Sunday, December 28, 2008

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

Hope everyone had a great Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus/Kwanzaa. As is tradition, I went to see a movie on Christmas evening. The Majestic was packed, and I was unsurprised to discover that someone had chosen to bring their fussy infant with them to a 7 o'clock show. Fortunately, the two-and-a-half hours of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was clearly too much for the child, as after awhile it appeared to have gone to sleep, leaving me in peace.

- I hadn't been aware until yesterday that Minnesota Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was from Silver Spring and is a Blair alumnus. While he had a great game last week with 136 yards and two touchdowns, Shiancoe will probably always best be known for his full frontal shot on national TV earlier this year. Sadly, while the Vikings have a decent shot at the playoffs, fellow Silver Springer Shawn "Silver" Springs and the Redskins will be staying home this January. :(

- Today's issue of the Washington Times has an article about the restoration of the National Park Seminary. The ballroom looks like it would be a great place for events. I wonder if they will be renting it out for weddings, etc.

- I'm glad to see the Woodside Deli has a great sense of humor. the restaurant will charge you extra if you point out errors on their menu:

Any patron discovering any misspellings in the menu will be charges (sic) an additional $.05 per mistake.
While not as fanatical as some people, one of my passions/OCD compulsions is proofreading restaurant menus and signs.

Here's a beauty I saw last week on the front door of the Pho 75 restaurant on Rockville Pike. (Radio Shark!)

- While we're on the subject of signs, here's parking sign that someone sent me a photo of awhile back. This is from outside the New Yorker Bakery on Georgia avenue. How many quarters is 30 hours of parking?

(On a side note, it annoys me to no end that while it clearly looks like a store, the New Yorker Bakery in Silver Spring is not actually a retail location, but rather bakes breads for their Bethesda store. I was massively disappointed the first time I stopped by thinking I could get some bagels. Are we not good enough for bagels???)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Gift 4U

Apropos of nothing in particular, I present for your Christmas enjoyment an assortment of old Silver Spring postcards.

(Click to enlarge.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wheaton FAIL, Silver Spring WIN?

Remember when everyone got real excited a few months ago when the Montgomery Cinema & Drafthouse opened up the street in Wheaton? Well, guess what? It's already closing. EPIC FAIL.

The owners have released a statement on their website, blaming mall operators Westfield and the Byzantine Montgomery County permit process. I don't know anything about the former, but I can certainly believe the latter is a pain in the ass.

Whatever financial issues they had with the county and Westfield aside, I never really thought of Wheaton as the type of area that was home to the Cinema & Drafthouse demographic. I can't imagine that if they were really packing 'em in they wouldn't have found some way to stay solvent for more than two-and-a-half months.

Speaking of Wheaton closings, the much-hyped Nava Thai restaurant has shuttered its doors, and the proprietors are apparently trying to find a new location, perhaps in Bethesda or Rockville or maybe even in our neck of the woods:

The couple has been scouting new locations and has narrowed down their options to spots in Bethesda and downtown Silver Spring. They’re leaning toward Silver Spring, even though the landlord in Bethesda has really been courting them.

The Silver Spring location on Bonifant Street, near Mandalay Restaurant and Cafe, would be “close to our current location, so when we move our customers can easily follow us there,” says Supida Peuwkhao, secretary to Ladavan Srigatesook.
Looks like there may be a Thai Restaurant throwdown if Nava moves onto longtime Silver Spring resident Thai Derm's block. (They should just stack Bonifant with Asian places. It can be our own little "Pan-Asia Town". They could install a big gate at the top of the block like they have at Gallery Place. Toss in a Mongolian BBQ joint and I'm set for awhile.)

Food critic Tom Kliman of Washingtonian Magazine described Nava Thai as "the best Thai food in the area right now", and at least until a few months ago I was inclined to agree. However, I noticed recently that the taste of my favorite dishes had changed significantly (for the worse). I asked if they had a new chef and they told me "no", so I'm not sure what that was all about. A few bad experiences there was enough to knock it off my list of go-to restaurants. However, if they move to Silver Spring, I will definitely give them another chance.

Sadly, I am inclined to believe that their erstwhile neighbor, the humorously (to me) named "Hung Phat" grocery will not move with them.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Solution for City Place

Recently, one citizen's visceral hatred of City Place manifested itself in violent behavior when said citizen tried to perform a mercy-killing of the much-maligned shopping plaza. Regrettably, she was armed with a mere baseball bat, hardly the appropriate tool to bring down a four-story structure. Perhaps Mjöllnir might have been a more appropriate choice.

I certainly appreciate her malevolence toward the perennially useless mall, but recently I had an epiphany as to how we can potentially kill two birds with a single stone.

Here's a solution to the City Place Problem that I don't think has been proposed - why doesn't the county just buy Shitty Place and convert the structure into the new Silver Spring library? That way, they can cancel the 500 remaining design charettes, start working on the project immediately, and we can have ourselves a library smack dab in the center of the downtown shopping area. This centrally-located library would mirror the optimal setup that Rockville Town Square enjoys today.

Since we are in the midst of the new Great Depression, perhaps the government could purchase City Place at a Steve & Barry's clearance sale-like price from its current owners, Petrie Ross Ventures. The county could partially finance the deal by selling off the land occupied by the current library and the adjacent playground as well as the real estate presently slated to host the future library.

There's already plenty of parking attached to the building by the so-called "City Place Bridge". All the cranky people who have demanded that the library have a garage incorporated into the design so they don't have to deal with the "hassle" of parking across the street can be at least partially appeased. I think meeting rooms are part of the new library plan, and there's certainly plenty of space for this on the top level, which formerly housed the defunct AMC City Place 10. The county can continue to lease space to the outward-facing businesses that are technically part of City Place.

With this plan, we can finally put City Place out of it's misery. Let's be honest - it's hopeless. The main attraction (the theaters) only lasted about ten years, and their latest anchor store went bankrupt after less than a year in the building. City Place was a mistake, and now it's time to erase that mistake. Sure, there was a brief glimmer of hope when Petrie Ross purchased the building, but the truth is that nothing has changed.


- The new Buy Local Silver Spring guide is out. You can pick one up around town or print out a copy yourself (PDF). Why stop with just promoting buying local, though? We ought to go all out and print our own money.

- I was very disappointed to learn while playing the DC-based game Fallout 3 that you can't travel to a post-apocalyptic Silver Spring. Takoma Park is there, though. Guess it's not "nuclear free" anymore.

- Greater Greater Washington doesn't like Silver Spring's reversible traffic lanes. Personally I appreciate them for the entertainment value of watching some schmuck suddenly realize that he is driving in a lane with oncoming traffic and try desperately to merge into the adjacent lane.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- The annual Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade is this Saturday, with participants (PDF file) ranging from the Redskins Marching band to Lenox Park apartments. (A major omission, of course, is zombies.)

Chris Van Hollen, U.S. Representative from Maryland's 8th district, will also be in the parade. I was a little confused at first, because I was under the impression that downtown Silver Spring was actually within the boundaries of the absurdly gerrymandered 4th district.

In fact, downtown Silver Spring and the immediately surrounding neighborhoods are bisected by the border of the two districts. This is of course supremely stupid, but that's how you get treated when you are an unincorporated area of a county, I guess. On the bright side, one could say that downtown Silver Spring has two representatives in Congress.

Unless the map I am referring to is inaccurate, when Van Hollen's car enters the parade at Sligo Avenue, he will be in his constituency. When the parade reaches Thayer Avenue two blocks later, he will have entered the 4th district and he will be in someone else's turf..

Note that 4th district representative Donna Edwards isn't among the list of participants. Presumably, she is in some PG County parade.

- Steve & Barry's ist kaput. While the City Place location survived the first round of store closings, it looks like the entire chain will be going out of business for good. That was the one thing that got me to go into Shitty Place in the past year. God only knows if/when that space will get filled once S&B's is gone.

- The transit center construction may be a total nightmare, but at least they went through the trouble of creating cute signs. What I want to know is where the station's Kiss & Ride is now located, if it still exists at all. I've been telling my wife to go one more stop to the Forest Glen station, since I have no idea where to stop and pick her up in Silver Spring without (justifiably) provoking the fury of rush hour drivers.

- What is all this "Prezco" business? Their yard signs are all over town, but said signage doesn't really give any indication as to what this organization is. I figured maybe I was just out of the loop. After some Googling, I was able to find a short description: "an umbrella group of 12 inside-the-beltway civic associations representing more than 7,000 households." Their website doesn't work, so I wasn't able to find out much more.

- I may have mentioned it before, but Ghar-e-Kabab is now the clear leader in the ongoing contest to be my favorite restaurant in Silver Spring. If you haven't already done so, try it. Unless I come in and need a table. Then you should get up and leave.

I can only hope that its apparent success doesn't lead it down the path taken by other popular local restaurants (which shall remain nameless) that raised prices, shrunk portion sizes and let service go to hell.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hump Day News 'N Notes

- Greater Greater Washington has some criticism of the new Silver Spring library design. I am in 100% agreement on the absurdity of constructing free library parking when there is a huge garage directly across the street.

- Neel Kashkari, the man in charge of our $700,000,000,000 (+?) bailout, is a Silver Spring resident. I bet kids who trick or treated at his house got a garbage bag full of candy.

- Pan flute players were reportedly spotted in DTSS. We can now rest easy, knowing we are safe from the threat of giant guinea pigs.

- McGinty's Public House is opening up a second location in Virginia. Does this mean the chain-haters now find its presence in Silver Spring abhorrent, or does the number of outlets have to reach a certain level before a chain restaurant becomes unacceptable?

- The Silverdocs Film Festival is looking for volunteers to sit around their house and screen entries for their '09 event. Hey,if you've been laid off recently, what's stopping you?

- For those who haven't checked out our Zombie Walk photo pool, we've now got over 100 pics up.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Google Has Been Stalking You

Big ups to for bringing this to my attention.

Street views in Silver Spring have finally been added to Google Maps. I mentioned way back in August of last year that they were in the process of taking the photos, but possibly due to (BS) security concerns of the federal government, DC-area street views took quite awhile to appear online.

It appears that most of 20910 has been photographed, along with pockets of 20901. Sorry, Wheaton!

Now the fun part. See if anything amusing/interesting in Silver Spring has been captured by the Google cameras. Here's some examples of things that have been spotted elsewhere.

I Voted / Yo Voté

So I got my vote on before work this morning, and as expected the queue was quite long. I showed up at Highland View Elementary at around 7:10 and didn't cast my ballot until 8:30. Of course, having used a Diebold machine to cast my ballot, God only knows who/what I actually voted for.

Fortunately the battery on my iPhone was able to hold out just long enough to keep me entertained during the wait. At one point the anti-slots shark car cruised through the school parking lot. Apparently he's been making the rounds around Silver Spring for the past week or so.

Highland View at about 7:30.

I guess relative to others I had it easy. I talked to someone at work who waited to vote for two and a half hours in Arlington because they had just FIVE voting machines available. There was probably ten or more in my polling place. Swing state voter suppression, anyone? Long waits notwithstanding, It must be nice to vote in a state where your presidential vote actually matters.

For those of you who voted, how was the wait at your polling place?

Also, don't forget all the free crap you can get in Silver Spring with your "I Voted" sticker:

Starbucks - Free 12 oz. coffee

Ben & Jerry's - free single scoop cone from 5-8PM

Chick-fil-A - Not sure if the downtown Silver Spring one is participating, but some stores will be giving out free chicken sandwiches. Knowing Chick-fil-A, you probably have to somehow prove you voted for Sarah Palin.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Most Dangerous Part of Silver Spring Manages to Outdo Itself

While many of us were in the AFI Theatre enjoying Night of the Living Dead after the conclusion of our Zombie Walk, a 14-year-old was senselessly murdered in a Ride-On bus at the intersection of Piney Branch Road and Arliss Streets, right in the heart of what continues to be the most crime-ridden area of Silver Spring. Apologies to people who live there, but it's just a fact. You are the ones who have to deal with these degenerates on a daily basis, so you can appreciate this more than anyone.

The victim and his friends were on their way home after hanging out in downtown Silver Spring, and there's a good chance our zombies shuffled right past him on our way from the Quarry House to the AFI. On the bus he took home from downtown, some sociopath shot him and two of his friends for no clear reason. Fortunately, it appears the other two kids will survive.

We've seen all sorts of mayhem in this neighborhood in recent years, from machete rapes to the cold-blooded murder of a convenience store clerk, as well as plenty of other violent crimes. Gang members have even fought over the computers at the Long Branch library. In many of these cases, it turns out that the perpetrators are not from Silver Spring or Montgomery County at all, but from just over the line in P.G. County. Frankly, I think it's time to put up a checkpoint at the county border like D.C. does in Trinidad, or better yet, erect a giant concrete wall like they have around particularly dangerous neighborhoods in Baghdad. This may seem like an extreme measure, but we've got to protect our citizens by any means necessary.

(Side note: I did a Google search for "PG County Map" and Prince George’s County Maryland crime maps was the first result. I think that says a lot.)

This one small corner of Silver Spring continually tarnishes our good (?) name. When people browse the headlines they see "Murder in Silver Spring" and while this type of violence may be localized in a particular corner of town, all people recall is "murder in Silver Spring" and unfairly consider all of Silver Spring to be a dangerous area.

As far as the safety of buses goes, I know a lot of people who ride the Metro every day but won't step foot on a bus. Call it snobbery, but for whatever reason, the really messed up shit like this only happens on buses. The last time I rode the Metrobus some guy attacked the outside of the bus and chased it down the block, boarding and refusing to get off. That incident is far tamer than many the stories I've heard from others who ride the bus more frequently than I. I've ridden the train countless times and witnessed very few incidents, if any. Of course, 14-year-old kids don't really have the option to drive, so they must ride buses where the Metro isn't an option. Someday the Purple Line may run through this neighborhood, so God knows if people will be getting shot on trains then, too.

They arrested the guy. Did he really think he was going to get away with it?

Speaking of that area:

Piney Branch Hardware on Flower Avenue, which has been serving that area for quite a long time, either has already or will be closing soon. Check out this video of all the old stuff they had collected in their basement.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Zombie Walk Postmortem

Thanks to everyone who showed up for last night's zombie walk. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I think it went exceptionally well. We had a great crowd and for the most part the bystanders (if not a couple store managers) seemed to really enjoy it. It's great for Silver Spring to have stuff like this. Yeah, we may technically be a suburb, but that doesn't mean we can't have our own identity. If we got people from the city to come out for this then I know we're doing something right.

Now that I've had a little time to digest brains last night's zombie walk, I've started planning how we can make next year's walk even better:

- Costume-wise, I like the idea that some people had of toting dismembered body parts. I'm gonna have to get me one of those for next year. Also, I'll definitely pack some lozenges. All that groaning was hell on my throat. Some of you guys had fantastic costumes, a few of you not so much, but any effort is appreciated. The guy with no eyeballs really creeped me the F out. Maybe we'll have a makeup table available for people who need to enhance their look. I did bring a Tupperware with some extra blood for others, but ended up leaving it on a ledge at the QH when we left. I can't imagine what they thought of that when they were cleaning up at the end of the night.

- We're gonna need a bigger boat. The Quarry House is great, but when the zombiewalkers were merged with the House's regular clientele, the place got a little cramped. Next year we will either have to gather in a larger space, or perhaps the Quarry House would be amenable to temporarily closing that night for an exclusive zombie party.

- Better coordination on the timing. We didn't get any formal announcement out to everyone to start walking. Because of that, the walk was a tad disjointed, with a few decent-sized clumps of zombies rather than a single, well-coordinated mob. Next year we'll make an announcement or have some sort of predetermined signal to get the walk started. Also, I'm not sure when or where it happened, but I think we must have linked up at some point that evening with the DC walk that was going on at the same time. That helped to swell our ranks nicely.

- Some staged zombie confrontations on Ellsworth. We need some plants in the general population who would acts as victims. They'd carry fake blood and guts with them and would become zombified after a pack of zombies falls on them. There were a few people who showed up as zombie killers armed with Nerf guns. Good on them for the improvisation. This led to a humorous interaction when they yelled, "they aren't dying!" and a little girl zombie responded "you can't kill us, we're already dead!". There was also some dude dressed in a S.T.A.R.S. outfit, and if you know what that is, nerd props to you.

- We'll definitely have to set something up with AFI well in advance in order to guarantee we have another Zombie flick to walk to. This year was just a happy coincidence, and really the fact that NOLD was showing was one of impetuses for the organization of the walk. Perhaps next year we get them to show another classic zombie film, like Dawn of the Dead. Maybe even a double feature! How about Dawn of the Dead followed by Shaun of the Dead? Awesome.

In your opinion, what worked and what didn't work? We have plenty of time to plan for next year, so please submit your suggestions, and we'll try to work them in as best we can for next year's event.

For those of you on Facebook who want to be in the loop for next year's event, be sure to join our group.

As I mentioned earlier, I've set up a Flickr photo pool for people to post photos of the walk. Thanks to all who have already contributed. If you've got pics to share, please feel free to add them.

For those of you sick of hearing about it, this will be my last post specific to the zombie walk. Between work and travel I haven't been able to keep up with my normal blogging pace, but I'm going to try and get back up to speed in the next week or so.

This Place is Dead Anyway

Attacking the Metrobus

The Inaugural Silver Spring Zombie Walk is in the books and I think it was an unqualified success. We had a great headcount (deadcount?) at the Quarry House, which was jam-packed thanks to the large zombie contingent, and it looked like we increased our number even more at the theater, which was about as full as for any show I've been to there.

A few highlights for me, off the top of my head:

- Assaulting the Metrobus on Georgia Avenue (see above).

- A group of zombies running after an ambulance.

- The terrified look on the Taste of Morocco waitress' face when she saw me peering through the restaurant window.

- Comments yelled out during Night of the Living dead equating the protagonist to Barack Obama and the antagonist to John McCain. (He was a "maverick" for wanting to stay in the basement.)

Special thanks to the Quarry House for being accommodating to zombies and the AFI Silver for providing comp popcorn to the undead. I think we brought in a lot of revenue for both establishments tonight. Perhaps the next federal economic stimulus package should be the sponsorship of a nationwide zombie crawl. That could get us out of this recession in no time.

I've set up a Flickr photo pool in order to compile photos from the Walk. Please share any photos you may have taken - and based on the number of cameras I saw, I know there's a lot out there. Not a Flickr user? If you email your pics to me, I'll gladly add them to the pool.

More on the walk later. I've finally got all my makeup off and it's time for bed.


Silver Spring Penguin has video:

More here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Best Anti-Silver Spring Rant To Date

Blog rants about how Silver Spring is "all chains", etc. is nothing new on The Internets, but this is certainly the first diatribe about it I've seen on You Tube:

This guy is even loonier than the wingnut who hung the "Where's Obama's real birth certificate?" banner from the Surrender Dorothy railroad bridge this week. Exactly what is he proposing, anyway? Is the DC National Guard supposed to send tanks across the border or does he plan to wage a guerrilla war with suicide bombers on Ellsworth?

And WTF is that statuette on his desk of? Cthulhu?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My costume is prepared! How's yours?

The Inaugural Silver Spring Zombie Walk is fast approaching, and there's only about ten days left to get your costumes in order!

For the most part, zombie costumes can be made cheaply and easily, but if you take pride in your undead appearance you'll want to take a few extra steps to perfect your look. Fortunately, making zombie costumes is nothing new, so there's a ton of resources out there.

The following are some websites with tips on creating a great costume:

- Expert Village - How to Make a Zombie Costume (Some great how-to videos here.)

- Zombie Maker - The Definitive Zombie Make Up and Costume Guide

- wikiHow - How to Look Like a Zombie. They also have a page dedicated to the essential art of making fake blood.

- Gorify - Zombie makeup tips

- 365 Halloween - How to make a zombie costume with makeup

(If you want to know how to move and act like a Zombie, I highly recommend watching the scene in Shaun of the Dead that takes place just before they infiltrate the zombie mob.)

There are plenty of places around town where you should be able to find a lot of the necessary makeup items. There's the temporary Halloween shop located on the Ellsworth Promenade as well as another costume shop hidden back on Brookville Road, not far from downtown. For zombie clothing, I highly recommend hitting up a local Salvation Army or Goodwill retail store.

Based on the response I've seen thus far, I expect a great turnout for the walk. Remember, the gathering begins at The Quarry House at 8PM on November 1st. Don't miss it!

Oh, and if you aren't participating, please do not use one of these on me. Remember, it's just a costume...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber's Got Nothing on This Guy

There have been moments over the years where our collective chest has swelled with pride over the accomplishments of fellow Silver Springers, such as when Dominique Dawes won an Olympic Gold Medal, when Goldie Hawn won an Oscar or when John Walker Lindh gained worldwide fame as the "American Taliban". Now, one Silver Spring man has trumped all the accomplishments of those that came before him.

I am of course referring to Brett Hill of Best-Hill Services, the visionary creator of the Toilet Cycle:

Did the Teutuls have enough ingenuity to create a rolling bathroom on American Chopper? I think not.

I will definitely call this guy next time I need a plumber, but if the doesn't roll up in the Toilet Cycle, I'm sending him home. (Unlike the aforementioned Joe the Plumber, I presume Mr. Hill actually has a plumbing license.)

The story has even gone national - it was featured recently on both the Today Show and Countdown With Keith Olberman. (The Olberman segment can be viewed here - it starts at 0:41.) Amazingly, neither report managed to pluralize "Silver Spring".

If you want to catch a glimpse of Toilet Cycle in person, it will be gracing our fine streets next month as (the best) part of the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Zombie Walk is On!

The details for the First Annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk have been finalized (for the most part), and we now even have an official website, thanks to Eric at

The undead shall gather at the Quarry House Tavern on Saturday, November 1st starting at 8PM. Once the Zombie Mob has reached critical mass it will be unleashed on the unsuspecting denizens of downtown Silver Spring. After wreaking havoc upon the Ellsworth Promenade and surrounding environs, it will conclude at the AFI Silver Theatre for a 10:30 showing of the movie that started it all: Night of the Living Dead.

All ages are welcome - even kids can be zombified. Further details specifics on the walk will be forthcoming. BE THERE!

Here's the official Facebook event page, for those of you that into that kinda stuff.

For more information on Zombie Walks, my original post is here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Silver Spring and the New Great Depression

So the stock market has completely collapsed, unemployment is growing, the number of foreclosures is increasing rapidly... what does this all mean for Silver Spring?

Will the Fillmore project continue as planned? (Has it ever?) I don't care what zoning hurdles it recently cleared or if the Sarah-Palin-loving Lees are ready to proceed - I could easily see Live Nation pulling out now, citing deteriorating economic conditions (who wants to pay $100 to see Jay-Z anymore?). I sincerely doubt IMP would rush in to take their place, despite what they may have claimed in the past.

The only live music you are going to be enjoying in downtown Silver Spring for the foreseeable future is a raggedy guy on the corner of Fenton and Ellsworth repeatedly playing "Three Blind Mice" on a recorder while collecting nickles in an old Orioles hat.

Once the county puts the brakes on the civic center, the area that was once "The Turf" will become become the site of Silver Spring's main "Bushville". Folks driven from their foreclosed Burtonsville McMansions will establish a tent city rife with dysentery and consumption. It will not be dissimilar in atmosphere to the parking lot of the old Silver Spring "Typhoid" McDonald's. Some of you may recall what I'm talking about.

We can suspend the endless arguments over the configuration of the Purple Line - who's going to pay for the thing anyway? County tax receipts aren't going anywhere but down. Hey, there won't be any jobs to commute to, so would we really need it anyway? If it does get built, it may end up looking something like this:

I guess we shoulda built it while we had the chance.

The one project the county should proceed with is the new downtown library, but without limiting its size as some fear they are doing. If there's one group whose ranks will be swelling in the coming months it will be the homeless, a core public library demographic.

Perhaps this economic crisis will prove to be the catalyst for the long-awaited City Place Renaissance. Marshall's should see a big spike in the sale of crap clothes, and Steve & Barry's will sell $5 pieces of clothing like hotcakes. What's with their "going out of business" sale, anyway? Are they having a sale because that store is going out of business or because other stores are? Their picket signs are somewhat vague.

So what's my personal plan for weathering the economic apocalypse? By living off the land. Don't think this can be accomplished in an edge city? Oh, I assure you it can.

For starters, I will take to hunting game in Sligo Creek Park. There's certainly plenty of deer, and while I'll feel guilty about taking their lives, it's them or me. If you live near the park and a stray bullet from a Bushmaster rifle flies through your bedroom window, my bad. Inevitably, however, the deer population will become decimated at the hands of starving suburbanites. At that point I will have to switch to smaller prey. The thought of it isn't particularly appetizing, but Silver Spring has a boundless population of squirrels that can be used for subsistence if necessary. Every time I walk out my front door these days, half a dozen or more go scattering for the trees. I'll also enjoy "seafood"on occasion - crayfish collected from under rocks in Sligo Creek.

Along with my neighbors, I will also establish a collective farm located in Sligo Creek Park where we'll grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. Of course, we'll need to take shifts standing guard in order to protect our harvest from those thieving hobos. I'll also need to be vigilant and remember to not leave hot pies cooling unattended on my windowsill.

You might think that this is all completely absurd, but you haven't seen my 3rd quarter 401K statement.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Begun the Sign War has.

I've noticed that there are finally some pro-Purple Line signs sprouting up on lawns near the chimerical choo-choo's proposed paths. The "Purple Line/Greener Future" slogan isn't quite as clever as "No Train on Wayne", but at least that side now has some representation in the yard sign wars. Personally, I think they should have used "Let's Run a Train", but I imagine that wouldn't have gone over particularly well.

This is an important development, because as everyone knows, political decisions are usually made based on the number of yard signs one side displays relative to the other. Of course, that means the Train Lovers are in trouble, because so far they are badly outnumbered in these neighborhoods worse than McCain signs are by Obama ones. (I actually saw my first McCain/Palin sign this morning on my way to work.)

Every street seem to have their own Purple Line sucks signs and slogans these days, including Silver Spring and Thayer Avenues and Sligo Avenue. Apparently the Sligo Avenue plan proposes the use of Pullman Cars.

I wish my street was on the list of potential routes so that I might have the opportunity to display a catchy slogan in my front yard. If you are interested in defacing your lawn, you can get a free pro-Wayne Train sign here. I don't know where you get a "No Train" sign. Just steal someone else's, I guess.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wait, I still function!!!

Well, it's been three weeks since my last post. One might speculate that I've simply become lackadaisical, but the truth is that I suspended my blogging in order to rush to Washington to single-handedly fix the financial crisis. No, really. I just reared my head and went into the airspace of Washington, D.C. I'm an expert on the crisis because you actually can see D.C. from land here in Silver Spring. It is from Silver Spring that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful city, Washington, because they are right there. They are right next to, to our city. Our next-door neighbors are other states and districts, they're in the state that I am a blogger of.

But hey, what has actually changed in the past three weeks? The Fillmore project hasn't progressed one bit, people are still endlessly discussing the new library, and the Purple Line... well, whatever.

Anyhow, I just wanted to use this as an excuse to make an obscure Transformers: The Movie reference (again) and assure you I will try to get back to my normal routine in the upcoming week. I hope to have full details on the zombie walk soon, so keep an eye out for that.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Welcome Harris Teeter!

Despite the best efforts of some to preserve the "historic" apartments located in the northern section of Falkland Chase, the county planning board has OK'd the planned construction of new housing and retail in that space. The majority of the Falkland Chase complex will remain as-is and retain its historical designation, which I think is a perfectly reasonable outcome.

The best part of this, of course, is that new development will include a Harris Teeter supermarket. No more dumpy Giants or Safeways for me.

Now the plan goes to the county council for a vote on final approval before it can move ahead. Unlike certain other developers, I imagine that Home Properties is anxious to get started after finally getting over the thousand hurdles that the Montgomery County government and "The Community" always throw up in front of any potential growth.


- While many Steve & Barry's around the country are closing, the City Place store will remain open. For now.

- Wow, Georgetown University really hearts Silver Spring. A week after the Georgetown Voice named Silver Spring one of "D.C.'s Best Hoods", The Hoya lauds the AFI Silver Theatre. The best part is that the author (presumably an out-of-town student) describes Silver Spring as "an affluent suburb". Can't say I've heard that adjective used before when referring to Silver Spring.

- The final plans for the Inaugural Silver Spring Zombie Walk are still in the works, but expect an announcement soon. In the meantime, I encourage you to join the Facebook group if you haven't already.

UPDATE @ 4:55:

So Matthew Lesko is presently outside the New York & Co. on The Promenade unloading giant bags of ice. WTF?? Are these free bags of government ice?

Also, the Halloween costume shop that displaced the short-lived Pyramid Atlantic store on Ellsworth opens tomorrow. That would be a convenient spot for zombie costume shopping, should you be inclined to purchase something of that nature.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday News 'N Notes

The Silver Spring news cycle is still revolving at a snail's pace, but here's a few tidbits:

- More than a year and a half after first lamenting the absence of FiOS in my neighborhood, it looks like the wait is nearly over. According to a Verizon worker digging holes near my house, they're running the necessary fiber optics now. w00t! For those living downtown, they're making their way to you, too. Unfortunately, like my current service provider, they don't presently carry SciFi HD. Dammit, I need my HD BSG but I'm sure as hell not getting Comcast.

- Now that The Turf is gone, a Washington Business Journal editor suggests Astroturfing the Lee's precious parking lot. I will never comprehend how a surface lot surrounded by half a dozen parking garages can possible be as profitable as the Lees maintain it is. How can it be financially more viable than any number of things that could be built just off Silver Spring's main intersection?

- The Georgetown University newspaper calls Silver Spring one of D.C.'s "Best 'Hoods". We're a bitch to get to from Georgetown, tho.

- The redevelopment of the so-called "Ripley District" is underway. No matter how much I try, I can not think of the word "Ripley" without hearing it screamed in the shrill voice of little urchin girl named Newt. Hopefully the first thing they do is create the mythical "Ripifant Street".

- If for some reason (family emergency, impeding hurricane, etc.) you haven't joined the Silver Spring Zombie Walk Facebook group yet, do so STAT! The details of the walk are still in the works, but expect an update in the next week or so.

- Imagine if MoCo tried to use this method for fighting the jaywalking epidemic in Silver Spring. You'd probably see a tenfold increase jaywalking from all the muppets trying to get on TV.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Silver Sprung (From the Grave)

Let me preface this post by assuring you that that this is not turning into a zombie-focused blog, but my recent zombie apocalypse post led to the idea by Eric of of a zombie walk in downtown Silver Spring. What a fantastic idea!

Right about now you are probably asking yourself, "What, pray tell, is a zombie walk?" Here's a description from Wikipedia:

A zombie walk (also known as a zombie mob, zombie march, zombie horde, zombie lurch, zombie shuffle or zombie pub crawl) is an organized public gathering of people who dress up in zombie costumes. Usually taking place in an urban center, the participants make their way around the city streets and through shopping malls in a somewhat orderly fashion and often limping their way towards a local cemetery or other public space (a series of taverns in the case of a zombie pub crawl).
Here's a zombie walk in action:

So how would the Silver Spring zombie walk work? Conveniently, Halloween is on a Friday this year, so that would most definitely be the date. On that evening, at a time and place to be determined, zombie-costumed participants would assemble at the starting point for the beginning of the walk. Once it's time to begin, the group would begin walking through downtown Silver Spring along a planned route, taking some time to wander through some of Silver Spring's larger indoor spaces, such as DSW, Borders and (most definitely) City Place. The walk may end up turning out to be a bar crawl, with pit stops at Silver Spring's various watering holes. (Um, if any bars out there want to be sponsors or offer drink specials, let me know.)

Mind you nothing is set yet, but at least make a note (in blood) on your calendars for the 31st of October. If the plan goes ahead, expect a lot more details between now and then. In the meantime, here's some Zombie Mob resources for you:

- Zombie Mob photo pool on Flickr.
- Zombie Walk on Wikipedia.

UPDATE: Eric has already set up a Facebook Group for the walk.

So, who's in???

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Turf (2005-2008)

The Turf is now officially dead:

Photo by Flickr user wombatarama.

I'm hitting that dumpster tonight and getting a piece.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Zombie Apocalypse: Silver Spring

Since there's nothing "real" that is interesting enough to write about these days, let's delve into the hypothetical. In the comments from my last post, the subject of zombies in Silver Spring somehow came up. Ever since then, I've had zombies on the brain ("Braaaaaiiiiiiinnnnssss...") and was thinking about what I'd do if the zombie apocalypse came to pass.

Here's what I came up with:

First, I'd make a beeline for Atlantic Guns. God knows you can't take on crowds of zombies without an arsenal of firearms worthy of Chuck Heston - most particularly shotguns. If the Zombies haven't already overrun the downtown area, or if the hordes are still thin enough that I can blast my way through them, my next stop would be Strosnider's to grab chainsaws, machetes and axes plus any tools that can serve as blunt edged weapons. If they've got a generator and there's time, I'd requisition a truck and bring that along as well.

Then I’d haul ass down Fenton Street over to the Safeway and load shopping carts up with bottled water and canned goods. Some might consider this a good place to hole up, but I don’t agree. More on that later. Once I’ve loaded up my vehicle, I’d drive a few blocks to my home for the foreseeable future – the Silver Spring fire station.

Why the fire station?

  • The station is in a strategic position that offers an excellent visibility in most directions of any approaching zombies (Allowing me to pick them off with my rifle.)
  • I assume it has proper living quarters as well as exercise equipment I can use to stay in zombie-slaughtering shape.
  • The building will likely have a supply of firefighting equipment, some of which (axes) could effectively be used to decapitate the enemy.
  • Its location adjacent to the train tracks offers easy access to a relatively secure route out of town if it came to that. The tracks would probably be a lot more open and safer than the the city streets.
  • Fire trucks could be used to plow through crowds of zombies. Fun.
Some of the windows in the lower level might need to be boarded up, but the garage doors should offer sufficient protection.

Runner Up:

Safeway. While one could last for some time on Safeway's stock of food, I don't love the idea of large, difficult-to-defend windows that could collapse under the pressing weight of hundreds of zombies. This was my original choice, but I changed my mind.

Besides, the Safeway parking lot is scary enough without zombies:

Photo by Flickr user tanekaberi.

Whole Foods has the same drawbacks as Safeway, plus it's smaller. It does have the secret upper level in it's favor, though. At least you could fall back to there if things got ugly.

Let's have a survey - what would your strategy be for surviving the onslaught of the undead in Silver Spring? Here's a few rules & guidelines for this exercise:
  • The Zombies you’d be running from are the archetypical slow, plodding undead made famous in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. You wouldn’t have to worry about any of these newfangled sprinting zombies à la 28 Days Later. Sure, it’s easier to avoid the slow ones, but what they lack in speed they make up for in numbers and persistence.
  • You would have a brief window of time – let’s say thirty minutes - to gather supplies and reinforce your preferred hideout before downtown is completely overrun by the living dead.
  • Your hideout must be located in an area of Silver Spring inside the Beltway, preferably in downtown. In this scenario, the roads are already jammed and you won’t have the ability to reach any SSINO areas.
  • The National Guard won’t be coming to the rescue anytime soon, if ever. Be sure you are prepared for the long haul.
I’m pretty confident in my zombie-killing ability after countless hours wasted playing Resident Evil and Dead Rising. If you feel you need additional preparation prior to the Zombiepocalypse, I would suggest reading The Zombie Survival Guide or browsing through the Zombie Survival and Defense Wiki website.

You may also find this instructional video helpful:

If you wish to assess your chance of survival, take the Real Zombie Survival Quiz.

Before you make any decisions, here's a few places that might initially appear to be good anti-zombie redoubts, but would actually really suck:

The Quarry House Tavern. Sure, being trapped in an underground lair stocked with plenty of beer may sound fun, and the location is easily defendable, but think about it: you are in a basement with no electricity, perishable food and just a single (?) exit through a small stairwell. You have to assume that the stairs with be jam packed with zombies once they figure out where you are. Good luck getting out of there when your supplies run out.

City Place. Unlike the characters in Dawn of the Dead, who were able to indulge in an orgy of wanton consumerism in their mall, anyone trapped in City Place would probably be bored out of their minds in under fifteen minutes. You’d probably turn your shotgun around on yourself after a day or two. One thing City Place might have going for it is that even zombies probably wouldn’t want to venture into that mall, fresh brains notwithstanding.

Silver Spring Police Station. You would think it would be secure and well-stocked with weapons, and it is near a 7-11, but in all zombie stories they always seem to get into the police station, so I'm not taking the risk.

Ok, now - discuss.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hump Day News 'N Notes

We're in the midst of the summer doldrums and there's not a lot to write about, so here are a few bits I had lying around...

- Chevy Chase's speed cameras on Connecticut avenue are taking in $250K a month. Because, you know, they really need the money. Are they going to re-pave the streets in gold? I wonder how much MoCo is pulling in from the speed cameras they installed in Silver Spring last year. They can lower my taxes now.

- Here's an interesting article about re-purposing "dead" malls I recently read with City Place in mind. Of course, City Place isn't quite at that point. Yet.

- Silver Spring as a fashion destination? Hrrrm...

- Anyone need a vault? I'm guessing this is in the buidling at the corner of Bonifant & Georgia that is part of the Bethel World Outreach Center and was formerly a bank. How do you even move something like that?

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm doughnuts.

While there has been zero activity inside their future location between Whole Foods and Strosnider's, Fractured Prune is still planning on opening up for business in the near future. According to the company, they hope to be up and running by December or January.

The Prune could also face some unexpected competition in the doughnut arena, as Dunkin' Donuts just signed a deal to bring ten new locations to the D.C. area, one of which will be in Silver Spring. Whether the store will be in downtown Silver Spring or some SSINO Siberia remains to be seen.

Personally, I won't be satisfied until someone builds a store with a giant doughnut-shaped sign.

Of course all of these are poor substitutes for the old Montgomery Donuts on Wayne (RIP).

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Steve & Barry Receive Stay of Execution

It appears that the speculation about Steve & Barry's demise may have been somewhat premature. The retailer was purchased yesterday by investment firm Bay Harbour Management, which plans to keep existing stores in operation.

Yeah, it's not the greatest store ever, but at least it's moderately interesting to browse there for t-shirts once in awhile and is the only reason I've ventured into Shitty Place in the last year. I must admit that I was rocking my $6 Autobot t-shirt from S&B's this past weekend.

For those of you that think that S&B's is another crappy discount store in City Place, you're not wrong, but the fact is that it probably wouldn't have been replaced with anything better... if anything at all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bethesda is Boring

After Chevy Chase upped the ante with their redeveloped row of luxury stores, it looks like Bethesda has entered into a bit of an upscale arms race. With the addition of "Bethesda Lane", they've added to the already pricey array of shops and restaurants in Bethesda Row. (How exactly is it a "row" - can someone explain this to me?) Look at the new Redwood Restaurant - I can't even imagine what the design and construction costs were for this joint. Oh, and the "Upstairs at Bethesda" apartments above Bethesda Lane? $2,000-$2,500 for a one bedroom.

I think the biggest mistake DTSS ever made (besides maybe the Red Lobster) was to not integrate apartments and condos into the development. This is something they did in similar projects in Rockville and Bethesda. Having people living there 24/7 would add a little more life to the area. For a while they were advertising those "The Ellsworth" condos at the end of the Promenade, but seeing as their website no longer works, it would appear that the plan has been put off indefinitely. Yeah, I've mocked their marketing, but I still think that location would be a more interesting place to live than some of the other areas around town where they are presently building condos. Maybe they could just give up on City Place, gut it, and convert it into housing.

Anyhoo, back to my original point. Nice as it is, here's the problem with Bethesda Lane: it's boring as Hell. All the shops on the street were closed by the time I got down there at 8PM, which was annoying because I have to admit I actually wanted to go into Le Creuset. All the outdoor restaurant seating on Bethesda Lane sat unused and chained up. There was some sort of music event at the nearby Metro Plaza, but from what I could tell it mostly consisted of slow dancing senior citizens. Sure they have great restaurants in Bethesda, but there isn't much reason to hang out after your meal.

In stark contrast to this was the scene on the Silver Spring Promenade Saturday night. I originally went there to kill some time at Borders, but there was so much to see out on the street that it was quite entertaining to just stand there and soak it up:

- Hare Krishnas banging their drums and chanting in front of the Noodles & Co. and the usual outside-the-Majestic crowd getting down to the Krishna beat.

- A free concert by an nearly all-white Reggae band.

- Some sort of event on The Turf attended by a large number of traditionally-dressed Sengalese. Apparently reports of the Turf's demise were greatly exaggerated, since it's still open for business. At least for now.

- Mormon missionaries with their short-sleeve shirts and ties proselytizing to the cute women on Ellsworth. (SURRENDER DOROTHY)

- A larger contingent of missionaries from a sect with which I am not familiar wearing white and red uniforms with large Stars of David on them. They looked like they should be wielding swords.

If anyone knows what their deal is, please satisfy my curiosity.

- The aforementioned Elders conversing with their missionary competition.

- Multiple chess matches in the outdoor seating areas of Ellsworth Street restaurants.

- Skaters performing tricks on the Lower Promenade.
I would never contend that Silver Spring competes with Bethesda in quality of shopping or food (although at least we're improving on the latter), but as far as people-watching entertainment value, we've got them beat hands down.


- MoCo Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson called BS on the proposed bill that would basically allow the Lee Group to essentially remain a slumlord on Skid Row for the next fifteen years, should they choose to do so.
"We have learned from past experience that the things Lee Development Group wants are unreasonable and can have negative consequences for other viable projects" in downtown Silver Spring, said Hanson at a hearing on the measure.
Seriously, they've been sitting on that land for twenty years - how long are they planning on waiting? Surprisingly, the outspoken residents in attendance at the public hearing were actually FOR the Fillmore. "Finish the Fillmore"... "No Train on Wayne"... everyone's got their clever slogans these days.

- Silver Spring's new Vietnamese restaurant, Lotus Café, got a writeup on DCist. Amazingly, no one has yet disrespected Silver Spring in the comments, which is usually par for the course on that site. Usually when they post anything about Silver Spring, commenters are sure to remind us that Silver Spring is a chain restaurant infested hellhole, but when there's a positive review of a non-chain restaurant there is only crickets.

- Riders request expanded service from the VanGo buses, threaten to cut off left ears if demands are not met.

- That body found in Sligo Creek Park last week was apparently not a result of foul play.

Photo of Redwood Restaurant and Bar by Flickr user cpdulis.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hasta La Vista, Greeny.

This Friday evening Montgomery County and the DTSS management will mark the formal end of the beloved "Turf" by hosting a going away party. The whole thing is kind of ironic in that an entity is throwing a funeral for something that they themselves are killing. The fact that they deem the Turf worthy of such an event acknowledges that it is something people really liked and will miss when it's gone. (Remember back when the "Turf Wars" were in full swing? Seems like so long ago. I guess the opposition just gave up.)

Anyway, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why the event has been named "Sign of the Times". Did I miss something?

The poster doesn't even make any damn sense...

First of all, it's not "The Green", it's "The Turf". I don't think I've ever heard it referred to it as "The Green" in the proper-noun sense. (In retrospect, it should have been christened "Soylent Green", but I guess we missed the boat on that one.) And do you really have a farewell party TO something rather than FOR something?? Did they get this poster made in a Shanghai street market? Next thing you know, we'll have a Translate Server Error restaurant opening up on The Promenade. And what's with the skyline? We don't have skyscrapers. Yet.

Aside from having faceless alien DJs hurl rainbows at us, what else could they do to give the Turf a proper sendoff? Personally, I think they should soak the entire carpet in gasoline and light the sucker on fire. Hell, you may not even need the gas - there's so much crap soaked in that carpet it'd probably go up like a Roman candle.

Well, I'll be there out of curiosity and to get my chunk of filthy carpet.

UPDATE: Perhaps the enigmatic title of the event refers to the fact that they plan to reveal the construction sign for the new civic center. I suppose we are expected to let out collective ooooooohhhs and ahhhhhhhs when they do.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How Do You Solve A Problem Like DTSS?

As you may have noticed, a recent post elicited a high volume of comments about an increase in the amount of indecorous behavior taking place on The Promenade. Simultaneously, there was a discussion thread on my neighborhood listserv addressing the very same issue. This leads me to believe that something there has recently changed for the worse, or it could be that pent up frustrations are finally coming to a head.

It's clear that this is a subject that everyone has an opinion on. The main gist of the discussion is that people are feeling that there is an inordinate amount of rowdy behavior occurring in the DTSS area and that the situation has recently deteriorated. Some are put off by the raw language that they regularly overhear on Ellsworth St. and many have shared specific examples of intimidation, sexual harassment and abuse that they or acquaintances have suffered. These negative experiences are not imaginary and based on some sort of age, gender or race bias, and apologists who claim that this is so are unfairly blaming the victims.

The behavior in question primarily occurs on Friday and Saturday nights during the summer months, but one bad experience is enough to drive people away from DTSS year-round. Not to mention the number of people to whom the victims will relate their experiences. Remember, Bethesda ain't that far away.

Photo by Flickr user moworld.

No one's ever messed with me personally, but I can definitely say that on many occasions I've heard some pretty bad language when there were scores of young children around. Not that I don't use the same language myself, but I do so a bit more discreetly (such as yelling at the TV during a Redskins game). The threat of violence is always there, though, even in the residential neighborhoods adjacent to DTSS that my wife and myself walk through to get home. On April 23rd of this year, a man on his way home was attacked by a group of ten youths at the corner of Springvale & Pershing. There's been reports of muggings on nearby blocks, as well.

(What really bothers me, of course, is the behavior in the theater, but I won't go into that again in this post. I drove to Cleveland Park to see The Dark Knight at the Uptown this past weekend because I couldn't deal with the Majestic crowd for 2 1/2 hours.)

Fairly or unfairly, a lot of blame has been placed on outsiders, mostly teens that come into Silver Spring for the movie theater. Granted, I have no concrete figures on how many people are from outside MoCo, but I have definitely seen plenty of kids rolling up in cars with D.C. plates. I don't begrudge kids from D.C. and P.G. county the right to come to Silver Spring for the movies. If they won't build a theater near you, what else are you supposed to do? Back in the day I had to hop the 8, 9 and 14 Ride-On shame trains over to Wheaton to go to the movies there because we didn't have squat in the way of movie theaters in Silver Spring, at least before the City Place 10. Ironically, all the Wheaton theaters are now closed and Wheatonites have to come to Silver Spring for movies.

The good news here is that in this case Peterson Management (unlike the management of the Majestic) seems to be responsive to resident concerns. The property manager of DTSS sent out a letter to neighborhood groups acknowledging their concerns and detailing Peterson's efforts to improve the situation. Some highlights:

- We, at Downtown Silver Spring, take these types of comments from the community extremely seriously. We immediately brought in a new Director of Security (who most recently served in this role at Union Station and the Shops at Georgetown Park in DC – both properties with similar types of issues). (Of course they would - they need people with photographer-harassment experience.)

- [W]e implemented an “Action Team” consisting of Downtown Silver Spring, City Place Mall, Silver Spring Regional Center, Montgomery County Police and Council member representatives with the goal of providing a safe environment for all visitors to the Silver Spring downtown area.

- [W]e hold informal meetings and planned activities with local teens to obtain social and demographic information and feedback. Our next event will be held on July 31st and will include a free movie for teenagers wherein they will be asked to fill out a survey. The effort is to obtain feedback from the teens regarding their thoughts and opinions regarding the Downtown Silver Spring development.
(I'd definitely like to see the results of this survey.)
My only issue with their response was the repeated use of the word "perception", which seems to imply that there isn't really a problem, you just think there is.

The bad news is that the police have cut back the number of cops on patrol in this area. That, and unbeknownst to me, the Majestic no longer hires off-duty cops to work in the theater as security because if the cops shoot someone they're liable. What if a customer shoots someone??? Maybe the reduction in the presence of law enforcement, both on and off-duty, has emboldened those at whom the recent complaints are aimed.

Anyway, if The Man is listening, here are my suggestions:
- Install plenty of surveillance cameras around the area. There’s probably a lot already there. Yeah, it’s a bit Big Brothery, but if you aren’t doing anything wrong, then there’s no reason to sweat it.

- Don’t park half a dozen police cruisers at the corner of Fenton and Ellsworth (see above photo). While this may be more convenient for the coppers, the mere presence of these vehicles gives the impression to law-abiding citizens that some sort of violence could pop off at any moment. Retain the same number – or more – uniformed police to provide security, but leave the cruisers in one of the many garages – or at the police station around the corner. Have more bike or Segway cops patrolling the area. Really, you can never have too many Segways. Mounted officers would be good, too, especially if they could drive the miscreants into giant nets à la Planet of the Apes.

- By far the #1 solution in my book - install one of these Mosquito jobs near the entrance to the Majestic.
The Mosquito™ ultrasonic teenage deterrent is the solution to the eternal problem of unwanted gatherings of youths and teenagers in shopping malls, around shops and anywhere else they are causing problems. The presence of these teenagers discourages genuine shoppers and customers’ from coming into your shop, affecting your turnover and profits....[T]he Mosquito ultrasonic teenage deterrent has been described as “the most effective tool in our fight against anti social behaviour”.
- Pipe in Baroque music through the PA. Perhaps this could replace the endlessly-looping drum music they play in the hallway between the Wayne parking garage and Ellsworth. I hear those drums in my nightmares.

- UPDATE: A commenter pointed out that Virginia Beach has "Courtesty Rules" which outlaw profanity. Violation of these rules can result in a fine for the offender.

Photo by flickr user Tuaussi.

Of course, Silver Spring isn't its own jurisdiction, so we couldn't get a no-profanity law passed, but perhaps there are county laws already on the books that can be interpreted in a way that would allow the cops to do something similar. If nothing else, I like the signs.

I'm certainly not advocating anything extreme like instituting a saggy pants law or setting up checkpoints, only that the authorities do a little bit better job maintaining a more welcoming atmosphere in that area. Optimally we'd have Robocop, Judge Dredd or Batman - or all 3 - patrolling Ellsworth, but unfortunately they don't actually exist, so we'll have to rely on Peterson's security and MoCo's finest. (Unless, of course, one of you wants to take it upon yourself to become Batman.)

No one wants to see Silver Spring go back to how it used to be. Well, almost no one. Pretending there isn't an issue and creating a permissive environment by denying a problem exists will only lead to things getting worse. It's not about prejudice against any race, income or locality, no matter how much some people will try to make it out to be. It's about common decency and the responsibility of authorities, both public and private to create a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone. As has been mentioned before, a high-profile violent incident could be the tipping point that reverses the upward climb downtown Silver Spring had been enjoying over the past five-plus years. I'm not saying that I necessarily expect that to happen, but it very easily could.

That's all I have to say about that. What are your suggestions for improving the situation? No flame wars this time, por favor.