A monthly note from our editors with some thoughts on theory, dilemma, and the next big thing.
Past Letters Entries
Nightmares of Another Life
The Downward Spiral
To The Swamp
Make It Through
Too Close to Call
This Is Make-Believe
Letters by Tyler Reinhard
Walking into the Wind
A letter from the editors about the theme of this month’s issue – STREET
Little bits of the street whizzed across my attention span all summer long. As the hot time (hopefully) sets this September, the season has left a strange film on my life. A constant tide pulling me into challenging thoughts. Uncomfortable realities that seem to have no resolution or end.
I was standing outside of a bar with a group of friends, chatting. Someone walked past in daisy dukes with whatever you call that underside of the butt peeking out from under the frayed hem. Under his breath but only just, the bouncer remarked “Damn, and I’m stuck here.” I looked at him, unimpressed. He said “you’re not going to turn around and look cause that’s your girlfriend huh?” He indicated to my friend, M. She was not my girlfriend, in fact she had been a close friend and colleague for about a decade.
“Nope, not my girlfriend.”
“What, you don’t like girls?”
“I like some of them.”
“Then don’t you appreciate a nice ass? The way it bounces? I mean come on bro.”
Microaggression I guess you could call this. Towards the pedestrian. Towards me. Towards my friend. M spoke up at the bouncer, uncomfortable but none-the-less sternly: “Does your ass bounce? Try and dance, let’s see. Let’s see it bounce.” He refused. “Nah, man.”
For young women and queers, the streets of New York City must be like some sort of asteroid belt. A field of debris. Giant threatening rocks in space, drifting and unwelcome. Remarks, some well-intentioned and some disgusting, burn up in an atmosphere of tough-shell-exterior. Some remarks more terrifying, pulverize surfaces, leaving behind craters, casting shadows, all reminders that dangerous objects are always somewhere out there.
“You May Be Subject To Arrest And Or Other Actions”
Ugh, where do I start besides #ftp? Cause that’s the other filter over my image of this summer. Police violence. Here in New York, cops choked a man out, killing him. Perhaps because it was caught on camera it’s more something, but to me it’s just a reminder of the consistency of the deeply racialized violence that is modern life. His last words still haunt me. “I can’t breathe.”
Meanwhile in Ferguson, MO, a storm of fire and noise curls into itself like some forming hurricane of realism. Streets filled with toxic gas. Flames licking the walls of corner stores. A funeral procession pacing up and down Florissant. An entire nation checking their watches. “Is this over yet?” And the cops are a different kind of soldier, afraid of their shadows. Gun sights raised. A chorus of onlookers wagging a finger at this or that form of outrage. Wrestling with the harsh truth of live streams. Justice for so and so, a hashtag that is always trending.
“Have you ever heard that story about Roman roads?” He continued. “They were their greatest military technology. Their empire ended where their roads did – beyond the empire was everywhere that roads did not lead.” As I walk to the bar, I imagine for a second that the Roman empire never fell.
When we were discussing the theme of this month’s issue, we wanted to entertain a latent conversation. A dialogue that might exist between the horrors we bore witness to this summer and a new opportunity being revealed as pop-culture sputters and ejects, leaving behind a vacuum of power and attention. Is what happens on the streets of modern society merely a slurry of sociological phenomena, or is there something more ... archeological about it. Will our streetwear ever be draped over some ethnic mannequin in the halls of a natural history museum’s diorama? Will our experiences of PTSD make it into timeless masterpieces of art, sealed up in the Louvre?
Piece by piece, the street gets excavated, tagged, and sent off. Elevated.
The sectors of a city … are decipherable, but the personal meaning they have for us is incommunicable, as is the secrecy of private life in general, regarding which we possess nothing but pitiful documents
The street. This original social network, where people of all walks of life are interleaved with the power they wield and the forces bearing down on them. In some ways, I feel like the streets are kind of like plumbing. Conduits that bring us out of our homes into a stranger common space. Spaces for art, some of it permitted, some of it on stolen canvasses. Spaces for interaction, some of them consensual and some altogether unwelcome. Where our clothes are stained, where our phones break, where our confidence is built or destroyed. Where we overhear really, really troubling conversations. A space where, despite all of these irresolvable conflicts and desperate scenarios, we pour out into day after day. Where we build the vision we have of ourselves. Refining. Editing. A stone soup of panic, where everyone tosses in a little morsel of themselves. A fashion pageant of a lower order. The runway is an elevated street. A stage upon which we demonstrate and impersonate our daily lives, embellishing every ugly bit, trussing up the loose limbs of our anxieties and compromises.
It’s funny how in post-apocalyptic movies the streets are always and suddenly empty. As I shuffle around from appointment to appointment, pardoning myself through the crowd, I wonder if any of us would even notice civilization ending.
The theme of this month is STREET – the performance, presentation, intervention, and injunction of public social life. You can expect horoscopes, interviews with a new generation of performance artists, the strange etiquette of loitering, fashion coverage and debuts, street art, street food, bulletins from conflicts around the country, and glimpses into liminal spaces we must navigate in order to live.