LEGENDS OF THE LIGHTHOUSE REUNION CONCERT SEPT. 9 AT BOYS CLUB; TICKETS ON SALE NOW … AUG. 20 — AN EVOCATIVE DAY … POETRY MONDAY WELCOMES ROBERT BROWNING
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, AUG. 20, 1967) — We want to bring your attention to a special event that will take place on Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club. The Legends of the Lighthouse reunion concert will play the club from noon to 6 p.m. that day. It will feature bands and musicians who played The Lighthouse in the 1960s and 1970s, during the hay-day of the Pittsfield music scene.
Acts will include The Haze, Cornucopia, the Vandels, The Marksmen, The Unitones, The Quarrymen, The Corvairs, The Berkshire Beatles, Shenandoah, Wynd & Rain, The Continentals, The Victors, Eastre Rebellion, Mick Valenti, Antacrtica, Sunny Day People, The Quarry, John Harding, Quick Fox, Potter Mountain Band, The Chasers, and more.
These bands and acts testify to a time when the Berkshires had a thriving local music scene that could support numerous bands with plenty of work. These were the days when musicians actually played their own instruments and “sampling” was known as plagiarism.
Bobby Dick of The Sundowners will emcee this show. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 on the day of the show. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to catch the gold vein of Berkshire musical talent. All proceeds will go to support programs at the Club.
BROTHER PLANET, Mick Valenti, will be making a rare Berkshire appearance, representing himself as well as his bands The Victors, The Quarrymen, The Quarry, and Quick Fox. Mick says he’s looking forward to moving back the hands of time for this one day, gathering with a lot of long-time friends, to play music once again in a venue where he once played countless times.
A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
AUG. 20: AN EVOCATIVE DAY
Last week, we buried Mr. Red Sox, Johnny Pesky. This week, our thoughts wander back 45 years ago, to Fenway Park. On this day, the Boston Red Sox swept the California Angels in a doubheader, 12-2 and 9-8. We were there with our dad. It remains one our great memories from youth.
In the first game, Lee Stange threw a complete game, and Reggie Smith, who two years prior was playing centerfield for the Pittsfield Red Sox, homered from both sides of the plate. In the second game, the Sox overcame an 8-0 deficit to win on Jerry Adair‘s home run in the bottom of the eighth. The wins came during the pulsating Impossible Dream season, the Year of Yaz.
Two Night Earlier, When Tragedy Struck
The gauze of memory, however, moves us back two days earlier. On Aug. 18, Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton hit Tony Conigliaro just below the left eye, in effect ending Conigliaro’s career. Conigliaro, the youngest man in baseball history to reach 100 home runs, had a Hall of Fame career waiting ahead. Then that pitch.
Each Aug. 20, we are taken back to that glorious doubleheader, then moved to that tragic night two days before. We remember the 20th, a steamy, hazy day, with box seats along the short right field line. They cost $5 each. The payroll of the entire Red Sox roster was $875,000.
We rode to and from in our father’s 1965 maroon Pontiac Catalina station wagon, the back seat all to ourselves, so we could stretch out, lie down, and watch the clouds and tree tops zip by in a whir, like the endless-loop background of a cartoon. Baseball had net been ruined by the influx of money, deafening noise, and electronics.
On the 18th, we instinctively knew the extent of Tony C’s injury. He would not play again until 1969, and, through several unsuccessful comeback attempts, finally gave up the game in 1975. The lesson we learned had to do with the fleeting nature of life. On this good earth, in this veil of tears, we are constantly with one foot on a banana peel and the other on the edge of a cliff. It is both a reason to avoid unnecessary recklessness and to pursue everything we do with full awareness, attention, and best effort. Hold nothing back and give no quarter. This way shall not pass by us again.
No more does baseball intersect with life. It takes its tawdry place as just another loud, irrelevant diversion, not worthy of our time and less of our thought — worthy of no inclination whatsoever except loathing.
POETRY MONDAY: A BREAK FROM THE USUAL MORASS WITH TWO BY BROWNING
One of our favorite poets is Robert Browning, the ace of the tremendous line of British poets during the Victorian age. The lineup included Tennyson, Hopkins, and Arnold. We discovered Browning in Sampson Ullman‘s Victorian Literature class at Union College, in the fall of 1972, and his work has been a lifelong love. Browning, who tried and failed to write drama for the stage, found his genius in the dramatic monologue. This form features one character, who speaks to another, and in doing do, tells us much more about himself that he would otherwise choose to reveal.
The first poem here, “My Last Duchess,” is among his best. The speaker of the poem, the Duke of Ferrara, is storytelling to a diplomat who has come to him to negotiate marriage between the Duke and another powerful family. In his monologue, the name-dropping Duke unwittingly reveals the cause of the duchess’ death: The Duke did it! This is a brilliant work.
- THAT’S my last Duchess painted on the wall,
- Looking as if she were alive. I call
- That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands
- Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
- Will ‘t please you to sit and look at her? I said
- “Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
- Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
- The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
- But to my self they turned (since none puts by
- The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
- And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
- How such a glance came there; so, not the first
- Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ‘t was not
- Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
- Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
- Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
- Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
- Must never hope to reproduce the faint
- Half-flush that dies along her throat:” such stuff
- Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
- For calling up that spot of joy. She had
- A heart–how shall I say?–too soon made glad,
- Too easily impressed: she liked whate’er
- She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
- Sir, ‘t was all one! My favor at her breast,
- The bough of cherries some officious fool
- Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
- She rode with round the terrace–all and each
- Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
- Or blush, at least. She thanked men,–good! but thanked
- Somehow,–I know not how–as if she ranked
- My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
- With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
- This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
- In speech–(which I have not)–to make your will
- Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
- Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
- Or there exceed the mark”–and if she let
- Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
- Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
- –E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
- Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
- Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
- Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
- Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
- As if alive. Will ‘t please you rise? We’ll meet
- The company below, then. I repeat,
- The Count your master’s known munificence
- Is ample warrant that no just pretence
- Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
- Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
- At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
- Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
- Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
- Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
Here’s another poem, more traditional, that captures the excitement of a lover as he traverses a journey at night to meet with his beloved. He moves along a beach, several fields, and then he arrives at the farmhouse, where she waits.
- THE gray sea and the long black land;
- And the yellow half-moon large and low;
- And the startled little waves that leap
- In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
- As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
- And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.
- Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
- Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
- A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
- And blue spurt of a lighted match,
- And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
- Than the two hearts beating each to each!
- Robert Browning
We hope you enjoy this bit of Browning and relief from the typical morass that THE PLANET each day tries to sort out for our growing readership.
STAY TUNED TOMORROW, WHEN WE BRING YOU SOME SHOCKING NEWS FROM THE BORING BROADSHEET, WORDS OF THE SOUTHERN BERKSHIRE 4th DISTRICT STATE REP’s RACE BETWEEN SCOTT LAUGENOUR AND SMITTY PIGNATELLI, AND THE SEARCH FOR THE REAL PAUL RYAN. THAT AND MORE, TOMORROW. IN THE MEANTIME …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.
LOVE TO ALL.