- I hope that my years of suffering as a Leaf's fan comes to a merciful and joyous conclusion. I realize that there is about as much hope for this happening as there is for me jumping out of an airplane, (and believe me-that is one thing that does not appear anywhere on my personal life list!) but remember, this is a hope list. My beloved shinny team has been stuck in the hockey equivalent of the Cubs futility for most of my life. The difference is, is that the Cubs actually have made strides over the years and the Leafs have careened from bad to worse to mediocre to pathetic. For all the blather about Detroit being HOCKEYTOWN or Montreal being the hotbed of Canadian hockey, the real truth is that if the Leafs were to ever get past the 41 year old ghosts (and counting!) Toronto would erupt like Boston did when the Sox won in 2004. Bedlam would ensue, civic holidays would be declared and it would probably be enough to sustain us for another half of a century.
- I hope that politicians stop promising and start doing. I am so tired of hearing partisan bullshit that my ears ache. My city and country, and the cities and countries around the world, have real on-the-ground problems that desperately need addressing. Specifically for Toronto, I hope for a concrete, sustainable and real solution to our transit issues. Anybody who has been stuck in our constant gridlock would hope for the same. We need rapid public transit built in bulk and we need it now. We need an integrated system of fares and we need to stop expecting that it will pay for itself at the cash box. All of our levels of government need to stop analyzing an issue that has been analyzed to death and pony up with permanent and sustainable funding. If our leaders are truly serious about greening our city, then getting people out of their cars and into fast, clean and convenient public transportation systems like our European cousins have done, should be a gigantic first step. Moving the people of Toronto has long been ignored and it is crucial to our economy, our environment and our social structure.
- I hope that reality television will die. In 1976, Paddy Chayefsky scripted a brilliant movie entitled Network. In the film, Peter Finch's Howard Beale is a network news anchor who is unceremoniously fired after his ratings drop. He responds to his dismissal by announcing on air of his intention to commit suicide in front of his millions of viewers. Stunningly, the ratings skyrocket and unscrupulous network executives take advantage of his ravings by giving him an unscripted forum to vent; in effect the genesis of the modern reality show. I don't think that Mr. Chayefsky could have foreseen the cesspool that network TV has become, but he was incredibly prescient. Today we have dross like Wife Swap, (how totally misogynistic is this crap?) Mamma's Boy, (the Bachelor trying to get a date to meet the approval of his forever disapproving mother. Again; women "what are you thinking?) and SuperNanny. This doesn't even begin to address the litany of crappy half-assed talent shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent and on and on and on. We have created a subculture of "Z" list celebrities that show up in newspapers and magazines long after the expiration of their 15 minutes. Worse yet, we think this idiots have talent and we pretend that their goings-on have importance. TV has become devoid of true talent. Gone are the writers, actors and directors with vision, only to be replaced by the Simon Cowells of the world. And the worst part is, that we the public have become willing voyeurs all in the name of ratings.
- I hope that baseball gets a salary cap. Is there any fan out there outside of New York that doesn't hope for the same thing? I speak as a Blue Jay fan who knows that my team can never compete for the playoffs, let alone the division, so longs as the Yankees are allowed to spend 485 million dollars on 3 players. Most teams are slashing payroll and yet the Yanks, with their bottomless pit of resources, are behaving like Saudi oil sheiks. Sports leagues may think that they are 30 individual teams, but there needs to be a collective good so that all teams can compete on equal financial footing, else the league dies. Baseball is the only major professional sports league without salary management, and the time has come to join the club. I realize that a whole host of problems stand as impediments to this occurring, but with shrinking TV revenues, a diminishing fan base and a tanking economy, the baseball mandarins on both sides are finding it harder and harder to justify the grossly inflated salaries. I mean, really. C.C. Sabbathia will make $100,000 an inning over the life of his contract! The time is now.
- I hope that Barack Obama can restore credibility to the White House and that the faith placed in him by the American people is justified. He is just a man, not the messiah many make him out to be, but so much damage has been done on such a massive global scale, that even small victories will be hailed as gigantic achievements. He will encounter dissent and debate, and he will make choices that are questionable, (see Rick Warren!) but the entire world should be at least be willing to give him the chance to try. At least he speaks with intelligence and sophistication and he never, ever mispronounces the word NUCLEAR!!
- I hope that Bernard Madoff gets his comeuppance. I cannot even fathom $50 billion dollars. The numbers are so astronomical that they defy comprehension. I have not historically been a big believer in an afterlife, but I do think that there is a special place in hell reserved for people like Madoff who stole from rich, poor, and middle-class alike. He took money out of charities and ripped off his friends and family, all the while pretending to be a pious and observant. Madoff gives all of my people a bad name. The punishment coming his way will never be enough.
I hope that we all enjoy health, family, good friends and much peace. I hope that we know a life rich with chocolate and that we take a few minutes to smell the bread. I hope that we won't fret over a pound gained and that we won't kick ourselves when our resolutions go awry. I hope that we will see the good in our opponents and have the patience to understand that we all want the greater good. I hope 2009 is a bit better than 2008! Happy New Year to all!