Page Two

Page Two
Right now this column should be about how the Mueller zoning has to be in place before any deal with any developer or how, though it isn't the outcome I was hoping for, I think the election machine worked just fine. But in the wake of the ice storm, I keep thinking of music and of how we make meaning in our lives. Sometimes, the day-to-day grind overwhelms the mission that drives a paper like this. It becomes a business, work becomes a job, and the paper becomes a product to be turned out on a weekly basis. Then something slaps you in the face, and you feel especially proud of something you've done or something the paper's done. It may seem vain to talk about this pride, but it's a way to signal the accomplishment you feel when you do or are associated with good work. Beyond this pride, sometimes there's the magic, or the hyper-reality that once informed every day of what, at the time, was quite an unrealistic venture. Now, that feeling comes rarely.

I was thinking about this the other night at KGSR-FM's terrific 10th anniversary party at KLRU's Austin City Limits studio. During certain performances, the look on Program Director Jody Denberg's face was sheer wonder. The rest of the KGSR-FM gang seemed just as happy to be there, listening to music (and if I start to name them, I'll leave someone out). It's a job, a way to make a living, but it's also about the music. It is pretty common to talk about the culture-making machinery (the Chronicle included) in the worst terms. People say it's not about art but business -- money, influence, and friendships. Somehow we, the people behind the media, are looked at as inherently corrupt. I imagine the longer we endure, the more corrupt we're considered. The reality is that most of the people in this business love what they do. Which probably means nothing to the critics. In this case, it's worse than that: I've been friends with Jody for over two decades and am friendly with other KGSR staff members (especially Kevin Connor and Jay Trachtenberg). Thus any conspiracy theory deserves to be entertained. Here's one:

As editor of the Chronicle I discourage articles commemorating anniversaries of clubs, bands, and institutions. Some entity somewhere in Austin is always celebrating a significant anniversary. Yet here it is -- KGSR-FM's 10th anniversary, and I want to talk about them. So is this one hand washing the other? Is this the paying off of an old friendship? Well, no, though you should expect that when we do a piece on KGSR-FM in the near future.

This time it's just about the look on Jody's face while he listened to Rickie Lee Jones' inspired and flighty performance. Flighty in the sense that rather than one of those rehearsed performances with patter that's almost planned, or rather than just the work of an experienced entertainer who knows how to sew together a performance, Jones was happening as she performed. There was some planning; she opened with a brilliant version of Creedence's "Fortunate Son" with a nod toward our Governor's Mansion. The rest of the performance, though, was eerie, powerful, and more an act of music than performance. She seemed to lean in one direction but then fly off in another. She was spontaneous and flowing, and the audience was enthralled. Jody was enthralled. He leaned in, thrilled to be listening to this music, proud to be putting it on, just beaming. end story

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