!!EXCLUSIVE!! REVEALED HERE: THE PLANET’S SECRET PLAN TO PUT THE PITTSFIELD FOURTH OF JULY PARADE ‘DOWN FOR THE “COUNT”‘ or, THEY DIS-INVITED US, SO NATURALLY WE’RE ATTENDING … THE “COUNTDOWN” IS ON!!!
By DAN VALENTI
‘GUESTING’ WIH THE ‘BESTING’ THIS AM ON “GMP”
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, Friday, July 1, 2011) — THE PLANET starts with thanks to our Right Honorable Good Friend, John Krol, for his call yesterday. “Good Morning, Pittsfield,” needed a last-minute guest to fill the hour today. Krol called, and THE PLANET answered. We also thank Shawn Serre for hosting. Serre does an excellent job in the host’s seat, bringing with him a combination of intelligence and presence that makes filling the hour unscripted a breeze. You can catch the re-broadcast of the show tonight at 11 p.m. on PCTV and also online at the station’s website.
Numbers Racket, OR, Count Me In
One of the biggest laughs associated each year with the overblown, over-budget Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade is the “crowd estimate.” The Boring Broadsheet, feeding on GOB pap as it does, runs with the wildly inflated numbers provided by …. THE PLANET doesn’t actually know where the number originates. We only know that the 125,000, or the 100,000 they are using this year, will be off by factors of AT LEAST two. Again, the tendency to inflate the number as it they were a Macy’s hot-air balloon proves laughably embarrassing for all connected with this event in its present form.
Several years ago, when the 125,000 guesstimate went unchallenged and THE PLANET still hosted the long-running morning-drive talk show “The Dan Valenti Show” on WBRK, we assigned one of our engineer friends to calculate a more accurate number. He came up with “no more than 60,000,” basing his estimates on such factors as length of parade route, depth of bystander lines, and tau (2 pi).
Bringing Science to Bear on the Count
This year, THE PLANET gets more scientific. We’re going to put an accurate number of hte parade once and for all.
Our column yesterday explained how the current version of the Fourth of July Parade is a two-hour $90,000 exercise in excess full of ringers and other imported talent having practically nothing “Home town” about it. We riled the right people and affirmed what the vast majority believe: that the organizers should reel in the paunchy promenade and put in its place a much more modest, down-home style event.
Our critics have issued an invitation for THE PLANET not to attend the parade on Monday. Actually, we hadn’t planned on it, but the dis-invitation changed our plans. We will let James Taylor and Deval Patrick breakfast alone with Mrs. Planet and their two respective and respectable wives. We have other plans.
We’re going counting. Call us Count Planet.
Count Planet Will Take A Bite Out of the ‘Guesstimate’
Here’s the deal. On Monday, Count Planet will be in full attendance at the Pittsfield Fourth parade. We will be in disguise. We shall adopt a principle of concealment outlined by The Divine Edgar in “The Purloined Letter.” That is “their” clue of “they wish to find The Count. He shall be hiding in plain view! Throwing down the gauntlet, we challenge — nay, we DEFY — anyone on the parade committee or in attendance to uncover us.
Our disguise, shared with a handful of people who also will be at the parade, has been called “brilliant” … “worthy of a mastermind” … and “Genius. Good thing you’re on the side of the law,” a fact which my good friends in the Pittsfield Police Department appreciate more than anyone.
Here’s another clue. Those who attend with Count Planet are actually ad hoc members of THE PLANET’s famed Secret Squadron. They will look like they’re enjoying the parade. Actually, they will be working. Their job: do the leg work that will supply the most accurate number on crowd size. This effort shall involve a sophisticated count based on solid science by a coupla-three people who know how to do it (and a generous friend who has the proper training and equipment).
Here’s How It’s Done … Sort Of
We can’t reveal the method, except to say it involves:
* Aerial photography, computers, a 3-D grid system, and certain, let’s call it “tethering” that will be in operation along selected locations of the parade route. This methods compares “regions of similar density” then calculates the number of people included in an extremely accurate and eerily similar “regional estimate” stored in a database. One of our tools, on loan, will be a 360-degree camera lens that can get shots of the crowd in all directions, in real time, during the peak of the parade.
There will be some grid work involved (easy because the crowd-depth won’t be that “deep”) and difficult because of the snake-like shape of the parade route (as opposed to counting people who are contained within a rectangular shaped space). Another factor, say THE PLANET’s experts, that will make this number accurate to within a couple hundred is the fact that while the parade route is spread out, the people at any given point will stand or sit close to one another, giving what all good estimators want: density.
You Told Us Not to Attend, So Naturally, We’re Attending!
This isn’t a hoax. We will be there, with out team. Count Planet, himself, won’t be involved in the numerology. We shall be, uh, having fun. We shall also be openly in disguise. Ah, but we’ve said too much already about our fiendish plan to put the parade “down for the Count.” We shall report the number, whether it’s 125,000, 25,000, or 25.
MEANWHILE, OUR REVIEWERS WILL BE HOT ON THE TRAIL OF SHAKESPEARE AND CO.’S “AS YOU LIKE IT,” AND THE BERKSHIRE THEATER FESTIVAL’S “MOONCHILDREN” … THAT AND MORE, COMING YOUR WAY ON THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.