New Year Predictions
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It-s time again for my New Year predictions, based on personal polls and local trends. And in 2005, I-m happy to report that despite the uncertainties loose in the world, most residents of L.A. intend to put aside pessimism. They say they want to enjoy life "close-at-hand" and "as-it-comes."
In fact, a sense of strength and calm will spread across the basin as early as February. Historians may take note of Tuesday, Feb. 8, when a light rain will begin at noon and temperatures will drop into the mid-forties. On that day, large numbers of Angelenos will leave work early to make themselves hot chocolate, read aloud from Ann of Green Gables, and listen to songs by Pete Seeger.
That night, as a downpour spreads in earnest from Pasadena to the Ports, many will sleep soundly for the first time in years and find themselves suddenly unafraid of Al Qaeda, ex-spouses, 527s, math professors, immediate supervisors, careless agents, vice principals, personal injury attorneys, landlords, investors, remodeling contractors, and the other carpool moms. Most will attribute it to the hot chocolate.
But from this simple beginning, the personality of the city will begin to change in subtle ways. Come spring, fedoras and tweed caps will again be favored by young men. Skirts will lengthen, teachers will give less homework, couples will crowd the Palisades on Saturday mornings, and drivers will become more polite on the northbound transition from the 10 to the 110.
These are hardly newsworthy changes and I expect the press might miss the story altogether. After all, tragedies, "even terrorism", will continue in 2005. Overseas, I-m sure events will continue to unfold without pity, as they have for centuries. But in the coming year, the Urban Man predicts that strangely, each new challenge will foster a growing interest in the local, the personal, and the idiosyncratic. Our leading architects will sponsor a contest to design granny flats in residential backyards because folks will suddenly be keeping their aging parents close at hand. Instead of after-school programs, kids will be seen again on neighborhood streets, watched over by grandma.
In the coming year, I understand that Hollywood executives intend to make fewer, but better movies. And 50 cable channels will go dark when they realize they-ve run out of worthy material.
By summer, merchants will be seen removing garish plastic marquees to put up charming, hand-painted wooden signs along Sepulveda Boulevard.
Big shopping malls and chain restaurants may suffer a decline, but the number of corner markets will surge.
Meanwhile, in South L.A., gangs will be seen installing little white picket fences and planting flower beds along residential blocks. No one will dare get in their way.
Broadway will again become L.A.-s main street, and the old theatres will light up with premieres every night.
Liquor store owners will become known for their courtly manners.
The owner of a surfside Malibu home will become famous for his Saturday afternoon "open house for beachgoers." He-ll put up a sign: "come on in for some lemonade."
The L.A. Weekly will run front-page profiles of helpful policemen.
KCRW will start playing an hour of John Philip Sousa on Monday mornings.
In the Valley, door-to-door vegetable pushcarts will ply the subdivisions.
In Beverly Hills, cardiologists will begin making house calls.
And at the new Downtown Cathedral, children will gather each Sunday afternoon to fly hundreds of paper kites from the postmodern rooftop.
Trust me on this. I-ve checked local trends and taken scientific polls. Everyone I-ve asked is trying to put aside pessimism, learning to take life "as it comes," and starting to enjoy things "close at hand."
The rest is sure to follow.
Copyright - 2004 Marc Porter Zasada. Dedicated readers may remember a similar prediction by the Urban Man for 2002 in a column for the L.A. Downtown News. Due to some miscalculations, that prediction proved overly optimistic. This year, however, the stars have aligned.
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