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AMERICA, OUR AMERICA: WHEN DID YOU BECOME A LAND OF WEATHER WIMPS? or A PHILOSOPHICAL RUMINATION ON THE ATLANTIC RED BALL WEATHERMAN

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 By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 2012) — We need a break, my good friends. For one day, at least, let us dial it down. Welcome to March, in like Al Pacino and out like a dove bar.

Thus: No reports of scandal today. No malfeasance, manipulation, or misappropriation of funds. No hanky-panky. No more murders or near murders, more more hit-and-runs and near hit-and-runs. No cops on the take, no firemen on the stuff, and no teachers on the lam. No triple murders, double dealings, or single payer.

None of that. Today, we bring you …

The Weather.

!!CON-L-RAD BULLETIN!!

Three snowflakes have been reported hovering somewhere over Lake Ontario. They are tracking east, according to Doppler radar.

Quick! …

Stampede to the market to stock up on dried goods and canned goods. Hide the women and children. Call on the maker of ice cream to fight the concupiscent curds. Close the schools. Shutter  the colleges. Somehow, though, keep the Dreaded Private Sector open and opearting. Private business knows the secrets of functioning in a snowstorm, super secret knowledge that’s wiped out of the brain cells of anyone who feeds at the public trough.

It’s March 1, taxpayers, and we finally got a snowflake more than a dusting of you know what. It’s March 1, suckers, and you paid for day off for many public servants, including Yours Truly, who yesterday, for fabulous sums afforded to us from the state treasury, received a day’s pay for not one drop of the professor’s work. Berkshire Community College closed, you see.

Rather, Dan, we took our evening, put on a parka and snow pants, went out back to the lower 40, and with coyotes (the four-legged kind) howling deep in the banshee distance, send lofted prayers to every snowflake. We laughed and welcomed each one to earth. While the world shoveled and worried, THE PLANET became a kid.

In Stockbridge, by the time White Armageddon had wound down, we had probably 3.5 inches on the ground. That total is if the snow stands on a piece of paper, inhales helium, and inflated its chest to puff daddy portions. In other words, we didn’t get a whole heck of a lot.

We let not the dark encumber what through the moon does slumber. // The stars of the night gladly lent us their light like candles, clear and without number. 

That utterly inexplicable 21st century phenomenon known as The Weather Channel or How in the Heck Did We Get This Way?

The 24/7 news cycle, the eternal hurry the world has gotten itself into, invasive technology, and that utterly inexplicable 21st century phenomenon known as The Weather Channel have — among other factors — conspired to turn Americans into Weather Wimps. Adults fret and kids don’t play in it.

“Oh, I’m glad for the ski operators,” someone told THE PLANET yesterday.

“Why the fudge for?” we asked, only (like little Ralphie) we didn’t say fudge. We weren’t buying into the conventional thinking that,for some odd an unarticulated reason, we should play market favorites with the arcane dispositions of Mother Nature. The recipient of THE PLANET’s heresy reacted as if we were Giordano Bruno and she the messenger of the Inquisition‘s Holy Office.

“WTF,” as every other day of the week might say.

Ladies, and gentleman, if our developmental “experts” have de-commissioned the local economy to the point where we have to be glad for an undependable factor  such as weather (as they have!) to boost what is one of the few functioning industries remaining in Berkshire County, we might as well do something authentically stupid. Perhaps it should be anything as colossally dumb as nearly killing a guy with a car and driving away without reporting it. We’re talking plain, old dirt dumb, such as not defining the job description for the most expensive department within the city of Pittsfield and casting the search net to the four winds, giving candidates a mere two weeks to reply.

You know The Weather Situation is serious when the local Boob Channel leads with the weather and the TV meteorologist, Bobpaul Caianokovach, hair not quite the usual state of perfection, appears on camera without a jacket, the arms of his dress shirt rolled up to the elbow, and his tie loosened. The visual tells us: He’s been “Working.” That’s how bad the snow is. He has his jacket off.

He whizzes and whirls through his fancy electronic goose steps over an electronic map, and he gives you the dreadful but sponsored play-by-play, the electronic special effects practically “3D-ing” the falling of actual snow. The special effects snow makes it all look like a video game, because, you see, it actually is.

Stuff it, we say. We would prefer going outside and actually feel the real snow falling. Let it hit our warm skin and melt. Let a flake land on our tongue. For this pipsqueak storm, we did just that. We went outside and had fun. Even shuffle boarding the cars to remove the snow turned into great whimsy. “It’s all attitude,” as our dear friend David Kolman used to say.

Asphyxiate the Meteorologist, Please

Most “adults,” though, fall into the worry and have infected their children, who now prefer Grand Theft Auto to sledding, snow forts, sliding, and snowballs.

Ohmygawd! We might get six inches of snow. The horror. The horror. It’s then you realize you have two choices: Buy enough supplies to last to quarter of Armageddon or wrap your mouth around the exhaust pipe of a BRTA bus and suck in, deeply. It is snowing. You have no hope. You are doomed.

Chuck Doppler radar. Screw the constant weather updates. Suffocate any media outlet that flogs the weather so it can sell a bunch of commercial spots to sponsors. Save your bitching (“too hot … too cold … too much snow … not enough snow”). Asphyxiate the “meteorologist.” Give me crayons depicting high and low fronts on a cardboard map. Send me the silence of my senses. Deliver no commercial interruptions into my sacred life. Supply the affirmations of happiness. Let me see …

… the Atlantic Red Ball Weatherman.

Weather in the Raw: Analog with Magic Markers Making Love to Cardboard Maps

Back in those thrilling days of yesteryear, when we received three channels on our GE TV set (WRGB Channel 6, WTEN Channel 10, and WAST Channel 13), we did not need the slickened, sickened “meteorologist” with his college degrees and celebrity status.

We had a “weatherman.” He didn’t go to college to study wind currents or sunspots. He was typically a jack-of-all-trades staff announcer. On WRGB, Howard Tupper, who also hosted a bowling show (“TV Tournament Time“), double-dipped as the weatherman. He used to open every report with a greeting and, “How’rya doin’, small fry?”

“Small fry,” we would think, mesmerized. “He knows me by name!”

Tupper had an Alan Ludden crew-cut-and-glasses look, a man who wore tweed sport jackets as if they were made for him, alone, in mind. He wore a microphone that looked like a toilet paper tube clipped around his neck.

Channel 10 had Bob Gordon as the Atlantic Red Ball Weatherman. Bob was younger than Tupp, with dark, wavy hair and the look of a white-jacketed waiter on a ffive-star Italian cruise ship. Gordon would report the weather dressed as an Atlantic Red Ball gas station attendant: A utility uniform of matching works pants and shirt, crisply ironed; a black bow tie and matching belt, and an officer’s service cap with patten leather bill. Back then, it’s true: Gas pump jockeys dressed more formally than today’s CEO in a “dress down” corner office. Petrol cost two bits a gallon.

Tupper and Gordon — we bounced back and forth between the two depending on factors which to this day have eluded my heroic attempts of discovery — stood in front of cardboard maps of the United States and the local viewing area. They would narrate the weather, hand drawing high front, low fronts, sunshine, rain, and anything else Mom Nature might want to throw to the plate.

This hand drawing of the weather inspired THE PLANET to write and perform one of our first comedy sketches, for an eighth grade talent show. Long before George Carlin did Al Sleet, the Hippy Dippy Weatherman, THE PLANET did Howard Hailstone, the DVTV (get it?) weatherman. My schtick consisted of narrating an absolutely improbable weather scenario and using a black Magic Marker to draw in the highs, lows, and whatever else I could dream up  over my hand-drawn map. By the time I was done, practically the entire U.S. was blacked out. I ended with the English translation of the French for, “Where are the snows of yesterday?” which is, “Where are the snows of yesterday?”

It brought the house down. Then, as now, you had to be there, as I was last night.

Today, I saw a haunting image. I drove through a neighborhood rife with young families and children. Not one of the lawns or yards has a footprint. They kids had not played and were not playing in the snow.

You had to be there.

———————————————————————-

NOW, HOPING FOR MORE SNOW, WE SIGN OFF TO THE DRIFTS, the PALE MOUNDS THAT HOLD MY LOVELY DEAR.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

 

 

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JerryPosner
JerryPosner
11 years ago

Beautifully written, Dan. I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  JerryPosner
11 years ago

A Christmas story is one of my favorites the writing is put together and phrased perfectly and delivered by the actors as if it’s reality. The original story was written by Jean Shepard and I swear some day I will read everything he’s ever wrote.

Dave Bubriski
Dave Bubriski
11 years ago

What about the Old Skipper and Earl Pudney?

Scott
Scott
11 years ago

Dan how true about people and kids especially not going out in the weather. My belt went on my blower and I never fixed it so I’ve been shoveling by hand and it’s wonderful! It got the whole family outside and now we have an opportunity to go make some change by shoveling out a job I’m currently on and my son is going with me for the enjoyment of being outside, getting exercise and making a little scratch.

taxmano
taxmano
11 years ago

Enjoy your extra paid day off, Professor. Public schools have to make them up, though.

spectator
spectator
11 years ago

Masslive is reporting that Nilan’s lawyer is requesting dimissal on the grounds that all the case related documents have gone missing. That sounds pretty scandalous to me!

Bull Durham
Bull Durham
11 years ago

Nice, Dan. I love it. And agree with all of it. Except… might want to tell your superiors at BCC to man (or woman) up… MCLA had class both day and night, and did just fine. Not one student failed to attend my class at 6:30.

What I love about the tv weather guys is how much they rely on these stupid and insipid models. They always go with the one that proclaims the worst doom and gloom, and they end up starting with “4 to 6 inches,” followed a few hours later by, “8 to 10 inches,” and then the famous, “over a foot expected!” And, as with you, I had all of four inches of snow outside my door this morning in North Berkshire.

Four inches and schools closed? Hate to sound like my father, but… I did have to walk about a mile to get to my bus stop (unlike the kids who are literally picked up at their doors today and can’t walk an entire block to the next stop), and if we had four inches, we had school. If we had a foot, cancellation, and we were out in that snow all day having a grand old time – no computers needed.

I also just snicker at the hordes of people who act as if Armageddon is here and stockpile bread, eggs, milk, water, the night before a storm, as if it would be impossible for them to get to the PC or Big Y or S&S or Harry’s the next day.

Great article.

Ron Kitterman
Ron Kitterman
11 years ago

Looks like the classic the dog ate my homework defense is being used by Att. Shugrue ( thank you spectator) for his client Ms Nilan.

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/03/defense_attorney_files_motion.html “No one appears to know where they went,”

spectator
spectator
Reply to  Ron Kitterman
11 years ago

Shugrue should go into practice with Laywerin’ Joe Amendola

Pretty sure that most real media outlets(masslive, planetvalenti) have copies of most of the records related to this.

Maybe someone can loan them back to the court(as long as they trust Cliff Nilan not to destroy those too)

Sounds like the coverup continues to be perpetuated!

Still wondering
Still wondering
Reply to  Ron Kitterman
11 years ago

This whole thing is just totally out of control.

Anytime
Anytime
Reply to  Still wondering
11 years ago

This case has just been ratcheted up well beyond the stress point. Nilans’ Fix knows no shame. The papers are “missing”. Please ADA Mr. Prosecutor from Worcester, give us poor citiznes of Pittsfield some relief from this unholy mob..

Joetaxpayer
Joetaxpayer
Reply to  Ron Kitterman
11 years ago

Ron Att. Shurgrue does not need paper work,I believe the show cause hearing was taped.They gave those recordings to the Springfield judge who overturned Nat the fixers ruling.Nice try Shurgrue.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  Joetaxpayer
11 years ago

So, if the papers are lost and this case is dismissed, the logical conclusion would be for a fresh case to be introduced.

If we are seeing a cover up here, then the defendents don’t even have any cards to play.

Molly aka Nancy
Molly aka Nancy
11 years ago

BB reports that Pittsfield, so far this wiinter, has used up $500,000.00 of its $650,000.00 snow plowing budget. WHAT?? Even WTF?? This is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS!! I call for a full investigation and audit and hope that everyone else does too! We haven’t had any snow this winter!!! We had the October snow storm, then we had about 3″ a few months ago and THAT WAS IT!!! A half million dollars?? What the HELL???!!!!

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Molly aka Nancy
11 years ago

“We haven’t had any snow this winter!!!”

Well that’s not completely true…

Molly aka Nancy
Molly aka Nancy
Reply to  Scott
11 years ago

Come on – we certainly haven’t had much and not a half million dollars worth of clean-up.

Molly aka Nancy
Molly aka Nancy
11 years ago

Regardless of Dan’s nice, calming snow write-up today, I find myself steaming mad between Barbalunga being a dictator with an obvious agenda and now Collingwood still having a job and going through a half million dollars for snow plowing during a snow-less winter!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr And now, suddenly, all paperwork dealing with the Meredith Nilan is MISSING???? My blood is at a boiling point! Come on Bianchi, show some guts and get this kind of crap out of Pittsfield once and for all!!!

Monitor
Monitor
Reply to  Molly aka Nancy
11 years ago

Perhaps. we should rehire John Barrett as the DPW consultant, exactly like mayor Ruberto did. I understand Mr. Barrett is still employed in Pittsfield in a Ruberto appointment. Hmmm ? Aren’t all the city department heads still Ruberto appointees ? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Monitor
11 years ago

Wait a minute is DV and the monitor the same person? (weird!)

Molly aka Nancy
Molly aka Nancy
Reply to  danvalenti
11 years ago

You’re calling Scott “babe” now? LOL

Anytime
Anytime
Reply to  Molly aka Nancy
11 years ago

Wow. That stinks to high heaven, what doesn’t in The Pitts. Half a million on hardly any snow. Looks like we have another water dept type theft on our hands. Bianchi, “show some guts and get this kind of crap out of Pittsfield once and for all.” (from Molly Nancy)

Dee
Dee
11 years ago

Maybe one of the reasons that 1/2 mil has been used up is that everyone, and I do mean everyone, complains to hell and back if there is a dusting of snow on the road and the sand trucks aren’t out in force. There have been several nusiance storms and regardless of whether it’s an inch of snow or 6″, the same amount of trucks have to be deployed and salt/sand put down. The same amount of manpower has to be used.

Hell, the city council even wanted the highway dept. to explain why roads weren’t bare pavement two days after a storm.

So, if people have an issue with the amount of money expended so far, perhaps they should STFU when the snow hits the road.

Molly aka Nancy
Molly aka Nancy
Reply to  Dee
11 years ago

So last year when there was SOOOOO much snow that there was nowhere left to put it – constant huge snow storms – what was the amount of money we went through then? Ten Million? Twenty? Even if they did go out and salt the roads a few times, that’s much different than needing to constantly plow all the roads during a big storm…

Are you saying that you think spending a half million dollars for snow plowing during this snowless winter is reasonable? Or even possible?

Joetaxpayer
Joetaxpayer
Reply to  Molly aka Nancy
11 years ago

Molly it is the use it or lose it model.The plow guys want to make there money regardless of snow amounts.The highway dept. does not like to give any money back,but will be have no problem asking for more.Also must agree with Dee people must learn how to drive on snow covered roads or stay home,cannot afford or expect instant pavement.

Molly aka Nancy
Molly aka Nancy
Reply to  Joetaxpayer
11 years ago

I don’t disagree with that — I’ve lived in the Berkshires all my life and learned how to drive in the snow a looong time ago. There doesn’t need to be instant pavement – most people expect it to be slippery during a storm. I also don’t expect to spend half a million dollars during a record setting winter of no snow… Bianchi has got to look into this…

outfox
outfox
11 years ago

Love today’s column!

Concern
Concern
11 years ago

Quote of day. Clerk of Courts Chris Speranzo “couldn’t be found for complaint”. What a joke this is !!!!!

dusty
dusty
Reply to  Concern
11 years ago

the guy is hardly ever around and when he is he don’t talk to nobody. Whadda guy. He was probably told it was a cushy no show job and no w people have the gall to ask him questions???

Joetaxpayer
Joetaxpayer
Reply to  danvalenti
11 years ago

Hey I resemble that remark.Dan why pick on the Italians or New Jersey.Why can’t the Irish guys from Southie take them out back.

dusty
dusty
Reply to  danvalenti
11 years ago

maybe they ARE the Italian guys from New jersey

Concern
Concern
11 years ago

How come the Eagle allowed a letter to editor to appear today defending Nat the fixer. No other letters on Nilan case was permitted I understood. Who is this person from Springfield defending Nat. Bet your money he ( writter ) is a good old friend or works at the courts. Nat the fixer or idiot either is one or the other.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  danvalenti
11 years ago

Yeah right they get a pay check like I said before, “it’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job (or the people in the other department.) but it’s a depression when you lose yours”.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  Concern
11 years ago

Why complain about that particular letter? Now, if the letter were intelligently argued I could see your concern.

I wouldn’t want my name associated with that verbiage, and the author scores zero for his colleague.

Molly aka Nancy
Molly aka Nancy
Reply to  levitan
11 years ago

The main point is that this is the ONLY “letter to the editor” that has been printed about the Nilan case thus far! They are all so blatant that it is truly disturbing. Nathan Byrnes should lose his job as far as I’m concerned.

Scott
Scott
11 years ago

Dan, your new picture reminds me of Norman Rockwell he’s quoted as saying “I like to take a face and see how much I can stretch it!”

tito
tito
11 years ago

The 1870’s.

Molly aka Nancy
Molly aka Nancy
11 years ago

From MassLive.com: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/03/springfield_school_committee_f.html
Springfield School Committee fine-tunes superintendent search

“The Committee has conducted six community meetings thus far to gather input from the public, including residents and business people, parents, students, teachers and other stakeholders.

The School Committee is also welcoming those interested in serving on a 13-member Superintendent Search Committee to send a letter of interest or resume…”. “The committee will be composed of three parent reps, three community reps, two business reps, two teachers, two administrators and a student.”

What do we get? A directive from Barbalunga!!! What a leader he is!!

dusty
dusty
Reply to  Molly aka Nancy
11 years ago

I think mayor Bianchi needs to call him out on this in public. If not this will set one hell of a precedent for the GOB in the new administration

Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy
11 years ago

Dan:

Great post. Very much concur:

Some Syracuse-based reminiscences/observations:

Ron Curtis, later the Dean of Syracuse TV Journalists, was, early on, an Atlantic Weatherman. I’m not sure whether this was before or after he co-hosted “Fashions at Luncheon.” (Which I hadn’t thought of in years, way before your time. And I hope not to think of it again for many years to come.)

And I recall our friend George Carr once scoffing at a TV weather guy by saying something like, “Aw, he calls the Weather Bureau just like everyone else!”

Remember the time (maybe 1977) when there was supposed to be a huge storm — including hurricane-force winds — hitting the city and RCA (I think) had John Wisniewski call people like me and have us come in extra early? Which I did, with the result that Swayze asked why the hell I was there so early, and Mekeel opined that it was silly to get the newsroom staff in early because the union printers required much more notice before coming in early.

Anyway, the “storm” never materialized. Never. Nothing like it. Nothing at all, in fact, as Is remember. Our executive ed, Mr. G, wrote an angry editorial (I think) instead of sending Zeus a greenie, and our ME had someone doctor a Mauldin cartoon to suit this purpose.

My own take is that all the male “meteorologists” are guys who couldn’t cut it in sports broadcasting, so they’ve applied the same “rah-rah” approach to weather. (“Not much of a matchup today, fans — those cirrus clouds are third-stringers at best — but boy do we have a good one coming up this weekend — ten inches of snow with gale force winds and a 40 percent chance of locusts!”)

Meanwhile, female “meteorologists” seem more sensible, even endearingly maternal. (“It’s going to be very, very, cold, but you know, we have been through this before — it is winter, of course — so just bundle up, wear extra layers, and when you get home I’ll make some cocoa.”)

Best,
mark

GMHeller
GMHeller
11 years ago

No doubt the alleged $500K spent by Pittsfield so far in snow clean-up is so that Pittsfield’s DPW, in the event there is not much more snow clean-up this Winter, can claimed nonetheless that DPW used up its entire snow budget for the year and will naturally need more of the same in next year’s budget (whether or not anywhere near $500K was actually used at all).
The mantra of every Federal and State agency is “Use it or lose it”.

GMHeller
GMHeller
11 years ago

Mr. Valenti,
In re: The ‘Missing’ Nilan Hit-Run case files.
Wouldn’t all case files be in the possession of District Attorney David Capeless’ office once Justice Hadley in Springfield overturned the decision of Magistrate Nathan Byrnes (chain of custody and all that)?

JenS
JenS
Reply to  GMHeller
11 years ago

No,DA is not prosecuting the case. The judge has the files. Shugrue is slinging bs here as usual. “It’s a closed case.” “The files are lost.” When is anyone going to wake up to this snake in the grass?

Anytime
Anytime
11 years ago

Heres my two cents on school superintendent hiring. Please, Mayor Bianchi and other members of hte school board, please overturn the move of one man to determine a rushed, incomplete with no community input call for applicants. We need community input, hearings, and public disucssion of board members. Mayor Bianchi you are a member of the school baord. All it will take is a 4-3 vote to overturn the chairman’s rash move.