The poet and songwriter David Berman possessed an idiosyncratic grasp of language—capable of locating precisely why a moment hurts, lingers, or both. On August 7, Berman passed away at age 52. He’d just released a gorgeous new album named Purple Mountains and was getting by, though he didn’t conceal the fact that he’d been struggling. When I heard the news, the only thing that immediately felt right to do was get in my car, put on the song “Dallas” (by his band Silver Jews) and go for a drive.
Berman, who was born in Virginia and raised partially in Texas, spent an illuminating period of his life in Dallas—which no doubt fueled the simultaneous fascination and derision he harbored toward it. In “Dallas,” he languidly recounts “cruising down Commerce, killing time in the blazing sun,” noting how the glimmering city “shines with an evil light” yet “some kind of strange magic happens” when the city comes alive. I don’t think he means disrespect to Dallas here; instead, this song nails the complex relationship we often have with cities we’ve lived in, and how our past and present are tangled up in them. There’s a comfort in sinking into those conflicting feelings, blasting the song over car speakers and singing along with Berman as he wonders: “How’d you turn a billion steers into buildings made of mirrors? And why am I drawn to you tonight?”
—Paula Mejía, culture editor
Photographer Juan Carlos Alonzo
Juan Carlos Alonzo’s photos, with their crisp quality and deliberate saturation, could easily be mistaken for shots emblazoning Dazed or Flaunt Magazine covers. But the rising senior at the University of North Texas is still early in his career. By mixing graphic design with photography, and often working with subjects who have no experience modeling professionally, Alonzo explores beauty through diversity. Alonzo says the work allows him the freedom to document his journey as a gay Latino man in the twenty-first century, and hopes his photography reflects a country whose people come from all backgrounds and experiences. Employing a variety of color choices ranging from bright and Pop Art-esque to reserved, neutral tones, Alonzo’s portraits seem to both whisper and shout at you depending on the day. Either way, his Instagram account @boiijc is worth a page-dive.
—Lillian Bautista, editorial intern
Brockhampton’s “I Been Born Again”
On the heels of their forthcoming album Ginger (due to release sometime in August), Brockhampton has dropped the first music video for it, “I Been Born Again.” It’s exactly what you’d expect from the boy band: a dizzying video shot 360 degrees from the ground up, depicting the crew dancing in an alleyway. The song starts with Bearface whispering into the mic over a creeping piano melody, with the band’s other vocalists contributing to the verses over a grimy beat, and a racing outro by Matt Champion. Arguably, the most noteworthy four lines of the song are Joba’s Texas shoutout: “Texas ’til I’m dead / BBQ and cornbread like I’m cornfed / Hit ’em one mo’ again / Screwed up from The Woodlands”—a credit to the band’s Lone Star roots and paying respects to the late Houstonian DJ Screw. After a somewhat turbulent yearlong break, it’s a relief to see the band back together. And if “I Been Born Again” is any suggestion of what Ginger will bring, things are looking up.
—Arielle Avila, editorial coordinator