Your thoughts on the Board of Education’s choice of Dr. Nathan Parker as Montclair’s new interim superintendent?

Yet Another

He’s had a varied career heading the school districts in Summit, Orange, and Upper Saddle River — where there’s a museum for the horse mentioned in Lil Nas X’s smash country-rap hit “Old Town Road.”

Don’t think that museum exists. Will there be another three-year gap between “permanent” superintendents, as was the case in Montclair from 2015 through 2018?

Delay of the Land

Hope not. Ideally, someone will be named within a few months and, all things being equal, that someone will be another woman (of color or white). Meaning I don’t want Mr. Chipping, so…”Goodbye, Mr. Chips.”

That educator from James Hilton’s 1934 novel is fictional. If you’re going to bring up the past, could you have included some praise for departing superintendent Dr. Kendra Johnson when you discussed her in last week’s column?

Uno Kudos

I wish her well, and liked her focus on ending racial inequities. But she broke her contract after only 15 or so months, supported the time-wasting PARCC tests (now disguised as the NJSLAs), and was voted in by four now-gone BOE members during “A Night at the George Inness Annex” without the three other BOE members there. “A Night at the Opera” was more pleasing.

The Marx Brothers starred in that film — and then “A Day at the Races” — before becoming The Marks Brothers when grading the NJSLAs. Meanwhile, there’s been much pro and con debate on social media about the new anti-gun-violence “Never Again” mural created by Montclair High students under the Chestnut Street overpass. Thoughts?

Chestnut’s Roasting on an Open Ire

I admire the powerful mural. Some think it’s too depressing, and I respect that, but students are already scared of being killed in their classrooms as Republicans ghoulishly prioritize gun-maker profits over student lives. No morals led to a mural.

And anyone visiting the Republican in the White House spends “A Day at the Racist’s.” Now, on to The MC hotel’s August 15 ribbon-cutting. Weren’t the scissors used rather large?

Bea Sharp

Those ceremonial snippers must have gotten variances to become that big.

You’re almost always negative about The MC, which has some nice local touches. Can’t Montclair use a hotel?

Hostelry Hostility

I suppose, but the reported room rates of $199 to $256 are very steep for the average person, the building is too big in an ever-more-congested downtown, and the weird-looking thingy on the roof could attract life from other planets. Friend or foe? May soon know.

Heck, my family recently stayed in a cabin on Cape Cod with two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen — yards from a beautiful lake in which we could swim. All for $1,070 a week, just under $153 a day.

I Call That a Bargain

But was it an upscale cabin, huh, huh? Did that one-story cabin have a rooftop bar, huh, huh? You obviously missed the boutique memo.

Speaking of prices, is it true that at least some Montclair parking tickets were raised to $60 — much higher than in many other suburbs — partly “thanks” to all the overdevelopment going on?

Meter-Made Moola

Great way (not!) to encourage people to eat at our restaurants and shop in our stores. Heck, for $60, Mr. Chipping could stay in The MC for part of a night — until roused from sleep and deposited on the sidewalk. “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.”


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.




26 replies on “MontClairVoyant: Our Schools – Another Head; New Hotel – More Than One Bed”

  1. Just imagine, super liberal Montclair now has a couple upscale Hotels and some fancy restaurants. How dare they! What will happen to our reputation as being communist Montclair?? The free market is so unfair!! Dave you personify the old Russian adage, “better I have no cow than my neighbor have two.” People new to town (not me, I have been here since the 80’s) love the changes. I am a little nostalgic for the empty lots and tumble weeds rolling down Church St but time marches on.

  2. Thank you for the comment, flipside! Drolly written. 🙂

    Why couldn’t Montclair have had one upscale hotel (The George) and the other hotel affordable for more visitors? I don’t know about you, but staying in a hotel like The MC that reportedly charges $199 to $256 a night would be a real splurge for many people. At least when it comes to Montclair restaurants, options range from pricey to not too pricey.

    As for Church Street, it was different but certainly not a desert when I moved to Montclair in 1993. And the tumbleweeds you humorously remember were actually Furby toys doing their weekly shopping…

  3. Dave, Maybe you hit on a great business idea. I nice No-tell Motel in the heart of Montclair or maybe next to the Crosby. You should get right on it. I can picture you working the front desk. What do you think is a fair hourly rate??

  4. Ha, flipside! I wouldn’t want an hourly “dive” hotel in Montclair, even if it provided me with a job working the front desk. I do hand out keys, but only to our cat sitter when we’re away…

    A legit/non-“boutique” hotel with rooms in the $100-to-$150-a-night range would be nice. That’s what my family and I tend to pay when we travel — and we’re happy to not have upscale bars and upscale restaurants anywhere on the premises.

  5. “What will happen to our reputation as being communist Montclair”

    —you’ll keep bleating about it as The Only Person On Planet Earth Imbecilic Enough To Ply This Asinine Trope?

  6. Thank you, Frank, for the link to that 2014 piece. So many cringe-inducing quotes about how wonderful The MC would supposedly be, with nary a word about how the hotel would be too big, too pricey, etc. Actually, kind of embarrassing how much some people gushed considering that the developer back then already had a suspect reputation in Montclair for the leaks and mold that were in The Siena.

  7. Frank, re your second link: Excellent letter you wrote! Yes, the Montclair Art Museum should change with the times, but also keep some important/historic things — like that impressive statue — in the same place.

  8. Thank you for the comment, jcunningham! The “communist Montclair” trope is indeed ridiculous. Yes, our town has more liberals than the average suburb, but I would guess only a handful of communists. And much of the town’s population — and leadership — is undoubtedly centrist. The way much of the leadership kowtows to private developers is certainly the opposite of communistic!

  9. Dave and Jcunn…I guess a little sarcasm and humor doesn’t fly in these parts. I was liberal once upon a time but gave it up. Too much anger, jealousy, and greed for my liking. Waking up everyday hoping to be offended and upset seems pointless to me. Cause and effect is a much happier path.

  10. Fair point, flipside. I’m the last person who should complain about sarcastic/humorous exaggeration. 🙂 And my column did mention The Marx Brothers, with Karl of course being one of them…

    As for liberals feeling “too much anger, jealousy, and greed” — seems like those are Trump-like traits, so I guess The Donald is more liberal than I thought!

  11. flipside,

    With the doctors prescribing opioids like aspirin, now you don’t have to give up your values. Cause and effect. Cause and effect. The esteemed doctors used to have to write out each opioid Rx on preprinted pads and hand it to the patient. Now, they are filed electronically so they don’t actually touch the Rx. If the Rx is wrong, but you complete the transaction, CVS will not take the opioid back.

  12. Another random cause & effect…vis a vis Amazon

    Did you know that when you do a prepaid return to Amazon, Amazon has figured out a way to have the local business pay for their freight cost. They do this by under-specing the size/wieight of the return merchandise. They will generate a Return Sticker for a 2 lb box when they originally shipped it in a 40 lb box. The local entrepreneur ends up paying for the shortfall when the shipper sets their rates for the next year. If you’re Staples, you get your money back. It you’re a locally owned Montclair Shipping Plus, you’re fighting Goliath.

    This is what Representative Sherrill should be looking into instead of what kind of gun control measures do you want me to pursue knowing full well they won’t even reach the Senate. As I have said before, she needs to step up her game. Too much buffing and not enough buckling down.

  13. Thanks for the comments, Frank. Amazon (and other huge companies) certainly have it all figured out when it comes to gaming the system — including often paying little or no federal taxes.

    Congresspeople can obviously walk and chew gum at the same time — i.e., focus on more than one thing. And I think there’s some value in the Democratic House passing some measures even though the Republican Senate will stymie virtually everything decent. I’ve been disappointed with Rep. Sherrill, but, then again, it was always clear she was a cautious centrist whose main political appeal might have been the fact that she’d at least be better than “moderate”-Republican-turned-spineless-Trump-supporter Rep. Frelinghuysen.

  14. Amazon corporate is a bunch of very smart, inbred Type A, dyed-in-the-wool capitalists without a clue what the term public good means. The best and the brightest. I own their stock.

  15. I drove up Orange Road to Bloomfield Ave. Gosh darn, I’m so impressed with the streetscape now that our Mc Hotel is open. “Our Street Is A Wonderland”. Sorry, John Mayer.

  16. Frank, is the role that Rep. Sherrill is filling that of a centrist at a time when the Republican Party has become so far right that something stronger than centrism is needed to counterbalance that? 🙂

    I agree that Amazon is run by very smart people with little clue — or maybe it’s better described as little concern — about the overall public good. But not a bad stock to own from purely an investment point of view.

    Ha ha — your John Mayer lyric riff. 🙂 With The MC hotel now open, that area of Montclair is now “more beautiful than the legendary city of Xanadu.”*

    *Suggested promotional copy for Pinnacle.

  17. That role is transitional. Interim, if you like. What are the expectations? If I was building a team, she would be a great member. I’m not. I looking for an individual that is making a difference.

  18. Frank, you’re right that Rep. Sherrill is, or would be, a good team member. I just think centrism in the current far-right Trump era is sort of like being neutral, and Elie Wiesel said: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” I share your sentiment of looking for someone who is making a difference.

    I know you’re being facetious, but there’s little about The MC hotel area to be jealous of. I feel bad for anyone who lives there, drives there, lives to drive there, or drives to live there.

  19. Well, ok, a little dramatic for what I was looking for from the Representative…but, the advice does seem to fit the robo call situation. ?

    3rd Ward: and those that are driven there? ?

  20. Frank, my use of Elie Wiesel’s neutrality quote was indeed over-dramatic in that context, but the principle sort of applies.

    “…and those that are driven there?” — ha! Them, too. 🙂

  21. Thanks for the link, Frank! Glad those iconic NYC library lions will soon be getting some regular maintenance. (If only that happened with the Montclair High stairs during the two years before the partial collapse in 2018.) And “Patience and Fortitude” are indeed needed when thinking about the return of Congress — especially the Republican-controlled, do-nothing-good U.S. Senate.

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