Another search for Jimmy Hoffa ended recently, with federal authorities once again facing the cameras to say what has become commonplace since the ex-Teamsters' boss disappeared back in 1975: no, they didn't find Hoffa's remains or anything that would lead them to believe they are any closer to solving the nearly 40-year-old mystery.
Each time this announcement is made, I smile a little.
Certainly, there is nothing funny about searching for human remains, a grisly task I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But there is something riveting, and, yes, entertaining about the relentless pursuit to find a man who was declared legally dead in 1982. Other famous people have disappeared without a trace -- Amelia Earhart comes to mind -- but that mystery pales in comparison to Hoffa in terms of public intrigue. Perhaps because it's widely assumed that Hoffa had Mafia ties and therefore met with Mafia-created foul play. And because the FBI seems so eager to solve this case, they will seemingly jump on any theory, no matter who phones it in.
For example, in 2004, agents removed floorboards from a home in suburban Detroit, acting on a tip from (wait for it) Fox News! That's the same network that employs Geraldo Rivera, the "journalist" who opened Al Capone's vault on live television in 1986 expecting to find treasures and/or bodies but instead found liquor bottles and dirt. For the record, those same two items litter a vacant lot near my house. Does anybody have Geraldo's cell number?
Two years later, a convict led agents to a farm near Milford, Mich., where they dug for two weeks, ultimately razing a horse barn. Alas, no traces of human or horse remains were ever found. Then there were the two most recent searches: a detached garage in Roseville, Mich., last September, and this month's search of an Oakland Township field. Again, nothing was found in either case other than the realization that, if you are ever in Michigan and utter the phrase, "I think I know where Hoffa is," you will soon be met by an army of shovel-wielding FBI agents, many of whom weren't even alive when Hoffa vanished.
"Hey, Charlie, who was this guy again?"
"Dunno, Leonard. Keep digging. Hey look! A quarter!"
Then there are the wild theories about where else agents should be looking: Hoffa is buried underneath Giants Stadium; no wait, he's in a Florida swamp; check that, he was disposed of in a mob-owned fat-rendering plant; hold it, he may be greeting shoppers at Walmart!
Are you sensing the makings of a reality show here?
"Next week on 'Finding Hoffa,' agents swarm a suburban International House of Pancakes and dig up the kitchen floor before ordering Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n Fruity breakfasts! Then it's off to Disney World where somebody riding 'It's A Small World' may have seen something suspicious!!"
So, until Hoffa is found, I will continue watching what I consider to be one of the most entertaining true-life crime shows in recent memory. And should agents ever run out of leads, let me suggest a few of my own:
Agents set up a "Where is Jimmy Hoffa?" Facebook page and ask anybody with information on his whereabouts to "like" it.
Agents reach out to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, asking if he ever heard the word "Hoffa" while eavesdropping on cellphone conversations.
The FBI contributes to Michigan nutrition by planting vegetable gardens in fields they destroy while looking for Hoffa's remains.
With the case growing ever colder, agents turn to Geraldo Rivera, who declines to investigate since he is chasing down a hot Amelia Earhart lead.
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of "Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad," available at http://amzn.to/schwem. Visit Greg on the web at http://www.gregschwem.com.)