Friday, November 30, 2007

Will There be a Day the Music (Venue) Dies?

I'm really growing tired of the Birchmere Live Nation IMP argument. It's challenging the Purple Line's supremacy in the "getting old" department.

Things would have been a whole lot easier if, instead of holding a press conference, the county had quietly put the Live Nation agreement on display in the basement of the planning office in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard". Moreover, the basement should have had neither stairs nor lights.

Ironically, the vocal minority who are now vehemently opposing the Live Nation deal likely includes many of the same people who strongly favored the Birchmere as an alternative to a "9:30-like" club in this space.

I worry that after all this back and forth, this is what we're going to end up with:

Jack squat.

If the county delays the signing of the contract with Live Nation in order to review a potential agreement with IMP, I can see the Live Nation lawyers getting back in their Maybachs and heading for the business-friendly confines of Northern Virginia, giving MoCo the bird the entire way.

If Live Nation decides to set up shop elsewhere in the region or just leaves altogether, will IMP still want to run a music venue in Silver Spring, or will they just say "uh, nevermind" and leave us high and dry?

As pointed out earlier today, the whole "we're giving an evil corporation $8 million" arguments of Live Nation opponents are bogus. This appears to be the primary justification for opposition to a Live Nation venue, and while on paper the IMP proposal (this is all it is right now) may be somewhat better, like the saying goes, "a bird in hand"...

(On a related note, today's Wall Street Journal has a feature article on Live Nation.)


- JUTP today points out the use of the term "SoMoCo" as part of the name of an upcoming fundraising event. This is the first "official" use of the SoMoCo nickname I've ever seen, even though I've heard it (and "NoMoCo") bandied about for years. If it starts getting used too commonly, it will take the fun out using this amusingly stupid nickname.

There is always a tipping point when the use of a phrase or word becomes too widespread, such as years ago when I saw a mobile phone advertising poster that read "get your talk on" or last night when there was a 30 Rock episode about "cougars". I would say that it is at risk of "jumping the shark" if jumping the shark hadn't already jumped the shark. SoMoCo doens't need to get any bigger than it already is, as opposed to say, "The Promenade".

- Since people seem to have such affection for The Turf, perhaps when it gets removed next spring the county should sell off squares (suitable for framing) to the public, kind of like UM did with Cole Field House. Or maybe leave a small patch where people can look down through a Plexiglas window in the floor of the concrete plaza to see a remnant of the former ground cover. They can light candles and leave wreaths and stuff.

- Another company that can't find space in Silver Spring is forced to move to Rockville. Strike another blow for anti-growth neighborhoods!

- There's a house in Silver Spring with "aluminum siding" consisting of thousands of crushed beer and soda cans. Depending on the context, a house with siding made of crushed beer cans could either be "ecologically friendly" or "hillbilly".

- That Silver Spring train station documentary I mentioned earlier has a production blog.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I think Will Smith Gonna Sue Somebody.

The new principal of Blair, Darryl Williams, has cut a video:

The surprising thing is that the cab wasn't Barwood.

(What I don't get is why the whole thing was done using blue screen. Was this directed by George Lucas?)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving News N' Notes

Before the long weekend of gluttony begins, I will leave you with these morsels:

- More on the proposed assemblage sale in East Silver Spring from the Gazette. Highlights include "threatening" telephone calls to the real estate agent and Silver Spring Towers being described as a "monstrosity". All I know is if they get rid of the comic book store, I'm going to be pissed.

- This morning on 29, a woman standing on the side of the road was killed in a "freak accident" when an axle broke on the truck, driving it off the road, leaving the pedestrian crushed under the trailer. This somehow makes the cutesy cat and dog on the trailer seem very sinister to me.

UPDATE: Some scumbag law firm is using this to drum up business.

- Speaking of trailers, someone's uploaded a different type of trailer to YouTube for a documentary about the Silver Spring B&O Railroad station. Note the "Silver Spring" theme song. (Not to be confused with "Silver Springs" by Fleetwood Mac.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dude, Where's My Walk of Fame?

Some of you may vaguely recall that last summer during the SilverDocs film festival, it was announced that Silver Spring would be getting its own "Walk of Fame" outside the AFI Silver Theatre. Represented on the pavement would be recipients of AFI's Lifetime Achievement Award, beginning with 1997 winner Martin Scorsese.

I thought this was a great idea, as it would be another unique feature of Silver Spring. Unlike the Hollywood walk of fame, where anyone with fans (or agents) literate enough fill out a one-page form and raise $25,000 can get their "star" immortalized. And because you would need to have received an legitimate honor be represented on Colesville Road, it would be a lot more prestigious than it's Hollywood counterpart, where Ryan Seacrest, Ricky Martin and Charlie Murphy (but not Rick James!) have stars.

Unfortunately, it's been seventeen months and there's still no walk of fame. There has been no public mention of Silver Spring's WOF since the initial announcement, and AFI head Jean Firstenberg, who made the announcement, has since retired from that position. Let's hope that the project didn't leave with her.

Oh, and if we do ultimately get our walk of fame and you see some guy wearing a ski mask at 3AM out on the sidewalk with a chisel and crowbar hunched over the Clint Eastwood or Harrison Ford star, please refrain from contacting the police.

In the event that don't build it, I will create my own walk of fame utilizing only a can of gold spray paint. My version will feature celebrities that I feel are particularly deserving. Optimus Prime, for example. (Hey, The Rugrats have a star in Hollywood.)


- Silver Spring is still in the running to be the new home of NPR.

- Which downtown garage is this? It was pictured in an old steel ad from 1970, when Montgomery County was "the third largest operator of municipal parking facilities, ranking only behind Los Angeles and Chicago."

- The best nickname I have heard for the stretch of Ellsworth Drive where DTSS is located is "The Promenade". I hereby decree by the powers invested in my by the Chimerical Government of Silver Spring that these two blocks shall henceforth be referred to as "The Promenade".

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hump Day News 'N Notes

It's been a really slow week.

- There is a certain Zen to the simplicity of the Snider’s Super Foods “meat” page. (And the "dairy" page brings to mind Borat's trip to a supermarket.)

- Nicaro gets a writeup in today's Washington Post.

- Montgomery County's 10th annual Thanksgiving parade will be held this Saturday in downtown Silver Spring. The route begins at the intersection of Sligo and Georgia, heads north on Georgia, then turns right onto Ellsworth Drive terminating at Cedar Lane. To tell the truth, I've never actually been to one of these before, but knowing that Doug Hill of StormWatch 7 fame will be the emcee, that could finally change this weekend.

More on the parade from the Gazette.

- That body found in Sligo Creek Park Sunday? Mur-diddly-urder.

UPDATE: Two suspects have been charged.

- Discovery Communications is opening a daycare center at their HQ. Not mentioned in the article that Discovery CEO David Zaslav mispronounced The Crocodile Hunter's trademark catchphrase "Crikey" as "crick-eeh" at the press conference. He also neglected to mention that while a daycare center might attract "the best and the brightest", they would be laid off once their department was moved to the other side of the country and their kids would be left up the "crick" without a paddle.

- "The Turf" will be around slightly longer than expected.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Big ups to Olazzo, which, unlike many bars and restaurants, actually has HD service to go along with their HDTVs. (Showing stretched out standard def sporting events on a nice 16:9 HD set is a personal pet peeve of mine.) I ate there for the first time on Saturday, and the food was solid Italian fare, with portions big enough to feed me the following night as well. I considered trying Nicaro, but based on my impressions from peeking through the window, I felt I was a bit scruffy looking at the time to dine there. The only odd thing about Olazzo was the fact that the bathroom doors don't seem to close quite right so you can see into the bathroom from the hallway, even when the door is shut. (No, I wasn't trying to.) They need to get that fixed.

- I also have to give credit to the audience at Saturday night's showing of Michael Clayton at the Majestic. It was quiet throughout the movie, and I even saw someone leave the theater to take a phone call!

- I'ts kind of creepy when you notice that someone has reached your blog from the search results for the phrase "dead body sligo creek silver spring md"... when there hasn't been a body found. What's creepier is that this isn't the first time it's happened.

UPDATE: It turns out there was indeed a body found in Sligo Creek Park. Guess I didn't perform the proper due diligence.

- After reading about the fatal crash on Bonifant Rd. this morning, I was left wondering who is this Bonifant and why does he have two different streets named after him in Silver Spring? Turns out, the namesake is a fellow by the name of Washington Bonifant, who served as a Maryland legislator from 1842-1849 and who was appointed a U.S. marshal by President Lincoln in 1861.

(Dum dum dum dum...)

For those of you wishing to make a pilgrimage to his grave, he (and numerous other Bonifants) are buried here in the Bonifant family cemetery.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Phở Sure

Note: Much like Tom Petty, who supposedly wrote Free Fallin’ so he could use “Ventura Boulevard” in a song, I write about phở so I can type the character “ở”.

(My actual soup not pictured.)

Perhaps as a result of the cold weather, I had an intense craving yesterday afternoon for a steaming bowl of phở. Believing there was nothing convenient to me, I still Googled “pho 20901”, just to be sure. Lo and behold, as a result of divine providence a phở joint named Pho An had just recently opened up in White Oak Shopping center. How did I not know about this before now? (I realize there’s Pho-Hiep Hoa downtown, but I’m not a huge fan of that place.)

The place is clean and well-lit, if a bit basic. They have a flat-panel television mounted above the register that they oddly seem to only use for playing mp3s. A review on this site states that “Pho An is fast and simple a hawker stand masquerading as a restaurant”, and I wouldn’t disagree – but that’s a good thing in my mind.

I was fixated on soup, so I completely ignored the rest of the menu, focusing on the large number of bovine parts that one could elect to have included in their bowl. After ruling out any options that involved tripe or tendons, I settled on something with more conventional types of beef.

To accompany my soup, I ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee, which is brought out in two components: a tall glass with ice and a coffee cup with a cool metal lid that had a mini percolator mounted on it. I can’t say that I’ve seen this before, but maybe I don’t get out enough. Underneath the coffee was hidden a generous portion of sweetened condensed milk. When mixed together with the ice, it resulted in a glass of refreshing caffeinated goodness.

The soup itself was good (and cheap), although I wish they offered the Bún bò Huế variety that I always order at Nam Viet. It’s not the best phở I’ve ever tasted, but the location is very convenient for me, so I can see myself becoming a regular – at least for the winter months. I do wish it had a more amusing/profane name, however.

As a total non sequitur, I present for your enjoyment this photo I took during my recently-completed trip:

(That’s a goat, in case you were wondering.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Good Overview of Silver Spring Development History

This blog from a Canadian college professor offers a PDF document that provides a great objective overview of the rise, decline, and re-development of downtown Silver Spring. It has a particular focus on the transportation infrastructure that led to the initial development of Silver Spring and the steps taken to resuscitate downtown. (Perhaps he uses Silver Spring as a case study in one of his classes.)

Here's a tidbit from the document for the "Silver Spring was better before redevelopment" contingent:

LOL I had forgotten all about Holiday Spa.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Beating a Dead Horse?

I had kind of thought this was a closed issue, but perhaps I was mistaken. Yesterday, 9:30 club proprietor Seth Hurwitz sent a letter to Ike Leggett insisting that he should set up shop in the old Penney's building instead of Live Nation. (Download full letter here.)

Hurwitz said his Bethesda-based company, It's My Party Inc., should have an opportunity to compete with Live Nation for the coveted site on the Washington music scene.

He has offered to open a 1,400-seat venue called the Silver Spring Music Hall. In addition to hosting national concerts, the facility would sell food and give the community use of the space rent-free.
Financially, the deal offered by Hurwitz seems better for the county, at least on the surface. He offers double the monthly rent of Live Nation and to ultimately purchase the facility for significantly more than Live Nation has agreed to. I like the proposed name better, too.

Of course, there is one line in the letter that scares me:
I.M.P. would hold regularly scheduled meetings with the community for input on the acts the community wants.
I think we all know that the people who would show up at those meetings do not necessarily represent the "community" as a whole. Of course, they could just patronize them, listen to their rants, then ignore their demands outright. You know, like politicians.

It's too bad that Hurwitz didn't get into the game until it was (probably) too late. Where was he all these years when the county was in fruitless negotiations with the Birchmere or before they entered their "non-binding agreement" with Live Nation? He didn't first express interest until September 24th, after the Live Nation agreement was nearly completed. I don't know if the county can break off another agreement and expect to retain any face. It would be a huge embarrassment at this point, even if this new offer is superior.

I can tell you who the #1 supporter of this new plan is: the guy who prints those "Future Home Of" banners.

UPDATE: Here is the response to I.M.P.'s letter from Ike Leggett's office and here's I.M.P.'s reply.


The dynamics of this entire-block-sellout in East Silver Spring fascinate the hell out of me.

Who was the one homeowner that wasn’t offered or won’t accept a million for their home and why? Do they feel left out? (I’m sure someone can provide the answer to the former, if not the latter.)

Can they still develop the area properly with a single holdout? Would they still proceed with the sale and then build around them like Bugs Bunny or this lady in China?

This scenario could easily be the basis for an episode of Law & Order (“Ripped from the headlines!”). Imagine the last holdout is found murdered. Who was responsible? An estranged spouse who wanted their share of million dollar payout? A neighbor with gambling debts desperate to cash in? An evil developer with designs on the land? That would make for a fantastic episode. (If any studios are interested in a non-union writer to fill in during the ongoing strike, I’m available.)

Personally, if I owned one of those houses and someone offered me a million bucks, I’d be signing the papers immediately. For a million you can get a hell of a house just a block or two away. I will tell you one thing - if you have a home in the 20910 ZIP code and this sale is completed, your house's value according Zillow will go through the roof (if not so much in the real world).

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Happy Daylight Savings Time!

Well, I've been back in town for a few days during which I've spent my time getting over jet lag, catching up on two weeks of shows on my DVR and recuperating from a variety of exotic diseases. Now that the aforementioned activities are winding down, I'll try to catch up and start posting again.