(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS TO NEW YEAR’S DAY, 2017-18) — Let’s kiss another year goodbye. Let the kiss be welcomed and enjoyed, without a trace presumption or perfunction.  THE PLANET saw, endured, and welcomed many changes this years — privately, personally, and professionally — and each was or will ultimately prove to be a good one, for we have learned that the more things stay the same, the more they change. It works the other way around, also.

Our late, great friend, novelist Hollis Hodges — like Brooklyn Dodger first baseman Gil Hodges, a native of Indiana — used to hold court as the resident wise man at Heaton Hall in Stockbridge. THE PLANET was a regular at his sessions, one on one, old age speaking to middle. As a man who had lived through and been to war, alcoholism, divorce, estrangement from family, and more, he had seen enough ups and downs of life to last 28 lifetimes — especially the downs. He nonetheless showed a resolution not to be defeated by circumstance or wallow in failure. He successfully wrote novels with major publishers, two of them bought by Hollywood and one making it to the big screen. It wasn’t all roses in June, however.

Hodges reminded THE PLANET of Leo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist. In his 90th year, Tolstoy experienced a crises of faith. The man who had written War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and a number of other towering works that alone would have defined a stellar legacy, reflected on his life and concluded that he had done nothing. He thought he had failed. Hodges traveled down that same conceptual road, as, truly, we all must do when reckoning both with Life and with a life. The confrontation is never easy, for, along with triumphs and the oases of happiness, life contains too many mistakes, regrets, disappointments, and losses. How do we deal with them? Hodges followed Tolstoy. He wrestled with his demons.

When a person does that in resolution and determination, the demons ALWAYS lose. It makes the battle no less easy and many shy away, but it provides a large measure of lasting comfort and solace, those two twins of fulfillment and cousin of memory. Hodges emerged from the match victorious, irrespective of how he felt about it. Feelings as information are useful, but they are notoriously unreliable both as the basis of action in the present moment (which is all we ever have) or to resolve and come to terms with the past. THE PLANET must add that we never directly asked him if he had won, or if he felt he had won or lost. It didn’t matter. We knew. Hollis Hodges took up the task of living, and he lived it to the full. That’s victory.

THE PLANET shares this story with a secondary generosity in mind. We want to pass along one of Hodges’ favorite sayings, a personal mantra he would recite with the conviction of a man about to die for a cause. The gem consisted of three little words, ones we have made our own:

“It’s all okay.”

Even when it’s not okay, it is okay because time invariably proves it so. Think of the saying as a form of universal forgiveness of the kind associted with the words “God” and “mercy” and provides the basis for faith in universal and unconditional forgiveness for what we call sin. Afterlife or no, time sweeps us along and dissolves our earthly coil back into the atoms from which we derived. The recyling is certain and, at the risk of characterizing the ineffable to the point of caricature, benign. Only the form of it remains anyone’s guess.

Allow THE PLANET, then, to wish you all a Happy Christmas and the best of New Years. Friend or foe and everyone neither, both, or in between, we repeat the words that end every PLANET column: “Love to All.”

And remember, no matter what life throws at you, it’s all okay.

We shall reform here on THE PLANET after New Year’s Day. Enjoy the break but feel free to come here in the interim with your comments. Communication at this address is always a two-way affair.


“God bless us all”Timy Tim, from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.



The Usual Disclaimer.



  1. SisterGoldenHair
    December 31, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

    Let us not forget the Community Preservation Tax added on, nor the huge increase coming in 2018 for the high school we didn’t need and can’t afford. Both of which Recliner Tyer supported. And the boring broadsheet called it a small increase. Pittsfield’s rate of increase was through the roof compared to Lenox.

    • SojournerTruth
      January 1, 2018 at 5:08 am #

      Is there an exemption for seniors in the new community preservation tax ? How does one apply for it ?

      • Jim M
        January 1, 2018 at 6:04 am #

        There is supposed to be an exemption for seniors but when I read the law it stated the senior had to be below a certain poverty level. If you do qualify you still have to pay the tax then apply for a rebate, you only have a short window of time to apply and the last time I checked with the tax collectors office they didn’t have rebate forms and they didn’t know when to apply for the rebate. We got shafted again.

        • Thomas More
          January 1, 2018 at 8:19 am #

          When they were encouraging the people to vote for this we were told that seniors did not have to pay the tax. The dopes believed them so now they pay.

  2. mi
    December 31, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

    S G H, you seem to be well Informed? can I ask a question? Does Covanta pay taxes?

  3. h
    December 31, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    I thought Bob Eubanks was dead

  4. Harlan RinkleNutts
    December 31, 2017 at 4:03 pm #

    I thought I had seen all the Rambo flicks until I saw this recent one, kick ass Rambo5! Slash this ridiculous tax hike, also.

  5. H
    December 31, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    The key to Pittsdields future is to get the dead beats out of here. Zero toleramce for repetitive crime and calls!!!Start enforcing the driving laws.And get rid of Rogue Cops.

  6. The school committee
    December 31, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    2018 will be the year Trump apologizes for being the biggest ahole in the world.Puttin will spill the beans on Trump

    • 12 Gauge
      December 31, 2017 at 7:23 pm #

      You should up your fiber intake.

  7. Local Yokel
    December 31, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

    Why would any American politician deal with Putin, a known assssasin.

  8. The school committee
    December 31, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

    Trump ended 2017 by taking a dump on America.And 62million love it.

    • dusty
      January 1, 2018 at 2:13 am #

      and they don’t even know it. They are somewhat like Scientologists who refuse to believe what is right in front of them. So sad. So sad for all of us.

      • Pat
        January 1, 2018 at 6:29 am #

        Yes, so sad Dusty, that companies will start hiring and expanding again. That companies will stop moving out of the country. That people will no longer need to depend on food stamps to survive. It is truly a dark time for our country.

        People are getting the message though that we need to put another Democrat (Progressive) in the White House to return the country to the glory days of punishing companies and encouraging them to leave the country so that everyone will be forced to live on food stamps and depend on big government. It’s only a matter of time before we return to that paradise of government being all powerful and telling us what to do and taking care of us as long as we let them get big and all powerful. As long as we look the other way and ignore government corruption like the media encourages us to do when Democrats are in power. It’s only a matter of time before we return to that Shangri-La.

        • Thomas More
          January 1, 2018 at 7:31 am #

          like dusty said, “and they don’t even know it.”

  9. H
    January 1, 2018 at 7:56 am #

    Trump will make him and his rich buddie friends,ten times richer down the road, companies always control their roll. Downturn in the economy, they’ll lay off people, increases prices or move or sell off(stock) buy and sell,called supply and demand always driven by gold futures Inflation and Higher interest rates, so dollar doesn’t devalue,Trump and Ryan took care of that with his trillion dollar tax bonus for the Boyz. They’re all in in together, almost every Politician in Washington, including former pols, like the Clintons with see tax windfalls. Happy New Year Middle Class.

    • Pat
      January 1, 2018 at 9:47 am #

      Just look what the Boyz and the Girlz in Berkshire County have done to the economy here….oh, that’s right, we don’t actually have an economy here. Dan V. and many on this site have said so before. We have a regular Walmart for shopping as the Berkshire Mall is teetering on the edge (to the delight of Progressives who hate malls and big box stores), Businesses continue to face future uncertainly (Crane in Dalton for one) while the latest casualty has been Country Curtains.

      People like Dusty and Thomas More live in denial….retirees no doubt who are no longer competing for the few jobs that do exist here in Berkshire County.

      • Thomas More
        January 1, 2018 at 10:56 am #

        sorry pat, i’m not retired, I work 7 days a week.

        • Thomas More
          January 1, 2018 at 11:27 am #

          None-the-less, I’ll thank you for myself and Dusty and all the folk like us for the enlightenment that you offer. We do have our collective heads in the sand. If only those rotten progressives would all die, you would be back in your Utopian world and have your old job back that would take care of your 12 year molars.

      • dusty
        January 1, 2018 at 11:18 am #

        Pat, Omarosa just left an opening at the White House. If you hurry Donnie might give you an interview. You obviously worship the man and that is his main criteria for hiring people.

        “Get on a bus…forget about us..da ta da ta da”

        • Pat
          January 1, 2018 at 5:33 pm #

          I don’t worship ANY politician. That’s the point. No politician is worthy of worship. Keep government SMALL is my motto.

  10. The school committee
    January 1, 2018 at 7:56 am #

    2018 will bring an expanded more powerful swamp and a much stronger dose of koolaid as the lower class fight for Trump right to be above the law or to make him a god,just going to sit and watch Trump toy with as he said….the stupids.The wealthy own America today and lies rule the land as discernment has been replaced by nationalism.

    • 12 Gauge
      January 1, 2018 at 8:38 am #

      Too bad the fiber hasn’t worked yet.

    • Cos
      January 1, 2018 at 9:32 am #

      Take away from the mostneedy and watch crime stagger up at all to highs, people with nothing to lose, have nothing to lose.

      • Pat
        January 1, 2018 at 9:50 am #

        That’s why crime has been out of control here in Berkshire County what with prostitution rings, drugs, and general mayhem due to the lack of jobs here in Berkshire County for quite some time which Progressives have no interest in addressing. Why no concern about local crime related to poverty and lack of jobs, but BIG concern when Trump does something to potentially stimulate the economy?

        Talk about denial.

        • The school committee
          January 1, 2018 at 10:04 am #

          No jobs for Pittsfield under Trump…hes in year 2

        • dusty
          January 1, 2018 at 11:20 am #

          speaking of crime locally…why do I see bad things happening in Pittsfield on the Raids Online site that never show up in the local paper? Is Tyer scrubbing the news?

  11. dusty
    January 1, 2018 at 9:14 am #

    Mayor Tyer must be Trumps lost sister. She gives tax breaks to her millionaire friends and socks it to the less fortunate. Says a lot about her character and lack of morals.

    • Pat
      January 1, 2018 at 9:51 am #

      Mayor Tyer is a Progressive Dusty.

  12. The school committee
    January 1, 2018 at 10:11 am #

    Mayor Tyer is hiding,my taxes up 33% under Tyer…is she closing PHS,CROSBY,ALLENDALE…..we are losing people by over 1000 per year…..retired 78 year olds working everywhere to pay Pittsfield Taxes..
    ..We need to shrink ,shrink ,shrink….more people working at school department than last year…..Mccandless is driving retired people out

    • dusty
      January 1, 2018 at 11:22 am #

      I know one guy who’s property valuation went up $60,000. Not happy….

      • Cos
        January 1, 2018 at 11:27 am #

        That’s ludicrous, Assessors should be ashamed.

      • Nota
        January 1, 2018 at 12:30 pm #

        Yeah, that guy had a garbage receptical out in front of his building, probably. That would raise it substantially.