BY DAN VALENTI
Toxins, Hill 78, and Unfunded Liabilities: Planet Puts Councilors on the Spot
First things first, as my sequential numeraries insist: Today, The Planet sent the following e-mail to 11 city councilors:
The issues are crucial to the city, and MUST be addressed. The deadline is reasonable. We expect on behalf of every citizen in the city of Pittsfield to receive answers. We shall post the responses, and we shall identify in the harshest terms those who ignore this request.
Here are the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of the Pittsfield City Council. Feel free to contact them requesting that they respond to The Planet’s questions on behalf of We The People:
* Ward 1, Christine Yon, email@example.com, 442-1774
* Ward 2, Peter White, firstname.lastname@example.org, 464-9044
* Ward 3, Paul Capitanio, email@example.com, 442-4754
* Ward 4, Mike Ward, firstname.lastname@example.org, 499-0462
* Ward 5, Jonathan Lothrop, email@example.com, 281-0994
* Ward 6, John Krol, firstname.lastname@example.org, 464-7539
* Ward 7, Joe Nichols, email@example.com, 841-1737 (note: Nichols has already responded on Planet Post of March 11, 2011)
* At-large, Kevin Sherman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 822-9511
* At-large, Melissa Mazzeo, email@example.com, 443-4079
* At-large Gerry Lee, firstname.lastname@example.org, 499-0569
* At-large, Peter Marchetti, email@example.com, 499-7320.
‘Gonna Wave My Freak Flag High’ — Jimi Hendrix, “If 6 Was 9″
As you might know, for its 250th anniversary, there is a competition under way to design a city flag. Pretty much all you need to know about it is that the Boring Broadsheet has something to do with it. Which reminds the more sober among us, who ironically has the greater sense of humor, to wonder how in the name of Benigno “O. B. Joyful” Numine did the city manage without one for 250 years.
For the bicentennial in 1961, neither residents nor officials thought we needed a flag. In 2011, the age of self-glorification, one commissions a flag if the grandkids learn “Chopsticks” on the piano.
The designs submitted for the official competition have been pedestrian at best and retarded at worst (yes, we are using the “r” word in its proper usage, all you PC People out there). The Planet has quietly solicited alternate ideas, and from them, commissioned a guest essay that you will read in its entirety below. The Top Three ideas submitted to The Planet, in no particular order:
(1) The Heap Big Magic Pothole Medicine Machine (HBMPMM) is depicted on a field, forgotten in the city yard, rusting to death. In LAtin are the words, “So Sue Me.”
(2) Mr. and Mrs. Joe Taxpayer are shown in comas. Above them are 50 stars and birds flying in circles around their heads. Standing above them is The Politician, with a club in one hand and a big money bag in the next. In Latin: “Give Me More of Your Money, Suckah”
(3) Picture a flag-proportioned rectangle. A river (the Housy, of course) runs from diagonal, upper right to lower left. In top left half of the flag, we see Silver Lake, glowing fluorescent green. The river is orange. In the lower right hand we see the GE meatball. In Latin: “We Bring Good Things to Death.”
You get the idea, or as The Stooley commented, “Flag, my ass.” The Planet gets his message. While the city is bankrupt from unfunded liabilities, while a mind-boggling number of industrial poisons continue their destruction of the environment, and while the mayor and city council spending money like jokers on things like HBMMPM and $15,ooo pay raises for political chums, and while taxes go up relentlessly each year, they waste their time on flags.
Here is the essay from our guest author:
FLAGGING DOWN AN IMAGE ISN’T SO EASY
By Zach Cutler
On Feb. 2nd, a ground-breaking announcement was made that would send shock waves of excitement through the Berkshires; one can dream, right? In another sure fire attempt to champion his support of the arts, Mayor Ruberto announced that he and State Senator Ben Downing would be sponsoring a competition for the region’s artisans to design an “official flag” for the city of Pittsfield.
Finally, Pittsfudlians everywhere will have an emblem to salute as we continue to flounder without industry and keep working at convincing ourselves that the city is 100% suitable for a tourist economy.
Actually, the idea at first didn’t seem terrible, and I base that opinion on my hope that the city would finally be able to a hail a banner of the late Peter Arlos unyielding his endless civic wisdom to hopeful strangers in a booth at the Highland, preferably on beef stew night.
Then the entries began to pour in, each one a painfully banal display of capturing the essence of Pittsfield. And so the field has been narrowed down to the top five for us to vote on, courtesy of web polling monitored by the “Boring Cybersheet”. Even among the crème de la crème, it’s more than apparent that each design is as flawed as the first.
Flag #1, perhaps the most grandiose in social commentary features an eagle caressing an oval with a green backdrop, in the middle a rendering of the soldier monument on Park Square. The idea is apparently to throw together as many broad concepts moderately related to Pittsfield history as possible. These concepts include: the emblem of the city’s major media source, though owned by a Colorado-based company (which makes one wonder why this particular flag was placed #1 on the ballot…me thinks the BB wants to show that Pittsfield revolves around it?), a soldier to illuminate Pittsfield’s deep military history, and the shade of green within the oval to display Pittsfield commitment to a green lifestyle, all while the three-eyed fish swim in Silver Lake.
Flag #2 most certainly came from an artist within the city’s hipster community because of the European feel. Trust me, the closest thing you‘ll find to “hip” and “European” in the city of Pittsfield are the episodes of late-night ratings sensation “’Polka Time with Ed Targonski” on Pittsfield Community Television.
Flag #3 is not terrible. I like the display of patriotism with the red, white, and blue theme, though it seems ironic that it represents Pittsfield’s renowned elm trees when all of Pittsfield’s elm trees were killed by disease years ago! Perhaps our smock brandishing buddy meant to symbolize our world-famous Elm Street. After all, Palmers is the Hallmark of variety stores!
Flag #4 would be cool if baseball were actually invented in Pittsfield. Can we please stop kidding ourselves over this one? Some municipality will eventually come out of the woodwork with a valid claim prior to ours, so let’s drop the charade.
Flag #5 is simply dreadful. A poor MS Paint rendering of upper East street buildings on a drab green background. If the city is looking to honor poor computerized images, I have plenty of doodles from the days of Windows 95 that I would be more than happy to put on display.
Perhaps one cannot truly encapsulate the essence of Pittsfield in a concentrated artistic effort. As the identity of the city has been perpetually changing from beacon of industry, to a barren North Street and a deflated economy, to baseball capital, U.S.A, to a resurging community led by our new-found appreciation of the arts, it’s hard to pinpoint what one could call the ideal pennant of the city.
If the contest did one good thing, it has opened the field for debate over how we chose to identify the city. I’m sticking with my vision of the late Arlos of City Council glory enjoying the beef stew special at Pittsfield’s venerable Highland Restaurant.
THE PLANET THANKS ZACH CUTLER. AND NOW WE LEAVE FOR A WHILE. REMEMBER, SUNDAY IS OUR DAY OF REST. LOVE TO ALL.