Part Four of a Series; Editor’s Note: THE PLANET is extending this series one more installment.

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE WEEKEND EDITION, SEPT. 29-OCT. 1, 2017) — THE PLANET heard again from our inside source at the Berkshire Museum (BM), Sunny. He/she relayed how our series has been received by the BM Biggies, and it has been with a mixture of embarrassment, denial, and the misplaced anger that  comes from wanting to shoot the messenger.

THE PLANET, Sunny says, was lumped with “the blankety-blank media” in purveying “fake news,” a sure sign that we have been on target with a direct hit. We have also received private hate mail that brings us to share George Orwell’s observation in “Shooting an Elephant” of being important enough to be hated. This we can laugh at and off. Over the course of a long career in journalism, much of an investigative nature, we have long since been used to this kind of reaction. Actually, we welcome it, since it indicates that we have been proven effective in our rhetorical mission. Of course, no one loves to be hated, but when the haters hate you, it comes off as love. It can’t be helped.

This tells us we have pissed off the right people in supporting a just cause on behalf of the true victims here. They would be the citizens of Pittsfield, the residents of Berkshire County, the erstwhile and would-be visitors of the BM, the art world in general, and individual artists in particular, especially those who live and work in Berkshire County. We stand with those citizens, those residents, those visitors, and those artists. We oppose those at the BM who have made such poor decisions, those who have run up an inexcusable debt, and those who have dumbed down the museum to the point where it rivals Chuck E. Cheese.

We have been taken to task for not uncovering any criminality in the finances and accused of taking the BM’s financial apologies out of context and with distortion. Again, it tells us we have blasted the target to smithereens. We didn’t uncover graft, bribes, money laundering, or any such criminality in the BM’s “Summary of Finances” on its web page because we weren’t looking for it. Moreover, that would be the last place to look.

Criminality? We make no such assertion. That allegation can only be made on hard  evidence. In that vein, what the actual books of this private not-for-profit may reveal stands as another matter THE PLANET is not equipped to address, up or down. Only the truthful numbers of a forensic audit by an independent accounting firm willing to dig can answer that question. It does occur to us that considering the much-maligned sale (and rape) of Norman Rockwell and other iconic artwork expected to bring in anywhere between $50 and $80 million — large and tempting sums, indeed — we wouldn’t rule out a thing. Given that such an audit will not happen only reinforces a trip on that train of thought.

But be clear. THE PLANET makes no such allegations, nor have we seen any evidence to think outright criminality plays any role here. Therefore, let’s give the benefit of the doubt and state our faith. Let us assume executive director Van Shields, trustees’ president “Buzz” McGraw, and the remainder of the board are saints who would never give into the temptation generated by so much money about to line the debt-ridden coffers — though with that, we are reminded of Sir Harry Wooten‘s statement to Dorian Gray in the Oscar Wilde classic that the surest way to resist a temptation is to yield to it.

——– ooo ——–

Delapidations come in many form. You have blight, which one can see, for example, at Hess Forest on Tyler Street or the old KFC on East Street (so much for campaign promises, eh Linda Tyer?). Then there’s the ugly raw-nerve cavity formed by the presence and commerce of drug dealers, gangs, and other such urban scum that have turned North Street into a ghost town (too late to ask Ernie Jordan, the hot-dog man; the crowded emptiness of the sidewalks and the ridiculous parking situation drove him out of business). Another variety of degradation, for which Pittsfield has become famous in this generation, is white-collar cholera, a form of crass stupidity that has many causes. That’s what we’re dealing with in the BM situation.

The most serious systemic problem at the BM has to be the state of a deeply divided board, held in a public counterfeit of unity only by intimidation and fear. That much seems clear from what Sunny says, and this is a person who would have cause to know. The poisonous schism should make anyone pause before giving the BM any kind of support, be it attendance, donations, or a morale-lifting “atta way to go!” Shields, McGraw, and their co-conspirators do not deserve it.

The divided state of the BM administrators and staff, and the fear that’s tenuously holding things precariously together, guarantees certain failure, no matter how much money the art sale yields.

THE PLANET makes this appeal to the BM Biggies: There’s still time to call off the sale. Stand for something good, for a change.


Have a great weekend, everybody.

Coming Monday, Pt 5 concludes this series.


“One more hour and we’ll be there and laughing, too.”Yes, “Roundabout.”



The Usual Disclaimer.


  1. Jonathan Melle
    September 28, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

    50 Massachusetts communities with the HIGHEST per capita, which means per person, percentage of violent crime:
    1. North Adams – 1.38%
    9. Pittsfield – 0.79%
    Stay off of:
    North st.
    Tyler st.
    Lincoln st.
    First st.
    Second st.
    Linden st.
    Dewey ave
    Cherry st.
    Burbank st.
    Kent ave
    Madison ave
    And Seymour st.
    And you might survive.

    Conclusion: Pittsfield and North Adams are the homes of the Underclass! Pittsfield and North Adams socioeconomic growth numbers are increases in the welfare rolls, crime statistics, job and population loss, and an entrenched political system ran by the Good Old Boys. When one reads about Pittsfield and North Adams’ socioeconomic indicators, they choose to move out of these post-industrial, polluted, corrupted communities!

    • Chris P. Bacon
      September 29, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

      Pittsfield will try harder and next time we’ll be # 1.

      • Jonathan Melle
        September 29, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

        Pittsfield is #1 in raising taxes by 5% each fiscal year, increasing its municipal debts by well over $10 million each fiscal year, while giving tax breaks to wealthy people like Richard Stanley or GE funds to rich businesses like Covanta. The lovely Linda Tyer uses the terms “vibrant” and “dynamic” to describe Pittsfield. She lives in a gated community home with Barry, who people say is “scary”, and socializes at HON with the Good Old Boys. Pittsfield’s “vibrancy” and “dynamism” is beset by population and job loss, violent crime, and level 5 public schools.

  2. Chris P. Bacon
    September 28, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

    And the beat goes on.

  3. dusty
    September 29, 2017 at 12:35 am #

    I may have missed it but what are the salaries of the top five employees of the Berkshire Museum? Any benefits? Where does this money come from and who administrates it?

  4. The school committee
    September 29, 2017 at 1:20 am #

    The Mayor needs to close 2 school buildings with the Crosby building and its mold being a problem for children and staff.Allendale has a chemical dump from GE under it.Tyer and McCandless are in denial about both being sick buildings.Close them at any cost and move on.

    • Chris P. Bacon
      September 29, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

      The mold has nothing to do with GE.

  5. Spagirl
    September 29, 2017 at 2:21 am #

    Two board trustees of the Berkshire Museum resign. Riordan didnt agree with the decision, and Feldman could not be reached for comment. It is pretty clear this is mismanagement, with a devastating result.

    • danvalenti
      September 29, 2017 at 7:32 am #

      The BM is crumbling from within, which makes the planned art sale and rape an even bigger travesty. Kudos the Riordan and Feldman for their courage.

  6. Len X Abhorant
    September 29, 2017 at 4:04 am #

    Kitty Lichtenstein, Citizens of Berkshire County turns it’s lonely eyes to you.

  7. Dilly Dally
    September 29, 2017 at 4:12 am #

    Looks like Buzz has two in the Penalty Box.

    • danvalenti
      September 29, 2017 at 7:30 am #

      Yeah, she was called for high sticking.

      • H
        September 29, 2017 at 8:11 am #

        Sounds like Charging .

        • H
          September 29, 2017 at 8:14 am #

          Amd slashing.

  8. dusty
    September 29, 2017 at 4:43 am #

    Will there be a Festival of Trees this year? Just wondering because the Grinch seems to be lurking around in the museum shadows.

    and is it true that OLD BILL wound up in the dumpster somewhere?

  9. Mr. G
    September 29, 2017 at 5:03 am #

    I love it! You say:

    “THE PLANET, Sunny says, was lumped with “the blankety-blank media” in purveying “fake news,” a sure sign that we have been on target with a direct hit.”

    Remember that next time the Donald says the same thing. Every time he calls “fake news” the report is on target too.

    • Still wondering
      September 29, 2017 at 6:42 am #

      Apples and Oranges, Mr. G (Pun intended)

      • danvalenti
        September 29, 2017 at 7:29 am #

        Yes, and more likely apples and orangutans.

        • Mr. G
          September 29, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

          Heyyyy…c’mon now Dan. Let’s at least respect the office of the presidency if not the holder. No need to call him an orangutan!

          • danvalenti
            September 29, 2017 at 8:23 pm #

            Nice try, my good friend, but the offending term doesn’t refer to the Prez. Need I say more? Hmmmmm?

  10. mi
    September 29, 2017 at 8:05 am #

    The Museum should have an A T M .

  11. tommy
    September 29, 2017 at 11:49 am #

    NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hot Harry’s has renamed their super stuff burrito after Pittsfield’s state rep.

    • Wild in the Streets
      September 29, 2017 at 11:55 am #

      The Buffalo?

      • tommy
        September 29, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

        Actually the WHALE burrito

        • LoneGunMan
          September 30, 2017 at 10:01 pm #

          And all this time I assumed Melville was writing about Greylock…

    • 12 Gauge
      September 29, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

      I did her hot Bettie Page bangs.

      • 12 Gauge
        September 29, 2017 at 4:48 pm #


      • H
        September 29, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

        Wasn’t that the Gidget look or sumthin?

  12. Shelly Liver
    September 29, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    Driving down Tyler St. today, you couldn’thelp seeing trash in the gutter and it already looks like the cans are fading, the one with the Bird Plop on it is very pronounced.

    • danvalenti
      September 29, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

      A fitting monument for a failing administration … is is that “failed?”

  13. Cosbies
    September 29, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    Well Dan, I think only approprate
    that you get Ernie Jordan on the Show, maybe in a short Movie.

    • 12 Gauge
      September 29, 2017 at 4:49 pm #

      hmmmm….who could handle the weiners now?

  14. mi
    September 29, 2017 at 3:31 pm #

    News Thirteen Anchor Banana Zahn did a little clip on Ernie, she said he’ll still be involved in Third Tuesdays?

  15. Jonathan Melle
    September 29, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    Will the Red Sox win at least one more game this weekend?
    Maybe the Yankees will lose at least one more game this weekend?

  16. dusty
    September 30, 2017 at 1:04 am #

    Regarding the big white ostentatious garbage truck glaring out from the intersection of Tyler and Woodlawn Ave, could the city perhaps get it finest artistic folk to paint the city logo on it?

    I am not sure what that logo is these days. Pittsfield Proud? Winning? Losing?
    How about, At Least We Are Not Puerto Rico.

    • Wild I the Street
      September 30, 2017 at 6:03 am #

      The truck should not be allowed to stand like like.

    • Spider
      September 30, 2017 at 7:48 am #

      That truck is an eye sore. And in one of the most heavily traveled streets in our city.

      What the hell is it going to take to have it removed?

      • mi
        September 30, 2017 at 8:19 am #

        two tires and a new battery.

  17. The school committee
    September 30, 2017 at 2:08 am #

    Pittsfield = Violence…the next Mayor is screwed and there will be a new mayor.Millions spent on Berkshire museum and Shaker museum both going broke.Now Pittsfield going broke……..Police in Pittsfield base pay should be 125k.Its like New York City in the 60s and 70s…..pittsfield fails as simple budgets cant be cut by 5%….Yon,Taylor,Mccandless, Tyer,Simonelli, and not one of them have a number 2 pencil and scratch paper….they have reaped the rewards of a bankrupt town…..they know where the money is and wont take action.Pittsfield needs a leader and they dont live here anymore.

    • mi
      September 30, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

      I wonder what the Planet thinks of the Community Preservation Tax. wonder Haas and Ruffer have been reunited.

  18. Len X Abhorant
    September 30, 2017 at 6:04 am #

    The truck should be removed,agreed.

  19. SisterGoldenHair
    September 30, 2017 at 7:30 am #

    Thank you Dan, for taking it to the BM. Van Shields, the board, and Ruberto all seem to claim the end justifies the means, and Shield’s even admitted they are violating the ethical tenants of museums to ensure long term viability. Why do they have to have funds for 100 years anyway? And how much does Shields get paid? And how many positions are there and what do they pay? How do we know they are mismanaged as all hell. And yes, we have a say because we paid for a new roof for the museum, if I recall – money that came from the GE Fund, which is now known as The Great Pissaway – because it’s all been pissed away, or soon will be.

    • acheshirecat
      September 30, 2017 at 8:58 am #

      Well guess what sis, this is de ja vu all over again. The former director of BM Stuart Chase did the same thing as Van Shields by auctioning off 3 Russian paintings at Sotheby’s in 2008 for 7 Million as part of the payment for the roof.

      I also remember one of the Fontaine brothers sold stuff from the museum around the same time.

      • Shelly Liver
        September 30, 2017 at 9:38 am #

        Fontaines are good folks, they were at little league and always had good convo with the parents.

        • acheshirecat
          September 30, 2017 at 2:31 pm #

          Yes, I agree they are good folks

  20. Shelly Liver
    September 30, 2017 at 10:06 am #

    Criminals and derilecs other street.

  21. SisterGoldenHair
    September 30, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    Hey acheshirecat, thank you for the link. Here is a link from the same website that kind of covers the current big sell off, soup to nuts, as they say.

  22. CosbiesLadies
    September 30, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    With so many Curators and Board Members changing, what is -are stipulations,concerning selling donated Art? Is there anyone on here that knows the answer to this Important question? If you were an entity like Rockwell, why wouldn’t you just keep the Art and have you’re own exclusive venue? People of Pittsfield let sixty million worth of Art go, and they end up with painted,cheap looking garbage cans and a Garbage Truck with two Flat Tires down the Street. Hell, those Paintings could have been used to start the BIC, or feed the homeless, or pay Monterosso off,or give Barrett the D P W job permanent,give the City Councilors and School Committee raises,get a new shot spotter, raises for City Administration, et al.

  23. Wild inI the Streets
    September 30, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

    What is going on up at Churchill Road, everytime we drive through, the Road is filthy.Who owns it?

  24. Wild inI the Streets
    September 30, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

    Suc it

  25. The school committee
    September 30, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

    2 year moratorium on G E funds,nobody gets nothing.

    • Harry Merkin
      September 30, 2017 at 7:30 pm #

      They better pass that restriction before it’s all gone.

    • Jazz Nupravnick
      October 1, 2017 at 11:32 am #

      Exce.lent SC and no. O hiring at Mercers

  26. Trumped Up
    September 30, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    Send all the remaining fundsto Puerto Rico, it should get there by next Wednesday.

  27. Madame Du Barry
    October 1, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

    O J will be coming to a community near you.