We Have an Issue: Some Stories

Mama Duke on the cover, plus an in-depth look at what went wrong at Front Steps

Mama Duke (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Some stories just fall in our laps. That was the case with this week's cover story, courtesy of Kriss Conklin, who wrote an early draft in former Music Editor Raoul Hernandez's journalism class at the University of Texas – a reliable talent pipeline we've been enjoying ever since Raoul expanded his repertoire to teaching. Current Music Editor Kevin Curtin was impressed with what he saw, and he tells me Kriss put a lot of work into expanding the original piece into this really insightful profile of Austin rapper Mama Duke. You'll find it here.

Some stories we sweat over – a lot. That was the case with this week's news feature, which staff writer Austin Sanders has been working on around the clock to get into this issue. Austin first reported on July 15 the city's decision to cancel its contract with Front Steps, the operator of Downtown's ARCH. As he relates in this week's in-depth look at what went wrong, some Front Steps employees learned of the contract termination from the Chronicle's story, not from their bosses, and that's just a hint of the internal mismanagement and deep frustrations detailed in his piece. We're still in the middle of the story, by the way: There are a lot of raised eyebrows over who the city has elected to hand the reins to, and as our issue hits stands, Council will be voting on those proposed new contracts. Follow Austin on Twitter – @daustinsanders – for real-time updates.

The Chronicle came back from last week's Association of Alternative Newsmedia conference and awards ceremony in Chicago with three first-place finishes (for Rachel Rascoe's music writing, the 2020-21 "Winners Wagon" Austin Music Awards, and the 2021 Best of Austin issue); one case of COVID (so far); a whole lotta ideas for future projects; and a whole lotta love for our alt-weekly comrades. I know media's supposed to be cutthroat, but the spirit of collaboration, of hey this worked for us, you should totally steal it!, is one of my favorite things about AAN. I can't wait to get cooking on all these new ideas.

Muralist Ruben Esquivel at Viva La Vida Fest (Photo by Cassie Arredondo)


Good Vibes at Viva La Vida Fest: Qmmunity Editor James Scott recaps the Frida Friday ATX-hosted event celebrating Kahlo's life, work, and activism.

Chats With Actors-Turned-Directors: Culture Editor Richard Whittaker speaks with Rebecca Hall (Passing) about acting in new psychothriller Resurrection and with first-time writer/director B.J. Novak (The Office) about taking on the stories Texas tells about itself in Vengeance.

Austin FC Streak Ends: Despite some brilliant play from midfielder Sebastián Driussi, the Verde fell to New York Red Bulls, 4-3, at home on Sunday.

aGLIFF Gets in the Ring: Austin's long-running queer film festival (35 years and counting!) announced six titles for its August fest, including LGBTQ wrestling documentary Out in the Ring.

Now Accepting Intern Applications: Ever wondered what it's like to work at an alternative weekly? The Chronicle is now accepting applications for the fall internship program. Find out more at austinchronicle.com/jobs.

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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