James Callahan illustration
We live in a Disposable Age. When newer, faster computers come along, we throw away the old, slow ones. Our clothes and cell phones change with the seasons. Even our deepest friendships can be deleted with the click of a mouse. But life doesn't have to be that way.
Inspired by the spirit of Earth Day and the wise words of Leonardo DiCaprio, I have vowed to launch a Recycling Revolution. You can join me by deciding that right here, right now, there is no such thing as "obsolete." There is no "trash." Everything (and everybody) deserves a second chance. I've compiled the following list of Richmond people, places and things with the idea that everything old can be new again … so long as you keep an open mind.
- The Richmond Braves Indian Sculpture The Braves have moved on, but what will become of their biggest star? Since the beloved 25-foot-wide statue of "Connecticut, the Plus-Sized Native American" is owned by the Richmond Metropolitan Authority, it only makes sense that we put him to work collecting tolls on the Powhite. I don't know about you, but I'd pay extra if they opened a "Wampum-Only Lane" and rigged his mouth to slurp up dollar bills. That would be adorable.
- L. Douglas Wilder Even though he no longer holds elected office, the former governor of Virginia and mayor of Richmond shouldn't fritter away his retirement on boat trips and afternoon naps. In politics, Wilder craved the spotlight and thrived on attention. Why not harness that energy to put the focus on global warming? Let's dub Doug the "Eco-Maniac," give him a hemp suit and a solar-powered golf cart, and send him out to plant trees. We get clean air, and he gets to be on the evening news.
- Circuit City retail space When the consumer-electronics giant folded earlier this year, the company left behind a reported 18.71 million square feet of empty retail space across America. Let's use the vacancies here in Richmond to set an environmentally friendly example for the rest of the country. We can reduce the city's carbon footprint by converting the old stores and warehouses into vital green spaces. I'm thinking indoor miniature-golf pavilions inspired by the film Jurassic Park.
- The Richmond Times-Dispatch With huge newspapers like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune hobbled by financial hardship, it's only a matter of time before our plucky hometown paper pulls a Thelma and Louise over the cliff of relevancy. Let's just cut to the chase and recycle all that paper. After all, recycled newsprint is used to make cereal boxes and game boards. Which would you rather have delivered on a Sunday morning? A stack of wire stories and Walgreens coupons, or a box of Cocoa Puffs and a copy of Totally '80s Trivial Pursuit?
- D'Angelo We've all been waiting patiently for a fresh batch of make-out music from the soul superstar once dubbed "the R&B Jesus." But this is getting ridiculous. Until his famous six-pack abs show up again on the front page of iTunes, we should redirect the talents of "Mr. Brown Sugar Voodoo" toward something more constructive. My plan? Recruit him to sing the phone book. That way, the next time you dial directory assistance, not only do you get the number, but also a 10-second ditty that leaves you feeling a whole lot sexier.
- Goochland farmland As the juggernaut of urban development rumbles westward, what remains of our native farmland is sure to be replaced by superstores and shopping malls. But instead of just plowing over fields and "paving paradise," why not recycle all that fertile soil? Let's put it someplace where it can do the city some good. Tear the roof off the Richmond Coliseum, fill it with Goochland dirt and just like that, we're home to the World's Largest Flower Pot!
- Eugene Trani The longtime president of Virginia Commonwealth University retires in June. It's in Richmond's best interest to find a new use for the man who spent the last 19 years expanding a humble hub of higher learning into the sprawling, metropolitan monster it is today. Let him work his "Miracle-Gro" magic on some other struggling institution. I say put him in charge of Krispy Kreme's Broad Street location, and in five years the entire West End will be lousy with the sweet stink of fresh-baked, glazed doughnuts.
- Pocahontas Parkway Traffic is down and tolls are up on this privately operated stretch of road that connects Interstate 295 and Chippenham Parkway. It doesn't take a genius to see that the owners of the 8.8-mile highway are having some issues. But it does take a genius to see that maybe the Pocahontas Parkway should be reborn as the Pocahontas Runway. It's long enough, wide enough and within spitting distance of the Richmond International Airport. Besides, just imagine the kind of toll you could charge a 737.
- Uneaten tofu from Ellwood Thompson's Even in a food-obsessed city like Richmond, there aren't enough voracious vegans to consume all of the tofu served by the beloved Carytown grocery. Over time, that means hundreds of pounds of perfectly delicious soy squares will go to waste, unless we repurpose the protein-rich blocks to build eco-friendly student housing for area universities. Trust me, members of the class of 2014 will be begging to spend their freshman year in the 100 percent organic Tofigloo® dormitory village.