published Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

David Cook: Zipline into 2013

Somewhere yesterday, scientists uncovered another Mayan calendar. Far more uplifting than the first, this calendar predicts 2013 as one of the most memorable years ever.

I bet it will look something like this:

January: An angel of the Lord appears to Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, in his bedroom while he sleeps at night.

Surprisingly, the angel does not look like Charlton Heston, but more like an elementary school student.

LaPierre (who instinctively drew his bedside handgun to fire at the intruder) is struck mute for 40 days and nights. Then cast into the wilderness for 40 more.

February: The Atlanta Falcons win the Super Bowl, beating the Denver Broncos.

"Silver Linings Playbook" wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

"The Hobbit" doesn't.

March: On Voting Day, no one votes.

Assuming Andy Berke has hands-down, without question won the Chattanooga mayor's race, no one bothers to take the time to vote. Not one single person.

Which means, thanks to a tiny, barely noticed amendment hidden in the City Charter, control of the mayor's office automatically reverts to Mayor Ron Littlefield, who is given another term.

April: Steven Fox, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior who won the U.S. Amateur Championship in 2012, finishes in the top 20 at the Master's.

Former Baylor School scholar-athlete Brooke Pancake wins a major tournament as a rookie on the LPGA Tour. Then she wins another one. And another.

Pancake's stardom grows overnight, as the demographics of American golf fans shift from the PGA to LPGA. Pancake, whose character is as straight and strong as her back swing, does for women's golf what Mia Hamm did for American soccer.

(But she's not granted membership to Augusta National.)

May: More storms, stronger than we've ever seen, come through East Tennessee. Billions in damage.

Just as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012 galvanized the national conversation about gun control, these storms wake up Americans about the seriousness of climate change.

Politicians finally begin to take climate change seriously, passing a carbon tax legislation that increases tax revenue, encourages sustainability efforts and reduces emissions by one-third within two years.

June: Chattanooga records its hottest spring on record. Again. Multiple 100-degree days ... in June.

July: A local corporation makes a $15 million donation to the Hamilton County school system to give every student his or her own iPad.

It is the most dramatic, gutsy event to happen to local schools since the city-county school merger. Educational inequity is cut in half instantly. (Think technology use isn't important in the 21st century?)

Students rejoice. Teachers faint, wondering how they will ever learn to use iPads on top of their already-10-miles-long to-do list.

In the distance, a flock of Angry Birds takes flight.

August: A new business emerges in Chattanooga with one simple mission: to make ziplining a realistic mode of transportation.

The first zipline is strung across the Tennessee River. Commuters park on the North Shore, then pay $3 for a round-trip ticket to ride the 90-second zipline across the river.

Downtown companies report higher-than-ever worker productivity and satisfaction, simply because folks get to start and end their day with something so-stinking-fun as ziplining.

September, October, November: The Tennessee Volunteers, led by new coach Butch Jones, lose only three games. But Alabama doesn't lose any.

December: After months of begging and pleading through grass-roots social media campaigns, many Chattanoogans rejoice when Samuel L. Jackson announces he will return home to open the first annual Chattanooga Film Festival.

Some people, though, take it as a sign that the world is ending.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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