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Sunday, January 25, 2004

In town

Five years ago I sat in a one bedroom apartment on the third floor of a blue building with pink breezeways. A resevoir wrapped around my little fjord of boredom and occasionally would spit out a wayward alligator. Somebody who looked like my future wife suggested we move to Greenville, SC. Out of sheer boredom, I agreed, then asked, "Where?"

Where, indeed. This is not a place you happen upon. As the spokesman of our so-called "international airport" (it has one flight to Amsterdam, so it qualifies) likes to say, GSP is a destination and departure airport. That is , if people come here, they likely have a reason. And then they know where to go when they're ready to leave.

Greenville, while one of the greatest places I've ever found to live, is of no real importance to people outside of the Upstate of South Carolina. So, when things happen here like they're happening right now, people who have just stumbled into town might start to wonder what kind of freakshow we're running here.

Par example...

As I type, a steady patter of ice pellets is smacking the vinyl siding on the outside of my house. What was supposed to be a minor weather event is turning into a full-blown southern ice storm. The local chief meteorologists are coming in off their weekend break to scream of the impending doom.

The weathermen will eventually step aside so the other doom news reporter can talk about the six people who died in a hotel fire overnight. Fifteen more injured, two of them from jumping out fourth story windows to avoid the smokes and flames. At some point, somone will think to ask why we allow buildings to be grandfathered into old fire codes that didn't require sprinkler systems in buildings where people sleep overnight. Oh, yeah. And at some point an attorney will ask, "So to what address do I send Comfort Inn's multi-million dollar lawsuit?" That is one lawsuit I can get behind.

But don't change the channel, yet. Greenville, SC has something else to offer.

In four days, each of the seven remaining men who seek to unseat President George W. Bush will come to Greenville, South Carolina and stand on stage at the Peace Center to debate on national TV. Tom Brokaw will moderate the argument. The Democratic debate could determine who eventually goes on to get the Democratic nomination. What's more, after the debate, they face a vote of state Democrats just a few days later.

Oh, and lest we forget, the Carolina Panthers are going to the Super Bowl a week from today.

In pieces that may seem like very little, but put all together it's going to make for a wild week.

Especially for a news guy who covers dead people and politicians.

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