Page Two

Page Two
In October 1991, the Chronicle featured a mask of "The Developer of the Black Lagoon" for our Halloween cover. It looked surprisingly like Circle C developer Gary Bradley. We figured he would find this more flattering than disconcerting; Bradley seemed to relish his larger-than-life image and didn't seem to care what fed it.

The step-by-step instructions on how to use the mask included notes to paste it to cardboard, cut it out by cutting around the head and cut out eye holes. At the end it included this comment: "Here's a tip, though the above instructions may look easy, it's best to play it safe. Borrow heavily -- hundreds of millions of dollars, if possible. Ask for help from every level of government. Make whatever promises seem necessary. Remember, if you do it on your own and screw up, you've got no mask. If everybody has a vested interest in the mask, they can't afford to have you fail. And if things go really badly, the government will have to step in and eat the debt, and then you can blame them for the whole mess."

Times haven't changed that much. Since then, Bradley lowered his profile and survived rough times, financial troubles, and legal disputes. Things have improved considerably over the last few years.

One of the things that marks Bradley's success is his tenaciousness. He is willing to go anywhere, say anything, and do anything to further his projects.

Now, he is going in front of the Legislature claiming that Austin's annexation and environmental policies are racist. According to the Statesman (and this was a news report and not Kelso): "He [Bradley] also said the city's 1997 annexation of 27,700 suburban residents, the vast majority of whom are white, diluted minority voting strength in the city."

Whoa. Isn't this a little like a slave owner in 1865 warning his slaves about the racism of advancing Union troops? Bradley is arguing that the neighborhoods he developed are so white that when annexed, they've thrown off the racial balance of the city. Which makes the city racist!

If Bradley is a civil rights leader, clearly the definition has changed. Maybe it has -- lately House Republicans have been talking about Civil Rights more than any time since reconstruction. Interestingly, the last time Bradley became so concerned with civil rights was when he argued that a vote for S.O.S. was racist.

One of the considerations in a city's annexation of surrounding communities is that since they are dependent on the central city, they should be economically obligated to it. In other cities, mostly white suburban developments, like the ones Bradley builds, have hurt inner cities. The suburban developments reduce the city's tax base by bleeding off the middle and upper class. This has had a devastating impact on the urban underclass and minority communities. They are the ones left in the inner city and the economic burden (read taxes) of providing services falls directly on them. Annexation is one tool to maintain economic and political equity.

Ironically, Austin's inner city is thriving. The controversy over East Side economic redevelopment and investment, a horn Bradley is also honking, is legitimate. I fear, however, that with the closing of the Airport, the gentrification of East Austin will become the overwhelming issue. Will Bradley be spearheading large, low-cost housing developments where those displaced from their longtime East Austin residences can move?

If I were a minority legislator, my first question to Bradley would be about the cost to U.S. taxpayers of bailing out the Savings and Loan fiasco. "Wouldn't the tens of millions of dollars you defaulted on, which were used to build, in your own words, largely white, suburban neighborhoods, been better spent on the inner city in the first place? "

If Gary Bradley really cared about anything else besides his own economic self interest, this would have been the place to begin. Ripping off the mask from Gary Bradley's villain and the face you find is Gary Bradley's. This is not only his usual Austin bashing but shameless race baiting.

QUENTINFEST III is set to begin next week (sponsored by the Austin Film Society at the Alamo Drafthouse). Expect the local media to treat these films as "cute" examples of perverse American culture. Don't be fooled, some of them are certainly oddities and a few will be chosen simply because they are so bizarre. But think of this film festival as Tarantino sharing the text books that influenced his work. They may be commercial, exploitation, or obscure, they may be silly, slight, profound or revelatory.

The schedule is, of course, subject to change. This is not a museum exhibit or a curated retrospective, this is film lover Tarantino sharing some choice items from his private collection with a couple hundred of his Austin buddies each night. The schedule is driven by enthusiasm.

Therefore, anything I say is subject to change but the schedule I saw found an inspired triple bill of Zulu Dawn and Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. Lester was once one of the most highly regarded directors of his generation, revolutionizing acceptable mainstream film style with the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night and Help, and The Knack, and How to Get It and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He directed John Lennon in How I Won the War, matched the style and sophistication of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up with Petulia and confounded everyone with Bed Sitting Room. In recent years, he's more or less slipped into obscurity except for those Beatle films.

The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers were shot together, if memory serves. The first was released in 1974 the latter in 1975. Three is a farcical romp, one of the best versions of the tale. The film was part of a move towards authenticity where filmmakers tried to imagine what conditions in other times were really like. So instead of splendidly clad folks romping through a picture perfect France, Lester tried to get the smell and the taste, worn clothes and tired warriors. Always the reflective film maker, The Four Musketeers is a more ironic response to the first one (kind of like a Godfather II to Godfather), though they were shot at the same time rather than years apart. Not so much anti-war as anti-history, Four Musketeers foreshadows Lester's brilliant, bittersweet anti-myth, Robin and Marian.

Douglas Hickox's Zulu Dawn is one of the few films outside of the whole Custer's Last Stand genre where indigenous people win. It is also visually beautiful, narratively sleek and enthralling. Rarely have battle scenes been so well and coherently directed (Hickox wrote Zulu). I hate to say it, because all three of these movies are so much fun, but together they are a powerful examination of the European attitudes that drove nationalism and imperialism.

Micael Priest writes to tell us he's having a show at Wild About Music, Eighth and Congress (next door to the State Theatre). "It's me and Kerry Awn, Franklin, Featherston, Juke, Garrett, Gonzales, Narum, Wilkins & Yeates and a few guests ... Most of the posters will be for sale although since there aren't many left and these are all from our personal stashes ... It'll run through SXSW and then till the 8th of April." More and more South by Southwest and Austin Music Awards information over the next few weeks.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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