False Starts and Broken Dreams

An unsolicited look inside Pete’s brain. UNSOLICITED, PEOPLE. You’ve been warned.

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t have a damn thing to say this week. If you’ve stumbled on this commentary and have something better to do, please do it. Seriously. Those clothes aren’t going to fold themselves and the recycling isn’t going to get itself to the curb.

I’m not kidding.

Look, I’m nursing the cold that everybody in the world has now so my head is more full of mucus than good ideas. You want proof? That last bit… the one about the clothes folding themselves? That was meant to lead into a crack about Harry Potter.

Harry Potter.

I’m telling you, I’m way out of sorts and you totally don’t deserve this. The cold medicine I’m taking is totally messing with my head. All kinds of half-assed ideas are coming and going and occasionally, all I can hear is the Slinky jingle.

When I’m not hallucinating, I’m nodding off in my chair. Even if I wanted to write more than 100 words in a row, it would take a miracle. Or a cup of coffee… but the pot is all the way downstairs. And as I already mentioned, I’m a delirious narcoleptic with sinus issues. I’m in no condition to handle stairs.

Where does that leave us? Well, assuming that you’re still with me, let me tell you what I have planned. Join me for a moment as we enter my brain…

[For best effect, close your eyes and ask someone read the rest of this out loud.]

Watch your step and stay close. Don’t touch anything and please refrain from using flash photography. The medulla startles easily and my insurance guy would have a cow if he knew I was bringing anybody in here. But we’ll only be a minute.

What we’re looking for is a big box marked “Incomplete Notions for Online Commentary.” It should be over in the corner near the Beastie Boys lyrics and the names of people I knew in middle school. There it is… up on that shelf behind the “Breakfast Club” screenplay. Just move the ironic slang files onto the floor, I’ll put those away later.

Now, let’s open this sucker up.

What we have here are commentaries without a beginning, middle or end. If these ideas were fetuses, you could fit about 100 of the little buggers in a shot glass (Disclaimer: My lawyer has recommended that I advise you to NEVER, EVER put 100 fetuses into a shot glass. He says that the potential for a horrific mix-up is just too great.).

Anyway, before the agents of (over-the-counter) drug-induced sleep conquer my consciousness, let’s read about what I thought about writing… but never did.

Richmond’s Small Business Homicides

We’ve all got blood on our hands, people. How many more stories do we need to read about cool small businesses going under from lack of income? My hackles were first rattled after reading the heartbreaking story of Jumpin’ J’s coffee shop in Church Hill. More recently, I was saddened to hear that Sammy’s Bakery in the Northside had closed.

This gave me the idea to write about how much people suck for giving their money to Target and Best Buy instead of a small local foodsmith. But then I realized that when it came to tasty bread, I was a goddamn hypocrite.

The day before I heard the news about Sammy’s, I left my house to drive about 6 miles to Panera for a loaf of delicious asiago cheese bread. It never occurred to me to try Sammy’s (though in my defense I would have found it empty).

Then it hit me that I was one of the murderers. I was responsible. For the most part I’m a decent human being, but I’m brutally lazy and drawn to comfort and convenience like a moth to a chain restaurant flame.

You can see how writing a column to wag a finger in the face of all those unsupportive locals would be like, totally lame.

Public Transit Authority

I’m prone to car trouble. And I’m talking about more than the occasional flat. Over the last two years I’ve managed a hat trick of mechanical catastrophes that left me with decisions that required a few weeks of contemplation and number crunching (“So the entire car needs to be rebuilt from scratch, but the stereo and the cup holders are fine? How much? Is that American dollars or Swedish money?”).

During those few weeks, I took the bus. My ride was the GRTC number 37 that ran along Chamberlayne to downtown. The closest stop is about half a mile from my front door and the downtown drop-off put me about 200 paces from work.

But I wasn’t going to write about riding the bus to weave a fantastical tale about my daily commute. My plan was to address the whole downtown revival in terms of the people who actually live, work and use downtown every day. I was going to say that all the plans for luxury loft apartments, hip shopping and cultural centers don’t have anything to do with their daily lives. I was going to ask where all the mobile phone centers, beauty salons, fish markets and urban fashion stores fit in with the fancy pants plans.

But then I realized maybe I’m not the person to be speaking for the Broad Street folks. Maybe they can speak for themselves and I should just shut my pie hole. Maybe I’m just a simple-minded, slightly elitist schmuck with a busted import station wagon who doesn’t know nothing from nothing unless he hears it on NPR.

So there went that idea.

Barack in the Saddle

Just this afternoon I was inspired by Shepard Fairey’s poster of Barack Obama. It sparked a commentary in my mind about how desperately we need to get that man in office. I planned to remark about how cool it was to see an “alternative” artist putting a politician in a poster without the words “Fascist,” “Impeach” or “Fuck.”

Then I was going to write that his heritage will help unite the country and change the entire spectrum of possibilities for African-American youth in this country. But shortly before I started my great Obama masterwork, I realized that I’ve never even read his website. I don’t know his plans. I don’t know him at all. I just got a good feeling from looking at a poster.

What I wrote would have been well-intentioned and earnest, but ultimately full of shit.

Idol Thoughts

A few weeks ago I was sitting home with my stepdaughter when the roulette wheel of viewing possibilities landed on the premiere of “American Idol” Season 7.

I still had an hour before assuming control of the remote and the idea of watching Paula Abdul struggle to stay conscious seemed more appealing than suffering through her three-way flip-fest between “Zoey 101,” “Ned’s Declassified” and “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”

“Idol” actually kept my attention and it was interesting to see how the show’s producers have become sneaky masters of pulling emotional strings through dramatic editing and poignant back-stories. I hated them for it, but the show hooked me.

So I planned to write about how hilarious it is that I (Me!) am now a regular viewer of such a silly and artistically inferior television show. Then I realized that taking such a stand is, in itself, silly and artistically inferior. You like the show or you don’t. You’re either sitting on the couch when it comes on or you’re doing something else with your life.

I just happen to tune in. Every week. Hooray for me. Cue the confetti.

Next Week: Goodbye sickness … hello crippling depression!

Photo by: Gaeten Lee 

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Pete Humes

Pete Humes is a husband, father and writer who lives in Richmond’s North Side. He enjoys coffee and owns way too many records.

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