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1998 news: too strange to make up

Musings from the addled brain of a columnist who overdid it on the eggnog:

Is 1999 the last year in the millennium? Or is it 2000?

Are you taking a bigger risk leaving your money in the bank on the day the big 2K rolls around? Or boarding an airplane?

Does Barney have boogers? (That last one is from my 4-year-old.)

Okay, let's get serious.

It's a new year. Time to set those alarm clocks. Time to get focused.

Time to ask yourself all kinds of DVD or CD-ROM type questions. Chief among them: Could 1998 have been real?

I mean, did the governor really die? On an exercise bike? Did a tubby intern from southern California get a president impeached?

Did a West Tampa judge threaten to punch a kid for not buttoning his shirt in court, and did that same judge order Xochitl Frank to stay off her sidewalk?

Did Ed Turanchik go from trying to get us a choo-choo train to trying to get us the Olympics?

Did Deborah Tamargo opine on election eve about Bob Henriquez's virility?

Did the deed restriction people beat each other up over plastic swing sets and - my personal favorite - a Christmas tree tent?

Could you make any of this up?

I'm far too superstitious to make predictions for the coming year. I'm the kind of person who feels responsible if a plane crashes as I'm contemplating a quiet day in the newsroom.

Still, there are things I'm looking forward to in 1999 and things that make me want to run for the hills.

Count the Citrus Park Town Center as an example of both. I am both anticipating the workout it will give my credit cards - and dreading the gridlock traffic on Gunn Highway.

New Tampa also promises to be a stranger-than-fiction kind of place. You can bet the movers and shakers will howl for more roads to accommodate those teeming hoards of homebuyers lining up for all that peace and quiet.

Maybe, if the lawyers take a day off, we will move closer to seeing a high school in Lutz.

Or maybe not.

I can honestly say I never expected people in Northdale to rise up - even in very small numbers - against a community center for their youth. I never expected St. Paul's Catholic Church to do away with the carnival, which was a favorite yearly ritual for my family.

And speaking of religious institutions, several letters came to our home alluding to the very bitter departure of Rabbi Earl Jordan from Congregation Beth Am, where we worship. I didn't have the heart to investigate that squabble. Call me naive, but it saddens me when spiritual leaders are mean-spirited.

I'll miss Rabbi Jordan.

I'll miss Ed Turanchik.

I already miss Governor Chiles.

But it's a new year and if there's one thing we in the news business know to expect, it's the unexpected. It's our stock in trade. It's what keeps our jobs from ever being dull. So go ahead and indulge.

As they used to say on that corn chip commercial: We'll make more.

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