Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Luck smiles not on WNY

Here we go again.

For anyone not paying attention, last Friday the FBI arrested four men from Lackawanna on charges that they provided support to the al-Qaida terror network.

For Western New York, the timing was perfect, as it was Friday the 13th and just another sign of the bad luck that this region has undergone in the past decade-plus.

Saturday, the FBI arrested a fifth man, and Sunday it was learned that there had been a sixth man who was arrested in Bahrain earlier in the week.

Prosecutors say the men were members of a terror cell trained by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and were under investigation even before the Sept. 11 attacks. They said the men had intensified their communications this month.

An FBI agent said Saturday that the group amounted to an al-Qaida-trained cell, trained at the same Kandahar camp that John Walker Lindh attended.

Watching the whole story unfold over the weekend just made me shrug my shoulders and shake my head.

Of course, it's Western New York's fault. It seems to me that major news stories to come out of Western New York tend to be of the negative variety. We're notorious as a region for breeding bad news, whether its blizzards or bombers, missed field goals or "no goals."

For the life of me, I can't think of another area of the country that has contributed to so many "bad news" stories.

We were the home of Tim McVeigh, O.J., and John Wayne Bobbitt. A president was killed here 100 years ago (McKinley) and a doctor was killed here four years ago (Barnett Slepian).

During any bad weather in any other part of the county, somebody says, "It could be worse. We could be in Buffalo."

You know how some people are famous for being famous? We'll, we're famous for being notorious.

First off, of course its a shame. We are also the home of some real great societal contributors, right?

Jack Kemp lost a bid to become vice president six years ago.

Rick James was jailed for dealing cocaine, assault and torture. The King of Funk confessed to Rolling Stone that at least by being in prison he "could not do drugs."

John Rigas built a cable empire then bilked it for millions of dollars. We might lose our hockey team because of him.

The Goo Goo Dolls continue to sing.

And we wonder why we have such a bad rap.

At least we have Buffalo wings. Too bad it took a movie starring Bill Murray to remind us that we should have a festival for them.

When I was in college and people would ask me where I was from I frequently wanted to lie. Maybe I could say I was from Chicago ... or Indiana. No one from those communities was famous for having his wife give him a 10-second sex change. (Look up Bobbitt in a French dictionary, by the way).

But in the end, I would always tell the truth.

"I'm from Niagara Falls," I would say.

To which they would say, "Oh, I didn't know you were Canadian."

"Yup, sure am, eh," I'd retort. "There's a lot of things aboot me that you don't know."

At least that way I wouldn't have to deal with any Buffalo jokes.