Friday, March 31, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Is Silver Spring a "social Siberia"? According to this particularly harsh post on Craigslist it is.

- Are Silver Spring "luxury" condo developers starting to sweat a bit?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Remember Forest Glen?

- Forest Glen has been "long since forgotten", at least according to the website of a future townhouse development in that neighborhood. I must not have gotten the memo, because somehow I still remember it. Presumably so do the people who live and work there.

One thing I always thought about Forest Glen was that it was weird - in a good way. It didn't quite fit, like it was like some sort of magical fairytale land. I half expect to see unicorns prancing around when I drive through there. Where else in MoCo can you find a pagoda and a windmill? Not to mention the Mormon Temple, which was one of those things that, having grown up around it, I never thought twice about, but that out-of-towners gawk at the first time they see it.

Like Virginia -- But Good

Silver Spring Forward, a Silver Spring citizen's group, is pushing a plan to convert the old J.C. Penny building on Colesville Road to a Maryland version of Alexandria's Birchmere Music Hall.



I think this is a fantastic idea. For one, this building has been closed seemingly forever and has created a "dead zone" along that side of the street. It is a unique-looking building and it would be nice to find a way to save it from the wrecking ball. Secondly, what self-respecting Marylander wants to travel all the way to Virginia for a concert? (Or any reason for that matter.) No offense to Virginians - it's a Maryland thing, you wouldn't understand.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Another Silver Springer has been killed in Iraq. This is the second Silver Spring resident to die in the war, the other being Army Spec. Thomas K. Doerflinger. We can only hope he is the last.

UPDATE: Here's some more information on Cpl. Hernandez from Thursday's Post.

- Looks like Silver Spring, along with other parts of MoCo, may be getting some speed cameras installed. Of course, what they mean when they say "save lives" is actually "add to the bottom line of the county government and Lockheed Martin". In some ways, I think these may make the street more dangerous for drivers, as people sometimes slam on their brakes when they see the cameras. That, or people end up driving way too slow because they are paranoid about the camera. See 16th St. in the District on the block with Carter Barron for an example of this. Dowtown Silver Spring already has a plethora of red light cameras, which I already learned the hard way ($70)...

- I have noticed that if you have a lot of emails on Google Mail with "Silver Spring" in them, you frequently get target ads for some group promoting the imaginary Purple Line:



- I don't necessarily agree, but this post at the Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space blog argues that development in Silver Spring is renewal, not revitalization.

- I think this is pretty cool - Silver Spring has some "mystery ruins".

Silver Spring featured in new Doug Duncan Campaign ad

Aside from telling us that he used to be a kid and that he has a kid, Doug Duncan's new campaign ad attempts to reminds us how crappy Silver Spring used to be by showing the worst possible "then" photos they could dredge up. Is this Silver Spring or Kabul?

Here's a beauty from the back of a garage:



The old train station:



And some other place I can't immediately identify:



I suppose the black and white is intended to better portray the oldness and crappiness of the "old" Silver Spring.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Look out for the Silver Spring ninja clan!!

From the WTF file - three "ninjas" from Silver Spring were arrested in Ocean View, Delaware.

Three men dressed in dark clothing armed with large swords, caused a scare on Woodland Avenue in Ocean View. Police received a report of three men jumping out in front of a vehicle one night a week ago. When police arrived, they discovered several residents detaining the three suspects – 19 year old David Gentile, Patrick Young and William J. Gallagher – both 18 – all from Silver Spring, MD. All three are charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon and Gallagher was also found to be in possession of 10.5 grams of marijuana.
Outside of attacking cars, what the hell are they doing there to begin with? It's a bit cold to be at the beach. I guess when you conceal your body in a black suit all year, you have to start working on your tan pretty early.

Monday, March 27, 2006

"The Last Word"


There are few things I despise more than the descriptions written about so-called "luxury" condominiums. To make it worse, they generally haven't even started building them before you start hearing about your opportunity to enjoy "sophisticated urban living". According to the website of "The Ellsworth", to be built a block down from DTSS, it is pretty much the "last word" on anything.

The Ellsworth
: The Last Word in Downtown Silver Spring living.

Does this mean they aren't building any more "luxury" condos?

Downtown Silver Spring: the last word in city energy.

(Gag.)

"An array of signature retailers": the last word in fashion.

OK, what "retailers" are they referring to? Perhaps Ann Taylor Loft is now considered the "last word" in fashion. Maybe they mean the Foot Locker in City Place. I hadn't realized that Silver Spring was a new fashion Mecca, challenging New York, Paris and Milan for fashion supremacy.

Silver Spring Metro station: the last word in convenient access to anywhere in metro DC.

The idea that the Metro can get you anywhere in metro DC is funny. Tried taking the Metro to Tyson's lately? It's definitely convenient to take the Metro 40 minutes to Bethesda vs. driving in 15. Also note that the picture used on the site is underground. I presume that is your destination, rather than the Silver Spring Metro station...

Whole Foods: The last word in gourmet tastes

OK, I like the free cheese samples at Whole Foods as much as the next guy, but this is certainly more hyperbole.

It's also interesting that all their shots of the DTSS area are virtually empty of people. What, they don't want to show all the rowdy teenagers that will be hanging out on your block every Friday and Saturday night?

Friday, March 24, 2006

The most expensive housing in PG county - Silver Spring

OK, I admit I had no idea that part of Silver Spring is actually in P.G. County:

[PG County's] most expensive Zip code technically was the portion of Silver Spring's 20904 that is in Prince George's, where one house sold for $799,000.
The funny part about this is that Silver Spring is the BEST part of P.G. County. Is it possible for MoCo to annex the 20904 Zip code, or do we just treat that area like an embarassing uncle, better to just not talk about?

Meanwhile, Silver Spring home prices continue to be insane:
In the 20906 Zip code, which includes parts of Wheaton and Silver Spring, homes sold for a median price of $383,200, up 18 percent.

UPDATE: I think that the Post article may have been in error when it stated that the 20904 Zip code was partially located in P.G. county. According to a map on the P.G. county website, it is actually the 20903 Silver Spring Zip code that extends into P.G. (And it is BARELY in P.G.) This much-prettier map from the MoCo official site labels 20904 as "Colesville", whatever the hell that means. I still think this area should be annexed a la the Rhineland? Of course, I hate to compare Silver Spring to Nazi Germany, although some seem to think that the Silver Spring cops dress like Nazis...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- "Silver Spring Nazis. I hate these guys." Apparently some MoCo officers think Silver Spring cops dress like stormtroopers:

March 2005: "No RACISTS??, then explain the NEO NAZI look that some [Silver Spring] officers have. Bald heads, black [battle dress uniform], and non-issued black flight jackets w/patches. Now that just conveys racism. Im white and I felt unsafe around them."
More on the message boards here.

- There's also a brief article on the planned Silver Spring Transit Center in today's Post.

The article includes a nice slap in the face to pre-chain invasion Silver Spring, which the author describes as a "blighted and largely vacant wasteland".

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- The USA Today has an article about Silver Spring's Curtis Pride and how he serves as an inspiration for deaf children.

- Wednesday's Post has a brief profile of the Upstream Seafood Market on Georgia Ave.

- Disappointingly, the new Downtown Silver Spring website which was supposed to be up last week still has no content.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Two Silver Springers will be playing in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament this weekend: Folarin Campbell of the surprising George Mason Patriots and Dante Cunningham of the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats.

- It burns to swim at the Y-M-C-A: The Silver Spring Y had to be evacuated due to a chemical spill. To quote Ralph Wiggum: "my face is on fire!"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Don't don't ever stiff this cabbie on a fare. Someone attempted to rob a cab driver on Old Columbia Pike in Silver Spring, but the cabbie fought back:

Garcia took cash from the victim’s pocket and then when the victim safely stopped the cab, Garcia got out and ran away. The driver got out of cab and ran after Garcia. Garcia struck the driver in the face, and the driver then struck Garcia with his metal flash light.
Ouch!

- Everyone's favorite lobbyist Jack Abramoff lives in Silver Spring (in the 20901)... did not know that.

Today's useless Silver Spring factoid

Bet you didn't know (or care) that "Petey", the dog from The Little Rascals, is buried in Silver Spring.



Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. (OK, it's been a slow day in Silver Spring.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jesup Blair Park highlighted on Underground Railroad map

Jesup Blair Park in Silver Spring will be one of the first sites included in the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom to display Underground Railroad information. The park is included in a recently-announced guide of these sites located in Maryland.

The guide includes Jesup Blair Park in Silver Spring, where an 1850 shootout involving Chaplain and a District-based posse soon will be commemorated, said Susan Soderberg, education and outreach planner for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The posse arrested Chaplain as he was transporting two escaping slaves, according to the Network to Freedom.

Chaplain was wanted for his involvement in an foiled attempt to help 77 slaves escape on a schooner called the Pearl, Yingling said.

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- DCist has a post today on the upcoming changes at the Quarry House.

Reading the Post's review of the Quarry House, I got a shock - apparently Dietle's Tavern on Seminary Road has closed. Somehow I missed this. The place had been around so long that it was grandfathered out of restrictive MoCo liqour laws... they didn't have to pretend to be a restaurant like a lot of these other places. That place was definitely old school - kind of like Moe's Tavern from the Simpsons. This old review from the Washingtonian pretty much sums the place up:

The quintessential dive. A worn-out pool table and pinball machine, faded shots of the Silver Spring of yore, beer signs galore, and photos of all the Dietles. Then there’s the jukebox—terrific and definitely one that time forgot: Commander Cody, anyone?
Some blame the bar's closing on the MoCo smoking ban. I was all for the ban until I heard about this... provided that is really the reason it closed. As far as I know, Hank Dietle's in Rockville still open. Go while you still can.

- The Friends of Sligo Creek webpage recently added an interesting photo essay of various memorials located in and around Sligo Creek Park.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Update: Dubya in Silver Spring

In case you're interested, here's a brief recap from the Post of Bush's visit to Silver Spring today.

Here's a pic...

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Downtown Silver Spring is getting a new website:

The site is interactive and will allow visitors to click on a location in the downtown, be it business or restaurant, and learn more about it, Stith said. Additionally, if someone clicks on a business, or an entertainment venue like the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, the visitor will be shown what restaurants are nearby, as well as what parking is available.
Note that as of the time of this posting, the site wasn't up yet. Doesn't downtown Silver Spring already have a two websites? (silversprung.com & downtownsilverspring.com)

- Parking rates in downtown Silver Spring are going up. Interestingly, most of the parking fees have not been raised since 1989. Compare that to Bethesda, where it seems like rates are always increasing and you have to pay basically 24/7. Supply and demand, I guess - with an emphasis on demand.

- The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is scheduled to get a new home in downtown Silver Spring, either at their current location at Georgia & Spring Street or at another location downtown.
The mixed-use development, called SilverPlace, would include market rate, workforce and affordable housing, an urban park and a consolidated Park and Planning headquarters if built at its current location at 8787 Georgia Ave. Currently, Park and Planning has employees in three locations: downtown Silver Spring, on Brunett Avenue and in overflow rental space on Spring Street.
For some reason, I always liked their current building. I guess they need the space, though. As a kid, I always was jealous that everyone there got to use a Mac, as you could see their computers through the windows. Ironically, now I have a Mac and I bet they use Windows machines...

- Doug Duncan's 2007 MoCo budget includes more money for Silver Spring improvement.

- Here's a brief article talking about the recent filming of Birth Day Live at Holy Cross Hospital. Welcome to Silver Spring, Riley Nicole!

- Montgomery Blair student wins a $50,000 scholarship from the Intel Science Talent Search. (After all the tuition increases at UM in the last five years, that might get you a semester.)

- Man dies after being hit by car in Hillandale neighborhood.

Do people have a mental block when it comes to saying “Silver Spring”?

It never ceases to amaze me how many people cannot speak Silver Spring’s name properly. At least I can somewhat understand when out-of-towners get the name wrong. (A Google search returns 54,600 results for “Silver Springs, Maryland”) However, I regularly hear people who live and work in Silver Spring refer to it as “Silver Springs”.

For example, I was in a meeting yesterday, and this one guy kept saying “Silver Springs, Maryland”. Mind you, my office is IN Silver Spring. He comes to work here every day, yet doesn’t even know the city’s (or whatever it is) proper name. Then today I am in the Four Corners post office and someone is talking on their mobile phone and providing the person on the other with his home address. He, too, called it “Silver Springs”- and he lives there.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dubya coming to Silver Spring

President Bush is scheduled to appear at an assisted-living facility in Silver Spring tomorrow to push his prescription drug plan on old people. Where exactly he is appearing, I am not sure, but it follows a visit earlier today in Canandaigua, New York with a similar purpose. When I find out, I'll post an update.

Bush has left his White House cocoon before to visit Silver Spring (and not just drive through)- last year he visited Montgomery Blair High School to push his (failed) Social Security program. That morning I drove by the school, not knowing that what was going on. They had created a wall around the school using school buses and public works trucks. It reminded me of a scene from The Road Warrior.

UPDATE: Bush will be at Riderwood Village ("a cruise ship without any seasickness"), just off Cherry Hill Road. (Which makes it just barely Silver Spring.)

Democratic Senate hopefull Ben Cardin will be in Silver Spring ahead of the president to lead a protest against the plan.

SIlver Spring News 'N Notes

- A 2002 attack behind the Hilton on Colesville Road has been linked to a series of sexual assaults in the Metro D.C. area.

- Silver Spring ManTM indicted on bank fraud and identity theft charges for ripping off Californians.

- MoCo police have released a composite of a man suspected in three Silver Spring purse snatchings.

Monday, March 13, 2006

"Bridge to Nowhere"

Montgomery Blair's student newspaper, Silver Chips has an interesting commentary on the pedestrian bridge that spans the entrance to the Beltway from Georgia Avenue (exit 31).

The article deals what the author claims are unecessary expeditures made by the county to build this bridge and suggests that the money could have been better spent building a crossing over the corner of University and Colesville. Personally, I think there needs to be a better way to cross the intersection at Georgia & Colesville. I have seen several near misses at the crosswalk that goes between the Discovery building and the Silver Spring Shopping Center. Cars have a green light going south on Colesville, and will take quick turns left onto Georgia. At the same time, pedestrians have a walk signal to cross Georgia, and often drivers will not look before turning and will suddenly find a pedestrian in their path. I have many issues with the behavior of both drivers and pedestrians in downtown Silver Spring, but that's a post for another day.

Washington Post features front page article on City Place

The front page of today's Washington Post features an article on the failure of City Place mall despite the redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring.

(For those who weren't aware, City Place is often referred to derisively as "Shitty Place" by many, including myself. It is a well-deserved nickname and I will henceforth use it and the mall's "real" name interchangeably in future posts.)

When the City/Shitty Place mall was first announced, I thought this was going to be a great thing - no more having to go to Wheaton Plaza to shop. Boy, was I wrong. From the get-go, Shitty Place mall sucked, and it only went downhill from there. There weren't many decent stores at the start, and what there was soon packed their bags and left. The one good thing about Shitty Place was the theater, which at the time was really nice and had ten screens. (I actually worked at this theater one summer during high school.) The theater, too, eventually went dark. Who ever heard of a brand new state-of-the-art multiplex theater going out of business in just over ten years? The mall theater was so disrespected that it wasn't even considered competition when someone built a 20-screen theater across the street.

The parking situation was terrible, as they built that little garage on the side that was so narrow that one person pulling out of their spot would cause a backup all the way up to the top level. Thankfully, that garage eventually got the wrecking ball, but what a waste of money it was to build it in the first place.

The article quotes the owner of the Moroccan restaurant that now occupies the spot at the mall entrance at the corner of Colesville & Fenton:

When Abdelmoumen, who has run a restaurant in Arlington for years, opened Taste of Morocco last September, he thought the new place in Silver Spring would do brisk lunch business because of spillover from the mall. That hasn't happened. "We don't do anything at lunch," he said.
I genuinely feel bad for the guy, but he should have done his research. I swear there must have been 25 different restaurants there since the mall opened. Even Mohammed Ali's Rotisserie Chicken closed down! If the Champ can't make it in City Place, who can??

I worked in downtown Silver Spring for a couple years and the women in my company were genuinely afraid to venture into City Place. This is absurd, of course, but it really demonstrates the perception people have of the mall.

UPDATE: Apparently City Place did have one redeeming quality- the mall's arcade was the only place around to play Dance Dance Revolution... well at least until they took it away.



Also, I tried to find an official website for City Place, but was unsuccessful. What kind of mall doesn't even promote itself and its stores with a simple website? If someone was interested in checking the mall out, a website might provide them with some useful information. Then again, if they actually had a list of the crappy stores there, they might never go. If anyone knows of a website, please email me or post it in the comments. All I could find was a basic site for the management company.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Silver Spring: Back in the Day - Part Three

This installment of Silver Spring: Back in the Day will deal with record stores - something that was quite an important subject to me way back when. There was a trio of stores in Silver Spring at which I shopped back in the late 80's and early 90's, all of which are now long gone.


Back in the Day: Nobody Beats the Wiz
Now: Silver Spring Dialysis
Location: 8412 Georgia Avenue

This building, of course, is the old Silver Spring post office, but bizarrely, after the post office closed, it housed a “Nobody Beats the Wiz” retail store. At the time, I was at prime CD-purchasing age and I thought this was the greatest thing to happen to Silver Spring - ever. It was actually a really nice store, with a high ceiling, wood floors, and a small parking lot in the back. I no longer had to go to those crappy record stores in Wheaton Plaza or make the trek down to Georgetown to buy CDs. (Remember when Georgetown was full of record stores?) The front of the old post office had a big “WIZ” sign on it. I really wish I had a picture of this somewhere.

Like most other retail stores in Silver Spring, it didn’t really work out, as the Wiz left and the building ultimately became some sort of health care office. Although I’m sure it is required by the ADA, I think the wheelchair ramp added on to the front of the building looks kind of crappy.

Back in the Day:
Compact Discovery
Now: Pinto Thai
Location: 8223 Georgia Avenue

I’m not sure how long this cleverly named store was around, but it had pretty decent prices on used CDs, which made it an OK place in my eyes. For whatever reason, the bald guy glared at us when we came in and generally seemed angry that we were patronizing his business. Perhaps he was just grumpy. This space is now occupied by a Thai restaurant, which actually supplanted another Thai restaurant called Thai Spice Cafe in this same location. I don’t know if both restaurants have the same owner or not.


Back in the Day: Vinyl Ink
Now: The Pennyworth Shop
Location: 955 Bonifant Street

Vinyl Ink was by far the most unique of the three shops, and specialized in vinyl and less-mainstream recordings. (Think Championship Vinyl from High Fidelity, only a lot smaller.)

Here’s a pretty good description of Vinyl Ink from the 2002 Washington City Paper obituary of shop owner George Gelestino:

"I don't think they have record stores like that anymore," says Pitchblende and Turing Machine guitarist Justin Chearno, who worked at Vinyl Ink in the early '90s, along with Bridget Cross of Unrest, Mike Hammel of the Ropers, and Bill Kellum of VHF Records. "The grumpy boss; the disinterested, kind-of-drunk employees; the hardcore mailroom guy; and tons of attitude...Almost everyone who worked there was in a band.
Admittedly, I was more into mainstream stuff at that age, but I would occasionally go in to check out their used CD collection. I never really thought about it when it was around, but looking back, it is a shame that a place like this no longer exists in Silver Spring. It is now a thrift store operated by a local church.


Previous "Silver Spring: Back in the Day" entries:

Part One
Part Two

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

Not a whole lot going down in the 'hood lately.

- Sunday's Post has a brief article about a house that is being built by high school students in Silver Spring. A longer article about the house-building program can be found here. Of course, only the U.S. Postal Service really considers 13009 Connecticut Avenue "Silver Spring". My question is - why limit the project to a 2,252 square foot house? In Montgomery County, it would be more practical to teach them to build McMansions or "luxury" condos. Also, do the kids get to flip the property when the house is completed?

- Silver Spring middle-schooler rescued from drowning by Boy Scout classmate.

- Silver Spring ManTM in trouble again... this time for armed robbery.

- Not really new news, but a Silver Springer gets a shot out for being one of the select few who have walked across the country.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Silver Spring used to be an "economic desert"

In a recent debate in the Maryland State Assembly over eminent domain laws, state senator Brian E. Frosh slandered pre-chain invasion Silver Spring:

Mr. Frosh cited the bustling downtown Silver Spring area as proof of the value of using eminent domain for economic development purposes.
"It was an economic desert," he said. "It literally turned the place around."
OK, now I'm not saying that Silver Spring in the 80's and 90's was some type of boomtown, but "economic desert" is a bit harsh. It's not like it was a mini-Detroit littered with burned out houses and empty storefronts. (Ur, ok, maybe there were some empty storefronts, but some of those are still there now.)

Of course, Mr. Frosh represents our uppity neighbor Bethesda (and imaginary place "North Bethesda" aka Rockville), so I guess that type of attitude towards Silver Spring shouldn't surprise anyone.

At least Silver Spring, wasn't alone in the area in being labeled an economic desert. Even D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams described Silver Spring's neighbor to the southwest as an "economic desert". Well, it was one before he got there, of course.

Silver Spring: Back in the Day - Part Two

Welcome to the second installment of my “Silver Spring: Back in the Day” series!


Back in the Day: Erol’s Video
Now: Thrifty Rent-a-Car
Location: 1008 East West Highway

Remember Erol’s Video? The videocassettes came in those giant boxes- red for VHS, black for Betamax. (We had Beta…) The Erol’s Video chain is long dead, having been purchased and decommissioned by Blockbuster back in 1991. For a while after that, Erol’s had a pretty good Internet service business going until it was bought out by RCN in 1998. I wonder what the Erol’s people are doing now. Probably sitting around somewhere counting their money.

Anyway, there used to be an Erol’s Video tucked back in an alley that connected East West Highway and Kennett Street in south Silver Spring. It was a strange location, but that never stopped my friend and I from hanging out there for over an hour hoping that someone would return the movie we wanted to rent. If that didn’t work, we’d sometimes get our parents to drive us over to the Erol’s location in Wheaton to look there. This small, windowless building, which would be dwarfed by the current Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stores, is still there and serves as a Thrifty Rent-A-Car outlet.

The next installment of the Silver Spring: Back in the Day series will deal with the three now-defunct record/CD stores that used to operate in Silver Spring. In the meantime, be sure to check out previous entries:

Part 1

Ray's: The Classics finally set to open?

Based on recent job postings on Craigslist and the big HELP WANTED sign in the window, Ray’s: The Classics is finally preparing to open for business in downtown Silver Spring. Ray’s will occupy the empty spot on the first floor of the Lee Building at the corner of Colesville and Georgia. This was the former home of the second Crisfield location, and has seemingly been vacant forever. It will be nice to have something finally fill that spot.

From what I understand, Ray’s: The Classics is a version of Clarendon’s Ray’s the Steaks, only with additional menu items, most notably seafood. (Interesting, since the last expensive seafood restaurant here failed.) I avoid Virginia like the plague so I haven’t been to the original, but Ray’s apparently serves excellent steaks.

Speaking of restaurants, I am going to finally get to Jackie’s tonight to try it out… I’ll post a mini-review afterward.

The bad week for "Silver Spring Man" continues

It was already a bad week for Silver Spring Man, and now this:

Silver Spring Man Charged With Indecent Exposure
Steven Eisen, 58, of Silver Spring, exposed himself to three girls last month, police said. The girls -- two 12-year-olds and one 13-year-old -- were playing near a vacant building in Wheaton that was formerly the site of the Washington Christian Academy. Eisen exposed himself from inside the vacant building.


Creepy.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Discovery's "Birth Day Live" at Holy Cross Hospital

If, unlike me, you are in to watching that sort of thing, Discovery Health Channel's Birth Day Live will be coming to you live from Silver Spring's Holy Cross Hospital on March 14th beginning at 6PM.

Personally, I instituted a lifetime boycott of Holy Cross the day they closed off their hill to sledders. Best sledding hill in town. It had that nice "jump" in the middle - if you've sledded there, you know what I'm talking about. I'm sure there were "liability issues", but really, the hill is right next to a hospital...

Montgomery Blair's student newspaper featured in New York Times

Big ups to Blair's Silver Chips student newspaper ("one of the finest student newspapers in the country") for being featured in an article in yesterday's New York Times.

I find it amusing that Silver Chips has a better website than the Washington Times.

(Thanks to Hello, MoCo for bringing this to my attention.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Silver Spring: Back in the Day - Part One

This will be the first post of a new feature I plan to do on a semi-regular basis called “Silver Spring: Back in the Day”. In this series, I will revisit places that I used to frequent when I was a kid during a period many might call the “Dark Ages” of downtown Silver Spring: the early 80’s to mid-90’s. Most of them may not be that great, and some of them Silver Spring is probably better off without, but all of them still hold a place in my memory. Note that in some cases, these memories may a bit hazy regarding where exactly things were and what years they were there.

Without further ado, here are the first three entries for Silver Spring: Back in the Day.


Back in the Day: Geppi’s Comic World
Now: Alliance Comics & Games
Location: 8317 Fenton Street

Somewhat surprisingly, there is still a comic book shop at this address, although it is no longer Geppi’s (it is now Alliance Comics & Games). This used to be a great place to burn my allowance, back when comics were just 60-75 cents. I used to love calling their hotline each week and listening to a recorded listing of all the comics that had just arrived. I checked out Alliance, and although it is definitely nicer than Geppi's was, it just doesn't have the volume of comics that made Geppi's so great. The lower floor used to be packed solid with boxes of comics. I was always surprised that the Geppi's staff allowed kids go downstairs without supervision. Even though I'd never steal anything, I always felt like I was doing something "bad" by being down there.

The Geppi’s chain was pretty big back in those days, at least as far as comic stores went. I remember they had ads up in Camden Yards when it first opened. It looks like they are no longer in the retail business, but the company still distributes comics as Diamond Comics.



Back in the Day: Silver Spring Flea Market
Now: Whole Foods & Strosniders Hardware Parking Lot
Location: Corner of Wayne & Fenton Streets

There used to be a flea market held once a month (I think) in the county parking lot that was between the old Silver Spring Armory and St. Michael’s Church. In those pre-eBay days, you could find all sorts of interesting things at the flea market. I still enjoy those kinds of sales – perhaps this could bring this back when/if the new Silver Spring Civic Center is completed.


Back in the Day: Roth's Silver Spring East
Now: Chevy Chase Bank Parking
Location: Thayer Avenue



At one time, there was a single-screen movie theater on Thayer Avenue parking lot for Chevy Chase Bank now stands. This was one of three theaters that used to operate in Silver Spring when I was a kid, the others being the Silver Theater and the Roth's Silver Spring West on Georgia Avenue (now the Beth El World Outreach Center).

This theater didn’t survive as long as the other two, and was dark for some time before being torn down. I vaguely remember seeing a Muppet movie here, either the original or more likely, The Great Muppet Caper. Either way, it was a loooong time ago.

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Negril, the Jamaican eatery on Thayer Avenue is opening a "Negril Express" next door to its current location, presumably to better serve the lunchtime takeout crowd. This is a great, inexpensive place to grab lunch. If you are really hungry, I highly recommend the jerk chicken sandwich with a beef patty on the side. Try to ignore the fact that the beef patties are so greasy that they soak right through the brown paper bag…

- The Old Blair Auditorium Project has requested $500K from the Maryland Congress to repair the auditorium at Silver Spring International Middle School the old Blair High School.

- In other news, it's been a bad week to be a "Silver Spring Man":

"Silver Spring man sentenced on drug charge"

"Silver Spring man indicted on tax fraud charges"

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Upcoming Silver Spring Events

Here are a few Silver Spring-related events that I would recommend:

March 19th: The Art Deco Society of Washington’s 10th annual Art Deco Bus Tour of Washington.
As it is home of some great Art Deco buildings, Silver Spring is regularly included as part of the tour. I’ve been wanting to take this for some time, but wasn’t able to make it last year.

Tickets can be ordered online or by calling 202-298-1100.

April 1st: Silver Spring B&O station open house.
The renovated Silver Spring railroad station is open to visitors on the first Saturday of every month.

(As an aside, I always wondered what happened to that old Pullman car that used to be stored at the station back in the 80’s. Through the miracle of The Internets, I found out that it now resides in Laurel.)


April 1st: Walking tours of downtown Silver Spring.
Tours run from 10AM-12 and are provided by the Silver Spring Historical Society. There are two separate tours – South Silver Spring and Georgia Avenue. The price is $12 and reservations must be made by email at sshistory@yahoo.com.

Georgia Avenue underpass getting a makeover

I’m somewhat ambivalent about this idea, but the Georgia Avenue railroad underpass is going to be ‘spruced up’ with a mural painted by students in conjunction with Arts on the Block, a non-profit arts organization. The theme of the project is Art Deco transportation and the motif is Art Deco(of which I am a big fan), and the mural was designed by artist Byron Peck.

I guess this is kind of a ‘wait and see’ situation – if done right, it could be nice. If done wrong, it could turn the bridge into a Technicolor nightmare. If nothing else, hopefully the smell of fresh paint will cover up the urine smell that usually permeates the pedestrian walkway under the bridge.

I don’t know what the theme would be (Penguins? Acorns? Penguins holding acorns?), but I’d love to see Silver Spring host a public sculpture exhibit in the mold of D.C.’s Pandamania and Party Animals.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The books are free, the parking isn't.

In today’s Washington Post, there is an article about some of the county’s more frugal citizens being infuriated by the prospect of Montgomery County charging parking fees at some of its future urban library sites. The article includes some quotes from extraordinarily overacting seniors:

"The sense was unanimous disbelief that people would have to pay. It's un-American and discriminatory. For me, personally, there's rage," said Irwin Charles Cohen, 63
All I can think of is this guy in a 28 Days Later-style rage mauling Doug Duncan over library parking.

Also:
"Almost everyone I know in my crew was led to believe that we would not have to pay for parking at the new libraries," said Louise Gregory, 87, a board member at a Rockville senior center. "I wouldn't go if we had to pay for parking, and I'm at the library almost once a week."
A. It’s funny that she has a “crew” and B. not to be ‘ageist’, but perhaps it would be better if 87 year-olds are on the road less frequently.

Admittedly, I’m not too familiar with the plans for the new Shady Grove and Rockville libraries, but the new Silver Spring library will be right in the middle of the downtown S.S. at the corner of Wayne & Fenton streets. There is already huge lot immediately across the street that was built for the DTSS development, and that lot charges only 50 cents an hour! That’s the same fee as returning a book two days late. Why even bother building parking for the library? Downtown Silver Spring is an urban area and real estate is at an ever-increasing premium. Do residents of Manhattan expect free parking at New York Public libraries? A new lot would be a waste of space, and I would rather they built a larger library than waste a lower level on a parking garage.

Besides, it’s not like the new Silver Spring library will be completed anytime soon - the current plan calls for a 2011 opening. As many fond memories I have of the present library (the oldest in the county), it does kind of suck. Why did Wheaton get the brand new, fancy library all those years ago instead of us, anyway?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Update on Metro pengiun mural

There is an update on the restortion of the Penguin Mural at the Silver Spring Metro station in today's Post. The work is being done by the original artist, Sally Callmer, who claims there will be no updates made to the mural:

She is resisting any urge to update the scenes with modern technology. No feathered commuters will suddenly appear with cell phones or BlackBerrys in their flippers.

"I'd like to think penguins wouldn't need those devices," she said, laughing.
I imagine it would be pretty impractical to use a flipper to type on a BlackBerry, anyway. At the very least she could extend the station list past Silver Spring and add the new seat color scheme. I miss the days when the last station on the line was Silver Spring - if you were in a hurry and jumped on a train, you always knew it was headed in the right direction.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"You could be my silver springs"

I was never aware of this, but Fleetwood Mac has a song named after Silver Spring. (Of course, it would be called "Silver Springs")

From the Washington Post:

Stevie Nicks, a singer for the group Fleetwood Mac, wrote a song called "Silver Springs." The title, she said, came from when she was riding on the Beltway and the sign for the next exit said "Silver Spring." The name, she said, "sounded like a pretty fabulous place to me."
Emphasis is, of course, mine. My question is, were they driving past exit 30B or 31B?

Silver Spring a Tourist Attraction?

According to the Washington Post, Silver Spring should be considered as a destination for tourists:

When people think of tourism in this region, they think of Washington. Naturally. They think of monuments, museums and the majesty of history. But maybe they should also be thinking Strathmore Hall, Silver Spring, National Institutes of Health.
According to Kelly Groff of the Conference and Visitors Bureau of Montgomery, "The county has become really attractive for meetings as well as for leisure traveling."

Curious about how the Visitors Bureau might be promoting Silver Spring as tourist attraction, I visited their website. The site's blurb on Silver Spring reads as follows:
Silver Spring is undergoing a major downtown revitalization with a recent influx of national name stores and very soon, new home to the American Film Institute. Urban in character, if [sic] features many lodging, dining, shopping and retail businesses.
Didn't AFI move in three years ago? Also, what's with the piss poor English? And the unapealling, generic picture used to represent Silver Spring wouldn't really encourage me to plan a visit...



Come on, visitors bureau, you can do better.

Friday, March 03, 2006

New Chains Coming to Silver Spring

It looks like even more chain restaurants & stores are headed to Silver Spring. According to the DTSS site, DSW Shoe Warehouse, Fuddruckers, Z Pizza and Old Dominion Brewing Company are all scheduled to move into the downtown area in the coming months.

I assume the DSW will be moving into the large unoccupied space next to Borders. I am pretty happy about this one. It’s kind of a crapshoot when shopping for men’s shoes there, so it will be nice to have one conveniently located where I can stop in and browse on a whim.

It’s disappointing that if we’re going to be getting a burger chain, it has to be Fuddruckers (self-proclaimed home of the "World's Greatest Hamburgers") rather than Five Guys. In an ideal world, Silver Spring would be the home of the first ever east coast In-N-Out Burger location. I can dream.

I don’t know much about Z Pizza, other than what I can gather from their website. It is a California-based chain, and there are already a few locations open in the DC Metro area. Seriously, can it possibly be better than Mama Lucia’s? I guess that 2 blocks to East-West & Colesville is probably way to far to walk for many people.

From what I can tell, this will only be the second Old Dominion Brewpub, the only other location being in Ashburn, Virginia. I guess this qualifies as “local”, but as a Maryland guy, this stills feels to me like some sort of cross-Potomac invasion. Isn’t there “Old Line Brewpub” or something out there that we can bring in instead?

On a side note, is this supposed to be the "new face" of Silver Spring?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Silver Spring has too many symbols.

I feel like Silver Spring has too many symbols out there representing it. With the addition of the "Welcome" signs/statues/whatever that are located at entrance to downtown, the total has come to three. Some are even used on the same signpost:



The Acorn: This of course, is taken from the acorn-shaped gazebo located in the appropriately-named Acorn Park. The acorn has been in Silver Spring for over 150 years. This is my personal favorite, as it is by far the oldest symbol of the three and the gazebo is such a unique landmark. The acorn apparently represents the "Silver Spring Business District", which now seems to be known as "Silver Sprung".

Penguins: This symbol springs (pun intended) from the penguin mural at the Silver Spring Metro Station. The penguins are featured in the pedestrian safety signs around town as well as in the whole "Silver Sprung" campaign. I am kind of neutral as far as this one goes. Penguins don't really have a lot to do with Silver Spring, other than the mural, but at least that is unique among metro stations. Side note: if you want a cool/lame Silver Spring metro t-shirt, you can get them through the Metro Store.

The "Spring": I personally think this one is the lamest of all, and sadly the one that they have probably spent the most money on. I am not a big fan of the "Welcome" signs posted around town, but someone in the county government must have liked them... My main beef is that it doesn't even look like a spring. It looks more like a geyser or fountain. I do give them credit for the art deco style font. For a period, I though that these signs must be representing the new fountain in Downtown Silver Spring (which I will refer to as "DTSS" from this point forward).

Anyhoo, that's just my $0.02.

Dave Chappelle Mentions Silver Spring on ITAS

In a recent episode of Bravo's "Inside the Actors Studio", former Silver Spring resident and Woodlin Elementary alum Dave Chappelle briefly talked about growing up in Silver Spring. It was definitely an entertaining show, and not just for the Silver Spring angle. I would highly recommend catching it in reruns.

Welcome!

Welcome to the humble beginnings of the "Silver Spring Blog"! (This name is temporary until I can come up with a more creative name.) The purpose of this blog will be to discuss issues related to the oft-maligned but recently re-discovered town of Silver Spring, Maryland. I grew up in Silver Spring and have spent years defending it against unwarrented attacks from 'outsiders' who don't know about the history of Silver Spring and all the things it has to offer. For a quick background on Silver Spring, I would suggest visiting the Wikipedia entry for Silver Spring and also the website of the Silver Spring Historical Society.