With everyone looking back over the past 1,000 years or making predictions for the next 1,000, I'd rather consider what folks like you or I might have to look forward to within our own lifetimes -- say over the next 50 years.
Leaving plans for Armageddon to the pessimistic religious fanatics, with the hope that they'll simply extinguish themselves and leave the world a better place for the rest of us, what are some of the more mundane happenings we survivors might experience?
Locally, I look forward to walking a few blocks from my home in the prosperous, racially diverse neighborhood of Evanston, boarding a train to zip downtown to the rail hub at Broadway Commons and seeing a full season of avant-garde, multimedia theater in the fully restored Emery Theatre, the only major venue not in the clutches of the Cincinnati Arts Association, whose seasons at the Aronoff Center and elsewhere will include revival productions of Cats and Phantom. Some things will never change.
Of course, we can't forget their cutting-edge productions either, as Rent will be returning for most of the next century. No need for Cincinnatians to actually support struggling fringe artists at home when we can pay $80 to experience a pretend version by a road show.
After the theater, a night of bar hopping won't be complete without a visit to the city's most outrageous gay nightclub, located right next to the County Administration Building on Court Street. And when the party's over, the 24-hour trains will whisk me back home.
On Election Day, computer lines temporarily will be slowed due to the massive volume of people voting online from their own homes. Turnout (or, rather, "voter returns" in the new terminology) will be at about 90 percent. Cincinnatians will elect a city council of 12 district seats (with no term limits on them) and three at-large seats (limited to four two-year terms).
Mayor Phil Heimlich, having finally obtained this coveted office, will then be investigated and removed from office for abuse of power. The Hamilton County Republican Party, under the stewardship of a forward-thinking, financially responsible, moderately liberal woman, will completely renounce the strong-arm intimidation of the disgraced ex-Mayor.
Elsewhere on the cultural front, Citizens for Community Values will disband after its longtime leader, Phil Burress, is arrested in an Indianapolis vice raid. Porn King Larry Flynt, after laughing himself to death at this turn of events, will be buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, following the largest funeral cortege in Cincinnati history.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, in an attempt to regain its faded glory and prominence, will move back into its old Vine Street building and then become embroiled in a bitter custody battle over its relentless publishing of old cartoons by Jim Borgman, who will have moved to washingtonpost.com.
In Columbus, Gov. Roxanne Qualls will make history by signing legislation passed in the Statehouse legalizing same-sex marriage.
A comprehensive Penal Reform Act will be violently debated and ultimately passed when it is proven cheaper to educate and employ first-time criminals than to harden them in the prison system. All present convicts will be permitted to apply for a conditional amnesty, though only a fraction will be accepted into a mandatory 10-year rehab program. Through fits and starts, another half century will be required for this revolution in corrections policy to take hold in the social psyche, and the effects of long-term social stratification are slowly eradicated.
In the region, the Great Lakes Regional Transit System will link all of the cities of the old Northwest Territory with high-speed trains, relieving the intolerable congestion on airlines and interstates. But U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, while still dragging his few remaining stringy hairs over his mostly empty head, will still argue that it's cheaper to buy everyone a car.
In Washington, Congress will pass gun control legislation, requiring all guns to be registered and licensed in the same manner as automobiles. The right to keep and bear arms will remain intact, with some common sense applied to the idiots in the marketplace.
The National Health Security Act will be passed and signed by President Neil Patrick Harris, guaranteeing minimum health insurance for all Americans. Likewise, campaign finance reform will become a reality, though only after a series of outrageous scandals are revealed involving jets, shoes, bananas and children's charities, illustrating the corruption and abuse that had characterized the system to this point.
Individual states will move away from multi-state super primaries as parties, candidates and voters realize the need to more closely connect with those who would hold national office. Unfortunately, it takes several years of electing front-runners who turn out to be turkeys before this lesson is learned.
The next serious battle over modern social rights, closely following the hard-won struggle for gay and lesbian equality, will be in the area of legal aid. Reformers will argue that in our modern litigious society, competent legal representation -- and thus all the freedoms, rights and privileges which might hinge thereon -- should not be dependent upon an individual's ability to pay, but that all Americans are entitled to equal representation regardless of their financial resources. Bar associations from coast to coast will fight this with more gusto than was ever witnessed with the insurance companies and national health care.
If these sound like far-off, unrealistic fantasies, I need only remind the reader of the events of the decade just passed. Never could any of us have imagined the absurd twists of fortune witnessed in our lives.
We should know by now that the only things stranger than absurdist drama are the real-life actions which inspire it. And poetic justice has a way of manifesting itself with an alarming regularity these days, perhaps because of the increased interconnectedness brought by modern technology. If such is the case, then it will truly be the collective energy of our individual actions that will set our course for political and social evolution.
As for whatever weird trips the future has in store, bon voyage!
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