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