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.