PLANET VALENTI Arts and Commentary

When South County developer Richard Stanley proposed a movie complex for the Kresge Building in downtown Pittsfield, THE PLANET was all for it, providing it was a capitalistic venture. As details emerged, however, it became clear that the city of Pittsfield and Stanley had in mind the dreaded quasi, public-private crossbreed.

PRETTY LIGHTS, POOR FILMS: The Beacon, lit up here for a photo op, has failed to deliver the quality programming officials promised.

We can scarce recall such a venture that didn’t punish the “public,” i.e., the taxpaying public. When the deal works out, the private sector reaps virtually all the benefits. When it doesn’t, guess who gets stuck bailing out the sinking boat?

Films for Those with the IQs of Lima Beans

A year after its opening, the jury is still out as to whether Beacon Cinema in downtown Pittsfield will last the long haul.  Too many downtown businesses have failed in the last year, with at least three others on the brink of folding, for anyone to say. With a track record of one year, however, we can state that Stanley, the businessman, has gone back on his promise to the community that the Beacon would be a kind of Triplex North — that is, it would show a steady lineup of quality films of artistic merit that would appeal to serious viewers of cinema, what I call the “Kubrick Klatsch.”

The KK derives its name from direcor Stanley Kubrick, whose films never ceased to challenge audiences and push the Art of Film ever forward.

Instead of such “Little Cinema” or “Images” type programming, Stanley the pragmatist has resorted to “DDD Programming,” for Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest. The Beacon revealed its colors from the literal get-go when it scrapped its promises and premiered with one of the wretched Twilight films. Since then, it’s been a sell-out to the lowest common denominators of vacuous pop culture — films fit for people with IQs of lima beans and all the artistic curiosity of a man vomiting. DDD, apparently, is what sells.

Understandable Flick Failure, but Flick Failure Nonetheless.

THE PLANET predicted this would happen. When Stanley pledged a mix of artistic and commercials programming, we said there weren’t a lot of Stanley Kubricks out there. We questioned whether The Beacon could provide this programming and remain in business. We were right.

When we do get a Kubrick-worthy director such as Terrence Malik, and he gives us a film as phenomenal as Tree of Life, we must see it in Great Barrington. Pittsfield isn’t a Tree of Life crowd, which is to say, Stanley’s pop programming for the Beacon is as understandable as it is, sadly, necessary. His accommodation to the low-brow confirms what those in the know “know” about Pittsfield: It’s a poor, blue-collar town, with little industry and even less hope.

Hope? Who’s He? That’s What the GOBs Have Done to the Beautiful City

Why should The Little Guy have hope? GE left the air, ground, and water polluted and got away relatively untouched. Even now, politicians are afraid of reopening the Consent Decree and going after GE in the courts. Taxes are going up almost 5 percent. The tax base shrinks at a rate of wool in water. Pittsfield’s daily newspaper is owned by a bankrupt company based in Denver, with local management that pushes the agenda of the Good Old Boys. Pittsfield’s politicians tend toward the No Show Speranzo type, characterless louts who fill their porcine craws with the public’s gravy.

That’s what the GOB’s have done to the city. It took 30 years, a generation, to run it down, but the way they raped the public finally has reached critical mass. Unless there is a radical shift in how politics are done in the city, starting with the budget, we can pronounce: “It’s Over.”

With a municipal election coming up, we can at least offer the flicker of hope contained in that previous sentence, found in the word “Unless.”

Forget Blame; It’s Time to Listen to the Doctor

THE PLANET doesn’t blame Stanley. As a developer, he tries not to use his own resources while spreading the risk to others. He found city and state politicians only too eager to offer John and Jane Public as his venture capitalists. As a businessman, Stanley’s doing DDD programming because he feels it’s his only option.

THE PLANET cannot blame the mayor. We understand, though didn’t agree with, Mayor Jimmy Ruberto’s push for culture and arts as the low-hanging fruit. The year-round audience for pricey, upscale restaurants, lodging, and entertainment isn’t in Pittsfield, but with failure to revive the city economically, the Ruberto Administration made a desperate gamble on creating a recreation-and-resort economy from whole cloth. The gamble failed.

Stanley’s apparent need to go back on his word, as evidenced in the sell-out nature of the Beacon’s moribund programming, is symptomatic of the underlying cause of ALL of these ills: A lack of high-paying, good-benefit jobs and the lack of an educated workforce. It leaves Pittsfield in a snake-eating-its-tail situation. Without the workforce, companies won’t come here. Without the companies, the workforce won’t develop. Add to this the thoroughly corrupt nature of “No Show” local and state politics, and one sees bee keeping as perhaps the only viable option.

THE PLANET has many times outlines solutions to affect positive change for Pittsfield. These have come in the areas of economics, education, politics, culture, and more. Our critics deliberately ignore THE PLANET’s messages and attack the messenger. We are the doctor, who driven by compassion and concern — love, even — continuing to give the patient honest advice. We find the patient in critical condition. Only when the patient begins to take our prescribed medicine can there be a reasonable basis of hope for recovery.






  1. beezer
    July 11, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Hear you can see better flicks in a squad car. Hear about the car window smashing throughout the city yesterday Dan? Guess a nice Lexis with

  2. beezer
    July 11, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    ..out of town license plates had its windows smashed in on North Street. Anyway, that’s what a business owner told me.

  3. beezer
    July 11, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    ..and they were coming out of the BEACON.

  4. Still wondering
    July 11, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    More mayhem on North Street? What a shock…not.

  5. Joeblow
    July 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Wake up Pittsfield and stop voting for corrupt liberal Democrats! They have had power for how long? What exactly have they done to better this area?

  6. beezer
    July 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    they also got Vallones (one of the nicest people on the planet)

  7. Kevin
    July 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Yeah I heard too about the vandalism. Lots of glass fractured. The Lexi has NY plates (I think), last time they come downtown probably. What a shame, where are the police? Why no foot patrols. We are relatively new to Pittsfield and have never lived in a city with less of police presence in it’s downtown

  8. beezer
    July 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    The news of vandalism was heard first on the Planet. That the point! Last week it was dumpster fires, we are becoming the new, Detroit.

    • danvalenti
      July 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

      Yes. The members of our Elite Secret Squadron broke this story, which the Boring Broadsheet completely missed. We have made some calls and are trying to get more info, which we shall report tomorrow.

  9. jon dough
    July 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm #


    You purport to stand up for the little guy and then make comments like this “His accommodation to the low-brow confirms what those in the know “know” about Pittsfield: It’s a poor, blue-collar town, with little industry and even less hope.”

    You implication is that blue collar equates to low brow. You’re showing your true stripes.

    The fact is, is that he show what sells, and the fact that pop culture type movies are appealing doesn’t make us all morons.

    I saw Secretariat there and the King’s Speach along with True Grit and Machete and enjoyed them all. Sorry they don’t meet you high intellectual standards, but at least I’m watching them with “real” blue collar people.

    It’s probably best you watch you films in Great Barrington.

    • danvalenti
      July 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

      I DO stand for the little guy.
      Thanks for the input.

  10. Joeblow
    July 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    I was thinking the same thing.

  11. Hearse Driver
    July 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    In todays economy with businesses that are struggling to stay open if the Beacon needs to keep showing the “crap” from hollywood (as a local talk show host called it) then dont critisize the business owner for doing what he needs to do to keep the doors open. I enjoy going to the beacon. i have been there about 5 times and have seen movies both in 3d and regular films. The beacon is at max less than 10 minutes from my house. its better to see a movie at the beacon than go to the teenie bopper filled berkshire mall. if you or your followers dont like what the beacon is or isnt showing then dont go. dont support it. its bad enough that the residents of pittsfield talk enough trash and bad mouth the people here who are trying to make things better. if you dont agree with them thats fine. i would advise you to put your money where your mouth is and run for office seeing how you have the answers to all of the problems under the sun.. and second please stay in south county. we dont want or need your negative vibes. thanks

    • danvalenti
      July 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

      If you read what we write more carefully, you’ll see that we made the same point! We did not criticize the business owner for showing commercial dross. We did, however, have an issue with the promises that were made before it opened, when the vested interests were begging for your tax dollars.

      • hearse driver
        July 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm #


        The comment earlier about the beacon showing the hollywood films was not dis agreeing with you on that point. i was just making a point against what was said in your favorate daily paper. however i do dis agree with the fact that if they made promises and had to change the game plan to make their business successful. thats ok with me. if it keeps the doors open and they show movies that i want to see then i will go there and see them. simple as that.

  12. Concern
    July 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    Beacon is a private business and knows how ( I hope ) to make it go. To make it go you need to make a profit. That means giving the public movies that will bring people there. So let them run their business and bring people to downtown Pittsfield

    • danvalenti
      July 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

      We agree.

  13. Dusty
    July 12, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    It is a private business but it was created with almost all public monies…yours and mine. Stanley took very little risk but will reap any and all rewards….not many folk get this kind of business opportunity handed to them on a silver plate

  14. arpaint
    July 12, 2011 at 5:51 am #

    Vandalism on North St what can we expect when half the street is in darkness and I have not seen any more police on the street than before. I see Dan Bianchi sing has been taken down.

  15. Quetza Coat All
    July 12, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    Yes the lack of police presence and foot patrols on North street will guarantee the mayhem for the rest of the summer, and we want tourists and visitors? cmon get serious, ruberto and city council

  16. beezer
    July 12, 2011 at 10:23 am #


  17. Mike
    July 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    We do need foot patrol, get the police out of their cars and on their feet. Good cops are marred by the sleeping beauties in their squad cards passed out in the back of Crosby. Good luck getting someone to change that though…

  18. just saying
    July 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    So I hear that the council was to vote on Pittsfield becoming some “cultural” whatnot tonight.
    Cultural, really? I guess that would be a culture of corruption, drugs, gang members and people with no job opps.

    • danvalenti
      July 13, 2011 at 6:53 am #

      Yes, especially the downtown hit with another round of smashed windows and other mayhem.
      No police foot patrols, though. It would spoil the culture.