Monday, June 30, 2008

This Says a Lot

Even though there's a lot of things about Virginia I can't stand, I always really liked Clarendon and wished Silver Spring would develop more in that direction. Anyway, after yesterday's incident I was curious if Clarendon ever had any gun violence, and I think my search results (or lack thereof) from Google speak volumes:

Silver Spring's results are unfortunately not so innocent.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Two Shot in Downtown Silver Spring

Two people were shot at 5:30 this morning in downtown Silver Spring, right across from the Metro Station.

Police say about 5:30 am. Sunday they were called to Caribbean Style Restaurant on Ramsey Avenue and found a 33-year-old man and 21-year-old woman with gunshot wounds.

Officials say a group had left the nightclub and started arguing outside. They say at least one person fired several shots at the man and woman, who were near the front of the nightclub
Now maybe I don't go out as much as I used to, but don't bars in MoCo have to close by 2AM? Why were people still in the club at 5:30? Oh, and I bet dollars to donuts that none of the eventual suspects in this case actually live in Silver Spring.

Maybe this was a party that followed up Saturday's Caribbean festival on Georgia Avenue. I had been wondering what everyone was doing carrying around Jamaican and Dominican flags Saturday afternoon on Ellsworth.

UDPATE: Slightly more in today's Post. Fortunately the suspect wasn't a very good shot... with 17 shots fired, only two people were hit and it looks like they will both live. Speaking of handguns, Atlantic Guns, strategically located just across the DC line, will likely reap the benefits of the D.C. handgun ban ruling.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

You thought it was bad at the Majestic before? Now they want to burn you alive.

  If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then I'm completely nuts. I guess the convenience of the Majestic trumps all other considerations, because it seems like I'm there every week instead of going elsewhere to see movies. (Then again, where else is there really to go?)Anyway, I decided it was worth the risk to see a 7:30 showing of Wall-E at everyone's favorite theater, but I guess I hadn't counted on someone SETTING FIRE TO A GODDAMN TRASHCAN. I mean what kind of freaking degenerates do we have that think it's funny to potentially create a conflagration inside a packed twenty-screen theater? And this was certainly no accident - trashcans don't accidentally ignite. "Best" case is that someone was smoking and put their smoldering butt in a trashcan full of empty popcorn bags. The reality is more like that some piece of crap wannabe arsonist did it for pyromaniacal kicks.
Anyway, I arrive at the theater thirty minutes early and the fire alarms are wailing and everyone is crowded outside the theater on the sidewalk and in the street. At first I assume that some jerk-off just pulled the fire alarm, which certainly isn't out of the norm for the Majestic, however I begin to suspect that there may actually be a legit fire after catching a slight whiff of smoke. I hear the oncoming sirens of the Silver Spring fire department and I see the hook and ladder on it's way down Fenton. I assume it will slow down and let people clear out of the packed street, but it actually just makes a hard turn onto Ellsworth, sending people screaming and scattering like roaches when the light is turned on. This is about the point where it went from annoying to entertaining. So the fire fighters go into the theater to check out the situation. Meanwhile, no one from theater management will make any sort of announcement and all the people that got kicked out of their movies are just idling around not knowing what the hell is going on. A few minutes after the firemen entered the building, a flood of water suddenly shot out of a unobtrusive drainage pipe along the side of the sidewalk, once again sending people scattering.  (See poor cellphone pic below.)
So, finally, at about 8 o'clock, a representative of the theater comes out and makes an inaudible announcement (I heard this tenth-hand) basically saying they don't really know when they will re-open.  At that point I just left, figuring I'd have to figure out a way to get my money back the next day.I'm not ashamed to admit that I really wanted to see Wall-E and since I had already paid, I went back this afternoon after exchanging my tickets.  Of course, I was sandwiched between a screaming baby and a guy with a cellphone in his lap that blinked throughout the entire movie, but I guess I should be grateful that I wasn't on fire...

UPDATE: Now I hear that the fire was set in a dumpster outside the theater. Maybe that's better, maybe it's not. I still want to know where that mysterious water came from.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday News 'N Notes

- It figures - Shitty City Place finally snags a moderately interesting tenant and it turns out they may not even be able to make rent. Steve & Barry's is on the brink of bankruptcy and could soon join Storehouse Furniture (remember them?) in the retail afterlife. City Place should just keep them on rent free as a charity case - half that mall is vacant, anyway. At least it brings a few extra people in. Seriously, what are they going to replace it with? A BIGGER dollar store?

I think my $5 TransFormers shirt from Steve & Barry's is the only non-restaurant purchase I've made in City Place in at least ten years. And yes, you have every right to beat me up if you see me wearing it.

- Don't forget the first Crafty Bastards fair in Silver Spring is this Saturday from 10-5 at Pyramid Atlantic. Here's a map of the vendors. (PDF) Even if like me you're not particularly inclined towards buying crafts, it's still something to do. There's bands and food, too.

- Crafty Bastards is nice and all, but we could easily be hosting something truly great like Rosslyn's outdoor James Bond film festival. It's not like we didn't have movies on The Turf in the past. All you need is an inflatable screen and a projector.

- If you're like me, you'll be pleased to know that MoCo now has enhanced recycling capabilities. A lot of plastic stuff you'd normally have to throw out with the trash can soon be put in the blue bin. Things such as yogurt containers, plastic flower pots, bottles that aren't #1 or #2 and those takeout containers they charge you $1 for at Mandalay will be recyclable starting July 1. I guess commodities prices are high enough now that the money they can get for scrap plastic makes it feasible. Another recycling note: you can now recycle your CFL lightbulbs for free at the Silver Spring Home Depot.

In a related matter, I'd like to thank the county garbagemen sanitation engineers for collecting the huge pile of junk I dumped out in front of my house yesterday morning. I realize that a lot of that stuff was on the "go to the dump your damn self" list, but you hauled it away anyway. Reeaaaaaaaalllll Americaaaan herooooooeeeeeeess!

- Damn, they make you walk all the way from the B&O station if you want to take a tour of the National Park Seminary:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Here's your Colorado Kitchen, now Maryland Kitchen.

The Colorado Kitchen is one of those places that I always thought about going to everytime I drove by but never did. Well, too late now, I guess, since it's closing. The (relevant) story here is that the owners are planning on opening up a new location in Silver Spring in what used to be the General Store near the corner of Forest Glen and Seminary Roads. (You know, the place with the "castle") Kind of off the beaten path, but that might be a good location provided they get the word out - it can draw just as easily from Kensington and Silver Spring.

I miss the old General Store - you could by all sorts of knick knacks there. As a kid, it was great. Seems like that has been closed forever.

BTW if the title makes no sense, say it in a deep Austrian accent. Then it will make even less sense.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Silver Spring to get Architectural Piece of Flair

I have to hand it to the Chelsea School. They had to be pretty ballsy to try and get one of the world's premier architectural firms to design a 85-student school building on the cheap, but hey, it worked.

[Studio Daniel Libeskind] agreed not only to provide pro-bono conceptual work by Libeskind's protégé, Robert Claiborne, but also to spearhead the campaign to raise $20 million and to help negotiate at-cost materials for the project.
The school presently has a fairly nondescript campus tucked away in the residential neighborhood that borders downtown Silver Spring, and odds are you probably never heard of it before. While somewhat hidden from the main Silver Spring thoroughfares, the re-designed school buildings would add a little architectural flavor to the downtown area. It's good to see some planned structures that are a little less generic than a lot of the other buildings going up around Silver Spring. Other examples off the top of my head are 814 Thayer and the United Theraputics HQ. You always have to wonder if anyone will still like these designs twenty years from now, though. Of course, by then they'll be considered historic by some and may be compared to works by the Italian masters.

I suppose the drawback is that they're probably going to have to hold a few extra bake sales to cover the incremental costs associated with the construction of such an Avant-garde design.

The description of the new library design ("meant to suggest the form of a book") of course immediately conjures up images of the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Who Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.

"What is this? A center for ants? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read... if they can't even fit inside the building?"

(As an aside, I question Post article's dubious statement that Silver Spring has "blocks of upscale retail". If only that were the case...)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Watching skaters on Ellsworth is entertaining... at least edited in Koyaanisqatsi-style it is.

I do wish they'd not cut away when the kid is about to eat shit at about 0:45.

Also entertaining - So You Think You Can Dance... in Borders:

How did we ever survive before everyone packed small, lo-res video cameras? The "Make it Rain" video, of course, is and will always be the best footage ever shot on Ellsworth.

- Auntie Ann's Pretzels is coming to City Place. Not that would make anyone actually venture into that mall. I wonder what the ratio of revenue would be for a store facing outward on Ellsworth and one inside City Place. 50:1? 100:1? And I mean the exact same store. Speaking of doughy, fatty goodness, I'm still waiting for our new donut shop to open... doesn't look like much has been done in that space so far, though.

- The rehabilitation of the building on Colesville across from Discovery is coming along nicely. (Five years later...) I hope they get some interesting tenants. And by interesting places, I mean NOT more hair and nail places. What is the over/under on hair places leasing space in that building once it's fully occupied? 2 or 3 I'd say.

- Has anyone filled out the Regal Cinemas feedback form and received a response?

- Alliance Comics on Fenton Street is in the process of converting their basement into a "hip new lounge area, with WiFi, couches, snacks, table space and more". Alliance will also be hosting a cosplay party on Saturday, July 12th. That I need to see. From a distance.

I should mention that my #1 "I'm miraculously somehow financially secure for life" dream job is working at a comic book store. Just hanging out all day arguing with customers over who would win hypothetical battles between different superheroes. Best. Job. Ever.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- The owner of Frozen Yogurt store Tangysweet is considering Silver Spring as an additional location after recently opening a store in Dupont Circle. I'd still prefer a fancy gelato place like Bethesda Row now has. (And again, I know Kefa Cafe has gelato, but it's not open at night so it doesn't count.) Could there also also be a Fatburger in our future? I just hope it would be open at two in the morning.

- Residents along Dale Drive want drivers to slow the hell down. I can sympathize - crossing that street on foot can be daunting.

- A water main break disrupted service to a lot of homes in Silver Spring. You can all breathe easy, however - I wasn't affected.

- Reason lost out in the free library parking argument. Library patrons will get two hours of free parking, which I imagine is far more than most people would need at the library, so in effect it's the same as providing unlimited free parking. The rationale behind the argument escapes me:

Charging an hourly fee, Andrews said, would discourage low-income patrons who have no alternative mode of transportation.
Gas is $4+ a gallon - how much are they spending just to drive there? The libraries in question are in Bethesda and Rockville (and ultimately in Silver Spring), which are accessible by probably a hundred bus routes between them. No alternative mode of transportation? What am I missing? Maybe the council should read this.

- Hey, another violent crime in Silver Spring. Guess where? Also, the cops had to take a guy down right near the epicenter of Silver Spring crime, Piney Branch and University. People in that neighborhood are justifiably fed up. Interestingly, it seems to me that the perpetrators in these crimes are all from other (non-Silver Spring) neighborhoods.

- Even a local newspaper calls it "Silver Springs"... sigh.

UPDATE: Silver Spring Daily Photo has posted a fantastically ironic photo today.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Write The Power (Redux)

Last year I tried to get Consolidated Theatres to improve the situation at The Majestic by encouraging people to submit a complaint to the corporate office. Unfortunately, this effort resulted in zero response from the company. Turns out that unbeknownst to me, The Majestic has now come under new management - Consolidated was purchased by Regal Entertainment Group back in January.

The good news here is that Regal seems to actually to give a damn - they are the company which introduced the wireless complaint devices that I have long advocated for the Majestic. These devices are provided to "mature audience members", who also get free popcorn to boot. Regal actually seems to have a grasp of reality:

[Regal Chief Executive Michael] Campbell said that ordinarily customers won't say anything such problems while the film is running. "They just will complain on their way out or, in the worst case scenario, they don't come back."
This system was rolled out to 114 theaters as of a year ago, including seven in the DC area. I need to find out if they have that at The Majestic yet. You can bet that I will be requesting the use of one at every show I go to.

The bad news about Regal? They may have their ushers panhandle you. (Wait, they actually HAVE ushers?)

At minimum, this ownership change provides you, the theatergoer, with a chance to express your displeasure to the new management, who hopefully cares more than the previous one. Regal has detailed comment form on their website. I strongly encourage everyone to provide feedback to Regal. Please let me know if anyone receives a response.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Majestic Theatergoers Manage to Top Themselves (Literally?)

How's the saying go? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me repeatedly…

Why do I keep subjecting myself to the potential annoyance that is the movie viewing experience at the Majestic – which now amazingly costs over $10 per ticket? I guess the convenience of the location continues to trump the risk.

So I go to see the 9:45 show of Iron Man on Saturday night, thinking that maybe since it's been out long enough, the kiddies have already seen it. When I first entered the theater I scanned the audience and was relieved to see that it was a predominately adult audience. After I sit down, however, I see a family come in with their three kids – one of whom must be no older than four…at a 9:45 show, mind you. But hey, if you want to take your kids to a late movie, then I guess that's your right, provided you make sure they keep their pieholes shut while I watch two dudes in power armor battle it out. At least it wasn't an R-rated movie. I've seen plenty of kids - babies even - at those over the years.

But those kids ended up being quiet, unlike the kids that came in immediately after them. The group of six or so kids didn't find seats that next to each other, so some of them sat across the isle from me while the remainder sat a few rows up. The fact that they weren't seated adjacent to one another didn't prevent them from carrying on a conversation. This spacial impediment to communication can clearly be overcome by yelling loud enough. They also carried on conversations at full volume with those seated directly next to them (in between cellphone calls).

What they really need at the Majestic (in addition to wireless alert devices and cellphone jammers, of course) is ushers in each theater armed with tasers and the authority to use them. I'd be willing to pay an extra $5 per ticket for that.

Of course, this is nothing compared to what one commenter claims to have witnessed at a weekend showing of Sex And The City. At that show, two kids were actually having sex in the theater before the movie and had to be expelled (and hopefully tased) by the police. I don't know which is more surprising – that they thought they could get away with this or that someone actually did something about it.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Living in the Past (Cont'd)

Today's column from Marc Fisher tackles the preservationist zealots of downtown Silver Spring and their irrational efforts to preserve the Falkland Chase apartments exactly as they are UNTIL THE END OF TIME. (You can read my take on this whole issue here.)

If you're too lazy to click through, here's some highlights:

"People recoil in horror at the idea that Falkland might be demolished" (emphasis mine)

Remarkably, preservationists have rejected offers by the developer to have two-thirds of the complex declared historic while the northern piece, almost surrounded by tall office and apartment buildings, is taken down to add density.

"Can you take a Michelangelo, rip off some of its corners and still retain its value?" (Falkland Chase = a Michelangelo? LOLZ!)

= ?

[T]he portion of the complex that the owners want to bulldoze consists of basic brick apartments surrounded mainly by parking lots.
(Speaking of irrational, the fight for free parking at all MoCo libraries continues.)

UPDATE: I also recommend the related chat.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Last week, the Post listed the most expensive houses recently sold in Silver Spring and six of the top ten were located on Ament St. in Forest Glen. The street is so new, it's not even on Google Maps yet. These new homes in the Seminary area went for an average price of $842k. Cha-ching.

Of course, no one who lives in Silver Spring now could actually afford these, since, according to the Post, we're getting poorer. At least those in the Colesville & White Oak areas are.

I think in Silver Spring there is a strong negative correlation between how far from Bethesda/Chevy Chase your house is and your home's value.

Speaking of which, this illustration is probably a good representation of how they look across the imaginary Silver Spring frontier from the "Unincorporated Area of Chevy Chase":

- If your garage is like mine and is full of various chemicals, oil-based paints and other toxic things you'll never use, you'll soon be able to unload them them all on the county without having to go to the dump up in Rockville. The county will be collecting all manner of hazardous things at Silver Spring International Middle School (aka "Old Blair") on Saturday the 14th.

What they won't be collecting is old and busted PCs, TVs and other types of electronic crap that I also have plenty of. The good news is that the Best Buy in Wheaton is participating in the retailer's pilot program where you can bring in your old electronics for recycling- for free. This is something you ought to take advantage of, because other places charge for this type of service. Of course, according to my GPS receiver (which is never wrong) Wheaton doesn't actually exist, so in reality this is the Silver Spring Best Buy.

Seriously, you need to get rid of this stuff or one day the overloaded shelves holding it all could collapse on top of you, exposing you to a cocktail of chemicals that will turn you into a freak like the Toxic Avenger or Emil from RoboCop, who drove into a vat of chemicals and subsequently got splattered all over the place after being struck by a car. Or, you could become The Joker. Actually, that last scenario would be pretty cool.

- The South Silver Spring Block Party is coming up this Sunday. I can only hope there will be no clowns. For some reason, finding out that Lloyd Dobler Effect will be playing made me really want to go to Dewey Beach.

- Washingtonian's annual "Cheap Eats" issue is out, and when you take out all the restaurants located in SSINO and restaurants with more than one location, only a handful of Silver Spring eateries made the cut. Congratulations to Mandalay, Taste of Morocco and Da Marco. The real story here, however, is that Silver Spring has reached a point where restaurants need not be "cheap" to survive in the downtown area. (Wheaton has not, hence its disproportionate representation on this list.) Cases in point are Jackie's, Ray's the Classics and Nicaro.