MontClairVoyant: Holiday, Snow Day, and Short Days Create School Daze

Early dismissal November 27, then the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, then a snow day December 2, then a delayed opening on the 3rd, then early dismissal for parent-teacher conferences on the 4th, 5th, and 6th. Are our kids spending too much time in school?

‘The Hours’ (Are Fewer)

Staying to the normal end of the school day on the 3rd was devastating — softened only by it being the 92nd anniversary of Laurel and Hardy’s first movie: 1927’s “Putting Pants on Philip.”

Thomas Hardy, the novelist who turned 87 that year, displayed surprising comedy chops in that film. Would you agree?

Tess the Obscure

It was OLIVER Hardy, but you get a pass because your knowledge of cinema has atrophied since the Bellevue closed. I myself know that “Frozen II” stars two crime-fighting refrigerators from Montclair’s now-gone Karl’s appliance store.

Moving from the Bellevue to Belleville, the Board of Education in that nearby town unanimously passed a wonderful resolution to reduce standardized testing. Why hasn’t the BOE in more liberal Montclair done that, too?

Our Board Outscored

Good question. Great question! Terrific question!! Fantastic question!!! Adjectives which do NOT describe the bad questions in the PARCC-turned-NJSLA tests.

Heck, those tests also waste tons of teacher/student time on prep and the exams themselves when so much more enjoyable and effective education could be taking place during those hours in Montclair and elsewhere.

Stan Dardized

True, but lavish profits from those tests help the typical Pearson exec answer THIS question: “When I buy two vacation villas and three luxury sedans, should I drive 1.5 of those cars to each house?”

Most of us have more modest incomes, but isn’t it still well worth potentially paying somewhat higher prices to shop locally this holiday season rather than in a mall or big-box store?

Retail Tale Heart

Absolutely. For instance, humans can shop at Dem Two Hands, cats at Dem Four Paws, star-nosed moles at Dem 22 Tentacles, centipedes at Dem 100 Legs, and walruses at Dem 400 Whiskers.

The aforementioned PARCC-to-NJSLA switch was of course designed to pretend those unpopular tests were now somehow different. Should we similarly change Montclair’s park names?

Glenfield of Dreams

Sure! Anderson NJSLA, Canterbury NJSLA, Yantacaw NJSLA…

Ugh. Did the December 2 snow addle your brain?

Autumn of Our Discontent

Addling an already-addled brain is impossible. It’s like trying to make an orange orange when it’s already orange. (I dedicate this last answer to residents of Orange Road, which isn’t orange.)


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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  1. Dave,

    You know how you rail against all the development downtown and the new building in Watchung Plaza? You know how you have been in mourning over the Bellevue Theater’s demise? Well, the theater’s revival plan will really test your principles. It is going before the Historic Preservation Commission next Tuesday. It is so important it bumped the hearings on the first, local residential historic districts ever in Montclair. This application is being expedited like no other I have ever seen.

    The good news is Downtown Montclair will be coming to Upper Montclair Village. How wonderful. Everyone get your bicycle helmets out as parking “uptown” will be a real pleasure. Hmmm, let’s put in a parking deck!

  2. Interesting, Frank. While I miss the Bellevue Theater and am glad it will (most likely) reopen, I do have some misgivings about it seemingly being turned into a very upscale movie venue — fancy seats, restaurant, bar, etc.

    I don’t know all the details of what the “new” theater would be like, but, with your reference to downtown coming to the Upper Montclair Business District, are you thinking that the nearly 100-year-old theater building will be changed a lot (including perhaps messing with some of its historical elements) or that the reopening of the theater might spur some overdevelopment in that area?

    As for UMBD parking, it’s already a bit of a challenge; I tend to avoid Bellevue Avenue and Valley Road by parking on Lorraine toward the back of Buzz. Still, I don’t want any more parking decks anywhere in Montclair. If one comes to the UMBD, maybe it can be a miniature deck constructed with LEGOS from Learning Express…

  3. They’re developers (and creatives). So, its ego, ego, & more ego. So, it has to be bigger $ $ $ than ever. It’s “a thing”. The lemmings will follow.

    Yes, this will be a transparent, generational riff on their parent’s elusive goal – “you can have it all”.

  4. You’re right, Frank — with developers, it often has to be bigger and “better.” It would be preferable for the Bellevue to reopen as a basic, spruced-up-a-bit movie theater. But instead it seems it will be all fancy and probably pricey. Still very glad it will (probably) reopen, but…

  5. Yes, I suspect this project will cater to the upper income households in Upper Montclair and its surrounds. I’m sure the Council will support this in every way possible.

  6. Picking up on our discussion last month….

    Montclair was awarded $412,000 to improve Mt Hebron Rd btwn Valley & Up Mtn. This roadway section includes Bradford School. What do you think are the chances the Township will paint some bike lanes for the littles one to arrive safely to school?

    Do you think B/WM will stay on the sidelines for this project, too?

  7. It certainly seems like the people behind the revamped Bellevue have the attracting of affluent customers in mind. And much of the Township Council is apparently okay with that approach, as its support of Montclair’s upscale-focused developers has shown.

    Bike lanes are fine with me on roads that can handle them, but I have very mixed feelings about elementary students biking to school — safety and all that, given how young those kids are. Maybe it’s okay for fifth-graders. (My seventh-grader occasionally bikes to middle school when not walking with a friend, and I’m fine with that.)

    I have no guess about what Bike&Walk Montclair might do or not do. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Yes, there is a very small window between the points where one is allowed to ride on their own and when being seen on a bike is not an option.

    B/WM – yes, that is why their bumper stickers are popular.

  9. I agree about that very small window between when parents don’t allow kids to do “grown-up” things and when they do allow it — such as biking on one’s own.

    When I read your last line, I pictured bumper stickers on bike fenders and on the backs of pedestrians. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Dave – Your “Tess the Obscure” / “Jude of the d’Urbervilles” conflation is outstanding. Could not have done better myself. It ranks up there with “The Jungle” by Sinclair Lewis . . . uhhhh, or was it Upton Sinclair?

  11. Thank you, silverleaf! And — ha ๐Ÿ™‚ — a great Sinclair conflation!

    Another sort-of connection between the two Sinclair authors: Upton ran for governor of California in 1934 and Mr. Lewis wrote the very political novel “It Can’t Happen Here” published the following year. As you know, a rather prescient book, with its lead character compared to Trump more than 80 years later.

    How to get “Far from the Madding Crowd” in Montclair? Avoid downtown when all the mega-projects are completed…

  12. Dave, I am not familiar, โ€œIt Canโ€™t Happen Hereโ€, but sounds very much like a cautionary tale, not unlike that of “All the Kings Men”, with Willie Stark as the corrupt, ideologue. Yes, prescient indeed.

  13. You’re right, silverleaf, that “It Canโ€™t Happen Here” is a cautionary tale sort of like “All the King’s Men,” in which Willie Stark is partly based on long-ago Louisiana guv Huey Long but also reminds one of some present-day politicians who grew corrupt in office.

    I love Sinclair Lewis’ great 1920s novels: “Main Street,” “Babbitt,” “Arrowsmith,” “Elmer Gantry,” and “Dodsworth.” When Lewis was younger, he sold some plots to Jack London!

  14. Thanks Dave, Frank.
    When being pressed by an editor about a story deadline: “Tell him I was too fucking busy – or vice versa.”

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