PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

ADD #1 MONDAY MAY 21, 2012

Let’s share a  couple of items left over on the desk:

LENOX BOARD WIMPS OUT ON TOWN MANAGER ASSESSMENT: In the recent assessment of Lenox Town Manager Greg Federspiel, the town board gave him a sister’s kiss. How else can you interpret their less-than-ringing endorsement? The board had three options: “Very Satisfied,” “Satisfied,” and “Dissatisfied.” They chose the fence-sitting middle choice. Board chariman John McNinch, speaking for the members, patted himself and the board on the back, telling Federspiel in so many words that the board has done its part, implying that Federspiel has come up short. That’s fine, but the board, in picking the come-see/come-saw middle option, said nothing.

They didn’t have the strength or courage to vote “Dissatisfied,” which they appear to be, especially on “communication”  and “budget issues” regarding the town manager. This raises the question of political will and integrity, which the current board seems to lack. McNinch told Federspiel: “I feel badly for you,” adding that much of the criticism directed at the manager “is rightfully placed.” Federspiel’s contract is up on June 30. Dum-de-dum-dum, although THE PLANET predicts that the board will prefer the Status Quo to dynamic change. Fair question: How serious is this current leadership lineup

A WAR IN NOWHERE, FOR NOTHING: We must share this item from the Associated Press, which contains as devastating a commentary on the disastrous and phony war in Afghanistan as anything we have come across:

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – Nearly 50 U.S. military veterans at an anti-NATO rally in Chicago threw their service medals into the street on Sunday, an action they said symbolized their rejection of the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Some of the veterans, many wearing military uniform shirts over black anti-war t-shirts, choked back tears as they explained their actions. Others folded an American flag while a bugle played “Taps,” which is typically performed at U.S. military funerals.

“The medals are supposed to be for acts of heroism. I don’t feel like a hero. I don’t feel like I deserve them,” said Zach LaPorte, who served in Iraq in 2005 and 2006.

LaPorte, a 28-year-old mechanical engineer from Milwaukee, said he enlisted in the Army at 19 because he felt there were few other options. At the time, he could not afford to stay in college.

“I witnessed civilian casualties and civilians being arrested in what I consider an illegal occupation of a sovereign nation,” LaPorte said.

He said he was glad the United States had withdrawn its combat troops from Iraq, but said he did not believe the NATO military alliance was going to leave Afghanistan.

On Sunday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen opened the two-day summit of the 26-member alliance saying there would be no hasty exit from Afghanistan.

A veteran from New York who only gave his name as Jerry said: “I don’t want any part of this anymore. I chose human life over war, militarism and imperialism.”

The veterans had hoped to present their medals to a NATO representative. The closest they could get was the fence ringing the McCormick Place convention center about a block from where U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders were meeting. The veterans threw their medals toward the convention center.

MACK MYSTERY CLARIFIED?: THE PLANET received this Letter to the Editor from a writer whose identity we have verified but who preferred that the name not be published.

From what I know, Dorothy [Mack] was fired from the Teen Parent program and her assistant wrote her firing letter and eventually took over her position there.  There were a few board meetings that seemed to not go in her favor, obviously, and she seemed to feel as if her days were numbered.  Instead of having her finish out the school year through June, they axed her in April on a Monday or Tuesday so she couldn’t get a full week of pay, either.  She had ideas for raising funds that were all voted down by the board.  She needed to fill the budget gap and her resources were limited.  No one knows where you are if you can’t tell them where you are and what services you offer.  The board wouldn’t allow for marketing, fundraisers, etc. Anything LOGICAL they vetoed.  She was locked out of the offices, turned over her keys, and was called back a few days later to collect her things.


(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, MAY 21, 2012) — This is poetry Monday, where we in pure self-indugence, shared, bring you one of THE PLANET’s favorite poem. Most will be obscure, though not all, but each has in common the highest use of the English language.

Emily Dickinson said, “I know it’s poetry if it blows the top of my head off when I read it.” Fortunately, she speaks figuratively,  but for those lovers of language such as we, the expression is less a metaphor than for others.

In any case, we bring you this poem by Henry King, composed in 1657. What, you say? A poet from 350 years ago cannot be relevant today? Think again. King here in “Sic Vita” (“Such is Life”) makes a profound statement on the nature of our life here on the third stone from the sun. “It’s over in a flash,” as the Aging Greek God told THE PLANET many a time. And then what?

Each must on his or her own discover the answer to that ultimate question.

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Like to the falling of a star,

Or as the flights of eagles are,

Or like the fresh spring’s gaudy hue,

Or silver drops of morning dew,

Or like a wind that chafes the flood,

Or bubbles which on water stood:

Even such is man, whose borrowed light

Is straight called in and paid to night.

       The wind blows out, the bubble dies.

       The spring entombed in autumn lies;

       The dew dries up, the star is shot.

       The flight is past, and man forgot.



This late spring and summer, PLANET VALENTI will again be bringing you selective coverage of the arts as the explode in The Berkshires. While we haven’t fully planned the course, and noting that those plans serve as a mere guideline subject to change, we aim to bring a sampling of events, and we begin this morning with a review of three bands that performed recently at Chameleon’s, the night club that is heroically serving as a venue for cutting edge musical talent that one would otherwise not find in a city such as Pittsfield.

We recall a different era in the city, back in the 1960s and 70s, when a thriving musical scene actually existed, with bands such as Quarry, Quick Fox, the Sundowners, the Marksmen, and so many others were able to perform locally on a regular basis. For the first two bands just named, Pittsfield became home base for musical success that including the national stage. All the more reason for celebrating and supporting venues such as Chameleon’s.

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Special to PLANET VALENTI Arts

Earlier this month, Animal Kind Rescue in nearby Hudson, N.Y., suffered a devastating fire and put the call out for desperately needed funds. The members of regional band Exovox answered the call and assisted in setting up a benefit performance here in Pittsfield featuring four bands, including themselves.  While attendance did not meet expectations, the small but appreciative audience had a great time.  The hosts, Chameleon’s Nightclub, were gracious and accommodating. Technical note: We have some great photos of the bands by Andy Poncherello, but we can’t publish them because they are in an incompatible format. We will work on that for future posts.

Exovox Showcases Diversity of Talent

Exovox has a sound reminiscent of the “Seattle sound” of the early 1990s and bands such as Screaming Trees, early Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Green River.  While they were missing their drummer on review night (May 18), Exovox performed as a guitar and bass duo showcasing their diversity as musicians.  The band is unassuming in appearance, but they pack an incredible punch on originals such as “Revolution Now” and their latest song, “Bystander Effect.”  Exovox has been making a name for themselves in the Albany, N.Y.,  scene, and if they manage to stay together, it’s only a matter of time before bigger and better things come their way.

Amerikan Citizens Move the Night Along

Pittsfield band Amerikan Citizens took the stage next keeping the evening moving at an efficient pace.  Their short set was consisted of six original songs and a short take on Gil Scott-Heron’s classic “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”  The band has elements of classic bands such as the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and even the Ramones.  They’re fun and different for Pittsfield. Each of the band’s performances has been a slight variation from the last, which keeps things fun and interesting for the audience.

Growlers Swagger in from Boston

Both Jay Williams and Mitch Gladu of the Dead Radio Rebels sat in with Boston’s Swaggerin’ Growlers, who were also missing their drummer.  The Growlers are a fun Celtic punk band who have toured throughout the United States, and it was a treat to have them here in Pittsfield.  The size of the audience didn’t deter their spirit, and they had a wonderful time.  The songs were  familiar to this reviewer, even though they were new to most everyone in Chameleon’s, but that didn’t matter. It felt like we were all at one big party.  They peppered their set with some better-known Rancid covers, giving anyone there who knew the lyrics an opportunity to sing along.  Rumor has it the band will be back in the area soon.

Radio Rebels: Back from the Dead

The Dead Radio Rebels haven’t shared the stage together as a full band since mid-2011.  Having them together again seemed just like old times.  Even after having just two recent rehearsals, the band was in top form.  Colin, Bryan, Eric, Jay and Mitch ripped through a familiar but rocking set that featured many of the songs that have made them local sensations, including “Record Express” and “Townies.”  The band joked their cover of “Riot Squad,” originally by Cock Sparrer, was actually written by the Dead Radio Rebels.  Hopefully this show marked the end of the band’s almost 12-month hiatus, as it would be nice to see them again soon.

While the benefit for Animal Kind could’ve been more successful, some needed funds and awareness was raised for this wonderful organization.  Additional donations of any amount are currently being accepted.  Please send to ANIMAL KIND INC.,PO Box 902, Hudson NY 12534.






  1. Richard
    May 21, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    Ruberto thinks he made a good decision in the Rawson case but every review board found him wrong. It is just one more case when Ruberto thinks he is above the law. The fact is he [Rawson] got a score high enough that he should have been appointed. Ruberto sited privacy laws if that held water then the boards would have not found in favor of Rawson. I think Ruberto should pay the fine not the tax payer he got enough money to take care of it.

    • levitan
      May 21, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      On the other hand, Perhaps Ruberto’s administration made the right decision for the wrong reasons. I agree it’s odd they would pursue a case in spite of the apparent writing on the wall (stated by the defense, mind you), but the question remains, did the city have a strong case for passing him over?

      Gosh, in the private sector, the qualified are passed over as a matter of rule.

  2. Still wondering
    May 21, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    Dan, there is lots and lots of great local and regional music. Bobby Sweet, Sifer, Gaia Roots, Ras Moon, Rev Tor, Fenibo to name a few. And, lots of great venues too. Charlemont Reggae Fest, The Garlic and Arts Fest, Bella Terra, Bucksteep, Falcon Ridge Folk Fest, Infinity Hall.
    I’m glad you had a good time the other night but c’mon, we’ve got it great in our region. Get out there Dude!

    • danvalenti
      May 21, 2012 at 8:57 am #

      I agree with that assessment. What I meant to say: There is plenty of talent but there aren’t enough local venues to keep a band playing out regularly and make some decent money. That was once the case.

      • Dave Bertolozzi
        May 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

        I was at the mall today and in one of the windows was a flyer for a “Tribute to the Lighthouse” concert that will be happening in September featuring people in some of the bands you mention(Quarry, Sundowners, Marksman and many others) to be held as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls
        Club. Just thought you might be interested.

      • Scott
        May 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

        So what do you want an art district or real jobs seems we can’t have both…

  3. Shakes His Head
    May 21, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    The Berkshires lack the medium (400-800 person) sized venue without fixed seats that many acts necessitate for equipment and demand.

    • danvalenti
      May 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      There are plenty of bands who don’t need the 400- to 800-person venues but half to a quarter of that size hall. I don’t pretend to understand the dynamics of why the market doesn’t respond to the demand (or is it “not enough demand” to justify the market). Too many good bands, when they are lucky enough to find paying gigs, play to near-empty houses. Is it that there’s not an audience, or is it that there aren’t the venues? Or something else? Would appreciate hearing from local musicians on this.

      • Joe blow
        May 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

        I have a friend in the Bay Area Ca. She is a booker/promoter and the same is happening out there. Live music is dying all over the U.S.

        • danvalenti
          May 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

          That’s a “Sad Song” indeed (song title from one of Syracuse’s Lou Reed’s best).

        • Andy
          May 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

          Bands on tour say this ALL THE TIME. Unless there is some history on their side (and even sometimes with history it doesn’t matter), they will most likely lose a ton of money trying to tour and play live. It’s really quite sad.

      • stringer
        May 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

        Disco was the start of the downward spiral of live music..the music scene has been fragmented into numerous styles, reggae, rock, blues, new age, jazz, folk , country folk, tribute bands, grunge, punk, rappers, soul, and groups that just play originals etc etc..the list goes on. Personally I think this is a good thing..but fragmented our listing audience in the process

      • Andy
        May 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

        This is true too, but with that you can have seemingly an incredible live act come to town and yet no one will bother to go see them. Even the genre doesn’t matter so much any longer. It’s so strange to even try to analyze because for every question asked, there could be multiple answers. Live music doesn’t seem to be as important as it once was and again, that’s odd to say just based on the number of musicians we have locally. So many are worth more exposure than they currently get, but it’s impossible to find them all, see them all, cover them all.

    • Andy
      May 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      This is true, but also trying to compete with Albany/Northampton/Amherst is a real hassle. I always say “bands will play Pittsfield (the Berkshires) once” and if they have a lousy turn out, they won’t come back. It’s just economics to them, it’s nothing personal. Because of it, they have a better shot of getting paid their guarantee and selling more merch elsewhere. It’s too bad really.

      • levitan
        May 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

        “and if they have a lousy turn out, they won’t come back”

        That pretty much sums it up.

        • stringer
          May 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

          There was a time when the band was the entertainment…now the audience entertains themselves..
          The berkshires is full of talented musicians~I just don’t get it?

  4. Fire Federsoiel
    May 21, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Federspiel is dead wood that should have been pruned out many years ago

    • skier1
      May 24, 2012 at 7:05 am #

      Average length of stay for town manager is 10 years. He’s on 13. A change should be a coming.

  5. Silent Majority
    May 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    The veterans who threw their medals have dishonored themselves and the nation. Like it or not the soldier’s role is to do their duty. There’s is not to question the commander in chief and the military. God bless America.

    • Scott
      May 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      No their duty only extends to uphold the constitution not further the agenda of the industrial military complex this has been a war for profit form the beginning. Our troops have suffered and countless innocent civilians people just like us have as well for nothing. If our gov’t would systematically hunt down terrorist threats and take them out then a whole lot of people would feel better about it even the ones pulling the trigger.

      here’s my “poem”

      Government plans for new world order, social domination
      do you realize that for greed we’ve imposed our troops on a nation?
      we turn a blind eye to the devastation oh well the children are the real victims of the “war on terror” mistaken.

    • Rick
      May 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

      I agree……..

    • Rick
      May 21, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      I was agreeing with this post and not Scotts’

      • Scott
        May 22, 2012 at 4:44 am #

        Rick, if our gov’t decided to strip of us our rights and liberties one day I bet you’d change your mind all conspiracy theories aside our troops have an obligation to the constitution and the American people not a select few of politicians. these men were there in Iraq and saw first hand what went down who are you people to say they are a dishonor to our country? Their dissent shows what true patriots they really are.

  6. Jim Gleason
    May 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Saw the Arthur Holmes Blues Band blow the other three bands off the stage on Sat. night at the Colonial at Guitar Jam.Arthur and his band only played 4 songs but were vastly superior to T Bone Daddy, Spurs and Who Are You.Arthur really whales and his band is great.Anybody else here attend?

    • levitan
      May 22, 2012 at 5:58 am #

      I stumbled across the AHB at Flavors months ago – they are really good! Nice rock and blues combo with strong instrumentality. And, the lead is incredibly friendly – gave me a cd.

  7. GEE Whiz
    May 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    I attended. Agree with you Jimmy. My ranking:
    1. Holmes band 2. Who 3 Spurs 4 T Bone. Holmes should have headlined the only other band that belonged on that stage was Who but only as an opening act . DV aren’t you into musical management? You should sign AH Blues band. Theyre ready

    • levitan
      May 22, 2012 at 5:59 am #

      I second that. Sign them up, Dan.

    • Andy
      May 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      The order of the bands was (supposedly) decided upon by the number of votes received. The only other fair alternative would’ve been alphabetical order which wouldn’t have really changed the order much anyway except for switching The Spurs and T. Bone Daddy around.