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MAGIC IS AFOOT ON THE PLANET as OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS, plus, THE MAHAWIE’s 2011 SEASON

BY DAN VALENTI

As this site manages growth, we shall carefully watch “hours in versus benefits derived” (HvB). That’s what a systems analyst (and acquaintance) told The Planet about the future (What, you were expecting Nostradamus, already?).

She took me through the math of HvB, a buzz-wordy management tool, not because we needed it but because we requested it. You see, The Planet finds a touch of infinity in most mathematical formulae.

Remind us to tell you about a time in our young life when we could look at objects of any size and shape and see the mathematical notation of space to instantly derive workable formulas. Even math profs couldn’t follow the process, even though our solutions were always right! This strane (even spooky) stuff began occurring after flipping our bike on outer East Street in Pittsfield (trivia buffs: we were riding with Tommy Massetti). The bike accident pre-helmet days, delivering a rattling concussion. Ah, but that tale cannot be told.

Back to HvB

HVB calculates time spent on a given task as a ratio of the outcome of the benefits, placing a numerical value on both and then, through a proprietary process, calculates derivations. The layman’s bottom line is that when attempting to manage growth, make sure H <(-) B, or, in plain English, makes sure your time is worth it.

This statistical approach to common sense reminds me of the SABRmetric revolution in sports. The Boston Red Sox, for example, won two World Series after adopting strategies based on data squeezed out of performance on the diamond (using Bill James’ models, especially). This approach takes the romance of a tobacco-chewing manager playing hunches and assigns it to the sepia tones of faded photos from the 1950s.

This is a roundabout way of making a provisional comment about The Planet’s future.

What Lies Ahead? Hmmm… Maybe 3 Things

(1) We feel we are finding our voice and our audience. We therefore will continue both in tone and style in the direction taken in our first 120+ posts (see PRINCIPLES, below)

(2) We will this year look seriously into investing in both the look and the functionality of the site. We envision a time not that long off when you will land on this home page and find not just one lead story but the lead and other content as well (features, news, photos etc.). We will need deck hands on board, yes.

(3) We expect at some point to begin regular postings in three categories: Arts, Sports, and Politics (especially more world and national commentary). We might add Food, Gardening, Law, etc. as we go on, always keeping in mind HvB. Our Arts coverage, we think, will begin this spring/summer with theater, music, and film content. Sports will include coverage of Pittsfield Colonials baseball and perhaps professional sports.

But, You Gotta Know …

The Planet is involved in many other things right now, including Europolis Management and Europolis Records (word coming soon on our first CD release). EM is a musical management company. Our services include management of musical groups and producing original music for commercial and corporate use from our studios that have both 16- and 24-track digital recording capability. ER is an independent record label that will be the musical equivalent of Planet Media Books, a print publishing company we started in September 2010 that’s now editing its second release and is about to acquire its third manuscript. Our first book, Spring’s Third Day by Laura Gross, is available in local book stores and on Amazon.com. and has realized a small profit.

We share this information about other activities outside of this website as a general response to the many requests and suggestions we have and are receiving about how to make Planet Valenti dot com better. Everyone means well, and we love all input. Just remember that we can’t drop everything and get it done all at once. This site will grow, but it will be organic (fancy word for “slow”) growth. It will being over time to look differently and feature a greater variety of content. Cool, eh?

We shall strive for improvement both in content (first) and design/functionality (second), but we must carefully allot our time. We see the nurturing of Planet Valenti as a long-term project. Within the next year, we hope to begin taking those steps, even if they are baby one, that will take us to the next level of sophistication, and the next, and the ….

Opportunity Knocks

We feel that the opportunity is ripe now — and will only be better a year from now — for a legitimate contender to the Berkshire Eagle’s media dominance of Berkshire County. The Eagle only has that position by default, and even at that, the hold is precarious. The Eagle has not shown signs of editorial ambition or of wanting to get out of its decade+-long funk. It will apparently remain content to get by with just the minimum of expense, its responsibilities to the community as a watchdog for the people be damned. This has created a gigantic opportunity.

The Planet doesn’t wish to be specific in terms of how we will react to that opportunity. Suffice it to say that magic is afoot, and we shall continue to offer content that other media aren’t giving you. We want to inform, educate, entertain, and provoke you. We are doing that now. We are devising place a plan that will in time allow us to do that even better. We are confident you will like what we do. A lot.

For those who missed it the last time, here is The Planet’s DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES:

The most important principal of a trustworthy medium is its independence. This site will remain unbought and unbossed. The Planet is the home for We The People, forever unsatisfied with merely publishing the news or commentary, forever fighting forms of wrong, forever independent, forever advancing in enlightenment and progress, forever wedded to powerful ideas, forever aspiring to be a moral force, and forever prodding out public institutions to a higher plan of perfection. This shall be a place where right shall always secure an advocate, where liberty abides, and where justice may find all seasons summer.

We adapted these words of John Cockerhill, managing editor of Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper. Cockerhill articulated the newspaper’s mission statement on behalf of the legendary publisher. We share them because we think our readers ought to know what we’re about. As you come to know us, you will find both a mirror that reflects the world back at you and spectacles that enable you to peer out into the rhetorical night farther than you otherwise could.

The Planet doesn’t pretend to have cornered the market on The Truth. We only present our truth, argumentatively, and attempt to do this with reason, logical, and passion. Your input changes everything. That’s why we decided to build this site allowing reaction, feedback, and commentary.

Adults Welcome (or You Must be This High to Use This Site)

We are treating our readers as adults, and we want to reward the 99% of readers who can conduct civil discourse, even vehemently, with respect for others. The Planet will police and weed out any correspondents who wish to take the “feedback” function of this website into the gutter. We will not allow to happen what happened to the Eagle’s Topix.

If you have ideas, suggestions, and comments on how we might do a better job or what you would like to see down the road, please share them. We are learning about cyber journalism: how it is the same as print and broadcast, and how it is different. Your help in assisting us is appreciated.

So welcome aboard, fasten your seat belts always, and journey around The Planet henceforth in safely.

Mahawie Plans Big Year

The restored Mahawie Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington will play host to an electric lineup of acts this year. At a press conference yesterday, Beryll Jolly, Mahawie executive director, shared the bill for the lion’s share of 2011. Through June, the venue will present an impressive 40 events. We say impressive not just for quantity but for quality.

At first glance, the lineup boasts a heady combination of music, comedy, dance, opera, and film. As always with this sort of thing, proof comes in the pudding. There might be the usual dogs thrown in to the mix, but the aesthetic ambition shown here breaks a promising shaft of light through the mid-winter gloom.

One other thing. Like the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, The Mahawie itself — its bricks and mortar — automatically becomes a featured attraction in any event it hosts. Through decades of dull, monolithic, Soviet-style modern construction that have dulled our appreciation of architecture. Old-timey show places like the Mahawie cause a bit of breathlessness through sheer beauty. The theatergoer thus has the consolation that even if she’s witnessing a clunker, she’s doing so in a dazzling setting. The building is a star.

Here are the Mahawie’s February and March listings. For more information and the complete lineup, go to mahawie.org. Or call 413-528-6416 ext. 1

* On Friday, February 18 at 10am (school field trip performance) and 8pm, Rennie Harris PureMovement dancers will bring their thrilling hip-hop moves to the Mahaiwe stage. Rennie Harris (artistic director, choreographer) celebrates hip-hop culture on his own terms, by using some of the world’s most influential forms of movement, music, and storytelling to revolutionize contemporary concert dance. Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Harris has been teaching workshops and classes at universities around the country and is a powerful spokesperson for the significance of “street” origins in any dance style. Harris founded his company based on the belief that hip-hop is the most important original expression of a new generation. Please call the Mahaiwe Box Office for school field trip pricing and availability. Tickets are $12 to $57 for the evening performance.

* The Mahaiwe and Symphony Space will co-present The Thalia Follies: Divided We Stumble, created by Symphony Space’s Artistic Director Isaiah Sheffer and Martin Sage, on Sunday, February 20 at 3pm. This political cabaret takes a comical and tragical look at the forces that may be ripping our nation apart: red states vs. blue; conservatives, arch-conservatives, liberals, radicals, and crazies at both extremes; true believers and skeptics; vegans and fast-food freaks; nudists and fashionistas. The Thalia Follies troupe of performers includes Ivy Austin, Mary Brienza, Sidney J. Burgoyne, David Buskin, Kathryn Markey, Nora York, and The Chalks. Roy Zimmerman and Jay Leonhart will make guest star appearances at the Mahaiwe. Musical direction is by Lanny Meyers. Tickets are $20 to $40.

* With their unique blend of music, comedy, dance, theater, and juggling that dazzles young and old alike, the Flying Karamazov Brothers will perform at the Mahaiwe on Saturday, March 5 at 7pm. They are New York’s favorite lunatics at the apex of their ambidextrous and alliterative ability. Their show is a combination of humor, both physical and verbal, ranging from highbrow to lowbrow to monobrow. Watch the Flying K’s as they prove with each performance that chaos and unexpected events in our lives are the best part of being human. Tickets are $15 to $37.

* Eight-time Grammy nominee and Kentucky-born singer-songwriter Joan Osborne will bring her soulful voice to Great Barrington on Friday, March 11 at 8pm. Osborne was introduced to mainstream audiences with the single “One of Us” from her major label debut, Relish, in 1995. It became a massive MTV and radio smash hit holding the number 1 spot on the US singles charts for two weeks while the album sold three million copies. Then came a featured slot in the 1997 Lilith Fair tour, and performances with such notables as Taj Mahal, Luciano Pavarotti, Spearhead, Bob Dylan, The Dead, The Dixie Chicks, Stevie Wonder, Melissa Etheridge, and Bob Dylan. Keith Cotton will accompany Osborne on piano at the Mahaiwe. Tickets are $32 to $37.

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HAVE WE RUN YOU RAGGED, DEAR READER? REST UP AND SEE YOU SOON. NEW CONTENT WILL BE UP ON MONDAY, BECAUSE TOMORROW IS SUNDAY, AND THAT’S OUR DAY OF REST. OH, BY THE WAY, STEELERS 31, PACKERS 24.

9 Responses to “MAGIC IS AFOOT ON THE PLANET as OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS, plus, THE MAHAWIE’s 2011 SEASON”

  1. No Reply
    February 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Love the plans. Love the planet. Keep it going. For the first time people are beginning to think someone’s fightingg ofor them.

  2. GMHeller
    February 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Debby Downer here.
    Recommend, Mr. Valenti, that you stick with what you have already shown you do best rather than spread yourself too thin (there’s only so much time and energy in one’s day).
    What you do best is in exposing fraud, waste, abuse, corruption and outright stupidity in Pittsfield city government.
    If one wants to read Berkshire sports and/or art and dance reviews, there are already plenty of good venues to find such information.
    But there is no one — repeat, no one — who has made any attempt on the Web to do what you are presently doing.
    (Pittsfield Gazette could but isn’t focused on publishing its muckraking efforts on its Web site.)
    Recommend you avoid loading yourself up with so much other stuff such that you lose sight of the main reason so many currently plug into your Web site.

  3. bill
    February 5, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Dan if you write about other things instead of just Pittsfield problems what will all the people with no lives other than bitch about Pittsfield do?

    • Joe Pinhead
      February 5, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

      Yes what of those people who believe that things could be better? They are forced to foot the bill for the dance but aren’t allowed to attend. Just what should we do with the folks that are the backbone of the City? How dare they think they can or should have a voice in their future? I mean they have everything invested here- sunk into a house the future of their children, I know the elected class here shouldn’t have to put up with any of the concern these people show should they Bill? Nice Bill it was that kind of thinking (we know what’s best for them) that lead the Eagle into what it has become today. The Eagle learned the wrong lesson in the Civic Authority ordeal. Instead of learning not to make themselves the story they learned to control the story. So Bills answer for the future is what? Everyone send every penny they can to the City? If you don’t send every penny spend it at the latest fad restaurant on North Street? Meanwhile the elected class will build on polluted land that we buy to keep our friends out of financial danger. Or will they decide the entire City is blighted so we can have TIFS to help out the “friends” read doners with the upkeep on the housing stock? My neighbor could use a new garage Bill why don’t we send you the bill and if you complain your just one of those with no life right?
      Bill do tell us who does have the right to question the Government? I mean besides you?

      • editor
        February 6, 2011 at 6:45 am #

        Joe What have you been smokeing?

    • editor
      February 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

      Bill You hit it on the Nose!! All they do is complain never hear anything good about Pittsfield. If things stink in Pittsfield why don’t these people go somewhere they will be happy?

  4. Joetaxpayer
    February 5, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Dan,great to hear you will be covering the Colonials,hopefully berk.co.will support them.The ownership has done a great job and deserve support.They we not be back for another season if the numbers don’t go up and that will be a shame.

    • danvalenti
      February 6, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      joetaxpayer
      Agreed. The C’s have done a great job and lived up, so far, to every promise they’ve made. We’ve yet to decide what form the coverage will take. It will range from daily coverage of games plus features at the top end to occasional features at the bottom.

  5. Joe Pinhead
    February 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Great work here thus far off of the top of my pinhead you derailed the polluted garage project, exposed the financial condition of the Eagle, educated us on the Importance of a well developed CEDS program, exposed the green goo and the Interprint ordeal where they didn’t complete the necessary paperwork. All in a few months. Putting the pressure on the establishment isn’t bad. What’s kind of ironic about it all is I bet a few years (being kind here) back those who now run the City and the Paper etc. wanted to “stick it to the man” now that there the “man” it isn’t as meaningful as it once was…..
    Keep up the great work