Thursday, September 27, 2007

Doug Duncan Now Trying to Screw Silver Spring

You didn't think this whole Fillmore deal was actually going to go down without a major hitch, did you? That hitch is named Doug Duncan, who maintains that the money promised by the state to support opening a new music venue is somehow tied to the Birchmere, wherever it may open, rather than to a specific spot such as the old J.C. Penney building.

"I view it as the state keeping its word," Duncan (D) said yesterday in an interview. "Montgomery County has a whole different project now."

Duncan, vice president for administrative affairs, has lined up a powerful ally in his quest to secure the state money. Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller Jr., a Democrat whose district includes part of Prince George's and an enthusiastic booster of U-Md., his alma mater, said the money "is going to be for the Birchmere, and it's going to be located in Prince George's County."
In the parlance of professional wrestling, this type of move is referred to as a "heel turn". Doug Duncan just hit Silver Spring over the head with a metaphorical steel chair.

I don't know if not having that $4 million grant is a deal breaker or not, but there's a real possibility that they may end up tearing down another "future home of" banner from the façade of that building. This may very well be a zero-sum game. It was obviously a calculated move on Duncan's part to announce the Birchmere deal before MoCo officially revealed their agreement with Live Nation.

I am also curious to see where the loyalties of the pro-Silver Spring Birchmere lobby lie. Will they favor a Birchmere in College Park at the expense of a music venue on Colesville Road?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

So, who exactly WILL perform at the Fillmore?

There's been a lot of bitching leading up to today's announcement over the types of acts that would supposedly perform at the Fillmore, but no one has explicitly mentioned what acts these actually would be and why they aren't satisfactory. It has only been stated that the lineup offered by the Birchmere would be better based on the fact that they would undoubtedly be less "commercial" than those brought in by Live Nation/Fillmore. We have established that Wayne Newton, Michael Bolton and Minnie Driver (!) have performed at the Birchmere, but what acts are currently booked at the existing Fillmore venues?

We can get a good sampling by looking at the acts for which tickets are available for shows at the Fillmore's existing venues. Click on each city to view the upcoming events at the Fillmore in that location:

San Francisco, CA
Denver, CO
Detroit, MI
Miami Beach, FL
Philadelphia, PA
New York, NY

Which of these acts is actually "good" is subjective, so I'll let everyone decide on their own. However, I don't see too many that I would classify as "too commercial", as if they were that commercial they wouldn't be playing in venues of this size. Of course, there are some that used to be really "commercial" but should be happy to be booked in places this big, you know, like Hanson for example. What makes me feel old is that one of the Hansons now has three kids. Mmmmm bop.

Fillmore >>>Officially<<< Coming to Silver Spring

Hide all the sharp objects in certain neighborhoods, because it's about to become official - Live Nation is setting up shop in Silver Spring. The future Fillmore Music Hall will accommodate 500 seated or 2,000 standing patrons and will open up in late 2009 or early 2010. The agreement will be officially announced today during a noon ceremony at the AFI Theatre. Of course, that's three hours from now, so who knows what will happen between now and then.

Inexplicably, 9:30 club owner Seth Hurwitz decided at the 11th hour that he might want to open a venue at this location, even though it was fairly obvious that the deal with Live Nation was already done. Where was he the last couple months?

Oh, and don't cry for the Birchmere. It looks like College Park will soon be getting its Michael Bolton on as the spurned music hall will be opening their second venue on Route 1. Interestingly, it was Doug Duncan that wooed Birchmere over to P.G. county. Maybe we can sell him the "Future Home of the Birchmere" banner and recoup a few bucks.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

TV None

TV One, home of Good Times and Martin, may be on its way out of its Silver Spring HQ for a new home in the District. According to the Washington Post, broadcaster Radio One is in talks with the D.C. government, which is negotiating a sweet deal for a new building in the city. Any move by Radio One would likely include its TV arm, which is currently operating out of 1010 Wayne Avenue, right across from Discovery.

While TV One isn't a particularly large organization, it was a nice piece of the media cluster that was starting to form in Downtown Silver Spring. Unlike Marc Elrich, the D.C. government doesn't seem too worried about "destabilizing neighboring jurisdictions or stripping them of their tax-base". As far as I'm concerned, the gloves are off. To paraphrase Sean Connery's character in the Untouchables - "They take TV One, you take NPR. THAT'S the Silver Spring way."

And speaking of moving networks out of Silver Spring, all I can say is that TLC best experience a big ratings jump after moving to L.A., because otherwise whoever made the decision to relocate the network and layoff the staff in Silver Spring should be kicked to the curb.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hump Day News 'N Notes

- Last week I ate at the Red Dog Cafe and ordered my favorite item on the menu, the baby mixed greens salad. The best part about this particular salad is that it usually comes with a generous amount of goat cheese and dried cherries. However, that night my salad had noticeably less of both ingredients. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the cafe had undergone an ownership change since my last visit, having been sold to Kirsten of Kirsten's Cafe. I am hoping that the cheese and cherry deficiency was just an isolated incident and not an indication that the new staff is skimping on the ingredients. Otherwise, I am going to be very disappointed. Has anyone else noticed a recent change in the food at Red Dog?

- As mentioned on the Silver Spring Penguin, Lee Development has launched a website to promote the to-be-named music venue which will eventually occupy the J.C. Penney site. The website includes an informative Q&A section about the project which addresses a lot of the complaints that I have seen here and elsewhere. What I find amusing is that the selection of photos on the main page includes a drum set shrouded in cigarette smoke, which of course is not a scene you are likely to see in any Montgomery County venue. I suppose it could also be residual smoke from a fireworks display. I can only hope they won't be booking Great White anytime soon.

- There was a police helicopter hovering around my house for about an hour early yesterday morning. Presumably it was related to an accident on 29, although I find it strange that this type of incident would require extended air support. Unfortunately, further details can't be found on the MoCo police website.

- Wait, they scheduled go-go events on Forest Glen Road and didn't expect everyone in the neighborhood to complain?

- The Gazette has an article on new and existing businesses on the Georgia Avenue corridor. The highlights (at least for me):

- Ellsworth Drive being described as a "safety bubble".
- The anticipated return of Gifford's Ice Cream, a move which I have long advocated.
- Two new hair salons opening up. Because, you know, Silver Spring is really lacking in hair and nail places...
- A new Indian restaurant. Yum.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Silver Spring Restaurant Want List

I’ve compiled a list of the types of food establishments that Silver Spring is severely lacking, at least in my opinion. Included on this list are only things that could be realistically brought to downtown. (This is why In-N-Out Burger has been left off.)

1. Julia's Empanadas. For the love of God, WHY isn't there a Julia's here? That would be huge on weekend evenings. And every other day of the week.

2. A great Gelateria. The kind where they decorate each flavor of gelato with things that represent the taste. A good example would would be Naia, if you've ever been there. It's too hard to find decent gelato in this town. I actually want to start up my own place – I’m that convinced that one would do well. I’m not even joking. Anyone know anything about making gelato? (And yes, I do know they have gelato at Mama Lucia's, but driving to the other side of EW Highway defeats the purpose.)

3. A Phở joint that uses a vegetarian broth. The place we do have in DTSS, Pho-Hiep Hoa, uses a beef-based broth. I’m not a vegetarian, but my wife is, so that means I get no Phở. My favorite Phở is from Nam-Viet on Connecticut Avenue, but that’s a hike to get down there. There’s not a convenient place to get vegetarian Phở around here, at least none that I am aware of.

4. Great bagels. I’ve said this numerous times, so I won’t rehash the subject here.

5. A good sports bar. I want a place where you can go each Sunday and know that it will be full of (2-0!) Redskins fans well before the game even begins. The kind that has HDTVs and actually pays for the HD service. And wings, really good wings. I really don’t know of many good sports bars in MoCo, which I presume has something to do with the county’s draconian liquor laws. Willie & Reed’s in Bethesda seemed pretty popular on gamedays, but that one recently bit the dust.

6. Udupi Palace. Just move it here. Langley Park? Come on.

If I think of anything else, I’ll add to my list. Other suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

I have come to expect that I will have to put up with certain forms of obnoxious behavior when I go to see movies at the Majestic Theatre, such as teenagers talking out loud throughout the entirety of Superbad. However, there is a new breed of obnoxious theatergoer that I have witnessed that is beyond all realm of acceptability. During an afternoon showing of 3:10 to Yuma, some punk-ass MF's decided it would be funny to sneak into the theater, yell something unintelligible then haul ass out the door, laughing all the way. I think it's time to look to Singapore for ways to deal with these types of delinquents.

In addition, I think the theater should play the into from Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters prior to every film. (CAUTION: not exactly G rated.)


- For all the MoCo income and property taxes we pay, you'd think we could at least stand on "county property" without getting hassled by Silver Spring brownshirts redshirts. From the Conversations With Mud blog:

We had only been off the sidewalk for thirty seconds when the woman came over. She was wearing a red polo shirt with the official Silver Spring logo on it. Where had she come from so fast?

Then she told us, "Well, you have to leave, this is county property. You can't be on county property."

We stepped back onto the sidewalk and walked away. MFM turned around about two minutes later and the woman was still watching us.
- Wait, is the old firehouse going to be a Hook & Ladder Brewing Co. restaurant or something called "Matchbox Pizza"?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

No "Objectionable" Acts at Live Nation Venue

According to sources, the Live Nation venue that will ultimately occupy the old J.C. Penney building on Colesville Rd will not book "objectionable" acts. (For those of you still in denial, I'm sorry, but the Birchmere ship has sailed.) Presumably this is in response to community demands related to the type of music the county should ALLOW to be played in this venue.

Of course, "objectionable" is certainly a subjective categorization.