Monday, December 28, 2009

Is Goldberg the Silver Spring Bagel Messiah?

(No, not that Goldberg.)

There is a light on the horizon signaling that the long, desperate days of not having decent bagels in Silver Spring may finally be coming to an end. According to a sign posted on the space on Georgia Avenue that once housed Kirsten's Cafe, the arrival in Silver Spring of Goldberg's New York Bagels is nigh. What an excellent belated Hanukkah present for Silver Spring.

There are already two Goldberg's bagelries located elsewhere in Maryland, one in Pikesville and the other a little closer to us in a strip mall on Boiling Brook Parkway in Rockville. The Pikesville Location has been twice named best bagels in Baltimore by their City Paper, which is certainly a favorable sign. Among other things, Goldberg's bagels are boiled prior to baking, a critical step which many of the places around here that sell so-called "bagels" opt to skip.

Goldberg's New York Bagels, via Baltimore City Paper.

For myself at least, this has the potential to be one of the most important culinary arrivals in Silver Spring for some time. Provided their bagels are up to snuff, I will likely end up patronizing them nearly every weekend. Hopefully the presence of Goldberg's will eliminate the need for me to travel to Bethesda Bagels (the local bagel gold standard, IMO) to get my fix. I suppose the only downside is that this location is a bit of a pain in the ass for those without motor vehicles, as well as for those coming from downtown Silver Spring who would need to make that treacherous left turn across Georgia Avenue.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- I completely missed this news when it was originally announced in October, but Nando's Peri-Peri signed a lease to open up a new location in Downtown Silver Spring. Nando's, "home of the legendary, Portugese, flame-grilled, Peri-Peri chicken", will move into the spot on The Promenade presently occupied by the temporary toy store. No opening date has been announced.

BEWARE! While Nando's U.S. presence is currently confined to the D.C. area, it is actually a WORLDWIDE CHAIN, thus making it evil in the eyes of some. Please boycott accordingly.

- Speaking of worldwide chains, as part of McDonald's new corporate strategy the restaurant across from the Metro will likely soon be offering free wi-fi. At this point, it'd take more than free Internet and McCafé (actually OK) to get me into that particular McDonald's, always high in the running for the Worst Place in Silver Spring™. Of course, if they were to redesign our McDonald's in the manner of this one in Manhattan, I'd be willing to give at least one more shot. Unfortunately, that's not bloody likely to occur.

To my knowledge you can already get free wi-fi in downtown S.S. at Borders, Eggspectations, Mayorga, Panera, Starbucks (w/a Starbucks card) and through Silver Spring's official free wi-fi service. Did I miss anywhere?

- A few weekends back, Scientologists were conducting "free stress tests" just outside the exit to the Silver Spring Metro station. How is this legal? Who authorizes them to do this on public property? The county? WMATA?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fenton Street Market Here to Stay


Cat vest enthusiasts rejoice! The Fenton Street Market (pictured), which had two trial runs this past fall, was apparently successful enough to justify making it a permanent fixture in East Silver Spring. According to its official blog, the market will now operate every Saturday, with a tentative start date of April 17th of next year. (Presumably it will shut down for the winter months).

Hopefully there will be a healthy rotation of vendors to keep it fresh week-to-week. If its the same people selling the same stuff each Saturday there is the potential for it to get stale.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Actual Honest to Goodness Retail Win?

The short list of Silver Spring stores of actual interest me will shortly increase by one. Joe's Record Paradise, a store specializing in vintage vinyl presently located on Gude Drive in Rockville is apparently planning a move to 8216 Georgia Ave. in the imaginary "Ripley District" of downtown Silver Spring.

I haven't been to the Rockville shop, though I will definitely have to check it out on my lunch break this week. Their website is presently "under construction" and doesn't have a whole lot of info on the store. Here's an unofficial description I found online:

A one of a kind record store that has not only CD's, VHS Tapes, DVD's, Posters and other music based goods, but classic vinyl records. From rare and hard to find to the most common titles you can think up.
I am quite looking forward to killing countless hours in this store, and hopefully picking up a few vintage Creedence LPs.

UPDATE: Interestingly, there's a big Silver Spring connection with Joe's Record Paradise. Proprietor Joe Lee is the grandson of E. Brooke Lee, known as "the Father of Modern Silver Spring."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Retail Fail: Hollywood Video

The retail bloodbath continues...

Wanted to rent a movie at the Hollywood Video in downtown Silver Spring tonight? Sorry, you're short. There's a big red sign posted on the entrance alerting customers to the fact that the location is no longer in operation as of yesterday. A peek inside revealed the shelves have already been stripped completely bare.

Thanks to Netflix, I can't say I was much of a customer, but I had gone there on a few occasions when I needed a movie in a pinch.

What sucks is that they are making people go to up to Wheaton to return their rentals. I think if you had anything rented when they closed, ownership should automatically transfer to you. Or at the very least they should leave the return box open and come collect the returns after a week or so.

Unfortunately, this leaves us with another empty retail space (and a fairly large one) downtown. I guess there have been some glimmers of hope, though - that toy store did move in on Ellsworth.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday News 'N Notes

- Funny literary coincidence that somehow never occurred to me before: Starbucks Coffee and Moby Dick House of Kabob are nearly next door to each other on Ellsworth Drive.

- Big news for lazy people like me out there: Mandalay now delivers. They'll bring you your food for a $1.50 delivery charge provided you live within a five-mile radius. Considering they charge you a dollar fee to get takeout, that's not bad, especially now that winter weather appears to have finally arrived for good. Recall that Ghar-e-Kabab also delivers, and without any added fees. Either of these restaurants easily trumps most other delivery options.

- As mentioned earlier on Just up the Pike, has some great old photos of Silver Spring. Here's one of a former Masonic Temple/Chevy Dealership/Filling Station that still exists at the corner of Wayne and Georgia Avenues.

If you're ambitious, you can also find some other old S.S. photos by digging around on the Library of Congresses' Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.

Whatever happened to the statue?

- Only somewhat Silver Spring related, but for those interested in this sort of thing, I've started a Flickr pool of Mid-Century architecture (and signs) in the DC area. Silver Spring's representation includes, of course, our Googie dry cleaners.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Get Your Free Pizza (Freepza?) Next Tuesday

Even though it amounts to the type of free promotion I generally try to avoid, I'll pass this information along since it is a pretty good deal and I realize that everyone is broke and starving these days.

Flippin' Pizza on Georgia Avenue (directly across from Discovery) will be offering everyone free pizza and a soda to celebrate their grand opening next Tuesday.

It the pizza any good? Beats me, but it's free so at least you won't have to spend any money to find out. There's Flippin' Pizza location that just recently opened near my office, but I haven't yet had occasion to try their pizza. Disappointingly, they don't deliver, as their doing so might serve to break the pizza delivery monopoly that zPizza presently holds at my house. (Domino's and Papa John's aren't even in the consideration set.)

Personally, I'm even more curious about Pacci's, the brick oven pizzeria on Georgia, whose opening is steadily progressing.

No Mas Mayorga

Another unfortunate retail fail to report - the Mayorga Coffee shop in South Silver Spring has announced that it will close at the end of the year. This was the first retail location for Mayorga, which now has a number of locations, most notably at airports.

Admittedly, I rarely patronized Mayorga. When it was new I went a few times out of curiosity, but I've only been there a handful of times over the past couple of years. I've probably purchased more cups of coffee at the Mayorga stand at BWI than from the location in my own backyard. From where I live it wasn't really reasonable to walk, and once they started building all those condos back there, I wasn't really sure where to park. (That and their bagels aren't so hot.)

I generally prefer to brew my own coffee, but when I do go out for a cup o' joe in S.S., it's generally to Highland Origin or the Starbucks on the Promenade (hey, its convenient.) I'm sure Mayorga was far more popular with those who live on that side of town and with kids, who seemed to fill the place on Sunday mornings. But kids don't drink coffee, do they? Perhaps they do these days. It was even visited last year by candidate Obama.

Now the question is what, if anything, will fill that space once Mayorga departs? That location has already been the death of Industrial Photo, and there was parking back then. It might make a good space for a full-service restaurant, though again, the parking situation needs to be resolved for that or anything else to really be viable.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Inaugural Holiday Shop-N-Stroll This Saturday

Throw your kids in the shopping cart this Saturday and roll on over to the inaugural Holiday Shop-N-Stroll craft fair, scheduled from 10AM-3PM on the Silver Spring Promenade. (That's Fenton Street, noobs.) I expect the event, whose logo appears to be loosely modeled after my wife and I, will be similar to this past May's Handmade Mart, only colder. Conveniently, it will also run concurrently with the regularly-scheduled farmers market, so you can check it out when you go to pick up your CSA box. You'll also get the chance to witness the so-called War on Christmas firsthand when DTSS unveils its "Holiday Tree" on Saturday.

For more details, check out the Handmade Mart blog. You can also view a map of the 50-odd vendors here (PDF).

Want to help out? They are looking for volunteers to assist with setup on Saturday morning. Anyone who volunteers gets a free breakfast as well as a Shop-n-Stroll reusable tote bag. Hey, these days a free meal is nothing to sniff at.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Potential Polish for Parade

We should probably feel special that Silver Spring (and not Rockville) has the privilege of hosting Montgomery County's annual Thanksgiving parade. As stewards of the event, I think it is our responsibility to strive to make it as entertaining as possible. While viewing this year's parade on Saturday, I made a mental list of things that could be done to enhance the viewing experience. Sure, MoCo's little procession is no Macy's parade, but there are some things that could be done to increase the entertainment value of the event. Some stuff is good as-is, like the marching bands and the various South American dance troupes, but there is certainly plenty of room for improvement.

Here are a few suggestions:

- Better presentation. I think that if an organization wants to be represented in an event of this nature, it really needs to put a little more effort into it then just strolling down the parade route in casual clothes or matching t-shirts. Take the Boy/Girl/Cub scouts for example. Aren't those organizations intended to make kids useful? Put all those merit badges to work. How cool would it be if they constructed a human-scale pinewood derby racer and paraded it down the street? (Did they actually have this and I missed it?) I've personally witnessed useless, drunk college kids construct fantastic floats for parades, so I'm sure that the fine upstanding citizens of our community could pull together to come up with something creative for this parade. An SUV with a stuffed animal on it does not a float make.

- Filters. It seems like any group that submits the requisite forms is allowed to participate. For goodness sake, even proponents of the library pedestrian bridge had dozens of people in the parade (yet they can't cross a street?). Even boring corporate entities such as apartment management companies were represented, even if their contribution amounted to nothing more than a generic balloon with their company logo printed on it. I'm sure they do a fine job scheduling the exterminator and having your sink fixed, but do we really need to see them in a parade? There needs to be someone in charge of quality control that has ultimate authority to give the thumbs down to prospective participants whose participation doesn't enhance the overall experience.

- Zombies. It suddenly struck me as I watched the parade - why in the hell is the Silver Spring Zombie Walk not represented here? Next year, God willing, we shall have zombies in the parade. Hopefully the parade powers-that-be are not too squeamish to allow such a thing. If they come back with the argument that zombies would scare small children, I am going to call BS. This year's parade already included the most terrifying creatures on the planet - clowns.

- More giant cartoon character balloons. What is a Thanksgiving parade without these? I don't know if it fell off a truck or something, but for whatever reason there was a giant Darth Stewie balloon in the parade. What does this have to do with Montgomery County? Absolutely nothing, but who cares? We need more of these. I don't care if they have to use a filthy, patched-up Odie balloon that hasn't been floated since 1986, just get it done.

- A live-action Rickroll float.

- Consolidation. Why have each of county council members spread throughout the parade in individual cars? That's not very "green", now is it? Why not instead have a float featuring a mock up of the county council chamber with all the councilpeople seated together in a simulated council session? They could even argue about the Fillmore or something. Far more efficient and entertaining. Also, if every fire department in the county is going to be represented, why not line up all the emergency vehicles in a row? The way it is now, all the various county fire departments' trucks are interspersed throughout the parade. I could see a more exciting "parade" if I set my house on fire. Why not just put them all together and simulate a ten-alarm fire? Also, more dalmatians.

Well, that's just my $0.02 on the matter. Make me the parade master (there is probably a really cool German word for this) and I'll make it happen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pedestrian Struck & Killed @ 16th and Colesville

Unclear/unsafe pedestrian patterns, reckless driving, jaywalking or a combination of these resulted in the death of a pedestrian who was struck and killed trying to cross 16th Street near the Colesville intersection. It can be quite harrowing crossing 16th near that circle in a motor vehicle, much less on foot. It might be a pain to walk to the nearest crosswalk, but clearly your life might very well depend on it.

(Oddly, while there is no marked crosswalk at that intersection, there is a tiny little sidewalk on the median)

Personally I think the driver, provided he was abiding by all traffic laws in this situation, could also be considered a victim in this situation. I imagine that killing someone with your car would be quite traumatizing, not to mention that in our litigious society this could potentially expose him to a costly lawsuit.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know one of my biggest pet peeves about Silver Spring are the jaywalkers in the downtown area and the lack of enforcement on the part of the police. The boldness of some of these jaywalkers is staggering, and its surprising that we haven't had a lot more fatal accidents over the years. It can be quite difficult to see people crossing the road in places where they shouldn't be, and now that the evening commute is made in darkness the danger is elevated. Even in my own residential neighborhood, away from the downtown area, I have come close to striking pedestrians wearing dark clothing and crossing unlit roads. By no means is this situation unique to Silver Spring, but that is where as a driver I have had innumerable close calls with pedestrians.

Just recently I was driving in the right hand lane when a pedestrian, while looking right at me, stepped directly in front of my car to start crossing the street, forcing me to swerve quickly to my left. As he was clearly aware of my presence, he was either:

- Stupid.
- On crack.
- Suicidal.
- So arrogant that he believed he could defy the laws of physics and win out in a collision between car and human.

Now I'm not averse to jaywalking myself in certain situations, but I use common sense to determine if there is any danger whatsoever from cars before committing to cross the street.

One thing that could potentially be done to alleviate the jaywalking menace in Silver Spring would be to install (tasteful) metal barriers along the sidewalks on Colesville between Spring St. and East-West Hwy. Openings would be provided only for bus stops. This would necessitate eliminating the limited number of street parking spaces on this stretch of road, though this would have the benefit of opening up two new full-time lanes on some stretches. I think that something of this nature will ultimately be a necessity between Fenton and Georgia once inebriated people begin to funnel out of the Fillmore on a nightly basis.

Putting up this type of deterrent isn't unheard of. In Langley Park, where jaywalking is/was an absolute epidemic, they've erected a fence in the New Hampshire Ave. median to check jaywalkers.

UPDATE: Coincidentally, Montgomery County just yesterday launched a campaign to educate pedestrians about the dangers of jaywalking. Unsurprisingly, more pedestrians are hit on the stretch of Piney Branch Road between Flower Ave. and the PG County line than anywhere else in the county.

UPDATE #2: As someone mentioned, there's actually a sidewalk that goes across the median on that block, up a ways from the intersection with Colesville:

This makes no sense... there's no signage for a crosswalk, no diagonal lines and it's not at the intersection, so this probably wouldn't qualify as being a continuation of the sidewalk along Colesville road and therefore making it a de jure crosswalk... so what is it? Obviously the county needs to do something here to clarify exactly where people should cross the street.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hump Day News 'N Notes

- Will the last person in Pittsburgh please turn out the lights? Apparently, even the beggars from Western Pennsylvania are coming to the DC area to find work. I noticed the dude at the Metro station with the electric wheelchair - a mainstay of the Silver Spring panhandling scene - was decked out in full Steelers regalia this Saturday. More than likely, he's just jumped on another team's bandwagon like a lot of ex-Redskins fans around here. Hell, 20 years ago wearing another team's colors would be a huge marketing faux pas for a panhandler, but at this point you're probably going to run across more Steelers fans than Skins fans.

- Greater Greater Washington has an excellent explanation on how the Purple Line will fit into the future transit center.

- The little stand at the corner of Ramsey and Wayne stocks one of the most inexplicable products I have come across in awhile - Che Guevara lanyards. They don't even feature the iconic Che image, they just have the words "Che Guevara" printed on them. Who buys this crap? I guess even Maryland Maoists need something to hold their IDs. Not properly displaying your badge could easily be considered counter-revolutionary.

- The Four Corners GameStop has now opened in the space that formerly housed a mattress store, a pet food shop and, many years ago, a High's. Though I usually try to avoid GameStop like the plague, it is now by far the most convenient place for me to buy a video game should I require one on short notice. If you absolutely have to shop there, here's a handy GameStop survival guide. Seriously, why was this not put in City Place? Oh, that's right - no one will go in there.

American Apparel Window Busted (Again)

The window of the American Apparel on Colesville has once again been shattered. Was it a victim of another hate crime? A wayward automobile? The askew street lamp may lend some credence to the latter theory.

I was in a hurry when I passed by, so I didn't have a chance to ask. I bet at this point they have the glass company on speed dial.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Silver Spring Propaganda, Circa 1927

I recently came across this 1927 newspaper advertisement extolling the virtues of purchasing land in Silver Spring, or "Maryland-North-Of-Washington". The ad was placed by the Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, whose membership, I presume, was at least partially made up of those that owned the land being promoted.

(click image to enlarge)

Of all the reasons given to buy into Silver Spring, this is my favorite:

You can buy property in this desirable territory as reasonably as you can buy in the poorest, undesirable, row-house sections of Washington. (Translation: "Silver Spring: as cheap as the ghetto!")
At 30 cents per square foot, I guess you couldn't go wrong long-term. I imagine the two-year return in 1927 had to be better than investing in the stock market.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Crime Dog Goes Home With Tail Between His Legs

So now the criminal scum are brazen enough to shoot people on Colesville Road during the peak of evening rush hour?

A 25-year-old man was shot Monday evening in downtown Silver Spring, Montgomery County police said.

The shooting was reported about 6 p.m. in the 8600 block of Colesville Road, near the AFI Silver Theatre and the City Place Mall.

Police said the man told them that he had just left a Gold's Gym in the area when two men tried to rob him on a sidewalk. They said he was shot in a leg, and taken to a hospital.
These guys will get caught. You can't pull that crap at a busy intersection and get away with it. (I've got a C note that says the perps weren't from Silver Spring.)

Be sure to read the comments section of the Post article. This event will no doubt bring out the usual anti-Silver Spring invective. Ironically, this is the same block that McGruff the Crime Dog was patrolling this morning. We don't need McGruff - we need RoboCop.

I've said it before - someday someone will get shot on Ellsworth, sending DTSS down the road towards becoming another Boulevard at the Capital Centre. Now we have a shooting just one block over. Let's hope this is the worst we see.

I blame City Place. Implode it.

UPDATE: Story from Fox 5.

No witnesses? Has the "Stop Snitchin'" campaign affected Silver Spring, too?


Perhaps the innocent victim wasn't so innocent, after all...
A man who was shot and wounded Monday in downtown Silver Spring was attacked as a result of involvement in a possible drug deal and probably not in a random confrontation, Montgomery County police said Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Silver Spring Sign Goodness

Here's another cool Mid-century sign in Silver Spring. The sign resides over the entrance to the arcade at the Glenmont Shopping Center, located at the intersection of Georgia Ave. and Randolph Rd. (Yes, this may be SSINO and borderline Wheaton, but whatever.)

Glenmont Arcade

Contrary to what the sign indicates, there is not actually a bowling alley located here - at least there isn't anymore. I don't recall ever bowling here when it was open, so I dug into it a bit. The bowling alley that formerly resided here was Glenmont Lanes, founded by former New York Giants football player "Tuffy" Leemans, who operated it until his death in 1979. Sadly, yet not surprisingly, the alley closed for good in 2002. Being a proper Maryland bowling alley, it was of course duckpin. I may be mistaken, but I believe the underground alley is now home to a church. These may or may not be photos of the current interior.

"Tuffy's" did live on in a sense until earlier this afternoon by way of its zombie website, hosted by mid-90's time capsule Geocities. Of course, with the plug finally being pulled on Geocities today, the site can now only be found in archived form. The last update appeared to be a league stat sheet from November of 2000. Sadly, the website included no photos of the interior of the alley. I imagine the interior as being a a bit of a throwback, similar to the (amazingly) still-operational White Oak Lanes.


More Silver Spring Googie: Miles Glass Sign
Silver Spring Googie (Weller's Dry Cleaners)
A Hidden Silver Spring Gem - White Oak Lanes

Monday, October 26, 2009

Zombie Walk FTW

Well, this year's zombie walk is in the books, and that means it's time to do another postmortem (heh.) For photos from the event, check out the official Flickr pool, which has over 300 photos and counting.

Someone has also set up a YouTube playlist with videos from Saturday night. I think this one in particular captures the event pretty well.

Anyway, on to the postmortem.

What Worked:

- The turnout was tremendous. The level of participation at this year's walk exceeded even our highest estimates. I'd wager we had 400-500 people walking, at least triple the number that showed up last year. A big thanks goes out to everyone who attended and put in the effort to zombify themselves. There were some great costumes out there, and I regret that I wasn't able to see them all. Among others, the Bea Arthur zombie cracked me up. As far as I'm concerned, it's never too soon.

Photo by Flickr user kingcool68.

- The movie worked out quite well. There was a capacity crowd which AFI described as the most rowdy they've ever seen. There was a spirited game of brain football prior to the show and during the movie there was plenty of audience participation, particularly when it came to expressing displeasure regarding the tragic death of zombies onscreen. On a side note, I really appreciate how AFI cranks up the volume in their theaters - especially for a loud movie like Shaun. At the Majestic I have to strain my ears just to catch the dialogue.

- The local community was really into the event. The Promenade was lined with onlookers snapping photos and shooting videos. The DTSS people even set up smoke machines to add to the effect. Also, despite our not coordinating with him whatsoever, The Man was extremely accommodating. The MoCo police stationed a few cruisers along the route to ensure that the no one in the zombie horde got their head run over by a car. From what I could tell, the cops were pretty much letting zombies be zombies, not dissuading them from swarming passing vehicles or generally creating mayhem.

- There was a good amount of press coverage of the event, including a news team from (of all places) the Indonesian branch of Voice of America. I noticed they interviewed a lot of zombies for their segment.

Areas for Improvement:

- We really need a bigger gathering space where we can properly marshal the zombie horde. An overcrowded Quarry House was the main issue we had last year, and with even greater attendance the space issue was exacerbated (What does "exacerbate" mean?) this year. People ended up just hanging out on Georgia Avenue as they couldn't fit in either the Quarry House or one of the other nearby restaurants. By the way, there was an epic fail on the part of Piratz Tavern, which, despite advertising specials related to the ZW, didn't seem to be aware about said specials and didn't seem particularly accommodating to zombies. I kind of got yelled at by a staff member when I ventured inside to check out the scene.

Next year, I'd love to have a large dedicated space for Zombies with a DJ, zombie trivia, costume contests, and food and drink. In the unlikely event that the Fillmore would actually be open by that time, it'd be perfect.

- An extended route for the walk. As great as it is to pass through a crowded Ellsworth Dr., I know some people expressed disappointment that the walk didn't last longer. Perhaps next year we'll start earlier and take a route that goes through more of Silver Spring. The key thing is that it needs to go through areas with plenty of unsuspecting pedestrians and businesses that can be terrorized. Through the Metro station, perhaps? (Someday the walk will pass through City Place.)

- Greater capacity for the post-walk movie. The entire 400-seat main theater at the AFI was sold out before the walk even started. AFI was able to add an overflow showing at 11:45, but I'm sure there were a lot of people who couldn't attend something that late. Optimally, we would have simultaneous screenings in all three of AFI's theaters of whatever movie is scheduled next year. Perhaps we could even give people a choice of three Zombie flicks. (Even better idea: an all-day Zombie film festival!)

Overall, I think the event was quite successful. If you've got suggestions for next year's walk, post them in the comments here or shoot me an email. To receive details on next year's walk as they become available, join the Silver Spring Zombie Walk Facebook group or follow our Twitter feed.

Special thanks to the following for making the Zombie Walk a success: AFI Silver Theatre, The Quarry House Tavern, Montgomery County Police Department, Axion (for hosting the website), The Peterson Cos., Brian Hefele and Alex Coblentz (for their poster design), and especially to all of you who showed up on Saturday - without you, there is no Zombie Walk. If I forgot anyone, I apologize!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Photo by Flickr user Pighood

Mongtomery Donuts (which originated in Silver Spring) has returned... in Virginia. If you grew up in Silver Spring or elsewhere in Montgomery County, you know just how terribly wrong this is. I tried to come up with a clever analogy to explain it to non-locals, but there is no apt comparison.

Somewhere, this boy is crying all over his sprinkled donut.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bed Bath & Beyond a Reasonable Distance

Can someone provide a reasonable explanation as to why there is not a Bed Bath & Beyond in or near downtown Silver Spring? I really think that's a market research fail on the part of BB&B corporate. In the past few years they've added urban locations in both Chinatown and Columbia Heights, yet we've been completely ignored. There was a rumor that one was coming a few years back, but sadly that amounted to nothing. I really think locating one here would be like printing money. I've got quite a collection of the 20% off coupons that they frequently mail me, yet nowhere to use them.

Presently, the most "convenient" location is in Rockville Pike Hell. I've had a $10 item I've needed to return for months, but have never bothered since I calculated the trip wouldn't be worth the time or money required. Until the entire company failed, at least there were a few Linens N Things locations that were marginally more convenient.

The optimal location for a BB&B would of course be City Place. That might even get people through the doors of that sorry excuse for a mall.


- I recently went to the Giant in Long Branch for the first time in a while and was happy to see that it had received a thorough makeover. It's wasn't purely cosmetic, either - I noticed particular items that they now stock which weren't available before. The produce even looked fresher, though I could have been imagining that. I generally prefer to go to this store rather than the downtown location. Not only is it somewhat more convenient to my house, but there's always plenty of parking and the staff seems a lot more pleasant. At the Giant downtown, they get annoyed if you have the audacity to ask them a question. Kind of like Metro employees.

- This Saturday is the Silver Spring Library's bookfest. There will be a book and bake sale in the basement as well as pony rides (!) and a petting zoo on the front lawn. Be there when it opens to see the spectacle of dealers with their scanners cherry picking all the good books in under 90 seconds. Note to the S.S. library: some libraries have banned these scanners from book sales.

- The small Post Office on Colesville Road will not be closing after all. I used to use that location quite frequently, and I would say my experiences were mixed. Most memorable was the time the witch lady who works behind the counter essentially called me a liar to my face when she refused to believe I had a book in the package I was sending via Media Mail rather than a stack of papers. As if I was trying to rip off the USPS...

When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk through Silver Spring.

I promise that this will be the final post about the Zombie Walk prior to the walk itself. I know that those of you participating are looking forward to Saturday, but at the same time there are probably an equal number of people tired of hearing about it. Either way, don't worry - it will all be over soon.

The purpose of this post is to pass along a few essential items regarding the event:

- We anticipate a significant zombie horde on Saturday. While this is of course a very good thing, it's entirely possible that we could end up exceeding the occupancy limit of the Quarry House. If you get to the QH for the pre-party and it's jam packed, don't fret - there are other options!

Piratz Tavern, located directly across the street from the Quarry House, is hosting a "Zombie Ball" beginning at 8PM with specials on zombies (of course) and something called "brain shooters" (I would have gone with "head shots", myself.) It sounds nasty, but those dressed up as zombies also get a free "squid ink shot" with any drink purchase.

Alternatively, you can head down to one of the restaurants on Ellsworth such as Redrock Canyon Grill, McGinty's or Austin Grill. The Across the Street Cafe, which is located, well, across the street from the AFI Silver Theatre will also offer drink specials and and free hors d'oeuvres for Zombies before and after the walk.

The important thing is to be outside the Quarry House by 9:30 for the start of the walk.

- The walk will go rain or shine. Rain is called for earlier in the day, but as of right now the forecast is for partly cloudy skies that evening.

- Buy your Shaun of the Dead tickets now and spare yourself a potential hassle and/or disappointment later. There's no extra fee to do so online, so you've got nothing to lose.

- For up-to-the minute updates on the walk, follow @sszombiewalk on Twitter.

- For additional information, review the Silver Spring Zombie Walk FAQ or visit the official website.

See you there!

(In the Silver Spring version of Dawn of the Dead, the Zombies would be trying to force their way out of City Place because they would remember that they didn't want to be in there.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

More Silver Spring Googie: Miles Glass Co.

I have a strange fascination with signs - particularly old ones - so as an addendum up to my recent post on Silver Spring's Googie dry cleaners, here's another example of Googie in Silver Spring - the wonderfully retro Miles Glass Co. sign:

The signs (there's two) are affixed to the side of Miles' Mid-century commercial building, located at 8714 Piney Branch Rd. in the Long Branch neighborhood of Silver Spring. Miles Glass Co. has been around since 1942, though I'm not sure from when the sign dates. Probably sometime in the 50's, if I had to wager a guess. In case you were curious, the red tool on the left side of the sign is a glass cutter. Admittedly, I had to look that up.

There was a similar sign at a second Miles Glass location in Southeast D.C. near the Navy Yard, though this location is now closed and the sign has been removed.

In the unlikely event that I ever draft a screenplay for a noir film, it will most certainly included a supporting character with the übercool name of "Miles Glass".

UPDATE: The Silver Spring Historical Society notes that this sign once had neon tubes (which makes sense). Sadly, they are long gone.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who'll Stop the Rain?

I'm back in town, and after spending a week somewhere that seemingly enjoys perpetual sunshine I am being cruelly subjected to this unseasonably cold, wet, and dreary weather. *Sigh*. To add to my misery, the power decided to go out sporadically in parts of Silver Spring yesterday during my evening commute, requiring me to cross major intersections without the benefit of traffic lights. The cops were at some of these intersections to assist. At others, not so much.

Anyway, I'm trying this week to get back up to speed work-wise and blog-wise while getting my still-incomplete Zombie Walk costume together.

In the meantime, If you want to revisit a recent time when Silver Spring was warm and sunny, check out the updated street view images on Google Maps. (HT to Just Up the Pike) Our burg first got added to Street View about a year ago, and we've just recently gotten a refresh. The Google drivers seem to have gone out further into some of the SSINO areas that were bypassed before, though they mostly seem to have stuck to the main thoroughfares.

When did the Google car (self-portrait above) roll through? Based on the mostly crap movies showing at the Majestic, I'd say late July, early August. (I love how Harry Potter's face is blurred out for "privacy".)

Of course ,upon first learning about the updated images, my immediate reaction was to check out my house. (A minor life goal of mine is to somehow be captured on Street View, blurred visage or no.) I typed in my address and was startled to see a photo of a strange man exiting my home. After a few seconds of confusion, I realized that this was the contractor who was working on my bathroom this summer. Not fair.

While the Street View is now pretty current, Google's satellite imagery remains a bit dated, as it still shows the defunct "Turf".

Monday, October 05, 2009

Happiness is a Warm Brain: The Zombie Walk FAQ

The 2nd Annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk is just weeks away, so if your costume isn't prepared, you better get to steppin'. (Regrettably my own costume remains incomplete.)

The following is the Silver Spring Zombie Walk FAQ, which hopefully addresses any pressing questions you might have about the event. If there's anything else you need to know, please don't hesitate to contact us.

And now, the FAQ:

What the hell is a Zombie Walk?

From Wikipedia:

A zombie walk (also known as a zombie mob, zombie march, zombie horde, zombie lurch, zombie shamble, zombie shuffle or zombie pub crawl) is an organized public gathering of people who dress up in zombie costumes. Usually taking place in an urban centre, the participants make their way around the city streets and through shopping malls in a somewhat orderly fashion and often limping their way towards a local cemetery or other public space (a series of taverns in the case of a zombie pub crawl).
When and where does the walk start?

Plan to gather at the Quarry House Tavern on Saturday, October 24th sometime after 8PM, though there’s nothing stopping you from coming earlier. Zombies will depart the QH at approximately 9:30.

What if I get to the Quarry House and it’s full?

If the Walk proves popular enough to fill up the Quarry House early, go across the street to Piratz Tavern or down the block to Olazzo. We’ll make sure that everyone gets the word when the walk is ready to commence.

Does it cost anything to participate?

There is no charge to participate in the Walk, though you would have to purchase tickets should you choose to attend the movie following the walk.

Where in Silver Spring will the Walk go?

The Walk will start at the intersection of Bonifant Street and Georgia Avenue (outside the Quarry House) and will proceed through the Downtown Silver Spring Area, ending up at the AFI Silver Theatre on Colesville Road for a showing of Shaun of the Dead.

Check the Silver Spring Zombie Walk website for an official route map.

What should I wear to a Zombie Walk?

Zombies come from all professions and all walks of life, so use your imagination. Just make sure your clothes are torn and there’s plenty of blood. Props such as dismembered limbs, brains, etc. can be a great enhancement to your look.

Photo from last year's walk by Flickr user oberlep27.

Here’s some websites with great tips on making zombie costumes:

- Expert Village - How to Make a Zombie Costume (Some great how-to videos here.)

- Zombie Maker - The Definitive Zombie Make Up and Costume Guide

- wikiHow - How to Look Like a Zombie. They also have a page dedicated to the essential art of making fake blood.

- 365 Halloween - How to make a zombie costume with makeup

Check out these photos of last year’s event to get a good perspective on what types of costumes people will be wearing.

How can I get updates on the Zombie Walk?

- Continually hit F5 our website.

- Join the Silver Spring Zombie Walk Facebook group.

- Subscribe to the Twitter Feed.

Where do I purchase tickets to Shaun of the Dead?

Tickets can be purchased at the AFI Silver box office or online. It is highly recommended that you have your tickets in hand before the show in order to avoid the queue at the box office.

What is Shaun of the Dead all about?

Shaun of the Dead is a British “romantic zombie comedy” film from 2004 starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

Again, from Wikipedia:
The plot focuses on Shaun, a young man who is attempting to get some kind of focus in his life as he reconciles with his ex-girlfriend and settles his various issues with his mother and stepfather. At the same time he has to cope with an apocalyptic uprising of zombies that is destroying society.
It’s rated R for zombie violence/gore and language. Check out the trailer here.

Can kids come too?

The Zombie Walk is open to all ages, and we did have some youth zombies at last year’s event. Just be aware that the event will take place at a crowded bar/restaurant and that the walk won’t begin until about 9:30.

Why isn’t the Zombie Walk on Halloween?

Many people are committed to other activities on Halloween night - parties, taking the kids trick-or-treating, etc. Holding the Walk on a different night allows the maximum number of people to participate.

What can I do to help promote the Zombie Walk?

Tell all your friends, family, etc. Outside of that, print out copies of this poster (PDF) and plaster it over bulletin boards at your work, school, apartment, etc.

I’m going to take a bunch of photos of the Zombie Walk. How can I share them?

You are encouraged to add any Zombie Walk photos to the 2009 Silver Spring Zombie Walk Pool on Flickr.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday News 'N Notes

There's a full slate of events scheduled in Downtown Silver Spring this Saturday. For starters, the Fenton Street Market has its second and final iteration of 2008 beginning at 9AM. If, like me, you have suffered through many sleepless nights of regret after not purchasing the cat vest the last around time, perhaps it will still be available tomorrow.

A few blocks away, the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association will be throwing its annual block party beginning at 1. There will be over 50 vendors plus food, music, etc. Here's some photos from last year's event.

At 2, there's also a walking tour of local businesses courtesy of Buy Local Silver Spring. Hopefully the tour will not stop at each hair salon, or it could last months. Just remember that if you do go on the tour, "local" does not by default mean "good". I will refrain from giving examples, but if you've read this blog before you probably know what I'm talking about.

This got me to thinking - I'd love to rent an old school bus and give a Silver Spring Reality Tour, à la Kramer. Perhaps more on this another time...

For better or worse, however, I will miss all of the above, being that I will be out of town for the next week or so. I've scheduled one Zombie Walk-related post for next week, but other than that I'll be pretty much incommunicado during that time.

As usual, I will leave a small clue as to where my whereabouts. First one to answer correctly gets cake.

If I've already told you, you are not permitted to answer. Also, the cake is a lie.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sweep That Creek

Bust out your Wellies - this weekend is the Friends of Sligo Creek's bi-annual Sweep the Creek event.

It's unfortunate, but someone needs to clean up after the subhuman garbage that deems it acceptable to dispose of their waste by tossing it out their car window on Sligo Creek Parkway. Garbage washed down Sligo Creek ends up in the Northwest Branch, which leads to the Anacostia, etc, etc, until it ends up in the ocean where it kills cute baby dolphins or something.

Help meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

As I discovered on a recent river cruise, the Anacostia is little more than a liquid conveyor belt of trash. While our little watershed can't be blamed for all of that, the garbage that washes down Sligo Creek certainly contributes.

In addition to the warm feeling you get from single-handedly saving the earth, I've found that collecting trash in the park can be surprisingly fun. You can look at it as a treasure hunt or make it a competition to see who can collect the most litter. You might even find actual treasure. Last year someone discovered old farm equipment and the year before they removed an old Coca-Cola cooler. People pay good money for those things.

Unfortunately, the last time I participated, the biggest "treasure" I found was a tire I fished out of the creek, but maybe I'll have better luck this time around.

So, find the meeting place nearest to you on this map and be there Saturday (or Sunday for some sections) to lend a hand.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Takoma Park Picks up Siver Spring's Pizza Slack (For Now)

The sad fact is that downtown Silver Spring doesn't really have a standout pizzeria. When it first opened, I would have Mama Lucia's on occasion, though I quickly tired of it. Lately I've been getting Z Pizza fairly regularly, but really that's only because it delivers and it's a hell of a lot better than Domino's. When I'm really craving a great pie, I regrettably have to look outside of Silver Spring.

Some of you may recall the Alberto's Pizza debacle of last year, a false start which went as far to tease us with signage on a Georgia Avenue storefront. There is hope on the horizon for Silver Spring pizza aficionados, however. We are slated to receive a proper brick oven pizzeria in the form of Pacci's, which will be opening (soon, I hope) on Georgia Avenue near the World Building. Pacci's is a venture of Spiro Gioldasis, the general manager of Mrs. K's Toll House. Apparently Gioldasis specialized in Pizza back in the old country (Greece), so that's a good sign. And yes, I am aware of the imminent arrival of Flippin' Pizza, but I don't really think that one is going to move the needle a whole lot.

In the meantime, I decided to venture into the borderlands and try Roscoe's, a Neapolitan pizzeria on Carroll Street in Takoma Park. Neopolitan is my favorite style of pizza and while I love 2 Amys, it's too inconvenient on weekdays and too crowded on weekends. When I recently discovered that we had a Neapolitan pizzeria in our own back yard, I was delighted. Roscoe's opened way back in May, and I'm not really sure how I had never been aware of it until fairly recently. The storefront has fairly subtle signage, and I probably drove by at least a dozen times before I even noticed it was there.

The dining experience began inauspiciously, as they mixed up our appetizer order of arugula and spinach with Parmesan crostini, instead bringing us the olive tapenade one. I decided to just roll with it, and the inadvertent substitution still proved appetizing.

The pizza itself was great. I ordered the quattro formaggi pizza (pictured), and you could really taste the Gorgonzola. I tried and failed to not eat the entire pizza in a single sitting. I had read on some Yelp! reviews that their crust was unevenly cooked, but that wasn't the case with my pie. I tried my wife's Totto pizza, and that tasted great too, though I had to pick off the anchovies.

Bottom line: if you like this style of pizza and don't want to bother with 2 Amy's, I highly recommend Roscoe's. I hope that Pacci's pizzas will be just as tasty, but if not, at least an excellent alternative exists just outside the borders of Silver Spring.

(Side note: This place is totally Takoma Park. Their drink menu includes organic juice boxes.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

Is it just me, or is very little of interest going on around Silver Spring lately? I'm going to incite another big brawl on Ellsworth just to have something to write about. Well, news is generally slower in the summer, and for better or worse that particular season concludes this week.

- I realize it's last minute, but if you happen to be in Rockville this afternoon at 1:30, you may wish to attend the county council hearing regarding the appropriation of funds to keep Sligo Creek Golf Course open for an additional year. The meeting will be held in a a disused basement lavatory of the council building with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard". If you are fortunate enough not to be in Rockville, you have the option of watching the council meeting live online, should you be so inclined. In a related story, the Gazette recently had an article on the disabled veterans who make use of the Sligo course.

- Tickets are now on sale for the October 24th showing of Shaun of the Dead at the AFI. If you plan to attend the Zombie Walk, I highly recommend you purchase your tickets in advance. It may not sell out, but you never know. Also, If you have your ticket in advance you will be able to bypass the inevitable queue.

- Want to participate in the grassroots effort to promote the Zombie Walk? Print out multitudinous copies of this poster (PDF) and plaster it over bulletin boards at your work, school, apartment, coffee shop, halfway house, etc. If the poster is not omnipresent by the end of this week, I am going to hold you personally responsible.

- Silver Spring is one of the most generous small cities (sic) in the country on a per capita basis, at least according to one measure. (Not as generous as Bethesda, though.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fenton Street Market: A Good Start

I hit up the inaugural Fenton Street Market this morning, and while I didn't end up finding anything myself, it was definitely a decent start for what will hopefully become a regular event.

The parking lot that serves as the market's home was mostly filled up with tents, though a few of the spaces designated for vendors remained empty. There was certainly nowhere near the 80-odd vendors listed on the market's website, but perhaps that list included those who will be at the next scheduled market on October 3rd. I don't even know how you'd fit 80 tents in that parking lot. I was particularly disappointed in the absence of the architecture book vendor listed on the website, but perhaps they'll be there next time (though I can't make it myself.)

The word definitely got out about the market, as there was a steady flow of people (all with strollers) headed south down Fenton Street, presumably coming from the farmers market. Scheduling these two events concurrently was a wise idea. There was plenty of signage posted on telephone poles up and down the street, and discarded flyers lead me to believe that it was also being promoted in the DTSS area.

The things offered for sale included antiques, handmade jewelry, t-shirts, vintage clothing and more. Though what I saw wasn't necessarily my cup of tea, I'm sure some these things were of interest to others.

Some of the other things for sale included "vintage" bicycles...

original artwork...

miscellaneous furniture...

and handmade wooden toys.

I didn't find anything for myself today, but these things are always like a box of chocolates. Maybe next time. Hell, I'd even set up a stand myself if I could think of anything I could hock.

The Fenton Street Market has a ways to go before it rivals Eastern Market or the Georgetown Flea Market, but let's hope that these first couple events prove successful enough to keep the market running into next year. Maybe if demand is high enough from vendors, it can even spread out into some of the surrounding public lots, which probably don't get much use on Saturday mornings.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Fenton Street Market Bigger and More Interesting Than Anticipated

While I was delighted that Silver Spring was finally getting its own flea market, I had been approaching this Saturday's debut of the Fenton Street Market with a bit of skepticism. Could they sign up enough vendors to make it work? Would their wares be of any interest to me?

However, through a review of a list of vendors I was pleased to discover there will be far more participants (80!) than I had expected, and that there are indeed a number whose descriptions I find intriguing.

For example:

  • Community Forklift--architectural salvage
  • Riverdale Model Train Club--demonstrating vintage model trains
  • Vintage 5--German imports and vintage ephemera
  • Melissa Avery--vintage records and Hawaiian shirts
  • Antiquariat--architecture & urban planning books
The Market will be held from 9-2 on Saturday at the corner of Fenton St. and Silver Spring Ave. As of now the forecast is for isolated thunderstorms. Let's hope that the storms hold off until after the market closes, though the website does say "rain or shine".

Friday, September 04, 2009

Zombie Walk Propaganda, Redux

As much as like our first poster, I decided to supplement it with a work of my own. I went for a more classic propaganda look...

Here's the original poster on which this was based. I decided to keep the Zeppelins. What do Zeppelins have to do with Zombies and/or Silver Spring? They are all awesome.

(I promise not every post between now and October 24th will be about the Zombie Walk.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Zombie Walk Propaganda

Revealed - our first poster for this year's Zombie Walk!

(click to enlarge)

Big thanks go out to Brian Hefele and Alex Coblentz for putting this together.

Also, I picked up the latest issue of the AFI Preview magazine at the AFI this evening and noticed a little plug we got in the blurb for Shaun of the Dead.

Friday News 'N Notes

- Peep the new site header. I figured the old shopping center postcard image was getting a bit stale and a refresh was long overdue. I did manage to keep the old image as a small part of the new design, however. If you look closely, you'll also notice that Ol' Chompy makes an appearance.

- As a follow-up to my earlier post on the subject, I should note that Whole Foods has thrown its hat into what it calls the "boutique" cupcake arena, and is selling $1.99 cupcakes at the bakery of its Silver Spring store.

I somehow doubt long lines will be forming outside like they did at Hello Cupcake's free cupcake day earlier this week. Sometimes you need to ask yourself how much of your time a free cupcake is worth. Maybe they are all unemployed.

- Has anyone tried the new Nicaro (or "Newcaro")? The reviews I've read have been mixed, at best. For one, it doesn't seem to bear any relation to the original Nicaro in terms of cuisine. I'm hesitant to try it until I hear some good feedback.

- Not that it really needed to, but the AFI Silver Theatre has justified its existence by scheduling showings of the all-time classic Transformers: The Movie. No, not the recent Michael Bay rubbish, but the original 1986 animated film. I'm kind of surprised a print of this one still exists. I doubt if it's been shown in a proper theater in 20+ years.

And now, one of the greatest scenes (and songs) in the history of cinema. I still get goosebumps. Spoiler alert, of course, but I doubt you'd actually go see this particular movie had you not already seen it years ago.

The first showing is tonight at 9:10 and there's another tomorrow at 10:30. I expect to see you there. One shall stand, one shall fall...