PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND EDITION, MAY 23-25, 2014) — Having started a radio talk show from scratch; having given birth this journalistic website from oblivion to this, its 970th edition; and now having created a nascent television show, THE PLANET knew from the start that it would take some time, probably a few months or more, for the TV show to find its footing. Three episodes are now “in the can.” The hunt continues.

THE PLANET, on the set of PV-TV (Photo: Dave Bubriski).

The process remains the same for all creative and artistic endeavors. It begins conceptually, as an idea in the artist’s head. The heavy lifting comes in taking the idea and introducing it to reality, where the idea meets the act.

On no-budget local-access TV and with an all-volunteer crew that rotates in and out depending on availability, 90% of the ideas, interesting though they may be, will have to remain unproduced, there not being the budget, the actors, the writers, and the professional technical staff to bring it all together. The other 10% happens, though it never matches what we picture in our mind.

Thus, with Planet Valenti Television — PV-TV Starring Dan Valenti, the key is to “stay within yourself,” as the sports cliche puts it — and then take one step beyond, over the line. That’s the only way you can mark the limits: by exceeding them. The idea is to each week push the limits a little farther, if possible, and to ALWAYS have fun, regardless of what anyone else may think. That we have done!

And it has been fun, though at times — and again, this typifies the early stages of an ongoing creative effort — we feel rather like McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, when he tries to lift that gigantic hydration station. He takes bets he can do the impossible, gives it his best, and fails. He redeems victory from this seeming defeat, though, when, as he walks away, he tells all the other brow-beaten patients, “Yeah, well at least I tried.” Say what you will about our efforts on the television, at least we are trying.

Trying to do what, exactly? — To use entertainment and amusement as the vehicle with and through which to address serious and sober topics, for example, the outrageous money-grab now being attempted by Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi with his proposed FY15 budget of $148.1 million (to put that figure in perspective, in 2004, the city operated with a budget of $99 million). On Thursday night’s show, Episode 3, in between the fun, we took viewers through what one watcher called “an in-your-face review” of the city’s finances under The Empty Suit (TES).

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When THE PLANET first envisioned a local call-in show on the telly, we initially thought of a show with all call-ins. Having done 14 years of talk radio, though, we know that the local market isn’t ripe for picking the low fruit that is the privilege of regional to say nothing of national productions. Neither the quality nor the quantity is there to sustain a lively, relevant, local talk show of that type. Of every five calls, two will want to illogically rip you because they don’t like your views (they will never debate you, however! Too scared for that), two will be of such poor intellectual quality that even the little dog gets embarrassed for the caller. That fifth call makes it all worth it, with intelligence, sometimes wit, sometimes wisdom, and often knowledge. So the question becomes: Do you want to play the 20% game?

So far, we do. We do not, however, want only to depend on calls, and we will not Actually, PV-TV will make phoners a secondary or tertiary element. That is the probably the biggest change we’ve made to the show, conceptually. It will still include calls, but it will include much more of THE PLANET’s schtick that we at first envisioned.

The PLANET’s logo (copyright (c) 2014 by Dan Valenti)

Episode 1 featured a number of calls, maybe a dozen of which about eight or so got through, most of them set-ups by The Suits to see if they could rattle The Kid. Not a chance of that, as, actually (again, basing our radio experience of having handled tens of thousands of calls), we had built that into the show. Those types of calls become cream puffs for us, and here’s the reason. They take themselves too seriously, allowing us to handle them with the aplomb of a seasoned stand-up comic crushing a heckler.  So for those callers that were obviously calling in on behalf of Bianchi, we shoved the words of each right back down the choking throats from whence they emerged.

In terms of viewer phone-ins, Episode 2 went dark. We didn’t receive a call. Thus, THE PLANET had to riff, solo,  over a vague theme and fill an hour. We not only did it, but we enjoyed (dare we say, “preferred”) doing it. This probably stems from the fact that we are toiling on public access, which has the blessed advantage of being non-commercial, allowing for a tremendous amount of contentual freedom.

It is starting to sink in: The same freedom we have on THE PLANET website we have on Planet Valenti Television — PV-TV  (with some minor procedural restrictions to follow). In other words, we can do the show the way we want and not worry about pressure from anything or anyone else.

Episode 3 featured two on-air calls plus at least two (possibly more) that we didn’t have the time to take. That worked just about right, for this time, THE PLANET came to the studio more prepared to hog up the airtime for our own fancies.

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The early feedback for PV-TV has been great.  Half has been “Brilliant” and “We love it;” 25% has been “I don’t get it but I like watching it” or “I don’t get it but I have to keep watching, the way you gawk at a car accident;” and 25% has been “You’re lousy” or “You’re immature” — “criticism” of that ilk (“You mother wears combat clogs”). That’s about as analytical as the local apologists for The Suits and The Status Quo ever get. Actually, we can let you in on a little secret: We love the apologists’ reactions more than all the others, because it tells us we’re succeeding in frosting the right sets of balls.

THE PLANET is also delighted in the audience build-up from Episode 1 to 3. Viewership has been growing, and we have noticed a spike on the traffic at PLANET VALENTI DOT COM.  We have two brand names now that have become a force to be reckoned with in local politics. This pleases us for one reason, and one reason only: It provides Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, the proverbial Little Guy, with (a) a ray of hope, (b) more of a sense that they, in fact, do own the government, and (c) a realization that they can, in fact, get involved and change otherwise doomed fate of the city of Pittsfield that has been assigned to them by the windbag politicians who have made a political killing by ignoring the 85% and catering to the 15%.

The folks who are hip enough to “get” what we’re doing have fallen in love with our cheeky, cheesy, “Uncle Floyd Show” high-wire act, with the clear highlight having been on the three shows to date our “interviews” with TES, The Empty Suit. You have to see these segments to believe them, which you can do either on the Pittsfield Community Television website, on YouTube, and on GooglePlus.

As satire, the wildly popular TES segments make a serious point about the lack of leadership emanating from the corner office and trickling down to every city department. Some “get it,” as we say. Others don’t, usually by making the mistake of taking everything we say or do too blasted personally. Love it or hate it, in good taste or bad, pulling it off or falling flat on our face, The Empty Suit has become a “must watch.” Rest assured, folks, that TES shall remain a regular part of the PV-TV cast. Incidentally, THE PLANET has publicly and privately invited the actual Bianchi on the show. He has thus far refused. We’re only guessing, but he may be tt-t-t-oo s-s-scared to sit down in a live interview and face our questions.

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Planet Valenti Television also has become “must see” TV for everyone interested, however remotely, in Pittsfield’s “swamp politics.” Certainly, we have a saturation following among politicians, department heads, and city employees — plus their allies. The supporters of Mayor Dan Bianchi wouldn’t dare miss a show, if only to be able to tell us what’s wrong with everything we do! THE PLANET also has it on reasonably good authority that Bianchi is among our most avid viewers.


A rapidly rising number of disenchanted citizens think — correctly, in our view — that Bianchi has blown the city’s last best opportunity to avoid the financial fate of Detroit. They enjoy how we have taken the shortest distance between the two points of (a) the mayor failing them and (b) the lonely place from where they are sitting as citizens, having been abandoned by a mayor who, the evidence suggests, may only be a part-time bugger. He has admitted still working for Global Montello Energy, even though he is supposed to be a full-time mayor. That shortest distance is the “straight line” of hard hitting criticism, and that leads them to THE PLANET, this website, and now to Planet Valenti Television.

The criticism has only just begun. Think we’ve been tough? You haven’t seen anything. THE PLANET shall continue until one of three things happens: (1) Bianchi himself relates and makes an appearance on my show, willing to take my questions; (2) Bianchi recalls his current proposed budget and makes cuts, or (3) he resigns, either willingly or as a result of being forced out by a recall vote.

It will be the mayor’s own words, numbers, actions, and inactions that in the end doom him politically. For example, on Episodes 2 and 3, THE PLANET took Bianchi’s own figures on the proposed FY15 budget and threw them back in his face, drawing loud hurrahs from the Kapanskis and all The Little Guys, and loud Bronx cheers from The Suits and Special Interests. When one of The Suits’ messengers delivers such trenchant feedback as “You stink,” you know that what we’re doing is working!

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Here’s a Facebook exchange between THE PLANET and our Right Honorable Good Friend, Paul Brindle Sr., former mayor of Pittsfield:

Planet Valenti program would be more helpful to Pittsfield if only you gave solitions to the many problems you say we have. Your program today would scare anybody not to come to Pittsfield. Many wonderful things in Pittsfield to be proud of. But today you have forgotten them. Please be more positive. Thanks Paul Brindle.

THE PLANET responded: Jes telling it like it is, PAUL. If you or anyone else wants to hear about how great the city is doing, watch the mayor’s show … or start your own show. Meantime, we roll the way we roll. As a journalist, I learned long ago that you couldn’t tell the truth and have too many “likes” among The Status Quo and The Suits.

Then Bill Heaphy joined the discussion: Mr. Brindle I could not agree with you anymore…. Last weeks show wasn’t any different… Negative negative negative and the interview with Mayor Bianchi was a joke….

Heaphy then posted a second comment: I meant to say the pretend interview with the dummy last week was ridiculous

From Heaphy’s Facebook page, we learn he is “Supervisor of Attendance, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Oct. 24, 1996 to present.” See, he would have a vested interest in what we say and do, and that’s OK. Heaphy has exercised his right of free speech and has given us criticism of the most valuable kind.

THE PLANET responded to Heaphy: BILLY Now you’re getting it, boy. It was MEANT to be a joke, although it’s not a joke to have a dummy sitting in as “mayor.” (Think about it. You’ll get it much later on!).

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Bottom line is that THE PLANET shall continue in our role as provocateur and agitator, muckraker and yellow journalist, which is to say we shall continue to function as the essential lone-voice champion of republicanism in a city nearly hopelessly gone to the Political Dark Side. As long as we can hoist a pen and/or a microphone, we shall continue to point to The Light, to The Truth.


“I just want to know about the ruins behind your mind. Do I see a vacuum there, or am I going blind?” — Jimi Hendrix, “Up from the Skies,” Axis: Bold As Love, (1972)






  1. Scott
    May 23, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    Dan, I support your ideals. Less ego and keep the cold hard facts going. Shit I already told you if vote for you as mayor. The question remains will you run and stick to your principles once elected???

    • danvalenti
      May 23, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      If I ever get elected, the answer is YES, YES!, and YES!!. My principles could no easier be changed that it could be for me to stop being a born left-hander. As for less ego, that is asking too much! That’s the only thing that can possibly sustain an effort of this type!

  2. Ron Kitterman
    May 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Scott pretty much nailed it We quickly becomes THEY and if YOU offer no solutions you are negative and pejorative. This self government thing shouldn’t be such a hard sell but it’s harder and harder to wrestle power away from our duly elected officials. The people that caused the problem in the first place though shouldn’t be the ones we choose to solve it. 15% of the voters, divided by 2, plus 1 doesn’t seem like much of a mandate to me but They do not like criticism from anyone and this site and Dan’s show prove my point. I do know TH

  3. dusty
    May 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    In the olden days they used to put misbehaving people in stocks in the public square to humiliate them. I would suggest that for many people embarrassment might be a better deterrent to bad behavior than incarceration. I think the TES parody is good medicine since nothing else seems to effect rouge politicians who seem to think they are untouchable.

    And you can’t just “vote the bums out”. Too much damage can be done in the interim and as with Bianchi people were once again fooled into thinking he was the savior. Voting the bum out is a low percentage crap shoot in today’s political situation where lying is an art form. Even if 90% of the voters showed up to the polls you could still wind up electing the best liar, too late finding out that none of the candidates were really there to do the right thing. In Pittsfield the mayoral election is all about electing a person to control the money, the ever increasing millions.

    How in the hell does a budget that took one hundred years to get to 100 million dollars then add on 50 million dollars in just 10 short years??? Can I have some adjectives please?

  4. chuck garivaltis
    May 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Dan, I receive a state pension and I think I understand what you are trying to tell us. If the state was ridiculously spending money that we are heading for a financial train wreck I would worry, a lot, that it would affect my family’s standard of living because my pension is dependent on wise ivestments and rational government spending practices. . I think of this, All municipal employees should be thinking of it,too. It’s real..Look at Detroit and other cities that spent your tax dollars like there was no end to your tax dollars. Municipal jobs and pensions are the first areas sliced and diced.

    I have a solution to the 2.2 million dollar rehabilitation amount for the old home at SpringsidePark. Tear the old dump dowm. Of course the consultant says 2.2 million is a worthy price for the old home at Springside Park. It’s only your money.

    A word about your TV show. It is interesting, witty, and enjoyable. Here’s the rub. As the sole performer for a full hour broken with few calls takes talent and ability. Not many could pull this off.Great job, Dan.

    Nice to hear from Paul Brindle. In the early 80’s I served with Paul on the School Committee. We don’t hear much about Paul, he should not be forgotten. I think he was one of Pittsfield’s best chief executives.

    • danvalenti
      May 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

      Many thanks, Chuck. You can still get around on the fastball.

      • chuck garivaltis
        May 24, 2014 at 7:22 am #

        Sure can, Dan. Lately I’ve done my best to hit a few curve balls thrown by hacks.

        Staying on baseball how about a little nostalgia? Pittsfield pitcher with best fastball was Billy McMahon, best curveball Larry Bossidy by a mile, best knuckelball was Ray Meandro, best control pitcher Art Ditmar.

        Yes, they were all a long time ago. With due respect to pitchers of the past half century you just couldn’t match these guys.

        • joetaxpayer
          May 24, 2014 at 9:52 am #

          Chuck, thanks for the nostalgia, I bet none of those guy’s were on a pitch count.

          • chuck garivaltis
            May 24, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

            Joe, A pitch count back then was for sissies.

        • Roman Knows
          May 24, 2014 at 10:23 am #

          As a young teen then I agree. I would also put Bruce Robarge in talking distance of the list.

          • chuck garivaltis
            May 24, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

            Roman, Bruce could throw smoke and he was a good one. Pitched great ball for the Majestics the year we won the All-American Amateur Tournament in Johnstown, Pa.
            Another good one I would place number 2 in the curve ball contest would be Joey Costanzo. This is the Joey that pitched Pittsfield to the American Legion Word Series. With a break or two they could have won it all.

    • Scott
      May 24, 2014 at 4:08 am #

      Chuck you make a good point. One thing to consider. The Springfield house should be saved as it is of historical significance. The restoration gives small business like me work. But I agree the prices for grant funded restorations are highly inflated. I know this from being involved with two of them over the past couple years. I made enough money off them it almost felt wrong so I can only imagine how much the GC’s and people overseeing these projects make like the architects and historical preservation consultants.

      • chuck garivaltis
        May 24, 2014 at 7:09 am #

        Scott, here’s what I don’t like about it. Consultant and architect monies are not included in the projected 2.2 million renovation costs. We all know this amount will rise to over 3 million if and when construction commences. There has to be roadwork, parking, landscaping, and who knows what else. And there is no guarantee local folks will do the work. I’m still railing about the out of town hacks we hired for a bum job to fix our ballfields.Then there is the business of a modern elevator in a historical significent home. Kind of a contradiction here. What’s it going to be used for? How about maintainance costs? Sounds like a white elephant to me.

        • Joe Blow
          May 24, 2014 at 11:24 am #

          I bet the elevator is required by the Feds to make the building ADA compliant.

        • Scott
          May 25, 2014 at 11:10 am #

          I know hiring local should be a city priority and a condition of any public funding. I can tell you arrowhead and Harrison house were done with about 95% local contractors myself included.

  5. Jonathan Melle
    May 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    The sad thing about all of Pittsfield’s problems is that there were good people who cared about Pittsfield along the downward spiral. Take teen pregnancies doubling the statewide average in Pittsfield, and the growing welfare caseloads in Pittsfield. A good group of people in Pittsfield politics would tell teenagers to stop having unprotected sex and when they have children at 16 years of age, they end up on welfare for the rest of their lives. Instead of going to college and achieving a career with financial stability, Pittsfield chooses to feed their youth to the wolves of welfare and poverty. There is life after 16 years of age – even in Pittsfield! Then there are the over 55 years of age crowd on fixed incomes living in Pittsfield. The elderly in Pittsfield are paying most of the bills with ever increasing taxes, fees, and budgets. Like the 16 year olds on welfare, the elderly are living in poverty in Pittsfield. Then there are people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s in Pittsfield trying to find and retain a job to make end’s meat. They get to send their children to poorly performing public schools with unsafe streets, especially after hours. A growing number of parents in Pittsfield are using school choice to send their children to other school districts because Pittsfield’s schools are so bad off. YET, in Pittsfield politics, everything is rosy and warm in Pittsfield because there are the arts to bolster the “creative economy” of a post-industrial town.

    • joetaxpayer
      May 23, 2014 at 5:54 pm #


  6. Dave
    May 23, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    There are a variety of options on the TV show.. take emails “live” during the show, let people call in and record a question in advance, write questions for the “Suit” on the site for you to ask..

    However you do it, you are a fantastic force for good government in this area and your work is much appreciated.

    • danvalenti
      May 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

      Thanks, DAVE. We shall be pleased to take any questions, either for me or the TES.

  7. Dave
    May 24, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    Loon rafts installed in Pittsfield. The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife feels the loon population is dwindling. I guess it is true, the state really does think there is nothing west of Springfield, and they certainly have never watched PCTV.

    • eddiep
      May 24, 2014 at 6:50 am #

      Now might be the time for Berkshire County to become part of New York, or better yet, Vermont. We’re in the Albany market as it is.

      • Mad Trapper
        May 25, 2014 at 6:31 am #

        New Dork is ruled by Adolf Cuomo and Moon Bat Liberals from ” da city”, all of whom have a deep sense of contempt for our Constitution and Nation.

        MOVE there if you want kindered socialist spirits, big government TELLING you how to live, and a nanny state.

  8. Foxy Lady
    May 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Watching PVTV progress has been fun. Each show has gotten better. You’re an amazing performer DV.

  9. Hurdygurdy Man
    May 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    The most damaging indictment of Mayor Bianchi, from Planet’s TV show: 10 years budget goes from the upper 90s of millions to the current requet of nearly $150 million.

    How is that possible?

    Can we start talking about a serious recall effort for the mayor?

    • Tim Bartini
      May 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      Will someone please show proof the the city budget went up a average of 5 million dollars for the last 10 years. I know the fire Dept budget did not rise at that rate.

      • joetaxpayer
        May 24, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

        Tim it should decrease with the population. We keep the same status 3 high schools 5 fire stations 9 elementary schools. Our population is shrinking as fast as our tax base. I support fire and police but time to down side.

        • downtown dweller
          May 25, 2014 at 9:03 am #

          Pittsfield has 8 elementary schools, two middle schools and, 2 high schools plus the Adult Learning Center (per the city’s website). Are you including St. Mark and St. Joe in your totals? They aren’t part of the Pittsfield Public School System.

          • joetaxpayer
            May 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

            They are located in the City. Also many of there students are Pittsfield residents. How much must enrollment go down before merging high schools or closing a elementary school.

      • DowagerHat
        May 25, 2014 at 3:55 am #

        Tim, The City of Pittsfield’s fiscal year 2004 Operating Budget, $100,543,338.

        • Evian
          May 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

          The figures are the citys own figures mr. bartini. you work for the city. on some of your down hours or maybe one of the five days a week you don’t have to work get them from mr. tyer, city clerk. you beat everything questioning factual info…so are your going to take pvtv’s invitation and get interviewed..will you dare sit in the hot seat?

  10. Dave
    May 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    “tear the old dump down” , “a pitch count back then was for sissies” ….I think I know who I would vote for mayor next election!!! Real talk for real solutions! Vote Chuck 2015!!!

  11. amandaWell
    May 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Like it! Chuck for Mayor!

    • Evian
      May 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

      I would love mr. garivaltis for mayor. let’s get it going here.

  12. Pat
    May 25, 2014 at 6:23 am #

    North Adams is a city in serious financial trouble and needs an infusion of cash quickly which apparently it will get, but it’s financial problems run deep and and a one time cash drop will do nothing to solve its long term problems. The Berkshire Eagle editorial today was all about lecturing North Adams officials for giving themselves pay raises recently when the city is in such dire financial trouble. In addition, the Berkshire Eagle tells the union to do some cost cutting just as the private sector has had to do all along. The BB stops short of telling Pittsfield to clean up its own act and conveniently ignores all the spending and pay raises that Pittsfield wants to give out. Let’s not forget that 70% of the Pittsfield budget goes toward a school system with a shrinking population.

    The BB received high praise from several commentors from the North Adams area, more than likely, for telling government and the unions to learn how to budget.

  13. billy
    May 25, 2014 at 8:16 am #

    we need city managers in North Adams and in Pittsfield

  14. Foxy Lady
    May 25, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Chuck Graivaltis for mayor!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Dave
    May 25, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    Watch all of Planet Valenti Television on YouTube Channel at

    You can subscribe to be emailed as each new one is added!

    Join in!!

    • DowagerHat
      May 26, 2014 at 2:20 am #

      Episode 3

      A Parody
      A Satire
      Scotch no ice, is a Scotch neat
      City of Pittsfield
      Leadership of Dan Bianchi
      A Greek Tragedy.

  16. Scott
    May 26, 2014 at 5:39 am #

    Joe T st joe st marks are private schools not funded by the city.

    • joetaxpayer
      May 26, 2014 at 8:02 am #

      Scott I understand that, but they are another option in our City. Population and enrollment is decreasing and is projected to continue. Should look at closing one of the elementary schools.