By Scott Sullivan
I’ve long longed to be many things I’m not: sports star, action hero, famous physicist … With the latter it’s hard to separate fact from friction.
Same for master criminals. Dr. Doom, the Joker, Hannibal Lecter … In reality, evil geniuses are few.
Take Tony Blatz, 44, who the Allegan County News wrote last week started running from police in Indiana until being captured in Trowbridge Township.
As an ex-distance runner I was impressed, until I learned most of his “running” was really driving. Were the two synonymous I could have saved myself lots of suffering. Not that I didn’t love every minute.
When Blatz — wanted for larceny, violating his probation for drunk driving and resisting police in Elkhart — crossed the state line, Pure Michigan cops took over.
They chased Blatz and his wife through two counties till they crashed in Paw Paw, where Blatz called a friend to come pick them up. That’s what friends are for, right? They pushed the dupe out and fled in his car north on M-40 to where they were nabbed near Allegan.
Where do I know “Blatz” from? Beer, although I am not sure they are related. I put a can to my lips once but didn’t swallow. Which is where Saugatuck fits in. These master criminals had to be headed here knowing Pabst beer was named for a mid-1800s Singapore lumber worker.
Frederick Pabst learned from his internship here that becoming a steamship captain might be a better career option. Even better was marrying the daughter of Philip Best, owner of a Milwaukee brewery. Soon it became Pabst Brewing Co.
Pabst bought out rival Blatz 60 years ago, sold it after 10 years, but again now owns it. The Hoosier couple were clearly headed northwest to Pabst’s former wellsprings in search of a buyout or bailout too.
Since they didn’t make it, I turned to the district court blotter seeking other role models. Imagine being Lex Luthor holding green kryptonite over Superman and cackling “Bwa-ha-ha! Think you’re super, huh?” How could life get better?
Alas, evil geniuses were hard to find. Outside the usual drunks and ne’er-do-wells, I did find five residents sentenced for possessing ecstasy.
What’s wrong with ecstasy? I asked my wife.
“Lots if you’re talking about the drug,” she replied. “It’s a methamphetamine whose effects may include addiction, memory loss, blurred vision, paranoia …”
No wonder they call it ecstasy.
“Wait, there’s more: teeth grinding, sweating, rapid heartbeat, depression, fatigue and death.”
No wonder people can’t get enough.
“I understand,” she said, “why you want to be someone, anyone except who you are. I want that for you too.”
Like to become a handsome billionaire?
“That ship,” she sighed, “sailed years ago.”
Towards Milwaukee? Look, I said, all Tony wanted was a better life.
“So he stole things, drove drunk, fought police, fled the state, crashed in Paw Paw, duped a friend and took off again in his car?”
Like Blatz, this was going nowhere. How about a pro protestor? I suggested. Like kids who state Sen. Tanya Schuitmaker says are being steered by adults into demonstrations against gun violence and Bob Genetski, who hopes to succeed her, accuses of being “crisis actors.”
“I’d guess Bob and Tanya are being paid more for their actions in public office and by the NRA than those high school students.”
But that’s just a guess. Still, if you don’t like protestors, does it follow you like what they’re protesting? If that’s the case, what’s the problem?
“Sometimes it’s not what you protest, it’s how you protest.”
The kids here were peaceful, I said.
“But what about the organized, violent protests against white nationalist Richard Spencer speaking March 4 at Michigan State University? Is it OK to use your right to free speech to shout down someone else? Do violence to end violence? Fight war to end war? Perpetrate hate to end hate?”
Nothing makes more sense.
“At last we agree,” she said.
Accord, no matter how shaky its premises, is a good thing. The trouble is, adding master criminal, handsome billionaire, marathon champion and pro protestor to my deleted future careers, I am fast running out of options.
At least that way I’m running fast.