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Editor in Chief Louis Black reflects on the Chronicle's 21st anniversary.

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Twenty-one years ago this week we published the first issue of the Chronicle. It was a disaster, a completely unnerving experience more because of the cover than any other reason. I'm still proud of the contents of that issue, I just can't stand looking at the cover. It was not a way to make a splash in the community. Ed Lowry convened a meeting immediately so we could decide whether or not we were serious about this publication. If we were we had to really focus on this paper and its mission. Seven years of biweekly publication have been followed by 14 years of weekly publication (somewhere around 915 separate issues, but who's counting?). We're serious.

Last year we tried to make a big deal about our 20th anniversary but since it is the first week in September, we were swamped by current events. This year we note our anniversary but offer no hoopla (though expect something the year after next when we hit our 1,000th issue).

We're here because of you and we appreciate it. The Chronicle's market penetration is greater than most alternative weeklies and we sell more advertising than most papers in similar size markets. Conversely, we carry a higher editorial to advertising ratio than most and have a bigger staff. We appreciate our readers and are devoted to our community. Our business, sales, and editorial philosophy has remained consistent for over two decades: put out the best Chronicle we can.

I've asked most of the staff to resist offering their thoughts on September 11 (Michael Ventura a notable and understandable exception). It is not because in any way I minimize the importance of the date and the tragedies associated with it. This in no way is a political decision; it is a media decision if anything and meant with great respect. Over the next few days I expect national media (TV, radio, print) to deluge us with 9/11 meditations and reminisces, with pondering and polemicizing, with politicking and positioning. We bring nothing unique to this discussion except more verbiage. This is a time for silent meditation and deep introspection as each of us confronts those terrible events, their meanings and their consequences.

Last Tuesday night the Austin Film Society hosted a memorial screening of Eagle Pennell's early films as a tribute to the filmmaker. Watching The Whole Shootin' Match, again, reminded me of what a great film it is, filled with wonderful performances and beautifully nuanced dialogue. It was a school night, so sticking around for Eagle's second film, Last Night at the Alamo was out. Most importantly, the event brought home not just Eagle's history but the importance of that early generation of Austin filmmakers. The gathering was a reunion of sorts, of those creative talents who manned the trenches when most folks didn't understand there was even a campaign going on. Regional independent filmmaking has many birthplaces, and Austin is one of them.

There could be no more appropriate cover artist for our 21st anniversary issue than Guy Juke. Juke was producing covers in our first year as we hope he will in our 50th. This particular bit of Escher-esque self-meditation seems especially fitting. Many years ago Juke did a poster for a Ramones' Austin performance that ended up being faithfully imitated for a Ramones' album cover. On our cover, Juke copies the copy of his drawing to accompany this week's article on the Ramones by music editor Raoul Hernandez (who pulled himself away from viewing the entire filmography of John Barrymore to fit in this piece).

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 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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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Guy Juke, Ramones, Eagle Pennell, The Whole Shootin' Match, Last Night at the Alamo, Ed Lowry, Michael Ventura, 9 / 11

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