ROCHE WINS IN LENOX; PLANET REFUTES ‘KINGMAKER’ CHARGE, plus, “Hi, I’m STEROIDsGATE. Remember Me?” and a guest column on “The Art of Forgetting.”
BY DAN VALENTI
The Planet is NOT in the business of Kingmaking
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, May 10, 2011) — The e-mail came in late last night, thanking The Planet for our endorsement of Dave Roche and citing that as a strong “contributing factor” in his decisive win in the Lenox select board race. The Planet gracously replied saying what we did prior about endorsements: They aren’t predictions of who will win but who assessments on who is most qualified.
Roche was clearly the best candidate of the four. He possesses experience in the private sector, in banking, entrepreneurship, and running his horse stables. The debate The Planet hosted for Berkshire Greens at the Lenox Library showed Roche at his best: deliberative, substantive, and possessed of an ability of knowing when to speak (and what to say) and when to hold his peace (and letting that serve as his “statement”). The heavy replay on TV of the debate meant that the one-hour+ was seen by the most voters of any other appearance in any other medium.
We find it amusing that our forum became one of the issues of the late campaign. They loved it. They hated it. That about conveys how people responded. No one, apparently, was indifferent to it. Backers found the forum refreshing, engaging, and good for the town. Critics accused The Planet of “Kingmaking” and “meddling with Lenox politics.” A backer of Kim Flynn accused us of working behind the scenes for Roche. We can only say no, this feverish statement has no validity or truth. We patiently listened, attributing it to the emotions of the election night of a losing candidate.
The Planet did think Eric Vincelette handled defeat well. He was gracious in his statements. He will also run again, he says.
Berkshire Greens and The Planet accomplished what we intended: Present a forum that would show the voters candidates with a bit of the guard down. The disarming conveys gads of information in the briefest amount of time. We have refined out “beer hall” style forum over the yeras, and we now have it to perfection. We intend to present several of these in the various Pittsfield races.
A SALUTE and THANKS to HONEST COPS EVERYWHERE or STEROIDsGATE: IT AIN’T OVER TILL IT’S OVER
The Planet will not specify details, but we will say that we have received fresh information related to SteroidsGate that, if true, would be of rather spectacular nature. “SteroidsGate” is the catch-all label we have applied to the alleged presence of activity involving illegal substances within and among members of the Pittsfield Police Department as well as, in a more expansive sense, other alleged activity that, while it may (or my not) involve illegal substances, would, if true, certainly qualify as scandalous.
Everyone knows there are secrets in an organization such as a police departments. Some are justified in being kept because of the nature of police work. Some are not because of the nature of criminal activity. Police and associated personnel have the obligation not only to enforce the law but to follow the law. In fact, they have a higher obligation and thus should be held to HIGHER standards than the “ordinary citizen.” No honest cop will fear the sunshine. Rather, they will welcome scrutiny.
The Planet continues to thank those PPD personnel who continue to supply leads and information. They are doing the department, the city, the taxpayers, the electorate, and every citizen in town a huge public service. We can’t name names, obviously, but Touchdown, Goalpost, Red Dog, Zone D, and others know who they are. They can look themselves in the mirror and feel good. God looks on their actions and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
THE PLANET IS OPEN TO GUEST POSTS AND GUEST COLUMNS, REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, OR OTHER AFFILIATIONS. WE ONLY WANT GOOD THINKING, GOOD WRITING, AND GOOD ARGUMENTATION. IN PRINTING ALTERNATE VIEWS, WE AREN’T ENDORSING THE VIEWS. No, WE ARE PRESENTING ALTERNATIVE TAKES INTHE INTERESTS OF SERVING “THE FREE MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS.” WITH THAT, WE PRESENT THE FOLLOWING GUEST COLUMN:
Collective Memory and The Art of Forgetting
I am caught between two incredibly important epochs. I was born in the late 80s, and was raised in a time of limited connectivity. When I wanted to play with a friend, I had to call their house and hope they were home, or if not, leave a message, if they had an answering machine. My choices in entertainment were reduced to whatever was broadcast, whatever was chosen by some invisible outside force to be shown.
The memories I had and shared with others were projected in a similar fashion. The images that defined my childhood were captured by professionals to be shown on conglomerate-controlled outlets, and discussed in such traditional arenas. Commentary, and thus the deciding of what was important to remember collectively, was left to those who were paid to do so in a professional capacity.
As I reached my teenage years everything changed. Text messaging on cell phones, constant communication, led to the public life as seen on Facebook and, more recently, Twitter. The images used to define those years were not captured by professionals but on grainy camera phone footage, shared virally and then picked up by the media machine. Commentary was all-inclusive, so that anyone with an Internet connection could give their two cents, whether informed or not. The viewer had a choice in what events and details and people and images were ingrained in the collective memory.
This is much like what Marita Sturken refers to as “cultural memory” in Tangled Memories, her treatise on the politics of remembering. In the book’s introduction, Sturken discusses at length the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In an act of remembrance, family members leave personal tokens for loved ones lost and paid tribute to at the memorial. Pictures, cherished toys, cigarettes, a favorite beer—any and all items that helped to define a person through what they found special or enjoyed garnish the memorial.
These items represent personal memories, but once shared in a public context they become part of a cultural memory; individual tastes, relationships, vices, all enter a public light when presented publicly, as the individual helps make a collective memory along with countless other individuals.
Social media and its practitioners, particularly the members of my generation and younger who now live in public, make memory now in such a way. Collective memory is now molded by who was there, what they were able to capture, and how they are able to share it, more so than ever before. It could be said that every event on any scale is now shaped by a collective memory, one driven by the individual but shared by the group. Every party, sporting event, natural disaster, and political uprising is documented forever by the individual or a small group of individuals, and then left open to commentary by whoever cares to voice their opinion on it. Memory shifts, changes, but does so collectively.
And now, it does so permanently. These status updates and online images and videos are there forever, so that it is harder than ever to forget. A simple search brings back old memories and feelings, videos or written works of raw, instantaneous emotion.
Yes, we are a now generation, but no, we are not cows. I do sometimes worry about over-connectivity, of whether the younger generations raised with Facebook are missing something socially and if they will be able to appreciate the physical world around them. The intellectual potential is there, but is being used in different ways. A democratic discourse can be truly shaped for the first time ever. Events and emotions are documented in the present and may be revisited at any time. Truly forgetting is harder than it ever has been, and only becoming more difficult. Zarathustra will never come, but history’s course may be dictated by many voices.
THE PLANET THANKS MR. STERN FOR HIS INTERESTING PIECE.
We would add this thought: Any discussion of the nature of memory in the age of Over- and Instant-Communication is not complete without a discussion of privacy. The notion of the “private” self has been altered, we see, for people younger than Mr. Stern. What are the consequences of this? The Planet contends they are more harmful than beneficial — not because of the nature of the technology but because of the use to which this technology is being put. We will not have this discussion now but only mention that it isn’t for nothing that porn is the #1-rated use of high communications technology by almost every demographic, markedly more so the YOUNGER the age.
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Now, my good friends, we hasten down the road.
“Open the window, Aunt Millie.”
Love to all.