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There'll be no hoolpa over our 19th anniversary.

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It is Wednesday afternoon. We go to press in a few hours. There are about 60 people working in this building to finish the issue you now hold in your hand. We will print 90,000 copies to be distributed at around 1,500 locations. (But not Starbucks; see our ad on page 11.) There are 160 pages in this issue. 73.42 of those are ads, another 33 are classified/personals/back page. The lowest salary at the Chronicle is $9 an hour; full-time staff gets health and dental benefits, life insurance, paid vacation, sick leave, and personal time, as well as a 401K. The Chronicle is 19 years old next Monday.

Nineteen years ago was a different story. We published biweekly, the first issues 24 pages, though they soon shrunk to 20. There was very little advertising (and a good portion of what there was we were never paid for) and one full-time employee (and I don't even want to think what she was paid). Somewhere in there I remember Margaret Moser being the receptionist and making $35 a week. This was Austin in 1981, but Chronicle pay still really sucked.

No one was doing it for money. They believed in the community and they believed in the paper. The paper has always been the staff, and they are of this city -- that is the paper's core philosophy.

It was hard. We kept at it. After seven years we went weekly, in September 1988. The previous March (1987), Chronicle publisher Nick Barbaro and I had put on the first SXSW Music and Media Conference with Roland Swenson, now managing director, and Louis Jay Meyers, who has since left. It took a long time. Financially, the Nineties were easier than the Eighties.

Some folks from those early years really hate us (or at least me), some have died, we've lost track of many, and, at least, Margaret Moser, Carolyn Phillips, Marge Baumgarten, and Deborah Valencia are still here. This issue is an issue like any other issue. No hoopla over the 19 years. But wait till next year, when we hit 20. Then you're going to hear about it, and I'm going to tell every one of my first-decade stories one more time, except for the golf-cart-in-the-swimming-pool episode.

In my heart I still define myself more as a film fan than anything else. It is thrilling to me that this town now boasts such an impressive film community and so many fine festivals. The stature and influence of the Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, now in its 13th year, cannot be underestimated. The Festival runs through Thursday, Sept. 7, with screenings at the Arbor and Dobie every night.

Along these lines, if you love film, you owe it to yourself to check out the Austin Film Society's fourth annual Quentin Tarantino film series, QT Quattro, at the Alamo. Tarantino has become a much-debated cultural icon, but the quite extraordinary human at the heart of all that hoopla simply loves films. His introductions -- enthusiastic combinations of history, criticism, insight, and fannish enthusiasm -- provide the perfect context for any film. The series finishes out this Sunday.

Starbucks has made a corporate decision not to distribute free publications. An article in Columbus Alive by Jamie Pietras quotes Starbucks public affairs director Alan Gulick as saying that it was about clutter: "It's more than aesthetics. It's really about simplifying our stores and providing a great experience for customers. ... Really one of the things we value a lot is the experience customers have in our stores." Again, see our ad on page 11, but if you're in a Starbucks you might ask them where the Chronicles are.

Thanks and Happy 19th, because if this paper is its staff, it is also its readers. Bless you for the time and the experience. end story

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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