Joel Stein's Predictions for 2011: Pimento Cheese?!

And other exciting new trends for 2011, as predicted by experts — and me

  • Share
  • Read Later
Photo-Illustration by John Ueland for TIME

The purpose of a prediction column isn't to be accurate a year from now. No one remembers what I write the day after they read it. No, the purpose is to brag about how much I know right now. It's so I can look in disdain at my idiot friend happily eating a chocolate bacon cupcake and inform her that this year, it's all about pie.

To make the most informed and obnoxious predictions possible, I called a bunch of experts. Adam Rapoport, the editor of Bon Appétit, told me about the pie thing. He also said that pimento cheese would be big and that "rabbit is having a moment," though we agreed that it won't be much of a moment unless chefs call it something other than rabbit.

It's always important to know what cool new drugs teens are into so you can scare their parents. I called the Drug Enforcement Administration, hoping they'd mention stuff like Bromo-Dragonfly, K2, Meow Meow and NRG-1, all of which would keep the anxious parents who read this magazine Googling for hours. Unfortunately, David Ausiello, the DEA's public-affairs specialist, told me that 2011 will be all about boring prescription drugs like OxyContin. That's because "56% of teens believe that prescription drugs are easier to get than illicit drugs." The Internet really is making our kids lazy.

The kids are also going to be talking crazy. Slang expert Tom Dalzell told me they will start to talk in Leet, that geeky online-gamer language where they replace e with 3 and t with +. So now they'll actually say stuff like "n00b," "lulz" and, I'm predicting, "un3mpl0y+."

For politics I asked TIME columnist Joe Klein, partly because he's so knowledgeable but mostly because he often gets mail meant for me. "The Tea Party rank and file are going to want to have the Tea Party members of Congress tarred and feathered," he said. Joe also said that Pakistan will further destabilize once we push the Taliban from Afghanistan into Northern Waziristan, not realizing there's a huge difference between impressing people with your knowledge and boring the crap out of them.

Along with politics, it's important to know what's going to happen in Kardashians. Jeff Jenkins, the executive producer of E!'s Keeping Up with the Kardashians, predicts that Khloé Kardashian Odom and Lamar Odom will get pregnant with twins. This was an incredibly specific prediction, which made me ask Jenkins if the 26-year-old was taking fertility drugs just to have twins. "I can't comment on that," Jenkins said. You don't get a lot of practice ducking the press when you hang out with Kardashians.

Michael Purves, the head of derivatives research at BGC Partners, predicts that banks will start selling a global volatility index instead of one tied only to the S&P 500. "Given how interconnected markets are, not just geographically but among asset classes, we need to move beyond the VIX," Purves said. I totally agreed. The VIX was very 2010. He also said that gold would become popular as a digitized currency, so you won't have to move bars of it. I totally agreed with that too. Moving gold was very Mr. T.

It's tough to predict the future, but it takes real guts to predict the past. Professor James Kloppenberg, the chair of Harvard's history department, told me that in 2011, historians are going to be "using sophisticated quantitative methods to show how language and ideas change over time." By which I believe he means that history professors are going to learn how to use computers. In fashion, Elle creative director Joe Zee predicts that we're going back to the Belgian invasion of the early 1990s, which I missed the first time. As much as I pressed him, he would not predict that women will dress much, much sluttier. "We had a slutty moment a couple of years ago," he said. "Where were you in '09?" Only fashion editors think that two years is a short period between sluttinesses.

For my sports predictions, I called someone to whom the outcomes of big games really matter: Art Manteris, the vice president of race and sports book operations for Station Casinos in Las Vegas. Manteris disagrees with his own odds--which are largely determined by supply and demand--on nearly everything, picking the Saints over the Patriots, the Connecticut men's basketball team over Duke and the Yankees over the Phillies. I am thinking about betting Art personally on all those things. As well as on pimento cheese, OxyContin parties and people dressing like Belgians. Though that would have been a great recipe for a New Year's Eve party.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 10, 2011 issue of TIME.