With a few years of perspective under his belt, Babka may be a little rusty but he’s willing to give predicting 2009 a go. Besides, he needs the cash (who doesn’t?). So here are his predictions for 2009, which surely can’t be any worse than 2008. Isn’t that hope what got Barack Obama elected president after all?
Recession-weary citizens desperate for some cheap entertainment turn to the Onondaga County Public Library in droves, making the downtown headquarter’s Browse About section as popular as the magazine rack at Barnes & Noble. With difficultly keeping DVDs in stock, the library buys up Blockbuster’s inventory, after the video giant shuts down in the face of stiff competition from Redbox and Netflix.
Backyard gardening makes a comeback, and local hardware stores can’t keep seeds for tomatoes, peppers and lettuce in stock. As a result of the return of the green thumb, the Central New York Regional Market shuts down its once-popular Saturday morning produce bonanza, and Wegmans closes its retro Pond Street store forever (or maybe they had planned on doing that all along).
With the Golden Snowball award well in hand for Syracuse by Jan. 15—150 inches of snow will do that—Buffalo and Rochester permanently forfeit any chance of contending for the statue. Watertown, on the other hand, implores troops from nearby Fort Drum to perform a covert sting operation to snatch the statue from City Hall.
Again because of the bad economy, the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation sees an uptick in fishing and hunting licenses. As the saying goes, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. The demand for local fresh water fastracks the cleanup of Onondaga Lake, and residents flock to its odor-free shores to snag some dinner.
With a newfound sense of humor, freight-train company CSX installs a bull’s-eye on the bridge that spans West Genesee Street near The New Times building. Not able to resist the challenge, the truckers who had been driving through Skaneateles on their way to Buffalo and points west, instead tie up one of the city’s main thoroughfares for a chance to hit the target.
Bolstered by its incredible success in just a few years, the promoters of the Inner Harbor Block Party, Mike Banks and Stacey Waterman, are able to book national acts Pearl Jam, the Foo Fighters and Lil’ Wayne. The catch is, those bands have to open for Syracuse faves Under the Gun.
Citing the sluggish economy, and the difficulty selling bonds to finance his Destiny USA project, Bob Congel opens up his Woodchuck Hill Road home to tours. He and his wife Suzanne charge $20 for a first-floor look at the Manlius estate and $50 to use the tennis courts, $150 if there’s no snow.
As part of his community service requirement, imposed after a Syracuse University hearing board concluded he had hit a woman, SU point guard Eric Devendorf will go 10 rounds in a charity boxing match with Laila Ali, professional pugilist and daughter of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. Devendorf’s coach, Jim “The Champ” Boeheim, will serve as Devendorf’s corner man for the match at the Carrier Dome, all to benefit Vera House.
In a gracious and eloquent gesture, the English language will pardon George W. Bush before he leaves office.
Bishop James Moynihan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse will announce that, due to the declining number of priests, he plans to close the men’s room in 14 rectories across the diocese’s seven-county region. The bishop will reject suggestions from several parishes that he just change the sign on the door and let women use the facility, noting quite accurately that there is no example in scripture of Jesus letting women use the men’s room.
Trading on the successful campaign of County Executive Joanie Mahoney, several candidates for mayor of Syracuse will adopt rhyming names. The November 2009 mayoral election contest will come down to a polysyllabic squeaker between Bea Free, Joe Blow and Howie Kazzowy.
At a joint press conference on Warren Street, the management of the Hotel Syracuse will announce that they are becoming a Catholic parish, with hopes that the diocese will allow them to merge with Chrysler Magna New Process New Venture Gear to form a new parish to be known as Saint Echinacea’s, the patron saint of those who will try anything rather than recognize reality. The diocese, impressed with the hotel’s belief in resurrection, agrees to study the offer. “The Catholic church has always been very fond of relics,” noted a diocesan spokeswoman.
The downtown Syracuse Empire Zone announces that it is annexing Serbia and Montenegro. NATO will immediately declare a no-fly zone over the area and apply for matching federal funds.
The executive directors of the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and the Rescue Mission will appear before the budget committee of the County Legislature seeking a bailout for their struggling charities. “This is a perfect storm,” says incoming Charities director Mike Melara. “Declining endowments, diminished donations and increasing need have combined to swamp our ability to care for the needy.” The threesome sit in stunned silence as county legislators ask if they would be prepared to leave their private cars in the parking lot and walk back to the West Side.
The Syracuse Press Club will no longer extend membership to any journalist who uses the overworked “perfect storm” analogy, says “an historic” or talks about a “game-changer.” Likewise, news sources will no longer be permitted to say that “it’s in our DNA.” It is not. It’s just something you did.
The Post-Standard will run a weekly series of photos of people “Scene” drinking in bars, in hopes that the inebriates will remember to tell their friends that someone took their picture in a bar, hence persuading more young drinkers to read the paper. The photographed subjects will go to Syracuse.com, snatch the images and post them on their Facebook pages.
Ed Kinane will be arrested for refusing to eat a sausage sandwich at the State Fair. In a prepared statement, Kinane says he was protesting the forced feeding of prisoners of war at the recently closed Guantanamo Bay.
Ousted SU head football coach Greg Robinson will rush the field at the Carrier Dome during the fourth quarter of his former team’s first home game next September. Unfortunately, G-Rob will once again come up short and be tackled by security before he reaches the end zone. After the game, a disheveled, headset-wearing Robinson will state that he gave it his best effort and believes he has shown improvement, and that next time, he just knows he’ll make it to the end zone.
Eric Devendorf will win an Academy Award for his portrayal of a college sports superstar whose future is constantly in disarray because of his desire to be an upper middle class suburban street tough in the movie, The Eric Devendorf Story.
In one of the most ugly, mudslinging mayoral campaigns Syracuse has ever seen, both the Republican and Democratic candidates will run ads accusing their opponent of eating lunch with Howie Hawkins.
All of the Canadian members of the musical groups Under the Gun and One Hard Krank will form Syracuse’s first supergroup called “Guns and Hosers.”
All of the advertisement’s for this year’s Jazz Fest will face an unexpected typo when just days before the concert, headliner Kenny G will be forced to change his name to Kenny J after the letter “G” sues for defamation of character. A fuming Jazz Fest director Frank Malfitano will then ban all songs in the key of G from ever being played during future fests.