‘Making Waves’ is a significant work, displaying dexterity through penetrating discussions.
By Robert C. Cottrell | The Rag Blog | June 1, 2022
Followers of The Rag Blog should be thoroughly delighted with the release of a vital new volume, Making Waves: The Rag Radio Interviews (Briscoe Center for American History, 2022). Edited by Thorne Dreyer, who delivers a revealing introduction chockful of personal information—more on that shortly–Making Waves contains transcripts of a series of the most meaningful interviews he conducted over the span of Rag Radio’s first decade and a bit longer. Some usual suspects are included—Ronnie Dugger, Eddie Wilson, Jim Hightower, and Kaye Northcott spring to mind—but there are others, some of whom I couldn’t have predicted—who also enrich the pages of this new book, while demonstrating the breadth and depth of Rag Radio and its host’s interests. And make no mistake about that. Making Waves is a significant work, displaying dexterity through penetrating discussions involving politics, journalism, and writing, naturally, but also American culture in general, including music, art, and sculpture. Its sweep goes far beyond the Movement and counterculture that Dreyer has for so long been associated with, although those are hardly ignored. In the process, this book makes a major contribution, in this reader’s estimation, to American letters, not simply the field of journalism. But not to worry, readers. Dreyer’s new book isn’t heavy altogether, containing, much like his on-air commentary and patter, pathos, humor, intriguing asides, and any number of irreverent moments.
‘Making Waves’ continues a pattern of enriching the historical record, beyond the academic world or Establishment journalism.
Making Waves does something else as well, which should interest fans of The Rag Blog. It continues a pattern of enriching the historical record, beyond the academic world or Establishment journalism, initiated some time ago by Austin residents who were important actors in the same Movement, the counterculture, or both. Three decades ago, Daryl Janes presented a collection of interviews, No Apologies: Texas Radicals Celebrate the ‘60s (Eakin Press, 1992), which included remembrances from Robert Pardun, Mariann Wizard, Dick Reavis, Jim Simons, and Terry DuBose, among various Austinites, in addition to photos by and one of Alan Pogue. Almost a decade later, Pardun, in Prairie Radical: A Journey Through the Sixties (Shire Press, 2001), depicted the early phases of SDS activism, particularly in Texas’ capital city. Through Witness for Justice: The Documentary Photographs of Alan Pogue (University of Chicago Press, 2007) employed the lens of photojournalism to capture protest activity, scenes of the counterculture, and social ailments in Texas, other parts of the Southwest, Latin America, the Near East, and the Middle East. Simons soon offered his life story and involvement in legal crusades through his autobiographical Molly Chronicles: Serotonin Serenade (Plain View Press, 2007). Another self-rendering, Borderlands Boy: Love, War and Peace in the Atomic Age (Sunstone Press, 2019), by Ken Carpenter, highlighted draft resistance and the quest for gay liberation.
Purchase Making Waves: The Rag Radio Interviews at the Briscoe Center for American History.
Last summer, Alice Embree published her highly insightful, significant memoir, Voice Lessons (Briscoe Center for American History, 2021), offering a much-needed woman’s perspective of the decidedly left-of-center people’s campaigns of the past sixty years. Pogue will soon release his exploration, through photographic images, of “how people created their own alternative institutions during the 70s.” Now, Dreyer delivers his own captivating collection, Making Waves, which is probably as close to an autobiography as the Movement veteran is likely to produce. This is because something of Dreyer’s personal history, also sprinkled in two recently published works, is included in this forthcoming book. Those books, of course, are Celebrating the Rag: Austin’s Iconic Underground Newspaper (New Journalism Project, 2016, ed. Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree, and Richard Croxdale) and Exploring Space City!: Houston’s Historic Underground Newspaper (New Journalism Project, 2021, ed. Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree, Cam Duncan, and Sherwood Bishop).