MontClairVoyant: When Longer Fiction Faces Eviction, That Creates Lots of Friction

BY  |  Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 1:15pm  |  COMMENTS (25)

 


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Can you give an example of how dumbed-down Montclair’s new middle-school English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum may get with its call to read fewer complete novels while studying more short fiction and disembodied book excerpts?

Sincerely,
Unpopular With Teachers

Students perusing the Rochester-as-gypsy scene without reading the rest of Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” might think Rochester also crooned the Cher song “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” at Tierney’s.

 


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

It’s no coincidence that “Cher” and “Charlotte” start with the same two letters! Can you provide more dumbing-down situations that could occur with this unfortunate “standards”-driven curriculum change?

Sincerely,
I Got You, ELA

If students read only the “Anne of Green Gables” scene in which Anne mistakenly serves her young friend Diana currant wine instead of alcohol-free raspberry cordial, they’ll figure L.M. Montgomery was mocking Montclair’s scarcity of liquor licenses.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Actually, Montclair students are smart, and they WON’T react the way you’re saying, but I get your satirical point. So, with Isabel Allende scheduled to speak in our town Nov. 8, what about her novel “The House of the Spirits”? Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: New Holidays – Variance Day, Drive Slower Day, Let Teachers Teach Day…

BY  |  Thursday, Oct 05, 2017 12:30pm  |  COMMENTS (58)

MontClairVoyant

 


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

On Oct. 2, Montclair Cares About Schools brought attention to a new middle-school English Language Arts curriculum that’s “standards”-oriented, less creative, studies fewer complete novels, and is not teacher-driven. Your reaction?

Sincerely,
Another “Reform” Storm

Unhappiness. And I wonder, as I finish writing this Oct. 5 column the afternoon of Oct. 4, whether the matter will come up at the Board of Education meeting the evening of Oct. 4. My time machine is in the shop.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Teachers know what’s best for students! Meanwhile, will the Planning Board and Township Council ever REALLY listen to the many residents who don’t want Montclair so overbuilt?

Sincerely,
Inured to Being Ignored

Residents might get a respectful hearing if they dress as developers for Halloween.

Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: When Montclair School Buses Improve, It’s No Longer Route Bier

BY  |  Thursday, Sep 28, 2017 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (7)

 


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Your last two columns railed against overbuilding in Montclair. So, even as the developer-lovin’ Planning Board predictably okayed downtown’s too-big “arts district” Sept. 25, could you discuss other topics such as school-bus problems?

Sincerely,
Route Bier

There were definitely some issues, but 67.8 percent of buses now arrive each morning with wheels.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
And there’s talk of reducing Grove Street’s speed limit to 30 miles an hour. Would a speed limit of 25 be even better?

Sincerely,
“Slow Down, You Move Too Fast”

Absolutely — on EVERY major Montclair road. And skip the excuses like: “Officer, I was doing 100, but also did 0 miles an hour three times at red lights. Could we average the four?”

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Many drivers in Montclair go too fast, tailgate, don’t stop for pedestrians, and commit other traffic offenses. Why aren’t the police giving out more tickets?

Sincerely,
Some U2 Tickets, At Least

One of those unexplained mysteries, like Elvis emerging from Toney’s Brook to “cross the bridge” during Montclair High’s 2016 graduation ceremony and then taking a gap year to backpack through Vegas before reappearing in town Tuesday to stand in line for a signed book from Hillary Rodham Clinton.

 


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Eight days earlier, the Sept. 18 Board of Education meeting had some memorable moments. Can you name one?

Sincerely,
U2 Sang “One”

After arriving at the George Inness Annex, I turned off the sound on my phone so there wouldn’t be any noise when I got a text, call, or carrier-pigeon visit.

 


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

This is NOT about you. At the meeting, the Montclair Education Association said staff morale is low due to last spring’s layoffs, not enough rehiring, inadequate BOE communication, MEA advice not being sought more, etc.

Sincerely,
North of Union Street

The BOE responded by saying it is communicating and trying its best. I’m paraphrasing, which reminds me that a lot of para-phasing-out wasn’t necessary because everyone knew retirements would free up money to bring back some paraprofessionals. But wheel-less school buses can’t re-tire.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Retire your pathetic wordplay. What about the latest vile attempt by vile Senate Republicans to ram through another vile version of the vile Trumpcare? Do you partly blame Upper Montclair’s congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen?

Sincerely,
I.M. Irked

Rodney’s House vote to replace Obamacare DID help get all that Senate cruelty started. I also blame you, I.M., for using “vile” four times in one question; “villainous” Senate Republicans would’ve been a nice change of pace.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Then there’s the admirable, Trump-targeted Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem to protest police killings of innocent black citizens — costing him his football livelihood and spurring Montclairites and millions of others to think more about racism in America. Your take?

Sincerely,
Trump, Focus On Hurricane-Hit Puerto Rico!

People have the right to stand or not stand during the national anthem, to recite or not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. Personally, I stand but don’t recite and don’t hold my hand over my heart. The latter inaction passes what I call “The Tin Man Before Meeting The Wizard Test.”

 


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Any other non-development topics to discuss?

Sincerely,
Lacking Lackawanna

Summer turned to autumn Sept. 22 despite the massive data breach at equinox.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
That was Equifax, you idiot. Or, shall I say, “That was Equifax, you Brothers Karamazov.”

Sincerely,
Crime and Punning Meant

Equifax? Ah, the company that does credit scores (three per course) for Montclair State and credit scores (movie-ending music) for Montclair cinemas.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Correction: You’re a double idiot.

Sincerely,
Yes, I’m Two Insulting

Maybe it WAS stupid to ignore overbuilding even for a single week. Some developer just added eight floors to my daughter’s toy Calico Critters house.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

MontClairVoyant: Open Space, the Final Frontier; Pave Over Every Montclair Park?

BY  |  Thursday, Sep 21, 2017 1:15pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

 


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

I’m troubled — feeling so bad for developers. When they finish grossly overbuilding downtown in a few years, what’s left for them to do in Montclair? Their reason to wake up in the morning?

Sincerely,
To Dream the Grim-Possible Dream

They could pave over and develop every inch of our town’s beautiful parks! Julia Alvarez wrote “In the Time of the Butterflies”; the Planning Board could write “In the Time of the Variances.”

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Destined for bookstore horror sections everywhere. But what would happen to Edgemont Park’s geese?

Sincerely,
Quack to the Future

Don’t worry — developers could set aside 10 percent of that park’s new housing for waterfowl. Well, maybe 5 percent…or 1 percent. Heck, the geese could move to Watching Plaza and live in UPS Store mailboxes.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Awful! Surely Glenfield Park wouldn’t be built on, too?

Sincerely,
Never a Staple Near Maple

With a middle school next door, what better place to erect housing too pricey for teachers? I envision 5,000 units, with minus one of them affordable. Developers have hearts — well, 13 of them if they buy a deck of cards.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Also, Anderson Park could get stores, offices, and restaurants! With the Upper Montclair Business District just beyond the park, why travel a few more inches if you live on a street such as Princeton Place?

Sincerely,
For Whom the Bellevue Tolls

Buzz Aldrin left Princeton Place decades ago, so the 66 and 33 DeCamp rockets no longer go to Bellevue Avenue. If they did, they’d be mistaken for Tinga’s burritos.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
After The MC opens downtown, Brookdale Park could be the site for a second new hotel: The BP. That Pentagon-sized hostelry would be filled to capacity, right?

Sincerely,
Mary Ott and Sue Pereight

The lobby would certainly be packed with angry rec-soccer players after the park’s turf field was destroyed to build The BP. Developers could autograph the kids’ shin guards.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
How about an oversized “arts district” (to go along with the planned Seymour Street-area one) in Nishuane Park?

Sincerely,
I’m Not Well, Mont

People could admire murals of a paved-over Nishuane Pool rather than swim in it, saving money on goggles.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
What about Mountainside Park?

Sincerely,
Slope Springs Eternal

That partly hilly expanse of green space could be completely flattened for showy homes, with kids sledding down the two “n’s” in “McMansions.”

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Montclair’s lovely parks wouldn’t really be developed, would they?

Sincerely,
It’s Not Queasy Being Green

The only open space left in Montclair would be between this column’s questions and answers.

 

 
 

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.

 

 

 

MontClairVoyant: Lackawanna Plaza ‘Compromise’ Is Less Than Meets the Eyes

BY  |  Thursday, Sep 14, 2017 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (114)


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

At Sept. 11th’s Planning Board meeting, members of the Township Council’s Economic Development Committee said they’ll recommend to the full TC that historic Lackawanna Plaza have 280 rather than 350 housing units. Good news?

Sincerely,
Re the EDC

I guess — if being whacked with a rubber chicken 280 rather than 350 times is good news.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Why did the rubber chicken cross the road?

Sincerely,
Without Feathers

To escape Montclair’s increasingly crammed downtown.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Seventy fewer units will help, and EDC members also agreed with several other revisions suggested by the Planning Board. But the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment would still be WAY TOO BIG, especially when combined with the other large buildings that have risen or are rising on/near Bloomfield Avenue.

Sincerely,
Cascade of Colossal Construction Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: A Sincere Tribute to Teachers Before This Column Jumps the Shark

BY  |  Thursday, Sep 07, 2017 1:15pm  |  COMMENTS (0)


 
 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
With school starting today in Montclair, I’d like to note that most teachers are kind, patient, talented, hard-working, and much more admirable than worst-person-on-the-planet Donald Trump, right-wing Republicans who support him, various profit-obsessed corporate execs, and our town’s greedy developers. Do I get a high grade for writing that short sentence?

Sincerely,
Trophies for All

Reminds me that “The Scarlet Letter” character Hester Prynne, after acing high-school math, exulted: “They gave me an ‘A’!”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Meanwhile, I recently received a barrage of back-to-school emails from the school district, the interim superintendent, my daughter’s school principal, and my daughter’s homeroom teacher about everything from the Genesis online school portal to bus schedules. Most of the messages were useful, so why am I feeling stressed?

Sincerely,
Inbox Influx

Your gmail account just reached 2 percent capacity, and you’re nervous I’ll send you the 10,000 photos I took this morning of my daughter boarding her school bus. Rest easy — I sent only 5,000.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
As an atheist, I’m uncomfortable relying on Genesis for information. What should I do? Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: A Back-to-School Column That’s Not a Back-to-School Column

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017 1:30pm  |  COMMENTS (8)

 
 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
School starts in one week! Write a column about school starting in one week!

Sincerely,
A Touch of Classroom

Ain’t happening. Students want to enjoy the rest of summer break without reading about school, thinking about school, or watching the “Back to School” DVD — currently being flung out of Montclair windows everywhere.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Rodney Dangerfield still gets no respect. What about those now-online-only school forms?

Sincerely,
Jen A. Sis

I said no school talk! Fill out those forms on cave walls for all I care and haul them to 22 Valley Road.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Meanwhile, the superintendent search continues…and continues…and continues. Will pigs fly before we have a new one? Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: When a Big Eclipse and a BOE Meeting Happen on the Same Day

BY  |  Thursday, Aug 24, 2017 1:30pm

 
 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
You were away during Montclair’s last two Board of Education meetings, including the August 21 one. Feel guilty?

Sincerely,
Rhea Gretzivehadafew

I’ll discuss Monday’s meeting later in this column, but will apologize now for my BOE attendance being “eclipsed” by modest vacations.

 
 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Sigh — will you unoriginally devote some of this August 24 column to the major August 21 eclipse?

Sincerely,
Celeste Teeyal

When I saw that eclipse during my Massachusetts visit, the sun looked like a crescent moon. So now I’ll always wear eclipse glasses on The Crescent, a Montclair street conveniently close to several therapists I seem to need.

 
 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
On Facebook, I saw a 1932 New York Times story predicting THE EXACT DATE of this week’s eclipse — 85 years in that story’s future. How can climate-change deniers ignore the power and accuracy of science? Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: Future ‘Arts District’ Is ‘The Art of the (Bad) Deal’

Thursday, Aug 17, 2017 1:15pm

 
 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Last week, you briefly criticized the Planning Board’s unanimous August 8 approval of plans for the way-too-big “arts district” on/near Seymour Street. Can you say more about that project and the PB’s post-midnight vote?

Sincerely,
I.M. Disappointed

This whole column will focus on those topics, including the kind of arts and entertainment we might see when the project is finished. The developers have high buildings; I have low expectations.

 
  Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: Seymour Gets Nod. This August 10-Themed Column Is Odd

BY  |  Thursday, Aug 10, 2017 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (8)

 
 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
With things slower in Montclair during a late-summer month, how will you fill this August 10 column?

Sincerely,
Dez Perado

By using historical events that happened on August 10. For instance, born-that-day author Jorge Amado wrote a novel that includes drinking scenes, so I had a designated driver return that book to the library.

 
 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
But after you wrote most of this column, the Planning Board voted 9-0 on August 7 for the massive Seymour Street-area “arts center” that will cram our town with more people, traffic, pricey housing, etc. How does that relate to August 10?

Sincerely,
Gilderoy Gridlockhart

Tonight, the Planning Board Fan Club of Montclair will receive the coveted Consistency Prize for 10 consecutive years of having no members other than developers. Continue Reading

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