I dislike editor’s letters. The cutesy rhyme—editor’s letters—makes me cringe just like it did when Mystikal, on Mariah Carey’s “Don’t Stop (Funkin’ 4 Jamaica),” paired “bowl of gumbo” with “play in the clubo.” I find the supposed omniscience of the letters inauthentic in a patronizing, Wizard of Oz–type way, and, truth be told, part of me resents playing tour guide when we typically reserve two to three precious pages of each issue for the table of contents.
My aversion to writing these missives spawned a feature called Not an Editor’s Letter, which debuted in our October 2009 Surveillance Issue. In it, Brett Ratner railed against a stranger on a plane who tweeted about the director’s “syncopated snoring.” Since then, folks like Snoop Dogg, Lindsay Lohan, and Bianca Jagger have put pen to paper to discuss themes from political activism and fashion as art to Lady Gaga’s private parts, not respectively.
But this one’s different, and not just because it’s BlackBook’s 15th anniversary issue—although that is a source of considerable pride. Going forward, we’re refocusing our content. Although the difference won’t be glaring, we hope that the changes will make the magazine more accessible to new readers, who’ll be lured in by our show-stopping, envelope-pushing photography, and who’ll stick around because they know what to expect from us. Starting with this issue, we’ll lead the conversation on Who’s Next and What’s Next. Let’s use two of the many wonderful talents in this issue as examples. Brit Marling, the season’s breakout film star for her breathtaking turn as a lost soul in Another Earth, which she co-wrote, produced, and stars in, is Who’s Next. We hadn’t heard of her until very recently, but now we can’t get her out of our heads. Vera Farmiga, meanwhile, grabbed our attention in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, and again with her Oscar-nominated portrayal of a frequent flier in Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air. (Don’t miss Orphan’s climactic scene, one of the most underrated in the history of cinema, in which Farmiga, as a mother scorned by the child she adopts—a “young girl” who turns out to be a 33-year-old prostitute with proportional dwarfism—begs to be saved from drowning in an icy lake. Farmiga looks her dead in the eyes and kicks her in the face with a boot, but not before screaming, “I’m not! Your fucking! Mommy!”) She’s now changing gears by directing her critically acclaimed debut feature film, Higher Ground—in other words, What’s Next.
Since its inception in the fall of 1996, BlackBook has undergone a number of facelifts and mood swings, but it’s always been a place where readers can find a sophisticated and sincere (although never too serious) take on culture, both popular and peripheral. Musician and friend Ryan Adams—whom I first met during a stunt that had him interning at our offices—put it best when he said we’re all just a “bunch of freaks and outsiders.” It’s a flag we proudly wave, even when our arms get tired.
And, believe me, they do. The only reason BlackBook still exists is because of the tireless work poured into it by creative and collaborative minds who deserve better pay and Sundays off. That none of us will get either anytime soon is a shame. But it’s also comforting, because it’s proof that we do this job because it inspires us, because it thrills us, and because we can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s a passion—with a streak of insanity—shared by all of the formidable editors who held this post before me, and those who will undoubtedly hold it long after I leave.
Do I love this editor’s letter? No, I most certainly do not. Do I love this issue? You’re fucking right I do. Leaf through it, if for no other reason than to relish the Grecian beauty of cover stars Alexander Skarsgård and Kate Bosworth, or the hilarious idiocy of Dionysian butt-buddies Paul Rudd and Adam Scott. I hope there’s something for you here, not just because a lot of people missed a lot fun parties putting it together, but because we photographed Ladyfag sitting half-naked on a pool table. For better or worse, our collective heart beats for this magazine, which has become our home—even if that home is a crowded, chaotic, asbestos-ridden lair with a fickle air conditioner.