Resistance to Speros Batistatos is futile.
Just think of him as an often-benign county-hopping Borg, an enhanced tourism god available to manage air shows, bar mitzvahs and human sacrifice.
Only a tourism deity could think up an airshow in the middle of nowhere at a massive pig and cow farm.
So, we’re going to have a Lake County air show in the middle of Newton County. Speros, the Tourism Locutus of Borg, has decreed it.
Unassimilated humans could not have concocted such an idea. It’s too big, too preposterous for humans.
That’s why we hire gods for $170,000 a year to spend tourism dollars and infuriate neighboring counties. As for Batistatos, he gets unfair blowback, but he wants only to advance the cause of regional tourism. He’s a helper, a partner. We could insert a Germany comparison here, but Third Reich/Poland references are now considered rude and intemperate.
His plan requires $400,000 or so local tourism tax dollars be dispatched to Newton County to stage this giant airborne hootenanny. You still have to pay $20 to park.
To know what you are getting for your money, we went to see the premises of corporate partner Fair Oak Farms, a conglomerate so happy, so upbeat, so clean, so insistently smiley about all of life’s agri-values that you can be creeped out.
A family of four can spend 100 bucks easily on the tour before even trying the cheese sandwiches. For the $22 entrance price you get the bus tour, super fun jumping pillow, rock climbing wall, 4D movie, cow milking competition, cheese maze, kids John Deere cars, train, jumping trampoline, free cheese tasting, cow birth viewing and cow baby nursery.
The tour buses run on pig poop. Cow poop produces methane to churn the massive farm’s electrical current. The cows chip in 2.5 million gallons of milk a day.
This is the planned scene of the 2014 So-Far-From-Gary-It-Might-Be-Another Planet South Shore Airshow.
Newton County has only 14,244 humans, but Fair Oaks Farm has 75,000 weaned pigs, 35,000 cows and 25,000 acres. It’s inspiring in a weird sort of way. But if cows and pigs ever get the vote, humanity will have its hands full in Newton County.
First of all, let’s acknowledge that Jasper and Newton counties, which Fair Oaks straddles, are not Lake County, much the same way Antarctica is not Miller Beach. You might have been confused about that, because taxes raised by a county — even hotel taxes swiped to promote tourism — are usually spent on that county. In fact, most taxpayers demand this general rule or else unelected bureaucrats might find a reason to spend taxes on Colombian hooker tourism development.
We see boundaries, but Locutus does not know the meaning of the word “boundary.” There appear to be other words he doesn’t know, either. “Manners” and “generosity.” He does not quite grasp those, either. But then, who’s perfect?
As for the resurrected air show, we’re rooting for a flyover Helicopter Pig Drop, a la the “WKRP” turkey drop with Arthur Carlson. “As God is my witness, I thought pigs could fly.”
Or maybe a re-enactment of the fiery Hindenburg dirigible disaster. “Oh, the humanity; Oh, the pigs.”
Batistatos can make this happen. Large brass, you know what we mean?
He truly is resilient. He once hotfooted out of Lake County for Atlantic City to be the czar of Jersey tourism. Considering his people skills, we figured someone in the newsroom surely would claim the informal Speros Lottery prize.
If you could guess as close to the month, day and even minute (Eastern Daylight Saving Time) when his bullet-riddled body would be found stuffed in the trunk of baby blue 1974 Caddy Seville, you’d win the prize.
It was guaranteed. First, no single municipality could sustain both Speros’ ego and Donald Trump’s “hair” without the threat of spontaneous combustion. Organized crime also does not like to be ordered about as if they are pool boys.
The consensus guess was two years before trunk time.
But he outsmarted everyone. He beat the blue Caddy out of town in just 15 months.
Even Locutus knows when it’s time to pack up the brass.
David Rutter was an editor at six community newspapers more than 40 years, including nearly a decade as managing editor of the Post-Tribune. His column appears Sundays in the Post-Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.