(Illustration by: Rob Ullman)
To: Mayor Dwight Jones
From: Public Relations Manager
Re: Overgrowth of city parks and medians
As you know, Mr. Mayor, the decision in May to curtail mowing of city medians and parks sparked some backlash that could be construed as negative for you. Certainly you and your administration have the utmost pride in our city and would never resort to political brinksmanship when the beauty of its landscape is on the line. We all know those cuts were vitally necessary — vitally — amid the recent budget cuts that left us down by $2.7 million in the public works department. You know and I know the city didn’t make this decision lightly and certainly not to punish City Council for taking $9 million in funding for vacant positions across city departments and giving it to the schools. Still, there are segments of the public and press who want to believe that you would play such a game.
There are those who would say that the city should have instead eliminated your vital — vital! — personal security detail. There were even murmurs about why the stretch of Decatur Street in front of First Baptist Church of South Richmond, where you are pastor, was paved back in February when it wasn’t on this year’s paving schedule. We know that this type of criticism is the most shameful kind of assault on the separation between church and state.
Nevertheless, the criticism continues to grow, along with the grass and weeds on Monument Avenue and Westover Hills Boulevard.
But we see a way to pivot on this issue that could be a great positive for our beautiful city. It is no secret that Richmond has a growing reputation as one of the nation’s foremost “hipster” cities. (Mr. Mayor, for reference, hipsters, according to Urban Dictionary, are a “subculture of men and women typically in their 20s and 30s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence and witty banter.”) They also set (or depending on whom you ask, slavishly follow) fashion trends, one of which is known as the “hipster beard.”
A hipster beard is a long, overgrown affair — often bushy, unruly and unkempt. Can you see where we are going with this, Mr. Mayor?
Why not have the best hipster city in the U.S. grow its very own hipster beard all over town to celebrate the vitality of this creative community and attract even more millennials to Richmond? We are proposing a three-day, citywide street festival incorporating all things hipster. Ideas for attractions and events include:
PBR sculpture garden: Among the thigh-high weeds and brambles of Bryan Park, festival-goers can construct their own creations out of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans collected throughout the year from beneath VCU-area porches.
Cultural appropriation stations: Native headdresses, didgeridoos and African textiles will be available at kiosks stationed throughout the tick-infested overgrown grass at Battery Park in North Side. Hipsters can mix and match any of these items ironically for precious Instagram selfies and Tumblr posts.
Music: Mr. Mayor, you can’t attract hipsters without a music lineup comprising the most obscure bands on the planet. We are putting together a show featuring bands such as Sir Wendell Thomas Brigade, Mimsy and You, The 1912 Mining Disaster and Ellie’s Cat Is On Fire. Just between us, sir, these bands are completely made up, but the fact that not a single hipster could possibly have heard of them will have them flocking in droves to Byrd Park, where they can lie down in the grass and disappear entirely.
The Big Shave: Our festival will wrap up with what is perhaps our most exciting, ingenious and cost-effective event. On the final day, we will invite our hipster friends to break out their straight razors and artisnal, hand-forged shears and spread out all over the city to engage in careful snipping and manicuring of our medians and parks in what will be the largest interactive public art project ever. And it will get our grass cut for free. All of it, except for one giant tuft we will leave atop Richmond’s highest point, tying it into a knot and renaming the spot Man Bun Hill.
If all goes well, sir, we may never have to mow again.