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Richmond is real, but doesn’t quite know it. Perhaps that’s part of its charm.  I had my shot at framing the real Richmond when I wrote Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, available at or and in bookstores around the country and Richmond’s fabulous local gift shops and bookstores (Fountain Bookstore, Chop Suey Books, Book People) soon:

They just had to have a statue somewhere

 I wrote the durned thing so I’m responsible for much of what’s in the 312 page book–though I had little say in the cover and little control over the maps, including the screw up on the Richmond Overview map where Chesterfield County is missing its field. Sigh. [And I just found out today, Sept. 23rd, that a local photographer, Al Wekelo, took both photos on the cover and unfortunately Globe Pequot didn’t give him photo credits. Groan.]
It could have been worse–because it was for a while.  The first I heard about the cover was that it was a cityscape–snooze–and not the river shot I had suggested, but I was just the lowly work-for-hire writer, so what could I do? Months later my editor mentioned in passing that it wasn’t a cityscape after all, but “some statue.”  Apoplexy set in immediately. This is Richmond we are talking about. Statues mean war here.  I could see all my hard work framing Richmond as a dynamic, artsy, outdoorsy, historic town gone with the wind, so to speak….

I calmed down a tad when he sent me the cover shot of the George Washington Equestrian Statue in Capitol Square, but still not happy. Ok, not Monument Ave, so that was a relief, but it read as dull and static, and I knew most people would think it was one of those Confederates on Monument Ave. and think Richmond was the same old racist place it used to be.  I pushed back hard.

After several back and forths wherein I told them they were making a big mistake, and that of course, statues are static and Richmond isn’t, I heard there was a slight chance that they might use another photo. After a nerve-wracking weekend I got the image below from my very kind editor–the Poe Museum garden. Still not the river, and I wasn’t happy that they took out “and Emancipation” in the little sticker on the front…and there was one other slight problem.

Pictures are worth a thousand words and all that, but one wrong word can be bad news. Let’s just say you should click on this and look carefully: IG_Richmond poe

You see one capital, you’ve seen ’em all? So now I can say I’ve not only changed the face of Richmond, I’ve changed its name.  What a coup. Happy to report they straightened out the city confusion after I mentioned it.

But those Connecticut Yankees weren’t done messing with me yet. Unbeknownst to me until the advance copy arrived at my door the other day, they had switched out the photo of TJ’s State Capitol for a cannon that I bet a million dollars isn’t even in Richmond. Hey, I tried.  Who knew there was this much intrigue involved in putting together a travel book? And we haven’t even gotten to the part where all the foodies will have my head for not including their favorite spots….

I don’t want to brag but yesterday my husband and I ran the Ukrop’s Monument Ave. 10k and beat all of the women age 9 and under. It really did feel great to walk by the VCU Sports Medicine building on my way to and fro the race and remember that just last year people had to drive me here for appointments with my favorite orthopedic surgeon after my ACL reconstruction. Excellent work all. 

it's more fun to come here not on crutches

As proof of my complete recovery due to the excellent rehab work of the VCU Physical Therapy gals at Stony Point, for the first time ever, I outran a tornado and this awesome gal in a bathrobe and curlers.

looking good

And the best part was that I was running backwards when I took the shot and didn’t trip. I wanted to beat the Confederacy once and for all when I saw a big group of southern belles and generals running ahead, but I honestly don”t know the outcome. 

I did take inspiration from Arthur Ashe as I passed by the statue of him on the way back to the finish–Hard Road to Glory is right. Next year a group of people should dress up as his monument with a very tall Ashe impersonator threatening children with a tennis racket and books. Could be dangerous. It’s too bad it’s the worst statue of the best guy on Monument Avenue. Which brings me to my next point.

In the wake of Ukrop’s disappearing from the storefronts of Richmond in the next couple of months, let’s lobby for a statue of a Ukrop’s courtesy clerk on Monument Ave. Or a Christo-like art event that drapes the city in chicken salad or White House rolls. Either that or let’s get Robert Indiana to whip up an iconic version of the word Ukrop’s like his famous LOVE sculpture.  Gotta LOVE it. Or if he’s not so interested, #1 in the nation VCU sculpture department–get to work!

I’m back!



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