Thursday, May 25, 2006

Digging Up the Great American Mystery

It's kind of cool that the Feds might have actually found the body of Teamster chief Jimmy Hoffa, who has been missing since 1975. Folks in New Jersey will be happy if he turns up at a Michigan horse farm since it would mean that he's not buried, as urban legend has it, somewhere beneath Giants Stadium.

That said, there's something disquieting about finding Hoffa as well. We just learned the identity of Deep Throat, and now investigators appear to be on the verge of solving another great American mystery. We're in real danger of losing our collective mystique. Maybe next month they'll find Amelia Earhart's crash site or Al Capone's other vault (the one with actual stuff inside).

So many of the remaining mysteries are simply fodder for conspiracy theorists. What's at Area 51? What really happened in Roswell? Who shot JFK? Did Americans really walk on the moon? The answers to these questions, if we ever find out definitively, are destined to be a letdown for the grassy knoll/missing time crowd. (For what it's worth, the answers are: Not as much as you might have heard. Nothing having to do with aliens. Lee Harvey Oswald. Yes.)

There is a silver lining, however. Despite all our best attempts, there are certain quintessential American mysteries that will never, ever be solved. And I'm not talking about quotidian puzzlers like "point to your home state on a map", I'm talking about the big picture. For instance, why is it that a country of 300 million people can't ever find even two decent people to run for president? You won't find the answer to that on a Michigan horse farm.

Update: Nope. Not a darn thing. Sorry, New Jersey.
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