MALE SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING, or THE LONDON OLYMPICS ARE ALL WET … STATE FINES REP. PIGNATELLI FOR CAMPAIGN FINANCE VIOLATION … OUR MAN AT THE MEETING GIVES A REPORT ON AIRPORT GATHERING (IT A’INT PRETTY) … plus QUICK HITS AND HOT LICKS DISCUSSES SIAMESE BILLBOARDS, DOWNTOWN PITTSFIELD INC., AND OTHER SUNDRY ITEMS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, AUG. 2, 2012) — A couple days ago, Charley Garivaltis sent a comment to THE PLANET with which we agreed in total. The redoubtable CG, one of the best athletes ever to come out of Berkshire County and THE PLANET‘s vote for Best Hitter (baseball), pointed out the utter vacuousness of the opening ceremonies of the London Olympic Games. Frankly, we have also found the subsequent competition to be overblown, overhyped, and tarted up with so much slick commercialism as to be unwatchable.
With that, THE PLANET shares this story from YAHOO! Sports:
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The London Games are a celebration of equality. For the first time, women will compete in all 26 sports, including boxing. It’s not total equality — women still compete in 30 fewer events than men — but it’s part of a larger trend towards gender equity on sports’ global stage.
So what happens if you’re a male athlete that feels discriminated against, based on gender?
According to Belinda Goldsmith of Reuters, there are two sports in which men are shut out of competition in which women compete for medals:
Men have called for action after being ruled out from competing at two events at the Summer Olympics, synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics, even though there are growing numbers of men participating in both sports.
A lobby group of male synchronized swimmers wrote to the IOC and swimming’s governing body FINA in June to argue that men should no longer be excluded from this event at the Olympics.
Men’s rhythmic can resemble a different sport than women’s. It’s a strength-based competition that incorporates martial arts; power is emphasized as much as artistry. It’s born from Japanese stick gymnastics, and the Japan Gymnastics Association is helping to lead the charge in an attempt to get the sport recognized as an Olympic sport.
Like male synchronized swimming, men’s rhythmic faces a participation issue: Are there enough athletes around the world competing in these sports to warrant Olympic inclusion? This eventually enters a chicken-or-the-egg argument: How do fringe sports become mainstream without validation from the IOC?
[ Photos: Synchronized swimming secrets revealed ]
But male synchronized swimming faces other issues to speak to the sexual politics in organized sports.
Male synchronized swimming has had a charming existence in popular culture. It’s lampooned on cruise ship comedy nights. “Men Who Swim,” a quirky documentary about an all-male swim team in Stockholm, premiered on PBS this year.
The sport was immortalized by Harry Shearer and Martin Short on “Saturday Night Live” in this inescapable sketch:
But in the last decade, men have started participating in synchronized swimming sans irony. Kenyon Smith made headlines in 2008 as an 18-year-old star in the sport, competing on a team called the Aquamaids with, and against, women. He attempted to become an Olympian for the 2008 Beijing Games, according to a profile in Details magazine.
Some male athletes compete on majority-female teams, there are also all-male synchronized teams around the world, including the San Francisco Tsunami — “a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight-friendly masters-level swim and synchronized swim team.”
Billed as Britain’s only men’s synchronized swim team, they’re kicking-mad about being unable to represent their nation at the London Games.
Stephen Adshead, manager of the team, told Reuters that the barring of male synchronized swim athletes from the Games was “blatant inequality and unfair,” having sent a letter to the IOC that read in part:
“… in at least one sport, it is men who are victims of this discrimination, which is no less intolerable than that aimed at women.”
Last year the Angels took home a gold medal at the Eurogames in Rotterdam, but they want the next generation to have a chance at Olympic glory. Richard Snow, 34, an interior designer and founder member of the team, said:
“Originally there weren’t many sports women could compete in, so having synchro for women only was about letting them have more sports [of their own]. But times have moved on and the rules should be reversed. I feel sad that men can’t compete. Bit by bit we hope we can break down the barrier for men. Hopefully that will mean teams start including boys from a young age.”
There are far greatest gender equality issues in the Olympics than male athletes feeling shut out by sports viewed as women-only; it’s hard to equivocate the plight of the male rhythmic gymnast with that of a Saudi woman who finally earned the right to compete in the Summer Games, for example.
But as female boxers smash the glass ceiling in London, swimmers wonder when their passions in sports will sync with the policies of the IOC.
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THE PLANET‘s Commentary:
(1) Leave the synchronized swimming to the girls. They move better on that finesse jazz.
(2) Eliminate Women’s Boxing. The sport is not Lady-like. What’s next: No hitting above the belt for women boxers? Women’s boxing is an embarrassment of paucity.
(3) With the possible exception of gymnastics and figure skating, women-on-women competition is simply not as accomplished as men-on-men in team sports. In individual sports such as track and field, weightlifting, basketball, hockey, soccer, and such, women are less interesting than men, since the competitive bar is lower. They are slower, weaker, have less lung capacity hence endurance, and don’t have the Competitive XYZ Chromosome the way guys do. For guys, every battle from the finals of competition to winning at darts in the local pub, is all-out war. Of course, women playing women is relatively the same, but in absolute terms, the female athlete will never outperform the male athlete. Give it up. The public is not interested.
Ladies, we expect your angry cards and letters as the confirmation of our better judgment.
STATE FINES PIGNATELLI CAMPAIGN FOR FINANCE VIOLATION
The state has fined South County State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli $250 for violation of campaign finance laws.
In a letter to Our Right Honorable Good Friend dated July 23, Michael Sullivan, director, Office of Campaign and Political Finance, told Pignatelli he violated M.G.L. c. 55, sec. 13. The law prohibits public employees from serving as committee treasurers. Sullivan fined Pignatelli for employing Marge Pero as treasurer. Pero became a public employee in 2011 (acting town accountant, town of Lenox) while at the same time holding the position as Pignatelli’s top money person. That’s illegal under campaign finance law, and it is up to Pignatelli, as head of the campaign, to know the rules.
THE PLANET asked for a comment from Pignatelli’s November opponent, Scott Laugenour of the Green Party. Laugenour said, “I would not want to be found in violation of campaign finance laws.”
Neither would we.
AIRPORT MEETING: OFFICIALS REPLY TO CITIZENS’ QUESTIONS, ‘DUH, I DUNNO’
THE PLANET could not attend the recent meeting on the bogus airport expansion project because of other commitments. Be sure, however, that we had our eyes and ears in attendance. Of the many reports we received, we wish to share this one, filed by SCOTTY B. Scotty is a resident of the affected area, and he writes:
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I attended the airport meeting. I am also shocked that the Eagle reported it somewhat accurately. But, of course, you don’t get the full picture.
Speaking of picture, the best Mark Germanowski (Head of Airport Plowing, HAP) could do for the only aerial view (or any other view) was a Google pic from a year ago! The AIRPORT has PLANES that can fly overhead and take a picture, duh.
Why couldn’t you get a more recent view?
“Duh, I dunno,” came the answer.
Screen was much too small, also.
No one seems to be in control of this airport destruction project. Mayor isn’t. City Council isn’t. Airport Commission, nope. Head of Airport Plowing, nope. Contractor(s)? Union(s)? Getting closer.
The people getting paid have more control than the people who pay them!
Magner said that the 4th of July construction was a “union-negotiated contract.” People jumped out of their seats at this.
Some questions from the audience:
Why couldn’t you inform us?
“Duh, I dunno.”
Can we expect further holiday construction?
“Duh, I dunno.”
Restrictions could have been put in the specs of the contract concerning things like Sundays and holidays, couldn’t they have been?
“Duh, I dunno.”
Did the contractor get a special permit to do holiday construction, as I was required to do in my many years of construction?
“Duh, I dunno.”
Who knows? No one, apparently.
Head of Airport Plowing seems to think this is all a game.
First resident to speak told of @$30,000 worth of damage to her house from water run-off that comes from the removal of trees that used to hold the water.
The response: HAP says to fill out a form to lodge a complaint with the CONTRACTOR!–”Rifenburg Contracting Corporation (518) 279-3967. Ask for Stacie or Pat.”
HAP must have whipped this up minutes before the meeting. The form is pathetic and looks like a mimeo from the machine off the 6th grade classroom at Pontoosuc Elementary.
Ms. Crane’s quote is taken out of context. The full-day, 10 hours of noise behind her house, and mine, comes from a sand/rock machine, not trucks necessarily. If you out to the sand yard on East St. you can hear it–sort of a rapid-fire, machine-gun sound. ALL DAY LONG.
This is actually the third and highest level of noise. Three levels:
(1) Trucks rumbling and beeping constantly. This is enough to drive me inside after about 10 minutes.
(2) Pile driver. Inside, close all the windows, get into the basement.
(3) Sand machine. Leave the property for the day.
“Airport officials said they had nothing to do with the decision made by the CONTRACTOR and its UNION employees to work on July 4 in exchange for another day off, in part to save money.” This quote from the Eagle is by Magner, I believe.
Not explained was how exactly this saved money. He also said they wanted to speed things up because the UNION rates go up on October 1 (?). They why did they even take Friday the 6th off?
And, I’ve been waiting for someone to say it, HAP finally said out loud that they could work seven days a week if they wanted.
As noted in the Eagle, councilors Mazzeo, Lothrop, and Clairmont were in attendance–they all subsequently have told me they will get the holiday construction to stop. We’ll see.
Mazzeo was on fire and received applause, twice. Lothrop and Clairmont also did their best to grill HAP on behalf of the residents.
Who’s in charge here? Who will do something to compensate homeowners for damages caused by this boondoggle?
The airport expansion project has been questionable from the get-go. Now, as the damage is being done, the good people of Pittsfield are beginning to see the extent of this exercise in unnecessary meddling on the part of government — federal, state, and city. At all levels, the bedraggled citizenry of Pittsfield continues to get pounded.
The runway extension, as THE PLANET has covered previously, has, according to a veteran commercial airline pilot, made the airport more dangerous. The extension will accommodate large private jets favored by rap singers and A- and B-list celebrities, who find it convenient on occasion to jet into The Berkshire via Pittsfield. Few or no members of the general public will benefit.
For this privilege of getting ripped off, taxpayers have simply to (a) pay the bill and (b) keep their mouths shut.
Welcome to Pittsfield.
QUICK HITS AND HOT LICKS
Siamese-Twin Billboards a Bad Idea— Lamar of the Berkshires, a name that
sounds like that of a peddler of $5 bottles of Bambo’s Wonder Elixir, wants to place double-sized billboards in the Village of the Damned, otherwise known as the city of Pittsfield. The company wants to take the two billboards over the Highland Restaurant and make them one, ala Siamese Twins. Bad idea times two.
The community development board rejected the plan. That’s good. Board chairman Remo Del Gallo, along with Floriana Fitzgerald and Sheila Irvin, opposed to the monstrous 50-foot wide billboard. Precent city code limits billboards to 25-feet in width. The “however” comes from the support of the board’s two other members, former Ward 2 city councilor Lou Costi and Alf Barbalunga, school board chair who also serves on the community development board.
THE PLANET agrees with Remo. These gigantic billboards are not only an aesthetic disaster, they smack of Big Brother in sheer size. With all the outdoor advertising that assaults people, we don’t need The Amazing, Colossal Billboard.
Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic — Downtown Pittsfield Inc. has moved to 33 Dunham Mall. DPI, which eats many tens of thousands in taxpayer money only to replicate services that should be offered fully by the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, aka the Berkshire Chamber of Rah Rah, occupies a space overlooking the hideous sculpture that for years “graced” the mall. The hunk of junk now sits growing weeds in a forgotten area of the BCC main campus.
On its website, a work of cloudy fiction, DPI describes Pittsfield as “a dynamic urban center with a growing arts district at its core.” That’s a virtual admission of the failure of the city leaders to create a legitimate economy.
Two days ago, THE PLANET has sent the following e-mail to Pam Tobin, DPI director:
Co-op Names Marchetti President of Vice — Congratulations to Peter Marchetti, on his promotion to vice president of branch operations and administration at the Pittsfield Co-op Bank. If he can’t be mayor, he might as well be a president of vice.
Good Luck Hal and Brian — THE PLANET wishes good luck and much success to the new owners of a long-time city-based business, Berkshire Plate Glass. The new owners are Harold Boland and Brian Gingras. Our good childhood pal, Ray Gregory, worked at BPG for many years. Glad to see entrepreneurship, at any level, in the city.
Levine Writes of Herman Alexander’s: Pull the Plug — In a must read editorial published recently in the Pittsfield Gazette, Jonathan Levine calls on the city to put Herman Alexander’s tavern out of its misery. Levine points out:
* The joint has been “a bad bar for a very long time.”
* “Management has tolerated and even encouraged unacceptable behavior.”
* The dive is “an incredibly disruptive neighbor.”
* “The place smells and appears to be in terrible disrepair.
* The owner, Mitchell Grossjung, “has ignored repeated warnings” from the city.
* Drug charges are pending against the bar.
No question: The licensing board must end HA’s once and for all. Too bad, because THE PLANET remembers Alexander’s in a better time. In fact, we once took our staff at Media Services Group (then known as Literations) there, along with several clients, to celebrate our office Christmas Party in 1982. That’s when it was a respectable joint. No more.
Be gone, we say.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.