The Austin Chronicle

Public Notice: Past Imperfect, Future Tense

Rag reunion, SH 45: Activists' work is never done

By Nick Barbaro, October 7, 2016, News

When The Rag burst forth on an unsuspecting Austin, 50 years ago this coming Monday, few people had seen anything like it. The movement that came to be known as the "Underground Press" did not yet exist outside of New York and the Left Coast, and there was certainly no precedent in this somewhat sleepy college town.

The Rag grew out of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) anti-war movement, and brought us Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Jim Frank­lin's cosmic Armadillos, the linkage between redneck rock and progressive politics, Roe v. Wade, and much of the spirit that we now take for granted in weird Austin. And amazingly, a lot of the people who made that extraordinary leap a half-century ago are still active in Austin today, still turning out art, and prose, and music, and spirit. The Rag Blog debuted online in 2006, followed in 2009 by Rag Radio on KOOP-FM, both spearheaded by original Rag "funnel" Thorne Dreyer. And next week, those Rag veterans celebrate their milestone with an ambitious schedule of celebratory – and thoughtful – events, that I can give just a taste of in this space. And it's all free (with one exception).

Sunday, Oct. 9, 4-6pm: An opening reception for "The Rag Photography of Alan Pogue," an exhibit that's up all month at La Peña, 227 Congress.

Thursday, Oct. 13, 4:30-7:30pm: A Gentle Thursday happening with live music and spoken word on an outdoor stage at the Vortex, 2307 Manor Rd. Wear tie-dye and peace buttons, bring dogs and children, dance with abandon. Turn on, tune in, drop out.

Fri.-Sat., Oct. 14-15: An extensive series of panels and discussions at ACC Eastview Campus, 3401 Webberville Rd., running from 1:45-5pm Friday, and 1:30-4:30pm Saturday.

Fri., Oct. 14, 7-9pm: World premiere of the documentary film, The Rag: Underground Newspaper 1966-1977, ACC Eastview.

Sat., Oct. 15, 7-11:30pm: A Reunion Concert with music by Extreme Heat, Uranium Savages, and the Freddie Steady Revue w/Spencer Perskin (Shiva's Headband) & George Kinney (Golden Dawn), at Threadgill's, 301 W. Riverside. This is the one non-free event; $15 advance at; $20 at the door.

Sun., Oct. 16, 10:30am-1pm: Closing Brunch for the Rag community and guests, at the High Road on Dawson, 700 Dawson Rd.

Somewhere in there, they'll also be celebrating the book release of Celebrating the Rag: Austin's Iconic Underground Newspaper, edited by Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree, and Richard Croxdale, designed by Carlos Lowry, and including more than 100 articles from the The Rag, along with several contemporary essays, and tons of great vintage art. See the full schedule (and more) at

The Save Our Springs Alliance, on behalf of plaintiffs Shudde Fath, et al., filed a request late Wednesday for a preliminary injunction to stop the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority from beginning to cut down trees and clear the SH 45 Southwest right of way – which CTRMA has said they will begin as soon as Oct. 24 if there is no court order in place. Federal District Judge Lee Yeakel is scheduled to hear arguments beginning at 9am Wednesday, Oct. 12. Arguments on the full merits of the case – in which SOS and other environmental groups and individuals contend that a full environmental study should be conducted before CTRMA and TxDOT begin construction on various segments of the Southwest outer loop – won't be heard until sometime in early 2017, but SOS insists that this injunction is needed now, to prevent irreparable damage that may later be declared illegal.

Meanwhile, for you ACL Fest fans, below are two views from under the MoPac bridge: as it looks now, and as it would look with the triple-decker expansion CTRMA would like to build (ugly, but by no means the worst feature of this very bad plan).

And, because it bears repeating at least once each week – just a reminder that the debate over the Grove at Shoal Creek has nothing to do with housing density – as all sides are agreed on that issue – but is about putting a large retail/office development onto a small residential road.

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