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PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! THE DEFINITIVE 4TH PARADE HEAD COUNT, plus … THE COLONIALS’ GREAT ADVERT FOR BASEBALL, WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE FIREWORKS, AND JOSH CUTLER REVIEWS JAMES TAYLOR

By DAN VALENTI

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, JULY 5, 2011) — Attendance, tremendous ball game, chintzy fireworks, and another JT review: These four items occupy our time this delightful morning deep in haven’s hinterland, otherwise known as The Berkshires.

ATTENDANCE — A serendipitous confluence of events enabled us to finally provide the most accurate number for a Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade ever recorded. For years, we’ve been given wildly fictitious and inflated numbers, ranging between 100,000 and 125,000 attendance. Not close, and we all knew it. Those numbers go unchallenged … until now.

The lucky chain of events included visitors from Texas, including a professor of demographics, whose specialty falls in an exotic category of sociology called Statistical Analysis of Crowd Density (SACD). The SACD process, which we outlined in a previous post, combines computer software, grid-map analysis, aerial photography, and live sampling to determine the number of people at an event such as the parade. It’s a specialized process much in demand for any market that draws large numbers of uncounted people (for example, political rallies).

Incidentally, THE PLANET kept our word. We attended the parade incognito, and no one knew who we were, not even members of the parade committee — even though we walked right by them and talked to a couple of them! Houdini would have been proud. THE PLANET pretty much did the parade route to watch Prof. X and his assistants put StatTrack(r) to work.

And now the number you have all been waiting for: According to the analysis, 34,270 attended the parade and the parade route. The figure, which excludes those in the parade and those who worked the parade, is about 1/3 the “official” estimate. Thus, THE PLANET has proven what an engineer friend told us 10 years ago: “There’s no way they can have that many people (100,000). The crowds would have to be 15 deep all along the route.”

Parades are fun, certainly, but with 1/3 the people as advertised, they aren’t worth $90,000, particularly when most of the big attractions are paid, mercenary talent imported for the occasion, with nothing “hometown” about them.

Now that the parade is over, the Marchetti for Mayor bandwagon can get rolling!

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TREMENDOUS BALL GAME — The 1-0 game at Beloved Wahconah Park is THE PLANET’s personal favorite type contest: a low-scoring affair in which pitching and defense dominate. Johnyy Welch’s home run in the second provided all the scoring.

In a game like this, every pitch assumes an importance, every play a magnitude that plays just don’t have in a blowout. Baseball becomes chess. Think about it: In a 1-0 game, literally every batter that comes up for the training team represents the tying run. That’s a lot of pressure on the pitcher, and Pat Moran (eight innings shut out ball) and closer Matt Lyons answered the call. Both were “money” in clutch situations.

The game, played before 4,009 people at BWP, advertised the great brand of ball featured in the Can-Am League. The crisply played game will bring many people back into the stands, and it may save the future of the team in Pittsfield.

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FIREWORKS FIZZLE — THE PLANET received a ton of complaints about the alleged fireworks show after the game. The fireworks began and never got going. After about five minutes, the relatively tame first volleys began to get more interesting. About five minutes more, however, and they stopped. Just like that. No Grand Finale. No majestic bursts leading up to the Grand Finale. Nothing.

The puzzled crowd hung around for a couple minutes with nothing happening. Finally, the PA announcer thanked the fans, and we found out: It was over, just like that. A lot of people were disappointed and angered.

Later, we heard rumors but haven’t confirmed that the fireworks display had to be halted because of an injury that occurred to a member of the fireworks team. We heard that a a MediVac helicopter had been summoned but neither saw or heard one arrive.

In any case, the Colonials’ goofed in not making an announcement. Clearly, what we saw as the fireworks display COULDN’T have been the fireworks display intended. No one, not even the city of Pittsfield, could be that chintzy. In fact, the city typically does a good job with this.

Anyone with definitive information on what happened should contact THE PLANET at this website or at danvalenti@verizon.net.

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SWEET BABY JAMES — Finally, here’s Josh Cutler’s review of the final of four James Taylor concerts this weekend at Tanglewood:

By JOSH CUTLER

PLANET VALENTI Arts

(LENOX, Mass., Monday, July 4th, 2011) — 

“Welcome to Tanglewood, the finest place in the world!”

To the 18,000 fans who packed the lawn and shed of the Tanglewood Music Center, these words from James Taylor couldn’t have been truer on a pristine July 4th evening in the Berkshires.

Taylor, a Washington resident, concluded his series of four concerts at Tanglewood Monday evening with his second performance featuring his full band, as well as a pair of special guests, country music superstars and husband-and-wife tandem, Vince Gill and Amy Grant.

Taylor and his band took the stage to a standing ovation at 7:15 pm, as the opening tones of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” traveled through the Koussevitzky Music Shed. 

While introducing his old hit “Something in the Way She Moves,” Taylor joked about the influence that his work had on the members of the Beatles, who signed him to his first recording contract in 1968: “Paul (McCartney) liked it enough to sign me to Apple Records, and George (Harrison) liked it so much that he went home and wrote it.”

Taylor spent much of the first half playing old standbys and crowd pleasers for his diehard fans, many of whom view Tanglewood as the “Holy Grail” of Taylor concerts). These songs included the upbeat “Your Smiling Face,” “Country Road,” “Carolina in My Mind,” and “Up on the Roof,” originally penned by Gerry Goffin and Carole King for The Drifters.  Taylor was in fine voice for most of the evening, though at times the wear and tear of a lengthy spring tour showed itself when he reached for high notes.

Just prior to intermission, Taylor called out Gill and Grant for what he deemed a “sneak peak” at what was to come in the second half of the show.  Taylor, Gill, and Taylor’s band backed Grant for her 1994 hit, “House of Love”.

Having a longtime reputation of being accessible and cordial with fans, Taylor spent the 20-minute intermission posing for pictures and autographing tickets, programs, and assorted memorabilia for the legions of fans gathered at the stage trying to get a brief glimpse of the 63-year-old troubadour.

Taylor returned for the second half with a pair of cuts off of his 1991 “New Moon Shine” album, “Copperline” and “Gotta Stop Thinkin’ Bout That,” as well as his 1972 ballad “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” featuring Walt Fowler’s subtle but poignant trumpet solo.

Taylor then called Gill and Grant back out, as they were given the stage to perform some of the songs which made them respected musicians in the Nashville community.  Gill kicked off their set with a lilting version of “My Pretty Little Adriana,” featuring his soft but appropriate guitar leads as the song faded out.

Gill then introduced “Whenever You Come Around” as a tribute to Grant, his wife of 11 years.  Gill said that the inspiration for the song came from the first time he met Grant: “I came away thinking she was the nicest person I had ever met it my life, but I was really taken with the beauty of her smile”

Grant then followed with her 1991 track “Baby Baby,” which she explained she is more appreciative of its’ success today having to support a 21-year-old daughter: “I’m glad this song was a hit, because it bought her her first three books in her junior year of college.”

Taylor then took over for the rest of the evening, playing some of his most beloved hits, including “Sweet Baby James,” “Mexico,” and “Fire and Rain,” which he explained the roots of had a deep genesis to the Berkshires: “I wrote this about two miles in that direction (points towards Stockbridge) at Austen Riggs (Psychiatric Hospital).”

Taylor’s encores, which also featured Grant and Gill backing him up on vocals, included the Holland-Dozier-Holland rocker “How Sweet it Is,” “Shower the People” (featuring longtime backup singer Arnold McCuller), and “You Can Close Your Eyes,” for which Taylor was accompanied only by his backup vocalists and his guitar.

Taylor was backed by his longtime group of legendary session musicians, including Fowler (Trumpet), Michael Landau (electric guitars), Jimmy Johnson (bass), Larry Goldings (piano), Chad Wackerman (drums), Luis Conte (percussion), Andrea Zonn (fiddle and vocals), as well as backup vocalists McCuller, David Lasley, Kate Markowitz, and Kim Taylor.

Following the concert, a spectacular fireworks display over Stockbridge Bowl commemorated the Fourth of July holiday.

Set 1:

Everyday

Something in the Way She Moves

Walking Man

Smiling Face

Line ‘Em Up

Country Road

Carolina in My Mind

My Traveling Star

Up On The Roof

House of Love (Grant)

Set 2:

Copperline

Gotta Stop Thinkin’ Bout That

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight

My Pretty Little Adriana (Gill)

Better Than a Hallelujah (Grant)

Whenever You Come Around (Gill)

Baby Baby (Grant)

Sweet Baby James

Fire and Rain

Mexico

Shed a Little Light

How Sweet it is

Shower the People

You Can Close Your Eyes

Start Time: 7:15 PM

End Time: 10:00 PM

Total Run Time: 2 Hours, 45 Minutes

26 Responses to “PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! THE DEFINITIVE 4TH PARADE HEAD COUNT, plus … THE COLONIALS’ GREAT ADVERT FOR BASEBALL, WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE FIREWORKS, AND JOSH CUTLER REVIEWS JAMES TAYLOR”

  1. dave
    July 5, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    Don’t know about ballpark fireworks but you should have seen the fireworks “somewhere’ on newell st. IT WAS AWESOME!!!

  2. Still wondering
    July 5, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Dan, a medical helicopter did arrive in the Pittsfield skies last night, right around the time of the rumored injury. The copter flew right over my house.

  3. danvalenti
    July 5, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    @DAVE
    What happened on Newell Street?
    @ SW
    Yes. It left from Reid Middle School. The team has issued a statement saying the truncated fireworks was due to an electrical problem. According to the Colonials, no one was hurt in connection with the fireworks. Later, I heard a report of a an accident on the road at that time.
    Appreciate the info, fellas.

    • dave
      July 5, 2011 at 11:00 am #

      just a little home show

    • Dusty
      July 5, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

      I heard a rumor that someone associated with the fireworks got burned. Given the history of city hall which either lies or says nothing, I tend to give rumors more credibility. Ruberto would squash any story that might reflect poorly on him.

      too bad though. The secret is out. Jimmy has not been good for the regular people of Pittsfield.

  4. beezer
    July 5, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Dan, does Kate M. of Barrington Stage get a free apartment along with her perks as Director of B S. Also, the police were summoned down at the VFW a couple of weeks ago, something to do with the D J causing irrational commotion due to his selection of music. The manager at the VFW Ralph Selmolino said that. Why no story from the planet?

    • danvalenti
      July 5, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      BEEZ
      For the record, Kate M. heads the Berkshire Theater Festival and Colonial Theater. The head of Barrington Stage is Julie Boyd. As for your comments, I don’t know her living arrangements. No story from The Planet because we heard nothing about this. Simple as that. Thanks for the comments.

  5. beezer
    July 5, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    That may have been over crowding and an admonishment from the beverage commitee. Also, believe I may have butchered the esteemed managers name.

  6. Andy
    July 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    The firework company and the team both said nobody was injured. The company said the show came to a halt because of an electrical problem and they are making up for it next week.

    http://www.iberkshires.com/story/38927/Electrical-Glitch-Fizzles-Pittsfield-Fireworks.html?source=top_stories

  7. beezer
    July 5, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    No make ups please, the police don’t need them, the neighborhoods don’t need them, and the drunk skunks don’t need another night to possibly blow there heads or somebody elses off.

  8. Homer
    July 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    We were at the parade and the ballgame. Went with ourfamily of four, don’t know about the number but have to agree with the total here, it’s definitely way under 50,000. As for the game, its our second time there the last two home ganes and both were amazing the colonials winning tight ones, we will be there thursday. agree with fireworks, though. A huge dud. Can’t believe they didn’t say anything about a problem. Taht forsted me. thats the part of the team that i can’t stand

  9. Joeblow
    July 5, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    Why the hard-on for the parade? Who cares how many people where there as long as people enjoy it. All of the money comes from donations right? I’m not a parade person but know a lot of people who are. Your acting like a old curmudgeon….jeesh!

    • danvalenti
      July 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

      The point with the attendance figure was to finally put an accurate number to the event. The 100,000 to 125,000 figure was pure fiction. We did it, with the kind help of experts who donated their services, in the name of accuracy in reporting.

  10. jon dough
    July 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    Really…what do you have against the parade? If your figures are correct it equals about $2.62 per person which I would say is a pretty good deal.

    I happily put a $20 bill in the bucket as it was was passed.

    You rank on a parade that entertains the little guy you purport to look out for while attending plays and concerts and writing reviews about stuff the average guy can barely afford.

    That makes you a phony bastard.

    • danvalenti
      July 5, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

      So you happily threw away $20? Good for you!
      You got your money’s worth.

    • Jake
      July 6, 2011 at 4:17 am #

      How much do you think Dan donated?

  11. Jeffrey Turner
    July 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    34,000 probably still beats the season attendance for the Colonials at Wahconah.

    • danvalenti
      July 5, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

      Yes, Jeff, as you say, “probably,” … though it isn’t certain!!

  12. Joeblow
    July 6, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    According to the Colonials website,Mr. Valenti works for them as a consultant.

  13. beezer
    July 6, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    Maybe you missed it Dan, as said before we did our own little survey with legitamath scientific equipment and the numbers including all Parade Participants, and this isn’t an official, our count was 47,473. Which isn’t bad.

  14. Quetza Coat All
    July 6, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    For our two cents the parade was fine but someone said it earlier you seen one youve seen them all. As for the blown fireworks, can’t blame the team. Not their fault. What’s the big deal? As for valenti, he’s an acquired taste but love him or hate him gotta admit he serves his role to a T

  15. Quetza Coat All
    July 6, 2011 at 6:40 am #

    Gotta feeling ,also , that this elections going to be close, marchetti and bianchi down to the wire, and valenti will make the difference remember in 2009 (ruberto vs bianchi) there was no Planet website. Advice to marchetti and bianchi: unfair as it is but dans going to determine the outsome. I say this as a Marchetti supporter.

  16. beezer
    July 6, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    I have to laugh at these artsy folks and there uptown upscale followers. You see this all over Berkshire County, whether it be Arts, Sports, or People, NOT ALL, just using there big toys and showing off so called power in jobs of private sector, or the taxpayer dime, or maybe got lucky with an inheritence. Money does not give people the right to step on or judge JUVINILE OUTCASTS. Can’t afford piano recital lessons, be in a play, be an all star on a sports team, hand picked without any talent, because maybe the kid isn’t all that, but mom and dad are loaded, good for them. after all we were a capitalistic country, last we heard. And for the life of me, I have to laugh. I have a family member who has over a billion in property. And can say this because have seen it. Have been offered a great lifestyle, but had to refuse with respect any free request, and never took a dime. and certainly wouldn’t so to advance my position here. I am writing this because I see the late Don Gleason has not to this point, been given any recognition on the Planet. Hopefully doubt it was an oversight. Don did a great service for the Community and outside the District for over fifty years, if a kid didn’t have a piece of equipment or uniform, Don made sure the kid GOT it. How do I know, he didn’t know me from Adam, and got it for my loved ones. Don ran the Little League with RESPECT FOR ALL KIDS as well as the CYC. NO (ONE) WAS SPECIAL, EVERY (ONE) WAS. HE MADE SURE OF THAT. THIS IS WHAT MADE HIM GREAT! ONE MORE SHOUT, IF YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE BETTER BECAUSE OF ANY POWER OR NOTORIETY HE STOPPED YOU IN YOUR TRACKS, ALL YOUTH WERE TRULY EQUAL. THAT IS WHAT IS LACKING IN THIS COMMUNITY AND ALWAYS BE THE PROPLEM, INCLUSION FOR ALL. Don Gleason never forgot that. If you don’t like my rant, take your ball or bat and go home, very sure there is a kid out there that would like to take someones place.

    • danvalenti
      July 6, 2011 at 9:36 am #

      BEEZ
      I had sent condolences to the Gleason family, and out of respect for them, I wanted to hold off on a tribute to Don. I agree with everything you say about him. I was a lad at the CYC who benefitted from Don’s care and guidance. I loved the guy and loved what he represented.

  17. beezer
    July 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Right on Dan! He truly was a beloved man. It will be a nice tribute to the Family when they see the numbers at the wake, also.

  18. Concern
    July 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Don was truly for all the kids all this years. My condolence to his family and all his friends. Also my condolence to his daughter Kate and her beloved Michael Winston who losed his father the same day.