Tuesday, July 31, 2007

County to Dictate What Bands Can Play in Silver Spring?

You can entertain some people sometimes, but you can't entertain all the people all the time.

This (to me) has to be the dumbest turn of events in the whole JC Penney/Birchmere/Live Nation fiasco. It would appear that the county, as part of their agreement, is going to somehow compel Live Nation into booking those performers that the county feels would satisfy the demand of the "community".

From the neighborhood listservs, via JUTP:

Mr. Leggett's main concern with Live Nation is that they are agreeing to provide a greater diversity of entertainers (including jazz, folk, etc.) that would be agreeable to our community but that over the long term perhaps they will start showcasing acts that are high profit but not necessarily in line with the desires of the community. The county is trying to figure out a solution.
What type of socialist garbage is this? The government now decides what bands the people like and dictates that venues book them? Live Nation (aka Clear Channel) is a business and they are going to bring in acts that people want to see. Otherwise, what is the point of setting up shop there in the first place?

Well, I'm part of the community and I demand that the county make Live Nation book a fully re-united Guns N' Roses for a one-time show during which Slash performs a twenty-minute guitar solo. If this doesn't happen, I'm withholding my property taxes indefinitely.

To be honest, I'd be overjoyed if they just installed a re-programmed Rock-afire Explosion animatronic band salvaged from a defunct Showbiz Pizza Place. It can be programmed to play whatever music the "community" wants to hear. The one from the Laurel restaurant must be rusting in a warehouse somewhere awaiting a new venue...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Enclave, Revisited

I decided to return to the Apartmentratings.com page for the Enclave apartments in White Oak, as it was so entertaining the first time around. I was curious to see if the reviews had gotten any more favorable since they started their "renovations". From the comments left by tenants over the past thirteen months, it sure doesn't seem like it:

- "there is a citation from the state on our elevators that assure 'substantial probability of death or physical injury'"


- "[The roaches] got to the point that they didn't even run anymore when they saw me, preferring to almost ask me how my day was while using my Playstation 2."

- "one day the ceiling fell through covering my bathroom in raw sewage"

- "Please, please do not live here!!!"

- "Roaches were coming out of my sink and dishwasher by the dozens. I bleach my counter tops everyday and keep a spotless kitchen, but they are everywhere. They are called German cockroaches and my cabinets are infested with them. I rarely buy groceries anymore and I keep them in a suitcase."

- "I would have been happier being homeless."

- "I would not recommend this place for even an animal."
Of course, I can see how out-of-towners might be tricked into renting through the official website, which makes it look serene (and clean) by utilizing bogus photos from other buildings. Hmmmm, I didn't realize the Enclave rented giant lofts.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday News 'N Notes

- I’m sorry, but neither Susan Hoffman nor any other living person can make a legitimate claim to the (current or former) title of “Mayor of Silver Spring”. As far as I am concerned, there have only been two lawful mayors in the long and glorious history of Silver Spring – one, a homeless guy named Norman Lane and the other a life-sized plastic Mayor McCheese who once ruled from the McDonaldland section of the old Georgia Ave. McDonald’s. (Sadly, His Honor succumbed to typhoid fever in 1986 after being served a contaminated salad.) Anyway, Silver Spring should be a monarchy, if simply for the fact that it rhymes with “king” (as in “King of Silver Spring”).

- For those of you lamenting the absence of "Chompy" during this year's Shark Week, put yourselves in the shoes of the many recently laid-off Discovery employees. I'd be pretty pissed if I were "on the street" and Discovery was flagrantly dropping tens of thousands on blowing air into a fish. I guess CEO David Zaslav shot a metaphorical oxygen tank that Chompy had clenched in his jaw...

- The Quarry House has a MySpace page.

- Borders has been in Silver Springs Spring, what, three years now? In that time, how many receipts have they handed out like this?

- Starting this weekend, Lawrence of Arabia will be shown at the AFI in its full 70mm glory each Sunday for a month.

- I leave you with this odd Silver Spring item available on eBay:

Amazingly, it has bids.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

So Much For The Birchmere

Well, despite the best intentions of community groups and Douglas M. Duncan, a second location for the Birchmere Music Hall won't be coming to Silver Spring after all.

You know what, though? The more I think about it the less I care. Yes, it would be nice to have it just for bragging rights, but seriously, how many country-western shows am I going to be hitting up every year? Zero, more than likely.

(And yes, I do realize they have artists of other genres that perform there, but looking at their calender, there aren't too many that I am psyched to go see. I mean they have Minnie Driver scheduled, for God's sake. Yes, that Minnie Driver. OK, she was cute in Good Will Hunting, but I'm not about to drop twenty bucks to enjoy her musical stylings. And, if I was that pressed to see George Thorogood & The Destroyers perform live, I could make the occasional hike out to Virginia.)

Of course, my not caring is predicated on the assumption that something that I will like will ultimately be housed in the former digs of JC Penney. Now, if it were up to me, they'd be starting construction tomorrow on a high-end bowling joint à la Strike Bethesda or Lucky Strike. Now that I'd use a LOT. That'd also be something utilized by a much bigger segment of the population. Think of all the opportunities for birthdays, happy hours, etc. that would open up. My fingers are crossed.

What does everyone else think might work in that space?

UPDATE: Here's the bitter press release from the Birchmere management. Sounds like they feel they got screwed by the county and/or the Lee Development Group. (And they may well have been.) It does offer a tidbit of insight into what may be planned as an alternative to the Birchmere:

It appears the county and/or the landowner is ready to announce -or perhaps already has- a replacement for the Birchmere. The replacement is allegedly a stand-up nightclub concept, more traditionally associated with drink rather than food service.
The parties involved better have something good to announce soon in order to quell the backlash that will inevitably result from today's developments.

Update #2:
It looks like they may have something bigger in store than the Birchmere after all, according to the Washington Post:
Live Nation, the world's largest producer of live concerts, is considering Silver Spring for one of its new Fillmore-branded clubs, according to someone familiar with the negotiations. If the Live Nation deal goes through, the venue could be nearly three times as big as the Birchmere's proposed 700-seat hall. This could make Silver Spring, which is already well on its way to becoming an arts center, a destination for top-drawer live entertainment.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday News 'N Notes

As mentioned before, my quest for photos of Silver Spring in the 80's and 90's has gotten off to a slow start, but here is what I have so far. Some of these photos have been culled from various websites and others were submissions. I'll keep looking to add to the collection and will post them as I come across new ones. Again, if you have any photos, especially those highlighting urban blight, I can use anything you've got!


- The Harry Potter launch party on Ellsworth Drive, ur I mean "Diagon Alley", tonight is only the second biggest celebration in the U.S., the largest being held at Border's NYC store. I do want to see this, but I'm still convinced that the size of the event will attract those trying to spoil the ending, especially since said ending is now widely available on The Internets.

- The DrinkMore Water Grand Prix of Silver Spring will be held downtown on Sunday. Here's some photos of last year's race.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday News 'N Notes

Around town...

- As previously mentioned on Thayeravenue.com and elsewhere, Ellsworth Drive will be transformed into a poor replication of Diagon Alley in honor of the release of the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Borders in Silver Spring is celebrating the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" with a "Grand Hallows Ball" on Friday, July 20 that promises to be the biggest Harry Potter midnight event ever. The Ball will transport guests from their ordinary muggle world into an evening of enchanting music, imaginative costumes, fun activities and fabulous prizes. The surrounding area will be transformed into Diagon Alley, and guests are encouraged to attend dressed in magical attire or muggle finery.
If you are planning on lining up at Borders before midnight - be forewarned. There's always the possibility that someone with advance knowledge may come by and yell out the ending to the book, as some did with the previous one (***Spoiler! - Don't click if you haven't read the book. Here's the video, too.). If you are going to expose yourself to this possibility, I highly recommend investing in some earplugs, or better yet, some QC3 headphones. Um, or you eschew muggle technology, you could always perform a deafness spell on yourself...

- My "ugly Silver Spring photos" project has so far met with limited results. I now have some photos from that era, but very few that capture the true essence of 80's & 90's Silver Spring. Some good examples of subject matter would be:

- The acorn gazebo overgrown with ivy and with a homeless person sleeping in it.
- The police substation in the Silver Spring Shopping Center.
- The really crappy McDonald's at Ellsworth and Georgia.

Why anyone would ever take photos of these things I don't know, but I guess therein lies my problem. Perhaps the couple in this photo have some pictures they could share.

I imagine they sit around in the evenings and wax nostalgic about the urban utopia that was Silver Spring in 1990. Big thanks to AG for the pic.

- The AFI Silver will be showing Al Pacino movies all summer in honor of his having received AFI's Life Achievement Award. How S1m0ne was omitted from this retrospective, I'll never understand. My question is this - whatever happened to the Walk of Fame that was supposed to be started on Colesville Road?

- I have to highly recommend Moren, Inc. on Georgia Avenue if you need any watch or clock service performed. I've gone there a few times and I was really impressed with their work. It's rare these days that you can go to a store and they really know what they're talking about.

- So much for the parking fee increase.

Monday, July 09, 2007

News 'N Notes - Restaurant Edition

It's an all-restaurant Monday:

- I have a hobby (OCD symptom) of proofreading the menu of any restaurant I dine at. I finally got around to trying Taste of Morocco for the first time this weekend and I must say that this restaurant has earned a place in the pantheon of misspelled menus. Even "coffee" was spelled incorrectly. Twice. However, the pièce de résistance was not revealed unto me until I made my dinner selection and closed my menu. Remarkably, the name of the restaurant (and the country from where the restaurant's cuisine originates) was misspelled on the menu's leather cover:

They obviously attempted to cover up the "A" with a sticker, but the decal had since been worn away or peeled off. I can only imagine the series of events that led to this error. Perhaps it was made in Italy, where "Marocco" is the correct spelling for the country...

(FYI the food - at least what I ordered - was good and I did enjoy the restaurant's decor and atmosphere.)

- It appears that the interior of what was formerly Rodeo at 8229 Georgia Ave is being renovated in preparation for the arrival of another restaurant. Unfortunately, there aren't any clues as to what will be taking Rodeo's place. There is an orange stop work order sticker affixed to the door, but the portion of it on which the business name is written has mysteriously been torn off. If anyone has any knowledge of who's moving in there, please let me know.

UPDATE: Reader JH alerted me to this post on the donrockwell.com message boards which indicates that the restaurant opening in this space will be called Nicaro. It is to be headed by former Tabard Inn chef Pedro Matamoros and will serve "American nouvelle cuisine". Here's another source that references Nicaro along with some nicknames for areas of Silver Spring that I've never heard before. "NoCo"?.

- Alberto's Pizza, which currently has a location in Dupont Circle, is opening up a restaurant on Georgia Avenue near the Beltway entrance (map), essentially right across the street from Armand's - another Chicago pizzeria.

Friday, July 06, 2007

New Hope for City Place?

I wasn't aware that it was even for sale, but City Place (aka "Shitty Place" aka "Silver Plaza") has been sold to developer Petrie Ross Ventures of Annapolis. I've never been to any of the places they've developed, but I imagine they have grander plans for the space than what is there now.

‘‘We are excited to become part of the dynamic revitalization of Silver Spring,” Walt Petrie, chairman, said in a statement. ‘‘We have an exciting merchandising plan to create a prime destination for shoppers as well as current and future retailers.”
Maybe we'll get that Bed Bath & Beyond after all. No word yet on their photography policy.

What stores would you like to see in City Place? Off the top of my head, here's some from my wishlist:

- Apple
- Neighborhoodies
- Crate & Barrel
- Kid Robot
- Banana Republic
- Redskins Store
- Adidas Originals
- Nintendo World (as if)

I realize that there is little to no chance of getting some of these, however...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ugly Photos Wanted

After seeing this old photo of Georgia Avenue at ThayerAvenue.com, it got me to thinking – I’d really like to have some photos of Silver Spring in the late 80’s and early 90’s to be able to help certain people appreciate what it was like before the wicked developers came in and “ruined” everything.

I still hear a surprising number of people talking about how terrible the redeveloped downtown is, how it was so much better before, and how the chains have destroyed Silver Spring’s character.

Bullshit. It sucked. I was there.

For those of you who weren’t around or don’t remember, the block of Ellsworth where DTSS is now located had on one side a filthy McDonald’s with a parking lot where homeless people congregated and on the other side a lot for the Rite Aid and various other businesses that took turns occupying portions of the decrepit shopping center. (You can still see what’s left of these lots on this outdated Google Maps image of the area.) I seem to recall there being a Mr. Goodwrench auto repair place on that street as well. There were not some great independent, mom ‘n pop businesses evicted in order to make space for another Starbucks. (Side note: a Wall Street Journal study last year showed that the addition of a Starbucks in a neighborhood actually HELPS independent coffee shops; many even try to lease the space next door.)

I’d really like to find photos of Silver Spring during this time period, but the problem is that most people would never bother to take photos of crappy stuff like that. Doug Duncan did use some last year in his aborted campaign for the governorship of Maryland. There is a certain amount of irony in the fact that the protesters are fighting the development company whose efforts resulted in that block being worth photographing.

Anyway, my point is that I’d appreciate it if anyone who has digitized (or can digitize) photos of downtown during this period would email them to me so that I can assemble a photo gallery of pre-redevelopment Silver Spring. I will post them online if and when I receive them.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Independence Day News N' Notes

Happy Independence Day! Unfortunately Silver Spring does not host a formal celebration, so the Takoma Park fireworks show may have to suffice.

Around town:

- Who wants a Quik-E-Mart? I dooooooo...

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm jealous of P.G. County. For some - inexplicable reason, a marketing genius from 7-11 chose Bladensburg of all places in the D.C. metro area as a place to convert a store into a Quik-E-Mart. They probably just looked at a map and said "hey, it's between Baltimore and D.C., let's put it there". Four Corners would have been a much better choice, IMO. Look at all the traffic that comes down 29 every morning. All I know is if that Comic Book Guy on the front wall isn't firmly attached , it's coming with me.

- Councilwoman Valerie Ervin is trying to get the recently-increased paid parking hours rolled back to what they used to be.

- Lewis Black was hilarious on Friday. Did anyone reading this go to the show at Springbrook?

- Like, I am TOTALLY going to see The Terminator at the AFI. The theatre's "Films of the 80's" retrospective begins Friday.

- The "no photos in DTSS" story made it to Boing Boing and the Post. Again. I am hoping that tomorrow's "Photo Walk" will be the end of it. I sympathize with the people who are all heated about this, but there are more important things to protest against.

If you do want to participate in the protest, it meets up at noon on the "Turf". I may check it out, but only because I may be nearby for the 12:30 show of Transformers...

- The “Living Goddess” whom I mentioned in an earlier post may have been permitted to take photos in DTSS, but was stripped of her divinity for visiting Silver Spring. (Among other places.)