MontClairVoyant: Misery Aplenty in 2020 — and Some Bright Spots

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
It was an ultra-depressing year because of the pandemic, but it’s December 31 and thus time for you to do a 2020 retrospective. One Q&A for each month. Ready, Teddy?

Sincerely,
New Year’s Eve/Old Year’s Grieve

NO! I don’t want to think about 2020! You can’t make me! And who’s Teddy? I’m not Teddy. Look, here’s my ID. My name is — what — Teddy? Teddy Bear? Someone switched my driver’s license! And I’m not 2 feet tall! Or stuffed. Gad, 2020 is toxic.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Answer the questions and you might get your license back. Let’s start with January — the month the Montclair NAACP Youth Council hosted a trip to the great National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC. Comment?

Sincerely,
Washington Watching

Ah, the pre-COVID days of crowded buses and crowded museums. As you know, DC stands for the District of Columbia — aka the Morningside Heights “district” where Columbia University is based. Follow me for more geographic misinformation.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Among February’s local news?

Sincerely,
Second Month Serenade

We learned Robert Jackson would not run for a third consecutive term as mayor. Going back in time, he had been reelected in 2016, elected in 2012, and was even briefly mayor in the 1980s — when iPhones were the size of refrigerators.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Um…iPhones weren’t introduced until 2007. March?

Sincerely,
Third Month Thoughts

Do you mean Jo March of “Little Women”? But of course March was the month when COVID hit in earnest and Montclair began tragically experiencing too many deaths. Plus our schools abruptly switched to all-remote learning — leaving no remotes to start “Little Women” on DVD players.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
In April, the Township Council passed a popular rent-control measure allowing reasonable yearly increases while preventing gouging, but the then-new Montclair Property Owners Association blocked the legislation in court. Thoughts?

Sincerely,
Fourth Month Focus

Tenants are wrestling with two major issues: affording their rent, and trying to decide which “Batman” villain the well-funded MPOA most resembles.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
May saw the results of Montclair’s mail-only election in which a number of legit ballots were rejected. The votes that WERE counted put Councilman Sean Spiller slightly ahead of Councilwoman Renee Baskerville for mayor. Anything to add?

Sincerely,
Fifth Month Flaws

One Councilor-at-Large winner was Peter Yacobellis, who has become the best elected official at communicating with constituents since…Dr. Baskerville. Including emails, social media, and Hogwarts owls. Well, two out of three.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
During both days of a June weekend, a total of about 5,000 people in Montclair protested America’s racist police violence — including the devastating murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville. Impressive turnout?

Sincerely,
Sixth Month Sorrow

Very. As I wrote back then, some marchers walked north and some south from the Montclair High area — creating “a Buzz on Bellevue Avenue and a Bullock when passing Washington Street.” One Direction wasn’t on the rally playlist.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
I want to reiterate that “Black Lives Matter.” Then, in July, Dr. Jonathan Ponds became yet another Montclair schools superintendent and soon announced a “hybrid” of remote and in-person learning for the fall. But that plan would be delayed more than once, right?

Sincerely,
Seventh Month Schedule

Yes, all the way into 2021. But vaccinations are coming, and I’m sure someone will figure out a way for vaccine needles to puncture the brick walls of our town’s school buildings.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
One reason we remember August is that DeCamp Bus Lines suspended service because of much lower ridership during the pandemic. A major blow?

Sincerely,
Eighth Month Ache

Of course, even if that transportation company could be problematic. And with no DeCamp service, buses ended up attending other services to fill their religious needs — which explains why the “66” bus never became the “666” bus.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Services via Zoom, of course. September?

Sincerely,
Ninth Month News

The Planning Board continued to capitulate to developers by approving MC Residences, which will bring additional density to our getting-ever-more-overbuilt downtown. “Where the suburb meets the city” — and loses.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
In October, Montclair’s main library reopened for first-floor browsing. Name one of the books you borrowed?

Sincerely,
Tenth Month Tidings

“Under the Volcano,” a how-to about where to stay warm when one’s furnace breaks down.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Actually, that’s a Malcolm Lowry novel set in Mexico. November?

Sincerely,
Eleventh Month Election

Spontaneous celebrations in Montclair when “you know who” was defeated. Trump graciously conceded…oops, darn autocorrect…is spaciously conceited.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
December?

Sincerely,
Twelfth Month Twas

I’ll get more general here and praise Montclair teachers for their stellar pandemic-year work, and also praise the many Montclair residents and entities for giving so much time and money to help people during the COVID crisis. Now, can I have my driver’s license back? And “Motor Vehicle Commission” is Latin for “Here’s hoping for a better 2021.”

 

 

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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