NEXT BYP ‘NETWORKING SOCIAL’ TO BE HELD AT A … DRUM ROLL PLEASE … LIQUOR STORE!!!!!!! … RETURNING IN KIND WITH JOE D. ON PEDA COVERAGE … WANNA BE A TALK SHOW HOST? or WALK IN THOSE SHOES FIRST
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, FEB. 10, 2012) — Irony, primarily a literary term, also enjoys many uses in real life. Irony typically has a caustic aspect to it, ranging from mild to strong. We would define it as the use of language to describe a situation contrary to appearance and to what one might expect, often with a humorous effect.
Given this definition, consider if you will — as Twilight Zone writer and host Rod Serling would say — the latest e-mail blast advertising an upcoming “networking social” by Berkshire Young Professionals. BYP, as most readers knows, is an official program of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, a matter of fact that could prove to be of some inconvenience should the Nilan-Moore Case ever come to trial.
The Chamber, BYPers Might be Legal targets, Barristers Say
Lawyers we talked to say its possible though by no means certain that the Chamber as well as certain members of BYP (BEEPERS) who attended the Dec. 8 “networking social” might be what the courts call “persons of interest.” No wonder the BEEPERS all of a sudden have clammed up.
Readers will also recall how just a mere few days ago THE PLANET described a rather bizarre, then truncated, then pure-smoke telephone inquiry we placed with BYP.
To recap, we called the Chamber asking to speak with its PR flack, the lovely and talented Ashley Sulock. We wanted to ask Ms. Sulock two things: Did she attend the BYP “networking social” on Dec. 8, 2011, at Allium’s Restaurant in Great Barrington. Also, as spokesperson for the Chamber, did she have comment on the BYP gathering that night? We wondered.
No, she hurriedly told us, she was not in attendance that night. We didn’t get a chance to ask another question. All of a sudden, she put us on hold. Next things we knew, the Chamber’s Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler, Mike “Super” Supranowicz, was on the horn. We went from eye candy to a sight to induce sore eyes, from the Face that Launched 1,000 Ships to I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (sans Michael Landon). They pulled off the change so swiftly that THE PLANET suffered a figurative wrenched back. During our phone chat, Super knew nothing, of course, about no drinking or nuttion’ else.
Do You Think, Given the Recent Events, the BEEPERS Could Have Selected a More Appropriate Site for Their Next ‘Networking Social’?
December 8: Meredith Nilan attended the gathering that night along with 59 other BYP members or guests. Later that night, of course, Ms. Nilan, according to the Pittsfield Police Department, drove a vehicle on or near the vicinity of Winesap Road and East Street that swerved, crossed lanes, and struck pedestrian Peter Moore.
Moore was walking/running his beloved dog, Toby. He suffered near-fatal injuries. Nilan’s subsequent behavior that night and after led the police to fine criminal complaints against her. We trust you are familiar with what happened next, what many suspect was “The Fix.”
Now for the irony, which, given the severe and near-fatal injuries suffered by Peter Moore, we shall call decidedly un-delicious. Tragic irony? Yes, that’s a better term, given that the Greeks originally used irony to describe what happens to a character in a tragedy “by which the full significance of [the] character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character” (Mac Online Dictionary).
Next BEEPER ‘Social” to be Held at a … Liquor Store!!!!!
According to the e-mail blast the BEEPERS sent out yesterday (Thursday, Feb. 9), the next BYP “networking social” will be held 5 to 7 p.m., March 15 at (drum roll, please) Kelly’s Package Store, 653 Main St., Dalton. We kid you not, to paraphrase Capt. Queeg in The Caine Mutiny.
Given the circumstances of the Nilan-Moore Case and the many questions that have been raised about the amount of drinking typically done at BYP socials, particularly by the 20-somethings of the group, THE PLANET could not make something as insensitively inventive and as callously inappropriate.
“Tour the recently expanded and remodeled story and enjoy samples from Kelly’s new Gourmet Market,” the BEEPER promo gushes. “Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and tastings will be provided. … To register, call 413-499-4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.” We wonder: Will the “tastings” include an all-you-can-drink bar?
Why do we have the sneaking suspicion that alcohol will NOT be served that night or, if it is, portions shall be stingy enough to please Scrooge McDuck?
Time for some Chamber/BEEPER Leadership
BYP isn’t Junior Achievement. These are young professionals, already making their way in the wicked working world. They need to step up to the plate. THE PLANET calls upon the BEEPER Steering Committee to change the venue of the March meeting. Think of Peter Moore and his family. Think of their suffering, endured at the hands of one of your own. Moreover, why not make an appearance at THE REAL PITTSFIELD BENEFIT FOR PETER MOORE, set for 12:30 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 26 at Chamelon‘s, 1350 East St., Pittsfield? That would go a long, long way to making good, showing moral leadership, and getting THE PLANET off your back.
THE PLANET doesn’t blame Kelly’s Package Store, but we will call the Chamber and BYP on the carpet. There were 60 BYP members at Allium’s on Dec. 8, and not one that we contacted is willing to talk about what they observed that evening with respect to Ms. Nilan’s behavior that night, save one. Alf Barbalunga, probation chief for the south county courts and Pittsfield School Board chairman, was man enough to speak, on the record. He said (we begin quote Barbalunga’s e-mail here, exactly as received:
That’s been it for comment on the record.
“The byp event seemed pretty on par with my past experiences regarding alcohol use,” Alf writes. We have been told by numerous people who have been to these BYP “networking socials” that the drinking by the 30 and under membership contingent would blow the top off of a typical Breathalyzer.
That would be one way to interpret personal testimony that the drinking that night was “on par” for such an occasion. Also, not to parse Alf’s words too finely, but he says he has “never personally witnessed any real heavy alcohol consumption at these events,” and we take him at his word, since we have found him to be a credible source in the past.
But what exactly does “real heavy alcohol consumption” imply? Also, just because one person does not witness something, we cannot logically conclude that the said something does not, or did not, occur. Moreover, what constitutes “real heavy alcohol consumption”? My Aunt Fanny would get tipsy sniffing the cork from Uncle Joe‘s grappa bottle. For her, “real heavy use” might be a swig of cooking sherry. On the other hand, I’ve known boozers who would call a dozen Guinness pints “getting warmed up.”
Brad Felix and Jackie Dolan: Show Some Leadership or Step Down
Getting back to the Chamber-BYP e-mail blast. The message lists in royal blue “The BYP Steering Committee.” After Brad Felix and Jackie Dolan as chair and vice chair, 19 members are listed as part of the committee. The names are presented in alphabetical order (how nice … no one’s feelings can be hurt that way). Would you care to guess who’s Jane Doe we find sandwiched between Jenine Moro and Bethany Pellitier? None other than the party girl herself, Meredith Nilan.
Oh, the irony! Oh, the humanity! The message does not say if Nilan will be attending the event at Kelly’s or how she might transport herself to and from should she decide for to begin a long night out.
On behalf of the Moores, the citizens of Pittsfield, and every person who believes in doing the right thing, THE PLANET urges the BEEPER Steering Committee leadership, Felix and Dolan, to act as leaders. This is your defining moment: Step up to the plate. Issue a statement on the case. Tell us, at least, that you are sorry for what one of your members did, since, apparently, that member hasn’t and won’t issue an apology herself. Felix and Dolan, your statement would go a long way in helping a family recover from the emotional toll the physical damage has caused.
Felix and Dolan: If you do NOT step up the the plate, be branded, then, as moral cowards. Let all of Berkshire County know you as that. In which case, at least have the professional self-respect to step down from the leadership role that clearly is too big for you to fill.
BEEPER Membership: A Bevy of Bonuses
The e-mail newsletter later touts the BYP:
“Renew or Get Your BYP Membership Card Today! BYP Membership Cardholders (don’t you love the capital “C” … gosh, these are Important People, aren’t they?) receive the following benefits:
* FREE access to our monthly Networking Socials (Non-members pay $5 for entrance.)
* FREE or reduced costs to BYP Special Events [note the capital "S" capital "E"]
* Discounts at participating local businesses.
* FREE access to a cheap lawyer if you are involved in a hit-and-run case following a BYP Networking Social.”
OK, THE PLANET admits: We added that last benefit. It’s food for thought, anyway.
We later learn that another benefit is “1 hour free coaching for career advancement, including resume critique, interview coaching, and career coaching.” (PLANET speaking now) Members get such career coaching as, “Make sure you have a father who’s a GOB with a lot of political pull in the courts in case you get in trouble with the law.”
Forecast for PEDA: Partly Cloudy with Rain Clouds Moving In, but Why Is THE PLANET the Only Media Outlet with the Credibility to Say So?
THE PLANET read with interest the coverage in iBerkshires of the Wednesday PEDA meeting, in which the PEDA executive board voted to OK land acquisition to create a walking trail around Silver Lake. The story, written by Joe Durwin, quotes PEDA executive director Corydon Thurston: “The lake is already looking beautiful, and once the shoreline is remediated, it really will be a lovely recreational asset.”
Durwin thought enough of us to offer his professional critique of our PEDA coverage. We can only, therefore, turn the other cheek and reply kindly, in kind.
Truly? A reporter takes a quote like this and doesn’t pursue the obvious follow-up? Read on, O, our brothers and sisters.
We agree with Corydon. The lake IS looking better than ever. However, what about what’s IN the lake? What about a five-foot-deep layer of the nastiest industrial toxins deposited there for 100 years, and still sitting there, by General Electric Co.? Does Corydon think those pollutants should be covered up with a layer of sand and left there to continue to pollute the Housatonic River? We don’t know, because, presumably, Durwin didn’t ask the hardball question. Apparently, he took, spoon fed, the words at face value.
We wonder if Joe D. is bucking for a full-time gig at the Boring Broadsheet, because with coverage like that, he’d fit right in. Durwin sometimes engages THE PLANET on this site, and has recently chided us for our fictive reportage and questioned our journalistic pedigree (which, as most of you know, would make Horace Greeley proud, beginning with a Master’s Degree at the world’s most prestigious journalism school, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University).
Reporters and Journalists Make their own Leeway
Durwin just yesterday lamented the fact that he does not enjoy the leeway in coverage that THE PLANET enjoys. We take that as his complaint that his bosses won’t let him write the story but have imposed pre-existing parameters on what you can and can’t say. Knowing Tammy Daniels as we do, we find it difficult to reconcile Durwin’s complaints about Daniels editorial integrity, which we rank as among the best. Daniels is the editorial director at iBerkshires.
Is Joe’s statement on the comments section of THE PLANET yesterday his way of saying that, unlike us, who remain independent, unbought and unbossed, he toils in dependence, being bought and bossed? That’s his excuse, we guess, for not covering the story behind the news of a subject like PEDA, Silver Lake, and the self-serving comments of Corydon. We would advise Joe, in a fatherly way, to take a stand.
Tell your bosses you want to cover the Story, not the sanitized version of the story — that is, if the situation is as you say. We would welcome clarification from Daniels, if she feels that Durwin has misrepresented her management style. In short, if that is what is happening, JD needs to make his own leeway. His bosses will love it, because that will drive leadership … and readership.
One can make the case that Durwin’s PEDA coverage is “objective,” but that’s a cop out. THE PLANET, who has been a student of this for more than a generation, suggests that when cyber-journalism assumes the meekest, most vanilla, most timid, most tame, and most white bread coverage protocols of its older brother in ink-stained print, it loses its greatest advantage, one we employ every day at this address. We speak of the need to not just report what happens but why it happens and what it means. In short, we see the need for journalists to become experts in the topics they coverage, and in the people they cover, so they can report the TRUTH of the story.
Mayor Dan Bianchi’s First True Test?
Giving credit where credit is due, we find this interesting tidbit in Durwin’s piece, that “Waterstone Development, the firm behind a controversial new shopping center plan at the PEDA site, is expected to have its plans completed by late March for presentation to the city, at which time it can begin to undergo the permitting process.”
Leaving aside the turgid prose — particularly ”at which time it can begin to undergo the permitting process” (why not simply write, “when it can begin seeking the required permits”?) — this at least puts a timetable around what could be Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s first true test. Will Bianchi get behind or oppose retail shopping (and its low-wage service jobs) as the best use the city can find for the PEDA site? If he opposes, how vigorously will he do so?
We also learn from Durwin’s piece that Corydon will be making a presentation at the Feb. 14 city council meeting. Don’t be surprised if there’s a PLANET sighting that night.
First Walk a Mile in His Guccis …
Finally, a quick note on my good friend Bill Sturgeon, yackmeister and host of the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily show on WBRK AM-1340.
We sat in the host’s chair during morning drive at WBRK, doing our talk show, The Dan Valenti Show, for 14 years. In short, we have walked in those moccasins. No matter what you do, you won’t please everybody and you will piss off lots. So you might as well do it your way.
Sturgeon does three hours a day, an ambitious task to say the least in the small market such as Pittsfield. He runs the only show with regular caller participation. Bill Sturgeon and his show remain an asset for We the People. The People need his show, and we hope he continues on the air at our radio home, WBRK.
UNDER THE QUICK, FAINT KISSES OF THE SEA, WE TREMBLE AND SPARKLE WITH ECSTASY AT THE UPCOMING WEEKEND …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.