the idiosyncratic, passionate essence of the person who created it that he tends to get obsessed with, and I think just bearing witness to his enthusiasm about other human beings every day for the past few years has made me a better writer. Yesterday, he started cranking this Laurel Halo song out of his speakers, and I thought I’d post it here, because I agree with him that it’s one of the most beautiful songs to come out in the past few years, and also because I’m going to miss hearing him play it through the wall every now and then. I always wonder what he's thinking about when he puts this one on.

JESSICA ROBERTSON: Alex was my first and only officemate at The FADER when I began just a year ago. I remember meeting a beautiful boy with big eyes whose love for pop rivaled mine. I also remember wondering how the hell he ever found anything on his desk through all the crap. But he had a salt lamp, a sweet tooth, a tendency to break out in song and a stack of New Yorkers so we'd get on just fine. Alex was core to helping me settle into The FADER; our little space (which I nicknamed the Rainbow Room, perhaps to his chagrin) felt like a home of sorts. There wasn't (and still isn't) a question he couldn't answer, from work to life to literature to Britney Spears. He thinks a lot and feels a lot and says "doooope" a lot which means I now say "doooope" a lot. Watching him grow confident in his immense talent has been more gratifying than all the sugar we ate. I've not yet met another brain like his and know The FADER (and I) are better off for it. Now, more of the world gets to experience it. Alex, I luh ya, Papi.

GEORDIE WOOD: Alex, like me, wears his heart on his sleeve. Through the ups and downs of making a magazine, his excitement around our triumphs and anxiety about our pitfalls were always right on the surface. In a city and creative culture where often keeping it cool reigns supreme, Alex has always been a refreshing and inspirational proponent of the editorial content itself and making something beautiful together. He is a tastemaker in the truest since, a vocal and passionate collaborate and all around wonderful person. I will miss him dearly but look forward to all he has before him in this world,

PATRICK MCDERMOTT: Alex gives really good advice. Whether it’s about which subversive novel to read, how to frame an interview, where to pick up a nice suit jacket or just some poignant words to live by (see: “Never trust anyone born after Clueless”), he’s armed with some @FrankNarcissict-style wisdom to dish out in pretty much any situation. Last summer, at a former FADER editor’s birthday party in Brooklyn, I spoke with Alex for a couple of minutes outside the bar. For some reason, we started talking about getting older, probably because when I’m drunk and I tend to lament aging to an almost neurotic degree. I'm hopelessly pre-nostalgic for moments and memories before they’ve even passed. Alex, who’s only a couple years older than I am, reassured me that growing up is kind of fun, that you become increasingly comfortable in your skin and start caring way less about being “cool,” which, in turn, actually makes you a lot cooler. He probably doesn’t even remember the interaction, and I’m surprised that I even do— I’d had far too many gin & tonics and I’m pretty sure I threw up like, 30 minutes later. But, somehow, it stuck with me.

If you read The FADER regularly, you might know Alex has a fascination with this vague idea of “aging gracefully”; some of my favorite pieces he’s done have been sensitive interviews with people much older than he is: Dennis Cooper, Tom Bianchi, Bob Mould. He gets that the best stories aren’t always about the young bucks and the teenage prodigies and the next-big-things, that sometimes the most interesting artist is the one who’s had more time in his own skin, who no longer cares what’s “cool” and maybe never did. It’s pretty sad to think I will no longer hear Alex's advice—or whichever Lana Del Rey song he leaves on repeat—every single day I come to work. But I think he’s offered up enough guidance that it will sort of be like he’s not really gone, like “Young and Beautiful” is still playing softly from the office down the hall.

STEVEN AGUIAR: I first came to know Alex through an Instagram photo of him with Mac Miller, whom he used to babysit while growing up in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. His account handle, @franknarcissist, gave me the impression of a snobby, self-involved style editor. I couldn't have been more wrong. My girlfriend is from Pittsburgh, too, and the people there strike me as smart, open-minded, gracious and enthusiastic. Alex has been all of that and more for The FADER since I've been here. (In reality, @franknarcissist smartly pokes fun at our collective self-absorption on social media and not Alex's.) I'm especially touched by his excitement in mastering everything big and small, from picking our next cover star to perfecting a style tweet. Alex is an amazing guy and I'm happy to say I've worked with him.

RUTH SAXELBY: Alex has the brightest smile, a proper knock-you-down beamer that extends to his eyes and fills the room. The first time I experienced it on full blast was after I suggested that, maybe, Mariah might be a good call for the By The Numbers feature in our Summer Music issue. I’d only been here a few days and was tentatively trying to find my feet—to join a team that’s so tight and passionate about what they do is endlessly inspiring but on occasion a little intimidating—so that vote of confidence meant a lot. In the weeks since he’s gone out of his way to make sure I was settling in on multiple occasions, dropping wisdom about working in this writing-about-music-and-stuff business that people twice his age would be fortunate to know. It’s been a privilege—and a lot of fun—to work with Alex for these few short weeks and I know I’m going to miss that bright, bright smile.

MATTHEW TRAMMELL: The FADER’s known for music, but so much of the history and identity of the brand is indebted to style. The cocky, fearless and slightly subversive lens through which we cover a space as self-important as fashion permeates throughout the entire magazine, and during his tenure here, Alex’s editorial voice has been synonymous with the FADER I came to know years ago as a reader and fan. It’s been trippy to get to know the person behind the posts and pages in the short time we’ve shared masthead space, but he’s turned out to be the hilarious, focused, and consistently surprising personality I’d imagined. When I think of Alex, I think of this insane manifesto of a song, and remember to maintain a level of confidence and dedication so extreme that it’s almost funny—it’s always worked for him.

Posted: June 26, 2014
Daily Inspiration: Alex Frank