You are very Richmond If... 

The Last Laugh

n 1985, a youthful Style Weekly presented the first "You Are Very Richmond If …" contest. The idea was brilliant. After all, as the magazine pointed out, no one ever has been accused of being "very Des Moines."

The reader entries that year — and every year afterward — examined and celebrated the various ways Richmond's history and culture have evolved, and, in some cases, become fossilized.

Ever since, thousands of people have entered the contest to gently rib this sometimes-stuffy town for its eccentricities, its character and its characters.




"Who are your people?"

The beloved past.

"Mun Bun, darling, I'd like you to meet my old St. Christopher's pal, Fuzzy."

The winners often hit on the timeless qualities that have always made Richmond unique. But they also have tweaked the political or social events of the day. Reading old issues is like reading a comic history of the past 16 years of Richmond.

Sometimes that tweaking has hit a nerve, usually the one that runs along Richmond's widest racial divide.

For example, in 1995 Style heard from dozens of outraged readers when the paper ran this entry: "… you think Arthur Ashe belongs on Monument Avenue — shining Lee's shoes." Despite Style's protestations that the winning entry was a satirical attack on racist thinking, many people faulted the magazine for its insensitivity.

Another example, the grand-prize winner from 1990: "… you think there really was a person named Lee Jackson King." The cartoonist had drawn a startled Martin Luther King Jr. mounted on a horse and dressed in a Confederate uniform. Again, Style said it was being satirical. But again, many readers accused the paper of being insensitive to the memory of the civil-rights leader.

Usually, though, the contest has reflected the ways Richmond sees itself, the good and the bad. But after 17 years, the time has come to put away the Ukrop's-in-the-snowstorm jokes. There are enough of those already.

And, in some ways, Richmond has changed so much that the archetypal Richmonders are harder to see. The city's cultural center of gravity has shifted westward and outward. The come-heres now vastly outnumber the natives.

The city is changing. As a result, any magazine that tries to be its cultural chronicler must change too. But it's not easy. Richmond, after all, has a difficult time letting go of its past.

Hey, maybe that's a good idea for a joke.

When you need to make an important decision, you ask yourself: "What would Jerry Lund say?" — Victor Gottlieb

You knew they were in trouble when you saw "frog legs" and "redneck legs" on the menu at the Frog and the Redneck. — Victor Gottlieb

You think all license plates are designer plates — you just can't figure every one of them out. — Victor Gottlieb

You own an SUV, live in the Fan and always park on the corner. — J. Brewer

You are amazed that Richmond's crime statistics have decreased in light of the vast numbers of police officers who are apparently "otherwise occupied" while on duty. — Pam Henderson

You still attend events at The Mosque and Turner Field. — Scott Blackwell

You attend City Council meetings for the humor, not the content. — Scott Blackwell

You let your 8-year-old borrow your mink skins so she can be Pocahontas at the West Avenue Halloween party. — Laurie Hribal

Your family of four eats dinner at Taco Bell and order one soda for all (free refills). — Tim Stacy

Your automobile sports a bumper sticker which reads, "Ask me about my grandparents." — John Williamson

You're hoping heaven is a cross between the Jefferson Hotel and the Bizarre Bazaar. — Janet Chenoweth

You know the Canal Walk is supposed to be fun, but you're not sure why. — Janet Chenoweth

You want to retire in the Outer Banks, but you're afraid no one will know who you are. — Janet Chenoweth

You thought that Randy Strawderman was gay, but only in a vague, artistic way. — Janet Chenoweth

You used to listen to WGOE, read the Richmond Mercury and drive an old Volvo. You now listen to WCVE, read Style and drive an old Volvo. — Leland Waters

You believe Lou Dean, Jerry Lund and Tim Timberlake are being held hostage in the WRVA tower. — Linda Veldheer

You buy a $50,000, 300 hp, four-wheel-drive SUV to navigate the cobblestones on Monument Ave. — Linda Veldheer

You've told your daughter to behave or she could end up a congressional intern. — Linda Veldheer

When whispering about someone being the offspring of a mixed marriage, you mean her daddy is a Yankee. — Donna Pendarvis

You jumped off the Virginia Tech bandwagon and threw away your "Go Hokies" sweatshirt the day Michael Vick announced he was turning pro. — Tom Foster

You think Richmond's Canal Walk is much better than San Antonio's River Walk, even though you haven't actually visited either of them. — Tom Foster

You are smart enough to realize that an entry of "You know someone employed at Capital One" has already been submitted approximately 15,781 times. — Tom Foster

You proudly flaunt the black roots of your blond hair while shopping at Libbie and Grove, but refuse to discuss the black roots of your white family at a cocktail party. — Philip Crosby

You can wear your khakis to both jobs. — R. Eugene Brown

You still own a set of Much More beer mugs! — C. Stebbins

Eddie Weaver was your first matinee idol. - Charlotte Pierce

You miss dancing under the stars at "Byrd Field" on the roof top while watching the planes coming in and leaving. (Very romantic). — Charlotte Pierce

You've lived in New York for 23 years and still view your neighbors as Yankees (they don't act like us). — Stephen Rosser

You still get annoyed with episodes of "The Waltons" because the setting was filmed in Southern California and certainly does not look like Virginia. — Stephen Rosser

You know where the 1900 block of Monument Avenue is. — Andrew Wise

You drive an extra hour to Dulles Airport to save $50 on a one-hour flight. — Andrew Wise

You think the "Go-Fish!" idea was original. — Michael Maddix

You suggested a "Go-Fish!" fish made of cigarettes.

Michael Maddix

You attend a church that's nowhere near the street it is named after. — Muriel Murray

You wish we could trade Sa'ad El-Amin for Chuck Richardson. — J. Brewer

You name your fist son OBX. — Nick D'Amato II

You visited Hollywood Cemetery with your fiance to preview the family plot before saying yes to marriage. — Carl Hayslett

You put an OBX sticker in the window of your SUV even though you've never been there. — Barbara Brandon

You think placing restaurants along the river is a progressive and novel idea. — Paul Margolis

You think Rosie Right canned this contest because the title has a dangling preposition. — Victor Gottlieb

You have saved the previous 16 "You are Very Richmond If…" issues of Style. — Scott Blackwell

You are disappointed that yet another beloved Richmond tradition will end with the termination of "You Are Very Richmond If …". — Annemarie Beattie

You have to move to another city because this is the last "You Are Very Richmond If…". — Jerry Stout

You know that life will go on after the contest, it will just be a little less funny. — Victor Gottlieb

You remember when Lorna Wyckoff published the first issue of Style. — Betty and Ross Hotchkiss

You've waited 17 years to actually submit an entry into this contest. — Tom Benedetti

You remember the first "You Are Very Richmond If …" contest. — Susin Bodin

You'll talk about the "good old days" when Style Magazine had their "You Are Very Richmond If …" contest. — Susin Bodin

You're celebrating the end of "You Are Very Richmond If …". — Charles Guthridge

You think Style Magazine's "You Are Very Richmond If …" should continue to be an annual event. — Ernest Mackey

You're distraught that Style Weekly is ending their "Very Richmond" edition. — Todd Larrabee

You can't believe Style Weekly will cease the annual "You Are Very Richmond If …". — Donna Hensel

You have been entering for so long, that when editors do not publish yours, it's because they're so young they do not understand the cultural nuances of your entries. — Robert Flax

You realize that the judges of this contest must often feel like they are working in the Department of Redundancy Department. — Tom Foster

You believe that this contest will return one day. Of course, you also drive by the Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers building a few times a year, hoping to see a "Grand opening" sign. — Tom Foster


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