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.