Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- The bizarre news item of the day comes to us courtesy of the Gazette:

"More than 200 people attended the grand opening of a new 7-Eleven Jan. 17 at 12257 Tech Road in Silver Spring."

Say what? Since when did the opening of a suburban 7-11 become such a special event that hundreds of people show up to celebrate? The more likely scenario: the 200 "attendees" were actually day laborers congregating out front while trying to solicit work from contractors returning from a trip to the Home Depot around the corner.

- "I pity the fool tryin' to get to Silver Spring!" A reader wrote to me complaining about the difficulty she has getting cabs to take her home to Silver Spring from the District at night:

I usually have a pretty rough time. I've even resorted to telling lies about where I live (e.g. "I live down 16th St...). It is not uncommon for me to have to talk to 3 cabs to get 1 to take me home. Note, I am a white female in my 30's who lives 1 block over the DC line in SS.

Does anyone else have this problem? I have heard before of difficulties getting a cab to Silver Spring before, but I in the past I was always able to get a ride to other (farther away) suburbs late at night. Of course, with the D.C. cabs' arbitrary pricing scheme, the fares varied widely despite the trips sharing the same starting points and destinations.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Can a man get a decent bagel up in here?

After reading an article in this weekend's Post about Washington's best bagels (and a subsequent trip to Bethesda Bagel) I got to thinking again about the absence of great bagels in Silver Spring. We've had high-class bakeries set up shop, but the bagel options are still incredibly weak.

Every Sunday morning I wake up craving a fantastic "everything" bagel, but have become resigned to the fact that I'll just have to live with the limited options in Downtown Silver Spring. Are there any New York transplants that have bagel-making experience and want to set up shop in Silver Spring? I'd do it myself, but my bagel knowledge is limited to the following:

- I like bagels.
- I want them to taste good.
- I want them to be prepared correctly (boiled first). Otherwise they are just bread.
- I don't want to pay $2.20 for one.

If anyone's interested, let me know. I can handle the business and marketing if you take care of the bagel-making.

Meanwhile, around town...

- A Silver Spring man was arrested yesterday in connection with the recent nightclub shooting in the District. This, of course, was the same shooting which precipitated the proposed ban on minors at clubs that serve alcohol in D.C.(e.g. The 9:30 Club). It might be somewhat ironic if this legislation were to pass and ultimately benefit the Silver Spring Birchmere (as Just up the Pike believes it would). Of course, I don't know exactly what MoCo's laws are regarding minors and establishments that serve alcohol. However, my experience with the county's draconian liquor laws leads me to believe that somehow the Birchmere wouldn't be able to take advantage.

- The South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association has a new website: Be sure to check out the wiki community guide.

- REV is the new Borf. Anyone have any background on the "REV" graffiti that has appeared all around town?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Restaurant Week Details Revealed!

As mentioned earlier this week, Silver Spring will soon be hosting its first-ever restaurant week! I will probably try to hit up one or two restaurants during the week, so perhaps I'll see you there.

Here's the official Restaurant Week info...

Get ready for a mouth-watering, lip-smacking week of great food from Silver Spring restaurants! Join us February 5-11 for Silver Spring Restaurant Week. Co-sponsored by Downtown Silver Spring, the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, the Silver Spring Regional Center and The Washington Post, Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to dine out. Enjoy Silver Spring Restaurant Week at your “tried and true” or somewhere new.

Participating restaurants will feature prix fixe lunch ($12) and dinner ($22 or $30) menus from Monday, February 5 to Sunday, February 11. In addition to these exclusive Restaurant Week menus, most participating restaurants will also offer standard fare at regular prices. Some restaurants may require reservations during Restaurant Week, so please call ahead.

...and here are the restaurants participating and their respective meal prices:

- Addis Ababa Ethiopian Restaurant -8233 Fenton St.: Lunch $12 Dinner $22
- Asian Bistro - 8537 Georgia Ave.: Dinner $30
- Austin Grill - 919 Ellsworth Dr.: Dinner $30
- Capital Bleu - 8727 Colesville Road: Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Ceviche - 921-J Ellsworth Dr.: Dinner $30
- Crisfield Seafood Restaurant - 8012 Georgia Ave.: Lunch $12
- Cubano’s - 1201 Fidler Lane: Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- El Aguila Restaurant - 8649 16th St.: Lunch $12 Dinner $22 and $30
- El Nopalito Grill - 2259 Bel Pre Road: Lunch $12 Dinner $22
- Gallery Restaurant & Lounge - 1115 East West Highway: Dinner $30
- Golden Flame Restaurant - 8630 Fenton St.: Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Jackie’s Restaurant - 8081 Georgia Ave.: Dinner $30
- McGinty's Public House - 911 Ellsworth Dr.: Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Mi Rancho - 8701 Ramsey Ave.: Lunch $12 (Mon-Fri only)
- Mrs. K's Toll House - 9201 Colesville Road: Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- redDog Cafe - 8301 A Grubb Road: Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Red Lobster - 8533 Georgia Ave.: Dinner $30
- Redrock Canyon Grill - 928 Ellsworth Ave.: Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Sergio Ristorante Italiano - 8727 Colesville Road: Lunch $12
- Spring Garden Restaurant - 8613 16th St.: Lunch $12 Dinner $22
- Taste of Jerusalem - 8123 Georgia Ave.: Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Taste of Morocco - 8661 Colesville Road: Lunch $12 Dinner $22
- Thai at Silver Spring - 921-E Ellsworth Dr.: Lunch $12 Dinner $30

What, no Ruby Tuesday's?

Conspicuously absent from the list: Ray's the Classics & Mandalay

Speaking of Mandalay, I just found out they charge you $1 if you get your food to go. I suppose their rationale is that covers the cost of the plastic containers that hold your food. However, not everyone wants to sit and eat in the restaurant, so that takeout meal is incremental business for them. Granted, it's just a dollar, but that might dissuade me from getting carryout from there (which I do relatively frequently) on general principle.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes, Part Deux

- Could the "Future Home of the Birchmere" banner currently hanging from the old J.C. Penney prove to be as premature as a "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln? According to a letter posted on Silver Spring Scene, that could very well be the case.

- The "Bridge to Nowhere" has turned out to be a "Bridge to Mugging Victimization", according to a story in today's Washington Post. After convincing the county to spend nearly $8 million to construct the bridge,

Residents have said they try to avoid the bridge, turning it into an expensive but little-used monument. It is often empty except during rush hour, police and residents said.

- While they haven't adopted my "Taste of Silver Spring" idea, it looks like Silver Spring will be hosting its own restaurant week, which I suppose is just as good. Maybe some people from DC and Virginia will attend and I won't have to keep explaining to them that restaurants exist outside a single block of Ellsworth and not all Silver Spring dining establishments are chains.

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- You can gentrify all you want, but you can’t eliminate some old school Silver Spring attitudes. I saw a guy at the corner of Pershing & Cedar wheeling home his groceries in one of the Thayer Avenue Safeway’s shopping carts. Why buy your own cart when it’s much easier to simply steal one every trip to the store? So what if the carts cost $75 to $100 each for the store to replace. That cost can be covered by increased prices for other shoppers.

What amazes me is that this guy apparently feels no shame and/or worry about being questioned by the police while blatantly wheeling a stolen cart through the heart of downtown Silver Spring.

The worst shopping cart theft in the area that I've seen has to be at the Giant in the White Oak Shopping Center. At any time, you can go back into the apartment complex behind the Sears and find dozens of abandoned carts lying around.

UPDATE: If you see stray shopping carts, you are legally obligated to return them to the Safeway, it being the U.S. Census' Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month.

- The ia etc shop in the Whole Foods shopping center has signs up indicating it's going out of business moving. Admittedly, I never shopped there myself, but the experience (as described by the store's website) sure sounds pleasant:

Shopping at ia etc, in downtown Silver Spring is a Zen experience. Upon arrival, jazzy music and the earthy aroma of sandalwood and patchouli ["Get your patchouli stink outta my store!"] transport you to a different dimension. With a lightness in your step, and curiosity in your spirit, you can explore carefully set displays featuring rich and exotic home accessories.

- Over the long MLK weekend, I finally got around to reading George P. Pelecanos' Right as Rain and Hell to Pay, parts of which take place in downtown Silver Spring. The only error I noticed is that a character references going to the TGIFriday's in City Place, when the "casual dining restaurant" in City Place is, of course, Ruby Tuesday. Of course, this mistake could be attributed to the character, rather than the author. Note that Silver Spring will be getting its first TGIFriday's, as one will be opening shortly in the new shopping plaza at 29 & Tech Rd. Yipee.

- A Springbrook High student returns a book to the school library... 42 years late.

- Want to serve on the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board? Ike Leggett is now accepting applications:
Interested citizens should apply in writing by February 955
to County Executive Isiah Leggett at the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St., Rockville, MD 20850 or send an e-mail to A brief resume, including work and home phone numbers, should be enclosed.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Where are the Mailboxes?

The lack of mailboxes in the Woodside Park and Woodside Forest neighborhoods has become such a concern that the two neighborhood associations have gotten together and started a message board just for this issue. Most of the mailboxes disappeared right after the whole anthrax deal in 2001, never to return. (There was supposedly a "specific threat" to the Silver Spring post office.) Since then, residents have had to leave their mail in the slots, which they feel makes their mail susceptible to theft.

These neighborhoods aren't the only victims, as mailboxes are being removed around the country due to "security concerns, major lack of use, and constant cleaning issues".

Residents of WP & WF have registered a number of complaints with the Postal Service, but to no avail. I've also heard complaints that there are very few mailboxes in downtown Silver Spring, although I haven't noticed this myself, not having looked for a mailbox recently. Personally, I always send it from work. However, I have noticed that there are quite a few rusting mailboxes stored behind the Four Corners post office, including an olive drab-painted one. Mailboxes haven't been olive drab since 1970!!

UPDATE: Someone created a map of blue mailboxes around the Silver Spring CBD and it is pretty evident that if you live in these neighborhoods (like I do), you are pretty much SOL when it comes to sending a letter.

Meanwhile, around town...

- There was a fatal car accident early this morning at Colesville and E. Franklin. The northbound side of 29 was blocked for awhile, but when I drove by this morning (around 8:20), there was no evidence of police activity.

- Douglas Clifton over at Metroblogging DC is considering moving to Baghdad rather than continue to deal with the utility failures in his Silver Spring apartment building.

- JoeFerg Sports, which organizes leagues for kickball and other sports in Silver Spring has opened registration for the upcoming spring season.

- The Express has an interview with Neils Hoven (from Silver Spring) of "Beauty and the Geek".

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Got FiOS?

Do you live in Silver Spring and have Verizon’s FiOS TV service? I had tried unsuccessfully in the past to sign up, only to be told that it was not available in my neighborhood (or at least at my house). After reading news of expansion of the service to new parts of Silver Spring, I was emboldened to try again. I went back to their site to fill out their availability form, only to be told I was still SOL.

Having been once advised that the site is out-of-date and that I should call Verizon directly, I did just that. Sadly, I was rejected yet again and was informed that “the lines are there” but that service had “not been approved by the city”. (“City”…) There’s a form on the website that will supposedly contact you when service IS available. However, you may wait quite awhile, as some “downcounty” areas aren’t expected to get the service for three years. :(

I refuse to get Cable TV Montgomery Comcast, so I currently have RCN, which is serviceable for now. However, RCN’s lineup lacks the all-important ESPN2 HD and NFL TV HD networks.

So, those of you in Silver Spring who can get FiOS, in what area do you live? If you have the service, what do you think? I’m jealous.

FYI: FiOS pricing and channel lineup.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Speed Cameras Coming to Silver Spring?

MoCo's first speed cameras will soon be installed in Rockville, and I would expect them to show up around Silver Spring sometime shortly after that. Downtown Silver Spring already has quite a few red light cameras, which hit you for $75 a pop. Admittedly, I've gotten one myself, although it was partially the fault of a jaywalker.

I think they ought to position the speed cameras on all major roads leading to the Lockheed-Martin headquarters in Bethesda, as that's who really will end up benefiting from these things. Let's be honest, local drivers will continue to speed, only slowing down when they approach a known camera location. Just look at driver behavior leading up to the camera by Carter Barron on 16th St. for an example of this.

Meanwhile, around town...

- There was a two-alarm fire last night at the Silver Spring Towers apartments.

- A Silver Springer will be appearing on the CW show "Beauty and the Geek". (As the geek, not the beauty...)

- Hello, Dave. From January 26th to March 1st, the AFI Silver will feature a Stanley Kubrick retrospective.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday News 'N Notes

Well, it's almost time for the one weekend out of four that isn't long...

- Pedestrian fatalities in MoCo nearly doubled from last year, according to police. Of the eighteen deaths, only three peds were using the crosswalk when they were hit. I'm just surprised the number was so low, based on the ridiculous pedestrian behavior I see in downtown Silver Spring nearly every day. Perhaps MoCo needs a "Pedestrian Master Plan" like D.C. has, but I suppose there's only so much you can do to account for stupidity/arrogance.

I kinda like the idea of stenciling an outline of where a pedestrian was killed, only here it can serve as a warning to peds as well as drivers.

- On January 14th, director David Lynch will hold a Q&A session at the AFI Silver after a screening of his new film, INLAND EMPIRE. Following his appearance, a dwarf will take the stage and dance.

- Ike Leggett is hoping for $2 million from the state to bring the Birchmere to Silver Spring. So, what if he doesn't get it? Does the sign come down?

- Apparently there were quite a few unmarked police cars congregated around the intersection of Spring St. & 16th St. on Wednesday night. Anyone got any details on what brought them there?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- The Post had an article this past weekend on my favorite houses in Silver Spring, the Polychrome Historic District, between Colesville Rd. and Sutherland Rd. (They published an even longer article on the same homes in 2005.)

The pre-fab concrete Art Deco houses were designed by John Joseph Earley, who was also responsible for Meridian Hill/"Malcom X" Park. I love the buildings themselves (esp the one with the big, round window), but the location is unfortunate. There is a line of cars in front of the house every evening waiting to get on the Beltway.

- There's been a recent string of burglaries at the Kennett St. garage in South Silver Spring, but hopefully this has come to an end as police have arrested a suspect. Someone managed to snap a picture of the arrest with their mobile phone camera:

[Thanks to Michelle for forwarding the pic.]

- Flickr user tackyjulie recently added a brief photoset of downtown Silver Spring.