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 ├╝bercool 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.