Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday News 'N Notes

- The Peterson Companies have issued a statement which says that photography is now permitted in Downtown Silver Spring. The statement did note, however, that this can be rescinded at their discretion. (Thank God, because honestly I was getting tired of hearing about this issue.)

- After an extended absence, Gifford's Ice Cream will be returning to Silver Spring with a retail location (eventually), according to company co-owner Neil Lieberman. No word on where or when. In the meantime, you can purchase a throwback Gifford's Silver Spring t-shirt at their existing retail locations if you are so inclined.



- Silver Spring is one of the "best neighborhoods to buy in right now".

- Better start stockpiling spare change in your car, as starting next week the new Silver Spring parking rules go into effect. (More like Bethesda every day...)

Here are the new hours:

On-street meters - 9AM-10PM, Monday to Saturday
Parking lots - 7AM-10PM Monday to Saturday
Garages - 7AM-10PM Monday to Friday

The big "but" here is that the Wayne and Ellsworth garages are exempt from these changes due to a deal with the DTSS developer. Those lots will remain free after 6PM Mon-Thurs and 5PM on Fridays. Businesses outside the DTSS area have beef with this, believing that they will lose business to the restaurants in areas near the free garages. Are people really that cheap that they can't ante up $1 to park near a restaurant? Though I was at Highland Origin Coffee last Saturday and mine was the only car whose meter wasn't flashing, so maybe they are...

- If you're craving a Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity at 3 AM, you're in luck, as the IHOP on Tech Rd. is now open.

- The CIA's recently-declassified "Family Jewels" describe some clandestine ops that occurred in our own backyard:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Festivus for the Rest of Us

I was reading this article from today’s Washington Post, and found it interesting that the planners of the new Veteran’s Plaza have such a grandiose vision for the space:

Montgomery County's planners hope to create an area reminiscent of Union Square in San Francisco or Rockefeller Center in New York on about 1.5 acres.
If that is the case, and they really want to emulate Rockefeller Center, I think that they ought to install a massive Christmas holiday tree each winter as the centerpiece of the plaza. (A real one, not a fake: they’re better for the environment, and frankly I think fake trees are cheesy as hell.) I think that would be an additional draw for the plaza and would make a great backdrop for photos, provided you are allowed to take them.

There would be the inevitable complaints and we might end up with displays related to a variety of religious holidays. If that is the case, I will request - no, demand the inclusion of a Festivus pole.



UPDATE:

You know, I originally said it in jest, but I think there's some real merit to the idea of actually hosting Festivus activities. Talk about something unique that would draw people from outside the area. Kinda like Lebowski Fest. Of course, it might still be a really stupid idea.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

Some completely random and unrelated things...

- The actor Dan Futterman, who plays Daniel Pearl in the recently-released A Mighty Heart was born in Silver Spring according to IMDB and most other sources. However, in this interview he claims to be born in Brooklyn. Is he ashamed of his Silver Spring heritage? Does being born in Brooklyn give him more street cred? If he has to lie about where he was born, that's pretty pathetic. Maybe he feels the same way Lewis Black does when it comes to telling people you're from Silver Spring.

You may remember Dan from such films as The Birdcage and, uh, The Birdcage. Somewhat incongruously, he also penned the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Capote.

- Speaking of Lewis Black, his show at Springbrook High is coming up this Friday. I'll be there. I don't know if tickets are still available, but I'm guessing they aren't, as the order form is no longer up on the website.

- Silver Spring is becoming more like Bethesda every day. Olazzo, which currently has a restaurant on Norfolk Ave. in Bethesda, is setting up shop in the former digs of the Half Moon BBQ on Georgia Ave. Reader BG spoke to the staff at the current location and was told that the Silver Spring restaurant would be open in late July. This review will give you a good idea of what Olazzo is all about.

With the addition of Olazzo, Hook & Ladder, and some other to-be-named restaurants, the future of Georgia Ave. is looking better and better. They've even got a high-end clothing boutique in Pieces of Silver Spring. (Interestingly, when I stopped in to check out Pieces, the staff assumed I was from out of town. I'm not sure what to make of that.)

- Hold on to your pipes and gutters. Due to a 366% increase in copper prices over the past four years, copper theft is on the rise and Silver Spring is not immune. Thieves have ripped the drainage pipes off the side of the condos at 614 Sligo Avenue:



I associate this type of behavior more with Baltimore, but I guess that Chick-fil-A all over the ground isn't going to pay for itself.

- Silver Spring is a great place to harass women:

Van Reed, a 16-year-old, says this spot is one of the best in the District for scouting girls, but he’s had better luck at Largo Town Center and in Silver Spring. “Yeah, it works,” he says. “But you’ve got to look at a girl and see how she carry herself. You try not to yell. You walk up, ask her for her phone number and keep walking with her.”
- Do the jukeboxes at the Tastee Diner have Don't Stop Believin'? I've been wondering for a couple weeks, but haven't got a chance to go check.

- Another Rock-n-Romp is scheduled for this Saturday, for all those interested parents:
Saturday, June 30 2:30-5:00 pm

w/These United States, Laura Gibson (Portland) & Casey Dienel (Boston)

McGinty's Public House
911 Ellsworth Drive
Silver Spring
(parking is FREE in the big garage on Wayne Avenue)

$5 for adults, kids under 12 FREE
Adults MUST be accompanied by a child for admission

Monday, June 25, 2007

Maybe We Don’t Deserve “The Turf”

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the planned conversion of the area presently covered by “The Turf” into a paved pavilion was made official last Thursday by the Montgomery County Planning Board. While I used to think that it would be a shame if all this area were to be sans grass (or at least high-quality fake grass), my recent observations of turf-goers' behavior have led to change my perspective on the subject. Each night, particularly on weekends, the green carpet becomes a dumping ground for packaging from Chick-fil-A, zPizza, Baja Fresh and other fast food establishments in DTSS.

This garbage is frequently in ringed formations, evidence of entire groups which just got up and moved on, leaving their waste lying on the ground. This is just evidence of lazy and selfish people who can’t be bothered to walk ten meters to a garbage can and chuck their empty boxes and cups. I don’t think it would be a stretch to imagine that a good portion of these people walk across the street to see a movie and proceeded to disturb everyone in the theater. Garbage-strewn public areas are something I expect in Langley Park, not Silver Spring. It’s not very pleasant to look at. As much as people disparage Bethesda, you don’t expect to see garbage piled up at the fountain outside the Barnes & Noble.

Maybe this is just a case of “a few bad apples”, but there are enough apples out there to ruin it for a lot of other people, and it doesn’t seem like any authorities are out there doing something about it. If the same people who use the “Turf” trash it, then they have no right to complain when it’s gone. Of course, we could just end up with concrete plaza covered with garbage, but I hope that isn’t the case.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday News 'N Notes

Around town:

- The "NPR to Silver Spring" beef with Marc Elrich and the petition begun over at Silver Spring Scene has gotten some traction with local pubs, including the Express and the City Paper.

- There was a funnel cloud over Silver Spring Wednesday afternoon. See the video here.

- If you think you have what it takes to perform at a Metro station, WMATA will be holding auditions in Downtown Silver Spring in two weeks:

Montgomery County will hold auditions from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 29, at Silver Plaza on Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring. The auditions will be open to the public and performers will have three minutes on stage to impress a panel of judges.
No word if the "I Have No Legs" guy from Kids will be auditioning or if David Hasselhoff will be one of the judges.

- The erroneous pluralization of Silver Spring goes waaaay back. Check out this article from the July 15th, 1864 edition of the Springfield Daily Republican. (Click image to enlarge.)



Via eBay.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cameras Off-Limits in Downtown Silver Spring?

It appears as if Downtown Silver Spring has become one of the increasing number of places in America where photography is banned. According to this photographer, The Peterson Companies, developer and manager of DTSS, has decided that taking photographs is a no-no.

This past Tuesday, having the day off of work, I went to downtown Silver Spring, had lunch and then took out my camera and, standing on Ellsworth Avenue I began taking shots of the buildings with the blue sky and clouds as a back drop. I was immediately approached by a security guard who told me that there was no picture taking allowed in Downtown Silver Spring.” What do you mean?” I said, “I am on a city street, in a public place, taking pictures is right that I have protected by the first amendment.” “You will need to go to the management office,” the guard said.

In the management office I met a woman who informed me that Downtown Silver Spring including Ellsworth Avenue is private property, not a public place, and subject to the rules of the Peterson Companies. They have a no photography policy to “Protect them from people who might want to use the photographs as part of a story in which they could write bad things about us.” And she told me that many of the chain stores in Downtown Silver Spring don’t what their “concepts” to be photographed for security reasons or that I could sell my photographs and that is not allowed. I told her that I was well aware of my rights to take pictures on public property, any pictures that I take I have a right to sell, and questioned how they could have a policy that limits our individual rights when Downtown Silver Spring was built with public money.
This is completely absurd. This is Silver Spring we're talking about, not Dick Cheney's hotel or anything. They promote all types of family events in DTSS, but I guess if you bring out your camera to take pictures of your kids, you risk getting hassled by The Man. I guess the New York Times violated the rules when they took a photo for their article about Silver Spring, but maybe it was overlooked because they didn't write "bad things" about it.

UPDATE:

The photography ban only applies to mere mortals, as goddesses are permitted to snap away at will.



From the photographer's blog:
Today, we returned to downtown Silver Spring for lunch... She was also carrying around an enormous digital SLR camera, snapping pictures of her entourage when she wasn't posing for pictures with others.
More photos can be found here.

UPDATE #2:

Ellsworth Drive isn't the only place where you can't take photos in Silver Spring. Another photographer was accosted by security after taking this photo in Metro Plaza.

UPDATE #3:

Fox 5 ran a story on this today on the 5 o'clock news. It can be viewed here. I'm mildly disappointed they didn't interview a representative from Peterson to at least get their side of the story.

FOURTH AND FINAL UPDATE:

The Post has now picked up the story. Also, here's some discussion of the story in Marc Fisher's chat. It's also now made it on Boing Boing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Gray Lady & Silver Spring

In case you haven't seen it, downtown Silver Spring was featured in the real estate section of today's New York Times:

"A Dose of Art and Entertainment Revives a Suburb"

Overall, a very positive representation.

Friday, June 08, 2007

No Films For You

Unfortunately, the outdoor film showings on “The Turf” that were so popular last August won’t be returning this year. As I surmised last year, the inevitable demise of the Jolly Green Carpet ensured that, despite its tremendous popularity, this event would be short-lived.

It was assumed that the Turf would be pulled up by this summer, and the sponsor (CW50) didn’t want to shift to another local venue. Because of the whole ice/turf brawl and the resultant delays, it turned out the space would indeed be available but by that time it was too late to schedule anything for this summer.

There will still be some films screened outdoors this summer, as two music-themed documentaries will be shown next week as part of the upcoming SilverDocs festival. (By the fountain, rather than on the Turf.)

On June 14, you can see Jonathan Demme's "Stop Making Sense," which captures Talking Heads over three nights in 1983 at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. June 15, the night will be aglow with Demme's 2006 film "Neil Young: Heart of Gold," which follows the legendary folk-rock singer in two concerts with his wife and many, many pals not long after his surgery for a brain aneurysm.

I’m not sure if Neil Young has the same amount of appeal as Harry Potter to the kids who packed the carpet for last year’s movies, but at least it’s something.

Of course, we are again completely trumped by NoVa, this time in the area of outdoor cinema, as Crystal City’s “CrystalScreen” will be showing Clint Eastwood movies all summer long. It had to be Clint Eastwood movies, for God's sake, just to rub it in.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

News 'N Notes - Serpents, Celebrities & Jaywalkers (again)

- I apologize if I harp on this subject repeatedly, but the audacity of Silver Spring jaywalkers never ceases to amaze me. Last Thursday I witnessed the enshrinement of a new member into the jaywalker pantheon. It was about 10PM and he was crossing from the Silver Spring Shopping Center over to the other side of Colesville. In keeping with jaywalker tradition, he started to cross the instant the light for Colesville traffic turned green, immediately putting him in the path of oncoming vehicles from both directions. Did he look either way? Nope. Not only that, he was wearing a towel over his downturned head so that it his peripheral vision was completely obstructed. Not surprisingly, the oncoming traffic had to screech to a halt to avoid hitting him. One of them even had the audacity to sound their horn, but our valiant jaywalker didn’t even flinch or look up for an instant. He just slowly and deliberately raised his left hand and extended his middle finger, holding it aloft as he continued his journey across Colesville with the lights of oncoming southbound traffic looming ominously in the distance. Like the brave young men who charged German machine gun nests on Omaha Beach 63 years ago today, he would not let the fear of death hinder his fight for the right of Americans to cross streets whenever and whenever they want.

Seriously, at what point does one deserve to be struck by a car? If this guy is ultimately run over and confined to a wheelchair but continues his behavior, would he be considered a “jayroller”, or is that something completely different?

(In the extremely unlikely event that Silver Spring ever gets some sort of pro sports franchise, “Jaywalkers” would be a fantastic team nickname.)

- "Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" Strangely, there have been reports of a snake loose on the fourth floor of the Silverton Condos as well as one on the loading dock of the Bennington Apartments. What's behind this serpentine invasion? I realize that Silver Spring is kinda near Rock Creek Park, but how does one make it to the upper levels of a condominium building? Perhaps this is a new, eco-friendly method of rodent control. If so, The Enclave might want to follow the example.

- I had a celebrity sighting in Silver Spring during my lunch break today - Delaney Williams, who plays Sergeant Jay Landsman on HBO's The Wire, was at Alliance Comics on Fenton street. I thought I must be mistaken, but a Google search confirmed my suspictions when it revealed that he does indeed live in Silver Spring. A good profile of Delaney Williams can be found here.