Looking for a new Peter

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 77 views 

It’s only fitting that the first meeting with Peter Lewis was at a restaurant. This young man was full of confidence, handsome, had just recently spent months traveling Europe,  and was (is) mature beyond his years. He was single, and still unencumbered by career, love or the expectations of others. It was all I could do not to hate him.

Mr. Peter Lewis believed he could add a little class and edge and culture to this this new thing called The City Wire. It was Nov. 12, 2008, and sitting at the table of a downtown Fort Smith restaurant was a young man who sought a creative outlet, and, across the table, a not-so-young man who sought another creative mind to help grow The City Wire.

I’d like to say my initial belief that Mr. Peter Lewis would soon be a popular part of The City Wire was borne of my many years of experience watching young writers come and go. It was likely that third Margarita talking.

The regular Kind Readers of The City Wire know the rest of the story. Peter Lewis proved clever in the compilation of sentences; adept in pulling together those clever sentences into eloquent paragraphs; and was consistently able to string those eloquent paragraphs into an informative AND entertaining essay. Peter’s success was his simplicity. He wrote about the three great weekend goals — to eat, drink and be merry.

He brought us food reviews about cow-tongue tacos. He explained the proper, but potentially dangerous, pronunciation of Pho King. He found good food being served at a hospital.

Peter Lewis recently found a more full-time creative outlet in Austin, Texas (There is a larger story here about losing a member of the Creative Class to another locale, but we’ll save that for later.) Although he will continue to write a twice-monthly culture column for The City Wire, the days of being exposed to Peter’s food and entertainment options are, for now, over.

Therefore, The City Wire is looking for a new Peter. And, because everything we do at The City Wire is meticulously researched, tested and focus-grouped, we decided during a 15-minute brainstorming session to look to our readers to find a new Peter.

The New Peter will produce a weekly column about area dining options, music venues/acts, and other cultural offerings (theater, music festivals, art center events, county fair beauty pageants, etc.). These weekly offerings will be written in a manner that is creative and engaging, engaging and creative and/or informative yet damn fun to read.

However, unable to invite the 100,000 readers of The City Wire to a restaurant for an interview, we settled on a public invitation.

Here are the details on how you can pursue being The City Wire’s new Peter.
• Submissions of essays between 600 and 900 words will be accepted through Oct. 30. E-mail those to [email protected], with “New Peter” in the subject line. Those entering the contest must provide a name. Preferably their common and/or legal name. No pseudonyms allowed. (The eventual winner also will be photographed. If this violates any parole provisions, or threatens identification by IRS agents, well, consider yourself warned.)

• The first submissions don’t have to be about dining and entertainment. Feel free to write about what you did on your summer vacation, the best way to paint toenails or why it’s so dang funny to watch Tom Kirkham attempt to bowl. The first round of the contest is about you presenting creative and engaging writing.

• In early November, The City Wire staff and Peter Lewis will narrow the entries down to three contenders — or what we will refer to as the “New Peter Principals.” The three will each receive $150 for making it to this point.

• The New Peter Principals will then each write two area dining/entertainment reviews to be posted to The City Wire through November and December. These reviews will be judged by Peter, The City Wire staff AND readers of The City Wire.

• Based on the best judgment of Peter, The City Wire staff AND The City Wire readers, a new Peter will rise to the top. This person will collect $500 and will begin a regular weekly dining and entertainment review in January 2010. (A negotiated monthly freelance fee also will be paid to the new Peter.)

And that’s it. Like Peter, we’re keeping it simple and straightforward.

When asked what we should look for in a replacement, the original Peter suggested the new Peter have an open mind, be concisely eloquent, delicately educational, seriously glib and glibly serious. Seriously. That’s what he said.

Please know that it’s not necessary to repeat Peter’s path. If you choose to seek Peterhood, you are encouraged to develop your own style. In other words, feel free to get in touch with your unique inner Peter.

We look forward to hearing from you.