Column: Elon on Mars, Dodgers GOAT, and other 2023 guarantees

Two years ago, my column guessing how 2021 would turn out went about as well as former Los Angeles City Councilmember Nury Martinez sitting down for a Oaxacan meal at Guelaguetza. Not a single one of my predictions was right.

I tried again for 2022, and wouldn’t you know? I got two right this time! Hollywood is finally respecting Latinos … as long as they’re fictional characters in fantasy worlds. And Kevin de León remains on the Los Angeles City Council.

Yay, me.

Divination is a hard task, but someone’s gotta do it. So as 2023 comes up, it’s time to rev up the Gustradamus prediction machine and hope for a better percentage — and better outcomes. May your holidays be full of bourbon wishes and tamale dreams. And remember: if even one of the following proves true, I’m available for parties and county fairs.

*U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein announces she won’t run for reelection in 2024. With Democrats in a “Game of Thrones”-esque battle to determine who will replace Feinstein, billionaire developer Rick Caruso announces his candidacy and switches back to Republican — his party for most of his adult life. He buys up every ad space imaginable in the lead-up to the primary — radio, television, Internet, billboard, skywriting, Super Bowl, car wraps, biceps tattoos, corn mazes in the shape of his wide, wide grin. But Caruso’s message falls flat yet again, and he finishes a distant fourth, behind progressive Democratic congressmembers Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and a cardboard cutout of a taco truck.

*Kevin de León refuses to resign over his role in L.A.’s racist leaked tape scandal, despite calls from the entire Democratic Party establishment and increasing pressure from activists. The latter group escalates its tactics — more in-your-face confrontations at community events, round-the-clock camp outs at De León’s home, continued screaming and booing during City Council meetings — to no success. Then one of them remembers an adage from legendary progressive organizer Saul Alinsky — the most effective actions can sometimes be the most ludicrous ones. At the next council meeting, an activist sings “Baby Shark” until being escorted away by police, at which point another activist continues the song, and so on. De León steps down within hours.

*And what happens to the embattled council member, you may wonder? He moves to West Virginia, hoping miners can remove that giant chip on his shoulder. They do not succeed.

*Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva follows through on his recent threat to run for higher office. He goes for the presidency of the National Little Britches Rodeo Assn., which organizes events for young people. The group disqualifies him, however, after researchers discover his buckaroo abilities are limited to wearing expensive Stetson hats and tripping on his lasso.

*The Dodgers fire President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, whose reliance on sabermetrics during his eight-year tenure has resulted in a grand total of one World Series championship despite one of the biggest payrolls in the game. The Dodgers replace him with a goat that goes by the acronym GOAT — Greatest of All Time. GOAT lets manager Dave Roberts, you know, manage, and picks trades and free agents by chewing on names it finds inside a haystack. The Blue Crew goes undefeated — I’m talking 162 wins and 0 losses — and completes sweeps of every playoff round. But GOAT tragically dies of a heart attack during the victory parade. To honor their late exec, the team announces they will serve free birria Dodger Dogs on Opening Day 2024.

Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman speaks at a news conference at Dodger Stadium in 2019

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

*San Bernardino County successfully secedes from California but can find no state to accept it because it’s San Bernardino County. So it proposes an alliance with the Northern California counties that have long tried to leave the Golden State. The resulting State of Trump immediately declares bankruptcy.

*President Biden continues to feel bad for Eric Garcetti, who couldn’t even get a confirmation hearing to be U.S. ambassador to India due to concerns that Garcetti might have known about a top aide’s alleged sexual harassment of colleagues. Biden tells Garcetti he’s instead nominated for ambassador to Freedonia. An excited Garcetti prepares a news conference to accept the position, until someone lets him know that Freedonia is the fictional country in the Marx Brothers farce “Duck Soup.” Garcetti accepts the nomination anyway. He’s last seen strolling the Fashion District giddily shopping for epaulettes, ribbon bars and a bicorn hat a la Napoleon.

*Finally accepting that California is suffering the worst regional drought in 1,200 years, residents rip out their lawns and replace them with prickly pear cacti. A renaissance of home cooking commences when non-Mexicans realize that you can eat the young paddles and prickly pears once you remove the thorns. Nevertheless, Tucker Carlson wages a war against the effort because the prickly pear cactus is on the Mexican flag. The Great Lawn Replacement Theory goes nationwide, and the House of Representatives declares the plant illegal.

In-N-Out Burger signs fill the skyline in California

In-N-Out Burger signs fill the skyline in California

(Adam Lau / Associated Press)

*Social media leaders realize their platforms are a pox on civil society and donate their companies to the government so Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest can transform into public utilities. Each tech titan chooses a different public penance. Mark Zuckerberg uploads himself into the metaverse so he can wander aimlessly for eternity. TikTok’s engineers bring down the Great Firewall of China. Elon Musk blasts himself to Mars. Once humanity realizes Musk is there, all attempts to colonize the Red Planet are put on hold indefinitely.

*Yet another leaked tape surfaces, in which a certain L.A. Times columnist seemingly admits to not believing that In-N-Out is overrated, even though he’s tweeted it 412,312 times. The tape is doctored, I say!

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