Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gone away for Labor Day

I’ll be out of town for the long weekend, so there likely won’t be any new posts until next week. In the meantime, I recommend getting your Silver Spring fix from Just up the Pike and Silver Spring Scene.

Also, for those who haven’t taken it, the Silver Spring Historical Society’s walking tour of Georgia Avenue will be given again this Saturday starting at 10 AM. The Silver Spring B&O Railway station is also having its monthly open house. You can hit the farmer's market while you are down there, as well.

When I get back, I’ll recap everything Silver Spring-related that happened while I was gone. See you then!

Thursday News Roundup

- Today's Post has an article on the Birchmere coming to Silver Spring. It makes me nervous the way they chose to use the word "may" in the title, though. The good news is that even Bobby Haircut is down with the plan.

- The Post also has more details on yesterday's fatal pedestrian accident.

- "America's Mayor" Rudi Giuliani stumped for Senate candidate Michael Steele in Silver Spring. (I guess in Silver Spring, he's the only mayor we have...)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Was 70's Silver Spring a haven for Satanists?

Rumors of a mysterious gravesite along the proposed path of the Purple Line in East Silver Spring are floating around the SSTOP (Silver Spring/Thayer Opposed to the Plan) message board. The group's apparent hope is that, if the rumors prove true, this might derail plans to run the train through that neighborhood.

However, this poster concedes that there might be another explanation for the tombstone sighting:

Maybe they weren't really graves but stolen tombstones for some satanic cult that lived over there in the early '70's. There were definitely more crazies back then than there are today. I guess they moved to Takoma Park.
(Emphasis mine.)

I think SSTOP should do like the baddies in Scooby-Doo and dress up like ghosts to scare off the railway engineers.

All kidding aside, I can certainly empathize with their plight. I'd be doing everything I could to prevent it if people were trying to run railroad tracks through my front yard, too.

Pedestrian Struck and Killed in DTSS - Traffic a Mess

Avoid downtown Silver Spring this evening if at all possible. A pedestrian was struck and killed trying to cross Colesville Road near East West Highway and the road is closed off to traffic.

I hate to say it, but it was only a matter of time before this happened. A combination of careless drivers and pedestrians makes for a dangerous situation in that area. See my earlier post which mentions risking your life to get to the Rite Aid.

I don't know what happened in this case, but I often see pedestrians brazenly jaywalking in front of oncoming traffic on Colesville. That, and drivers who are liable to be distracted by cellphones, etc. gives you potential for disaster. We can only hope the passenger of the car will be OK.

How about a pedestrian bridge over Colesville that parallels the Metro Bridge? You could technically cross the street using the Metro Bridge, but it would cost you $1.35 or so.

UPDATE:"A boy was at the wheel of the car and he is said to have remained on the scene and has not been charged with anything."

Huge News: Birchmere coming to Silver Spring!

As WWE Wrestler Kurt Angle would say, "it's true, it's true." I'm just going to post the entire county press release verbatim to save you a trip:

Duncan Announces Plan to Bring Birchmere to Silver Spring; Second Music Hall to be located in historic J.C. Penney's Building

Continuing the successful revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan today announced he has crafted a new public/private partnership to open a second home for the nationally renowned Birchmere Music Hall. The project will be located at the old J.C. Penney building on Colesville Road, permanently preserving one of the County’s historic landmarks, the J.C. Penney fa├žade. The partnership includes Montgomery County, the Birchmere, and Lee Development Group. In addition, the County has sent a formal request asking the State of Maryland to join the project as well.

“We are extremely excited about welcoming the Birchmere Music Hall to Silver Spring,” said Duncan. “Silver Spring has been transformed into a dynamic arts and entertainment center, and adding a live music venue with the reputation of the Birchmere will make Silver Spring an even more desirable destination. I want to thank the Birchmere and Lee Development for working with us to make this public/private partnership a reality.”

The plan calls for Lee Development to transfer the land under the building to the County. Montgomery County’s investment will be a total of $4 million. Duncan today also sent a letter to the State requesting a $4 million matching grant. The Birchmere will make a significant investment towards the construction and fit out of the building and will then lease the finished facility from the County for a monthly rent to be determined.

“The Birchmere looks forward to contributing to the continued rebirth of Silver Spring’s arts and entertainment center by finalizing negotiations to open a second Birchmere on Lee Development’s Colesville Road site,” said James Mathews, partner, the Birchmere Music Hall.

Bringing the Birchmere to Silver Spring has been a vision shared by the County Executive and local residents for many years now. The project will continue the extraordinary revitalization of Silver Spring and bring a new cultural crown jewel to the County. The Birchmere, with its national reputation, will help attract new visitors to Silver Spring from across the region and be a major economic boost to the downtown.

“Silver Spring is a shining example of successful revitalization and we see this as an important piece of the redevelopment puzzle. The Birchmere will provide an economic shot in the arm for downtown Silver Spring and help create even greater potential for the future,” said Dan Cohen, Co-founder, of the citizens group Silver Spring Forward.

Duncan earlier today transmitted requests to both the County Council and the Governor’s Office and looks forward to working with them to help make this vision a reality. Attached are copies of those requests.

“The land we are contributing is part of a parking lot we will develop some day. When we do, county law requires us to make a contribution to the public good so why not contribute now to help attract the Birchmere,” said Bruce H. Lee, president of the Lee Development Group.
Say what you want about Doug Duncan, but he certainly hooks Silver Spring up pretty frequently. He can be my wingman anytime!

UPDATE: Here's a Gazette story on the Birchmere.

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- A Montgomery County school bus 'abandoned' a Woodlin Elementary School (alma mater of Dave Chappelle) kindergartner, leaving him to wander around Silver Spring alone for an hour. To add to the school's embarrassment, the story has hit the the wires and gone international.

- Local political candidates are "walking the Purple Line" with residents of neighborhoods that will potentially be affected by its construction. The unfortunate reality is that no matter where they ultimately put it, somebody is going to lose out. What I'd like to see is some drawings as to what the train line would actually look like in these neighborhoods, rather than just lines across a map. I am having trouble visualizing it.

Also, what if they built the Purple Line and didn't color it purple? Would it still be the "Purple Line"? Something to think about.

- The Gazette has a profile of Fred Folsom, the man who created the statue of The Mayor in the "Mayor's Promenade". I found this amusing:

‘‘He looked like [former President] Lyndon Johnson. I had to change his face just a little bit,” Folsom said.

The resemblance was so great, Folsom said, that Johnson himself noticed it when he passed the real Lane in Silver Spring on the way back from a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Johnson took a moment to stop and talk with Lane, and get his photo taken. Lane, Folsom said, was unfazed.
I'd like to see that photo, if it still exists.

- Finally, happy birthday to Silver Springer Lewis Black, who never fails to crack on his hometown in his monologues:
"Its only claim to fame is that it's the largest unincorporated city in America. In other words, we were too lazy to govern ourselves. The town motto was, 'I'd like to vote, but I don't feel like driving.'"
Its OK because he's from here. [via Metroblogging Washington]

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Intramural Sports League in Silver Spring

There's a new intramural sports league based in Silver Spring - JoeFerg Sports:

JoeFerg Sports fills Silver Spring's void of professional intramural sports leagues for non-professional athletes. These leagues offer a safe and fun environment for responsible adults who have the drive to compete. If you are young at heart and looking for a refreshing challenge, register today. Whether you have a team that is ready to play or whether you wish to join a team as an individual, there is a place for you in our leagues. Participants must be 21 or older for all sports.
This certainly fulfills a need that I've seen in Silver Spring. It's not that easy to go to Adams Morgan or the National Mall from Silver Spring to play Kickball after work. The MoCo Recreation Department had a league in the spring, at least according to their website. However, I'm not sure how anyone would know about it without a bit of digging.

Soccer, dodge ball, and kickball are all free of fees, so I may consider signing up for one of these (most likely kickball). Kickball games will be played at Cannon Road Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Park.

Thanks to the Express for bringing this to my attention.

If the county really wants to improve pedestrian safety...

While we're on the subject of pedestrian bridges and dangerous crossings, I'd like to request that the county make the stretch of Columbia Pike between Eastwood Avenue and Hillwood Drive accessible to pedestrians. This is the last block if you are travelling from Four Corners to the Northwest Branch bridge. There is no sidewalk or shoulder here whatsoever, and to make matters worse the area that borders the street is sloped and wooded, so walking along the side of the road is next to impossible. If you try and slip, you are liable to fall into the path of a vehicle travelling 50+ MPH.

What I find particularly strange is that there is a Ride-On bus stop located along the southbound side of the road. I rarely see people at this stop, and for good reason. To try and walk to this bus stop, you put your life at risk. I can imagine the guy who put this stop here staring at a map in a county planning office and deciding that there has to be a bus stop there because of some sort of pre-established interval. Anyone who actually saw the location would realize that the placement is absurd.

I was forced to walk this stretch once, and ended up in the median. I felt stupid, but after nearly falling into oncoming traffic while navigating the area on the side of the road, I felt it was my only alternative. Because of the lack of options for crossing the Northwest Branch (by car AND foot) you are forced to use this route should you want to travel between Four Corners and White Oak. It's stupid that if someone in the Woodmoor neighborhood wants a burrito from California Tortilla, they will be forced to drive a couple blocks to get one.

Attention all candidates for county council, county executive, state representative, etc: You have my vote if you pledge to do something about this! If the county can drop $7.7 million on a pedestrian bridge in Forest Glen to promote alternative transportation, they can at least put a sidewalk on this major artery.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Driving Directions to Pedestrian Bridge

Thanks to an anonymous reader for forwarding me this ironic/sad announcement from the Montgomery County government regarding the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Forest Glen Pedestrian Bridge:

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan cordially invites you to a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Forest Glen Pedestrian Bridge. The event will be held on Wednesday, August 30 at 12:15 p.m. at the north end of the bridge off Forest Glen Road and Georgia Avenue. The new pedestrian and bikeway bridge spans three I-495 interchanges and provides greatly improved pedestrian safety and access to transit.

Directions: From I-495, take Georgia Avenue north and take an immediate left (west) onto Forest Glen Road. Forest Glen has a median, so make a U-turn at the first opportunity. Turn right onto Coleridge Drive. Event parking is available on Coleridge Drive or Ellis Street. Montgomery County Police will not enforce permit parking restrictions during the event.
OK, so you are dedicating a bridge that is supposed to promote alternative means of transportation to cars, yet you don't even bother to mention in the directions that the event is being held a block away from the Forest Glen Metro station?! Instead, they simply provide driving and parking directions. I'm sure 0% of the attending "dignitaries" ride Metro, anyway.

What they really need to do is pick that bridge up, move it north one block, and rotate it 90 degrees so that it spans Georgia Avenue. It would make life a lot less hairy for quite a few commuters in that area. When an intersection is so bad they make a website about it, you know something needs to change. What if someone was killed crossing Georgia to attend the ceremony? That would make things move a little faster, I bet.

Bagels, Etc.

- A minor rant: I like to support all the local businesses in Silver Spring, but I went to Mayorga over the weekend and I ended up dropping $2.20 on a single bagel. Mind you, this was with butter, not even cream cheese and it was a mediocre bagel to boot. I doubt a bagel costs that much at Starbucks (or anywhere, for that matter). I think $2.20 for a H&H bagel MIGHT be justified, but that's about it.

Is there a decent bagel available anywhere in Silver Spring? I really, really wish they had a Whatsa Bagel (aka Bethesda Bagel) in Silver Spring. If they were to open up a store here, this would be my approximate reaction.

- The inconvenient CVS in downtown Silver Spring was held up last Wednesday night by a suspect who fled in a "two-door Doge" [sic]. (Perhaps the authorities should look for them in Venice.) A week earlier, some hoodlums knocked off the Four Corners CVS, as well.

- The Silver Spring Jazz Festival kicks off September 9th. Spyro Gyra is headlining.

- Hyattsville is "the new Silver Spring"? They wish.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Future of Outdoor Films in SS?

Did anyone attend the outdoor film showing last night in DTSS? I had completely forgotten about it, but happened to be down there to see a movie at AFI. I couldn't understand initially why there was so much traffic going into downtown at 9 o'clock. Once I got down there and saw the crowds of people (and the spotlights), I remembered. I mean it was PACKED down there. The Ellsworth garage was completely full - I was lucky to catch someone leaving and snag their spot.

The area of "Veteran's Field" roped off for the audience was jam-packed with people. I had no idea that this event would have been so popular. It got me to thinking though - is this a one-time thing, rather than the first installment of an annual event? Once construction begins on the "luxury" condos and ice rink/civic center, this area will no longer be available for outdoor films, which is a shame considering how popular it proved. I don't know where else you could host such an event in that area. Even if you could find a large enough open space, it would likely be near some residential structure, which would probably preclude it from getting county approval. Perhaps you could erect a screen in Silver Plaza, but you’d have to get sign-off from the businesses whose entrances might become obstructed. Hopefully they have something planned for next year.

P.S.: I finally saw the permit sign for the 8-story City Place tower. Couldn't they find a better place to post it? It looks terrible there.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Today's Post has a good writeup of the Gallery Restaurant and Lounge. It blows my mind that they are talking about a place in Silver Spring when they write this:

At 3:30 Sunday morning, Gallery Restaurant and Lounge is the only nightspot in Silver Spring that's still going -- and it's going strong. Last call was 90 minutes ago. Every drop of alcohol had to be finished by 2:30, and the bartenders are handing out water instead of mixing up Red Bull and vodka. Still, the crowd packing the makeshift dance floor isn't ready to head home.
- Also from the Post, this article claims that the fountain in DTSS is scheduled to re-open next month. It is interesting to note that it describes the downtown area as "regentrified". I've never heard this term. Does that mean that it was gentrified before, then had to be gentrified once more? For what its worth, says it isn't a word. (Nor does the Blogger spellcheck!)

- Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) is no longer a candidate for Attorney General. So says the Maryland Supreme Court.

- A bit of advice for other Bloggers - DON'T switch to the new Blogger Beta version if you can avoid doing so. It has been nothing but a headache for me. The blog seems to have dropped off the face of the "Blogoverse" since I made the switch. It doesn't show up in Google or even Blogger's own blog search. Weak.

City Place Piling it On?

Not satisfied with four floors of crappyness, City Place is expanding upward. According to multiple eyewitness reports, permits have been posted on the building informing the public that eight floors of offices are to be added on to the top of the existing structure. I haven't been downtown today to corroborate this, but be sure to check it out if you are in the neighborhood.

Where did this suddenly come from? I've never heard of this project until today. Anyone got some dirt?

It is interesting how the focus on development in downtown has quickly shifted from "luxury" condos to office space.

I think someone misunderstood the "Drive-thru" sign

From the Gazette:

One person suffered a minor injury Thursday when a car crashed into a fast-food restaurant in Silver Spring just before noon, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

The car was driven into the dining area at the McDonald's at 12044 Cherry Hill Road, according to Pete Piringer, a spokesman for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue. It is unknown what caused the vehicle to crash into the restaurant, he said.

Piringer said there was considerable damage to the building and inspectors will check the structure.
My theory: the driver's brain malfunctioned when it attempted to comprehend the stop sign by that McDonald's which is on the other side of the intersection that you are supposed to stop at. If you've driven in that parking lot, you know what I'm talking about.

The only thing that surprises me about this is that it didn't occur at the Worst McDonald's Ever™ in downtown S.S.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday Musings

With all the talk recently of Bed, Bath & Beyond and other stores potentially coming to City Place, no one has mentioned what that area really needs: a drug store. Yes, I know there is both a CVS and Rite Aid on the other side of the Metro, but it isn’t really that convenient to walk all the way over there if you are in the DTSS area. Besides, you risk life and limb every time you cross Colesvile and/or East West at that intersection and in the 95 degree heat of mid-summer that walk isn’t particularly pleasant. Neither is walking through the bus station. The placement of those drug stores is based on 90’s Silver Spring, not 2006 Silver Spring.

It’s not like there isn’t precedent for a drug store being in that shopping center. There was a People’s Drug in the S.S. shopping center for years, and after that there was a large Rite Aid where the entranceway to the DTSS area from the shopping center is now located.

Speaking of the (new) Rite Aid, I wonder if the developer who built that little shopping center next to the Metro is kicking themselves for not building “luxury” condos instead.

UPDATE: According to Silver Spring Scene, a 20+ story office building is in the works for that exact spot. The most amazing thing about that would be that a Starbucks would actually disappear! Well, at least temporarily.

- For those of you who live in Silver Spring and are interested in getting Verizon's FiOS service, don't believe their website when it says it isn't available in your neighborhood. It told me I couldn't, so I went ahead and got RCN. Now they send me a pamphlet, and it turns out I CAN get it... after I had everything installed by RCN.

- The first annual Silver Spring outdoor movie series kicks off tonight at "Veteran's Field". (Apparently every other town "already has one".) Is it really necessary to have Fresh-Prince-starring-films make up 66.7% of the offerings, though? How about cool old movies like those offered at Screen on the Green?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hump Day Update

- Here's a picture of the recently re-installed Canada Dry sign on the Silverton Condos. I Don't know if I'd want to live in a unit right above the sign. It reminds me of the episode of Seinfeld where the Kenny Rogers Roasters installed a sign across from Kramer's window.

[via Flickr]

- The Piney Branch area continues to be a hotbed of crime. According to the MoCO PD, there have been 20 robberies in the area since June 1st. The Gazette has more.

There was also another home invasion that occured nearby earlier this month. I think this calls for the official NBC4 'home invasion' logo:

- Gerald Alex Bigsby, who robbed the Bank of America in downtown Silver Spring twice, has pled guilty to those and other bank robberies.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

There seems to be very little going on in Silver Spring this week, hence the dearth of posts.

- It is always comforting to see your congressional representative's staff being led away in handcuffs. Can we get redistricted, please? The current district map doesn't even make any damn sense:

Also, why is "PG Plaza" represented on the map?

- Be sure to check out this extremely convincing UFO sighting in "Silver Springs, Maryland". Someone call Agent Mulder. (Note that there was an episode of X-Files where Mulder and Scully DID visit "Silver Springs, Maryland".)

Random picture for today:

This post over at Silver Spring Scene made me think of it. If you have to ask, you'll never know.

Also not directly Silver Spring related, but does anyone remember who this is?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Posts on a Blog

Silver Spring News 'N Notes - "Snakes on a Plane" edition.

"I've had it with these mother f'n posts on this mother f'n blog!"

- Signs on a Condo: The Canada Dry sign has been put back in its former location atop what is now part of the Silverton Condominiums. That's some nice (presumably) free advertising for them. [via Silver Spring Scene]

Silver Spring Scene has posted a "now" photo. Um, perhaps they should have just put the building out of its misery. Now it looks like some sort of Frankenstein monster building with the original warehouse's head attached.

Flicks on a Rug: The free movies on Veteran's Field/"The Turf" start next Thursday.

Authors in a Store
: Crime author and Silver Spring resident George Pelicanos will be at the Silver Spring Borders next Saturday signing copies of his new book, The Night Gardener. Speaking of Pelicanos, the fourth season of The Wire is starting soon. Woo hoo.

Terps in a Cell: Silver Springer Lonny Baxter - still in jail.

"Shabby Chic" coming to Silver Spring?

An anonymous reader sent me some tidbits on Piratz Tavern and a retailer that is considering setting up shop in Silver Spring:

Yesterday, I saw a man leaving Piratz Tavern and decided to say hello. He said that they hope to be open by the end of the month and they have been floored with how much interest their is in the restaurant. I guess people keep knocking on the door asking to see inside. I can't wait until it's open.

Finally (this is a biggie) one of my best friends from college called me last night to say she is coming down from Philly for work next week. She works in the market development dept. of Urban Outfitters. She said they are looking at a space in Silver Spring that is getting redeveloped with Bed, Bath, & Beyond as an anchor. An Urban Outfitters would be pretty sweet. They also are the parent company of Anthopologie, which would be cool I guess, but they don't have guy stuff.
Anthropologie... (shudder) You will never find me within a hundred yards of that place. However, there are probably 1,000 women at Discovery Communications who would be there on a daily basis.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Take your quarters to A.C., because you won't be using them to park in Silver Spring anymore. All of Silver Spring's 12,000(!) parking meters have been replaced with Cash Keys, "small card that fit on a key chain that can carry up to $650 worth of parking time.

- Coming soon to Silver Spring: Firepower 2006!! The name sounds cool, at least.

- When I saw a headline that included "arson", "high rise" and "Silver Spring", my first thought was "White Oak". Yep.

- This so-called "attempt at critical thinking" mocks Silver Spring, as if the entirety of the city is one block of Ellsworth St. "The Silver Spring Mayorga is dimly lit and somewhat grungy"?

UPDATE: Ironically, the author of the blog referenced above is from Chevy Chase, a town featured on 60 Minutes in a segment about the proliferation of tearing down old houses to build McMansions. I'd take DTSS over a street full of soulless, yardless McMansions any day.

Oh, yes, and the commercial portion of Chevy Chase is beautiful compared to Silver Spring:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Add another name to my list of anti-endorsements based on leaving me voice mail messages: Peter Franchot.

- Everyone wants to work in Silver Spring:

...the transformation of Silver Spring continues. Five years ago, Silver Spring had the highest vacancy rate in the county. Today, it has the lowest vacancy rate, about 4 percent
- Silver Spring native and (former) NBA player Lonny Baxter was arrested last night after allegedly firing a pistol out the window of his SUV near the White House. Real bright.

In other bad news for Silver Spring athletes, the Redskins' Shawn "Silver" Springs will miss 3-6 weeks after surgery.

Ranting and Raving about Downtown Silver Spring

There is a vicious battle raging today about downtown Silver Spring over on the the Craigslist "rants and raves" board. It all started with this inflamatory post [warning: very offensive], and there has been a bit of back and forth over the merits of the area:

Silver Spring has always had a multi-cultural mix and if you don’t like then I suggest that you take your ignorant, uneducated, xenophobia flat ass back to whatever suburban/rural area you crawled from.
My only complaint about this area is that most of the time I can't understand what most people are saying, even when they are speaking English. I swear if I heard one more person speaking in clicks and pops, I am going fucking postal on them.
You are not a native to downtown Silver Spring but some political yuppy trying to push his own agenda. There is nothing diverse about Chevy Chase and unlike your little homogenous area, downtown Silver Spring has always been diverse and full of Hispanics, Jews and Blacks.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sylvester Stallone scalped a kid at the Flower Theatre??

Since we were discussing the Long Branch / Flower Avenue areas I was looking into the Flower Theatre and came across this wonderful reminiscence posted in the comments section for the theatre's entry at the Cinema Treasures website. I have no idea if this is true, although I am of course incredibly skeptical. Why would someone make this up, though?

In about 1967 or 1968, one of the backs on the chairs was missing. Little Kenny Armstrong was the unfortunate child that sat down, leaned back and his head became stuck on the glue of the seat. He was with his brother Michael Armstrong, Terry Veal, Frank Swank, Bit O'Haver, and Jack McCown observed usher Sylvester Stone [sic]-- with a chip on his shoulder and a bully at heart--- grabbed Kenny and tore his scalp off the chair. There was so much blood involved that we freaked out and the five of us swarmed over Sylvester Stallone and beat him so badly he never spoke correctly again. At the time, we all were only 12 or 13-years-old. What I remember most about that day was the 3/4 length red coat with brass buttons and gold trim that was the uniform of the ushers.
I particularly like the last sentence.

Note that he initially calls him Sylvester Stone. Stallone did live in Silver Spring for a while, but based on the dates provided, he would have been about 21 at the time. Did a bunch of 12-year-olds issue a whoopin' that gave Rocky a speech impediment? Doubtful, but the story is bizarre nonetheless.

Note: according to Total Rocky, "His speech impediment was caused at birth when inept use of forceps paralyzed the left side of his tongue and mouth."

Silver Spring Machete Rapist Arrested

The alleged Silver Spring "machete rapist" has been arrested, after other charges against him were dropped just days before the crime was committed. (The National Machete Association refused to comment.)

I've noticed that almost all the worst crimes seem to occur right in that one corner of Silver Spring. Can't we just jettison it and make it part of Langley Park or something? That area seemed perfectly safe years ago. It had the Flower Theater, Packett's Pharmacy, a Baskin-Robbins and a great soft-serve ice cream stand. There was also the duckpin bowling alley on the corner of Piney Branch and University that I used to go to birthday parties at. Now its just sketchy over there. I don't think I'd even go to the Giant.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Late Night Roundup

- I've decided instead of making endorsements for the upcoming local elections, I will be making anti-endorsements solely based on which candidates annoy the hell out of me by leaving obnoxious automated messages on my voice mail. So far the candidates I am anti-endorsing are Ida G. Ruben and Valerie Ervin. DO NOT VOTE FOR THESE PEOPLE. I've only had my phone number for one week and they are already calling me.

- Apparently the "Space Race" started in a Silver Spring living room.

- The National Trust website has a feature on the old Silver Spring fire station, which is, of course, on the market.

UPDATE: Here is the actual listing for the fire station.

- Here some info on the future Silver Spring location of L.A. Fitness.

- Its perverse, but sometimes when I read the crime reports I have to laugh when I try and recreate the events in my head based on the terse summaries provided:

PINEY BRANCH RD., 8700 block, 10:30 p.m. July 4. A man in a restaurant sat down at the table of a Bladensburg man, 37, hit him on the head with a beer bottle, then left.

SHEPPERTON TERR., 2800 block, 9:41 p.m. July 12. A man was stabbed and a woman suffered an eye injury when she was hit by an ash tray during an argument. Both were taken to a local hospital. An investigation was continuing.

BARBARA ROAD AND COLLIE DRIVE, 9:20 p.m. July 7. Two men asked for change from two Silver Spring men, ages 32 and 46, who complied, then one of them pulled out a gun and fired it in the air. The Silver Spring men fled.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Afternoon Notes

- The Gazette has an article on how Veteran's Field (aka "The Turf") has become a popular hangout for teenagers in Silver Spring. It would be nice to have a "green area" instead of an ice skating rink, but the Civic Center does need to be built, IMO. Preferably the area would be a little better landscaped than the uneven carpet they have now.

When I was that age, I hung out at the old Champion Billiards on Georgia Avenue playing the original Mortal Kombat while getting cancer from second-hand smoke. These kids are missing out.

Somewhat unrelated: there used to be a park down there where the movie theater is now. What was that called? It was a veteran's memorial or something (I could be wrong about this). My memories of pre-DTSS are hazy. You can still see it on the outdated photos on Google Maps. Most of the people who frequented it were either skateboarders or homeless.

- Apparently, Ray's: The Classics is THE place to dine right now.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Miss "Chompy"? Check out the short film on You Tube, "(Silver) Spring Break Shark Attack". [via Hello, MoCo] While you're on You Tube, also be sure to watch Lewis Black's thoughts on telling people he's from Silver Spring.

- I recently discussed rumors (apparently groundless) that a Gifford's Ice Cream outlet would be opening sometime in Silver Spring. Yesterday the Post had a profile of Gifford's, and notes that they recently moved their manufacturing operations to a Silver Spring factory. Come on, you are going to open a factory here but not a store?

As an alternative to the downtown ice cream parlors, I highly recommend York Castle ice cream on Georgia Avenue, where you can get Guiness-flavored ice cream.

- I find the wording in this MoCo PD report from an accident at the 7-11 at University & Piney Branch somewhat amusing/sad:

The victim had walked a short distance from the front of the store when he was struck by a 2002 Honda Accord, driven by Alfred Okine 67-years-of-age, of the 8800 block of Piney Branch Road in Silver Spring. The victim unfortunately was pinned to the wall by the front of the Honda Accord.
I guess the guy was still fortunate after he was hit by a car... it was only once he was pinned against the wall that he became unlucky. That is the Worst 7-11 Ever™... it got so bad awhile years ago that they even built a police substation right next to it. When a shopping center gets its own substation, that's a bad sign. Remember when there used to be one in the Silver Spring Shopping Center? How times have changed.

UPDATE [via MoCo Progressive]:
Police have identified the accident victim who was pinned against the wall of a 7-11 in Silver Spring as Raul Eduardo Caballero, age 45.

Mr. Caballero is no stranger to unfortunate events. As far back as 1994, he was indicted for sexual offenses with an underage victim, along with other crimes. For reasons that are not clear, the State's Attorney decided to Nolle Prosequi (withhold prosecution of) the charges, and the cases were ultimately dismissed.
Sounds like karma to me.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- While it won't technically be located in Silver Spring, residents of downtown S.S. will be happy to learn that Ledo Pizza's newest location will be opening next week at 7435 Georgia Avenue, just a few blocks past the District line.

- What's with the grammar on Silver Spring Downtown website? Don't they have spellchecker? Its a good looking site (and is far better than anything that preceded it), but they seem to have a lot of proofreading issues. I'd expect better from a county-sponsored site. Check out this entry under 'attractions' for the bust of The Mayor on "Georgial Avenue":

Located just off Georgial Avenue in Mayor's Promenade, this bust of the "unofficial Mayor" of Silver Spring, Norman Lane reminds us of Silver Spring's past. Norman Lane walked the streets of Silver Spring for almost 20 years, doning odd jobs around the neighborhoods and handout floowers to women on the street that he picked out of the Bell Flowers dumpster. Norman Lane was a mainstay in teh community, and his enjoyment of life hass been immortalized in this bronze bust created by artist and friend, Fred Folsom. The plaque beneath Norman Lane's likeness reads. "Remembering the Caring, Kindhearted Forbearance of the People of Silver Spring."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Smile, you son of a bitch."

There is deep sadness in the Silver Spring community today. The inflatable shark that we have all come to know and love over the past two weeks has been unceremoniously deflated (or as I see it, murdered) by the cruel folks at Discovery. I guess because Shark Week is over he has outlived his usefulness as a marketing gimmick and they can just throw him out like yesterday's garbage. To them he may just have been a big balloon blocking their view, but I feel like the shark (or "Chompy", as I came to call him) had become part of our Silver Spring family. We will all miss him. Please keep Chompy in your prayers tonight.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Weekend Notes

- Check out the article on the restoration of the Forest Glen Seminary in today's New York Times.

- With all the talk of low-cost housing and MPDU's, the Great Hope Homes are an example of the same type of effort in Silver Spring from the 1970's. The Post has an article about them in today's edition.

- Congratulations to The Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts, the 2006 Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League champs. They blew out the Rockville Express 13-1 Thursday night in the championship game. Woo hoo! Rockville sucks!

- Does anyone know where "Fabulous Fascination" was in Silver Spring? There are some arcade tokens from there for sale on eBay.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Silver Spring Scene points out that the MPDU units at the under construction Crescent Condominiums don't include many of the amenities that come with the standard condos. (Note that in this case, the developer lists the public garage across the street as an "amenity".) Unlike their regularly-price counterparts, the MPDU's don't include a washer, dryer or microwave oven.

This seems to be pretty standard with MPDU units. For example, check out the small print in the "features" section of the Silverton Condos website.

Personally, I think the MPDU program is a bit of a joke. I know someone who managed to get a MPDU and he says that many of the people in the MPDU units around him drive new Lexuses and BMWs. These aren't teachers, fireman and bus drivers that are getting these condos.

What I also find fascinating is how HEAVILY Asian (both south and east) the list of MPDU lottery winners are. Check out the list of winners for the Aurora and the Silverton condominiums. My aforementioned friend said that when he went to the MoCo offices to do some MPDU paperwork, every other person there was Asian. These ethnic communities seem to be spreading the word about MPDUs amongst themselves, but perhaps the county isn't doing such a good job of educating everyone else.

- After defeating the same team 5-3 yesterday, the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts will face the Rockville Express for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Baseball League title tonight at Blair Stadium. Is the name "Rockville Express" intentionally ironic? Traveling through Rockville is anything but express.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Here's some details on the opening of Ray's: The Steaks (which is actually Thursday) from Tom Sietsema's WP chat:

Last but far from least, Ray's The Classics (8606 Colesville Road, Silver Spring; 301-588-7297) is FINALLY opening its doors to the general public this Thursday, August 3. Owner Michael Landrum's much-awaited restaurant, a spinoff of his wildly popular Ray's The Steaks in Arlington, has been quietly serving meals for the past four weeks, but only "to friends and family." Beginning next week, the 120-seat RTC --- which includes a bar called (what else?) Ray's The Bar -- will serve dinner Wednesday through Saturday for a few weeks, before expanding those days to include Tuesday night. On the range: Michael Hartzer, late of Michel Richard Citronelle. Better start dialing, foodies! (Or are we now calling 'em "gastronauts"?)
- Looking for a room to rent in Silver Spring? This one sounds fantastic.

- Is Gifford's coming back to Silver Spring? I keep hearing this but have never seen anything concrete. Can anyone confirm or deny this? Three ice cream places have already opened up in Silver Spring over the past year or so. With that amount of competition already in place, I am somewhat skeptical.

Afternoon Update

- After a long wait, Ray's: the Classics finally opened today (or so I'm told - I haven't been by). Those who were present at the restaurant's preview dinners have good things to say about the food.

- I'm not sure if they're good at Ray's: the Classics, but Downtown Silver Spring gift cards will be available starting in September.

Bike Bandits in Downtown Silver Spring

This is kind of scary. From the Gazette:

About 2:55 p.m., a 40-year-old Silver Spring man was in the 8500 block of Georgia Avenue near Ellsworth Drive when the men approached, according to Montgomery County Police. They took cash from the victim and punched him in the face, and rode their bicycles down Georgia toward Wayne Avenue.

At 3 p.m., the teens, a 17-year-old boy from Washington, D.C., and a 17-year-old Lanham girl were walking on Fenton Street in Silver Spring near City Place Mall when they were approached by two men on bicycles. They patted the victims down but realized they had no property, police said. Both got back on the bicycles and rode down Fenton toward Sligo Avenue.
What the hell? People are getting robbed around the busiest part of downtown Silver Spring in broad daylight? Also, these guys are confident enough to assault someone then travel one block and rob someone else five minutes later. Where were the MoCo bike cops that I always see at the Baja Fresh? I'd like to see a "high speed chase" with bicycles. The Moose would have got them.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Over 225 people showed up to complain to officials from Metro and elsewhere about the intersection at Georgia Ave & Forest Glen Rd. I am still waiting for the outrage to start over the Georgia & Colesville intersection. It will happen when a pedestrian finally gets killed by a left-turning car trying to beat the light.

- DCist visited the Gallery Nightclub in South Silver Spring and had good things to say about the music and atmosphere. Nothing about the food, though. Any opinions out there?

I do have an issue with the author's closing line: "in a perfect world, we'd ask for Gallery to be in D.C." No, in a perfect world, you'd be in Silver Spring.

- "Flowers. Candygram."