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.