South . . . from cover I shouldn’t be in such a predicament worrying about the water supply of a ’65 Dodge Dart, rushing south with a mind full of romance and ideals and -right spirit; but that is a decision I have made. A commitment. There are things to be done. Those who can do them who are not dead, cynical, in hiding or disguiSe are so few we have lost touch, muttering badly to loved ones or playing very dangerous games alone. That isn’t our portion. I’ve come here to revive an idea. Not my idea one started by Dugger and Brammer and Morris and others in perhaps even darker times but an idea which having been refined, strengthened and broadened through Vietnam, Nixon and the murders of King and the Kennedys \(among others too numerous or to abandon: we are free people, helping each other in society, united in the sacred bond of our humanity. I got to Austin okay. The midday light played off the red tiles of the university, the Capitol was sour pink and solid like always; but then crossing the Colorado River the water appeared dull, choppy and threatening. Sam Houston crossed most of the great rivers of Texas in his drive, or retreat, to San Jacinto; and if ever at any time you wish to think of Texas as a Sunbelt filled with swimming pools and air-conditioned plazas and sleek fashion models flushed bare-legged on a fashion runway you should stop and go outside. Look around. We’re prisoners of this land as much as lords of its making. Many of us have forgotten thatnot the obvious exploiters like developers and energy barons but that great bulk of us. comprising the economic middle of society. The bourgeoisie. The people who are supposed to have been given the talents and numbers to make democracy work. Who if continuing to ignore their responsibilities in abeyance to greed or fear soon will learn alternative lessons of history. 1980 will be a righteous year. I sense change with equal parts of anxiety and hope. I’ve hated artificial divisions of history since high school \(when was the those of us in our 30s, who now make up more than half America’s population, we have experienced the 50s, 60s and 70s as kinds of markers, the advent of the 80s can’t approach with subtlety. It will be a good time, no, a critical time, for the Observer. Not for the sake of the Observer, for the sake of the society the Observer will be examining. Perhaps you should be advised what to expect. Each editor who makes his or her way here from whatever hellish region previously inhabited brings a set of values and skills and applies them to a set of problems. When the Observer began publication in 1954, the task was to provide at least one forum in Texas where sense could be made and ideas expressed without censorship, fear, or worse, political influence. In subsequent years, the Observer has been a spiritual home for state, and though editorial directions have won and lost readers, the salient point was that it was always the Observer out front. Probing, rushing headlong or bucking up against stone buttresses but always out front, damn the lumps, with a sense of urgency, importance and seriousness even in play. In the 1970s, establishment journalism began to consolidate some of the gains made possible through the efforts of publications like the Observer, and on the whole, reporting improved. Perhaps as atonement for the criminal lack of evi. dence presented the public about Vietnam, the establishment made recompense via Watergate. Lives of neither GIs or Asians were saved, but at least one architect of the War was cast out. One of the spin-offs of 70s journalism was the “city magazine,” initiated by New York \(remember when it was City magazines had a particularly insidious effect on the Observer and other publications of dissent. It wasn’t on our audience or revenues \(our audience has always been blue-ribbon, our revenues lic. The initial motive of the city magazine was to provide an alternative to the corporate journalism of the newspapers, wire services, networks and the national news magazines, but in very Jim Rockwell 10 MARCH 14, 1980
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