Page Two

Page Two
Mike Clark-Madison's cover story on the Rainey Street neighborhood and the dilemma it faces as to its future is indicative of the current important development issues facing Austin. We are constantly told that the old developer/environmentalist wars are over, and the question is, where to go next? If both communities are going to work together for the greater good of Austin, what is that good?

I see more development than ever, everywhere. It seems every empty lot in the inner-city neighborhoods is being developed. The sprawl continues unabated. The transportation problem seems no closer to being solved. Most importantly, there seems to be no cohesive vision applied to how the city is going to look into the future. The vision is all about moving forward at a very fast rate on an issue-by-issue basis. We don't see the old extravagant tie-ups, the constant examples of how badly government can work, but is movement necessarily progress?

I love the Rainey Street neighborhood. I went to some outstanding parties there over the years. Early on, there was music in the backyard barbecues at Red River Motors, where I always felt a little foreign. One easy, lazy afternoon, I sat around with Clyde Woodward while some Louisiana folks whipped up some music and the gumbo cooked. We sipped whiskey and talked about music. When photographer Will Van Overbeek lived there (with Tom Huckabee, I think), he threw at least one outstanding, legendary party (they might have thrown more, but here, memory fails).

As always, if I had a vote, I'd say leave it alone. But I don't have a vote, and it isn't going to be left alone. Many of the landowners and residents don't want it left alone. Its proximity to downtown makes it too inviting to remain unchanged.

Rainey Street illuminates the question: How is Austin going to grow? This has always been the question. This city used to fight over how to articulate the question; now the concern is how to answer it. This is progress. I think the war has waned because development has become so overwhelming. A conflict-weary populace rejoices in the peace. But when they wake fully rested from the wars, what kind of city will they find?

Mike's story shows just how complicated these issues are and why they are so difficult to address. It's been at least 30 years that folks have been discussing what will happen with the neighborhood, and no one is that much closer to an answer.

Last week we plugged our wonderful new online Austin Chronicle Movie Guide ( Here, over 2,500 films are cataloged, and more are being added all the time. This represents eight years' worth of Austin Chronicle film reviews, and since we review virtually everything that comes to town, it includes an impressive array of movies. I genuinely believe we have some of the best film writers in the country, so checking this out should be a pleasure.

In the course of that plug, I mentioned that some of the people who started the Chronicle were film students. CinemaTexas, Raul's, and The Daily Texan were the three legs that held up that stool. The Texan is celebrating its 100th anniversary in the fall with a special party. Nick Barbaro and I both worked at the Texan, but we haven't been invited. This is par for the course. I, at least, will go anyway. This is also par for the course -- going where we're not invited. Anyway, this is an early warning. Some of the fondest memories of my life have to do with my years at the Texan, which you'll be hearing about in remarkable detail come September.

As I mentioned last week: It seems like forever that we have been talking about adding some kind of new romance column in the Personals section. Recently, we've decided now is the time, which mostly means we're looking more seriously. We've decided to invite our readers to send in their ideas.

We'd like something other than a Question and Answer column, but we offer no ideas. We will settle for the right Q & A column. Here's your chance. Send us three sample columns that you would write if you ran the Chronicle's romance column. It can be Q & A; it can be something else. We're looking for intelligence, information, and style -- not just sex stories, dubious advice, and sorry double entendres. Before you start, think, "Do I want to be doing this in a year?" The first 12 columns are easy, then it is hell. Maybe it should be Q & A?

We make no promises. We may find something we like, we may not. We may go in-house or hire some favorite writer. First we're going to surf the waves of our readers. Send any ideas to me at: The Austin Chronicle, PO Box 49066, Austin, TX 78765.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 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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Page 2, Nick Barbaro

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