Is it something in our water or dark cosmic forces that keep thrusting us into the glare of the world spotlight?
Disasters, scandals, global conflicts ….
For reasons unknown, we humble inhabitants of the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area seem to get sucked into just about every major news event that breaks.
I call this phenomenon The Spo d’Alene Vortex and it struck again the other day.
I opened the newspaper to read about the dramatic rescue of the F-16 pilot shot down over Bosnia and … “Scott O’Grady of Spokane was picked up 20 miles southeast of Bihac.”
Sure, every two-bit cow town gets linked now and then to a mega news story. But doesn’t it seem like this happens to us with eerie regularity?
Take the April bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.
Everyone blamed foreign terrorists until America’s militant loons came under scrutiny.
Then a federal prosecutor set off a national journalistic feeding frenzy by suggesting what happened in Oklahoma may have ties to a 12-year-old plot by North Idaho racists. Some of them apparently hatched an amazingly similar scheme to bomb the same building.
As horrible as the Japan earthquake was, we learned that no city was leveled worse than Nishinomiya - Spokane’s sister city.
Rwanda is about as remote as it gets. Yet, the State Department singled out Carl Wilkens, a Spokane missionary, as the only American brave enough to stay in the African nation during last year’s slaughter.
During the Gulf War, Spokane’s Richard Dale Storr was one of the few pilots shot down and jailed by Iraqi forces.
I’m not the first person to notice this trend. I mentioned my vortex theory to one of the newspaper’s librarians. She smiled knowingly and dug into a file. The news clipping she handed me was dated Sept. 2, 1986.
“Ex-Spokanite piloted plane that hit DC-9,” screamed the headline.
There are supernatural forces at work here, as noted in 1973 by country crooner Tom T. Hall. Marooned after a blizzard grounded his flight, the trapped man wrote a minor hit song about this city’s magnetic pull.
“I’m stuck in Spokane in a motel room, and there ain’t no way to get away.”
Scoff if you must, but first consider a few juicier examples of The Spo d’Alene Vortex:
The tube-watching public was mesmerized after ice skater Nancy Kerrigan got clubbed on the knee at a skating practice in Detroit.
The very brute who smacked Kerrigan for rival skater Tonya Harding turned out to be Shane Stant, an ex-Coeur d’Alene resident.
When it comes to bloody murder and TV ratings, nothing tops the O.J. Simpson soap opera.
And sure enough, we got our own slice of the Trial of the Century last January.
It happened when Los Angeles Det. Mark Fuhrman - the very finder of the famed bloody glove - took a house-hunting junket to Sandpoint.
Spotted at Spokane’s airport, Fuhrman grappled with a Spokesman-Review photographer, who barely escaped with his shirt.
Phil Gramm is a righteous Christian man who wants to be president. His image took a dip in the sleaze bath recently with the charge that he once tried to invest in movies featuring bare-breasted women.
How do we know? The revelation was blabbed by his former brother-in-law, George Caton, who just so happens to live in - you guessed it - Spokane.
Where, oh where, will The Spo d’Alene Vortex strike next?
I may be brilliant, but I’m not psychic. Just don’t be surprised if you pick up tomorrow’s newspaper and another bizarre headline smacks you between the eyes like a blow from Shane Stant:
“Columnist Clark Elvis’ Love Child, DNA Test Proves.”