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The Fuzzy Navel Gaze

Advance excerpts from our 60th anniversary issue, Nov. 18, 2042.

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Journalists report on the now, not the later. It’s a bold move when they engage in future-gazing, like we did with a bit of healthy snark for our then- 20th anniversary issue of Style Weekly back in October 2002.

In those pages we put forth “Advance Excerpts from Our 40th Anniversary Issue, Oct. 19, 2022.”

We dared to think ahead? Yes, we did.

Despite Matthew Sawicki, a witch with the Aquarian Bookshop, once telling Style, “Richmond is known as a psychic black hole.” It was unsettling, he said: “There’s a strange harmonic when you come into the city.”

Forget Mayor Stoney’s new brand campaign, “Richmond Real.” Think of how many tourists we could intrigue with, “Get Down With Us and Our Strange Harmonic.” Or maybe, “A Psychic Black Hole — But a River Runs Through It.”

We could be the next Nashville!

Yes, we pictured ourselves 20 years into the future -- reporters, mind you, who’ve never met a deadline we didn’t want to stretch -- in a story that followed some of Style’s most regrettable errors and corrections.

And we were mostly right! (Assuming you don’t go back to the original piece for a deep dive. It was educated and outlandish guessing, after all.)

As predicted, a monuments on Monument Avenue controversy erupted — though it wasn’t arguing about the direction statues faced, but that they faced anywhere at all. The Confederate figures that stood there so long are gone, some of them on tour to museums, while we decide what’s next — including what happens to Lee Circle, now owned by the city.

Parking gripes in the Fan are still around, though a regional parking sticker never materialized, as we thought would be “demanded by the former Fan District Association, recently restructured as the Governing Board of Richmond.”

The Times-Dispatch did indeed get a makeover. To be fair, we said it would break into 92 smaller publications. Today it would be lucky to claim 92 employees. But hey, it’s still standing!

Just like the downtown fine arts complex. Or Reva Trammell. In 2002 we pondered her future 20 years from then. She remains on City Council today. Reva will outlast her own bumper stickers.

“Connecticut,” Paul DiPasquale’s sculpture of a Native American, did indeed move from the baseball stadium to the Lucky Strike Building — we predicted it would be used by Philip Morris for some billboard marketing. But in 2019 it was taken off.

Two decades seemed so far away — as far away as they seem looking the other direction, in reverse. We try to imagine ourselves 20 years younger, imagining Richmond 20 years into the future.

And that 40th anniversary is now here — in newsprint, imagine! — or on your screen, brought back from a corporate-induced coma of sorts, trading hands from a mega media buyer in Chicago back to a Virginia-owned portfolio.

We never could have predicted.

But now, we will again.

Here are a few items Style plans to cover in its 60th anniversary issue, dropping in 2042:

1. Leadership change: After a weary electorate finally tires of political strife, civic division and social ennui, they choose meteorologist Andrew Freiden as mayor of Richmond. Voters may not agree on much, but Richmond can still come together around weather talk.

2. Westward expansion: Years after convincing the city to annex what they called the “good parts” of Henrico County, powerful developers are grappling with the anarchy that erupted in Short Pump after the mall received its open container license in 2023.

3. Reimagined concert series: Venture Richmond CEO Stephen Lecky announces that the floating stage and kayak docks for Brown’s Island will be complete in time for the 58th season of Friday Cheers. It’s a brilliant solution for the island, a victim of climate change after disappearing under the now Class VI rapids of the James River.

4. City Hall relocates: To Scott’s Addition, naturally, after the power center of downtown continues to move toward Dominion Stadium.

5. Grocery barons: Rob Ukrop comes out of retirement as chairman of the Richmond Kickers to revive his family’s chain of grocery stores. “Retro is back — and so are the rainbow cookies,” he says. Ukrop pledges to build in Richmond’s food deserts. The local workforce, which suffered during the “quiet quitting” of the early 2020s, rebounds. Groceries are carried to your car again.