(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE WEEKEND EDITION FEB. 17-19, 2017) — THE PLANET had a fun exchange Thursday with our good friend Mike Ward. Our Facebook chat centered on the topic of winter. Mike initiated it with this posting:

WARD: There’s a difference between enjoying snow and wanting to be in a perpetual storm.
PLANET: I have fallen back in love with winter, the kind of love I had for it as a kid, when it meant King of the Hill, sliding, snow forts, snow football, and Kill The Guy With The Ball.
WARD: We called it Cream Ball at Allende. Every neighborhood had a version of kill the guy with the ball.
PLANET: Yeah. Maybe the best winter game of all time. The only game where the entire rule book and the name of the game are one and the same!
WARD: We played year round. Really the perfect sport for elementary school boys. I was a runner, not surprisingly, so if I could survive the first five seconds without getting sacked I could run around the group taunting them indefinitely.
PLANET: We, too, had speed and elusiveness, and did well in the sport. It was the perfect revenge vehicle. Today, you’d probably be suspended for playing it, but back then we didn’t live in protective bubbles. We actually had a childhood.

——– 000 ——–

The exchange spurred a day of reflection, encouraged by a walk in the sunny, windy cold.

THE PLANET at Ralph Houk news conference. From left, Peter Gammons, Bob Ryan, Dan Valenti.

Why have we come to enjoy winter so much? For the decade of the 1980s, our winters were spent down south in Winter Haven, FL, during our days as a baseball writer. THE PLANET wrote several baseball tomes as well as news stories and the taping of radio interviews that we sold to a consortium of media, typically smaller newspapers and radio stations that could not afford to send their own reporters south. It made for a good living.

We chose Winter Haven as our base since it was the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox and also because it was centrally located in the middle of the Floridian peninsula, making it the best disembarking point from which to cover the other Florida camps. We loved every drop is this life, getting paid to winter in Florida and hang out with Major League ballplayers.

Then we moved on to to other excitements.

Ted Williams and THE PLANET at the cage.

Today, we eschew the invitation to spring training. First, we are no longer baseball fans in the old sense. Being on the inside of MLB as it morphed from innocence into Big Business with an average salary approaching $4 million a year did a lot to dissuade us from the romance of the game on the big-league level. Of course, minor league ball is another matter, as our regular attendance at Triple A games suggests. Second, our fan kicks come from football and have since the Super Bowl was renamed The New England Patriots Invitational.

Thus we find ourselves in The Berkshires during these long days of antiseptic cold, loving every minute. Back to the question: Why do we love it once again? We no longer go sliding. We don’t build snow forts, and, sadly, there’s no more Kill The Guy With The Ball. And you know what? Having done those once, we don’t need them again, which has created space for other winter enjoyments. Let us explain:

COME TO THE QUIET — Winter brings peace, quiet, and even silence. It’s like an empty schoolyard at twilight, most everywhere, especially when there’s weather. Nature, ever smarter and more intelligent than people, retreats into itself, a hibernation no hungry nations can tread down (Keats). People cannot keep pace with the protraction. In winter, nature and animals outpace us with their leisurely sedations. You can have candlepins and fluorescence. We’ll take roasting sausage and Italian bread on an outdoor campfire.
A REASONABLE PACE — Have you noticed how time-starved we have become? THE PLANET sees this all the time with students, friends, colleagues, forced as they are to keep pace with their “smart” phones. Winter, if you will but allow, offers the perfect excuse to set aside the mad rush and practice more deliberate celestial chores. Read a book. Go for a walk. Do some writing. Go skating. Shovel some snow. Stare at the night sky. The down-tempo will do you good.
CULTIVATED WARMTH — Cold provides the perfect contrast with the warmth we all require. That parka covers the frail deeds that shiver in the tumbled temperature. Your hat secludes your body’s warmth, evening out the unequal laws of hot and cold. Your gloves keep the hands out of trouble. Those boots from Clarke’s make tracking through the snow fun. Inside, what’s better than a soft, illumined glow as outside snowbanks drift?
Winter, we hope, will stay for at least another month. Winter, give us your snow, your cold, your remnant rose that shall will surely bloom in spring.

With that, THE PLANET opens The Comment Line. Have a great weekend, everybody.


“In the depth of winter I finally learned there is in me an invincible summer.”Albert Camus



The views expressed in the comment section or opinions published within the text other than those of PLANET VALENTI are not those of PLANET VALENTI or endorsed in any way by PLANET VALENTI. This website reserves the right to remove any comment that violates its Rules of Conduct, and it is not liable for the consequences of any posted comment, written word, or information from any source other than PLANET VALENTI as provided in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and PLANET VALENTI’s terms of service. All users of the services of PLANET VALENTI agree to these conditions by virtue of this notice.


  1. Milt Plum
    February 16, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    Correction, the Super Bowl is now known as the Patriots can beat almost any team bowl.

  2. Shakes His Head
    February 16, 2017 at 8:41 pm #

    Thoroughly enjoyed today’s column, thanks!

  3. May Hemm
    February 16, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

    Thank for sharing those pictures Dan, great little read also. Seems when you and Chuck go nostalgic is when you’re at your best. I could have lived almost anywhere, but I’d never leave this place, it’s home, it has four seasons, all contrasting and different, we are certainly unique here, it is people like Valenti and Garavaltis that wants me to hope that things will change here in my beloved Pittsfield, many memories,keep on keeping on,Planet!

  4. Jonathan Melle
    February 16, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

    Does Silver Lake freeze in the cold of winter?
    Does Jack Welch take his morning swim there in the warmth of summer?
    Do the fish have 3 eyes and extra fins and glow in the dark there on an Autumn night?
    Do Teo’s Hot Dogs float there in the Springtime?
    Will PEDA attract a Fortune 500 corporation during one of the 4 seasons?
    Will the Lovely Linda Tyer market post industrial Pittsfield to someone other than Super WalMart?
    Will another Massachusetts casino build there?
    How about another medicial marijuana dispensary with a side of PCBs wrapped in a GE cigar joint?
    How about a new tattoo parlor?

    • mi
      February 17, 2017 at 4:14 am #

      Everything will be fine, we have shot spotter coming, doesn’t hone in on inside shots though? And one anyalist says she guesses it does something else?

  5. Happy
    February 16, 2017 at 9:43 pm #

    Great article, Planet. We need a break from politics!

  6. Pat
    February 16, 2017 at 10:32 pm #

    I love the quiet of winter also. My neighborhood is quiet. Once spring arrives, it gets much noisier and I find that I miss that quiet time. I guess really I should live out in the country where it’s silent year round. I love to read all year long, but I get more reading done in the winter.

  7. heh heh
    February 17, 2017 at 3:11 am #

    Speaking of the quiet of winter can we sign the Donald up for an extended four year term? Hate to lose this kind of managerial talent after just 4 years.

  8. The School Committee
    February 17, 2017 at 3:49 am #

    Iwill take a Casino on Tyler and that will be a win.

    • P Hewton
      February 17, 2017 at 4:11 am #

      We have one, it’s at orchard and first.

      • danvalenti
        February 17, 2017 at 9:12 am #

        Line of the week, PH!

        • P Hewton
          February 17, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

          Thanks Comrade Daniel.

  9. Jim kirby
    February 17, 2017 at 4:18 am #

    “A Reasonable Pace“ is great advice.Now if we all could follow this sage recommendation!

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2017 at 9:11 am #

      Thanks, JK.

    • Howard Jay
      February 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

      Good words, Kirby. Good words.

  10. RobEM
    February 17, 2017 at 4:22 am #

    This year I have noticed the shadows at sunrise. They seem darker than the summer shadows.

  11. Spider
    February 17, 2017 at 6:16 am #

    Watched the Human Rights Comm. last night. Rinaldo DelGallo and his band of pathetic followers are pushing to have Pittsfield become a “sanctuary city”.

    Before this goes before any committee for approval it damn well better go before the voters for their opinion.

    • LoneGunMan
      February 17, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

      It better go to the voters. They declare that and you lose all, if any federal funding probably. Then we go broker, Bernie lover Del Gallo and Krol proclaim Trump was a failure and we become a socialist city full of Tuesday afternoon bombers

      Keep an eye on this please everyone. What a damn joke this city is becoming

  12. Question Markey
    February 17, 2017 at 6:57 am #

    The peace and quiet of Pittsfield’s renaissance. No machine noise nor boiler steam from the likes of GE, Marlin Mold, Sabic, Safariland/Protech,St. Joe H.S. Ain’t it a tranquil catharsis ? Now off to Dunkin D’s for another recharge.

  13. Spider
    February 17, 2017 at 8:57 am #

    A must read! Jonathon Levine’s editorial in this weeks Gazette titled ‘Enough is Enough” regarding the Syrian refugees coming to Pittsfield.

    Everyone should read this, but especially our elected officials who are so hot to trot in welcoming them.

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2017 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks for the alert, SPIDEY. Glad to see Jonathan is still capable of rising to the occasion.

  14. heh heh
    February 17, 2017 at 9:50 am #

    Thanks to this site promoting the Berkshire Courier it has become harder to find. Everyone wants a copy now and I hope they will print a lot more to keep up with demand. One more reason not to waste money on self serving make believe newspapers.

    • Pat
      February 18, 2017 at 6:22 am #

      Now I need to find the Pittsield Gazette for this week too so I can read the article by Jonathan Levine about refugees.

  15. 12 Gauge
    February 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

    It’s getting so bad around Pittsfield that Tricia is knitting Pussyhats from Kevlar yarn.

  16. gocometti
    February 17, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

    Downtown Paintbox Program has been announced again…but who the judges for this project are remains a mystery just like
    last year. Is it really that difficult to get real professional artists
    and not bureaucrats as the jurors. If real professional artists were
    to be selected perhaps the quality of the artwork submitted would
    be better than the very poor quality of last years winning artists.
    ” Ars Vita Longo Brevis Est ” ( Art is Long…Life is Short ) Doesn’t
    Pittsfield deserve the best ?

    • heh heh
      February 17, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

      Yer gitten a shot spotter. Yer gitten a spanking new high school. buncha a new cops and fireman. New North street. New pay raises fer almost everybody. There is just so much new expensive stuff the tax payers can afford right now but once the new budget goes in, well who knows?

  17. joetaxpayer
    February 17, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    Mayor and Council have to change there attitude. Instead of what we want, let’s get what we need. Time for some innovative thinking to get our spending problem under control. They might have to go to the Brien Center for help. As they say step one of solving a addiction is admitting you have a problem.

    • Bill Q
      February 17, 2017 at 5:51 pm #

      Brien can’t fix a hemmorage JT.

  18. heh heh
    February 18, 2017 at 4:20 am #

    new ladder truck toys for everybody…cheaper to buy new than to fix

    who else needs sumptin?

  19. Happy
    February 18, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    Beefing up fire department and police is a move for the city. Public safety so important. We do need changes at the top in each dept however. Chief Wynn a great cop but not an adminstrator. Chief Czerwinski an OK fireman but cannot manage.

    Taking care of public safety is justified. Any more $$ for school department is not. Mayor Tyer and council please find the courage to make necessary cuts in school spending.There are ways to do that and at same time improve classroom.

    • joetaxpayer
      February 18, 2017 at 8:43 am #

      Happy Agree, just wondering if there’s anyway to restructure amount of ranked officers and firemen. Seems to me there’s more with a title than not.

      • Bill Q
        February 18, 2017 at 11:26 am #

        Ha ha no cuts no rank reduction,next.

    • Wilson
      February 18, 2017 at 9:07 pm #

      10s of millions drained from the community will just create more devastation, though with all the welfare cases being shipped in maybe they are preparing for riots

  20. Unwanted Karl
    February 18, 2017 at 9:55 pm #

    Hit the streets homeless warriors.

  21. Trumped Up
    February 18, 2017 at 9:57 pm #

    Yes,hit the streets homeless warriors, the man has a job and the homeless warrior must stop being pushed around.Freedom in the streets.

  22. Pat
    February 19, 2017 at 6:06 am #

    Classic lines coming from the Saturday BB editorial about refugees coming here to the Berkshires:

    “If someone wonders —where would refugees find work in the Berkshires, or worse, won’t they end up taking away jobs? — those points are moot. There are more than 1,000 Berkshire County jobs posted on the employment site Indeed right now. Opportunity is here and there is room.”

    Let’s pick this apart shall we? First off, local residents can’t find these 1,000 plus jobs and I just got on the indeed website and do not see 1,000 plus jobs unless you travel outside the state which is not an option for refugees without transportation. Just look at Springfield and West Springfield and they will tell you about the high rate of unemployment among refugees. Sweden had many refugees come in and only a small percentage were able to find jobs there.

    Since we know the refugees are not coming here with advanced degrees in engineering or computer sciences, this leaves out three-quarters of the jobs. The rest are not living wage jobs so undoubtedly the refugees will still need some form of government assistance. Many of these jobs are seasonal and yes they will be competing with locals for jobs. The BB tells so many lies just in that one paragraph.

  23. Pat
    February 19, 2017 at 6:46 am #

    More crazy statements from the BB editorial on refugees:

    “Berkshire County needs tourists, and it also needs diversity and new residents. Various waves of immigrants have built and developed Pittsfield over the centuries, and those from the Middle East are doing the same and will continue to if given the opportunity. In doing so, they help hold the line against the population loss that has been undermining the local economy for years. They fill jobs, buy homes, pay taxes and start businesses. They support local causes and will ideally participate in town and city government. Their children take open seats in classrooms and may settle in the Berkshires and raise families here.”

    Yes, so let’s bring refugees from the most dangerous part of the world so the Pittsfield School System doesn’t go under and can keep demanding big budget increases each year. Is this the real reason refugees are needed here? To make the school system relevant? Nobody else wants to come here since the economy is so poor, so lets bring people from a totally different culture with no skills many of whom have probably never even used a computer before. This lack of logic hasn’t worked out well for other parts of the country.

  24. joetaxpayer
    February 19, 2017 at 6:50 am #

    As usual Eagle on the pulse of the situation. Good thing me bird died.

    • Trumped Up
      February 19, 2017 at 7:15 am #

      Which bird?

  25. Jaxur
    February 19, 2017 at 9:48 am #

    The BB died long ago when the Millers sold out. Interesting to see that the Berkshire Courier has hired DV, since then locations report they can barely keep the paper in stock. Imagine if the BB had the forsight to hire the best journalilst journaliing! The BB wouls turn into the Phoenix and rise from its’ ashes. Folks over there tho are too timid to scared to do the right thing, too bad.

    • danvalenti
      February 19, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

      The BB could never afford me.

    • Pat
      February 19, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

      I can’t find the Berkshire Courier anywhere.

      • danvalenti
        February 20, 2017 at 8:21 am #

        It’s at a lot of locations, including supermarkets (e.g., Price Chopper in Lenox), Palmer’s, and many more. Write to for a list of locations.

  26. Gigi
    February 19, 2017 at 11:51 am #

    The BB is “very fake news.” Cancel your subscriptions and send your money as a donation to the Courier! I looked at the BB yesterday while having my oil changed at Jiffy, and it was nothing but anti-Trump garbage. If no one buys that rag, they’ll cease to exist.

    • joetaxpayer
      February 19, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

      Gigi, couldn’t agree more. It’s not just Trump news. Any news that doesn’t fit there agenda is altered or not covered. Cancelled years ago.

  27. Spagirlfrommass
    February 19, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

    Did those of you who may read the Berkshire Eagle see the letter to the Editor stating that Mayor Tyer, City Council, and Pittsfield Police Dept need to know that there is a law regarding Handicapped Tags that says they do not have to pay money for parking anytime,and for however long they are parked. This is in regard to the kiosks.

    • Dilly Dally
      February 19, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

      I guess that means free parking for the handicapped.

    • h
      February 19, 2017 at 1:27 pm #

      So, if you have five parking spaces and all are occupied, they handicapped (: can park unlimited?

  28. H
    February 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

    Humpty Trumpty sat on the Wall
    Humpty Trumpty will wait until Fall
    All of his deportations
    And all of his billionaire friends
    Couldn’t help Trumpty pay for that Wall, ever again

    • joetaxpayer
      February 19, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

      Almost made it without crying about Trump. Making progress, grab a coloring book and a safe space and try to relax

  29. H
    February 19, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

    Cool is the rule jt

  30. mi
    February 19, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

    Of course the Judge is going to side with them, he’s Mexican. Trump actually said that, about an American Judge.. One of the many really dumb things Trump has said and continues to yelp. Only a matter of time before he says something he won’t be able to retract.

    • Gigi
      February 19, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

      Judges are not above being biased. Case in point: the current ruling against Trump’s EO on immigration. Purely political.
      The law clearly states that the President has the authority to put limitations on “aliens” from entering the country. And I’m not talking about space aliens.

    • 12 Gauge
      February 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

      “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,”

      Sonia Sotomayor

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