Rain, Rain Go Away, plus Today’s Top 5 and The Arts in the City

The Planet had to laugh at the coverage given to the installation of solar  panels at seven buildings at Berkshire Community College. Full disclosure: The Planet is an adjunct professor of English at BCC, which means I have many contacts there. Not all of them drink the Kool-Aid. Sure enough, there’s a story attached to this seemingly innocuous, and actually positive “green” story.

Sen. Ben Downing dodging the leaking roof at BCC.

One would think the installation of these panels would have occurred AFTER the leaking roofs at BCC had been repaired. Apparently, that’s not how state government does things. Cart first, horse second. Consequently, too much of the 394 kilowatts of solar power on the BCC roof tops sit upon sieve-like leaks.

For example, The Planet knows of two egregious torrents, both on the second floor of the Field Administrative Building. The first is in the computer room at the west end of the hall. The second is in the women’s rest room several doors down. In offices along the corridor, you can spots water damage, particularly along northwest surfaces. Water is leaking into light fixtures onto computers, and elsewhere. During heavy rains, the school maintenance department employs high-tech methods of dealing with the leaks: They place buckets on the floor the collect the dripping water.

Upon these sieve-like surfaces, the state, in its wisdom and under the seal of the governor’s Leading By Example program, installed the solar panels.

I’m no electrician, but The Planet recalls that water and electricity don’t like each other. Besides the obvious fire hazard, leaking water creates mold, erodes inner wall surfaces, caqn cause “sick building” syndrome, and flat out looks embarrassing.

What’s that? You say they DID fix the roofs. Then why were there leaks in both the Field and Hawthorne buildings during the most recent heavy rain? Of course, BCC had a press conference about the solar energy installation. Fortunately, nature cooperated by giving them a dry day.

Local and state officials attended, including Energy and Environmental Secretary Ian Bowles. Senator Ben Downing, in his recent update newsletter, had a self-serving blurb on all the PR back-slapping. Downing’s headline: “Welcome to Pittsfield, the “solar capitol [sic] of the Commonwealth.” Yup, some funky in his office used the wrong word. This usage takes “capital.” The Planet advises the senator to enroll this person in my next Comp 101 course.

Downing had a link to the Berkshire Eagle’s glowing coverage. How much you wanna bet he won’t link you to this story in The Planet? We risk our set of Davy Crockett iron-ons, so sure are we.


Who are the Top 5 most underrated musical acts in the rock-pop era? The Planet lists them. Note that we aren’t considering commercial success a factor. We mean: Did the music critics take them seriously or understand their music.

(1) Jethro Tull. A ton of great music, only one Top 10 hit. Eclectic, witty, with great insight.

(2) Abba. Critics dismiss Abba as a couple of pretty faces. Did they ever listen to the music?

(3) Carpenters. Karen and Richard fashioned classic songs performed brilliantly. 5-Star.

(4) Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. Post-modern retro, unclassifiable, and great fun.

(5) Tie: Dave Mason, Robin Trower, Nils Lofgrin. Three for the ages.

The Planet invites you to submit your choices. Who did we leave out?

Pittsfield as “a rich cultural hub”? Direction fine, but it’s not there yet.

The Arts in Pittsfield: On their way but not there yet.

The city of Pittsfield entered the “Mayors’ Arts Challenge Video Contest.” In the film, Mayor Jimmy Ruberto “talks about how arts and culture in Pittsfield helped revitalize the area and transform it into the rich cultural hub we see today.”

In case you didn’t guess, the quote comes from “Cultural Pittsfield’s” weekly press release.

Now The Planet, being artists ourselves, applauds Ruberto’s emphasis on culture and the arts as part of the downtown mix. We just don’t agree with the city’s portrayal. Downtown is not yet “the rich and cultural hub we see today.” It’s taken modest steps in that direction, but it’s far from being there. Want to experience “rich and cultural hubs”? Go to downtowns in places like Burlington, Vt., Northhampton, Mass., and Portland, Me.

13 Responses to “Rain, Rain Go Away, plus Today’s Top 5 and The Arts in the City”

  1. Arch Glenn
    October 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    Dan you left off the Top 5 jean luc ponty, jazz violinist and musical genius, Also, Court Square closed a few week ago but only in the past coupld days did Greylock foreclose on the oweners home mortgage.

  2. Robert Johnson
    October 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    Well, I can see what you’re trying to do, use the freedoms of the internet to foment sensationalism agasinst the substnatial progress our local elected officials have brought to Pittsfield and Berkshire County. I applaud people like Jonathan Lothrop, Ben Downing, Chris Speranzo, and Mayor Ruberto, who have worked tirelessly for the good of all. You, Mr. Valenti, are an “entertainer” masking as a serious journalist. What Glenn Beck is to America, you are to Berkshire County, and trust me, sir, that is no complement.

    • Jim Gleason
      October 26, 2010 at 9:53 am #

      What specifically have ruberto or Speranzo done for Pittsfield beside ruberto catering to his rich friends and cronies and Speranzo being absent from view during this campaign? Ducking debates and disappearing isn’t serving constituents. I think ruberto is the worst mayor in the history of the city.

  3. Prove me wrong
    October 25, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    I totally agree with you about Jetho Tull. Ian Anderson is an absolute genius.

    • danvalenti
      October 25, 2010 at 11:00 am #

      Yes, Anderson’s songwriting took a backseat to his over-the-top on-stage antics. His tunes are complex and his lyrics are as layered as any fine poetry. And Tull, like the other acts mentioned, actually played their own instruments and did more than lipsynch to computerized sound tracks.

  4. Jim Gleason
    October 25, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    Musically you’re not even close.
    1. Led Zeppelin
    2. the Beatles
    3. The Rolling Stones
    4. Bad Company
    5. The Allman Brothers Band

    Pittsfield is not an “arts” town, it’s a sports, blue collar town no matter what this administration says. Speaking for myself, I’d much rather go watch a Little League or Babe Ruth baseball game than go to a play or movie or anything else. The sports label doesn’t, btw, include the Pittsfield Colonials and never will. People here don’t like chiselers either.

    • danvalenti
      October 25, 2010 at 10:57 am #

      The category was UNDERRATED bands and musical acts. The only one that fits the category from your post is 4 (and possibly 5).

      • Jim Gleason
        October 26, 2010 at 8:23 am #

        Must’ve missed the UNDERRATED part, sorry.

  5. Prove me wrong
    October 25, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Jim didn’t read the Planet’s post.
    Also, the Pittsfield that Jim belongs to is rapidly fading away. The old nay-sayers are finding themselves pushed aside and ignored. Pittsfield really has changed in a fundamental way and truely is becoming an arts town. I’m glad to be a part of it.

  6. Simon Sez
    October 25, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    I agree with Prove Me Wrong about the arts town. I moved to the city about a year ago and and finding a vibrant community in the making. Have to agree also with the Planets assessment that the direction is fine but we haven’t arrived at the destination. I think well know when we get there by all the people who are art and about in the downtown, not just every 3rd Thursday in the summer.

  7. Jim Gleason
    October 26, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    I remember when EVERY Thursday was like third Thursday, and most Saturday’s too. I have never been to Third Thursday and never will as long as ruberto is mayor of Pittsfield, in fact I do not and will not attend ANYTHING he has anything to do with and know plenty of others who think the same way, like it or not.

  8. Fitzy
    October 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    1. Excellent call on Tull. I’ve never been exposed to Hicks but I’ll certainly look into it.

    2. I believe you intended to refer to the staff person who produced Senator Downing’s newsletter as a “flunky” as opposed to a funky. Perhaps your mind had already drifted to the funky jazz flute solos that Jethro and company weaved into their tunes… or perhaps even an adjunct professor of English Composition is prone to the occasional errant keystroke come press time.

    • danvalenti
      October 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

      1. Check out “Where’s the Money?” (a live album recorded in 1971 at the Troubador in LA) or “Last Train to HIcksville”
      2. Yeah, meant “flunky.” Errant keystroke, though, without much of a stretch, it could be seen as “funky.” Ben Downing, by the way, posted about this on my Facebook page today, showing a good sport’s sense of humor.
      Thanks for the post.