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.)