Dave Barry

Living under the influence of the Weirdness Magnet

We need to find it, dig it up, and get rid of it.

I'm talking about the South Florida Giant Underground Weirdness Magnet. It's buried around here somewhere. It has to be. How else can you explain why so many major freak-show news stories either happen, or end up, in South Florida?

O.J. Simpson, for example. Why is he here? Did anybody in South Florida ever say, ''Hey O.J.! Why don't you pack up your golf clubs, your one glove and your remaining cutlery, and come be part of our community!''? Of course not! Nobody WANTED him here. He was DRAWN here, by the Giant Underground Weirdness Magnet.

Or consider the 2000 presidential election. In the rest of the nation, voters looked at their ballots, then picked either one presidential candidate or the other. Only here did a scarily large number of voters attempt to vote for either (a) none of the presidential candidates, or (b) ALL of the presidential candidates, or in some cases both (a) AND (b), thereby screwing up the entire election and causing a Level Five Lawyer Infestation from which we have yet to fully recover. What caused so many incompetent voters to clump together into one huge clueless mass? That would be your Giant Underground Weirdness Magnet.

Another example is the Miracle Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Remember? Granted, the Virgin Mary has appeared on other food items. But only in Hollywood, Fla., did she appear on a grilled-cheese sandwich that was preserved by its owner, who (Why not?) kept it on her nightstand for more than 10 years -- during which she claims it did not develop mold -- and then (this is the miracle part) she sold it on eBay to a casino for $28,000. The casino also paid $5,999 for the pan. Please do not try to tell me that this could have happened in an area that was not being bombarded with powerful weirdness rays.


There are many other South Florida phenomena that can only be explained by the Giant Underground Weirdness Magnet, including the Versace slaying, the Elián González fiasco, Tim Hardaway and Donald Trump. The current example, it goes without saying, is the Anna Nicole Smith Corpse Battle and Freak-a-Palooza, now playing in Fort Lauderdale. Of COURSE it had to happen here. And of COURSE, instead of a thoughtful, dignified, decorous, mentally stable judge, we got an American Idol contestant -- sometimes sobbing like Dorothy when she had to say goodbye to the Scarecrow; sometimes firing off one-liners that he apparently thought were hilarious. Ha ha! Stop it, Judge, you Krazy Kourtroom Karacter!

No, really, Judge: stop it.

Anyway, the question is, what can we do about this? I don't mean the Anna Nicole Smith mess; that will continue metastasizing for a LONG time. Zsa Zsa Gabor -- Yes! Zsa Zsa! -- is already involved; it's only a matter of time before somehow, some way, we hear the words ''Kato Kaelin.''

No, it's too late to stop that. But maybe we can prevent this kind of thing from happening here again, by eliminating the cause of our problems. That's right: we need to get rid of the Giant Underground Weirdness Magnet. But first, we have to figure out where it is.

I think I know. I figured it out scientifically.


Here's how: I took a map of South Florida, and I marked the locations of the major weird phenomena described in this column. Then I looked at this map in a scientific manner, considering both the location of each phenomenon, and its Weirdness Quotient. And then a chill ran down my spine as I realized where the magnet would have to be buried, to cause this particular weirdness pattern.

It's under the Golden Glades Interchange.

We have no choice. To get that thing out of there, to give this community hope for a normal, or at least less-weird, future, we need to demolish the Golden Glades as soon as possible, using either dynamite or -- if the wind is right -- nuclear explosives. Then we need to dig up the Giant Underground Weirdness Magnet and send it to some place that could use more weirdness, such as Cincinnati.

You're thinking: ''But Dave, what if we follow your plan, and the weirdness magnet isn't there? Then all we will have accomplished is the total destruction of the Golden Gl ... Oh, OK, never mind.''

Exactly. So come on, South Florida: Let's do this NOW, before things get any worse. For all we know, Kato is already heading this way.