Thursday, April 24, 2008

Getting Out of Dodge



This will likely be my last post for awhile, as I will shortly be departing for exotic locales with limited access to The Internets. Don't burn the place down while I'm gone.

Before I go, here's some miscellaneous tidbits I had lying around:

- Spike Lee will be honored at this year's SilverDocs festival. To kick off the event, Spike will throw a ceremonial garbage can through the window of DiMarco's.

- Goddamn kids! This Mosqito anti-loitering device would be perfect for outside the Majestic. How much could this $1,500 device save the save the county on police overtime? It's already been used by a movie theater owner in Massachusetts. (Unrelated, but a few weekends back I drove down Fenton on a Friday night and there was a big group of kids clustered around the Chick-fil-A staring in the window. There were a bunch of cops there, too. Anyone know what that was all about?)

- According to reader "b", someone broke into the tatoo parlor on Fenton street and attempted to break through the wall to the Atlantic Guns using a sledgehammer. Unsuccessful, he eventually gave up and left. Danny Ocean he 'aint.

- A Post writer talks about some of his "Third Places" in downtown Silver Spring.

- Also from the Post - details on this Saturday's Forest Glen Seminary tour. I don't know why, but that place always creeped me the hell out. At least in it's dilapidated state.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords.

This recently-declassified film CLEARLY shows an alien spacecraft circling in the skies above Silver Springs [sic] back in 1966.



This additional footage pretty much seals the case that Silver Spring was indeed visited by extraterrestrials during the Johnson Administration.

Were these visits by scout vessels in advance of a coming full scale invasion? Or, could it be that this is the craft of a lone alien who returns to Silver Spring every 42 (or 43?) years to hunt?

After looking closely at this photo recently posted on Thayeravenue.com, I think that the latter may indeed be the case.



If my suspicions are true, all I can say is... GET TO THE CHOPPAHH!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Straight from the (Other) Horse's Mouth

In response to an earlier post detailing our meeting with Ted Mankin of Live Nation, I was recently contacted by IMP, which wanted a chance to meet and present their side of the Silver Spring music venue issue. As I always strive to be as fair and balanced as Fox News, I felt I should oblige and agreed to meet with Seth and Audrey, his PR rep. Also, I’ve been accused in the past of being a shill for Live Nation and having being paid off for my complicity in tater tots. Truth be told, I actually ate tater tots off of someone else’s plate in that instance, thank you very much, and said tater tots weren’t expensed by Live Nation anyway.

After coordinating with Audrey and Eric of Thayeravenue.com, we all agreed to meet in the dungeon-y back room of the Quarry House Tavern, which seems to have become the de facto location for this sort of thing. I don’t know if it was a result of its burgers being crowned “Best of DC” by the City Paper, but when I arrived the place was, in the parlance of our time, blowing up. (A side note: I ordered a hamburger myself, and while it was certainly good, I haven’t eaten every burger in the metro area so I can’t objectively assign my own rank.)

When Seth arrived he greeted us with a thunderous “HEY, BLOGGERS!” Still trying to preserve a shred of anonymity, I glanced around the crammed room hoping in vain no one had overheard. For some reason the line “You blew mah covah!” kept running through my head.

After introductions, we discussed the demands of the so-called Silver Spring “community”, the vocal minority who still maintain a strong preference for The Birchmere and fear that a rock venue in Silver Spring would turn their front lawns into a latter-day Heavy Metal Parking Lot.



I apologize for the Nixonian terminology, but I expressed to Seth and Audrey that there is a silent majority in Silver Spring that just wants something to get done with that space and see Skid Row revitalized.

One of the concerns I have always had with the prospect of an IMP-run venue was the possibility that all the best shows would be reserved for the 9:30 Club while Silver Spring would get stuck with “secondary” acts. Seth assured us that while some bands might express a preference to play in the 9:30 club for old times' sake, he is not at all averse to booking top acts in Silver Spring in addition to or instead of the D.C. venue. He said in some scenarios he might even book an act on consecutive nights at the 9:30 and in Silver Spring. He believes that it would reflect poorly on him if it was perceived that Silver Spring was used as a dumping ground for 9:30 rejects.

As to why he didn’t pursue a deal with the county when the government was in exclusive negotiations with the Birchmere, Seth stated that he is on good terms with the Birchmere folks and believed that the county and/or community were only interested in bringing in the soulful stylings that a sitting-room-only club like that would provide. However, when he heard about the county’s deal with his arch-competitor and that that the county was apparently ok with bringing in a standing room only rock venue, he decided that this aggression will not stand, man, and immediately expressed interest. Of course, by that point an informal agreement had already been made with Live Nation. Undaunted, Seth (who “loves to do battle”) submitted a competing offer in order to convince the county to consider IMP as an option and open the process to competitive bidding. I won’t go over the nuances of their proposal here…. you can review it yourself.

I didn’t get the impression that Seth was denying that keeping Live Nation out of the market wasn't part of the consideration, but he did convey a genuine interest in establishing a Silver Spring outlet on its own merits. He says that the status of Live Nation’s agreement with the county is immaterial to his desire to open up a venue in Silver Spring, and that if that deal collapsed, his offer to the county would remain on the table, contrary to what some bloggers (cough cough) have speculated.

In fact, this is not the first time IMP has expressed interest opening a venue in downtown Silver Spring. Years ago, Seth tried to make a move on the former Caldor building on East-West Highway. However, Discovery ended up snatching this property up as a beachhead prior to their full move to Silver Spring. It would have been interesting to see how the development of that stretch of E-W would have been different had this plan come to fruition.

We discussed the possibility of having non-musical acts in Silver Spring, as Live Nation has already stated that these would make up a portion of their schedule. While the 9:30 doesn’t generally book comedy acts, Seth believes that the added capacity provided by a Silver Spring club would allow them the flexibility to schedule these types of performances in addition to musical acts. When asked about Live Nation’s plans to coordinate events with partners such as AFI and Discovery, he expressed confidence that if he were running the show, these things would also materialize under his watch.

I was curious if they had a name picked out for the proposed Silver Spring club. They said they had considered holding a contest where they would solicit proposals from the community. Personally, I think that’s a slippery slope – in the past, this type of community involvement has resulted in stupid-ass monikers such as “Washington Wizards”.

The following are my top three suggestions for venue names:

1. The Max
2. The Bronze
3. The Peach Pit After Dark

A gold star goes to anyone who knows the origin of all three of these.

What ultimately happens between the county, Live Nation, IMP et al. still remains to be seen. Even Live Nation admits that it’s not a “done deal” at this point, with all sorts of approvals still needing to be finalized. From what I gathered, IMP has decided to take a wait-and-see approach toward the whole thing. They’ve put their proposal out there, think it’s better for the taxpayer, and if the deal with Live Nation falls through, they’ll be waiting in the wings.

As I’ve stressed a thousand times before, the important thing is that Silver Spring gets live music sometime in my lifetime. Ironically, by the time this actually happens I may be at that age where I’m fretting about the future equivalent Jay-Z coming to town and wishing the Birchmere was close enough that Medicaid would cover the cost of the MetroAccess van I'd need to get to the Coldplay reunion tour stop.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hump Day News 'N Notes

Yo, hit me up Facebook. I'm not sure to what end, but I've created a Facebook account to represent this blog. Maybe I'll use it to send out announcements for stuff like, say, Rock Band Night, but I'm not sure yet. If you're down, send me a friend request.


- We're number one! We're number one! In MoCo forclosures, that is. I can't tell you how bad I want a Foreclosure Bus Tour T-shirt. I may sign up for the tour just to get one. Not that it isn't insensitive as crap to go around wearing something like that.



Of course, the people in this photograph are wearing the tour t-shirt whilst on the tour itself. That's akin to wearing a shirt of the band whose concert you're at. Besides, if you're walking up to a foreclosed home and the evicted owner is barricaded inside with a rifle, who do you think he's going to shoot at first, the guy with the foreclosure bus shirt or the one without one?

- I've been scouting out potential locations for the return of the Silver Spring flea market. So far the top prospect is this small lot on Easley:



There's not a whole lot of public surface lots left around Silver Spring, so the choices are limited. If there's someone from the M-NCPPC or whatever organization can make this happen and is interested, let me know. People are scouring our local thrift stores for stuff to sell to Brooklynite hipsters. For the love of God, won't anyone think of our own hipsters?

- I don't live in District 4, so I have no say in the special election up there, but if I did, I don't know if I could vote for anyone who puts three stickers with his own name haphazardly on the front of his jacket. It's not just a one-time thing, either.



Then again, maybe that's part of his strategy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Live Nation Q&A

I missed the "town hall" meeting with Live Nation last week, but received an email from Mike Diegel with a paraphrased version of the crowd's questions and Live Nation's responses. Thought I'd pass this along as an FYI...

Q: Local musicians are looking for a low-cost place to produce their music; will Fillmore be available and at what rate?

A: While there's no rate sheet yet, we hope to provide a place for local
musicians, yes.

Q: What about noise on the streets for people who live downtown?

A: We'll shut down a little earlier than most clubs, encourage people to use public transportation. Most people will be there to hear the music.

Q: Will the venue be a magnet for drugs and alcohol?

A: Our liquor license is on the line; we'll take it very seriously. Shows are not what they used to be; most people there to hear the music. We'll also have an opportunity to learn what bands draw what kinds of crowds.

Q: When will construction start and what kinds of things could get in the way?

A: Interested people should reach out to County Council reps and let them know they want the Fillmore soon. (Mike: sign-up sheet on side table; we'll keep you informed. Mike explains process for state, county.)

Q: What are the differences/similarities between the Fillmore and the Birchmere? Was disappointed the Birchmere plans fell through.

A: There'll be a broader scope of music, more people. A few of the artists might be the same. Can easily see one band performing in Alexandria, Silver Spring, and Baltimore -- rather than just one stop in the DC metro area. People don't like to drive, so all the venues would do well.

Q: So you'd book them all in your venues?

A: Not necessarily; could be in any venue, but Fillmore Silver Spring will be the centerpiece. This will be the nicest venue. (emphasis mine)

Q: What about food and alcohol?

A: We'll serve food (more like snacks) but won't have a working kitchen. We'll serve alcohol.

Q: What kinds of bookings will you do? Will there be 2nd & 3rd tier and emerging artists?

A: We'll have a variety of acts. And yes, absolutely there will be opportunities for emerging artists to come into their own.

Q: Will there be opportunities for local artists as opening acts?

A: Yes; we don't like it when groups bring their own openers.

Q: Will it be a standing only venue?

A: No, there will be multiple ways to arrange the space to accommodate seated and standing crowds. Some bands don't want to perform at a seated venue.

Q: What do you mean? I'd rather have a seated venue. Will get a better crowd.

A: Some bands want a livelier atmosphere. No matter what, the nicer you make the place, the better people will behave. This will be the nicest venue around.

Q: How are you planning on partnering on others in the region so that you won't deplete each other with bookings?

A: Don't think that will be a problem.

Q: Do you have mock-ups of the interior we can see?

A: They're being revised. There will be a balcony and a lower floor.

Q: Can you go for a more unique look with the façade -- not quite as trendy?

A: We're required to keep the façade because it’s designated historic.

Q: Who'll be responsible for security (inside versus outside)?

A: Good question; hasn't been decided yet.

Q: A lot of people are looking for a good meeting place in town.

A: (Mike answers: The new Civic Center will serve that purpose; groundbreaking to occur very soon).

Q: Brilliant idea to have a large enough venue to host conferences, meetings, when stage is dark. Will bring lots of people to Silver Spring; they'll empty out into the streets to shop and eat.

Q: What about other economic incentives for the area -- local hires, vendors, etc?

A: We'll be hiring full and part-time staff. We'll be looking for the best vendors and want to support local vendors.

Friday, April 11, 2008

RIP Fenton St. Jerry's Subs

Growing up in Silver Spring, I was a frequent patron of Jerry's Subs & Pizza's multiple (at that time) downtown locations. We didn't have much else for awhile. They would frequently offer large pizzas for $3.99, and believe me, I took full advantage of that deal, no doubt shaving a few years off of my lifespan. As far as their pizza goes, it's nothing special, and as my culinary tastes matured my cheesesteak consumption experienced a steady decline.

Nonetheless, I was sad to learn that the Jerry's on Fenton Street, which has bookended Skid Row for countless years, has closed. Was it a casualty of the growth in restaurant choice experienced by Silver Spring in recent years? Only Jerry knows. Now this Jerry's and the erstwhile location at GA & Thayer (now Langano) will exist only in my fond childhood memories. Yeah, there's a Jerry's over on 16th St., but it's not really the same thing, is it?

This is kind of how I felt when I found out...



Granted, I had pretty much given up on Jerry's, but if I recall the film's plot correctly, Charlton Heston had given up on Earth, too.

Now we can start the speculation on what will take Jerry's place on Fenton St. I heard that Louisiana Express in Bethesda has lost their lease and that if they can't find a new location in Bethesda, they may consider Silver Spring. Mmmmmm.... a cheesesteak po' boy would certainly make a fine substitute for a Jerry's cheesesteak.

UPDATE: Sigh. My initial hope that the passing of Jerry's might at least result in the arrival of something new and interesting was crushed today when I learned via the SSP that the space will be filled by good 'ol Rostas. Meet the new Silver Spring. Same as the old Silver Spring.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Silver Spring Wish List

I was recently ruminating on all the things I've expressed a desire for in Silver Spring over the past couple years and realized to my dismay that nearly none my requests have been fulfilled. Here's a categorized recap (because it's easier than a real post) of many of things I have coveted, with a few comments.

Were I mayor of Silver Spring, I promise this would all come to fruition. I'll even become homeless if that's what it takes to ascend to the office.

Food:
Great bagels - I would seriously consider opening a bagelry in Silver Spring with someone who knows how to make bagels.
A proper sports bar
Julia's Empanadas - This would be like printing money.
Gelato
Roy MF'N Rogers - I love that my GPS allows me to input "Roy Rogers" and locate the nearest location whenever I am up Frederick way.
Taste of Silver Spring - Even the hippies in Takoma Park get one of these. I think this would be a lot more successful than restaurant week.
Better Supermarkets - Seriously, the Kensington Safeway is taunting us with its greatness. Look at this for goodness sake! It's so adorable, I'd almost feel ingesting it.

Shopping:
A Flea Market - I want to get this started this up again. Who do I talk to? Going to Arlington or Eastern Market is annoying.
Better Retail - Especially for those of us with the XY chromosome.
City Place to not suck
A CVS (on the north side of Georgia Ave.)

Entertainment:
Mini-golf
Rock Band Night - Anyone want to be a sponsor?
A giant "Holiday" tree and/or Festivus pole outside the Civic Center
First Night (No, not this kind.)

Miscellaneous:
Old school streetcars
An R2-D2 mailbox... or more mailboxes in general
A proper mascot
AFI Walk of Fame - Apparently as of a couple days ago, this was still in the works.

Completely Unrealistic Crap:
A skyscraper

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Something Worthwhile in Wheaton

Disclaimer: The following post deals with something in Wheaton. I generally try to refrain from writing anything about the areas surrounding Silver Spring, but since this is essentially next door and it's technically part of Silver Spring according to Google Maps, I'll make this one exception.

When I first heard the announcement about the planned opening of the Montgomery Cinema 'N' Drafthouse in Wheaton, I was all like "meh", but upon further reflection, this is a more fortuitous development than I initially surmised. Admittedly, I didn't know much about the Drafthouse, it being in Virginia, a location just as convenient as Timbuktu as far as I'm concerned. I primarily associated cinema drafthouses with the old Bethesda one, which I didn't have a great fondness for when it was open due to its less than stellar A/V quality. That and the fact that the Wheaton theater's current state is terrible. I may bitch about the Majestic, but you couldn't pay me to go to a movie in the Wheaton theater. Sadly, I remember being happy when it opened as it was a big upgrade from the theaters inside Wheaton Plaza.

(As a side note: the one memory of that theater that always sticks with me is when I went to go see Boyz n the Hood and half of the sold-out audience gave a long standing ovation during the scene where Ice Cube and his boys went and shot the guys who killed his brother. I was only fifteen at the time but even I could tell that they were kind of missing the whole point of the movie...)

My interest in the drafthouse increased after perusing the website and noting the following features that appealed to me:

Live Redskins Games: Watching Redskins games in a theater is a cheap way to enjoy the fan camaraderie of the stadium without having to go to Raljon Landover and pay Dan Snyder $25 to park on the other side of the Beltway. Maybe they could even allow tailgating in the Wheaton Plaza parking lot. You can also leave early and not feel guilty.

Cult Movie Events: Yes, it's a second-rate ripoff of Lebowski Fest, but the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse is hosting a Big Lewbowski Movie & Music night next Thursday. It's almost enough to get me to go into Virginia. If they had this same thing in Wheaton, I'd be there in a second. (Note: this is the one and only instance where I'd consider attending something called "Dude Fest". There's a Little Larry Sellers joke in there, but I'll let you tell that one to yourself.) In addition to the Lewbowski event, they've also got one for Office Space.

Special Promotional Screenings: Last year, the Arlington location had had screening of Die Hard followed by Hot Fuzz (which I love) and a Q&A with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Now, I dunno if Wheaton would get that kind of stuff, or if it would be reserved for the original location... kind of like I fear would be the case with the 9:30 club and Silver Spring.

Live Comedy: Granted, I don't go to comedy shows very frequently, but if I could get to one in ten minutes, I'd probably be more likely to. The Arlington C&D has a number of comedians scheduled, many of whom I've even heard of.

I'm interested to see how much they invest in fixing up the theater, because that would go a long way in exorcising the demons of the dumpy establishment that preceded the drafthouse. Perhaps they could even host a Rock Band Night, ahem.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Crafters Wanted

Are you the child of an unwed mother and posses mad crochet skills? If so, then Crafty Bastards is a perfect opportunity for you! As I mentioned before, the Washington City Paper's crafts fair is expanding to Silver Spring this summer, and they are now accepting applications for booth space. Better hurry, as the deadline is April 16th. Let's ensure that MoCo is adequately represented at the event instead of allowing carpetbaggin' DC crafties to monopolize the booths.

I'm not so much into handicrafts myself, with the possible exception of this custom R2-D2 knit crochet cap, produced by request for me by my mother-in-law.



"I think George Lucas gonna sue somebody!"