Friday, December 29, 2006

Whatever Happened to "First Night"?

A reader email reminded me that an former Silver Spring tradition, "First Night Montgomery" seems to have disappeared and wondered why it never returned to the "new" Silver Spring. This event used to be held annualy in downtown Silver Spring but was moved in 1999 to the county fairgrounds in Gaithersburg due to construction in Silver Spring. It remained there until 2001, but not only did it not return to Silver Spring as might be expected, it was never again scheduled at any venue.

Now that Silver Spring has been redeveloped and has a great open space (Between Georgia and the end of "The Turf") that has proven to work great for other large events, it is surprising that First Night hasn't been resuscitated and returned to its original home. Does anyone know any details on what became of First Night? Such an event in Silver Spring seems a lot more practical now than it ever was in its original incarnation, so what's keeping it from coming back? I would even consider going to it for New Year's. The fairgrounds, not so much.

Other notes from around Silver Spring:

- Did you know that Silver Spring is home to a three-time national champion football team?

- On Wednesday, a man suspected of "assaulting a York City Police officer by dropping a ceramic flowerpot on his head" in York, PA was arrested in Silver Spring. I thought that only happened in the movies and cartoons.

- The Washington Times has a profile of David Kussner, manager of the Majestic 20. Apparently, the Majestic is the best performing theater in the entire Consolidated Theatres chain.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Richard Layman of Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space proposes the piping in of Baroque music at the future Silver Spring Transit Center.

- To expand on my previous post about Silver Spring's "Best Restaurants", here's a Washingtonian food writer's top six Restaurants in Silver Spring:

1. Ray's: the Classics
2. Ceviche
3. Jackie's
4. Mandalay
5. Cuba de Ayer
6. Samantha's

- When discussing higher crime rates in Montgomery County, the MoCo police chief claims that "most of the crimes have been confined to certain areas like Montgomery Village, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Wheaton and Silver Spring". Of course, I imagine a large portion of the Silver Spring crime occurred in the sections that I advocated giving to Langley Park.

- I noticed a new MNCPPC sign up in the small parking lot at Silver Spring Ave. & Fenton St. for a development of a new residential building. Anyone have any details on this project? I assume it is part of the whole "Fenton Street Streetscape" deal. Speaking of Fenton Street, it looks nice with all the wreaths hung on the street lamps.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Silver Spring's "Best Restaurants"

I don't know how much stock I put in this type of list, but Washingtonian's 2007 "100 Best Restaurants" issue is out, and while two Silver Spring newcomers made the list, one has been booted.




Ray's: The Classics

Could Mandalay's exclusion be due to consistently bad service? Speaking of exclusion, Ceviche should be disqualified for having their address listed as "Silver Springs" on their website:

As far as Jackie's goes, I just ate there this weekend and my meal was fantastic. I especially recommend checking out their dessert menu. I usually don't get desserts at restaurants, but everything on there looked delicious.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas News 'N Notes

Oh the weather outside is frightful, and the fire at my house is so delightful, but unfortunately I don't think it's going to snow (and get me out of work tommorow).

- I went to both Snider's and Whole Foods to do some Christmas Eve food shopping yesterday and there was a striking difference. Snider's seemed to be doing a fairly brisk holiday business, but there was plenty of parking and no lines at the checkout. Whole Foods was a different story. It was so jam-paced you could barely navigate the isles and the parking lot (see below). Even the "express" line had a 15-20 minute wait. I hope that Snider's is still doing OK with all the new competition in town. I worry that the (proposed) Harris Teeter could be the nail in its coffin, though I certainly hope I'm wrong.

- Speaking of the Whole Foods, it appeared that there wasn't much enforcement in that lot vis-à-vis parking for Christmas Eve mass at St. Michael's. The combination of the rush on Whole Foods and the parking rule violators made the lot a real joy...

- Consign It and DaVinci Florists, the two businesses located at the corner of Dale & Schuyler (near the old Blair) will be vacating at the end of January. The owner of the property is reportedly planning on redeveloping the buildings to attract new tenants. Let the speculation begin.

Personally, I will always associate that building with the long-defunct Fairway Pharmacy.

- Eastern Village Cohousing of South Silver Spring was featured in this Saturday's "Where we Live" section of the Post.

- Someone told me that Bonifant Books in Wheaton, formerly on Bonifant (duh) in Silver Spring, had closed down. I haven't had a chance to check this for myself. Can anyone confirm/contradict this? That would be a shame if it's true.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

It's been a really slow Pre-Christmas week.

- Looks like the Mica Condos (home of the "football open house", crab feast and the oddly-placed road signs) are getting even more desperate. They are now offering up to $20,000 toward closing and up to 18 months without condo fees (but no BMW).

- According to Silver Spring Scene, plans are afoot to put a brewery in the old Silver Spring fire department building. I assume they mean a brewpub rather than a pure brewery. Will it be the mysteriously-disappearing Old Dominion or another brewpub?

- Kugler's Home Fashions, a fun yet cramped linen store, has moved from Four Corners to Industrial Drive, north of New Hampshire. I have a feeling they may have been a victim of rising rents in the Woodmoor Shopping Center. (What will be there now, I wonder?) I hope people can find it - Industrial Drive isn't on the map. Perhaps that's why they felt the need to issue a a press release.

- The Silver Spring Daily Photo photoblog has some nice shots from around town.

- How can the Exxon at Georgia Ave. and Dale Drive get away with putting up that gigantic coffee cup on top of the station? There's one on the Exxon over by the New Hampshire Ave. beltway exit as well. It's obnoxious as hell. Chompy, were he with us today, might have enjoyed a giant, inflatable cup o' joe on a cold December morning, however.

- Speaking of gas stations on Georgia Ave., the holier-than-thou Beltway Chevron station has a new sign up that makes absolutely no grammatical sense to me. I might just be too stupid to understand, so perhaps someone can explain it to me:

"Before there was Santa, there is Jesus"

Friday, December 15, 2006

Woop-woop! That's the sound of da police!

- According to a reader tip, a dead body was found in the bushes near the old courthouse in downtown Silver Spring.

They could see it from their office window. [My husband] said that the Homicide detectives showed up. I think right now they are waiting for the coroner to come and cart the body away. I walked over there but they have the body blocked by a police car.
I thought it was absurd when someone was quoted in this Post article saying that "The Wire" reminded them of their youth Silver Spring, but perhaps that wasn't such a stretch after all.

- Uh, oh, another home invasion in Silver Spring. I think this calls for the official home invasion graphic:

- Yesterday there was a shootout between armored car drivers and a "band of robbers" in Aspen Hill, which is one of those quasi-Silver Spring places. Sounds like a scene out of "Heat", only with really lame robbers. Perhaps they should bring in Waingro for questioning.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Mascot for Silver Spring

I've written before how Silver Spring has too many symbols. Yesterday the Gazette dedicated an article to there NOT being an effort afoot (aflipper?) to make the penguin Silver Spring's "official" mascot. What authority would even have the power to designate anything in Silver Spring official? The county?

The regional service center at Wayne and Georgia obviously doesn't give a damn about their penguin, as they had the sculpture banished to the empty grass island at the intersection of Ellsworth and Spring Street, where it looks really pathetic.

"Where the hell should we dump this thing? I don't feel like hauling it all the way to the dump."

"Uhhh, well I think there's an empty spot a few blocks away where no one will notice."

Outside of a mural, what does a penguin really have to do with Silver Spring? Presumably, real penguins would die from heat exposure or dehydration during Silver Spring summers. A Silver Spring penguin is about as appropriate as the "Utah Jazz". If they have to go with a penguin, at least make it cartoony, not ornithologically correct like the birds they use now. Or just get completely shameless and make it a cute-as-hell baby penguin.

Personally, I prefer the designation of an acorn as the "official" mascot. The acorn gazebo was in Silver Spring waaaay before the penguin mural. The mascot could be an anthropomorphic acorn named Corny McNutt who lives in a tree in Acorn Park. His nemesis would be a nefarious white squirrel, a criminal mastermind in the Lex Luthor mold, always hatching evil real estate schemes. He would have designs on Corny's tree, wanting to bulldoze it in order to make way for more luxury condos. (Why would a squirrel want to destroy trees? That's what would make him interesting - he's complex.) It would be his singular obsession, much like Gargamel with the Smurfs.

Or perhaps, with the express written consent of Lucasfilm, Ltd., a mascot could be created named Luke Jaywalker. Using his Jedi powers, he would be able to cross major roadways at any point by effortlessly weaving through oncoming traffic (even at night while wearing all-black). He'd have an evil deadbeat father named Carth Evader.

No matter what, don't let kids pick the mascot. Then you end up with stupid team names or mascots that have absolutely no relevance to the team or area they are supposed to represent. Mascots in this area are generally terrible. Look at "Screech", who I guess is supposed to be a bald eagle, but looks more like a fat, poorly dressed, effeminate chicken.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- I recently went to see Babel at the AFI, thinking that perhaps a showing of a serious "adult" movie at this theater would be free of the usual talk-out-loud-the-entire-movie crowd. Wrong. Instead, I might as well have been at the Majestic, as the couple next to me was carrying on with a running discussion (at a normal conversational volume level - there was no attempt to be quiet) the entire time. When they weren't talking to each other, the girl was making/receiving calls on her mobile phone. I guess that no movie theater in Silver Spring is immune from this crap.

- In order to protect law-abiding pedestrians, perhaps Silver Spring should experiment with a pilot pedestrian flag program. One is already being used nearby in Chevy Chase and, as far as I know, works okay. Knowing Silver Spring, however, the flags will probably be stolen so frequently, the county will go bankrupt trying to replace them.

Hey, maybe the drivers would enjoy this. They could use Georgia Avenue as a high-speed slalom course and weave their way between flag-toting pedestrians.

- Just up The Pike and DCist surmise that the potential arrival in D.C. of the House of Blues may scuttle Birchmere's plans to expand to Silver Spring. Great, just what we need, a place that allows Jim "not John" Belushi and a 500 lb. John Goodman up on stage pretending to be the Blues Brothers rather than a music venue in downtown Silver Spring.

- Silver Chips has a story on the background of the present Blair building and the school's move from Wayne Ave. One thing that didn't come with the students is the crest, which the school is now trying to get back.

- The FDA project in White Oak is "right on track". My hope is that the influx of jobs will lead to increased (and improved) dining options in that area. Right now, there ain't a whole lot. However, if you crave junky "comfort food", Chef Theo's (home of the Greek Jay Leno) always hits the spot. I love how they have an ancient Goldie Hawn photo up on the wall along with a framed picture of Kevin Costner as Robin Hood. Has Kevin Costner dined at Chef Theo's? If so, I'd really like to know how that happened.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Death on the Highway

There was more carnage on the streets of Downtown Silver Spring last night, as two unidentified men from Woodbridge, VA were killed when some maniac in an Impala slammed into their car at high speed near the railroad bridge on Georgia Avenue.

One of the men was 24-years-old and was driving the Honda Accord when it was struck by a Chevrolet Impala at about 11:40 p.m, police said. The other man who was killed was 23-years-old and sitting in the Honda's right rear passenger seat.

Burnett said the Impala was traveling north on Georgia Avenue "at a high rate of speed" when it slammed into the Accord, then careened into the cement base of a railroad overpass. Both cars came to rest near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Sligo Avenue.

I really hope the MoCo cops have the driver and/or passengers of the Impala in the basement of some police station and are beating them senseless right now. While that may be too much to hope for, the driver better spend the rest of his useless life in prison.

UPDATE: Today's Post has more details on the circumstances that led up to the accident.

Speaking of gruesome traffic deaths, there was another pedestrian death this weekend, this time at Veirs Mill & Claridge Rd.
They said the man... was crossing Veirs Mill Road near Claridge Road about 5:15 p.m. when he was struck by a car and fell. That car stopped, and a car that had been behind it drove around it, struck the fallen pedestrian and dragged him for about 30 yards, police said. It was not clear whether the man had been in a crosswalk, police said.

Based on my experiences, probably not. Again, the cops REALLY need to crackdown on jaywalking around here.

(Note: Some reports say the man was thrown from a moving vehicle, but the cops haven't mentioned anything about this. Perhaps they are covering it up like the Four Corners Car Bomb.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

I've been extremely lax about posting these last couple weeks, so if there's anyone still reading, here's a few Silver Spring tidbits:

- So Rockville doesn't want to name their library after Doug Duncan? Fine with me - we can wait and name the future Silver Spring library after him. If anyone deserves to be honored in Silver Spring, it's Duncan, who vowed to "fix Silver Spring or die trying", and helped bring Discovery, Birchmere, AFI, etc. to the downtown area. If Paul Sarbanes can get a transit hub named after him, a library is the least they can do for Duncan. Hey, so what if he "went out of his help fund the Rockville library"? It's not like the man who fired 11,359 air traffic controllers doesn't have an airport named after him.

If you haven't already read it, here's the Duncan lovefest from the Post.

Library side note: Looks like your tax dollars will be paying for lazy and/or cheap patrons of the new Silver Spring library after all. That is, provided it is ever built. See my earlier post on this subject.

Politician side note: look for Bob Ehrlich's cameo on The Wire this week on HBO.

- Another residential construction project is in the works for Silver Spring on Bonifant St., reports Silver Spring Scene. To make room, the two bungalows-turned-stores on that block would be demolished. It's difficult to see from street level, but the original roofs of the houses are visible on Google Maps. I feel bad for the tenants who might lose their lease, but tearing down this building wouldn't be a huge architectural loss for Silver Spring.

- References to the Old Dominion Brewpub, which has been "coming soon" forever, have been removed from the Downtown Silver Spring website. I don't know what the deal is with these guys, but they seem to take their sweet time opening up new locations. The Old Dominion in Mt. Vernon Square was supposed to open by summer 2005, but at least based on the lack of mention on the company's website, has yet to open.

- A new coffee shop and bakery, Tiramisu, has opened up on Eastern avenue in South Silver Spring. I haven't been there myself, but the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association gives it high marks.

- If you're a smoker who lives at The Blairs, better find a new place to live. The complex is banning smoking, and anyone who won't sign a non-smoking agreement will have to move once their lease expires. The article notes that the Blairs has abandoned its no pet policy. Perhaps this is because their own employees who lived on the premises apparently kept dogs...

- Still no further word on the mysterious car explosion in Four Corners. Why the cover up, MoCo??

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Car Bomb in Four Corners?

There were shades of Baghdad in Four Corners early this week when a Ford Focus mysteriously exploded near the Dennis Avenue & Procter Streets near Four Corners early Monday morning. I live far enough away that the explosions didn't wake me, but I certainly heard quite a few emergency vehicles headed in that direction.

An eyewitness account was sent to me by Patrick, who lives near the scene of the explosion:

At around midnight last night my wife and I were awoken by the sound of an explosion. It was a loud, long BOOOOM that we could actually FEEL. It was just an unforgettable sound.

We darted outside, as did several of our neighbors, to find flames rising high into the air. I ran back inside and called 911 (as did apparently my entire neighborhood). We then walked toward the spot where the sound came from (dozens of people had come out of their homes to see what happened), and about a block from our house, at the corner of Dennis Ave & Procter St, a car had exploded. This was no ordinary car fire. I've seen car fires before. This was an explosion that shook the neighborhood. So I'm guessing it was set intentionally.

While car fires are not uncommon, non-Pinto cars don't generally explode (except in movies), as they are designed specifically NOT to do that. No one in the neighborhood has claimed the car and the authorities can't determine what caused the car to explode in the first place. All of this is quite mysterious. Is there an Al Qaeda sleeper cell operating in Silver Spring?? (If there is, it is a really lame one.)

A side note: Michael Ealy, the star of Showtime's Sleeper Cell series is from Silver Spring.

UPDATE: The photo in this post is not actually the car fire/bomb from Four Corners, but is of an exploded car in Iraq used for dramatic effect. Apparently there was some confusion about this. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the actual car, but if someone does, PLEASE send it!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving News N' Notes

Sorry for the lack of posts lately - it's been a busy couple weeks.

- Somehow I manage to miss the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade every year, and this year was no exception. Here's some photos of the event I found on Flickr. (Photo on right courtesty of WashingtonGardener.)

- Is Silver Spring a "creative outpost"?

- Someone's selling a pair of 1962 & 1963 Blair yearbooks (featuring Goldie Hawn) on eBay. If the bid price seems low, check out the obscene shipping costs.

UPDATE: DAMN! The winning bid for the yearbook was $123.50 (plus the $25.86 shipping!) Someone must be a big Private Benjamin fan.

- Some Silver Spring restaurants were recently featured on the WETA program "Neighborhood Eats!" Mayorga, Mrs. K's Toll House and the Tastee Diner were all visited by the program. It's only on once more, so set your TiVos to record:

Sunday, November 26 2:05AM

[via the SSHS.]

- South Silver Spring to become "more walkable".

Have a great Thanksgiving!


For the love of God, SOMETHING needs to be done about the jaywalking epidemic in downtown Silver Spring. Now, I’m not talking about crossing Fenton when no cars are around – my complaint is those who behave like crossing major streets like Georgia and Colesville is an opportunity to play a real-life game of Frogger.

Some people apparently think that pedestrians “always have the right-of-way” and that they can walk across Colesville Rd. during the middle of rush hour and have the oncoming traffic screech to a halt to accommodate their leisurely jaunt to the opposite side of the street. To make things worse, they often do this at night and/or in the rain (while wearing black!). Sometimes they get in the middle of the road, see you coming, and second guess their decision to cross, but can't decide whether to go back or continue to the other side. In their indecision, they remain in the middle of the street scampering around like a squirrel.

My personal favorites are the people that for some reason wait to cross at a crosswalk until the cars get a green light, walking directly in front of them when they expect to start moving. I've missed lights because of these idiots.

Granted, I jaywalk all the time in that area, but I make damn sure no traffic is coming in either direction. These people will look, see you approaching them at 40MPH and then walk out right in front of you, expecting you to stop or merge into the next lane. Sometimes they don’t, and the results aren’t pretty. Not only do you risk your own life, you risk the life of drivers and their passengers. Provided they survive, they will likely be traumatized for life by the image of your body flying over the hood of their car.

I’ve never seen the county cops do a damn thing about jaywalkers, not that the county hasn’t recognized that something does need to be done. In 2002, in response to increased pedestrian deaths, they formed a “blue ribbon panel” on pedestrian safety. They found that for all pedestrian fatalities during the period of the study, 69% were not crossing in crosswalk. (Interestingly, part of this could be a cultural thing - more than half of the pedestrian fatalities were people born outside the U.S.)

Some of their recommendations:

• Special emphasis should be placed on "cluster areas" such as Central Business Districts (CBDs) and high collision "hot spot " locations by targeting them for increased pedestrian-traffic safety enforcement.

• Enforcement efforts should also focus on pedestrian compliance.

With a quarter of all pedestrian deaths in the county occurring in downtown Silver Spring, I think that preventing dangerous jaywalking should be a "point of emphasis" for the county cops around here. I've never heard of a pedestrian ever getting a ticket for jaywalking in Silver Spring. Heck, at least put up signs:

UPDATE: Just days after I posted this, there was another pedestrian struck in Silver Spring due to flagrant violation of pedestrain laws:

A 19-year-old Silver Spring man was hit early Sunday morning by a car, according to Montgomery County Police, who said the victim apparently ran into traffic.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday News 'N Notes

It's been a little slow around Silver Spring lately...

- Was there some crazy accident around Four Corners this past weekend? It looks like a car drove off of Colesville Rd. and crushed the bus stop in front of the Woodmoor shopping center. A crossing light also seems to have been thrown into the black shopping center sign on the northeast corner of University and Colesville. Anyone know what happened here?

- The City Paper discusses the effect of chef turnover on the cuisine of the Quarry House.

- There are plans for a skateboard park to be built in downtown Silver Spring.

- Jerry Rice, of Dancing With the Stars fame (I hear he used to play some sport or another, as well) was at Discovery this past week. Why? Beats me.

- Washington Gardener wants to produce acorn-shaped hats for downtown Silver Spring "Acorn Heads" to wear, kind of like a cheesehead hat, only not. You can get acorn hats (for kids) on eBay or make them yourself if you know how to do stuff like that.

This might be a good thing to produce and hock at the upcoming Thanksgiving parade.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Results are In!

With 100% of precincts reporting, the new (unofficial) name of City Place is...


It wasn't even close, with Silver Plaza taking 37% of the vote, more than twice its nearest competition, "Bling in the Spring".

Yeah, so what if it's already taken? It's not like anyone calls that area by that name, anyway. They should surrender the name to the mall for the good of the neighborhood.

The next step is to somehow get the mall management on board...

Complete Results:

Answers Votes Percent
Bling in the Spring 14 13%
MoCrap for MoCo 5 5%
The Mall that Used to Have a Nordstom Rack 4 4%
Hecht's Center 7 7%
Montgomery Mall 4 4%
Silver Plaza 39 37%
The Galleria at Veterans Field 7 7%
The National Mall 2 2%
Ye Olde Shoppes at Silver Sprung Towne 11 10%
The Shopppes at the Turf 12 11

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Night Hangover

Damn, I'm tired after watching six straight hours of campaign coverage. The good news is that voters finally gave "Warlord George Walter Bush" the big "up yours" he so richly deserves. Of course, it would have been nice if it hadn't taken them six years.

It has been a good week:

Note that the polls for City Place's new name remain open through tonight. Be sure to vote and let your voice be heard!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote for a new name for City Place

In honor of election day, I've added a poll on the right listing potential new names for City Place. The options were culled from reader submissions made in comments on this post.

Let the voting begin!

Election Day Notes

- I can breath a sigh of relief today, now that I have voted and no longer need fear Diddy's wrath. I voted at Highland View before work, and the lines weren't too bad - the process took maybe ten minutes start to finish.

- I love the illegal signs sprinkled amongst the campaign signs along the side of the road that read "illegal signs".

- P.G. County gets Clinton, and we only get Al Gore?

- The subject of City Place seems to get people all sorts of fired up, based on the comments to posts here, here and of course, here. This weekend was one of the rare occasions that I actually saw the inside of City Place, and it was only from the upper level of McGinty's. From what I could tell, there were more people in the bar then in the entire mall at that time. Not to mention some of the people in the mall had just stepped out of McGinty's in order to make a phone call. A conversation I overheard in McGinty's says a lot about City Place:

McGinty's customer #1 (looking out the window into City Place): "What is that out there?"

McGinty's Customer #2: "I think it's a mall."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

News 'N Notes

- I've added a new section of links on the sidebar for local (neighborhood, building, complex, etc.) associations and message boards. Note that many of the Yahoo! groups included in this list require you to join before you can read and post messages. If you are aware of any additional groups/websites that you'd like to see added, please let me know via email.

- Al Gore and Martin "Carcetti" O'Malley will be at the Student Services Center of the MC Takoma Park/SS campus on Monday, November 6th. UPDATE: Because apparently only old people vote, this event has been moved to Leisure World. Weak.


Here's the event details:

2:00PM - Vice President Al Gore to Campaign with Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown at Leisure World

Club House II, Leisure World, 3701 Rossmoor Blvd, Silver Spring

- Governor "crush me with student loans" Ehrlich's appearance at the Silver Spring Metro didn't start out too well:

"You're going to lose, big time," the first man to shake Ehrlich's hand said before walking off to catch a bus.

- Speaking of Ehrlich, that transit commission he moved out of Silver Spring has a grand total of six employees. I'm sure that will be a boon to the economy of P.G. County and deliver a large number of votes. I bet those six people are thrilled about having their offices moved from Downtown Silver Spring to the New Carrollton Metro...

- Don't forget to submit your suggestion for a new name for City Place.

Renaming City Place

A commenter on this post over at Silver Spring Scene suggested that City Place needs to be re-named. I think this is a fantastic idea. Why?

1. City Place has been (justifiably, IMO) maligned for years. In order to be re-born, it needs to cast aside the shackles of its present name.

2. Silver Spring is not a city. Therefore, the name makes no damn sense.

3. "City Place" rhymes with "Shitty Place". Enough said.

This being said, I am hereby putting out a call for new names for the mall currently known as City Place. Of course, I have absolutely no say in the hypothetical re-branding of City Place, but perhaps by some miracle your suggestions could make their way to the management company and inspire them to make the change.

Some tips on mall re-naming:

- If you are going to give a mall a new name, at least make the name make grammatical sense. Can someone please explain to me what the hell "The Mall at Prince Georges" means? (It will always be P.G. Plaza to me) The county name, Prince George's, is possessive. Where'd the apostrophe go? Unless they are referring to a different prince whose name is "Georges", it is wrong. Also, how can it be "at" a county rather than in one? Really, the name should be "The Mall in Prince George's [County]". Then again, what should we expect from a county whose school system rivals that of Baltimore City for worst in the state?

- Generic, management-company-branded names are lame. (i.e. "Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton")

- Just because it's near a landmark, don't name it after said landmark if it conjures up unpleasant images in people's heads. (Beltway Plaza)

- It doesn't hurt to include words like "park" or "galleria" to make it sound upscale.

- Don't repeat the mistakes of the past (see #3 above). Make sure the new name can't be rhymed with any derogatory words. It's like the episode of the Simpsons where Homer and Marge are deciding on a baby name and Homer declares, "nothing rhymes with Bart!"

Of course, any re-naming would amount to nothing more than lipstick on a pig if the mall fails to attract any upscale tenants. It's a good first step, though.

So, what are everyone's suggestions??

[FLASHBACK - an older post about City Place]

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hump Day Update

- I tell you, there is no better deal in Silver Spring than the jerk chicken sandwich at Negril. A piece of coco bread (delicious on its own) is stuffed with what seems like an entire chicken. On top of that is a tasty Jamaican jerk sauce and a piece of lettuce. This is MORE than enough for an entire meal, and the cost is just $3.45. Not that long ago it was only $2.25. For this you get far more food than you would get at Potbelly's and astronomically more than offered by and sandwich from Subway. If you are really, really, hungry, you can add on a beef patty and really gorge.

- Hey, the Gazette has a story about a Silver Spring castle for sale on eBay. I feel like I've heard something about this before...

- A so-called "Katrina Cottage", which is slightly smaller than the aforementioned castle, will be open to the public at the Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Center on Lyttonsville Rd. through November.

- Soon-to-be-lame-duck Bobby Haircut is taking the The Washington Suburban Transit Commission offices from Silver Spring and giving them to PG County. "Governor Robert Ehrlich says the January move from Silver Spring to New Carrollton is part of his commitment to bring government agencies to Prince George's [at the expense of Montgomery]." I think a few years ago his main commitment was to maximize the amount of my student loans. :(

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

News 'N Notes - Halloween Edition

- Someone has carved a pumpkin to look like the Canada Dry / Silverton Condo building:

[Via the Silver Spring Historical Society]

- In the spirit of Halloween, the Silver Bee real estate blog has more great stories about haunted and/or disturbing houses in Silver Spring

My personal favorite:

The Buyers were excitedly inspecting the house on their final walkthru before settlement. Upon inspection of the attic the buyers and their agent discovered Jack, the missing husband, His mummified remains were hanging from a rafter in the attic.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday News 'N Notes

- OK, why couldn't Silver Spring do this? The Washington Capitals' recently-completed practice facility was built on top of Ballston Common mall. Perhaps this facility could have fit in City Place on the floor that used to house the AMC City Place 10 theatres. It would have been great - we could have an ice rink, not lose "The Turf", have a pro sports team headquartered here plus have a venue that can host all sorts of ice events year-round. Maybe this wouldn't have been practical for reasons I am not aware of, but it strikes me as something that would have been perfect in downtown Silver Spring.

- It may or may not be haunted, but a house on Woodbury Drive that was the site of a grisly suicide scares the bejesus out of real estate agents.

- DCist reviewed Cubano's last week. Personally, I agree with the commentor who writes, "You'd figure a place named Cubano's would have a decent Cuban sandwich, but that's not the case." I suppose it's OK otherwise, but when I first heard that there was a Cuban restaurant, I was excited to get a great Cuban sandwich but was ultimately disappointed with the limited sandwich options on their menu. What I'd love is a a more casual place that specializes in sandwiches. On the off chance that anyone's ever been there, Gordo's in Tallahassee, Florida is a perfect example.

- This Flickr user has posted some interesting photos from around downtown Silver Spring.

- A Silver Spring native is on the U.S. Women's soccer team.

- Reader CT reports that CNN was filming a report yesterday in downtown Silver Spring. Anyone got on any details on what this was all about?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Why don't we have a real "Taste of Silver Spring"?

I have always wondered why we don't have a formal "Taste of Silver Spring" event. The Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce has something tonight that is nominally a "Taste of Silver Spring", but is a limited, indoor, business networking event that costs at least $40 to attend.

What Silver Spring needs is a real, open-to-the-public event held annually like those held in Georgetown, Arlington and Bethesda. Hell, even friggin' Wheaton has one.

It does look like this has been attempted in the past (at least in a limited fashion) back in 2000 and during that whole street festival that Discovery & AFI put on a few years back.

This would be a great way for a lot of the Silver Spring restaurants that AREN'T on Ellsworth to get noticed by that group of people that think that Silver Spring's culinary offerings begin and end with Red Lobster and Macaroni Grill.

We have the perfect place to hold it - Ellsworth can be shut off like it is for any number of other events and each participating restaurant can have their own tent. Anyone out there who can get this organized?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Express (heart) Silver Spring

The Express has a nice, long (for them, at least) article today on how great Silver Spring is.

I'm a tad confused about their geography, however...

Take a walk down Ellsworth Drive and find everything from Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican and Jamaican cuisine to chain joints such as Chipotle, Red Lobster, Macaroni Grill and Eggspectations.

Where is there Jamaican food on Ellsworth? I assume they are referring to Negril (on Thayer). And how much did Mica have to pay to get called "upscale" and "luxury"?? They also might be a little premature in announcing the future arrival of City Homes, whose construction appears to have been tabled, at least for the time being.

OK, I'm picky, but I follow these things far too closely. All in all, it's nice to see The Spring get some props.

Catching Up

Sorry for the dearth of posts lately... it's been a busy week.

- Amid all this discussion of ice cream options in Silver Spring, it looks like an original may be returning to challenge the new jacks. According to this article in the Examiner, Neal Lieberman, co-owner of the Gifford's brand, is "hoping to open near sites of the original Gifford’s, which included Arlington and Silver Spring". I've mentioned rumors of this before, but this is the first time I've heard of anything directly from the company itself.

- Another article on "The Turf" in the Post, this time from columnist Marc Fisher. Personally, I was ambivalent about the whole "Turf vs. Rink" issue for awhile, but I think I've swung into the Turf camp recently. HOWEVER, I do think that the turf would need to be upgraded if an open, "grassy" space were to remain there. I think they should look into getting some high-quality artificial grass rather than the cheap carpet they have now.

- There was a small global warming demonstration over at the NOAA building on EW Highway on Monday. While only two people, they did manage to hit the national news wires with their stunt, so I would imagine they would consider their protest a success.

- Here's some more details on that arrest at The Blairs that I mentioned last week.

- Wait, someone from East Silver Spring actually wants development?

- The Examiner thinks that Blair's color-coded ID badges aren't such a bad idea. I object to the phrasing of this particular sentence: "With school shootings almost commonplace, security on the Silver Spring campus is a significant concern." It makes it sound like there are regular shootings at Blair. Just because a pedophile in Pennsylvania goes nuts doesn't mean that Blair students need to be color-coded. Of course, it's common knowledge that the real cause of school shootings is the teaching of evolution in school...

More on the IDs from the Gazette.

- Does Silver Spring need a dog park? This person thinks it does.

- "Silver Spring is all chains like Red Lobster." I'm so sick of hearing ignorant crap like this.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday News 'N Notes

Is it the weekend yet??

- Traffic in Silver Spring was a total nightmare yesterday evening. Just in time for rush hour, a tree fell over on 29, knocking down power lines and hitting two cars near Crestmoor Drive. As you can see from the map, this is the absolute worst place this can possible happen, because if 29 is closed on that one block, your only other options to cross the Northwest Branch are to go all the way up New Hampshire to Randolph or go the other direction to the Beltway. I can tell you that my commute was an absolute joy last night...

- Has anyone else noticed that the sodas at Jackie's taste a bit funny? There have been multiple occasions where I had to send drinks back. (And their replacements didn't taste any better...)

- A resident of the Blair House is not happy about the management's hypocritical pet policy.

- Eastern Middle School gets a mural. When I was in middle school ("intermediate school" back then) at Takoma Park we used to call it "Leastern". Also, Sligo was nicknamed "Sluggo". What does that have to do with the mural? Absolutely nothing. It's just funny to think that middle schools had rivalries.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Capt. Jack Sparrow shares her account of a Secret Service bust at The Blairs early Wednesday morning.

- Milwaukee hearts Silver Spring. Or not.

- The (obviously desparate) Baskin-Robbins on 16th St. is having a "Grand Re-opening" next Thursday. While I realize that it was unseasonably warm yesterday, is late October the best time for an ice cream parlor to have their big "attract new customers" event?

Seriously though, why the heck would you ever go there, unless you got one of the "free cone" birthday coupons in the mail?? You have Ben & Jerry's and Cold Stone Creamery downtown, Moorenko's in South Silver Spring, and a few blocks down from Baskin-Robbins you've got my personal favorite, York Castle. Not that I didn't used to go to the Baskin-Robbins on Piney Branch Road all the time when I was a kid. Of course, options were limited back then. I think it's some off-brand ice cream joint now.

- Annie "Bigger Than Afghanistan" Leibovitz graduated from a Silver Spring high school. Did not know that.

- The Rock-n-Romp Halloween show is coming to McGinty's Public House from 3-6 PM on Saturday, October 28th. Admission is $5 for adults and kids are free.

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

I tried that once, it don't work. You get four guys fighting over who's gonna be Mr. Black. Since nobody knows anybody else, nobody wants to back down. So forget it, I pick. Be thankful you're not Mr. Yellow.

- Montgomery Blair students now get color coded badges and lanyards to indicate what their status is at the school. There are so many things wrong with this. Who wants to be branded as a freshman and/or ESOL student? Or as a member of the science magnet? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Of course, sometimes you don't need to be color-coded for people to know you're White & Nerdy.

- Piratz Tavern gets its first semi-official review from the Diamondback Online. If Piratz wants to enhance their decor, they ought to be bidding on this. UPDATE: This review is a modified version of the review that appears in the Silver Spring Voice. The Voice version also includes photos.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just for the heck of it


UPDATE: I just want to put this video into context for those who were wondering what the hell this is all about. If you grew up in Silver Spring or anywhere else in the D.C. metro area in the 80’s, this ad is permanently burned into your psyche. Frankly, I believe it is the single greatest advertisement in the history of television. 20+ years later, anyone who has seen it can still remember the music and dialogue verbatim, as well as the phone number for Jhoon Rhee (which is still active, BTW). I suppose this strong recollection can also be attributed to the fact that we all saw it 100K+ times during after-school cartoons.

I have been trying to describe this ad to transplants for years, but until recently was never able to find it online to show to them. This post and its comments section over at DCist motivated me to renew my search, and it turns out the video had recently been posted on Jhoon Rhee’s own website.

UPDATE #2: A little know fact - this song was written by rocker and Montgomery County native Nils Lofgren. (He even has his own day in MoCo.) [Thanks to "terry in silver spring" for the tip!]

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Monday Morning Notes

- Here's another "review" of the Downtown Silver Spring development. It's fairer than others, at least.

- At least wannabe carjackers appreciate the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere".

- This article is about a different Silver Spring, but the headline certainly sounds familiar.

- Ever wanted to own your own "castle"? There's one in Silver Spring, and it's for sale on eBay! Nice and cheap, too. Does the garbage strewn in the roundabout come with the house? It even has a moat!! (At least in the plans... I can't see it in the photo.)

If anyone happens to know where this is or anything about it, please let me know.

UPDATE: Dan over at Just up the Pike did some sleuthing and managed to locate the "castle".

UPDATE #2: If you want to know who would build a "castle" like this, it's this guy.

UPDATE #3: Realtor Debbie Cook informs me that "this 'castle' has been on the market (on and off) for the last 2 years with 3 different realtors and real estate companies. The price started out at $3,199,000 and when it was withdrawn from the MLS system on Oct 2, 2006 the asking price was $2,499,000."

Here's the full listing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Friday Wrap-Up

- A lot of this may be old news to most of the people who read this and other Silver Spring blogs, but yesterday's Post has an article about the continiung development of downtown Silver Spring.

- The official ribbon cutting for the new "Wheaton" Best Buy is today. I'm sure the ceremony will be attended by dozens of Wheaton luminaries.

- On Monday, a 13-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at the White Oak library. White Oak is not a good place for kids these days.

CORRECTION: The van incident didn't actually happen in White Oak... it was in Long Branch. Long Branch seems to be the other place in Silver Spring where bad stuff tends to happen frequently.

- Here's some interesting photos on Flickr taken of the "models" in the wig shop on Georgia Avenue. This guy is my favorite.

- Remember, the Panda Motorcade will be at the Silver Spring Metro this afternoon at 2:30.

Three lucky people will receive a specially marked ticket entitling them to a private visit with giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and Tai Shan, along with an exclusive VIP tour of Asia Trail and Fujifilm digital camera!

- I've created a small "store" for books about Silver Spring. As you can see, there aren't many out there, and a good portion of them aren't even in print...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hump Day Update

- There's at least ten places in Silver Spring that are haunted, according to "ghost hunters" Lynn Koiner and Barbara Finch of Baltimore / Washington Paranormal Investigators. Among them is Mrs. K's Toll House:

Blanche lives in Mrs. K’s Toll House on Colesville Road. Sometimes you can hear her calling out the waitresses’ names. Sometimes she’ll playfully push them.

A ghost "lives"? Anyone have any Silver Spring ghost stories?

- It's a little creepy when logs show that someone arrives at your site after searching Google for "body found in silver spring" when a body hasn't turned up...

- Gazette readers respond to last week's article about the lack of green space in downtown Silver Spring.

- The Post has more on the hidden camera incident and profiles the Ovis-Yobis Bakery on New Hampshire Avenue.

- To do this weekend: the Silver Spring Library Bookfest. You can find some good, cheap used books, but go early to beat the cherry-pickers.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- A photographer was arrested for filming women changing in the bathroom of his Silver Spring studio. Creepy.

- Are you a "broke graduate student" in an old Civic or "Mr. S__t-Eater" who drives an Audi? Have you been buzzing bicyclists on Colesville Road? If so, this guy would like to have a word with you.

- Silver Spring is getting a Best Buy. Sort of. The Former site of the Wheaton Toys R Us on Georgia Avenue is in the process of being converted into the most recent addition to the big box chain. (I always considered this Wheaton, but Google Maps identifies it as Silver Spring.) No word on the opening date, but I imagine the doors will be open before the holiday shopping season. Whether it's Wheaton or Silver Spring, it's certainly a lot more convenient than Rockville.

Friday, October 06, 2006

What Silver Spring Needs - Mini Golf

I’ve decided that Downtown Silver Spring needs a miniature golf course. While all the new restaurants and movie theaters are great, we need some additional recreational options in that area. This is a outdoor activity that everyone can do and is great for dates, birthday parties, etc. I don’t remember this, but I was told that the building that used to house Champion Billiards was previously home to an indoor mini-golf course.

In recent years, development in MoCo has come at the expense of courses that were somewhat convenient to Silver Spring:

- The mini-golf course at White Flint Golf Park (which I played quite a bit) in Rockville was turned into a parking lot, which I presume is just a precursor to becoming the location of more "luxury" condos. Hell, that's not even Rockville anymore, it's "Bethesda North". The course is still viewable on Google Maps (for now).

- The Putt-Putt further up Rockville Pike, at which I attended many a birthday party as a kid, was leveled for condos as well. (Pic)

There are still a few options left, but none of them are particularly convenient to DTSS:

- You can drive way up 29 to Laurel to the Rocky Gorge course.

- Mid-Atlantic Golf center, nominally in Silver Spring, has one, but that's a bit of a hike as well.

The only other mini-golf courses in MoCo, at least to my knowlege, are in Gaithersburg , Germantown, and Kentlands. But why would anyone want to go all the way up there?

Interestingly, the District is home to one of the oldest, if not the oldest, mini-golf courses in the U.S. at East Potomac Park. Some claim that the East Potomac Park course is the oldest operating mini-golf course in the country, athough there are other courses that make the same claim. Of course, Hains Point, is literally the farthest away from Silver Spring you can get in D.C.

Where would the mini-golf course go in DTSS? What would be great is to put it on top of City Place, but that space is now taken. The future ice rink could be converted into Mini-Golf for the warmer months. I believe that's what they do at the Kentlands rink. Anyone have any other ideas?

UPDATE: Ballston is getting a mini-golf course. If they can build one, so can we. [Thanks to Dan @ Just up the Pike for the tip.]

It'd also be great if Silver Spring had its own Lucky Strike, but let's be honest, if they instituted the same dress code as the downtown location, no one in Silver Spring could get in...

Of course we did have a bowling alley right downtown for quite a long time, but it was ultimately closed because "Silver Spring's new, more affluent crowd will want sushi instead of bowling". It's now an expensive health club. You can still go play duckpin bowling in White Oak, at least.