and now it's time to say goodbye
A.V. Club Austin to close its doors in September
The old adage is that nothing lasts forever, and when you’re talking about media outlets in 2011, the truth behind the sentiment is clear: Things are crowded, and times are tough. The A.V. Club Austin, our city’s homegrown division of The Onion’s arts and entertainment wing, is going dark on Thursday, September 1st. While the publication will still have a nominal presence in Austin—print editions of The Onion will still be distributed—the local coverage will be restricted to a calendar and listings section within the paper.
This is a sad loss for me, and not just because I was a contributor to the A.V. Club Austin since it launched online in the fall of 2008. (Though also for that reason, sure.) While the media landscape in Austin is certainly crowded, the A.V. Club had a unique perspective—snarky, but not mean, and thoughtful about local culture without ever being overly impressed by it. As former Austinist film editor Steph Beasley tweeted when the news broke, it was like the “Daily Show of local news/arts/events.”
Most of the A.V. Club Austin’s contributors were long-time Austinites. The site’s original editor, Sean O’Neal (who currently serves as the News Editor for the A.V. Club’s national edition), spent his formative years in local bands and manning the counter at I Love Video; when he accepted his promotion, Erik Adams, who had moved to Austin from Michigan before the site launched, worked to ensure that the site’s contributors remained dyed-in-the-wool Austin people.
Ultimately, the A.V. Club Austin had a voice that captured the same spirit of the people who made t-shirts that read Don’t Move Here to wear during SXSW; the voice of the independent video store clerk who feels free to express exactly how shitty he thinks the movie you’re renting is; and of the guy at the rock club who is absolutely incredulous that so many people are skipping the opening band. It’s a voice that was sometimes disagreeable – I certainly got derisively called a hipster more often as an A.V. Club contributor than anyone who loves Tori Amos and Darius Rucker might otherwise expect – but it was also a voice that was sincere in its passion for the city.
There are plenty of other places to read the sort of news updates and event announcements that the A.V. Club spent a lot of its time on. But for people who wanted to get that sort of thing from somebody who was also going to be reliably cranky and skeptical, there aren’t a lot of other places to go. There weren’t two voices just like it—and whether you loved the site’s tone or thought it was full of self-important hipsters (and people certainly held both opinions), it was a voice that was unabashedly true to the spirit of Austin. I’ll miss it as much as a reader as I will as a contributor.