PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE: PESKY COULD BE MORE THAN PESKY … plus … THREE ITEMS FROM THE LAND OF THE LOST, ALSO KNOWN AS THE TOWN OF LENOX
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 5, 2012) — A couple of quick points before launching into topics du jour.
First, tomorrow is election day. It’s extremely odd it should fall on a Thursday, and we shall see how this affects turnout. The two key races are the Democratic primaries for register of deeds (Harris, Pignatelli, Phillips) and Congress (Shein, Nuciforo, Neal). THE PLANET has endorsed Harris and Shein.
Second, THE PLANET has had an interesting and informative exchange with city council president, my Right Honorable Good Friend, Kevin Sherman, about the test of leadership presented by the council-mayoral battle over Spectrum Health Systems. We shall post that tomorrow.
THE PLANET recently published a tribute to
Mr. Red Sox, the late and great Johnny Pesky. Many of the tributes to Pesky stressed his gentlemanliness, but there was another side of Pesky that could be seen in the diamond, in the heat of play. As a player and later as a manager, Pesky could mix it up with the best of them, and he was never better — or more forceful — when sticking up for his players.
THE PLANET found this picture while fishing on the the net. The photo dates from 1961, when Pesky managed Boston’s Triple A ball club in Seattle, then known as the Raniers. We see Pesky (22) having to be restrained from going after Eddie Fisher, the pitcher for the other team. In the background to the left, you can see the startled look on the face of Dick Radatz, who, a year later, would move up to Boston and become the dominant relief pitcher in baseball.
We got a kick out of this picture and thought you would, too.
LENOX LOVES DEMOCRACY … BUT NOT A WHOLE HECK OF A LOT
O Lenox, O Lenox, how THE PLANET longed to take you under our wing. But no, you had to sell out for the cheap dollar, ruin the Pittsfield-Lenox Road with the worst kind of suburban strip-mall development, and elect a series of scared, unimaginative town officials noted for catering to rich out-of-towners and ignoring your full-time residents.
Your disease, fortunately, has not spread south to Stockbridge, and though every once in a while Great Barrington suffers from a little of the R&R disease, they have pretty much managed to keep it in check. Pittsfield, which has tried hard to succumb to your illness, is oddly enough protected with a form of immunity that derives from an even greater official incompetence than you have.
THE PLANET notes as a case in point the ignorantly hopeful comments of Board of Selectman chairman Ken Fowler, who had to scold citizens from actually using the “open mic” portion of town meetings, for speaking their minds. Fowler loves democracy, but he’s not a fanatic about it.
The forum is “designed so people can come in and make a comment on something that isn’t on the agenda. Typically, we will listen to what people have to say. Sometimes, people get the idea that it is something that can turn into a major portion of the meeting, but it’s not.” Whether he decides as chair to allow someone to speak is “entirely up to the board.” That is, it’s entirely up to Fowler.
“Amen,” said his toadie, selectman David Roche. We didn’t know he was religious, a state that characterizes the ignorant when they try to explain unknowable (Bierce).
A close examination of Lord Fowler’s words shows how threatened he and the board have become of local input. His words convey the following points:
* The board sometimes does not, and will not, listen to what people have to say.
* Free speech at town assemblies must be limited to what pleases the Selectmen.
* Lord Fowler will shut you up if he deigns.
THE PLANET understands the need for local boards and bodies to maintain order, but when it comes to citizen participation, the default position should be throttle wide open. Say what you want.
Lord Fowler, in his role of acting as Manor Boss, seems he lost his self-control at a recent town meeting when citizens wanted to discuss pedestrian-crosswalk safety. The discussion became full throated and hot.
That is how democracy should be, Lord Fowler. The sanitized version you apparently want is better known as Tyranny’s first stage.
LENOX FOLLIES II: STREET PERFORMERS?
The Town of Lenox, by the way, doesn’t want entertainers or street performers of the kind you see at Quincy market in Boston, Burlington, Vt., or Newburyport, Mass. It wants to keeps its clowns, actors, jugglers, and living statues confined to the Selected Board.
You can’t make this stuff up. The board entertained a request from “human robot,” Ms. S, for the OK to stand on public byways and perform. She performs dressed in all white, standing on a small pedestal, with a tips jar in front of her. The Selectmen weren’t favorable to her request. Ken Fowler blasted street performers. What he really means is that he doesn’t want competition from Hagenah as a “human robot” or “living statue.”
Fowler told citizens: “The random mime on any given day, on any given street, is problematic,” though he didn’t say how or why. He didn’t outline the great harm and permanent brain damage that would befall citizens who, as they trudge about their business in downtown Lenox if they should run into an unexpected bit of levity. Fowler, we hear, fears that too many smiles might ruin the town for the second homeowners. THE PLANET also hears that Fowler will be introducing a measure to ban all smiling within town limits, though we have not confirmed that.
R2D2 John McNinch, another robotic selectman, said he didn’t know that he is opposed to Ms. S. If he doesn’t we sure don’t know who would tell him that. Perhaps C3PO. Roche is “against the tips jar. We can’t do this,” he said. “You start down the slippery slope of having entertainers on the street for money, and I think you’ll live to regret it.” Being “against tips jars” is a way of telling starving artists to go f*** themselves.”
No, R2D2, what people regret is a programmed and unimaginative response to a fun request by a person who wants to enliven your moribund little town. Citizens also regret town officials who speak in cliches (“slippery slope” … “you’ll live to regret it”) rather than use their own words. Of course, that implies that the person speaking has his or her own words, something that evidently is not the case in this instance.
Fortunately, there are signs of intelligent life on the Lenox select board. Selectwoman Channing Gibson said she didn’t see anything wrong with Hagenah’s request: “It’s good to have life in town and the sidewalks. … It livens up the place.”
THE PLANET hope NASA will launch a probe to the unchartered wastes to full determine the extent of intelligent life on the Lenox town board. Like the search for water on Mars, it’s likely to come up dry.
THE ART CARNEY UPGRADE FOR FOWLER, FEDERSPEIL
Finally, we present yet another Lenox item. Long-time public works superintendent Jeff Vincent is quitting his post.
Ken Fowler, board chairman, said “It’s going to be tough not to have Jeff on my speed-dial.”
Somehow, we think Fowler will find a way to cope.
Actually, Vincent, 62, will continue dipping into the public trough, transitioning into a manager’s job, overseeing the town’s upcoming $10 million sewer project.
In case you haven’t heard, Lenox is upgrading its sewer system. As part of the project, the offices of town manager Greg Federspiel and Mime Fowler will be located down below, in the Art Carney wing of the system.
“GET IN LOVE WITH THE UNAQUAINTED,” SHE SAID. I KISSED HER, AND THEN SHE FAINTED.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.