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Baltimore Living

Baltimore: The Next 30 Years...and Beyond

Illustrations by Tom Chalkley

Posted 9/19/2007

2009: Emboldened by the runaway success of former city police commissioner Ed Norris as a talk-show host, WHFS-FM hires all the other former city police commissioners to be talk-show hosts.


2011: Baltimore, Detroit, and New Orleans vie for the title of "Murder Capital of the United States," a distinction that brings federal funds plus lucrative film and TV location deals. To the dismay of all parties, the rivalry ends with a three-way tie.

2012: Gov. Martin O'Malley runs for president as the candidate of the Democratic Party, loses to GOP nominee, former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

2013: Blue-light cameras are installed on every street corner in Baltimore. Newer-model cameras feature so-called cam-tazers that can deliver an 800,000-volt shock to criminal suspects, disabling them until police arrive.

2013: Carroll Industrial Park demolished to make way for the Deutsche Bank Game-Plex, incorporating the New Preakness Racetrack, the Under Armour Soccer Stadium, and the Marvin Mandel Casino.

2013: When city and state officials announce plans to "fire the entire staff of the Baltimore City Public School System and start over," school administrators and loyal underlings barricade themselves inside the North Avenue headquarters, pledging to "keep fighting for our children's future." The siege lasts only three days, however, because the administrators forgot to bring along food and paper goods. In the aftermath, investigators discover the $58 million missing from the 2003 school budget.

2014: An alliance of real-estate interests and community groups persuades the city to designate most of Southeast Baltimore as the "Greater Canton Exclusive Benefits District." Greater Canton--incorporating Little Italy, Fells Point, Butchers Hill, Patterson Park, Highlandtown, and Greektown-- immediately begins construction of a perimeter fence and, along the Canton waterfront, an attractively landscaped 30-foot sea wall, with shops.

2015: The entire South Baltimore peninsula unilaterally declares itself the "Fort McHenry Exclusive Benefits District" and begins a wall-building project, including the immensely popular Mall Wall retail/security complex abutting I-395.

2016 or 2020

2016: Martin O'Malley runs for president a second time with the slogan "Let's Make America the Greatest Country in the World." He wins the Maryland primary. (President Santorum, very controversial for declaring America "a Christian fortress," squeaks re-election against Sen. Barack Obama. Suspicion falls on computer voting systems in Ohio, Florida, and Maryland.)

2017: Baseball fan Walter Novak of Parkville claims that he won a total of $3 million by betting that the Baltimore Orioles would not win a single game this season. "It was just a feeling in my bones" Novak says. "But after all, they were 3-159 in '16."

2018: Portable card swipes and fake federal ID numbers enable local heroin dealers to accept payment by Independence cards.

2019: Under a state-issued public domain decree, roughly 80 blocks of East Baltimore between Orleans Street and North Avenue are deeded over to Johns Hopkins-Bloomberg University. JHBU, in turn, contracts to take over a variety of traditional government functions, including services to the homeless, manual employment training, and special education. Coincidentally, JHBU no longer advertises for drug-trial volunteers, and the university's janitorial subsidiary, Broadway Services, reports record profits.

2020: Martin O'Malley runs for president a third time; national pundits begin to make "Gephardt with a guitar" remarks.

2021: Archdiocese of Baltimore issues a decree condemning City Paper for the cigarettes, alcohol, and pornography that come with each weekly 30GB flash-card issue.


2022: Ignoring criticism from The Sun (circulation 12,000), John and Louis Angelos sell the Orioles to a consortium of Nigerian-born, Olney-based investors. Fans warm up to the new owners when the O's win their first pennant in 39 years.

2023: Hundreds of families are displaced by construction of the JHBU Urban Studies Institute campus in East Baltimore.

2024: City's four remaining public high schools offer a choice of military and nonmilitary curriculum career programs. The nonmilitary option is officially called the Diagnostic Intervention Curriculum Track, or DICT, but it's better known as "Prison Prep." Courses include self-defense, diversity training, prison argot for speakers of English, and pre-pre-law.

2025: As gasoline tops $32 per gallon, outer suburbs implode. Thousands of families from Fallston and Hereford relocate to brand-new upscale developments in Westport, Cherry Hill, and Sandtown. Displaced urban households are "voluntarily relocated" to decaying 20-year-old McMansions in Fallston and Hereford.


2026: Twin brothers Clarence Keiffer Mitchell and Keiffer Clarence Mitchell are born to a famous Baltimore family. Keiffer Clarence, a strait-laced, earnest advocate for civil rights and social justice, goes on to serve six terms on the City Council. Clarence Keiffer, a back-slapping, cash-drawer-dipping, uncle's-pension-embezzling sort of guy, serves three terms in the state Senate and two terms as Baltimore's sole representative in the U.S. Congress before being indicted in 2088 for accepting a free Mercedes-Lexus in exchange for three committee votes.

2027: Declaring a "giant leap for public transportation," Gov. Jim Brochin throws the switch on a new mag-lev train that makes the trip to Washington in nine minutes. Unfortunately, it takes the average Baltimore commuter 90 minutes to get to the mag-lev's Baltimore terminal, in Halethorpe.

2027: Declaring that they are "preserving the transportation safety net," Gov. Brochin and MTA unveil a plan that trims Baltimore's "overcomplicated" bus system to four easy-to-understand routes, none of which go to Halethorpe.

2028: Thousands of young Baltimoreans join the Stop Snitchin' cult, which reveres Skinny Suge as its first martyr.

2029: Mayhem replaces murder as the city's biggest violent-crime problem. Criminals are hacking off victims' fingers, ears, and entire limbs to acquire costly, jewel-encrusted computer implants.

2030: Last strip club on the Block closes as customers stop coming. Virtual sex is that much better.

2031: This is the first year since 1847 that nobody named Curran has served in an elected position in Baltimore.


2032: Faced with declining voter interest and a depressingly underqualified field of potential mayoral candidates, Democratic strategists secretly create a virtual candidate, dubbed Antoine "Tony" Sarbanes-Rawlings, whose personality, facial features, and policy statements are based on extensive polling data. Several virtual rallies are organized, featuring the animated avatars of hundreds of actual registered voters. In the absence of live debates--banned in 2024 as "too tempting for terrorists"--Rawlings-Sarbanes passes as a live person until The Sun (circulation 8,900) outs him as "not real." Too little, too late: Sarbanes-Rawlings wins the Democratic primary handily and trounces perennial Republican candidate Ken Losoya in the general.

2033: After prolonged legal challenges, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that virtual candidate Antoine "Tony" Sarbanes-Rawlings is "a person, no less than any other human being or corporation," and is thereby eligible to serve as mayor.

2035: The Sun (circulation 3,200) reveals that WJZ-TV news anchor Denise Koch is, in fact, a digital simulacrum just like Mayor Sarbanes-Rawlings. The "real" Denise Koch has been retired since 2003.


2036: Predicted rise in sea levels inspires long-range "Venice on the Bay" plan for downtown Baltimore. Property values rise over the next five decades as predicted flood zone extends throughout the city's nonwalled districts.

2037: Frank Conaway Jr., 74, is the longest serving Maryland Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene--an elected position thanks to legislation that Conaway sponsored during his days in the House of Delegates. Conaway's always-popular electoral gimmick: handing out play money bearing the Conaway family logo and the familiar Louis Goldstein slogan, "God Bless You All Real Good."

2047: Frank Conaway Jr., 84 years old and ailing, orders his family to "freeze me before I'm completely dead. . . . If I can be revived by some future medical technology, I would like to run for office again."

2077: Arguing the social, economic, and environmental necessity of "a walled community for the rest of us," populist firebrand Omari O'Malley-Mfume calls for the construction of the city's first "Inclusive Benefits District." O'Malley-Mfume gets no further than a three-year grant from the Walled Society Institute.

2080: Picking up where O'Malley-Mfume left off, a consortium of entrepreneurs and self-ordained bishops announce plans to build a walled religious enclave, the "Rapture Temple Inc." Thousands of believers sell or mortgage everything they own and the temple is complete by 2085.

2087: Surviving pockets of low-income Baltimoreans and unbelievers are "voluntarily relocated" to "sea wall-protected communities" in the Essex Islands.

2107: Long a bohemian enclave, Baltimore's Highlandtown peninsula emerges as the acknowledged center of the American art world following the sudden and unexplained disappearances of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

2207: Hurricane D'Shontať, packing winds of 250 mph, dramatically re-channels the Chesapeake Bay, creating "Lake Patapsco." The northern 10 lanes of the Bay Bridge are destroyed; unfortunately, three of those lanes are jammed with returning vacationers. The other seven are out of service at the time.

Circa 2507: After a succession of global environmental, and genetic disasters, the former City of Baltimore--now officially spelled "Bawlamer"--continues as a cluster of fortresslike islands surrounded by "Da Habba," a vast toxic bog that serves as a protective moat. The fortresses, half-vacant, are occupied by slender, genetically-refined creatures possessed of perfect hair, teeth, and vision, but incapable of original thought. Da Habba is ringed by the dwellings of illiterate tribes that subsist on Da Habba's seemingly inexhaustible supply of giant corpse-fed crabs. The so-called Alpha Class have long since moved to MacroMegamansions in the Catoctins, where they raise miniature racing ponies. And they all have flying cars.


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