Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rock the Red in South Silver Spring This Saturday


After years of my bitching and moaning, Silver Spring finally has a proper sports bar, and we better support it wholeheartedly lest we be left with nowhere worthwhile to view sports. With that in mind, I hereby declare Babe's Sports Bar, located at 1115 East West Highway, the official unofficial venue in Silver Spring at which to watch this Saturday's NHL Winter Classic. This year's match-up pits our heroic Washington Capitals vs. the nefarious Penguins of Pittsburgh.

Babe's is presently living off the grid, not having established a website, Twitter feed or Facebook page (update: it's here), at least to my knowledge. However, it does already have a few positive reviews on Yelp! along with a couple (suspiciously?) glowing reviews posted on this blog. Also, Thayer Avenue will vouch for the dry rub ribs. If there's anyone from the bar reading this who wants to offer specials for Caps fans, shoot me an email and I'll let everyone know.

Provided the weather in Pittsburgh permits, TV coverage will start at 1PM, with the puck dropping shortly thereafter. The wearing of Capitals jerseys is encouraged, but even if you don't own a jersey be sure to Rock the Red.

In addition to the Winter Classic, there will also be the usual lineup of New Year's Day college bowl games to watch that afternoon.


P.S. -  Penguins fans not allowed. Just kidding, they are perfectly welcome to watch through the window from the street. Viewing from a distance in the cold - it will be just like being at the Winter Classic itself!

A Fake Meter Does Not a Real Parking Spot Make

Now why would anyone be confused here? This car sat unmolested in the middle of Ellsworth for a fair amount time today while parked next to a parking meter that is not a parking meter.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

From the Archives: Silver Spring's Goldie Hawn

Apropos of nothing, here's the 1963 Montgomery Blair senior yearbook photo of Goldie Hawn, one of a handful of celebrities from Silver Spring.

And here's her in action, "expressing... creating... drama".

Bonus: Junior Connie Chung, from the same yearbook.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Now, Witness the Power of This Fully Operational Ice Rink

While it's been open all week, I didn't get the opportunity to go check out our brand new ice skating rink on Veterans Plaza until this afternoon. There weren't as many people out on the ice on this sunny day as I would have expected, perhaps a dozen or so in total. To be fair, today is a school/work day for most. It will be interesting to see how busy it gets this weekend.

This week's grand opening is the culmination of a plan that has been on (and off) the books since at least 2003. In true Mongtomery County tradition, plans for the rink took the better part of decade to come to fruition. (While we waited for our little seasonal rink to open, the The-State-That-Must-Not-Be-Named constructed an entire ice skating complex where their residents can skate year-round on two professional-sized rinks as well as watch the Capitals practice for free. But I digress.)

Montgomery County has its share of public ice skating complexes, but there are few 'city center' type rinks like the one we are now enjoying. Some may recall that downtown Bethesda once had an outdoor ice rink, but it closed in 2002. Rockville would like an ice rink for their Town Center, but won't have one until at least next winter. Apparently they have had a rink with some sort of plastic (?) surface in place of ice the past couple years. The only active rink that comes to mind is the one at Kentlands. Bottom line: kneel before Zod, rest of county.

Those wanting to get their skate on should expect to pay $8 for two hours of ice time, with kids (12) and seniors (55) getting a buck knocked off that price. If needed, you can also rent a pair of skates for $4 $3. These prices are slightly higher than what you would pay at a county rink, where admission is $6.25 and skate rentals are $3.25. At those rinks, however, free skate is only during certain times and you will will get kicked off the ice after an hour or two at most.

Admittedly, I can't ice skate worth a lick, but the existence of a rink within walking distance provides me with the motivation to reach a basic level of competency. If you see a guy repeatedly falling on his ass or inadvertently barreling over small children, that would be me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

They Mostly Come at Night... Mostly.

And now, The Ripley District.

Mr. Leggett, Close Down This Road

Photo by Flickr user dcmandrill.
Despite the DTSS stretch of Ellsworth Drive (aka "The Promenade") being closed to vehicular traffic on weekends, I often find myself psychologically constrained during these times to walking on the sidewalks. The Ellsworth sidewalks can get a bit congested at times, and there are a couple bottlenecks on the north side of the street where the path is squeezed between restaurants’ outdoor seating areas and tree pits, making it worse. This past Saturday afternoon, as I found myself stuck behind two slow-moving, chatty women, I started to question why I was using the sidewalk in the first place, seeing as I had the entire width of the street at my disposal.

After I reached the other end of DTSS, I turned around to observe the behavior of other pedestrians and found that nearly all of them were restricting themselves to the sidewalks. No one seemed to be taking advantage of the closed-off street, only crossing it quickly to reach the opposite sidewalk.

The problem, I think, is that if the street is only sometimes closed, pedestrians may unconsciously avoid walking in it unless there are some physical signs that it is safely car-free, such as stands at a farmers market or a performance stage. (Of course, at peak times there is such a crowd downtown that people will naturally spill into the street.)

My question is why, exactly, is this block ever open to vehicular traffic, when it could be so much better utilized by those on foot?

I don’t believe the shops and restaurants along it need the road for re-supply by truck, as the structures on each side of the road have rear access. Even if truck access was necessary, the road could be temporarily opened to commercial traffic in the off-hours. Unlike the streets that pass through some other regional ‘town center’ developments, the road doesn’t have street parking and it isn’t necessary to access a parking garage.

Furthermore, the stretch of Ellsworth between Georgia and Fenton doesn’t seem to be a particularly convenient driving route to anywhere. Even when it is open, there doesn’t appear to be too much traffic passing through. Ellsworth is closed to through traffic in one direction at the library a block away from DTSS, and at the Georgia Avenue end you can only turn right. To my knowledge, there are very few destinations you can’t just as easily reach by taking either Wayne or Colesville instead.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions as to how the county and the developer might better utilize the street space in DTSS:

- During the warmer months, fill the street space with tables and chairs for use by the general public, as they now do to a limited extent in the existing public space. When the weather is pleasant, there's a severe shortage of al fresco dining space in DTSS, and it'd be great to have a lot more tables and chairs outside at which to enjoy lunch, a coffee or and ice cream. A similar strategy has proven to be a huge success in New York, where portions of Broadway have been permanently closed off to traffic.

- In the colder months, large potted trees or something similar could be situated in the street to make the space more welcoming to pedestrians. Even better, sculptures or other forms of public art could be displayed there on a rotating basis. 

- Remove some or all of the metered parking at the Georgia Ave. end of Ellsworth and designate this area the pickup/drop-off area for DTSS, allowing only brief stops for the loading and unloading of passengers. This would create a one-way loop where cars would enter at Georgia and exit on Wayne.

- Install retractable or removable traffic bollards (pictured below) at both ends of the block to prevent any potentials tragedies resulting from a crackhead or confused octogenarian crashing through wooden sawhorses and plowing through a pedestrian-filled Ellsworth Drive. If work or emergency personnel require access, these barriers can be removed/lowered as needed. It’s not as if there aren't plenty of roadblocks around the Washington area already.

I'm not sure what the original rationale was for keeping this street open on weekdays, but I think that the last seven years have shown us that there’s a lot more demand for public space in downtown Silver Spring than there is for a single block of road.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday News 'N Notes

While travel and a general dearth of time has limited my posting frequency of late, I did want to provide a quick roundup of Silver Spring news for this past week or so. Apologies for all the recycled stuff - I will try and generate some actual original content in the upcoming weeks.

- The final (?) designs for the Silver Spring library have been released. Note the lack of a bridge over Wayne Avenue - for now.

It looks as if someone took the original design and stepped on it:

You can view a detailed presentation of the new design here (PDF).

- After the requisite Montgomery County bureaucratic delays, Silver Spring's ice rink finally has an operator, and will hopefully open before Christmas, a month late. has more information on the rink. The ice would certainly be in no danger of melting this week.

- The County has finally released more details on the Discovery hostage situation back in August. I had always desired more information on what actually transpired, but the news cycle is so short these days the story disappeared after a day or two. It turns out Lee's explosive device, constructed from propane and oxygen, may have indeed been lethal (unlike his starter pistol). It's hard to empathize with a hostage taker, but the fact that he had his impending death scheduled in his Outlook calendar is pretty sad.

- Apparently there's a beaver operating along Sligo Creek. New Silver Spring mascot? (Though my vote is for albino squirrels. Anything but penguins.)

- The Post's Tom Sietsema has posted a fresh review of Jackie's Restaurant today.

- Should you be tipping at Nando's? Apparently yes. (I had wondered what the protocol was.)

- Someone jacked The Shack on Georgia Ave. for a PS3 Monday evening, delivering a couple left jabs to the face of the clerk in the process. I suppose that's one way to do your Christmas shopping. The good news is that the store's surveillance camera provided clear pictures of the perp, so hopefully it's just a matter of time before he's apprehended.

- Nicaro (or "Newcaro") has reportedly closed. Admittedly, I never tried this second incarnation. This development doesn't surprise me too much - the establishment didn't have much that distinguished it among Silver Spring's dining options.

- Babe's Sports Bar, originally scheduled to open prior to Thanksgiving, has a new target of the week before Christmas. Provided it is operating by the end of the year, would any non-Penguins fans be up for a Winter Classic viewing party there on New Year's Day? Perhaps we can arrange some specials.

- Random Silver Spring Factoid of the Day : Silver Spring used to have a jazz club called the Byrd's Nest, named after guitarist Charlie Byrd, who frequently performed there. It was located in the Villa Rosa Restaurant, which stood in the spot now occupied by the Ellsworth Dr. garage.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Is the Majestic's IMAX "Experience" Worth the Money? It depends.

If you’ve been to the Majestic 20 lately, you’ve certainly seen how heavily they’ve been promoting the recent addition of an IMAX theater. I finally had occasion this past weekend to check out the new theater for a 9AM (!) showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: An IMAX Experience. The following are my totally non-technical-expert impressions of Majestic’s IMAX.

Screen: It’s about as large a screen as you can jam in a multiplex theater that wasn’t constructed to house a ‘regular’ IMAX (what you’d see down at the Smithsonian). I can’t say what the exact measurements are, but the height is pretty much floor to ceiling. There are fewer seats than in the Majestic’s other large theaters, as presumably many were removed to accommodate the larger screen.

Picture: IMAX’s digital projection system definitely has brighter and richer colors than what you would see on the Majestic’s standard screens, though if you aren’t picky about this sort of thing, you may not notice the difference. The resolution is definitely nowhere close to that of the original IMAX film format, but it’s still an upgrade.

Sound: It’s loud. Very loud. You won’t have to worry about people chatting on their mobile phones because there’s no way they could carry on a conversation. For me, the enhanced sound is IMAX’s biggest draw. Along with being louder, it’s noticeably clearer. I have had serious issues in the past at the Majestic when a theater’s sound was so poor I could barely hear the dialogue. This won’t be ever be a concern in the IMAX theater.

Price: I realize capital improvements were required to install the system, and that the theater needs to recoup those costs, but the ticket prices seem particularly sleep. The tickets for IMAX movies at the Majestic are $17.50 each for adults, compared to $11 for films on standard screens. This $6.50 premium is notably higher than what other theaters in the region charge for IMAX films. For example, the IMAX theaters in Tyson’s Corner and Columbia only charge an additional $5. This seems to be the usual surcharge nationwide. Why are we getting gouged so badly, Majestic? (Though this seems to be the same premium Regal Cinemas charges at its other IMAX theaters.)

Unlike standard movies, there is no matinee price offered for IMAX shows. A 9AM ticket will cost you the same as one for a 9PM showing. Granted, going to a matinee usually only saves you a couple bucks, but hey, it’s something. It should also be noted that the Tyson’s Corner IMAX does have matinee prices.

The “convenience fee” for purchasing IMAX tickets online is $2 per ticket. I can accept the normal $1.25 convenience fee at the Majestic, as it allows me to print my ticket at home and bypass the snaking weekend lines, but there’s absolutely no justifiable reason why this fee should be 60% higher for an IMAX movie.

So before any soda and popcorn purchased, it will cost a minimum of $35 for two people to go an IMAX show, $39 if you buy the tickets in advance.

So, is it worth it? I suppose that depends on the circumstances. If you’re very particular about picture and sound quality, the extra $6.50 might be justified. Maybe you don’t go to the pictures that often, so you can rationalize the extra expense once in a while. Or perhaps you are just rich as hell and don’t give a damn. I think for the select big movies, I’d consider coughing up the extra dough, though for most films I’ll probably stick to the standard screens. Since there’s only one screen, who knows how often it will have the movie I want to see, anyway.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Tonight (or technically tomorrow morning at 12:01) marks the grand opening of the Majestic's brand-new IMAX theater. The Harry Potter IMAX Experience midnight show, along with five(!) non-IMAX midnight screenings, has already sold out, but tickets are still available for the 3:05 AM (!!) show should you be really pressed to see it. Oh, and SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE! Wait, never mind, that was the last one.

If anyone does have the privilege of getting the IMAX "experience" tonight or tomorrow, please report back STAT. How large is the screen? How's the sound? Is it worth the $17.50 ticket price?

- The county has wisely extended the downtown Silver Spring police foot patrols, though only through June. As the Gazette article notes, unlike the downtown areas of Wheaton and Bethesda, patrols in Silver Spring are not permanent, but rather staffed by officers working overtime.

- A reminder that Silver Spring's annual Thanksgiving Parade will take place this Saturday from 9:30 to noon. (It's a small wonder that the Takoma Park/East Silver Spring lobby hasn't gotten it re-designated "The National Day of Mourning Trail of Tears Procession".)

For those who haven't been before, the parade tends to be 50% emergency vehicles, 30% bands and other performance troupes, and 20% miscellaneous groups whose applications are rubber stamped by the organizers. The Redskins Marching Band usually performs, but perhaps they are too demoralized to do so this year after being forced to endure the entirety of Monday's abomination in Raljon.

Following last year's parade I was thinking we should really have zombies march to represent the Zombie Walk, but I totally dropped the ball on that one. Next year, perhaps.

- One thing that will not be happening this weekend is the grand opening of Silver Spring's ice skating rink. It was originally scheduled to open in conjunction with the parade, but thanks to to the usual MoCo bureaucratic nonsense, the date is now TBD. (Mid-summer 2011, perhaps?) But hey, the Civic Center and ice rink were supposed to be open years ago, so what's a few more months?

Speaking of the ice rink, was the shelter always lit by changing-colored lights at night? I just noticed that for the first time yesterday evening.

- Congratulations (?) to Silver Spring's own Erik McMillan, who was recently named by Deadspin as one of the 100 worst NFL players of all time. As Silver Spring defensive backs go, he's certainly no Shawn "Silver" Springs.

- For those of you who shop at the American Apparel in Silver Spring, Groupon has a great deal today: $25 for $50 Worth of In-Store Clothing and Accessories (while supplies last). Say what you want about the company, but they do have comfy sweatshirts.

- Silver Spring is (sort of) getting a Wal-Mart. The retailer has plans to open four new stores in D.C. by 2012, and one of them will be located at the corner of Georgia and Missouri, just minutes from downtown Silver Spring.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Veeeeeeeeeeeee Essssssssssssssss?

Word on the street (Fenton Street) is that an effort is afoot to convert the former Hollywood Video and adjoining stores into a single, large retail store that would house a CVS. The Hollywood space is presently the makeshift home of a nonprofit organization, while the space once occupied by the Upscale Pharmacy, which closed earlier this year, is the most recent location of the ever-shifting ArtSpring. Sandwiched in between the two is Family Dry Cleaners, the proprietors of which claim they are being pressured to vacate, and who have started a petition opposing the CVS plan. (I've never personally used their service, but I was always amused by the fact that this dry cleaners proudly displays a sign in their window touting their "Only in Arlington" award.)

From nearly the beginning of this blog I’ve advocated for a CVS or equivalent in or in close proximity to DTSS. I’ve heard all the complaints about CVS, and a lot of them certainly have merit, but one cannot deny that having a large drugstore located right downtown would be extraordinarily convenient. There are a lot of basic items you can't purchase during a visit to DTSS that would be available at a CVS, such as razors, diapers, school supplies, etc. Another good thing about CVS? Redbox.

Best of all, imagine being able to purchase a box of Junior Mints or Sour Patch Kids across the street before going into a movie at the Majestic. Not that I would ever advocate breaking theater rules regarding outside food or anything. But hey, when you’re dropping $$$ SEVENTEEN MF’N FIFTY PER TICKET $$$ (confirmed price, BTW) to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: The IMAX Experience, your snack budget might be a little tight.

Of course, a huge downside to a CVS being located in that particular spot is that the waking nightmare that is the parking experience in the Whole Foods/Strosnider’s lot could become exponentially worse. For those of you who have been around a little while, remember when the Whole Foods lot had a large garage attached to it? I used to get annoyed if I was forced to park in the garage when I couldn’t find a space in the surface lot. Looking back, I didn't know how easy I had it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

A few miscellaneous things I had lying around...

- Downtown Silver Spring will be getting a new bike station in the triangular area along Colesville between Discovery and the Metro station entrance. Amazing, this is technically considered a park. This may truly be the least pleasant park on earth. (I think they should also bring back the old clock while they're at it.)

- There may be a new community garden on Fenton Street. If the plan passes, and I don't see why anyone would oppose it, plot prices will range from $30 to $50 per year. I can imagine they'd go fast.

- This made me chuckle. The owner of this house in the residential neighborhood of Indian Spring Terrace installed their own parking meter on the curb. I was tempted to put a nickel in, but was worried I'd somehow break it.

Silver Spring Getting "IMAX" Theater

Over the past couple years, there have been a few occasions where I was tempted by studio marketing to see a Hollywood blockbuster on an IMAX screen. (Avatar, for example.) However, each time that I checked the movie listings, the film I was interested in was only showing on a single IMAX screen in far-flung Virginia.

While I have yet to see a feature-length IMAX film, when I'm down at the Natural History Museum or out at Udvar-Hazy (a rare thing I will go to Virginia for), I do enjoy taking in an IMAX movie on one of their humongous screens. The U2 3D one in particular was amazing. Now news comes that Silver Spring will be getting its own IMAX screen, to be constructed within the confines of our lovely Majestic 20 Theater.

While this is welcome news, our enthusiasm over this announcement should be somewhat tempered, as what you might think of as IMAX  is likely not what we'll be getting here. The IMAX screens in multiplexes like the Majestic tend to be significantly smaller than the big ass (the official terminology) screens at the Smithsonian and elsewhere. 

For perspective, here's a size comparison of a classic giant IMAX screen with what you might find in a multiplex:

(Of course, according to IMAX, you need only sit closer to the screen and it will look bigger... )

Not only is the screen at these multiplex IMAX theaters smaller, but there are other technical aspects in which they are inferior.

Furthermore, if you want the IMAX experience, however scaled down it may be, you're going to pay for it. For example, at the new Tyson's Corner theater, a ticket for a movie on their IMAX screen costs $5 more than the same movie on the standard screen. ($16.50 vs. $11.50.)

For the time being I will withhold judgment and give our new IMAX the benefit of the doubt, hoping they somehow manage to fit a large enough screen into the Majestic to justify the additional five bucks a ticket. I go to so few movies these days, I might as well splurge for even an incremental increase in picture and sound quality.

And hey, it will be MoCo's only IMAX, so suck it Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Rockville, etc.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hump Day News 'N Notes

This Saturday, Veteran's Plaza will host the final Fenton Street Market of the season. The move down the street from its old location seems to have revitalized the Market, as this past weekend there were more vendors featuring a wider variety of items. (Thank goodness the crêpe cart also made the move.) I even made my first non-food purchase at the Market on Saturday:

If you didn't get a chance to get one on Saturday night, a limited quantity of Silver Spring Zombie Walk t-shirts will be available for sale at the Market this weekend.

- On the subject of the Zombie Walk, the Post created a short video feature of the event, featuring at the 0:45 mark a clip of the infamous zombie window-shattering as seen from inside the Afrikutz barber shop.

- Jerry McCoy of the Silver Spring Historical Society has a new book out entitled Downtown Silver Spring: Then and Now which features vintage photographs of Silver Spring juxtaposed with shots from the same location today. The book's forward was penned by George Pelecanos.

- A roasted nut cart was spotted yesterday on Veteran's Plaza. Let's hope this becomes a regular occurrence. I love the smell of roasted chestnuts on a winter day. It reminds me of Christmas in New York. Of course, I don't actually like the taste of chestnuts but I'll inhale fresh honey roasted peanuts.

- Don't forget, tomorrow is the last day you can vote early at the Civic Building and avoid the hassle of going to the polls next Tuesday. Very convenient if, say, you wanted to go and make a protest vote over a particular issue in Silver Spring or something. I went last night and was in and out of there pretty quickly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Third Time's a Charm: The 2010 Zombie Walk Postmortem

God, I cannot get this song out of my head! Next year we need to have it repeatedly playing over the PA system on Ellsworth as the zombies stumble through. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you must have missed the movie.

Ok, now on to my annual tradition of performing a zombie walk postmortem... 

The Good

- Turnout: I really have no idea how many people showed up this year (I’m waiting on the satellite photos), but the number definitely seems to have grown from last year. I heard that the unofficial police estimate was 2,000. At first I was skeptical, however after viewing some of the videos on YouTube, I think that figure might not be so far-fetched.

- Costumes: As usual, there were some great costumes among the horde. Unfortunately I only got to see just a fraction of them up close. The Beaker zombie stood out to me simply for the pure randomness and ridiculousness of the concept.


There was also this guy, who while not a zombie, easily had one of the creepiest costumes of the night.

Silver Spring Zombie Walk 2010

Also, Zombie Rainbow Brite! There's a ton of photos in the official Flickr photo pool, so be sure to browse through them and check out some of the great costumes.

Even Jedi Jesus was in attendance. Presumably the fact that he arose from the dead qualifies him as a zombie. Seriously though people, Jesus is so mainstream. Any self-respecting hipster would have come as Lazarus.

- Community participation. Once again, there was a great crowd lining Ellsworth street to watch the zombie parade. I'm glad that the Walk has become a popular event for both participants and spectators.

The Bad

- Broken glass everywhere, zombies lurching through the streets like they just don’t care. Sadly, today’s society frowns upon wanton anarchistic destruction, which is of course exactly the type of behavior that is instinctive to zombies. Therefore, the modern zombie must learn to maintain a certain level of restraint when going about their business. Regrettably, one zombie or group of zombies got a little overenthusiastic when terrorizing the patrons of a late-night barbershop on Georgia Avenue.


Let's try and keep the property damage to a minimum next time!

- The overzealous dude who repeatedly hit me in the head with his fake cricket bat. It may have been padded (the bat, not my head), but after awhile the blows started to hurt a little.

- Every year I see some knucklehead along the Ellsworth parade route who has to assert his manhood by threatening a zombie as if the zombie were stepping to him. You are standing in the front row of spectators watching a zombie walk. How do you not get it?

- Once again, not everyone who wanted to see Dawn of the Dead was able to procure a ticket. (More on this later.)


- We need a larger dedicated marshaling place next year. Eventually the area outside of Jackie’s became so crowded with people that the police cordoned off the street to allow the rapidly growing hoard of zombies to congregate. It'd be great if we had a dedicated outdoor area with food, entertainment, etc.

- Additional movie showings. Not sure if there’s some rights issues involved, but while the AFI’s main theater is pretty large, it doesn’t have nearly enough capacity for all the zombies who want to attend the zombie flick each year. Perhaps AFI could dedicate all three theaters to zombie films, as I think we could probably fill them up fairly easily. It stinks that people got left out in the cold when tickets ran out, though don’t say we didn’t warn you.

- We need a bullhorn. Communicating with a horde of zombies can be challenging, as attested to by my sore throat the following morning. We tried to procure a bullhorn earlier that day, but Radio Shack’s (sorry, "The Shack's") dishonest inventory system led us on a wild goose chase to stores that didn't actually have any in stock.

*I use this in a strictly ironic manner, since I vociferously contend that it is not an actual word despite the fact that most employees at my company use it as a slide title in nearly every PowerPoint presentation.

Special Thanks

A huge thank you goes out to the following for helping make the event a huge success:

- The management and merchants of Downtown Silver Spring, for supporting the event with smoke machines and music as well as their donation a number of gift cards to be used as door prizes.

- Jackie's Restaurant, for hosting Ground Zero of the Zombie Outbreak at the Sidebar and Back Room.

- The AFI Silver Theatre, for once again hosting the all-important zombie movie and donating ticket vouchers for door prizes.

- The Montgomery County Police Department for ensuring no zombies got struck by motor vehicles. I think they were as amused as anyone by the whole scene.

- Last but not certainly not least, thanks to all you zombies. Without zombies it would just be a walk, and that's lame.

See you next year!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hump Day News 'N Notes

A lot of this is old news by now, but between international travel and a boatload of work, I've gotten a little behind...

- Congratulations to Jackie's Sidebar on receiving a glowing review from the Washington Post. In addition to the review, the bar also got its own little slideshow. However, in a massive oversight on the author's part, the review somehow omitted the fact that Sidebar will serve as Ground Zero for this Saturday's Zombie infestation.

- reports on Silver Spring's new non-truck food truck.

- In agricultural news, downtown Silver Spring has its own little pumpkin patch and South Silver Spring is getting a community garden.

- This weekend the Fenton Street Market makes its first appearance at its new location on Veteran's Plaza, having moved there from its old spot at the corner of Fenton & Silver Spring. There's obvious synergy with the farmer's market right on the other side of the street, and still being on Fenton Street means they don't have to come up with a new name. Here's a map (PDF) of this weekend's vendors.

Ugh, I just used the word "synergy" in a non-ironic way. (Vomits into mouth.) That word should only be utilized when referring to this:

- It's gonna get a bit crowded downtown on Saturday, as local Democrats are putting on an "Early Vote Street Festival" from 10-4, also at Veteran's Plaza (the "former astroturf field", as the printable flyer (PDF) describes it). The governor will be there to pose with babies from 1:30-2:30.

- Starting November 1st, trains will no longer be required to sound their horn at the Forest Glen railroad crossing. Probably great news for those who live much closer to the tracks than me, but I will kind of miss the sound of a distant train whistle at night. That railroad crossing makes me nervous. During rush hour, when I sometimes take the back roads home over that crossing, I'm always afraid traffic will get backed up at the light and I'll be trapped on the tracks. Admittedly it would be fun to upload to YouTube the video of my car getting struck by the MARC train.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dead Men Walking:The 2010 Silver Spring Zombie Walk FAQ

For those of you planning to participate in this Saturday's 3rd Annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk, here's all the information you need to know. For the rest who don't care- don't worry, it will all be over soon.

Photo from last year's event by Flickr user kingkool68

What’s 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).

Why would I want to do something like this?

Uh, why wouldn’t you?

Where and when does the walk start?

This year's walk is on Saturday, October 23rd. The primary gathering places will be Jackie’s Sidebar and Jackie’s Back Room, both located at the corner of Sligo and Georgia Avenues. The walk itself won't start until 9, but zombies are encouraged to start showing by 7:30 or earlier for the Zombie Walk pre-party.

View Larger Map

Should I RSVP?

It’s not necessary, but it would be helpful for us to get a rough idea on attendance. You can RSVP via the Facebook event page.

Ummm, ok I’m at Jackie’s and there’s already a massive zombie horde up in here and there’s no room for me. Where should I go???

Don’t sweat it - there are plenty of places to hang out along the route. For one, try Fire Station 1, at the intersection of Silver Spring and Georgia Avenues. They have plenty of rooms for zombies and will be expecting you. FS1 at capacity? There are lots of bars and restaurants along Georgia Avenue, including The Quarry House, Olazzo, Piratz Tavern and more. If you end up in one of these establishments, you can join the horde as it makes its way up Georgia.

Does it cost anything to participate?

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

We may have an unofficial charity for this walk, though of course donations are purely optional. More details on this later.

What is this year’s movie?

This year’s official Zombie Walk film will be George Romero’s 1978 groundbreaking zombie masterpiece Dawn of the Dead. (Not the 2004 remake). Odds are you already know all about this one, but check out the vintage trailer.

Where do I purchase tickets to Dawn 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 line at the box office. (Or even worse, getting shut out.)

What is the route of the walk?

The Walk will start at the intersection of Sligo and Georgia Avenues (@ Jackie’s) and will proceed down Georgia Avenue then through the Downtown Silver Spring Area, ending up at the AFI Silver Theatre on Colesville Road.

What does one 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.

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 the last two years’ events to get a good perspective on what types of costumes people will be wearing:

2008 Zombie Walk Photos
2009 Zombie Walk Photos

How can I get updates on the Zombie Walk?

- Check our website.

- Join the Silver Spring Zombie Walk Facebook group.

- Subscribe to the Twitter Feed. This is the best way to get important updates on the walk the night of the event!

Can kids come too?

The Zombie Walk is open to all ages, and we have some youth zombies at past events. Just be aware that the event will take place at a crowded bar/restaurant and that the walk won’t begin until about 9:00. If they scare easily, it’s probably not the best idea to bring them along, either.

Can I dress as a zombie hunter rather than a zombie?

Absolutely- we’ve had a number of zombie hunters each year. Even better: plan ahead with your zombie friends to simulate zombie vs. zombie hunter battles. Just don’t go around assaulting unsuspecting zombies with cricket bats, please.

Why isn’t the Zombie Walk on Halloween? That seems like the obvious date to have it.

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.

Will there be Zombie Walk t-shirts available?

A limited number of t-shirts may be available for sale at the walk, and we’ll try to make some available for order after the walk.

What can I do to help promote the Zombie Walk?

Tell everyone.

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 2010 Silver Spring Zombie Walk Pool on Flickr.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Silver Spring Finally Scores a Sports Bar

Ask and ye shall receive. Eventually.

After my droning on for years about Silver Spring not having a proper sports bar, it looks like this gaping hole in Silver Spring's dining and entertainment landscape will soon be plugged. Seemingly out of nowhere, work is underway in South Silver Spring at the future home of a new establishment named "Babe's Sports Bar & Grill". As I had suggested, this new sports bar is being set up in the space formerly occupied by the Gallery Restaurant and Lounge at 1115 East West Highway.

 Photo via South Silver Spring Neighborhood Assn's Twitter Feed.

So what's the 411 on this Babe's joint? I wish I had more details to share, but for the present all I know is what is written on the liquor license notice pictured above. Through the magic of The Google, I have (unsurprisingly) come across a few other "Babe's Sports Bars" here or there, but they don't appear to be part of a chain of any kind.

If anyone has the scoop on our new neighbor, please do share.

UPDATE: The word on the street is that Babe's will be opening the week after Thanksgiving and will feature a dining area upstairs and a bar with pool tables on the lower level.

UPDATE #2:  As speculated in the comments section, this does indeed appear to be a reincarnation of sorts of Babe's Billiards, which was located on Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown for a number of years before closing. Once Babe's closed, condos were planned for that space, but that never quite worked out. I went to Babe's once or twice, but that was a loooong time ago.

 The former site of Babe's Billiards in Tenleytown

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ok, What's With All the Machetes?

What's with the machete attack meme? Earlier this month at the Long Branch Giant, a man was crossing the parking lot when a car rolled up and a few guys got out and demanded his wallet. Even though he gave it up, they cut him with a freaking machete anyway. Not very cricket, if you ask me.  

The Long Branch area has of course been the location of a number of shocking crimes in the past few years, some of which also involved machetes, so this doesn't come as a particular surprise. I actually prefer that Giant to the one in downtown Silver Spring, though you certainly wouldn't catch me dead in the parking lot by myself at 1am. Or actually, if I was there at that time you probably would find me dead.

The day after the attack at the Giant, and also around 1am, three machete-wielding assailants pursued a man in a SSINO area off New Hampshire Avenue before "fleeing in three Hondas".   I guess aspiring machete murderers can't be bothered to rideshare.

(All incident information comes via the Gazette's crime blotter.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Zombie Bridge

With the obvious exception of Lee, perhaps the most locally-relevant costume for next month's Zombie Walk might very well be the Silver Spring Library bridge, because no matter how many times you try and kill it, it keeps clawing its way back from the grave.

In a "I voted for it before I voted against it"-like move, councilperson Valerie Ervin, who was against the bridge last year, on Monday introduced an amendment to the current plan to allow for another council vote on the inclusion of a bridge in the library plan. Why anyone would expect it to pass now when it failed 8-1 last year is beyond me. Perhaps it's just political pandering. I'm sure the people demanding the bridge have a significantly higher propensity to vote in local elections than the vast majority of MoCo citizens who would balk at spending a million dollars on an unnecessary bridge in the midst of a deep recession and a significant county budget deficit. (And on an already over-budget project, to boot.)

For God's sake, this is the country that sent a man to the moon, yet we can't find a way to put in a few handicapped parking spaces on the same side of the street as a library? Why is this still even an issue? Why, after ten plus years of talking about it, are we not already using our new library? Maybe we should just leave the library space as an empty pit, a physical monument to the Montgomery County government's inefficiency.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kojo in YOUR Community

In case you missed the taping at the Civic Building last night, you can listen to Kojo Nnamdi’s “Kojo in the Community” Silver Spring show today at noon on WAMU 88.5 or online. If you’re interested you can review the live tweets made by myself and others at the taping.

The show featured topics that will be quite familiar to readers of this and other Silver Spring blogs: skateboarders, small businesses being threatened by the big bad chain restaurants/stores, the Fillmore, etc. Incredibly, there was not a single mention of the library bridge during the entire two hours, however The Silver Spring Zombie Walk (one month from tomorrow!) did get a mention, so my primary objective for the evening was accomplished.

Uncharacteristically, Kojo mistakenly stated that Silver Spring was in PG County not once but twice, although in his defense he wasn’t 100% wrong: the 20903 Silver Spring ZIP code extends into PG, if barely.

There was a lot of talk about the “youth” and how they weren’t consulted in planning the redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring. I suppose they should have held charettes in kindergarten classrooms ten years ago to determine what five-year-olds would want to have in Silver Spring when they were teenagers. We probably would have ended up with moon bounces and ball pits. (Actually, that sounds pretty awesome.) When I was a kid we had nothing in downtown Silver Spring. Nothing. There was a run down McDonald’s primarily frequented by homeless people and where the salads gave you typhoid fever. If you wanted something to do, you took the bus to Wheaton Plaza. Kids would make do and skateboard behind the Four Corners 7-11 and elsewhere. At the time, we were ecstatic at the arrival of City Place, which is of course quite amusing in retrospect.

Oh, and we also walked to school in the snow uphill both ways.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Good Grief! Chuck Brown's Silver Spring Concert Canceled

In this scenario, Chuck Brown would actually be Lucy...

Well, the Chuck Brown concert in Downtown Silver Spring scheduled for next week has been canceled. He will instead perform that evening at the Boulevard at the Capital Centre in Largo.

No reason has been given as to why. The noon-on-a-Tuesday scheduling seemed kind of odd to me in the first place.

UPDATE: According to, the concert was canceled by DTSS management with no justification provided to Chuck Brown's management. There must be more to this. It's not like they didn't know exactly what they were getting into when they originally booked it. They can't have expected a noontime Chuck Brown concert on a school day to somehow be a catalyst for another 'riot', as some suspect.

Lee, Animated

Not sure how I managed to miss this until now, but Taiwan-based news organization Next Media Animation, famous for their animated recreations of news stories involving Tiger Woods, Steve Jobs and others, put out a video reporting on the Discovery hostage situation:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Kojo in Your Community" Coming to Silver Spring

WAMU 88.5's Kojo Nnamdi Show will be taping next Tuesday evening at our sparkling new Civic Center as part of the show's Kojo in Your Community series. The event is open to everyone, and doors open at 6PM, with the show starting a half hour later.

The evening's discussion "will focus on how Silver Spring is changing culturally, socially, and economically ". No doubt the usual "Community" will be there, so I would invite all of those who may harbor different views on relevant Silver Spring issues to attend and have their voices heard.

A fiver says the library bridge somehow gets worked into the conversation. I'd also parlay that with the subject of skateboarders.* Personally, I'm tempted to grab the mic and plug the Zombie Walk.

*UPDATE: It will be. Sigh.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday News 'N Notes

Photo by Matthew Monthei

- Like its artistic namesake, Ride On's Van Go chose to take its own life on Wednesday evening just outside Discovery headquarters. Instead of shooting itself in the chest, however, the troubled bus opted for the far more dramatic method of self-immolation. Could the vehicle, inspired by Lee's ill-fated demonstration last week, been performing a Buddhist monk-like protest against Discovery's baby-themed programming? We may never know.

(Personally, I much enjoyed watching the Van Go burn. Back on March 17th the Van Go cut me off when I was crossing Colesville at a crosswalk just before it executed an illegal right turn on red. Karma.)

- Speaking of Lee, he has now achieved in death that which he could not in life - attracting (unpaid) followers. On Wednesday, a man stood across the street from Discovery holding a sign that read "JAMES LEE WAS RIGHT". The man claims that he agrees with many of the points points in Lee's online manifesto, and believes we are all headed toward a Malthusian catastrophe which somehow Discovery can prevent. (Spoiler alert: Soylent Green will be people.)

- Reminder: the 7th Annual Silver Spring Jazz Festival is tomorrow from 3:30-10:30 at Veterans Plaza. This year's festival will be headlined by Aaron Neville.

- In other music news Chuck Brown, D.C.'s own "Godfather of Go Go", will be performing a free concert in Downtown Silver Spring on Tuesday, September 21st at noon. The show will celebrate the release of his latest album, which you can get autographed by Brown after the show.

- The Nando's Peri-Peri on The Promenade is officially scheduled to open next Wednesday. Mmmmmm...

- The Fenton Street Market, current located at the corner of Fenton Street and Silver Spring Avenue, will be moving to Veterans Plaza beginning October 23rd. This is a logical move, as the Farmer's Market runs concurrently on Saturday just across the street. I'm glad they were able to get approval from the County for this- I've been advocating a market on this spot for years.

(On a side note, the Farmer's Market rule that vendors can't sell anything before 9AM is bogus. If I am standing in front of a chocolate croissant at 8:37 and I cannot give someone money in exchange for it, that's just stupid. I'm not going to stand around for 20 minutes waiting for the opportunity to pay for a confection. It's not Georgetown Cupcake.)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Hostage (And Bomb??) Situation at Discovery HQ

In case you haven't heard, a gunman has taken a hostage at Discovery headquarters. He reportedly has "tanks" on his back which may or may not be a bomb. Hopefully not. On the news they are saying the gunman, an Asian male (Lee???), may be an ex-employee. The daycare has been evacuated but a lot of employees are still in the building.

The newscasters are saying it could be related to threats over Whale Wars somehow, but I would be quite surprised if that was the case. The disgruntled ex-employee scenario seems more plausible.

UPDATE: WUSA Channel 9 is saying it IS Lee!! (Though on what claim this is based, I have no idea.)

UPDATE @2:30: Employees going home now.

UPDATE @2:44: Now NBC is saying Lee is the suspect.

UPDATE @2:55: Here's some old posts on Lee and his protest.

UPDATE @4:24: Lee is still going strong. He may have more than one hostage.

UPDATE @5:04: Well, it's over. The cops shot Lee when he came out of the building and whatever 'device' he had on his back went off at that time. The three hostages are safe and out of the building.

The police claim they "don't know" if Lee was alive or dead (how do they not?). A reporter actually asked in the press conference, "Is he in once piece?"

Let's hope he's not dead. He is/was clearly a very disturbed person but doesn't/didn't deserve to die, no matter how bad my evening commute ends up being.

UPDATE @5:27: By far the best phrase uttered by reporters in this whole thing: "the robot just went down the street".

UPDATE @5:29: Lee is dead. FATALITY.

Library Lite

I find it amazing that the Silver Spring Library building, which just broke ground this week, is already three million over budget. Disappointingly, there are already discussions as to what features are going to get purged from the current design to reduce the project's cost. Some possibilities include "eliminating a floor of offices, leaving a floor of offices unfinished, moving meeting rooms, splitting elevators into two separate areas and reducing office sizes".

The "good" news is that the economy is so crappy and people so desperate for work, the County believes it can get the work done at cut-rate pricing, offsetting at least some of the cost overrun.

I found interesting the "community's" insistence that the escalators in the current plan be preserved. Maintaining escalators is a costly burden - just ask Metro! Why not just substitute stairs for the elevators? Shouldn't the county be promoting healthy habits such as walking up stairs, anyway? If you are physically unable to do so, there's always the elevator.

One aspect of the current design I don't fully comprehend is how two of the library's five planned floors are allotted to Pyramid Atlantic, a non-governmental arts organization. I have nothing against Pyramid Atlantic, and I'm generally in favor of supporting the arts, but how do these organizations get such sweetheart deals in pricey taxpayer-funded buildings? Round House Theater occupies a good portion of the new Civic Building rent-free, though in response to public scrutiny they gave some of it back for general community use.

And to the many vociferous proponents of the library bridge - does this new revelation about the library's cost change your stance on the addition of a feature that would add (at least) $700K to the project's price tag?

I still contend that the County should have bought City Place and converted it into a library. Besides a superior central location, the entire building would have only cost $22.8M (vs. the new library's $32 million), it has plenty of escalators, and best of all it already has a pedestrian bridge! Furthermore, it has street-level tenants that would provide monthly rental income. You missed your chance, MoCo.


- A couple years back I half-jokingly suggested that DTSS install the Mosquito anti-loitering equipment in response to recent incidents in that area. Now, as a result of teenage misbehavior, the owners of the Gallery Place development in D.C. have installed that very device outside the entrance to the Metro station. This was done with the blessing of the District government. It will be interesting to see what effect this has.

- Be aware that a new speed camera has been installed in front of White Oak Middle School on New Hampshire Avenue.

- Aaron Neville will be headlining the Silver Spring Jazz Festival on September 11.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Details Emerge (From the Ground) About This Year's Zombie Walk

Photo from last year's Walk by Flickr user kingkool68

As previously mentioned, the Third Annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk is scheduled for Saturday, October 23rd. Now that the necessary arrangements have been made, we have some additional details to share.

This year, Jackie's Sidebar and the Back Room at Jackie's will serve as ground zero for the Zombie outbreak. It is advised that Zombies should begin congregating about 8PM, though there's nothing stopping you from showing up before then. If last year's turnout is any indication, we'll need more space than these establishments offer. The good news is that there's plenty of places at which to hang out along the planned route. Once the walk begins, the zombie horde will continue to expand as it shambles down Georgia Avenue, collecting additional undead from establishments such as Fire Station 1, Olazzo, the Quarry House, Piratz Tavern and others.

The walk will once again conclude at the AFI Silver Theatre for a 9:45 showing of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Tickets for the show are not yet available online, but as soon as they are, we'll let you know. Pre-purchasing your tickets is highly advised, as last year's show sold out and many zombies were left out in the cold.

For more information on the Walk, join the Silver Spring Zombie Walk Facebook Group, follow the Twitter feed, or visit the official site.

Let's ensure the third episode of the Zombie Walk turns out great, like Last Crusade, not awful like Matrix Revolutions or decent but somewhat unsatisfying like Return of the Jedi. (Though zombie Ewoks would be cool.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Coveting thy Neighbor's Restaurants & Retail (Part 2 of 3)

After an extended delay, here is part two of my series on businesses presently enjoyed by our neighbors in Bethesda that I'd like to see opened here in Silver Spring. You can read part one of this three-part series here.

A Sports Bar

One type of establishment whose absence from Silver Spring has been lamented ad infinitum in the comments section of this blog is a sports bar. While there may indeed be bars and restaurants in the downtown area at which one can view sporting events, there isn’t a proper sports bar. I am referring to the kind of bar that is decorated with jerseys, pennants, etc. and which caters to guests who come for the primary purpose of viewing sporting events. In my opinion, a sports bar should offer the following:

- Adequately-sized televisions within line of site of all areas of the restaurant. Little mini-TVs in the booths are great, too.

- At least one large, pull down screen on which the featured game can be projected.

- All or most TVs at the bar should be showing programming in high definition. A major pet peeve of mine is going to a bar to watch a big game and finding out all they have is high-def sets displaying a stretched-out standard definition picture, which is actually worse than watching it on a standard TV. This scenario happened to me recently at a certain location in Silver Spring, but by the time I realized it, I had already committed. Why buy the HDTV if you don't get the HD service? (Kudos to places like Olazzo, though while small, still have a proper HD setup.)

- A Golden Tee machine.

- Not a requirement, but a major plus: televisions positioned above the urinals, à la the defunct Willie & Reed’s.

Caddie’s on Cordell in Bethesda certainly qualifies as a "real" sports bar, and as a bonus it even has an outdoor seating area. Caddies may devolve into Douchebag Central on weekend nights, but it’s still a great go-to place for big games. I don’t know of anywhere in Silver Spring that would come close to classifying as such.

Interior of Caddie's on Cordell

So where exactly in Silver Spring would this hypothetical sports bar be located? A custom-built space in a revamped City Place? (hah!) How about the building in East Silver Spring most recently occupied by the Gallery Restaurant and Lounge? Not the optimal location, perhaps, but hey, it's a good space and it's available.

The interior of Gallery. Whatever happened to all those Eames chairs?

I grudgingly accept that any new sports bar in Montgomery County would quickly be commandeered by carpetbagger football fans with their Steelers, Red Sox and (vomits in mouth) Cowboys loyalties, but that's something I'm willing to live with get a place to watch games. That's just an unfortunate fact of life in modern-day metropolitan Washington.

Design Within Reach

(Pauses to allow laughter subside) Of course, this is just pure fantasy – even more so than Steve Jobs opening an Apple Store on Ellsworth. But whatever, this is the my list and I appreciate modern furniture. It's quite enjoyable to browse through Design Within Reach and masquerade as someone interested in buying a $10,000 sofa. Mostly, it'd be a good prestige store for Silver Spring to have. We've had high end retail before - remember our Marimekko store? On second thought, bad example.

DWR usually tries to locate their showrooms historic or unique properties. It's a little late now, but the old fire station, now home to the Fire Station 1 restaurant, would have been perfect.


While there already exists a CVS in the Blair Plaza Shopping Center, this pedestrian-unfriendly location isn't particularly convenient for those of us who reside on the eastern side of Georgia Avenue. Plenty of vitriol has been spewed against CVS, and while much of it deserved, CVS is useful because in addition to prescription drugs it offers a wide variety of other merchandise. As things stand right now, where in or immediately around DTSS can you quickly run in and get a candy bar?* Imagine being able to buy a box of Junior Mints across the street from the Majestic to sneak into a movie? Not that I would ever advocate such a deplorable act, of course.

It's not as if there's no precedent for a CVS. For years there was a drug store located in the area that the DTSS development now occupies. Most recently there was large Rite Aid in the Silver Spring Shopping Center, and before that there was a succession of drug stores in that same shopping center.

Circa 1970's Drug Fair in the Silver Spring Shopping Center, now part of DTSS.

I realize many people cherish the concept of a mom and pop pharmacy, but some of the comments left on this blog regarding the now-departed Upscale Pharmacy illustrate that perhaps in practice such a business is not ideal. How about throw a CVS into City Place? That's the type of business with universal appeal that would actually get people through the doors.

*I do not count the $3 chocolate bars at Whole Foods.