MontClairVoyant: After the Bellevue Theatre Closes, Montclairites Feel Lousy and Townhouse-y

BY  |  Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Can you devote two-thirds of this column to the shocking news of the Bellevue Theatre closing, and the other third to developer Steven Plofker’s dismal plan to cram a pair of huge, pricey, two-unit townhouses into a tiny tract of church land near the library?

Sincerely,
Dee Pressed

Can’t say it’ll be an exact 66-to-33-percent split. Even if it was, there’s still the 1 percent to worry about. And I do worry about the 1 percent…whose members usually pick profit over community when shutting down or constructing things.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The appeal of the Bellevue cinema?

Sincerely,
Twin Peaks

It was in a beautiful, charming, 95-year-old Tudor building many Montclairites could walk to. Of course, Montclairites can also walk from our New Jersey town to see a film in California, but they might miss the previews.

 

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Your experiences with the Bellevue? Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: A Murphy Bed in the Governor’s Mansion and Other Election Reflections

BY  |  Thursday, Nov 09, 2017 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

 


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

What would you call Phil Murphy, Chris Christie, and Jon Corzine — the last three people elected governor of New Jersey?

Sincerely,
Garden State Razzer

A Goldman Sachs sandwich.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Yup, Murphy and Corzine were top execs at GS (aka Greedy Soulless), and Christie was in office between them. Now the question becomes: With Murphy elected Nov. 7 thanks to many Montclairites and other voters, will that Democratic multimillionaire match his campaign rhetoric by governing in a relatively progressive way?

Sincerely,
Corporation Nation

Murphy will at least be much better than the awful Christie, whose post-“Bridgegate” popularity sank even lower than Satan’s because traffic on the Highway to Hell never got stopped.

Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: All You Need Is Guv? A Comedic Preview of New Jersey’s Election

BY  |  Thursday, Nov 02, 2017 5:31pm  |  COMMENTS (49)


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

With Election Day coming this Tuesday, Nov. 7, can you discuss who and what you think will be best for New Jersey and Montclair?

Sincerely,
Funny to See the Word “Candid” in “Candidate”

Yes, but first I’d like to say that I’ll be voting at Buzz Aldrin, not for Buzz Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin (the middle school, not the Montclair-raised astronaut) used to be Mount Hebron. I also didn’t vote for Mount Hebron — though I did vote for his wife, Mindy Hebron.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Will you please SHUT UP? Now, about the election…

Sincerely,
Rising Snide Lifts All Votes

Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno supported the vile Gov. Christie and then moved even further rightward during her current gubernatorial campaign with such things as foul anti-immigration words so contrary to Montclair’s diverse values. I’ll never vote for her, unless she runs with Trump on the “Send Us to Mars On a One-Way-Ticket Ticket.”


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

You mentioned two tickets!

Sincerely,
Mr. Obvious

Want ’em? Good seats. Face value. For “Hamilton.” Not the smash musical, but the play about the New Jersey town near Trenton. Thrill to the choreography of car-costumed dancers hoofing it on Kuser Road.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

What about Phil Murphy for governor?

Sincerely,
Also Known As “Impoverished Phil” Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: As Halloween Nears, Montclair Is Both a Funhouse and House of Horrors

BY  |  Thursday, Oct 26, 2017 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
In honor of Halloween next Tuesday, I’d like this column to depict Montclair as both a funhouse and house of horrors. Are you up for it?

Sincerely,
Eerie on Erie

No, I Iive in a first-floor apartment. But, sure, bring it on — just give me a minute to don my humor-columnist costume. Clown nose? Check. Dunce cap? Check. Glasses with fake eyes popping out? Check. Check? Monthly.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
On Halloween, I’ll be driving downhill into Montclair on Bloomfield Avenue to see all the oversized buildings that have recently risen or are coming soon. Do I have anything to worry about?

Sincerely,
Gaslighted on Gates

Be careful of violating noise ordinances when you let out a series of agonized screams.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
I’m a downtown Montclairite who, months before Halloween, developed ringing in my ears from countless drivers letting out a series of agonized screams. Should I sue the developers?

Sincerely,
Panicked on Park

You could try, but they have deep pockets. One developer might offer recompense by luring you to The MC hotel’s future rooftop bar with a 10-cents-off coupon for a drink…of tap water. Continue Reading

MontClairVoyant: You’ll See What ELA Stands For When You Sit Down to Read This

BY  |  Thursday, Oct 19, 2017 1:30pm  |  COMMENTS (85)


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

ELA! What does it stand for?

Sincerely,
Not Electric Light Orchestra

English Language Arts, and Extra-Large Atrocities built by developers in Montclair.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Can we first talk about the latest way-too-big project before discussing the new Extremely Lopped Authors (ELA) curriculum and other things that came up at Monday’s Board of Education meeting?

Sincerely,
Held 15 Days Before Halloween

Sure! A developer wants to replace the car wash and car-rental place at Grove and Walnut with an oversized, mediocre-looking retail/office structure. He’s also known for demolishing the historic Marlboro Inn to build those huge Christopher Court houses, and for hosting Most Variances Palooza.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

What a festival! For his Grove/Walnut project, that developer wants a variance to create only 50 parking spaces despite 82 being required. Plus that project would make an already busy area CRAZY busy with even more traffic — in a locale near train tracks. Would an approval again Exemplify Leadership Abdication (ELA)?

Sincerely,
Parking Paucity

You betcha, with one silver lining: Grove Pharmacy would do a bang-up business selling tranquilizers to people driving north on Grove after they finally get past Walnut.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

At Oct. 16’s BOE meeting, there was plenty of public criticism of the new English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum that calls for students to read fewer novels and more short things. I know you devoted a whole column to that last week, but do you have anything to add?

Sincerely,
Test-Preppy Approach

Reading full novels is educational, pleasurable, helps teach empathy, and helps students develop more of an attention span in this digital age of short content. Speaking of that, my previous sentence can be summarized as “novels: good.”


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

If the BOE and the school district listened more to teachers (as various Oct. 16 attendees requested), we’d get Education-Lesson Awesomeness (ELA), right? Teachers are on “the front lines,” and know what’s best for students!

Sincerely,
Peta Gogy

Far from “the front lines” is PARCC test pusher Pearson, a company known as England’s Least Asset (ELA).


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Wasn’t a highlight of the meeting BOE member Eve Robinson responding to the interim superintendent’s annual PARCC report by eloquently slamming those exams for being bad, for wasting precious learning time, etc.?

Sincerely,
Stan Dardized-Nonsense

Yes! Those detested tests are reportedly now given in just five states — down from 20-plus! — and hopefully a new governor will help get rid of them in Jersey, too. I won’t rest until the PARCCs are in minus-five states (Pearson math).


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Shorter ELA readings in middle school, and now school-district enforcement of shorter maternity leaves. Any connection between those negative developments?

Sincerely,
Non-Progressive Moves

Exhausted parents of newborns might mistake the title of James Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific” for “Wails of Those Who Mouth Pacifiers.” Oops — that wordplay was pathetic, goshdarnit.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Hey! Watch your language!

Sincerely,
On TV or Your Phone

Just keep your Ears Locked, Always (ELA).

 

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: 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

Featured Comment

Sad. Let's hope that this is not its "Last Tango." One of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in town. Valentino, Garbo, Keaton must have played there.

Tip, Follow, Friend, Subscribe

Links & Information

Baristanet on Flickr