Belated congratulations to Kirk Watson, our mayor-elect. In the next few years, the issues facing this city are going to become more complex. The old environmentalist-vs-developer positioning simply won't work; the issues are not so easily defined. What is needed is a vision of what the city wants to be like in the future and a plan to reach that goal. Given its new majority, if this council doesn't seriously approach this responsibility, the members will have no easy excuse. The historic deadlock should give way to a new consensus, but Watson does have his work cut out for him. The deep ideological factionalism and longtime traditional hostilities combine in a stew that is choking the city. The voters have now given a clear mandate as to the council's responsibility to bear in mind environmental concerns and the cultural identity that defines Austin as Austin, while dealing with the practical issues of growth, economic responsibility, and stronger support for basic city services. Inherent in this mosaic are the contradictions of expanding needs and budget control. That's a tall order but Watson is riding into office with an unusual amount of goodwill and a strong, experienced council. This bodes well for the city.
No movie rant this week, but I will note that Chasing Amy and Grosse Pointe Blank are pretty wonderful movies, though in different ways. Both showed at SXSW Film '97 but Annie and I caught them again more recently and both were filmgoing experiences. Seeing them was what got me so stoked and geared-up for Sam Fuller's White Dog and the Roger Corman/Robert Thom collaboration, Bloody Mama, which I raved about in the last two issues. Both the films deserved the attention, but the reason I went on was that Chasing Amy and Grosse Pointe Blank both reminded me of how exciting movies can be and how they can charge you up.
And if you've had a good or even great experience at a local theatre recently, see page 31. There's doubtless a category for it in the"Best of Austin" ballot, and if not, we invite you to write one in.