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Some Say in Fire, Some Say in Ice

Predictions and apocalyptic visions for 2012

As has become a custom, we asked a handful of our readers and regular correspondents to answer two questions about the year looming before us: First, what do you see coming in the next 12 months; and second, if, as pseudoscientific interpretations of the Mayan calendar suggest, the world will come to an end in 2012, how do you imagine that will happen? Under what circumstances?

We were stunned at the number of responses that involved public transit and Newt Gingrich. (Perhaps we shouldn’t have been.) Here’s a sampling of the answers we received:

Tom Ragan

The Shredd & Ragan Show, 103.3 The Edge

1. I foresee a real guns-on-the-streets civil war breaking out in Western New York in 2012, and no one ever wins there. Hear me out. It starts between the City of Buffalo and the NFTA.

• Councilman Micky Kearns moves to take long-dormant waterfront land from the NFTA by eminent domain, a smart move.

• Kimberly Minkel, the NFTA executive director, barricades the land with empty buses cut from the least profitable runs.

• Kearns counters with a fleet of parking enforcement trucks to ram through the metro bus barricades, freeing the land.

• This doesn’t sit well with Minkel, who dispatches the rest of the bus fleet to start ramming into parking meters. The first blood is shed when one of the buses accidentally hits a parking meter tech “borrowing” quarters from a recently fixed meter.

• All hell breaks loose.

• Now Byron has to get involved because it’s on his watch. Mired in panic and inaction, his assistant, Steve Casey, takes it upon himself to climb up to the observation deck with a loaded shotgun and starts picking off bus tires. Now the city’s transit system grinds to a halt.

• Minkel chooses the nuclear option and orders a light rail car to derail at the foot of the HSBC Tower, knocking it over into a packed First Niagara Arena on “City Worker Appreciation Night.”

• Soon army tanks are rolling west on the Thruway to put an end to the mess.

The End of the World: The world will come to an end quietly in 2012, when one bird will cough into another bird’s face, and soon that bird will get on a plane to see the Super Bowl, hacking and sneezing all the way. All those people, and one bird, will make their way home, coughing at, and complaining to, anyone who will hear them about how crummy it was to have the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. The pandemic should reach fever pitch by August.

Cynthia Van Ness


• Buffalo finally stops tolerating and promulgating evidence-free claims that every single house or building that possibly dates from before 1864 (and a good number that date from after) was an Underground Railroad hiding place.

• Occupy Buffalo outlasts every other Occupy protest in America and wins the nation’s respect for persevering through a full Great Lakes winter.

• Gas once again reaches $4/gallon and overnight bicyclists are transformed from pathetic losers in the rain to resented elitists who don’t share your pain.

• Cars return to Main Street, producing the same unremarkable conditions enjoyed by every other city in upstate New York that has always had cars on Main Street: negligible increases in retail in return for needlessly diminished mass transit and additional pressure to demolish viable buildings for surface parking.

The End of the World: I have only two words as a possible end-of-the-world scenario: President Gingrich.

Chris Hawley

Urban planner

• Mayor Byron Brown forwards a new form-based zoning code to the Common Council for adoption.

The End of the World: Shortly after the adoption of the new code, a nearby Wolf-Rayet star collapses, hurtling a gamma ray burst toward Earth that instantly depletes its ozone layer, causing food depletion, starvation, and mass extinction. The last remaining humans in Buffalo die of radiation poisoning in zero-lot line coffee houses with welcoming shopfront windows and parking limited to the side or the rear.

Lynda Schneekloth

Professor emeritus, UB School of Architecture & Planning

• I fear to say it, but I foresee more of the same. By that I mean an unwillingness of the part of the people and leaders of the United States to come to grips with the most serious condition, climate change, that humans have ever confronted since the last ice age. The “owners” of fossil fuels will continue to convince (pay?) our leaders that we must frack for gas, destroy worlds for oil, and maybe even split atoms instead of investing in available, job-creating, alternative energy.

The End of the World: I hope that the “world as we know it” comes to an end in 2012. How? I don’t know but I can see a new world that awakens the hearts, minds, and souls of people to our total dependence on the Earth and its universe, rooted in gratefulness for the gifts bestowed on all creatures and a willingness to live as a member of the Earth Community. That is an “end of the world/beginning of the world” I wish for, and I know the Occupiers have a role to play. Without this, I see the end of civilization, maybe not in 2012 but not as far in the future as people would hope.

Tim Moran

Editor and publisher, Outcome

• California’s 2008 Proposition 8 (marriage equality repeal law) and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will both be struck down by federal courts, opening the door for the expansion of civil marriage recognition throughout the nation.

• While Newt Gingrich is accepting his parties presidential nomination at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. The powers of the universe will force the moon to collide with earth thus putting an end to the lunar mining schemes the former Speaker of the House had envisioned.

Geoffrey Gatza

Editor and publisher, BlazeVOX Books

• I foresee that the US and its world allies will make a sudden policy change on all budget items scheduled for military, defense, and homeland security and divert those funds to feed and house the world’s peoples. Each person will see in other human beings a brother or a sister and everyone will realize that the worlds greatest assets are living beings. All around the globe we will all flourish in a new age of peace and understanding.

The End of the World: See above.

Art Giacalone


• State Senator George Maziarz will admit that Verizon played Western New York for fols with its proposed data center plans, apologizes to septuagenarian Mary Ann Rizzo for vilifying her following Verizon’s pullout from the Town of Somerset, and returns the tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions he had received from Verizon and the owner of the 160-acre soy bean field, the AES power plant.

The End of the World: Carl Paladino uses his 1-190 billboard to announce that he is returning the “Community Humanitarian on the Year” award he received in 2011 from the Hope for Tomorrow Foundation, and admits he’s just a miserable, vindictive SOB.

Ted P. Schmidt

Economics professor, Buffalo State College

• Buffalo residents get some R&R, as Rumore and Rudnick announce their retirements.

• The Bills are 12-2 going into week 16 when they will play the New England Patriots for the AFC East title in a nationally televised home game on Saturday, December 22.

• Ron Paul wins the Republican nomination. Paul names Dennis Kucinich as his running mate, and the left-right alliance wins the election running away.

• With millions anticipating the world will end the next day (including many despondent Bills fans lamenting on WGR—”Why now?”), a Mayan scholar announces on Thursday December 20, 2012 that the year of the prediction was mistakenly transposed: The actual date reads December 21, 2102.

• The Bills beat the Patriots on Saturday and go on to win the Super Bowl, the Queen City begins an unprecendented economic renaissance, and democracy in America is restored…

Sarah Bishop

Executive director, Buffalo First!

• The Erie Canal Harbor Corporation (ECHDC) and the Canal Side Community Alliance (CSCA) sign a Communit Benefits Agreement (CBA) and make local business the anchor tenant of Canal Side.

• Oh, and the Bills win the Super Bowl. Why the f@ck not?

Frits Abell

Buffalo Expat Network

• I envision that they public will (finally) become more aware about the dangerous, harmful impact of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and encourage our politicians to enforce more stringent regulations on the process.

The End of the World: The end of the world will come if we, as a public, don’t wake up to the threat of fracking to our water supply. If that doesn’t do it, electing Newt Gingrich to office certainly will.

Christopher Schobert

Associate editor, Buffalo Spree

• It’s odd to think that last year at this time, Carl Paladino signs were still up, Tom Golisano still owned the Sabres, Larry Quinn still haunted what was then called HSBC Arena, HSBC was still owned by HSBC, and Sith Lord Chris Collins looked pretty unbeatable. So predicting what’s to come in 2012 is tricky. My best guess is the Sabres will still be schizo, the Bills still clumsy, and, hopefully, the county executive will be prospering. But mainly, I foresee my son continuing to be smiley. That’s good enough for me—and I think it’ll have to be.

The End of the World: If Lars Von Trier has taught us anything, it’s that the planet Melancholia will collide with and obliterate Earth, but not before triggering suicides, golf-cart hijinks, ear-drum-rattling Wagner, and Kirsten Dunst nudity. Oh, he also taught us that if you don’t have anything intelligent to say, it’s best to keep your f’ing mouth shut. Happy new year!

Ben Siegel

editor, Block Club

The End of the World: The end of the world means something different for everyone. For instance, I routinely cry out “The end is near!” when my favorite Top Chef is at the judge’s table. And when you’re driving in the middle of the night on the 90 and your wiper fluid goes out, that’s about as close as it comes to the apocalypse. But everyone has their own end-of-days in mind.

According to my friend Margaret, solar flares are going to demagnetize our credit cards. She told me to look it up. According to botanists, bees. According to my mother, paper plates. According to anyone with a pulse, Kim Jong-il’s son will mistake his PS3 controller for the nuclear missile launch. According to the Mayans, we should be having a party, with cakes and punch and little hot dogs. According to Britney, it’ll be a dance-off. According to everyone else, a combination of Kardashians, “Squeakquels,” and Michele Bachmann signal a shift in the wind. None of these suggestions is wrong, yet I can’t imagine that any of them are exactly right.

I’ll say that if the end of the world does comes in 2012, I’d hope that it would be just like the movies. I’d hope it would be big and colorful and loud and beautiful. I’d hope that it would be seen from space, a grand spectacle for our interplanetary friends. We could all use a big show. I’d also hope that we’d be able to savor our last moments together, know that it was all worth it, and that something else, possibly, is coming. Who knows? I don’t. In the meantime, snacks!

Ellen Reese

Long-suffering but jewel-bedecked wife of North Buffalo attorney Peter A. Reese:

• There will be a revitalization of the Democratic Party in Erie County. The party will have a new post-Crangle-era chairman. The City of Buffalo committee will be reactivated and play a major roll in the shaping of the party. Party members will take an unaccustomed active roll in determining the course of the party and the candidates selected and supported. The resurgent and united Democrats will blow the doors off the Republicans for years to come.

The End of the World: In memory of the death of Kim Jong Il, the North Koreans will set off nuclear bombs and destroy the world.

Peter A. Reese

North Buffalo attorney

• All the children of the world will join hands and sing in one voice for world peace.

Jay Burney

Founder of the Learning Sustainability Campaign and Greenwatch

• My cynical side: Envirornmental degradation will continue its precipitous rush into oblivion generating continued worldwide and domestic social unrest and continued economic instability. Without a healthy environment we have no economy. American society will be bewildered by an onslaught of confusing and irrelevent messages that will lead us to an election campaign characterized by dishonesty, misdirection, and and a lack of fundamental choice. After election day, the country will be strongly divided regards the outcome, and we will begin a global retreat into what future generations will call the second dark ages. War is peace. Up is down.

• My optimistic side: People will become more engaged in social, economic, and environmental questions, especially young people. This will lead to the most brilliant part of being human, i.e. problem-solving and making the world a better place for generations to come. Trees will start hugging people. People will realize that this is a good time to be alive, a good time to be on planet earth. Make love not war.

The End of the World: Let’s start with the fact that the question begs to answer the supposition that the world will come to an end. In the spirit of co-operation, here is my most cynical answer.

The world will come to an end when, while we are all sharing a Pepsi, shopping, thinking about the Kardashians, and watching porn on the tubes, five things happen:

• Fukishima 4 hits critical mass and begins the China Syndrome.

Deep Water Horizon will be revealed to have continued to leak uncontrollably and NOAA and Homeland Security will announce that the Gulf of Mexico is now a dead zone and off-limits to all humans except for personcorporation BP, which will continue extracting oil and selling it into a global market, unobserved by anyone except certain Wall Street executives.

• In February, people in Houston protesting the reaction to the newly described “gulf oil disaster” will be rounded up in pens, and violence will erupt when a private phony police force begins to attack and hurt real people. This leads to a number of confrontations around the nation leading up and through both the Democratic and Republican Conventions. It will become clear that the usual civilian authorities have been replaced by “private security forces.”

• The United States holds the presidential election, which has results that are hotly contested by a divided nation. Congress declares martial law, which is upheld on Christmas Day by the Supreme Court.

• Someone will “preemptively strike” Iran with a nuclear weapon which will unleash the forces of all out global warfare. Lights out, party over.

Now I am so depressed I want to go shopping.

Cory Perla

Associate editor, Artvoice

• Facebook will decline in the US for the first year since the website launched, due to their invasive privacy policies.

• People will start to give a shit about their online privacy but the government will make it more difficult to stay anonymous online.

• Medical marijuana will be legalized in New York State and beyond.

• There will be a major cyberspace hacker attack on the U.S. government that will affect the way we use the internet, and might even black it out for a period of time.

• The new Great Leader of North Korea won’t be so great.

• A big name athlete in one of the top four US sporting organizations will come out as gay.

• The demise of 3D glasses once and for all.

• A Buffalo-based band with a female singer will gain major mainstream attention.

• The release of Men In Black III will coincide with an actual alien invasion.

• Quentin Tarantino will offend a record breaking number of people with Django Unchained.

• The Smiths will reunite and break-up in the same 24-hour time period.

• Joe Rogan will force someone to eat human flesh on national television on the reboot of Fear Factor.

• Justin Beiber drops acid, loses support of soccer moms around the country.

• Network executives officially run out of ideas for reality TV shows after the release of My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé 2: Too Fat for TV.

Albert Brown

Activist, occupier

• An increase in civil unrest, more street protests, more militancy, and more corruption being exposed at the highest levels of government. In other words, the status quo!

Pat Kewley

Writer and artist

• While discussing Sartre at a dinner party, Terry Pegula and Ralph Wilson will realize that the endless competition of professional sports is nothing but a tired metaphor for the eternal competition that takes place within each of us—the struggle against our own mortality, a battle none of us can win. Recognizing the futility of arbitrary conflict, the two men will renounce their wealth in order to devote themselves to lives of monastic study and contemplation. “All struggle is futile,” Wilson will declare at a press conference announcing the conversion of Ralph Wilson Stadium into a meditation garden, “for, in the end, does Horace not write that ‘pale Death with impartial tread calls at the poor man’s cottage as well as at the palaces of kings’? The Lombardi Trophy will never come to Buffalo, but I offer you an even greater trophy: that of self-knowledge.” Season tickets will be refundable at their point of purchase.

• Budget cuts early in the fiscal year will force the NFTA to lay off their rail conductors and use computers to fully automate the city’s subway service. Problems with this plan will become readily apparent after a lightning storm causes a number of the trains to become self-aware, resulting in service disruptions as they begin to seek human victims. The trains will not be fully subdued until late July, when a melee at Lafayette Station during a Thursday at the Square concert will result in the destruction of three trains and the deaths two members of Danko Jones.

• Local billboard aficionado Carl Paladino will attempt a last-minute entry into the GOP primary race on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. Despite a strong sixth place finish ahead of Jon Huntsman, Paladino will take the unprecedented step of suspending his campaign live onstage during a Fox News debate later that week, after using a series of pornographic racial epithets while responding to a question about tax policy. He will attempt to parlay his brief notoriety into a position as a cable news talking head, but the only offer will come from CSPAN’s BookTV, where Paladino and co-host Susan Orlean will host a daily three-hour chat show interviewing authors, academics, and the occasional porn star.

• I will continue to get my ass handed to me every month like clockwork at Founding Fathers Pub trivia night.

Nancy J. Parisi


• The Arts & Sports Future of Buffalo: The Bills are sold, depart for the North, and all the people who had season tickets replace their sporting inclinations with those of an artful sort: The face-painting fans become members of arts orgs in the City of Buffalo. Membership at AKAG, CEPA, Hallwalls, BPAC, and the like grow tenfold. Former Bills fans find that they are more satisfied with visual pursuits, and begin to tailgate before art openings. Louis Grachos is invited to light the first grill in the Albright lot, and does so with aplomb.

The End of the World: The world is never going to end.

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