Metro Page: Austin/Tejas

The Rag Blog :
METRO EVENT | It’s a Rag Blog Happy Hour and Stocking-Stuffer at Ruby’s BBQ!

Event: Rag Blog Happy Hour & Stocking-Stuffer!
When: Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, 2-4 p.m.
Where: Ruby’s BBQ
Address: 512 W. 29th St. (at Guadalupe), Austin, TX 78705
Telephone: 512-477-1651
Cost: Free and open to the public
Food: Ruby’s beer and barbecue at cash bar

Join us for an informal get-together sponsored by the New Journalism Project (The Rag Blog and Rag Radio) — and do your last-minute politically-correct X-Mas shopping — this Saturday at Ruby’s BBQ.

Get our critically-acclaimed book, Celebrating The Rag, at a special holiday discount — as well as Rag commemorative t-shirts — and choose from our great collection of classic Hawaiian shirts!
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Alice Embree :
METRO | Rev. Bob Breihan (1925-2017) was a courageous fighter for social justice

He opened the Methodist Student Center to an alternative view of the world during a period of tremendous upheaval.

Rev. Bob Breihan on Rag Radio in the studios of KOOP-FM in Austin, Nov. 29, 2013. Photo by Roger Baker / The Rag Blog.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | November 13, 2017

Listen to Thorne Dreyer‘s hour-long Nov. 29, 2013 Rag Radio interview with Rev. Bob Breihan, here.


AUSTIN — Rev. Bob Breihan passed on, surrounded by loved ones, in his home in Austin, Texas, on November 4, 2017. He was 92.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, November 18, 2017, at University United Methodist Church in Austin.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Bob Breihan’s name to University United Methodist Church, 2409 Guadalupe, Austin, Texas 78705; to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama 36104; or to a charity of your choice.
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Steve Rossignol :
METRO | ‘Dam’ scary: The ghosts of LCRA

According to reliable if shady sources, Austin’s Depression-era dams are haunted as hell.

Austin’s Mansfield Dam. Nov. 8, 2008. Photo by Ferrous Büller / Flickr.

By Steve Rossignol | The Rag Blog | October 31, 2017

AUSTIN — There is a grand history to Austin’s lakes which traces back to the late 1930’s, when a nation and state struggling to pull itself out of the Great Depression enacted public infrastructure construction programs to build dams and extend electricity to rural areas. In 1936, the U.S. Department of the Interior authorized the establishment of the Lower Colorado River Authority.

On that shiny necklace called the Colorado River, several dams were built by the LCRA, which in addition to providing flood control from those periodic and devastating Hill Country flash floods, also provided hydroelectric power to a burgeoning Austin. And the crown jewel on that necklace is Mansfield Dam, named for then Austin Congressman J. J. Mansfield.
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Dave Zirin :
METRO | SPORT | Houston stadium grift comes home to roost as Harvey hits

Preacher Joel Osteen’s megachurch was once a hoops hallowed ground called The Summit.

The faithful at Joel Osteen’s megachurch, nee The Summit. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

By Dave Zirin | The Rag Blog | September 5, 2017

HOUSTON — Joel Osteen, the moneychanger who runs his own Houston temple, was the subject of withering criticism after refusing to open his 16,800-seat Lakewood Megachurch to those seeking shelter from Hurricane Harvey. Now the doors are open, but it took several days of people wondering why this proponent of the “prosperity gospel” (aka “God loves you if you are rich”) was pulling up the drawbridge on his place of worship.

Less discussed — and Osteen must be relieved that this is the case — is how this televangelist got his hands on his megachurch arena in the first place. It’s a story that speaks to how our cities are unprepared for disasters like Harvey in part because of the way spending has been diverted into publicly funded stadiums; stadiums that become rotting carcasses or “white elephants” as soon as a billionaire wants a new one.
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Lamar W. Hankins :
METRO | Harris County juvenile justice system: A case in point

This is a tale of dysfunction, mendacity,
and corruption.

Harris County Juvenile Justice Center.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | August 29, 2017

I graduated from law school over 41 years ago and am now retired. I’ve known of many disreputable, if not corrupt, occurrences in the legal system, but few worse than what happened in 1976, before I was admitted to the practice of law by the State Bar of Texas, when I was in my third year of law school and allowed to practice in court under the direct supervision of an attorney.

Professor Irene Merker Rosenberg had been an extraordinary lawyer and supervising attorney for the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society of New York for seven years before joining the faculty at the University of Houston law school in 1974. She had been the trial attorney in the landmark Winship decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that juveniles accused of a crime are entitled to have the charge proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” rather than by the lower standard of proof, “by a preponderance of the evidence.”
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Mariann Wizard :
METRO | The fan-shaped destiny of R. Paul Pipkin (1946-2017)

Paul was my sounding board, devil’s advocate, ‘camerado,’ goad, fount of naughty ideas, and sympathetic ear.

Photo posted by the Bexar County Greens in a notice of memorial services for Paul Pipkin.

By Mariann Wizard | The Rag Blog | August 23, 2017

SAN IGNACIO, Cavo, Belize — There was a notorious news photo from a scorching hot Tuesday in Austin, Texas, July 1967. I’m wearing a plain white dress my mom made for me a couple of years earlier for my high school graduation festivities. I’m staring at nothing, straight ahead, utterly blank, focused on my mother-in-law’s innate dignity as I leave the funeral home to get into the limo that will carry us to the cemetery in San Antonio to bury my murdered husband.

To my left, not in the picture, a swarm of news photographers, including the Department of Public Safety’s well-known surveillance shutterman, is calling me, trying to get me to look at them, asking the questions idiots always ask survivors, like “How do you feel?” I don’t hear them and I don’t see them. Between me and the news mob, a madman, with huge, angry eyes, a bristling black beard, and a snarling, teeth-gnashing grimace, lunges at the intruders, keeping them away. That was my friend, Paul.
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The Rag Blog :
METRO EVENT | A ‘tale of two rebel cities’ with Steve Early & Nick Licata on July 27

Learn how Seattle and Richmond, California, became models for municipal action in the Trump era.

Nick Licata, left, and Steve Early.

Steve Early and Nick Licata will also share a “tale of two rebel cities” with host Thorne Dreyer on Rag Radio, Friday, July 28, 2-3 p.m. (CT) on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin and streamed live here.

Event: A Tale of Two Rebel Cities
What: Book party and discussion
Who: Steve Early and Nick Licata
When: Thursday, July 27, 2017, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Scholz Biergarten
Address: 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
Telephone: 512-474-1958
Cost: Free and open to the public
Sponsors: Austin Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Left Elect, and Labor Notes

AUSTIN — Steve Early and Nick Licata will speak at a book party and discussion tagged “A Tale of Two Rebel Cities” on Thursday, July 27, from 7-9 p.m., at Scholz Biergarten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin 78701.

Steve Early is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Richmond Progressive Alliance, and the Communications Workers of America (CWA). His new book, published by Beacon Press, is Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City. The book includes an introduction by Bernie Sanders.
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Alice Embree :
METRO | Demonstrators say ‘No’ to Trumpcare; Seven arrested outside Sen. Cornyn’s office

Austin protesters vote with their feet against a bill that would be disastrous for health care and a bonanza for wealth care.

The Rag Blog‘s Alice Embree was one of seven arrested at the demonstration. Photo by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | July 12, 2017

AUSTIN — On Thursday, July 6, more than 200 Austinites told Texas Sen. John Cornyn to vote against the draconian Senate healthcare bill — officially titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) and unofficially known as Trumpcare.

Protestors filled the sidewalk at 221 West 6th Street, where Senator Cornyn has a 15th-floor office in the Chase Bank Tower. Seven people, including the author, were arrested for blocking the sidewalk in front of Cornyn’s office.
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Alice Embree :
METRO | Alice Kresensky Cunningham
(July 14, 1935 – June 23, 2017)

As part of a faith-based social justice ministry, Cris played a sustaining role for many movement activists and groups.

Cris Cunningham in the late 1960s. Photo by Alan Pogue /
The Rag Blog.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | July 10, 2017

AUSTIN — Cris Cunningham died on June 23, 2017, in Damariscotta, Maine, from complications of Parkinson’s. She was director of the University of Texas YMCA for many years, making that space available to The Rag for its office, to documentary photographer Alan Pogue for his darkroom, to the Birth Control Counseling Project started by women on the Rag staff, to the peer counseling project WomenSpace, and to other worthy causes.
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Richard Croxdale :
METRO | San Marcos’s limited minimum wage law has gotten little attention

The law, in force since last November, applies only to businesses seeking economic incentives.

Hays County Courthouse in San Marcos, Texas. Image from
Wikimedia Commons.

By Richard Croxdale | The Rag Blog | June 12, 2017

SAN MARCOS, Texas — $15 an hour x 40 hours a week = $600 a week before deductions, or $31,200 a year before deductions.

In February 2016, the city council of San Marcos, Texas, passed a law that sets a $15/hour wage as the minimum that a business can pay if it expects to get economic incentives from the City of San Marcos. The law became active this past November, and it is unique — there is no other law of this kind in Texas.

The legislation has received scant attention. The national Fight for $15 movement was not aware of the law and did not participate in the advocacy for it. Fight for $15 is focused on specific companies and broader statewide and nationwide initiatives. For example, in June, the group supported a San Marcos Wendy’s workers strike over the lack of air conditioning in the restaurant.
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The Rag Blog :
METRO EVENT | Bill Ayers & Bernardine Dohrn present a ‘Radical Manifesto’ June 21 in Austin

Ayers and Dohrn will speak and Bill will sign his new book, ‘Demand the Impossible.’

Event: Demand the impossible!
What: Booksigning and discussion
Who: Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn
When: Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 6-8 p.m.
Where: High Road on Dawson
Address: 700 Dawson Rd., Austin 78704
Telephone: 512-442-8535
Sponsors: New Journalism Project and Austin chapter, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn will be Thorne Dreyer‘s guests on Rag Radio Friday, June 16, 2-3 p.m. The syndicated Rag Radio program is broadcast live on K00P 91.7 FM in Austin and can be streamed at KOOP and at Radio Free America. Find other outlets at the Rag Radio page.


AUSTIN — Legendary activists and educators Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn will speak and lead a discussion in Austin, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, from 6-8 p.m., at The High Road on Dawson. Bill will sign copies of his new book, Demand the Impossible: A Radical Manifesto, which will be available for purchase. The event is open to the public.

There will be free snacks, and drinks can be purchased at the High Road’s full bar. The talk is sponsored by the New Journalism Project, publisher of The Rag Blog and sponsor of Rag Radio, and the Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). A $5 donation is suggested.
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Ivan Koop Kuper :
METRO | Filmmaker Eagle Pennell’s downward spiral in Houston

Texan Pennell, a ‘patron saint of  American independent film,’ became his own worst enemy.

Texas filmmaker Eagle Pennell (1952-2002).

By Ivan Koop Kuper | The Rag Blog | May 25, 2017

HOUSTON — Independent filmmaker Eagle Pennell had become somewhat of a permanent fixture in the bohemian Montrose bar scene after he moved to Houston from Hollywood in 1982. A creature of habit, he could be found parked on a bar stool any given night of the week at any number of the neighborhood watering holes. There, he held court all evening, talking about film and filmmaking to anyone who would listen and buy him drinks.

Not one to be burdened by personal possessions or leases imposed by landlords, Pennell preferred the life of a vagabond filmmaker. The tall, blonde, and charismatic Pennell was always on the lookout for a new benefactor with deep pockets to fund his next movie, or a new girlfriend with an apartment who could provide him with an alternative to the four walls of his rooming house.
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