Friday, February 29, 2008

IMP = Total Hypocrites

Remember how IMP was so outraged that they weren't allowed to put in a bid to operate a private music venue once they found out that Live Nation had negotiated a deal with the county? In their February 14th letter to the County Council, they wrote:

As you know, over the last several months, I.M.P. has attempted to open up a closed process that to date can only be characterized as an exclusive deal with a single music provider, Live Nation. We have consistently taken the approach that the County should solicit as many offers for the venue as there are willing providers.
It turns out that IMP's antipathy towards governments entering into private negotiations with companies only extends to situations where they are the excluded party. News 4 reports that IMP has entered into negotiations with the district government to operate the DC armory as a music venue. Note that "the community" around the armory was never notified of the proposal.

Can we put the whole IMP martyrdom meme to bed now?

Speaking of the Fillmore, the Washington Area Music Association sent a letter to the County today in support of the deal.

(Thanks for the heads up to everyone who emailed me about this.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Friday News 'N Notes

Happy Leap Day, a date when we shouldn't be obligated to go to work, according to some...

- Funds for the Live Nation deal have been approved by the County Council. Of course, this doesn't mean anyone's cutting a check today - just that the money has been appropriated.

I'm not so sure about this validity of this statement from the Examiner article: "Music fans and Silver Spring citizens groups have praised the deal, hailing it as a great move for music-lovers and a boon for the neighborhood". (Emphasis mine.)

- Silver Spring no longer has the lowest office vacancy rate in the area, although the market is still very good.

- Set your TiVos, as WETA will be having what amounts to Silver Spring night on Sunday, March 9th. At 6PM, they'll be showing the Silver Spring: Story of an American Suburb documentary followed by Next Stop: Silver Spring at 8.

Get Your Charcuterie On

The Washington City Paper has details on the new shop to be opened by Jackie Greenbaum, proprietor of the legendary Quarry House and the eponymous South Silver Spring restaurant. The new store, Jackie’s a Go-Go

...will be part takeout, part bakery, part meat market, part package store, part chocolate shop, part housewares department, and part tchotchke dealer.... When the store opens in late March, Greenbaum expects to be hawking a haphazard assortment of cakes, chocolates, cheeses, frozen meats, and charcuterie, mostly produced in-house or locally by the likes of Eco-Friendly Foods in Virginia. Refrigerated cases will be stocked with baked goods by Greenbaum’s part-time pastry chef, Beth Christianson, or with cured meats by her full-time toque Sam Adkins.
(I have to admit, I had to look up what charcuterie was. We didn't have highfalutin' stuff like that in Silver Spring when I was growing up... we ate beef jerky.)

I'm all about this development... especially with regard to the increased availability of gourmet chocolates and cheeses. They also plan to have a large beer and wine selection, provided the Montgomery County Liquor Nazis don't get in their way.

Perhaps most amazingly, the shop will take over a space formerly occupied by a hair salon, which pretty much bucks the trend of the last two decades.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's Kinda Like A Bizzaro Silver Spring

As someone who is always bitching about the lack of shopping in downtown Silver Spring, I find this post on DCist about residents' and developers' of Columbia Heights (or "CoHi" if you're cool) quest for new retail outlets extremely amusing.

...The developers originally tried to woo places like Nordstrom, Macy's, Sears, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, but didn't have any luck, getting Target instead. The developers, Grid Properties, fired the leasing company, Newmark Knight Frank, after Newmark didn't attract high end retailers.
Neiman Marcus???? Nordstrom??? Saks??? Shiiiiiiiiiit, we've been gentrifying in Silver Spring longer then they have and they think they are getting that high end stuff right away? Hell, I'd go into convulsions if if I found out they were putting a Target in City Place. Clearly they haven't gentrified as much as they think they have 'cause there are clearly plenty of crack pipes being hit if people expect Saks to move in. No offense to Columbia Heights, because it is getting nicer in some ways, but let's be realistic. I would say that the population within a mile radius of City Place could support those types of stores a lot more than residents in a similar area around 14th St.

The sad thing is, they probably aren't even getting a "good" Target. Yes, there are differences between Targets. The easiest way to tell them apart is look at how many models of iPod they carry. If they don't have the high-end stuff, you ain't at a "good" Target. I have also found that you can easily judge a neighborhood by the CVS. The more stuff they have locked up (esp. razor blades), the "worse" the neighborhood.

It's even better when you compare the neighborhood listserv with those around here. There, they complain about Foot Locker and Marshall's (and other "ghetto ass" stores) opening up in their new DCUSA development because it would attract people of a lower socioeconomic level. Here in Silver Spring they'd fight anything "nice" because it would attract people with money and displace some crappy store you'd never shop at. Hell, Marshall's and Foot Locker are two of the best stores in City Place!

- Speaking of places that have it better than us with regard to shopping, I went into the new Kensington Safeway for the first time this past Saturday and let me tell you, compared to the dumpy locations in downtown and Four Corners, this place is practically Xanadu. The produce section even has wood floors, for goodness sake. With this new Safeway and the new Giant Food down the street in Wheaton, they've got it a lot better than us when it comes to groceries. We do have Whole Foods, though.

Silver Spring Daily Photo has a few shots of the store.

- MoCo Police have been cracking down on loitering by day laborers at the strip mall at Veirs Mill & Randolph Rd. If the police hadn't responded to business owners' requests, they may have been forced to take matters into their own hands with a 400 lb. water cannon-equipped robot.

- Silver Spring gets a brief mention on the upcoming episode of HBO's The Wire. (This one's already available on On Demand.) Amazingly the reference, though brief, is both geographically correct and omits the extra "s". One of the stars and one of the writers of this show live in Silver Spring.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Could This Be the End for Our Hero?

The Save the Planet protest saga has taken a dramatic turn, with its monochrome-clad leader being led away in handcuffs yesterday by the local authorities. This occurred after the police ascertained that he was creating a "potential riot scene" by "literally throwing money out of his bag" at the "pro"testers who were working for him. This happened after his employees grew restless and demanded additional funds, according to a poster on this message board. I would highly recommend reading through the posts, which include the obligatory LOLcats interpretations.

Apparently he had thousands of dollars in cash in his bag to distribute. He was making it rain so much, he was even charged by the county with littering (along with disorderly conduct). Can this be the first time in history that a person was accused littering for throwing money on the ground?

Photo by Flickr user katieg.

This thing just keeps getting better. The story even made the evening news.

The ten day protest was originally scheduled to end tomorrow - can anyone in the vicinity confirm if Lee has been released from custody and is back on the corner today?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Silver Spring to Get Fatter

I was excited to hear (via the SS Penguin) that The Fractured Prune Donut Shoppe will soon be opening up a location in downtown Silver Spring. Coincidentally, I also happened to learn that The Obesity Society ("the leading scientific society dedicated to the study of obesity") recently moved into their new office two blocks away from where the store will be located. I may very well become a case study of theirs as the result of easy access to "Reese Cup" donuts (pictured).

Note: People calling them "Reese cups" as the Fractured Prune does is a pet peeve of mine. It's supposed to be possessive - REESE'S GODDAMNIT.

Besides, I have to support any business with a mascot who's down with the Secretary of Defense. (Who I think lives in Silver Spring somewhere. At least he used to.)

Now if only we could get a decent bagel.

Monday, February 18, 2008

As Suspected, Discovery "Protest" a Total Fraud

After seeing the demonstration assembled outside the Discovery building on Sunday morning, I started suspecting that most of the participants were actually "pro"testors. Turns out that does indeed appear to be the case, based on photographic evidence captured by Chip Py and posted on Flickr.

According to Chip (no stranger to protests himself):

After a low turnout for the planned protest of the Discovery Channel, homeless people from the nearby Progress Place were paid ten dollars an hour to demonstrate. On Monday when it began to rain many of the demonstrators , such as this man right here, demanded to get paid and left.
I still want to know how this muppet is bankrolling this whole thing, and what his real beef with Discovery is, as the basis for the protest is a bit shaky.

I also find it ironic that Mr. Save the Earth was encouraging someone to fly out from California for the protest, even though airline travel is a significant contributor to global warming.

Friday, February 15, 2008

"We're not gonna protest! We're not gonna protest!"

Can anyone downtown confirm whether or not there has actually been anyone outside Discovery today for the beginning of the big protest? Of course, it's scheduled for another nine straight days, so maybe it still needs to build some momentum. At the very least, this guy better be out there.

I see that he's been getting some, uh, negative feedback about the protest on his MySpace page.

UPDATE: I drove by Discovery this morning, and while there was a relatively large number of participants I have a VERY STRONG suspicion that a large majority of the protestors were there only because they were getting paid to be. Inexplicably this guy has funds to support this, as evidenced by the large media buy he made over the last month or so. There's certainly plenty of precedent for this type of thing. Also, is there really a point in protesting an empty building? It's Sunday. Maybe the security guards will be swayed.

Unrelated, but my suspicions have been confirmed - it is indeed a New York & Company store that is opening up at the corner of Ellsworth and Georgia.

Another Argument for The Fillmore

One thing that I find has been largely left out of the endless Live Nation vs. IMP discussion is how the introduction of competition to IMP/9:30 Club would be to the benefit of Silver Spring residents with regard to the quality of acts that would perform in the new venue.

IMP’s proposal is for a venue with a capacity of 1400 people, just slightly larger than the 9:30 Club’s – sorry, “Nightclub 9:30’s”, of 1200. I have to wonder that if the IMP scenario were to come to pass, would the Silver Spring concert hall end up as the red-headed suburban stepchild of the IMP family, not big enough to warrant priority over the 9:30 club, yet too small to get the acts that perform at the 16,500-capacity Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Let’s say IMP can book band X for one show a year. Are they going to send them out to Silver Spring or book them at their baby, the 9:30 club? I get the feeling that all the marquee acts that 9:30 now gets will continue to perform in D.C., while the second-tier bands will be shipped out to the ‘burbs.

Now consider the alternative. Like it or not, Live Nation has influence in the industry and has the money to woo top acts. For many in the area, this is inexplicably (to me) considered a negative. If the aforementioned band X is touring the country and is going to make a stop in the DC area, The Fillmore might be able to book that band over IMP’s 9:30 club, and Silver Spring fans will be spared the trip into and back from V Street – not to mention the savings on parking and cost to replace the broken window on your car. Or your car. Or the contents of your wallet. Or the cost of hospital bills after being attacked by eight women! I continue to think that the threat of direct competition is why there is such urgency on IMP’s part to scuttle the Live Nation deal.

Anyone that has taken the most basic macroeconomics class knows that competition is GOOD for the consumer. That’s us. Why does a certain subset of people continue to insist that a near-monopoly in the local concert scene would be to our benefit?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hump Day News 'N Notes

How many of Chip Py's rights can the DTSS staff possibly violate? Next thing you know, they will attempt to quarter soldiers in his home.

Py was again harassed by The Man last week, this time for handing out Barack Obama literature. Hmmmm, I wonder which candidates the Peterson Companies supports...

Not surprisingly, there are over a hundred grand in donations from Milt Peterson to Republican candidates and organizations. Wait, what's this? He's also donated over $10,000 over the years to our favorite soon-to-be-ex-congressman Albert Wynn? Wonder what he got out of that deal.

Whenever I think of Al Wynn, the Clay Davis corrupt politician character from The Wire comes to mind. "Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit."

Seriously, I must have gotten five pieces of mail a day from the Donna Edwards campaign and nothing from Al Wynn. Guess he didn't even bother with my neighborhood, which falls within the absurdly gerrymandered 4th district.

Other miscellaneous stuff...

- The Post has a brief writeup on the venerable Parkway Deli.

- Silver Spring is still in the running for NPR.

- I don't know why, but this photo of a room housing equipment for the free downtown Silver Spring wireless service creeps me out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Presidential Candidates - and Spouses - Visit Silver Spring

It's the one week this year where national candidates care enough visit to Silver Spring, and two big names were in town the last couple of days courting voters. Barack Obama made an unannounced stop at the Mayorga in downtown Silver Spring yesterday afternoon for an "intimate meeting" with local Latino business owners and officials. The article doesn't mention if he bought a $2.20 bagel.

Here's a photo, via the Silver Spring Voice.

UPDATE: According to Joe Davidson, who is also quoted in the Post story, Obama purchased a decaf latté. I'm surprised with the schedule he has to keep he opted for the decaf. If I were him, I'd be ordering a "quad".

Meanwhile former president Bill Clinton visited Leisure World on Sunday evening. Of course, Leisure World is one of those places that is kinda Silver Spring in Name Only (SSINO). It would appear that the Ellen DeGeneres/Hillary Clinton banner guy I mentioned in an earlier post was there as well. That guy REALLY loves Hillary.

For those of you that voted today - how was your polling place? Did it have long lines? Mine (Highland View ES) wasn't too busy this morning - maybe a five minute wait.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Silver Spring Candidate

Not that I'm advocating you vote for any particular candidate in next week's Maryland primary, but it's worth noting that Barack Obama's Montgomery County headquarters is opening tonight in Silver Spring at the corner of Colesville and Georgia (on Skid Row). Hillary Clinton's, meanwhile, is in Bethesda...

Following the office opening, there will be a "Barack the Vote" pep rally at McGinty's at 6:30:

Join Congressman Elijah Cummings, Attorney General Doug Gansler, State Senator Lisa Gladden, State Senator Jamie Raskin, Delegate Tom Hucker and other Montgomery County Barack Obama supporters at this huge rally/fundraiser Wednesday evening.

Let's get "Fired Up and Ready to Go" as we enter the final days before the critical February 12 Maryland Primary.

This is a chance to find out what you can do to help Obama win in Maryland.

Bring your friends to this exciting organizing pep rally and let's get the vote out for Barack Obama!
This is one of the rare occasions where your vote in Maryland actually means something, so be sure to get out and vote for (*cough* *cough* Obama *cough*) your candidate of choice next Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

With all due respect to Sebastian Bach...

Because there was no simple way to refer to the two blocks of Ellsworth Drive between Georgia Avenue and Cedar Street, I recently started to refer to this stretch of road as “The Promenade”. As this is a focal point of many lively discussions, it makes things a lot easier for everyone.

With the never ending dispute over the fate of the old J.C. Penney building on Colesville Road, I feel that it is necessary to take a similar step with regard to the eastern side of the 8600 block of Colesville Road where the contested structure is situated. This is the block bounded on one end by Ray’s the Classics and on the other by the new T-Mobile store. In the past, this has been described as “the strip of shops across from the AFI” and other not-as-nice names. It is in desperate need of re-branding.

To that end, I hereby christen this area “Skid Row”.

I shall refer to the block exclusively by this name until its development catches up with the rest of downtown Silver Spring. Of course, this may never happen should the groups allied against Live Nation emerge from this struggle triumphant.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Live Nation is no Dan Snyder

Awhile back I unknowingly had my email addresses added to the distribution list for a petition set up by IFI Music, an organization whose primary goal would appear to be preventing Live Nation from opening the Fillmore in Silver Spring. After I started getting the same email over and over again from dozens of people, I eventually just filtered them out. On a whim, I happened to read a few of the old emails for kicks, and came across the petition submitted by Ken Wingate, the founder and president of IFI. (He's on "The MySpace".)

Amazingly, he put forward Dan Snyder as an example of successful local ownership!!!!

Consider Daniel Snyder, the local boy done good, that fought for the chance to own the Washington Redskins. He had to pull all of his resources together to come up with the finances to make the NFL feel comfortable enough to accept his offer. Now he owns the richest and most financially successful NFL team in the whole league. You cannot nor should you ever close any doors that might allow that same success story to be built and established here in the Montgomery County music community. [Emphasis mine.]
This is the same Daniel M. Snyder who has run the once-proud Redskins franchise into the ground, a couple back door playoff berths notwithstanding. The same Daniel M. Snyder whose Six Flags has tanked since he bought it. The Redskins were a lot better off when they were owned by Jack Kent Cooke - a Canadian. Local does not mean good - it only means they live nearby.

Would they be okay with any owner provided they were local, even if they didn't know the first thing about running a music club? Maybe they should approach Dan Snyder as a potential owner. Vinnie Cerrato could book the acts. They'd pay huge appearance fees to has-been acts and charge everyone $100+ admission... for obstructed view seats at the back of the theater. If they had one popular act, they'd immediately raise ticket prices for the next show. Parking would be $30 and be in South Silver Spring. You would not be able to use public streets to walk from there to the theater. I could go on.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Tale of Three Supermarkets

People like to mock Whole Foods by calling it “Whole Paycheck”, etc., but the truth is you really do get what you pay for. This was perfectly illustrated by my efforts last night to acquire a few vital supplies for my Super Bowl party. Specifically what I needed was a large number of wingettes and drumettes for Buffalo Wings and fresh ingredients for my homemade salsa – scallions, cilantro, jalapeño peppers and habanero peppers.

I figured I could get what I needed from this fairly simple shopping list at the downtown Silver Spring Giant Food. Wrong. I went to the vegetable section and while they technically had what I was looking for, the produce wasn’t exactly fresh looking. The cilantro bushel looked crushed and the leaves were already well on their way to turning brown. I wasn’t sure if they could make it until Saturday, when I’d make the salsa. The jalapeños didn’t look quite right – the best way to describe them would be “scuffed”. The scallions also had a slightly brown tint to them. I bagged them anyway, figuring they’d do. So then I go to pick up my wings. When I got to the chicken section I just stood and stared at it for a good minute. On the week before the Super Bowl, they didn’t have a single wing in stock? I wasn’t sure if they even carried them until I uncovered the single package of drumettes buried in the back of the case. I asked the meats guy if they had any more and I just got a “no, sir.” You have to understand that my frustration was compounded by the fact that I had been at the Old Georgetown/Democracy Blvd. Giant during my lunch break and saw that they had dozens of packets of wings. I decided to wait, knowing I’d be going to the S.S. Giant that evening, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “I bet they don’t even have them there.” (Note that this other Giant is a lot smaller than the one in Silver Spring.)

After realizing that I wasn’t going to get my wings, I looked in my cart at the pathetic produce and realized I really didn’t want to serve that crap to my guests. I turned to my wife and she was thinking the same thing – Whole Foods. I wasn’t sure if Whole Foods even carried wingettes or drumettes, so I thought I may have to check at the Thayer Avenue Safeway first. So I did, and they had plenty of wingettes - but no drumettes. I highly favor drumsticks myself, so that wasn’t going to cut it.

So on to Whole Foods. All the produce I required was perfectly clean and fresh-looking, having been regularly showered in that pleasant cool mist they have. The jalapeños were a nice dark and consistent green color and the cilantro didn’t look like something that had been sitting in a compost bin for a week. On top of that, they not only had wingettes and drumettes, but offered them together in an extra large family package. I shouldn’t have been a cheapass (and so scared of the parking lot) and just gone to Whole Foods in the first place. I really understand why it is so popular when I consider the nearby alternatives.

It’s too bad that our opportunity to add Harris Teeter to the mix was scuttled. Maybe that would have put some pressure on Giant to step it up a bit. (The Safeway is already a lost cause.)