MontClairVoyant: This Montclair Year in Review Is Nothing to Sneeze At. ‘Achoo!’

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DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
For your final 2018 column, can you look back at Montclair’s 150th-birthday year? Starting with January, when Upper Montclair’s congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen decided not to run for reelection?

Sincerely,
Rhett Trospective

“We’re thrilled Frelinghuysen retired/his support of Trump, unexpired. He deemed town halls beyond his range/so NJ 11th for Change/challenged him from nuts to soup/we are grateful for that group.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Argh! Stop the verse! Moving on, what was Montclair’s major event of February 2018?

Sincerely,
Abraham Washington

The public forum featuring our school district’s three superintendent finalists. Unfortunately, only pre-submitted questions were allowed, adding “Snoozefest” to Montclair’s festival lineup.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Was a March highlight many Montclair students taking part in a walkout to protest school shootings after the horrific Parkland massacre?

Sincerely,
Here Comes the Gun

It was. Toys R Us declared bankruptcy that same March day, with the NRA claiming the doomed retailer would’ve thrived by selling real assault rifles for the kiddies.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Fake news, but sounds plausible given the way NRA execs do the blood-soaked bidding of profit-grasping gun manufacturers. On to April: Was the most memorable event the Board of Education picking a new superintendent?

Sincerely,
The Searchers

Yes. Kendra Johnson has had an impressive career, but the process was tainted when just four of seven BOE members attended the short-notice meeting — with one of those four “yes” voters for Dr. Johnson having already accepted a job in Indiana. Made the Electoral College seem democratic.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Then another of the four also left the BOE after questions about whether he’d been living in Montclair. Meanwhile, was May’s highlight a number of Montclair teachers receiving Governor’s Educator of the Year awards?

Sincerely,
Stars Among Stars

Absolutely. Those public school teachers are so great that their names appear in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. Or maybe it’s Genesis, the online education portal. It’s confusing to write while listening to Genesis…

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The prog-rock band! Overdevelopment in Montclair was a low-light every month of 2018, but did you particularly chuckle when a traffic “expert” said at a June Planning Board meeting that a proposed Park Street apartment building wouldn’t worsen Watchung Plaza’s congestion?

Sincerely,
Lies A. Minnelli

It was exactly like a “Saturday Night Live” skit with Kate McKinnon — minus the originality, credibility, believability, acting talent, production values, YouTube views…

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
In July, the impressive Latifah Jannah joined the BOE. Twelve days earlier, Montclair’s Independence Day parade was as diverse, liberal, and interesting as ever, right?

Sincerely,
Go Fourth and Multiply

And those old cars! I particularly liked seeing the 17th-century Toyota Prius first driven by Shakespeare and Cervantes before they died in 1616 reenacting the final scene of “Thelma & Louise.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
In August, torrential rain flooded the basement of Montclair’s beloved Studio Playhouse, ruining props and various other items. Wasn’t it great how the theater rebounded with the help of many donations and other community assistance?

Sincerely,
Alvin Place Matt

Great indeed! The shows went on, with one highlight an amazing November production of “Into the Woods,” about an Eagle Rock Reservation hike that ended in a terrifying encounter with Bigfoot (a Montclair developer).

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
It was a Stephen Sondheim musical, you idiot. The 2018-19 school year began in September, and a not-inspected-after-being-fixed-in-2016 stairway partly collapsed soon after at Montclair High. Other stairways were closed, too, and many classrooms became inaccessible. Depressing?

Sincerely,
Stairway to Hell

Very. Temporary classrooms were placed in the George Inness Annex parking lot, after which the ghost of artist Inness returned to do a painting of the scene. The result: “Trailer Blossoms, Montclair.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
In October, your column expressed anger about how almost everyone on Pinnacle’s website was white in images of the future “arts district.” The unfortunate shape of things to come for downtown Montclair?

Sincerely,
Trump Would Approve

Actually, the gentrification-pushing Pinnacle is all about diversity: Some of its mega-projects require 666 variances, others a mere 659.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Then, in November, Montclair resident Mikie Sherrill won the 11th District congressional seat being vacated by Republican Frelinghuysen, helping to bring a Democratic majority to the House. Comment?

Sincerely,
Free of Frelinghuysen

Scholars will study for years why the supposedly “moderate” Rodney became ultra-conservative. Was he scared of the far right? Afraid of the far right? Fearful of the far right? Frightened by the far right? Cowed by the far right? Tough to decide amongst those five very different scenarios.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
In December, Montclair residents were dismayed about the removal of one of the two mailboxes outside the Watchung Plaza post office. Bad decision?

Sincerely,
Dismissive of Missives

When I tried to mail a bill the Sunday before Christmas, the surviving mailbox was so full it couldn’t fit another envelope. So I tried the online approach, but the mailbox had no “pay” button to click.

Dave Astor, author, is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Dave, Happy New Year! How about a surprise opinion piece where you don’t mention Trump, profit, greedy, development, white, or any other virtue signally talking point. Come on you old crank there must be a ton of other things that get your shorts in a twist. Perhaps you can list all the projects that you are planning for 2019 that are going to employ people, beautify the town, and add to the tax receipts. Maybe you can work for a greedy developer and show them the light. I love a nice Brunello di Montalcino but every now and then I change my whine. Your a bright guy…throw us a change up.

  2. Thank you for commenting, flipside and jcunningham, and Happy New Year to you both!

    flipside, I do try to change things up in a way, here and there. I hadn’t done a year-in-review column for years, and this column included some praise (for award-winning teachers, new BOE member Latifah Jannah, the Studio Playhouse, and Montclair’s Fourth of July Parade), not just criticism. But if you’re asking me to change my liberal ideology and occasionally make conservative points for the sake of “balance,” that won’t happen. 🙂 People believe what they believe. I’m sure you’d feel the same way if someone asked you to be liberal part of the time.

  3. Dave, I am way more liberal than you think but I am realistic about paying for things. The private sector may seem greedy (at times it is) but we all benefit from it. I have spent time in socialist countries…no thanks.
    Jcunn…Happy New Year! Just because I disagree with Dave 90% of the time I do like him and I certainly respect is point of view. You, on the other hand….nah, just kidding. I enjoy your consistency. Always miserable, always snarky, always trolling, and never initiating an original thought. It’s all in good fun, lighten up. Carry on….

  4. Thank you for the follow-up comment, flipside. My apologies; I shouldn’t have assumed what your ideology is.

    There is indeed greed in many segments of the private sector; I would disagree that we all benefit from that. Some of us benefit some of the time, I guess.

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