13 June 2006

The search continues

I never miss the Toronto Globe and Mail on-line every day.

They once bought me lunch so I feel I have a duty of care.

Like some Canadians – most assuredly not all – they like to know about things that go pear-shaped south of their Border.

For the record, it is simply not in my nature to poke fun at anything that goes on south of our own Border. But I digress.

The Globe ran a story about one Deb Koskovich, a citizen of Milford Township in Michigan. The unfortunate lady had her driveway cut up, her barn bulldozed to the ground, the approach to her farm clogged with satellite news trucks and FBI agents while hundreds of camera-snapping gawkers trampled her lawns.

Throw in a gang of archaeologists and anthropologists, a demolition crew and a pack of cadaver-sniffing dogs and you have the whole circus.

Why? Because the FBI were looking for the remains of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa who disappeared in 1975.

After two weeks, surprise surprise, the invading army departed without finding a thing.

With the noted exception of Ms Koskovich, everybody in Milford Township seemed to have had a ball.

Local businesses did a brisk trade selling T-shirts. There were Hoffa joke contests and witty road signs.

Hoffa shirts read: 'The FBI digs Milford, do you?' and 'Milford. A great place to meet your friends ... and bury your enemies.'

A restaurant introduced the $12.95 Hoffa Steak Salad 'buried under a field of greens with mushrooms and edible flowers' along with the $2.50 Hoffa Red Lager 'aged in a barn'.

It reminded me of the kidnapping of the racehorse Shergar back in 1983. The media descended from all international arts and parts. But there was no actual story. The only highlight was a breath-taking statement from a senior member of the Gardai to a pyramid of whirring cameras.

With compelling authority he announced that he was 'following a certain line of enquiry'. (I think I have just broken a promise.)

Sitting out this spectacular non-drama in the Europa Hotel was a group of disgruntled reporters, harassed by their editors for their lack of initiative and getting increasingly legless on native Guinness – and desperately hungry.

When the meat-in-the-baps finally appeared they were instantly named 'Sherburgers'. That cheered everybody up.

Still no story. But the total lack of plot didn't prevent a full-length Hollywood film in 1999.

The moral of this article is five-fold – at least.

The FBI is on your side. Think 'War on Terror'.

Invading armies don't always find what they're looking for. Think 'Bin Laden and WMD'.

Never nick a racehorse. But if you must, make it interesting.

Avoid all films based on fact.

Don't blame the media for trying to make something out of nothing. We all have to earn a crust.

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