In the beginning, we treated each anniversary as a cause for celebration, acknowledging the paper's survival. This survival was by no means certain during the first half dozen years or so. After eight or nine years, the financial concerns became less overwhelming and immediate. The paper was established and the tempo changed.
Now, anniversaries are treated in a relatively offhand manner. Last year, we did celebrate, it was our 15th anniversary, and we reprinted the very first issue of the Chronicle.
This year, this issue is an issue in a series of issues. This summer was a very busy one for us; autumn will be even busier, with some of the biggest Chronicle issues of the year. Summer, having lost its long-defining characteristics of slow and then slower, finds the Chronicle staff tumbling into September, no one certain where they are going to land.
This year, not even a story or two about how we started with carving knives, hand stamps, and feather pens, walking 12 miles in bad weather every morning just to get the paper out. No stories offered about how horrible it was or how much fun it was or how memorable, no stories of how we lived off each other, sucking blood and energy, when all other resources ran out.
Then and now, every week there was this paper, and the issue has always had to speak for itself. Forget history, ignore the future. Is the reader holding this very issue going to find a lot to read and a lot to think about within it ("holding" is used in the broadest sense, as our website has picked up literally thousands of readers and the ways in which we make and distribute information are changing and expanding)? There are responsibilities -- to community and culture, to society and family, to art, commerce, and even to ideology -- which define the purposes of this paper. But the bottom line is just how much fun is it to read and how insistent each issue is when being read. Is there information in here that you need to know?
It seems so. The paper keeps growing. The popularity of our website keeps growing. The readership keeps growing. The staff keeps growing. Austin keeps growing. Sometimes it wears you out, doesn't it?
So this is the 16th anniversary, somewhere around our 640th issue. The Chronicle is what it is because it is created by a community of creative talents who care passionately about this city and its people and this paper. It succeeds because it comes out of their lives... which are your lives, which are our lives. It is something of an ongoing diary of life in Austin, Texas. The kid has grown up and is no longer the punk of its earliest years (what we say is taken too seriously now, which is more a curse than a blessing).
So this is from the greater us -- the 50 or so people who work here every day and the hundreds and hundreds who help -- to you, the individual reader, holding and reading this issue. Regardless of whether you hate us or love us or don't really care about us, it's a relationship.
Last issue we did a guide issue. It was the first one in quite a while. We have been reminded of the Chronicle Rule of Guides: Invariably, we will leave out some business that was exactly the kind of establishment the Guide was designed to cover. Adding insult to injury, it usually manages to be one that has long supported the Chronicle. This UT Area Guide's omission was especially embarrassing because the Whole Earth Provision Co. (2410 San Antonio St.) is precisely the kind of business that helps define the area. It also has been a longtime supporter of the Chronicle, not just as an advertiser, but one in sympathy with our sense of this city. How we left it out is one of those mysteries that haunt Guide issues. The Chronicle will be co-hosting a monthly series of documentary films presented by the filmmakers at the Alamo Drafthouse and Cinema. The series will begin this Wednesday with a film by award-winning documentary film producer Paul Stekler, one of those helping to coordinate the shows. The Political Education of Maggie Lauterer, a feature-length segment of Stekler's Peabody award-winning Vote For Me: Politics in America series, will be shown at 6:45pm, and there will be a Q & A afterwards. The series is co-sponsored by SXSW Film, Austin Film Society, UT R.T.F. and the Chronicle. Our anniversary party at the Austin Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria is set for Sunday, Sept. 14. This annual outdoor party/benefit is one of our favorites of the year, featuring food, music, and children's entertainment. Mark this on your calendars and I'll give you more details next week.