MontClairVoyant: More Than Enough Montclair News for a Movie (at the Bellevue)

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DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Much to discuss today. The deputy mayor controversy. The complaint that was thankfully filed against the Lackawanna Plaza redo. The plan to thankfully reopen the Bellevue Theatre. Other major news. Where to begin?

Sincerely,
Jean Yiss-Barr

Where I always begin: at my dining-room table with the MacBook Pro I use to write “Montclairvoyant.” But the column has de-evolved that laptop into a MacBook Amateur, and tech support at Willowbrook’s Apple Store is baffled.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Email yourself to a therapist. So, what do you think of Renee Baskerville being passed over for deputy mayor in a vote at June 25’s Township Council meeting that she and virtually everyone else in town wasn’t expecting?

Sincerely,
Got Blindsided

Not good. Dr. Baskerville is very skilled, friendly, and hardworking, and it was her turn in the deputy mayor rotation. Also, given that she’s an African-American woman, the optics are awful. I just googled “Montclair,” and “Dysfunction Junction” came up.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
“Upper Dysfunction Junction” came up, too. Additional thoughts?

Sincerely,
Connive at Claremont 205

The current TC’s “brand” — during its 2012-16 and 2016-20 terms with the same seven people — included working well together. That’s now gone, over, finished, no more, dead and buried. But the Thesaurus is not extinct.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Anyway, a number of Montclair residents joined together to file a June 21 complaint in Superior Court against the Planning Board and town in hopes of stopping the Lackawanna redo that would, among other things, ruin vintage elements of the historic former train station. Comment?

Sincerely,
Popular Pushback

I hope, hope, hope those residents win. The Township Council shouldn’t have pushed the redo, and the Planning Board shouldn’t have approved it. If Montclair officials love developers so much, chummily watching next week’s July 4 fireworks with Pinnacle execs would suffice.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
What are among the things that particularly irked you about the Lackawanna approval process?

Sincerely,
Look Back in Anger

The identity of the supermarket tenant wasn’t revealed until very late. And plans called for a 47,000-square-foot store, but Lidl clocked in at 29,000. So there should’ve have been a revised footprint to save all the vintage Lackawanna elements, even as the laid-off 18,000 square feet filed for unemployment.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
What about the Bellevue reopening, whenever that might be?

Sincerely,
Screens With Cuisines

Fantastic news! I do worry that a movie theater with a new restaurant, a liquor license, and the involvement of upscale developer Steven Plofker might be “gentrification-y” and expensive, but that’s the…um…price we have to pay.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Which movie would you like to see when the theater reopens?

Sincerely,
A Bar Is Born

Perhaps a Pixar film in which Woody and Buzz Lightyear (the character who was of course inspired by Montclair’s Buzz Aldrin) visit Hell and become vegetarians even as they avoid Seitan. I’m of course talking about “Soy Story.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Speaking of food, wasn’t it a shock to hear about Nauna’s closing June 23 after 33 years?

Sincerely,
Charterhouse of Parmigiana

It was. I’m among the many people who often used that comfort-food restaurant for takeout and kid-party pizzas. And when dining in, I always sat in the casual room rather than the fancier room, because the 14-karat-gold pasta served in the latter space forced people to pronounce tomato “tomahto.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Lettuce move to discussing Glenfield. Isn’t it great that the school, for the 2019-20 term at least, will not switch to a block schedule that might have shortchanged the arts?

Sincerely,
We Perceive a Reprieve

Yes. Protests from the Glenfield community worked. And let’s hope for more and better administrative communication and consultation with teachers, parents, and students. That was pledged, but I worry there was no pinky promise.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Last night, June 26, parents and others continued a wonderful annual tradition by cheering Montclair High seniors riding Project Graduation buses through town on a…block (to block) schedule. But, getting back to development, it looks like a 74-unit building might rise in the old Hahne’s parking lot on Church Street. Ugh?

Sincerely,
Sighs, But No Surprise

Ugh. Downtown will be further crammed with yet another new building, and the “affordable”-units quotient would reportedly be 10 percent rather than 20 percent. Sing it, Petula Clark! “Things WON’T be great when you’re…DOWNTOWN!”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
And now let’s get really serious. A June 16 Star-Ledger editorial strongly criticized Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo for the cruel jail in which immigrants (mostly of color) are held in return for lots of federal money from the notorious ICE. Rotting food, abuse of detainees, solitary confinement, etc. Shouldn’t the county Board of Chosen Freeholders (which includes Montclair representation) be shouting from the rooftops about this?

Sincerely,
Joe D. Acts Republican-y

Yes. Montclair’s municipal officials should also be strongly and publicly criticizing this. Meanwhile, parks and trees benefactor DiVincenzo could be nicknamed Donald Trunk.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
That inhumane jail will be on the minds of Montclair residents and others planning to protest in Belleville tomorrow, June 28, at the site of a $2,800-a-plate fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker co-hosted by DiVincenzo.
Sincerely,
Not-So-Liberal Luncheon

Ah, problematic politics. Where to begin?

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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86 COMMENTS

  1. Dave – Years ago, there was a terrific little theater on Springfield Avenue in Union by the name of the “Lost Picture Show”, which usually ran art films. Unfortunately its doors closed permanently in 1999. I am so very happy that the Bellevue was saved and did not become our lost picture show.

  2. Thank you, silverleaf! That was eloquently stated.

    I’m also thrilled that the Bellevue will show movies again. As I mentioned in the column, I can accept some “upscale-ness” in return for that happening. The theater was — and will be again — a real community hub.

  3. Ha, silverleaf! 🙂

    As one of my column’s “signatures” said, “A Bar Is Born” (at the Bellevue).

  4. As I recall, Councilor Russo was Deputy Mayor for the Council’s entire first term. Did anyone care? Then Hurlock, Schlager & Spiller for a year each in this 2nd term and I doubt people cared. McMahon & Baskerville remained without the honor. One of them was going to be the odd person out in this term.

    As to the brand and working well together, the seams on that one have been looking a little worn for a while…to me. (e.g. a noticeable uptick in split votes compared to their first term when it seems everything was unanimous).

    The disconnect between Councilor Baskerville and her 2 colleagues blew up before us. But, how did did the resolution naming Baskerville get on the agenda last week? That is a disconnect among the Mayor – who I believe controls the agenda – and the rest of the Council.

    I disagree the gender/race optics are an issue. I really don’t think residents care who is honorary Deputy Mayor. This is a “in-house” squabble.

    They may have a long year ahead of them.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Frank!

    You’re right that the deputy mayor position is basically powerless and honorary. Still, it’s a nice thing for a Township Council member to have. Maybe Renee Baskerville and Rich McMahon could have each held the position it for six months, or been named co-deputy mayors? If Robert Russo did indeed hold that position from 2012 to 2016 (I’m not remembering), that helped create the odd person out in 2019. Russo was previously mayor from 2000 to 2004; did he need to be deputy mayor for a fairly long time between 2012 and 2016?

    True that things may not have been super-friendly for TCers before this; it just wasn’t as out in the open as it was this week. And, yes, it could be a LONG year in TC Land.

  6. That’s a VERY good point, Frank.

    (In my previous comment, “it” does not belong in “could have each held the position it for six months.” I was not plugging the Stephen King novel. 🙂 )

  7. Thank you, Frank! That’s right — Charles Addams grew up in Westfield!

    Hilarious clip. 🙂 Cousin Itt’s room was definitely too small for the lanky Lurch. Don’t suppose those two would’ve ever been basketball teammates…

  8. The Addams Family is supposed to portray old landed suburban gentry from NJ… in all of their quirkiness and unusual diversity… (Gomez is half wasp and half latino or Italian and very wealthy… Mortitia is a ruined beauty who smokes (???) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYji3a_pPSk The children and relatives are portrayed as being monstrous. The upwardly mobile newcomers from the city find them horrifying…. “Grey Gardens” is another example of suburban landed gentry that’s faded into ruins. Chaz Addams created the Addams Family as a cartoon for the New Yorker Magazine in the 1940s. He was from Westfield and had a property in Amagansett that he named “The Swamp”. Montclair is quite similar to Westfield. Montclair, The Oranges, Plainfield…. there are Addams Family houses found everywhere in NJ.

  9. Thanks for your interesting take on “The Addams Family,” Frank! Definitely funny and satirical in its cartoon, TV, and movie iterations. That smoking clip you linked to was hysterical! 🙂 Few things funnier than “normal” people freaking out when visiting The Addams family home — or The Munsters family home, for that matter. And, yes, the Addams house is reminiscent of fancy old (and perhaps past their prime) houses in places like Montclair.

    I for one wouldn’t mind a Planning Board of Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Thing, Cousin Itt, etc. Developers might run screaming from 205 Claremont…

  10. Ha ha, silverleaf! Gomez definitely loved it when Morticia spoke French. Now I’m wondering if there was a distant cousin named Faubourg Addams…

  11. That whole block is now a daily tug-of-war between tacky and vulgar depending on where the sun is.
    The hotel is almost complete. The biggest joke this Council will play on us is to surround the hotel with historic districts. I kid you not. This is what the Council uses historic preservation for – landscaping!!!

  12. frankgg, I had to go to a French-English dictionary for a definition of “Dommage.” 🙂 Our damage, shame, pity? Exactly! And one thinks of a sin more than the Seine. 🙁

  13. Frank, I enjoyed your comment! 🙂 Tacky and vulgar? Plenty of that. Historic preservation as landscaping? A crying-shame funny.

    The MC hotel’s rooftop bar is sure to have a great view of…the overpriced beer foaming on the next table.

  14. silverleaf, great quip! 🙂 Maybe ABBA’s “Waterloo” could be blared from a speaker at Valley & Bloom. Or that band’s “Money, Money, Money”…

  15. Ha, Frank! I also doubt Cardi B would like Valley & Bloom — even if that complex were given the hip-hop-friendly name Valley B. 🙂

  16. On a related subject, the Walnut Street merchants & residents like to think their area has a certain organic, rough-edge, cache. It is a little depressing to see both paths of organic growth or government-incited redevelopment growth still leading to lowering our municipal aesthetics.

    Full disclosure, I didn’t agree with the night-lighting Kaveny Field on the corner of Walnut & Grove. But, it is a playing field in a commercial zone and jeez, it’s lighting issues are actually less of a problem then the lighting of the Bellevue Ave parking plazas, Montclair High School, etc. etc.

    Anyway, about a year or so ago, someone in gov’t decided that billboards were now legal just on township property and just at Walnut & Grove St. Maybe it was in partnership with one of our infamous citizen partner groups. Maybe. Anyway, like so much of what the municipal government does, it does it without oversight, transparency, or respect for the laws the rest of us must follow. BTW, that is why the municipality bought & erected an internally illuminated sign (illegal to everyone us) and put Township Hall’s new emergency generator out by the street for all to see. Everyone else has to tuck their equipment back & behind.

    Anyway, for those that know Queens, Kaveny Field could be mistaken for a Willet’s Point. How’s that for a visual Walnut Street?

  17. Frank, I agree that too much lighting — among other visual annoyances such as billboards — is often not desirable. Kaveny Field is indeed bright, but, as you say, it’s in a commercial area that already has plenty of lighting, so it kind of fits in. 🙂 So many teams need ballfield time that I’m grateful games after dark are an option. (My younger daughter had more than one rec-softball night game at Kaveny this past spring.)

  18. Yeah, I digressed into lighting. My point was signage – specifically the new billboards along the streets.

    I’m looking forward to the new billboards COMING THIS FALL along the new playing field in Mountainside Park. The Presby Iris Gardens would be silly not to sells signs on their side.

    With the various elections, it will be pretty funny for the Russians to buy signs in Mountainside Park & the Iris Gardens. They know the neighborhood and it would be a hoot to see MAGA and Trump 2020 signage. Throw in a few attorney signs, a Dunkin Donuts sign, etc. and that stretch will be as attractive as Walnut Street & the 042.

    Welcome to the ticky-tacky 043. We can have signs as you enter Montclair….”Make us an offer!”

  19. Frank, I’m also not a fan of billboards, and I’d be surprised if they brought in enough money to make up for uglifying/cluttering any place they are or would be in Montclair.

    Very funny elements in your comment — including those potential MAGA and Trump 2020 billboards! It would be like Montclair dressing up as Nutley for Halloween. 🙂

  20. Dave,

    7 of Essex County 22 municipalities voted for Trump. 1 in 10 Montclair voters pulled the Trump lever. I suspect these numbers for Trump will increase for the 2020 election.

    If I were a Republican (or a Russian), it would be worth it to buy a row of TRUMP billboard signs at Mountainside Park. Upper Mountain Avenue has grown to a good-size thoroughfare and handles about 7,500-8,500 cars a day through the park. The speed bumps slow down the drivers enough for the signs to make an impression. I don’t know anything about outdoor advertising, but I would make some guesses just for fun. Assume there is a limit on the # of billboards. I would think we could get $20K/year per sign. It is a residential area and there is literally “no other advertising game in the neighborhood”. (I couldn’t resist). MSU is right down the street. It would offer an added benefit of the Township sanctioning the sign…which some might interpret our muni gov’t is pro-Trump. Now that would be some interesting optics.

  21. True, Frank, that a bit over 10% of Montclair’s votes went to Trump in 2016 (2,318 for him vs. 18,048 for Clinton) and that he won seven Essex towns.

    https://www.nj.gov/state/elections/assets/pdf/election-results/2016/2016-gen-elect-presidential-results-essex.pdf

    I’m not convinced Trump will do better in Montclair and those other Essex towns in 2020; at least I hope not. It would be beyond depressing to see him rewarded for behaving so atrociously since occupying the White House.

    Interesting optics indeed if Montclair sanctioned Trump billboards along the well-traveled UMA. Then again, Trump and some of our town’s “powers that be” share a love of — and could bond over — cringe-worthy development.

  22. For the right amount of revenue, I think the Township will find a justification to accept Trump 2020 signage at Mountainside Park. They have already found the justification to accept a range of signage at Kaveny Field.

    Yes, cringe-worthy indeed! But, if you dispense with a personal taste level and subscribe to a communal one (that rescues architectural ‘dogs’), it is possible to like our recent development. However, I do recommend a broad-spectrum, “ob-la-di, ob-la-da” attitude and staying away from the anti-depressant Rx’s. Just my opinion.

  23. Frank, I drove past Kaveny Field about a hour ago and saw all the advertising signs facing Grove Street. Way too many, and not a good look. Makes that area — already marred by the office-building construction on Grove/Walnut’s southeast corner — look even worse. I wonder how much money those signs are bringing in?

    After Trump stared into that eclipse a couple years ago, one wonders if his vision deserves to be associated with “2020.”

    Ha! (Your second paragraph.) Perhaps large antidepressants are needed to cope with large architectural “dogs.” (Those wonderful animals are much more aesthetically pleasing than those buildings.)

  24. Yup. Ugly… in plain sight.

    I’ll speculate the money is not finding its way to the General Fund.

  25. Maybe that money is going into the Deputy Mayor Fund. 🙂 (A fictional fund I just made up…)

    BTW, I should have previously said office AND RETAIL building for what’s going up at Grove/Walnut.

  26. Yes, I actually feel badly for the developer, Mr Plofker. He was tasked to meet some challenging design requirements for this new building. Meanwhile, the Township is using Willets Point as their design bar. Willets Point!

  27. You’re right about the challenging design requirements, but Mr. P is still undoubtedly happy to have the opportunity to cram that building into that very busy section of Montclair. Grove Pharmacy may be selling tranquilizers to traumatized visitors to that area. 🙂

    If Montclair’s brain trust is using a busy section of Queens as a model, I hope it’s a section of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Oops, that’s Queen…

  28. silverleaf, are you referring to Utopia Parkway in Queens? Todd Rundgren’s band? Both? Nice!

    Montclair was of course never a utopia, but I think the library stocks Edward Bellamy’s utopian novel “Looking Backward.” 🙂 (Which is not about drivers eyeing Upper Mountain Avenue tailgaters in the rearview mirror. 🙂 )

  29. Ha, silverleaf! (I didn’t see your Todd Rundgren mention until after my 11:34 am comment posted.)

  30. Yes, I was referring to both Todd’s band and the (tiny) neighborhood of Utopia, surrounded by Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, and Flushing. Montclair once was utopia-like in many ways years before development. That said, Watchung Plaza is our “Middle Village” equivalent between Upper Montclair and Bloomfield Avenue.

    Regarding your Upper Mountain Avenue / rearview mirror / tailgating comment, more like John Osborne’s “Look Back in Anger”, if you get what I’m saying.

  31. Thanks, silverleaf! I lived in Queens (Sunnyside) for a few years, but didn’t know there was a small neighborhood in that borough named Utopia!

    While Montclair was never a utopia, I agree that downtown was more utopian before the crush of overdevelopment.

    Great/funny Middle Village, Queens/”Middle Village,” Montclair wordplay! 🙂

    “Look Back in Anger” on UMA is definitely more appropriate/descriptive than just “Looking Backward”! (As I might have mentioned in this space before, Edward Bellamy in that 1888 novel basically invented the debit card — handy for paying speeding tickets…)

  32. Dave, the more costly the speeding ticket, the better. Bellamy’s invention definitely handy for paying outrageously expensive parking tickets as well as the check for (some) restaurants in town. Osborne’s working-class Jimmy Porter would concur, I am sure.

  33. silverleaf, I agree that speeding tickets should not be cheap. And, yes, some of Montclair’s many great restaurants are indeed rather pricey — one reason I and my family eat out somewhat sparingly. So we haven’t earned as many Frequent Eater miles as we’d like. 😉

    I’m sure the rents some restaurants have to pay doesn’t help.

  34. Staying topical, I see in the Montclair Local that a local attorney is already challenging the authority of the Historic Preservation Commission in the proposed anti-demolition ordinance. That didn’t take long!
    The application in question is actually before the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
    The ZBA is asking the HPC for its opinion.
    Yes, you are not crazy…there is some factual World Cup foosball going on here.
    Property Rights v. A Public Good.
    The HPC has NO approval authority in this case – nor would it if the current anti-demolition ordinance is passed. So, I’m a little surprised at the challenge because it is the wrong application.

    The best part of this is the complicating sub-division application of 264 Upper Mountain Avenue. It is being handled by the very same attorney, but before the Planning Board, not the ZBA. So, there is the glorious Independence Day fireworks potential for both Montclair’s land use boards to reach two different conclusions!

    Either way, the Council’s ordinance is already introduced. [Insert here the stalking music from Jaws]

  35. Thanks, Frank! Are you talking about the case where the Zoning Board doesn’t like the vinyl siding on a proposed two-family house that would replace another house on Forest Street? I know you have mixed feelings about the Historic Preservation Commission, but I’m glad it exists and has some input in this and other cases.

    I would add that the attorney in the Forest Street case seems to represent MANY ask-too-much developers in Montclair and could use some pushback. Lord knows where all the variances his developer clients get will be displayed. Perhaps a Variance Wing at the Montclair Art Museum? 🙂

  36. 264 Upper Mountain … the former Bonsal house? OMG!!! I better go read the proposal…. Mr. Bonsal, if I remember correctly, was the head of the “Don’t tread on me” movement regarding Montclair historic preservation. Isn’t that so, Frankr?

  37. frankgg,

    Yes. One of the town leaders. FYI: We protected a preserve with the name…and, appropriate to his beliefs, it was degraded and abused by property rights.

    daveastor,

    The attorneys are just trying to make a living and doing their jobs.

    Yes, it is a small club.

    Yes, we hand out variances & waivers like candy at Halloween. The club might not want to push back too hard on this and risk that non-members might pushback really hard on all the variances being granted in the name of “the public good”. The same variances supported by the Housing Commission who comes back 6 months later to complain about the parking and traffic. They are as confused an entity as our Environmental Commission.

    Personally, I don’t think the Planning or the Zoning Board should send these referrals to the HPC. Neither application involves a historic property. Furthermore, what is being built, by definition, is obviously not historic. The issue seems to be we want new construction that “harmonizes” with the neighborhood. Very, very clearly, our Council and Planning Board have stated they know what this means. Ignoring their dubious choices of footwear as an indication of their aesthetic, they have a record of laying down conditions that determine character. So, I say again, why do we need people verse in historic when we need people that understand ‘character’? Further, these 3 bodies don’t understand our historic preservation policy or our HP ordinance. If the Council, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board don’t understand HP – why have an HPC?

    There is really no need for a HPC.

  38. Thank you for the comments, Frank and Frank!

    Hmm…fate has been and will be “interesting” for those two sites associated with Mr. Bonsal. 🙁

    “The attorneys are just trying to make a living and doing their jobs” — sure, and by representing the (over)development side time and again they’re making quite a living.

    I realize that some tasks given the Historic Preservation Commission are more important than others, but I don’t think it hurts for the HPC to have a look-see even at proposals with few or no historic elements — in order that the overall vintage appearance of much of Montclair be at least somewhat retained. HPC involvement might delay things a bit for developers, but I think they can handle that and also handle perhaps a bit less profit. They can always visit the Montclair Art Museum’s aforementioned Variance Wing for solace (if that wing is ever built). 🙂

  39. A looky here, a looky there, I don’t care if they looky everywhere, but the HPC can’t find fact. Only the PB and ZBA can find fact and, most importantly, make a determination from them.

    The Zoning Board could easily find the fact, and quicker, that vinyl siding is highly discouraged for 133 Forest. The Chair knows full well the economic argument for vinyl is utterly ridiculous. That’s why they will not ask for a cost analysis. The Chair is simply refusing ANY Zoning Board responsibility for HP. Not their problem. So, you see how the Zoning Board will vote if the applicant just calls everyone’s bluff. Because that is all that it is. A bluff.

  40. In a town like Montclair with the majority of the real estate values comprised of vintage houses, you would be harming the real estate market and lowering the property values by not having an HPC and preservation regulations.

  41. LOL, Frank R. — your “looky” riff. 🙂

    I agree that in an ideal world Montclair’s Zoning Board and Planning Board would be concerned enough about historic preservation to make sure hp considerations were always taken into account when deciding on proposals. But they too often don’t have that concern (partly because they’re usually too development-friendly), and perhaps because they don’t have enough hp expertise. So I feel the HPC, while not perfect, can help. If the Historic Preservation Commission didn’t exist, I’m not convinced the ZB and PB would get their historic-preservation act together.

  42. frankgg, I totally agree. A town like Montclair with so many vintage structures needs an Historic Preservation Commission — and should have a more historic-preservation-minded Planning Board and Zoning Board.

  43. Let’s talk about the anti-preservationist scheme that they have for the Montclair Art Museum facade in the next thread!!!!

  44. Yes! What does landmark preservation looked like over time? This is the fundamental challenge. The MAM doesn’t have a plan. Frankly, this is (& always has been) outside the HPC’s processing capacity.
    Kind of a corollary to evolution or Demolition By Neglect- this is Demolition By Subtraction.
    But each generation sees it as a positive in making something relevant to them. That’s the problem with history as a discipline. It is basically irrelevant. Ironic.

  45. “What does landmark preservation look like over time?” — an excellent question, Frank. There’s often a fine line between successfully or unsuccessfully updating/renovating/adding to something, and to deciding which buildings are worth keeping and which buildings are not. Developers, officials, and other current decision-makers in Montclair are too often on the wrong side of those equations.

  46. “But each generation sees it as a positive in making something relevant to them. That’s the problem with history as a discipline. It is basically irrelevant. Ironic.”
    Thats interesting Frank…they forget the relevance of provenance… they possibly are from elsewhere… they’ll possibly leave… they don’t feel a belonging so they don’t care about what came before them. But they don’t realize that buildings and the built landscape are shaped by people and their lives and are worthy of respect. The same respect that they would want for what they create. Graffitti artists never erase the graffiti that came before…. they just tag over it… they add to it… you can do that with buildings and it respects the history of the existing.

  47. Sorry frankgg, I have to disagree. It is a zero-sum exercise.

    Of similar age, the MAM is traveling the same track architecturally as the Lackawanna Train Station. The MAM is not as advanced primarily due to maintaining its original use. But, they’re both the rarest of local landmarks. Both have a specific architecture that lack widespread admiration.

    And each generation is citing human evolution to justify their acts of historic subtraction. I’ve been waiting for the generation that finally eliminates the permanence of the Native American exhibit.

    Space is fixed. Preservation is a zero-sum endeavor.

  48. The proposed reflecting pool suggest this may be that generation. The reflecting pool will be this local tribe’s totem. A totem the MAM’s founders decided to discard…supposedly for financial reasons. Well, finances are no longer a concern…so it’s time for reflecting light. Shiny balls and balls that shine.

    I don’t worry. HP is regenerative. Some generations will have it better than others.

  49. I’m agreeing you Frank, and yes the MAM is traveling the same track architecturally as the Lackawanna Train Station as well as the oversized Hotel Montclair project https://baristanet.com/2014/07/pinnacle-companies-statement-plan-mc-hotel-moves-forward-montclair/ “The Museum is very excited about The MC hotel, which will bring new energy to a corridor along Bloomfield Avenue in the process of revival. Our area is so key because it lies near the western entrance into town and gives many people their first impression of Montclair,” said Lora Urbanelli, director of the Montclair Art Museum. “Over the past two years we’ve been installing art on our grounds to create a more welcoming setting, and having the new hotel just two blocks from us will enhance that effort. We also look forward to welcoming visitors that the hotel will bring to the museum!”
    The evolution of their support base does not justify their acts of historic subtraction. Alienating the local community and their collective memories of the generations before loses support for MAM. Many, for example the Essex Fells community who used to have ties with MAM, support the Morristown Museum instead. It’s annoying that ties to the community are being severed. Eliminating the founder’s Sun Vow statue and Howard Van Vleck’s tree is like eliminating the permanence of the Native American exhibit. They is historic subtraction and also historic exclusion. The museum permanently exhibits nothing by Don Miller….Oliver Lake… Margaret Yard Tyler https://www.nytimes.com/1975/04/20/archives/art-school-for-handicapped.html These artists are important in the community’s cultural legacy and you don’t learn about them from MAM.

  50. Very well/very drolly said, Frank R., but I guess I have mixed feelings rather than totally negative feelings about the proposed changes to the Montclair Art Museum’s grounds. And I’m a little less bothered when the property of a landmark gets a somewhat new look than when an historic structure itself gets changed for the worse — or demolished. (Though I know that a structure and its property are synergistic — or whatever the highfalutin word is.) Just one person’s opinion. 🙂

  51. Thank you for the comments, frankgg! Several good points, including the terrible loss of some old trees that the changes on MAM’s grounds would bring. Still, for whatever reason, the Planning Board’s anti-historic Lackawanna Plaza fiasco of a decision bothers me more (loss of some of those vintage train sheds and so on).

    “Ugh” is my reaction when I read about how enthusiastic MAM is about the The MC. That soon-to-open hotel, and the other overdevelopment coming to downtown, will indeed probably bring the museum some additional visitors, but at quite a cost — even more traffic, NYC sight-lines blocked, more crowded schools, less economic and racial diversity (because the hotel and other projects are all geared mostly to the affluent), etc.

    Cindy Sherman is an amazing artist/photographer.

  52. Sorry, frankgg. I thought you were making a different point. Now we can get a table for 2 in a Montclair restaurant.

    I didn’t realize Motown had a museum. Do you think they would take our Native American & G Inness collections so we can ‘evolve’? 😉

  53. Not that I don’t trust your review, but does it have a reflecting pool or some other totem?

  54. frankgg,

    You must do another podcast…this time on the Addam’s Family and the parallel Grey Gardens/East End!

  55. Ha, Frank! It’s been a number of years since I visited the Morris Museum, but, after some reflecting, I’m not recalling a reflecting pool. 🙂

    I’d listen to an Addams Family podcast!

  56. I would LOVE to do an Addams Family/Grey Gardens podcast!!! I should straighten up and do some vacuuming first. Fortunately, I don’t have any cats.

  57. LOL, Frank! Cats do shed quite a bit, especially in the summer. 🙂

    As you know, The Addams Family has a local connection: Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday Addams in the movies that came after the cartoons and TV series. Wikipedia says “Ricci’s family moved to Montclair, New Jersey, where she grew up attending Edgemont Elementary School, Glenfield Middle School…”

  58. Wow! Thanks Montclairvoyant! I didn’t know that Christina Ricci was from Montclair.
    This is a bit of a stretch…one of Uncle Fester’s (Jackie Coogan) babysitters was the founder of the Yard School of Art in Montclair.

  59. You’re welcome, Frank!

    I like that Jackie Coogan babysitter/Yard School founder trivia very much!

  60. Frank, these are VERY reminiscent of The Addams Family house! Thank you!

    And, given the occasional French theme in that TV show, the style being Second Empire French is quite appropriate. 🙂

  61. LOL, silverleaf! (Your “dear ol’ mum” and mansard roofs quips. 🙂 ) I definitely see the architectural similarities between the two houses. Makes one wonder what the shower was like in The Addams Family abode…

  62. Great 2017 piece you wrote, Frank, and I can see the architectural resemblance. Also, funny “hauntingly inviting” line. 🙂

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