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Page Two BY LOUIS BLACK

July 12, 2002: Okay, so I decided I wasn't going to write about the Hole in the Wall and I was going to go on one of the last days it was open. Classically, I am writing and I didn't go. So much of what has been written about the Hole has been about its home as a music venue. I remember it as a bar. Not that I didn't hear lots of great music there, but it's stuck in my memory in other ways. There was a time when there was precious little money at the Chronicle , staff were ill-paid, and the day's mail was hurriedly opened to see if there were any checks, any checks at all. This went on for an agonizingly long time. Sure, every year there was more money, but every year there were more expenses. One of the ways we survived was through trade. We ran ads for bars and restaurants that paid us in credit. The Hole was within walking distance of our third office on 29th Street, where we were housed from the mid-Eighties through '91. We had trade there. This was good. Many of us had met in the UT RTF Department. The Hole was across the street. We were very familiar with the place.

When our office first moved, we were biweekly. Every other week, after the issue came out, we adjourned to some bar to drink. Often it was the Hole. In the early days, we'd take up a table or two, eating and drinking until we wandered incoherently home. There were a lot of tough times, and in many ways, aside from the paper itself, this was a reward. A lot of oft-told stories decorate that past. I'd tell any number, but Michael Corcoran and Brent Grulke have garnered way too much ink over the years.

One time, Chronicle Publisher Nick Barbaro and I went to have a few drinks together. We ran into an RTF graduate student friend and a pal of hers. We drank together for quite a while. They left. Nick and I decided we should give them a ride home. We drove down Guadalupe and picked them up. This was relatively easy because Barbaro was driving on the sidewalk. We took them to the pal's house. Eventually, her male companion came home. We were undoubtedly a pretty disgusting sight. He showed the appropriate expression. I grabbed a Chronicle off the coffee table, opened to the staff box, pointed at our names, and said, "We're not just any drunken assholes, we're these drunken assholes." Then we left.

Another time I invited a potential Chronicle writer to the Hole in the Wall on a Saturday night. I was romantically interested; she thought it was a business meeting. Awkward and uncomfortable, I poured back drinks like I was relieving a drought. Just a few years back, someone asked my wife and I about our first real date (we had known each other casually for years). I claimed it was a screening at the opening of the Riverside Cinema (now closed). She said that, no, it was at the Hole in the Wall. I insisted. She persevered. Finally, through a scattering of murdered brain cells, the memory returned.

The years passed, the paper did better, the staff grew, we went weekly. But the Hole was still ritual. One day after the paper had come back, we went over to drink. We commandeered almost every table in the place. What a party! Management sweetly and tactically suggested that our staff had perhaps grown too large to continue this ritual, since we left no room for paying customers. We appreciated their concerns. This never stopped us from drinking, eating, and listening to music at the Hole -- just the magnitude of the ritual changed. It took the inflated real estate market in Austin to kill the Hole. We mourn its passing and celebrate its memory.

Original Article at
http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2002-07-12/cols_pagetwo.html

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