Features

Defining Terms

Why the Chronicle's 35th anniversary is focused on That Word

In the ongoing battle to define Austin, one word has been deployed more than any other to characterize the city as it was once upon a time and as it is today. I don't need to tell you what it is. No one does. That Word's served up more than breakfast tacos: on bumper stickers and T-shirts, in tourism PR and every travel story written about our city, by reporters and commentators wondering if Austin's still, you know, That Word.

You hear it from the folks who still consider Austin the live freak-flag-flying capital of the world, the folks who insist the city has sold its soul and now occupies a circle of Hell below (shudder) Dallas and Houston, and everyone in between. The problem is, everyone uses That Word and uses it to mean something different: odd, funky, wacky, cool, what-I-think-is-cool, independent, anti-authoritarian, transgressive, progressive, aberrant, bizarre. The frequency and looseness of its usage have debased what was originally just a way of describing Austin's embrace of offbeat nonconformity.

In approaching the Chronicle's 35th anniversary, the staff has been thinking about That Word. It's been at the heart of much of our coverage of this city throughout the paper's history, so it's important for us to know just what we mean by it. To us, it's rooted in the personal passions of the people here, the things they love and pursue with an uncommon intensity, no matter how far out of the mainstream they may be, and which they share openly and publicly with their fellow citizens. Yes, the city has grown and changed, but the presence of so many passionate people following their own idiosyncratic paths hasn't. Weirdness still abounds in Austin, and the Chronicle remains committed to telling you about it in all its forms.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 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.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Robert Faires
Draylen Mason Is Still Being Remembered, and How Matters
Draylen Mason Is Still Being Remembered, and How Matters
A year after his death, we should do as Draylen did

March 22, 2019

Dance Repertory Theatre's <i>Fortitude</i>
Dance Repertory Theatre's Fortitude
In this spring concert, a profound and moving tribute to a missing member of the Theatre & Dance Department community

March 22, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

weird, Austin Chronicle

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle