Most of you know me as an award-winning humor columnist and devastatingly handsome man-about-town, but I bet you don’t know that I also have The Gift. On New Year’s Eve 2013, I jotted down 10 major predictions for Syracuse for the coming year with the intention of taking them out now to see how I did. In a word: awesome. Other than a few minor details, I got every prediction right:
In a textbook case of multi-jurisdictional cooperation, plans for a new $495 million retractable-roof sports arena will sail through the approval process. An alternative plan to build an amphitheater on a suburban toxic wastebed will be derided as ludicrous and quickly shot down.
A Syracuse band, Imperfect Penis, will explode on the national stage, blending penetrating lyrics with a relentless pounding beat and wildly exaggerated claims of its prowess. Rolling Stone will gush: “Imperfect Penis plunges us into a dark world fraught with risk but with a sensation of exuberance and adventure that can be downright infectious.”
3. Interstate 81 project.
Debate about the future of the I-81 overpass will come to a screeching halt when Destiny USA calls for a surface boulevard to replace the aging structure and pledges millions for its landscaping and maintenance. “We understand that Destiny USA’s experience creates hardship for merchants elsewhere, particularly downtown,” a mall spokesman will say. “An elegant boulevard that unites our urban core will help to remedy that and benefit the entire region by making Syracuse a more dynamic, inviting destination.” The Destiny spokesman will then pause to wipe away a tear. “We just want to be good neighbors,” he’ll splutter.
4. New chancellor.
With Nancy Cantor’s empire building in the rearview mirror, new SU Chancellor Kent Syverud will provide a breath of fresh air. His quick wit, lack of pretense and dogged refusal to sacrifice the university’s essential character for financial expediency will make him an instant sensation, earning him the nickname “The Pope Francis of the ACC.” Syverud’s cult status will be solidified when he shows up at a fraternity with a liter of tequila and does shots with the brothers every time Coach Jim Boeheim rolls his eyes during a post-game news conference. Students will take to wearing orange T-shirts that depict Otto the Orange in the shape of a beer keg under the caption “Kent State.”
5. Danzer’s German and American Restaurant.
Meticulous attention to ingredients, preparation, cleanliness and service will pay off for Danzer’s in a major way as it receives an honorary three-star ranking in the latest edition of Michelin’s Deutschland Guide. “The cheery wait staff, which frequently bursts spontaneously into song, makes dining here feel like a visit to Bavaria,” the guide will state.
6. Destiny hotel.
Destiny USA will propose a 275-room hotel without seeking tax breaks, causing a small but statistically significant spike in heart attacks in the area. The event will be submitted to the Vatican for classification as a miracle.
7. Sex ed.
The Daily Beast will name the National Tractor Trailer School, in Liverpool, one of the Top 25 sexiest campuses in America.
8. Syracuse football.
SU’s high-flying, innovative offense will ensure a major bowl appearance and launch a rebirth of the once-proud program. Offensive Coordinator George “I’m lovin’ it” McDonald will attribute his tactical brilliance to a “profound and intricate grasp of chaos theory” and to regular Skyping sessions with Stephen Hawking.
9. Dan Maffei.
Combining his affable nature and straight-shooting approach, Congressman Maffei will coast to re-election. Voters don’t always agree with him, but they know exactly where he stands.
Rumors will swirl that the Carrier Dome has attracted a major show that is so cutting edge and relevant to young people that Syracuse will never again be dismissed as a cultural backwater. Finally, in December, we’ll get the news: A Taste of Herb, a tribute band to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, will play the Dome on March 20, 2015. (OK, I missed that one, but barely.)