Thorne Dreyer and Alice Embree :
The Rag: 50 years of cutting-edge journalism

A series of public events, October 13-16, 2016, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Austin’s historic Sixties underground newspaper.

Rag Covers

By Thorne Dreyer and Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | May 9, 2016

AUSTIN — In a public celebration of The Rag’s 50th anniversary — “The Rag: 50 Years and Still Raising Hell!” — former Rag staffers, followers, and friends are planning a four-day series of activities October 13-16, 2016, in Austin.  Events will take place at various venues, including the Vortex Theater, Threadgill’s South, and the Austin Community College Eastview Campus.

The Rag, Austin’s weekly tabloid underground newspaper, published 380 editions from 1966 to 1977. Noted for its unique blend of New Left politics and Sixties alternative culture, The Rag was among the earliest and most influential of the Sixties-era underground newspapers; it was the first in the South and the first to grow directly out of an activist and counterculture community.

The Rag: 50 years and still raising hell! ©Furry Freak Brothers illustration by Gilbert Shelton

Reunion and Public Celebration, Oct. 13-16, 2016. Graphic by Gilbert Shelton / The Rag Blog.

The Rag also eschewed the traditional top-down editorial structure, with the staff making decisions democratically.  Its volunteer staffers’ writing and activism were at the heart of the civil rights, anti-war, student power, women’s liberation, LGBT rights, and labor movements of the Sixties and seventies. They covered Austin city politics and chronicled the emergence of the Texas counterculture and the Austin music scene.

And The Rag is the first of the Sixties underground papers to be reborn into the Internet age with the influential progressive news magazine, The Rag Blog, and the syndicated Rag Radio program, both of which have wide followings as they carry on the Rag’s storied tradition.

rag blog armadillo sm

Jim Franklin / The Rag Blog.

Over the four days in October, publications, panel discussions, exhibitions, informal gatherings, and music concerts will document and interpret The Rag’s impact on Austin’s subsequent history, compare the different media strategies employed by the Rag staff and the community activists of today, and introduce a book and e-book containing approximately 100 of the paper’s most compelling articles, plus artwork created by iconic Texas artists like Gilbert Shelton and Jim Franklin that originally appeared in The Rag from 1966 to 1977.  The book will also include a series of essays written for the occasion by former staffers.

Our 50th Anniversary Celebration will kick off by revisiting the remarkable Gentle Thursday happenings that The Rag helped organize in the late Sixties, and will include a reunion of the dozens of volunteers who published this newspaper; the world premiere screening of The Rag: Austin’s Underground Press 1966-1977, a film by Peoples History in Texas, and a public presentation of a newly-digitalized archive of The Rag’s 380 issues that will be available to future historians, teachers, students, and researchers.

There will also be a concert featuring Austin musicians who were key players in the early years of the Austin music scene. Appropriately, the concert will take place at Eddie Wilson’s Threadgill’s South, near the former site of the legendary Armadillo World Headquarters that opened in 1970 and was also owned and operated by famed music impresario and restaurateur Wilson — who has noted that The Rag “holds a major place in Austin’s political and cultural history.”

Find the Rag Reunion schedule here: A Reunion and Public Celebration: October 13-16, 2016.

For information about accommodations, go here: 2016 Rag Reunion and Public Celebration: Where to stay in Austin this October.

To communicate with the Rag Reunion Organizing Committee: reunion@theragblog.com.

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11 Responses to Thorne Dreyer and Alice Embree :
The Rag: 50 years of cutting-edge journalism

  1. Daun says:

    Appreciate seeing times of events as soon as they are set.

  2. Alan Locklear says:

    I just started reviewing the ” newly-digitalized archive” of Rag issues. There seem to be some missing issues as well as pages that didn’t get completely “digitalized”.

  3. I should clarify that, Alan. That is the Rag archive at Independent Voices but it is far from complete at this time. There are still many issues that haven’t been digitized and fixes to be made. It should be essentially finished by the time of the reunion in October. I thought people might like to see what it looks like, but maybe I should remove the link to avoid confusion.

  4. Jay Jurie says:

    Thorne,

    As you know, I wasn’t part of the original (1960s) Rag Group. Even so, would I be welcome if I wanted to attend the reunion?

    Jay Jurie

  5. Jay: If you don’t show up we’ll send a search party after you!

    To all: This is not only a staff reunion, it’s also a public celebration and we expect lots of friends to come in from around the country.

  6. Mike Miller says:

    We have submitted a number of issues from the Austin History Center to Independent Voices to fill in some of the gaps in the digitized collection. They should be scanned in the next couple of weeks, but I don’t know how long it takes them to add to the database.

  7. Tom Wilmore says:

    I heard there will be a tshirt, will it be sold online?

  8. Yes, Tom. Watch this space.

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