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.
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
Style Weekly's mission is to provide smart, witty and tenacious coverage of Richmond. Our editorial team strives to reveal Richmond's true identity through unflinching journalism, incisive writing, thoughtful criticism, arresting photography and sophisticated presentation.
We make sense of the news; pursue those in power; explore the city's arts and culture; open windows on provocative ideas; and help readers know Richmond through its people. We give readers the information to make intelligent decisions.