LAST YEAR in this space, I offered 13 predictions for 2013, plus one bonus prediction, which was that none of my predictions would come true. (In our house, this is known as “Dad Humor”). As it happened, my prediction that none of my predictions would come true did not come true. Daniel Day-Lewis really did win the Academy Award for Best Actor. I was one for 14, a scintillating .071! Those are A-Rod-in-the-postseason numbers!
In my joke column, I also predicted that The Guardian would break a big story, and that WikiLeaks would release a treasure trove of previously classified information that no one would care about. While that did not occur, it did come to pass that The Guardian released a treasure trove of classified information that no one cared about. Not that far off, right? Finally, I foretold that we editors at The Weeklings would win MacArthur genius grants. While this did not go down, our own Jennifer Kabat did win a Warhol Foundation grant for art criticism, which is nothing to sneeze at, unless you’re allergic to oil paint.
The point is, even when I was just fooling around, I still managed to get a few things right. I’m like the proverbial broken clock of prognostication! With that in mind, here are 14 not-so-silly predictions for 2014:
Because so much historical stuff happened in 1964—and because said stuff involves the Baby Boomers, a generation of seemingly indefatigable narcissism—every third news story in 2014 will involve the fiftieth anniversary of something or other. Some of these semicentennials will have legitimate historic relevance (the passage of the Civil Rights Act), others will be oozing with the treacle of nostalgia (everything else).
For example, fifty years ago marked the American album debuts of not one, not two, but three iconic British rock bands: The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles. Not only that, but in June of ‘64, at a show at the Railway Hotel, The Who’s Pete Townsend smashed his first guitar on stage, a gimmick that, alas, did not die before it got old. Despite “You Really Got Me” and the young Mick Jagger presiding over a fan riot in Germany, 1964 belonged to John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Take your pick of milestones: the release of Introducing…The Beatles (January 10) and Meet the Beatles (January 20); “I Want to Hold Your Hand” becoming the first #1 single (February 1); the band landing at JFK airport, fainting teenage girls in its Liverpudlian wake (February 7); 73 million people watching them perform on The Ed Sullivan Show (February 9); the band holding the top five spots on the singles chart, with “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist & Shout,” “She Loves You,” I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “Please Please Me” (April 4); the Fab Four’s triumphant return to Liverpool (July 10), an event still called Beatles Day; the release of A Hard Day’s Night (July 10).
Brace yourselves, Gen Xers and Millennials. We will be reading about this Baby Boomer crap all fucking year…
…unless we’re waxing nostalgic for our own misspent youth. Because 2014 is also the twentieth anniversary of 1994, which was a very important year in the history of Generation X. Did you know that Kurt Cobain killed himself in 1994? You will be hearing about it so much this spring, you might want to follow suit.
Basically, if you were born after 1980, you should avoid the mainstream media until 2015.
We say “two thousand and one” instead of “twenty-oh-one” because that’s how Stanley Kubrick opted, after careful consideration, to pronounce the title of his film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick knew that his decision, whatever it was, would have that sort of cultural impact, and since he figured he wouldn’t make it to the new century anyway, he bequeathed us this clunky pronunciation as punishment for not fully grasping The Shining. It’s like the monolith, and we are all monkeys before it.
We’re on to you, Stanley, you moon-landing-faking, Stephen-King-dissing motherfucker. This is the year we start saying “twenty-fourteen.”
Billy Beane is the most famous general manager in all of sports, because he was the subject of a (terrific) Michael Lewis book called Moneyball, and because, in the (pretty good) movie of said book, he was played by Brad Pitt. The movie ends with a “card,” stating that Billy is “still waiting to win the last game of the year.”
Well, this is Billy’s year. In the 2014 Fall Classic, Beane’s Oakland A’s will win the World Series. Moneyball FTW!
Twenty-eight pages of the 9/11 Commission Report were redacted back in 2003. To release them, President George W. Bush said at the time, would jeopardize national security. (He used the same line to get out of going to his in-laws’ for Thanksgiving). Earlier this year, Reps. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., were permitted to read those 28 pages. “I was absolutely shocked by what I read,” Jones told International Business Times. “What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me. I cannot go into it any more than that. I had to sign an oath that what I read had to remain confidential. But the information I read disappointed me greatly.”
It will come as a surprise to no one who has been paying attention to this stuff that the classified pages concern Saudi Arabia. The United States and the Kingdom have for years had a peculiar if not outright fishy relationship (for further general reading on the Saudis, I recommend Steve Coll’s fine The Bin Ladens). This year, those 28 pages will become mainstream news, and the American public will learn that, while Saddam Hussein had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, the same cannot be said of the House of Saud.
Word on the street is, The Guardian and the Washington Post have leaked just one percent of the documents given them by privacy activist and self-styled indoor cat Edward Snowden. It stands to reason that more bombshells are on the way. As the British government puts more despot-style pressure on The Guardian, the paper may become more, rather than less, willing to give up the goods. That the NSA has been spying on us for years was a possibility bandied about often in certain circles. What other open secrets might Snowden confirm in 2014?
There is a number of firearms fatalities—at schools and movie theaters, on college campuses and Navy yards, at shopping malls and churches, of children, of loved ones, of the innocent—a number that, when we surpass it, will ensure that stricter gun control measures are enacted by our pusillanimous members of Congress.
I have no idea what the number is, although it is obviously much higher than 11,785[1. Per Slate, and as of this writing], which is how many Americans have been shot dead since Newtown. But there is a number, it does exist, and one day, we will get there. Enough innocent people will be gunned down, and the Second Amendment extremists will be defeated by the forces of goodness and common sense.
Twenty-fourteen will not be the year, however. The 11,785 Americans who will be gunned down this coming year will not be nearly enough to curtail the right of Wayne LaPierre to compensate for his two-inch penis. So we’ll have more mass shootings at high schools and college campuses and places of business and playgrounds. (Cue: “U-S-A!” chant).
That the last twelve months comprised a bad year for hurricanes made 2013 a banner year for climate change deniers. House Republicans held a hearing in which they argued that the percentage of scientists who believed in climate change was not 97 percent, but rather 52 percent (which is also, it must be said, a majority…but whatevs).
Look: We have spent the last 150 years burning coal, natural gas, and oil, releasing shit-tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Whether or not we’ve hit “peak oil,” as some have proposed, the fact remains that we’ve used up a whole fuckload of fossil fuel. How can taking three-quarters of all the oil in the ground and burning it up have zero impact on the environment? Who is naive enough to believe that? This is not the stuff of arcane climate science; this is common sense.
So ’13 was lucky. This year? Not so much. Expect extreme weather to return with a vengeance in 2014. And the Republican Party to continue to ignore it. (Sidenote: It will be fun to hear Chris Christie, who rose to national prominence because of his response to a natural disaster, kowtow to the climate denier crowd—but that song and dance shouldn’t kick in until mid-2015).
Six months from now, the healthcare.gov fiasco will be forgotten, and millions of Americans, including many Republicans, will be enjoying its benefits. Meanwhile, the hardliners who were most opposed to Obamacare—Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, and so on—will be forced to backtrack from their previous positions and explain their vehement hatred of helping their less-well-heeled constituents afford health insurance. This, plus the continued rebound of the stock market, the unemployment rate, and other economic factors, will cause the president’s approval rating to inch back up—just in time for the midterm elections. I don’t know that the Dems will win back the House—the districts are drawn so idiotically that this may not be possible—but the bleeding will be less than usual.
Here is a photo of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West that the former posted to Instagram:
Yeezus, how happy they look! This may shock you, but here’s the deal: By this time next year, Kim and Kanye will no longer be together.
By this time in 2034, their daughter will have published a memoir, which jacket cover will read: NORTH BY NORTH WEST.
Next year at this time, Smaug will be dead. Excruciatingly drawn out over seven-plus hours of screen time, the movie version of the story of the dragon’s defeat will comprise a far greater investment of time and energy than just, you know, reading the fucking book.
Meanwhile, Peter Jackson has dedicated four-plus years of his life to a children’s story, one he didn’t even write, about a fucking dragon. In 2014, it says here, he finally moves out of his parents’ basement and gets a proper job.
Much of the value of an oil company is based on its reserves—how much crude it has to tap into. This makes sense, because an oil company that has no oil is like a potato chip company that has no potatoes.
These companies routinely misrepresent, through clever accounting and word parsing, the actual amount of oil they have. For example, they might claim to have x millions of barrels that are, in reality, in the ground beneath the Arctic ice shelf and not usable. In short, oil companies are generally worth far less than their stock price suggests.
One of these years, the “oil bubble” will cause an implosion of the economic system. But not this year. Phew. So pimp that Hummer while you still can, yo.
Down with TPP! That’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a hush-hush trade agreement between the United States, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam, which gaggle of nations represents a healthy slice of the global economy.
Chances are, you’ve never heard of this. But you will soon enough. TPP, drafts of which were leaked by WikiLeaks earlier in the year, are potentially a sequel to 1984, if its opponents are to be believed. In particular, it will stifle the Internet. Here’s what the Electronic Frontier Foundation has to say about it:
TPP raises significant concerns about citizens’ freedom of expression, due process, innovation, the future of the Internet’s global infrastructure, and the right of sovereign nations to develop policies and laws that best meet their domestic priorities. In sum, the TPP puts at risk some of the most fundamental rights that enable access to knowledge for the world’s citizens.
The US Trade Rep is pursuing a TPP agreement that will require signatory counties to adopt heightened copyright protection that advances the agenda of the US entertainment and pharmaceutical industries agendas, but omits the flexibilities and exceptions that protect Internet users and technology innovators.
President Obama has played this close to the vest, not even allowing members of Congress to read over the negotiations. And it may be ready for signatures by the end of January, while we’re all absorbed with more important things, like Ritchie Incognito. Three cheers for the global one-world police state!
Breaking Bad is over, Homeland‘s jumped the Brody-shaped shark, and Tony Soprano really is dead. While there are plenty of entertaining B+ shows currently in production (is it me, or is Scandal‘s President Fitzgerald Grant III a dead ringer for The Weeklings’ own Sean Beaudoin?), the Golden Age of TV might have set like a low winter sun. Prepare yourself for more reality shows about disgusting bigots with gross beards.
If you have read this far (hi, Mom!), you will receive good luck for all of 2014. That luck will increase tenfold if you share this piece on Facebook. And twenty times more than that if you “like” our Facebook page. There’s a button down below that makes that pretty easy.
Thanks for your support in 2013, Dear Reader. I wish you a happy, healthy New Year!