One turn might mean the closing of an Austin landmark. Another flip of the card might mean the establishment of a new public service. Up one hand; down the next. No matter how much we shuffle or how much we try to stack, the cards don't lie. Let's hope that it's not all left up to chance.
A week ago or so, I found myself at the Dobie Mall, picking up my kid from a job on the Drag. The Dobie is chock-full of memories for the kid and me. The arcade (now gone), the slice and soda special (still there), the various action figure/toy/game/comics shops that have come and gone (all pretty much gone), and of course, the theatre. I sat down at the small cafe table across from the theatre to pay my respects. I'd assumed from the previous weekend's last-showings-ever that they'd be long gone. They weren't. They were still moving, lumbering, rolling massive equipment like a sad herd of elephants across the Serengeti, slow-to-go, destination unknown.
The bright golden lens of the sturdy old Century projector caught my eye, and I tried to be as unobtrusive as a big girl can be, admiring the old workhorse. Across from it, a massive Simplex. Pure movie-throwing magic, people. Film history right before my eyes. The elephants were dead on the plains, used up for their ivory. Dramatic? Sure. I was in a movie theatre, for chrissakes, a palace of reveries and dreams, a fortress of fantasy – one that introduced me to this town. I'll spare you the reminiscence of that first time at the Dobie back in 1991, except to say that I was introducing a friend to Austin, and where else would we go to see the continuing run of Rick Linklater's Slacker? Yup. That was my first film in A-Town. Dang.
Heather, the very kind (despite how exhausted she seemed) manager asked if I needed anything. I apologized for being in the way and then realized I'd only have one shot to ever ask this: "Would you mind if I sat one last time in the Egypt room?"
She very sweetly obliged, even though this must have been such a sad, sad day for her and her staff. I walked to the back of the cozy theatre, to the make-out room. The couch, of course, was gone, but the memories sparkled. So did a flood of images of films seen in this very room, including screenings at early South by Southwests and the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festivals.
One turn of the cards means a landmark closes. The next hand promises – not that something will replace it, but – that something else will open, eventually. I wondered what to do about the Dobie for "Best of Austin." She'd all but slipped off our radar since the Austin Film Society series in 2007. We lost touch. I pondered creating a special "Editor's Posthumous Pet Pick" to feature in each "BOA" in the future, but that's lame and too hindsight-y even for me.
Nope. Let's let the Dobie Theatre's 14 "Best of Austin" awards stand. Let's let the old girl rest.
We hope you enjoy this year's issue. It's loaded with Austin treasures past, present, and yet-to-be.
Time to deal the next hand. Dealer, hit me.
The people dealing the winning hands of this year's "BOA": Assistant Editors Richard Whittaker and Angela Garner. Data diva Angelica Brenner. Personal editorial support: Mr. MCK III, without whom .... Database/Web gurus Brian Barry and Adam Theriault. Our proofreaders: Sarah Jean Billeiter, Lei-Leen Choo, Mark Fagan, Monica Riese, and Kristine Tofte. Proofing interns: Zoe Cordes Selbin and Molly Wahlberg. Front-desk staffers: Jessi Cape, Samantha McClellan, and Cassandra Pearce. Art Director Jason Stout and all of the amazing design team. Promotions and marketing mavens: Erin Collier, Dan Hardick, and Logan Youree. Shout-out to the diligent production crew, ad staff, interns, and editors on call. Thank you all so much!
Thank you, writers: Belinda Acosta, Nora Ankrum, Nick Barbaro, Marjorie Baumgarten, Sarah Jean Billeiter, Wayne Alan Brenner, Andy Campbell, Lei-Leen Choo, Zoe Cordes Selbin, Wells Dunbar, Will Eidam, Mark Fagan, Robert Faires, Angela Garner, Anne Harris, Raoul Hernandez, Kimberley Jones, Michael King, Gerald McLeod, Kate X Messer, Margaret Moser, Stephen MacMillan Moser, Lee Nichols, Terry Ornelas, Austin Powell, Sara Reihani, James Renovitch, Jillian Richardson, Frank J. Rivera, Marc Savlov, Audra Schroeder, Amy Smith, Jordan Smith, Meghan Ruth Speakerman, R.U. Steinberg, Kristine Tofte, Richard Whittaker, Cindy Widner, Virginia B. Wood, and Abe Louise Young.