There are a few advantages to the second half of your twenties. You can get fat because now that’s just what your body does. You can wear brown shoes with black pants. You can say things like, “I remember when” and “Oh, how the times have changed.” Ten years ago The Fader Magazine debuted on the part of the rack at Barnes & Noble where you went to find magazines with the latest digital 16-track recorder on the cover and a freeware CD of some music software on the inside. Through the early naughts it became the college kids’ alternative to Rolling Stone, and you could find copies of it in the cool kids’ apartments: on the coffee table covered in ash, on the bookshelf covered in ash, on the floor of the bathroom covered in ash and a little bit of throw-up.
I don’t know much about The Fader other than that my roommates and I would check in on an issue every now and then in 2004 and swoon over Nick Barat’s Dranky Dranks. We would memorize then hold court on our couch at 3 A.M. on a Sunday and sermonize each other on why B to the E turns you into a fiery ball of Id. The power of that prose was The Fader in a nutshell. Yeah, it covered topics, genres and artists no other mainstream publication would tackle, particularly in an age before the blogosphere made listening to music such a goddamn chore, but the excitement of a new issue of The Fader was over how’d they describe a random Bootsy Collins tape they found on the floor of a pickup in Omaha after a night of heavy-drinking at an underground Hopi line dancing club. They’d write something like:
“Bootsy’s bass spanks with the funky sass of the waitress you met at the rest stop who you’ve been thinking about for 12 miles. Her name was Melissa, and you imagine what it would be like to pull off the to the side of the road and watch the sunset together, just you, her and this tape of freaknick mayhem. ‘Who is this?’ she’d ask. And you’d say, ‘Melissa, this is Bootsy.'”
That’s how The Fader did and it was awesome. They could make a Michael Buble Christmas duet with David Archuleta sound oh so necessary. I’m convinced The Fader changed the game. I’m convinced writers for Rolling Stone, Spin and lesser magazines of their ilk internalized the language of Nick Barat and his Fader friends and started crafting their sentences with an eye toward the colloquial and absurd. Theyd’ write:
“Whatever rover brought Weezy to this planet be assured Ima cop a one way from the TKTS on Broadway and dock the fuck out of that mothership with my headphones tonight. And now in Pussycat Dolls news…”
Everyone else was copying The Fader; it was only a matter of time before The Fader started copying itself. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve gotten low with a Fader, but this past weekend I randomly picked up issue # 52 which is like 6 months old. Dude at the newsstand in Grand Central still charged me $6 so apparently it wasn’t yet past its sell by date. When I popped open the pages, it blew my mind that The Fader was still writing like the way me and Smeezy G-Chat (G-AIM when it’s between a man and a woman). “We’re gonna miss our editor in chief,” The Fader writes, “because she totally upped our lunch game.” What else? “She’s intellectual, hilarious and a little bit reckless, the way we imagine The Fader to be.” What else? “She’s a vegetarian, though she fucks with some brie.” Edwin Houghton, the new Editor-in-Chief, demonstrated some sage introspection when he wrote in his record review for some African collection of Ghanese Highlife from the ’70s that you will never listen to and never be able to find:
“Like rap lyrics, FADER CD reviews are exercises in restating a basic itheme, ie this CD is awesome.”
Exactly, Stacks. Maybe you guys should change that up, then?
The language aside, the tone of the Fader has always been just short of in your face insulting. I mean it’s got to be if the whole ethos of your magazine is, Hey, dummy, you there with the light jeans, check out some actual cool shit. I’ll be the first to admit, I loved it. But then you read something like this:
“The last year has shown all of us who make it a point to digest and seek out some New Shit, that Africa – in its multitudinous zigs and zags – is not just the most newsworthy continent in the world right now, but, in many ways, the most culturally influential.”
I’m not some fancy writer with words getting printed in ink on paper, but there’s got to be a less supercilious way to say that without making me want to fold the magazine shut, roll it up nicely and beat my face into submission in penance for the transgressions of the human race.
I’m not hating because at the end of the day, The Fader is still an incredible document that takes you places very few other magazines will take you in a way no other magazine can. I’m just saying, let’s not rest on our laurels, Fader staff. You defined a writing style, I’m convinced, or at least popularized a voice dorks malorks like me have been trying to copy for years. Unfortunately, some of those DMs are probably writing for your magazine now and retreading been there done that copy from your mag’s forefathers. We’re not saying you suck, just that you should evolve. Change is good, we’ve been told, and, at the end of the day, so is growing up.