Song of Pabst Farms lost
A long, long time ago, in a land far to the west, a stranger walked into the little sleepy community of Oconomowoc. He told the natives, “O’ mighty Oconomowocians. I see greatness in your future. I see many people bringing you gold and riches, clothes and spices, thrones and palaces, fame and greatness, if you but follow me to the Promised Land. There will be new stores full of people paying taxes, buying things and paying taxes, many precious things unlike anywhere in Wisconsin, and you will be a rich and powerful people.”
The Oconomowocians, no fools, asked the stranger, just where do you see this paradise?
“Out along the freeway, by the great big cornfields, there we will build a shopping mall. Out in the cow pastures, far away from the city, far away from any people, we will build a shopping mall. We will build new homes for the people, new restaurants to feed the people, new venues to entertain the people, and we shall call it Pabst Farms. And it will be unlike anything in Wisconsin.”
Ah, said the Oconomowocians, there is nothing there. Go and build your paradise and call us when it is done.
“O’ mighty Oconomowocians, I would if I could, but you must follow me to the Promised Land. I need permits. I need your support. I need a TIF district. I need plumbing and sewer. I need fire and police protection. I even need the freeway to stop there.”
Yeah, okay, whatever, was the reply, and away the developer went.
Many moons went by and there were no restaurants. Many suns did rise and there were no developments. Many springs passed by and the people did not come. Many summers passed and the money did not come. Many autumns passed and the grass continued to grow. Many winters passed and the Promised Land lay covered with snow.
The Oconomowocians finally said, “Hey stranger, what gives?”
“O mighty Oconomowocians, I have no money to develop the Promised Land. The banks are empty and they cannot see the glories of Pabst Farms. The retailers are not selling and they cannot see the market potential of Pabst Farms. I cannot build you many ‘shoppes’ unique in all of Wisconsin. How about a Wal-Mart and a Best Buy instead?”
Um, no. So the stranger went away and a Great Council of the Mighty Oconomowocians gathered. And chief among them was the Maury, mighty Mayor of the Oconomowocians, and he said to the multitude, “How about a K-Mart?”
The multitude was not happy with the Maury, and they said to him, “Go and find us another stranger. Find us one who will make the riches flow from the earth like so many dandelions. Find us one will make the people coming like so many grains of sand in the rock quarry. Find us a stranger who will bring many people to buy pretty things so as to please the multitude. For we are unhappy we do not have the Promised Land. We are unhappy we do not have Pabst Farms.”
And the Maury spoke to the Multitude. “Here me, O Mighty Oconomowocians. I will find you a stranger to build you a paradise unlike anything else in Wisconsin. He will build you many shoppes along the freeway. He will build you many restaurants to feed the hungry. He will build you many palaces to house the wealthy. All will be rich in the Promised Land of Pabst Farms.”
So the Maury found another stranger. And the Maury asked the stranger, “Can you build me a paradise of many shoppes and restaurants, many palaces and green spaces? Will you bring to my land many people, many people with money in their pockets, many riches to spend on fine things, many people from far away to see a place unlike anywhere else in Wisconsin?”
And the stranger looked the Maury up and down taking in the full Maury. And the Maury was took. “Sure…”
“Have you ever done anything like this before?”
“No, but it’s just like building a Wal-Mart, don’cha know. But I’m going to need a freeway offramp and a train.”
So the Maury went back to the Mighty Oconomowocians. The Maury gather’d up all his tribe in a Great Council and told the Multitude, “Here me, O Mighty Oconomowocians. I have found you a stranger to build you a paradise unlike anything else in Wisconsin. He will build you many shoppes along the freeway. He will build you many restaurants to feed the hungry. He will build you many palaces to house the wealthy. All will be rich in the Promised Land of Pabst Farms. Oh yeah, and he’ll make the trains run on time.”
And the Multitude responded, “Trains? What the hell is he talking about?”
So the Mighty Oconomowocians waited while they dreamed of riches. Many moons passed and still ground remained unbroken. Many suns rose and still the shoppes did not appear. In the fields where the flowers grew, in the cow pastures where the flies flew, out along the freeway where nothing ever was, nothing ever came. And the people were unhappy.
Finally in the fall just after the sun was even in the sky, just before the leaves fell and they turned dry, as the fields lay empty, as the freeway passed the city by, when Pabst Farms was a distant memory of another stranger’s eye, spoke the Maury to some people, spoke the Maury to tell them of the vision he has seen, of the many people coming to Oconomowoc, of the many people spending money, only if they could ride the train.