By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Is it safe to come out yet? Is this horrifying, recessionary, alien-anal-probe of a year finally—finally!—over?
Whew! It is! We made it through the last year of a less-than-auspicious decade. Let's all get some "I Survived '09" T-shirts and have a party. Maybe while we're all together, we can make plans to ensure that 2010 is a better year. You Observer readers are smart people. Surely you can help with that. At the very least, perhaps some of you can give us tips on how to plan for survival in case things get any worse. We can have some drinks, maybe show a horror flick. How about Plan 9 From Outer Space? The worst movie ever made would surely be an appropriate send-off for one of the worst years Buzz can recall.
We all could use a few grins, and Buzz, for one, certainly needs a better plan for getting through tough times. Our '09 strategy of curling up in a fetal position under a desk with a fistful of antidepressants and a pack of smokes and whimpering "Mommy, Mommy" hasn't been helping so far.
Lucky for Dallas, while Buzz was praying for the sweet release of catatonia, wiser heads were busy making bigger, better plans for a brighter tomorrow. The Dallas City Council, for example, was busy as ever, trying to stitch together the Frankenstein's monster that is the Trinity project. Plans for the route for the new parkway along the Trinity River were creeping along, and the city was getting ready to take delivery of the steel for a fancy river bridge downtown. Things were rocking until the Army Corps of Engineers, those sticklers, pointed out that the river levees were only slightly less porous than SpongeBob SquarePants.
OK, so that's a bad example of the value of plans.
Let's see, what was a better one? Oooh! We know! Culminating years of careful planning and construction, DART opened up its Green Line from downtown to Fair Park. The new rail line was extremely popular for people heading to the State Fair—so popular, in fact, that some of those fair-goers are still there, wandering zombie-like through abandoned Fair Park, waiting to catch a train home from the Texas-OU game.
Hmm. Not a good example either.
OK, try this: Former city council member Don Hill's defense team had a plan to win his corruption trial. His lawyers pointed out that rich, white city leaders received much more money than Hill ever did, and they weren't on trial. Known in legal circles as the "I'm rubber; you're glue" defense, this strategy is akin to trying to avoid a ticket by pointing out to the cop who pulled you over for doing 80 mph in a school zone that other drivers are doing 85. Don Hill, a smart, personable man who could have one day been mayor, joined the ranks of politics' walking dead.
But then that's the trouble with making plans. No matter how carefully you strategize, reality intrudes. Nastily.
Still, even pessimistic old Buzz has laid schemes. We once dreamed of retiring to a little farmhouse back in Illinois. Even had the place picked out—a small, clapboard home at the foot of a verdant hill, surrounded by cornfields and tall oak and hickory trees. Across the lane from the farm was an emerald green pond on which floated ducks and geese and swans.
Sounds nice, eh? Picture Buzz and the lovely Mrs. Buzz on our own little patch of land, raising chickens, growing a garden.
It was a good plan until one summer—this is a true story, by the way—Buzz went back home to visit the family and decided to take a bike ride by our future Eden. As Buzz pedaled by the farmhouse, we noticed a large, bearded, hardy son of the soil walking between the house and barn. We lifted a hand to wave and noticed the son of the soil was staring intently at us and lurching in an odd fashion, moving his pelvis. A chill ran down our spine as countless zombie films flickered through our brain.
We looked harder.
Is he OK?
IT IS! IT IS! OMYGAW! HE'S FLAPPING HIS WANG AT US!
Buzz pedaled faster and didn't look back. Just like that, Gomer the Weenie Waver dashed our best-laid plan.
Maybe it was for the best. In truth, Mrs. Buzz would see us in the cold, cold ground before she ever moved back to the sticks, and the only plants Buzz has ever successfully grown weren't strictly for eating.
So let's give up on schemes and stratagems for 2010 and just see what happens. Like a nice Jewish boy once pointed out, the birds of the air neither sow nor reap, the lilies neither labor nor spin, but they get by (until a cat or a weed whacker gets 'em anyway). So forget planning, we say, and let's all relax, pop a few antidepressants and tread gently, hopefully into the new year and decade.
If that doesn't work, try pedaling faster. And whatever you do, remember rule No. 1 from all horror movies. Don't...look...back.