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Montclair in the News, But Not on Purpose


By this point most of us have heard about the Russian spy ring exposed by the federal government, and starring a pretend-couple who lived in Montclair. Montclair has since become a popular one-liner for those looking to poke fun at the rather ineffectual spies.

David Denby in his review of "Salt" in The New Yorker (8/2/10) writes,

What follows--assassination, threats to the American President, a possible missile strike on the Middle East--is perhaps a little overblown; the actual Russian sleepers who were recently booted out of the country seem to have mainly kept a close watch on top-secret goings on in Montclair, New Jersey.

Irina Aleksander of the New York Observer's Daily Transom notes that although Montclair has a lot going for it ("two movie theaters, three firehouses, 18 public tennis courts, 42 houses of worship and a population of about 38,000"), what it does not have are state secrets that would necessitate undercover Russians. What might the Russians have discovered instead?

1. That the Spring Pea Risotto at Raymond's is terrific.

2. That Stephen Colbert used to teach Sunday school at St. Cassian's Parish.

3. That the mayor of Montclair's main credential was that he used to own the town bike shop, according to James Percelay, a Montclair resident and TV producer.  

4. That Montclairians often talk about something called the 'Migration Route'-Upper West Side to Park Slope to Montclair.

5. That "people say we're 20 minutes west from New York, but really by any means it takes an hour," David Carr, New York Times columnist and longtime Montclair resident, suggested.

6. That there are so many Montclair residents who work in media that gifts at PTA fund-raisers are often tickets or backstage passes to David Letterman, The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live.

7. That the average Montclairian's schedule pivots around his or her kid's soccer schedule.

8. That "children's finals are often discussed in terms of 'We'-as in 'We have a final next week in math,'" according to Jim Axelrod, CBS News chief White House correspondent and Montclair resident.

9. That the Montclair mothers can often be seen in packs at the Starbucks on Church Street most mornings, wearing gym clothes and oversize diamond studs.

10. That there are two Whole Foods in the area, two miles apart.

The list goes on here, and includes the funny, silly, true, and exaggerated.

And of course, Montclair's own fifteen-year-old Jessie Gugig best encapsulated the strangeness of post-Cold War Russian spies living in Montclair of all places when she joked,

"They couldn't have been spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas." (New York Times)

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