Page Two: Seasons Change, and So Do We
Our sports blog commences, 'SXSW Presents' continues, and Priest unmasks the past
But let's get to discussing the Chronicle's anachronistic ways. Finally we may be leaving some many, if not all of them behind. There has already been progress, as well as a serious, ongoing effort to re-create the Chronicle's Web site. The site austinchronicle.com will no longer be simply an online version of each week's print edition but an entity unto itself. Original editorial, new areas of concentrated coverage, breaking news, more art to support certain stories, and overall interactivity, as well as a forums section, are all under way, and there is a lot more to come. Now you can respond to letters, participate in open forums, and post comments online directly after reading a story. All of this is set up for your convenience, with no password or personal memory involved.
In addition, there is now increased online sports coverage, presided over by Mark Fagan and highlighted every Thursday (austinchronicle.com/sports). Finally, readers can attack the Chronicle for being as elitist and stupid about sports as we are about everything else. There's a lot more to come.
Now, all of this is set up for interactivity, so we need our readers to comment, respond, offer a different perspective, and/or just share their thoughts. Please, check out the Chronicle online, and get involved.
(An Aside: In the Chronicle's defense, I'd like to point out that we are not running nearly as far behind the actual times as the current Bush administration, which seems happily ensconced in the first quarter of said past century. In fact, one can now assume that a "Bush conservative" is someone who longs for the America of the late 1890s through the first couple of decades of the 1900s. You remember reading about those times, don't you? There was a lot of talk of democracy and the common man, while business especially the robber barons and international corporations really ran the show, set foreign policy, exploited labor, and did little to support the federal government or the American people. Not only was it anti-labor, anti-minority, pro-industry, and hands-off on the Ku Klux Klan, but there was also unprecedented racist, immoral, and anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation. There was also a major imperialistic adventure, which, no matter how well-intentioned, turned very sour (the Philippines). The major scandal of the period was the Teapot Dome scandal in 1922, during which it was discovered that the government was leasing land to major oil companies with no bids or royalties involved. All sounds familiar, doesn't it?)
As I noted last week, the third season of SXSW Presents is now running on KLRU on Tuesdays, 9-10:30pm. The show will run on Tuesdays in that time slot through the end of the year. SXSW Presents season three will continue through the beginning of next year, but the scheduling is not yet completely set. Yes, I'm an executive producer, but this is less of a conflict of interest than usual, as I really do so little. As I noted last week, SXSW Presents is run by Matt Dentler, head of SXSW Film, with SXSW co-workers Jarod Neece and Lya Guerra. This series presents films (mostly, but not all, documentaries) that have been shown and caused excitement on the film-festival circuit but haven't been readily available for later viewings.
Deep appreciation for this show has to go to all the folks at KLRU and on its board, who have done an amazing job of revitalizing the station in the last few years (note: I was but am no longer a KLRU board member). Very special thanks must be paid to KLRU CEO Bill Stotesbery (also an executive producer of SXSW Presents). For years, there has been planning aimed at making KLRU the Austin station carrying PBS programming rather than the PBS outlet in Austin. The station's way of doing this is to offer more self-produced, local programming along with the terrific national PBS shows. In this direction, there had been a lot of talk and fundraising, coupled with extraordinary support and interest from the local business and creative communities. Mary Beth Rogers, as CEO of the station, did an extraordinary job establishing contacts and laying groundwork, as well as launching several successful local shows.
Stotesbery has really brought this home by combining a politician's skills and a cutthroat diplomat's sense of purpose with good old, longtime Austin charm. Running into Stotesbery the other day, I noted (perhaps with unintentional cruelty) that he looked like someone who had been the president of the U.S. for a number of years. No matter how youthful they start out, they usually seem prematurely aged after any serious time in the office. Stotesbery looked far more dynamic but still somewhat like the folks at the end of Frank Capra's Lost Horizon (based, of course, on James Hilton's novel) leaving Shangri-La after having long lived there.
Creative innovation, birthing new shows, and navigating local, station, university, and personal politics aren't easy to accomplish anywhere. In Austin, not only are there even more tributaries to consider, but, in addition, the currents are insanely swift, with hardcore, unhindered piranha swimming them at will. Imagine pushing an enormous boulder uphill. Stotesbery has done this with style!
KLRU is now offering a range of terrific local programming, with even more planned. Once again, the station has reinvented itself, reinvigorating Austin City Limits in the process. Certainly we are thrilled that SXSW Presents is part of the lineup. KLRU has prominently established itself nationally as a supporter and champion of independent film; in addition to being showcased on SXSW Presents and the long-running show The Territory, film has been featured on such shows as Texas Monthly Talks, with host Evan Smith, and Austin Now, hosted by Tom Spencer. UT's Emmy Award-winning Paul Stekler produced and hosted Special Sessions and is working on creating other programming. There's the great Downtown series, the wonderful Biscuit Brothers show for kids of all ages, and Spencer's classic hit, Central Texas Gardener. Austin is also home to PBS stalwart Hector Galán, who produces most of his programming for the national entity but is still considered ours.
Many, many people and organizations have been involved with and contributed to KLRU's reinvention. Still, there is no way to tell or skew the story in a way that Bill Stotesbery is not the hero. Austin owes him much.
The whole lineup of each season of SXSW Presents has been excellent (again, Dentler and gang do all the work). This year's SXSW Presents schedule continues and expands the tradition, offering some outstanding films, all of which are consistently audience-friendly. The schedule includes:
The Last Days of the San José. Co-owner Liz Lambert's documentary on the history of the South Austin landmark, with an emphasis on the lives of the people involved.
Viva Les Amis. Director Nancy Higgins' documentary on the legendary campus coffeehouse unavoidably featured in Richard Linklater's Slacker.
The Dreams of Sparrows. Daily life in Iraq is shown in this collaborative work by Iraqi and American filmmakers.
24 Hours on Craigslist
State vs. Reed. This tells the story of death row inmate Rodney Reed.
Witches in Exile. Documentary about Ghana, superstitions, and "witch villages."
A Light From the East. A troupe of actors on cultural exchange in the USSR witnesses the fall of the Soviet Empire.
Barbecue: A Texas Love Story. A participatory "cook, eat, and watch" celebration of Texas barbecue.
Pedal. A NYC bicycle messenger's life racing through the canyons of the city.
See "Clip and Save" box below for the full schedule.
This week's cover story is on Micael Priest. I'm sorry, but Micael is a brother in every sense, and if I got started writing about his involvement in the Chronicle, his story, and our history, I'd end up with a "Page Two" longer than the cover story itself if not one that would run even longer than the issue. From my heart, there is no one more deserving of the Chronicle cover nor anyone I could be prouder of our featuring than Priest. May we get into nearly as much trouble in the future as we have always gotten into together in the past.
CLIP AND SAVE
'SXSW Presents': The Rest of the Season
SXSW Presents' third season continues with The Last Days of The San José, directed by Liz Lambert, on Oct. 10, on KLRU, 9-10:30pm.
SXSW Presents, along with KLRU, offers Austin viewers some of the finest and most entertaining new documentaries, as well as other films. Please, support the program and KLRU.
(In the following list, the local directors are Liz Lambert, Nancy Higgins, Ryan Polomski and Frank Bustoz, Amy Grappell, Chris Elley, and a few of the short filmmakers.)
All films will air on KLRU, Tuesdays, 9-10:30pm unless otherwise noted.
The Last Days of the San José
Oct. 10, D: Liz Lambert
Viva Les Amis
Oct. 17, D: Nancy Higgins
The Dreams of Sparrows
Oct. 24, 9:30pm, D: Hayder Daffar
Iraqi and American filmmakers' portrayal of daily life in Iraq
24 Hours on Craigslist
Oct. 31, D: Michael Ferris Gibson
State vs. Reed
Nov. 7, D: Ryan Polomski & Frank Bustoz
Explores Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed's case
Witches in Exile
Nov. 14, D: Allison Berg
In Ghana, women accused of witchcraft are sent to "witch villages."
A Light From the East
Nov. 21, D: Amy Grappell
American actors in the USSR to participate in a cultural-exchange project witness the fall of the Soviets.
Barbecue: A Texas Love Story
January TBD, D: Chris Elley
January TBD, D: Peter Sutherland
Fast-paced film about an NYC bicycle messenger
SXSW Shorts: Animated Program
January TBD, D: Various
Animated shorts by celebrated artists from Austin and elsewhere
SXSW Shorts: Reel Shorts
January TBD, D: Various