Thursday, August 30, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

The Washington Times has an article today about the ongoing Silver Spring "boom". Nothing particularly new here, but it it certainly optimistic on the prospects for continued development.

Five years into Silver Spring's $1.2 billion commercial redevelopment, the process increasingly looks like the beginning of a downtown building boom rather than its completion.
We'll see what the community has to say about that. And when I say "community", I am of of course referring to the cabal that congregates in a (incense) smoke-filled room each week deciding what is or isn’t “appropriate” for Downtown Silver Spring. If you think they are going to take the loss of Rostas Collections lying down, you've got another thing coming.


- Is the area between Cherry Hill and Greencastle roads the Silicon Valley of MoCo methamphetamine labs? For the second time in three weeks, police busted a Meth lab in this corridor. Police described the more recent bust as "one of the larger and more sophisticated methamphetamine labs ever found in the county". Somebody's mother is certainly proud.

Silver Spring drug kingpins?

- I don't know if this makes the Live Nation/Fillmore alternative any more palatable to the nothing-but-the-Birchmere folks, but Live Nation has reportedly agreed to end their association with the evil organization that goes by the name TicketMaster. Whether that would mean ticket prices to Live Nation shows would ultimately be lowered remains to be seen.

- Today's Post picks up the story of the battle over the MNCPPC's new headquarters and surrounding development.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Purple Line" Compromise: Retro Cool

Maybe those opposed to the operation of a train line along the Capital Crescent trail route might be more open to an option that provided the area with a certain ambiance in addition to an alternative mode of transportation.

Instead of using modern streetcars like the ones for the proposed new D.C. streetcar system or ugly light rail cars, perhaps they could acquire a fleet of restored Art Deco streamlined PCC streetcars, which would give the route a bit of character. This might assuage some of the the reluctance of neighbors who oppose the usage of the CCT for mass transit. Maybe the uniqueness of the "retro" streetcars might even help increase the desirability of property in this area. There are certainly plenty of orphaned PCC cars out there awaiting restoration and a new home.

There are a number of municipalities in the U.S. that still utilize old PCC cars, most notably San Francisco’s F Market Line, but also segments of the Philadelphia, Dallas, and Kenosha, Wisconsin transit systems. (The San Francisco line even operates a car painted in the old D.C. Transit color scheme.)

The Silver Spring - Bethesda line could utilize an underground conduit system rather than overhead lines, like part of the D.C. system was required to do years ago. This would eliminate the need for new poles and lines that might damage the aesthetics of the trail.

You can see (and ride) restored PCC cars at the National Capital Trolley Museum, which is technically located in Silver Spring. There's also a PCC sitting out in front of the entrance to Glen Echo Park.

However, in no way do I condone the painting of any streetcars in D.C. Transit's awful hues. Perhaps a tasteful color scheme could be created using the colors of Montgomery county's flag.

I, of course, see no flaws in this plan, but I'm sure that I will be made aware of plenty of them in due time. I mean, come on, what proper MoCo lefty wouldn't want their neighborhood to be more like San Francisco??


As a commenter pointed out, PCC cars did not originally come equipped with air conditioning, making them impractical for the type of usage I proposed. However, it is possible to add this feature, as shown in these photos of Philadelphia PCCs that have been retrofitted with AC units.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Silver Spring's "Secret" Movie Theater

Do you ever have those fuzzy memories from your early childhood where you can’t quite figure out where and when they happened or if they are even real? For me, one of these memories has always been seeing Star Wars (or was it Empire?) in an underground movie theater in Silver Spring.

I always thought that it might have been located at Fenton and Cameron, with the entrance being that translucent structure protruding from the sidewalk right on the corner. I specifically recall there being an escalator that transported patrons into the bowels of Silver Spring where the lobby of the theater was located.

I figured that this setup was too strange, so I was probably just confusing it up with something else and that entrance was for some completely different purpose. Turns out I was wrong – there was indeed an underground movie theater in Silver Spring and it was located exactly where I thought it was. My suspicions were confirmed by a post yesterday on the Woodside Park Civic Association message board inquiring about the status of the theater. The theater was called the Capri, and is presently being used for storage, with the original theater seats possibly still stacked up inside.

I peeked in the windows and skylight, but all there is to see is the escalator, some drop cloths, orange traffic cones and a chandelier which strangely has a caulking gun stored in it.

This would have been the fourth Silver Spring theater operating during the 70’s & 80’s, the others being the Roth's Silver Spring West (now Bethel World Outreach Ministries), the Roth's Silver Spring East on Thayer (now “Mayor” Quimby's Auto Services - I think) and of course, the Silver Theatre.

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of a abandoned underground movie theater is fascinating. The possibilities for this space are endless. They could re-open it and show only “underground” films, or use it for any number of interesting things. (If there is a nuclear holocaust anytime soon, I plan to use it as my Omega Man-style headquarters.)

If nothing else, this revelation provides me with extremely satisfying closure.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

Edward Banya, obviously anxious to begin browsing the 17th century French literature section of Silver Spring Books, became irritated at someone who he believed wasn’t vacating their Bonifant Street parking spot quickly enough. He then grabbed a screwdriver from his car and stabbed the driver repeatedly in the hand and torso. (In the way the incident plays out in my head, the assailant yells “screwwwwwwww yoouuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!” à la Schwarzenegger in Total Recall.) No word if the weapon was slotted or Phillips.

Even though the victim had just “superficial wounds”, the MoCo police as usual thought it necessary to send half the force to the crime scene:

Photo by Flickr user joshsisk.

To add to Mr. Banya’s problems, they found “several thousand” (!) pirated DVDs in his car. Now where the hell am I supposed to get my copy of Bourne Ultimatum?

Other miscellaneous stuff:

- Today I was surprised to hear erstwhile star dancer Tucker Carlson, who is filling in on Tony Kornheiser's radio show, refer to the "mean streets of Silver Springs (sic)".

A. That's my phrase.

B. You'd think he'd know the correct name of the damn place as he's presumably lived in the area for some time. I don't go around saying "Falls Churches" or "Foggy Bottoms".

- Maybe if this guy makes it to The Show, they can get his hometown correct.

- There's been a rash of burglaries in the White Oak, Springbrook and Fairland neighborhoods.

- Joe Ferg Sports, which runs intramural sports leagues in Silver Spring, is now taking accepting team registrations for their fall flag football league.

- Another pedestrian was killed trying to cross the street in Silver Spring. I'd bet dollars to donuts there was jaywalking was involved.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Five Guys Peanuts a Threat to Nonexistent Children

It amuses me how the Tech Rd. Five Guys is full of signs warning customers not to take peanuts outside the store in order to protect "neighborhood kids" with peanut allergies. Huh? What neighborhood kids? Are there street urchins that live in the office park dumpsters who emerge at night to scour the ground for dropped peanuts? What the sign really should say is "Attention cheap bastards: don't even think about filling up a paper bag with peanuts and taking it back to your desk/house/car."

I guess there is a playground in the general vicinity, but are the peanuts going to travel a few blocks away and blow into the mouth of one of the 1 percent of children who are actually allergic?

(Speaking of that shopping center, a recently posted zoning board sign indicates that they are planning to add a Panera Bread.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Friday News 'N Notes

Not a whole lot going on this week, but I will pass along this account, sent to me by a reader, of a recent hullabaloo at the Worst McDonald's Ever™.

A Mickey D’s employee, realizing that they were out of the odd-smelling pink liquid stuff, decided to refill the bathroom soap dispensers with an alcohol rub instead. Unsurprisingly, hijinks ensued when an elderly customer proceeded to use the hand sanitizer to cleanse her face.

The hysterical woman, eyes burning, complained to the manager, who, after investigating, asserted (chortling) that hand sanitizer was a perfectly acceptable replacement for soap. I hope they at least gave her free McNuggets or something.

I keep hearing the Ralph Wiggum in my head crying “My face is on fire!”

Also, they've really got to do something about that abandoned Army recruiting center on Georgia Avenue. It looks more like something from Route 66 than a "revitalized" downtown Silver Spring. There are freakin' trees growing out of it, for chrissake.

Photo by Flickr user punkwalrus.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Where else other than Silver Spring can you watch The Terminator on a huge screen in a nice theater on a Saturday night? I went to the 10 PM showing at the AFI this past weekend and was delighted to find out that it was in theater 1 (the big theater). Since they will never tell you ahead of time, it's always a crapshoot when you buy tickets to a show there. You never know if you'll end up in the big theater or the significantly smaller, less comfortable and less attractive theaters 2 or 3.

Anyway, I am disappointed to no end that I will be out of town this weekend and won't be able to go see The Big Lebowski the only times it is screened all year...

- Is the "EMERGENCY EGRESS" sign posted in the stairwell of the Wayne Avenue garage meant as a joke? I can just see some dude who got a low SAT verbal score staring blankly at the door while he is incinerated in an automotive conflagration.

- Here's another old school example of people pluralizing Silver Spring. This circa 1950's match cover for Crisfield Seafood gives the restaurant's address as being in "Silver Springs". Even more interesting is the fact that it adds a quadrant to the street as if it were located in the District. ("Georgia Ave. N.W.")

- The City Paper rips the service at Piratz Tavern... justifiably, in my opinion. In my experiences there, the service has been inordinately slow, even when it seems like there is no one else there to wait on. That's a shame, because the food is actually decent, especially the sandwiches, which must be ordered with Piratz's great fries.

- A lost cat amazingly traveled three miles through Silver Spring back to her home.

MS-13 Hearts Sligo Creek Park

Planning on going for a jog in Sligo Creek Park? You may want to bring your gat instead of your iPod, as the park has apparently been claimed by the Mara Salvatrucha gang as their turf. Signs like the one pictured below up and down the Sligo Creek Trail have recently been tagged with “MS 13” graffiti. (When I first glanced at it, I misread it as "MOOS 13"...)

Are they going to start shaking down the deer for protection money?

Of course, there’s the distinct possibility that this was the work of wannabe gangsters, but I probably shouldn’t say that lest I get my fingers chopped off by a machete. That’d make it awfuly hard to type.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sad Day for Silver Spring Meth Addicts

Best story of the day, if simply for the mugshot:

At about 4:30 p.m. on June 4, Montgomery County police, the DEA, the fire department and the fire marshal's office went to the 11400 block of Cherry Hill Road to investigate a report of a suspected meth lab. Authorities said that when they went to the apartment, they saw evidence of drug use and a man throwing things around.

Police said the man threatened officers with a weapon, so he was subdued, taken into custody and taken to an area hospital for an emergency evaluation.

He reminds me of Daniel Stern in Home Alone:

Didn't anyone ever tell this guy "don't get high on your own supply"?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Google (finally) Updates Satellite Images of Silver Spring

If you're like me and can easily waste countless hours panning across satellite photos on Google Maps/Earth, you'll be pleased to know that the images of Silver Spring have been updated within the last week or so. Gone are the circa 2002(?) photos that show much of the "DTSS" area as empty space or parking lots. Now the area appears pretty much as it does right now.

You can even zoom in more than you could with the previous set of images. I do hope that Silver Spring is included in Google Streets, which is currently collecting photos of D.C.

(Of course, Google Maps still places my house about a block away from where it actually is...)

UPDATE: Interestingly, according to this map, Mayor Lane goes right through a building, a parking garage and three parking lots.

UPDATE #2: One of my favorite sites is Google Sightseeing, where people submit interesting things that can be viewed via Google Earth/Maps. Are there any interesting things in Silver Spring that can be viewed from space? (Note that the standards for "interesting" in this case might be a little looser than those applied at Google Sightseeing.)