Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday News 'N Notes

- I viewed an advanced screening of the Piratz Tavern episode of SpikeTV's Bar Rescue (airing July 22nd), and found it fairly entertaining, with plenty of angry yelling and cursing. Maybe that happens in every episode, but I can't imagine the staff and owners of bars featured on previous episodes could possibly have been as obstinate. I think the producers were annoyed that the bar reverted to its original pirate theme, as the episode concluded with this burn:

- Now leasing: the Solaire Metro Apartments, a new highrise located in the so-called "Ripley District". Oddly, one of the neighborhood features highlighted on their website is the fire station. A fire station a block away seems like something you might not want to draw prospective renters' attentions to, unless you are aiming your marketing at arsonphobiacs.While they're at it, they ought to also mention the freight trains that regularly pass by on the nearby tracks.

- It is handy, however, to be near a fire station when your business goes up in flames, as was the case with Ebony Barbers on Fenton Street, which was reportedly the victim of arson early yesterday morning when a suspect was seen breaking the barbershop window with a baseball bat and torching the place. (This time zombies were uninvolved.) Fortunately the fire didn't spread next door to the bookshop, which would have resulted in a hell of a blaze.

- Rumor has it that Fajita Coast may be returning (with a second location) to Four Corners after relocating back in February to the spot in East Silver Spring vacated by the defunct Babe's Sports Bar & Grill. If true, this development would be somewhat surprising if the stories of Fajita Coast's acrimonious relationship with their Four Corners landlord are to be believed. Regardless, the return of Fajita Coast would no doubt be welcome news to those living in the '01.

- Also in Four Corners rumors, Sweet Frog Yogurt shop is reportedly set to open in the awkwardly-located house in the back corner of the Woodmoor shopping center parking lot. I recently saw that it was available for lease and wondered what someone could do with it. There you go.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

All Hail the Return of Baron von Chompenstein

Chompy, who shows up in Silver Spring whenever he damn well pleases, has elected to grace us with his presence again this summer in honor of the 25th anniversary of Shark Week.


This year's Shark Week will be hosted by Sarah Palin and will feature the debut of a new show starring bigamist dwarf sharks who marry their cousins and have an ungodly amount of shark pups, all of whom are entered in beauty pageants. Wait, never mind, it's not on TLC.

Don't expect to see Chompy (he's not "Chompie", dammit) in the immediate future, however - Shark Week doesn't begin until mid-August.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Another Thing you Can't do in DTSS: Weekend Biking

Add riding your bike down Ellsworth on weekends to the list of acts prohibited by Downtown Silver Spring security guards. While I don't know if this is a new rule, it is but another item on the ever-growing list of verboten activities that already includes taking photos, breastfeeding and skateboarding.*  Hustling candy and harassing passersby outside the Majestic are still ok, though I do seem to hear fewer complaints about the latter.

Reader LW shared her experiences when attempting to pass through DTSS on her bicycle:

I regularly bike commute from Silver Spring to Bethesda, and back, and often on the weekends like to ride in Rock Creek Park. On my commute I ride up and down Ellsworth, and there is never a problem, the street is open to cars and no one says anything to me. Twice I've finished a ride on a weekend and come back from Rock Creek and taken the "short cut" down Ellsworth, (instead of riding on Wayne) both times I was stopped by a security guard. The first time was in the area of Starbucks, and the guy walked right in front of me, and I stopped, not understanding why he did that. He told me that when the street is closed to traffic you can't ride your bike down it, you must walk the bike.
I am admittedly unfamiliar with the particulars of county laws governing the use of bicycles on public streets temporarily closed to vehicular traffic, nor do I know if DTSS security has the authority to enforce these laws. However, it seems to me Ellsworth should be adequately wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and bikers at most times. It's not as if someone was trying to ride a bike through City Place. (Hahahahah, as if there was any chance of running into a pedestrian in City Place!) No one really seems to understand the ambiguous legal status of the semi-privatized Ellsworth Drive, but there's the distinct possibility this might be a case of DTSS security imposing an arbitrary rule on a taxpayer-funded thoroughfare.

Interestingly, the "Silver Spring is Bike Friendly" flyer (PDF) put out by the county displays a photo of a biker on Ellsworth, though they are not actually in the act of riding.

The same flyer also declares that "Silver Sprung" is "Fun for Cyclists and Pedestrians Year Round", though maybe that excludes Ellsworth on particular days of the week.

While we're on the subjects of biking, for those who haven't seen this before, Silver Spring once held had the honor of being the home of "America's stupidest bike lane", located just blocks from Ellsworth. (The Silver Spring part of the video starts at about 2:30.)

* Remember back when the lack of a big skatepark was the issue du jour in Silver Spring? It looks like that movement has petered out. Both its blog and Facebook page have had essentially zero activity in the last two years. We miss you Skatermom!

And here's our existing way-over-capacity skatepark, blowing up on a recent weekend afternoon:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Fillmore Gets a Green Roof

Though it still appears to be largely brown at this point, The Fillmore has installed what is, at least to my knowledge, downtown Silver Spring's only Silver Spring's most recent green roof. I don't know if this is adequately granola for those still lamenting the loss of the Birchmere, but hey, it's something. The only downside is that its installation would seem to preclude the Fillmore's hosting of any Beatle-esque rooftop concerts. Now all they need is for Maryland to legalize pot and they'd have a great opportunity for (literally) vertical integration.

Also deserving some green cred is United Therapeutics, which has installed a large number of solar panels on the roof of their new building at Cameron and Spring.

UPDATE: Thank you to commenters for reminding me that the Eastern Village Cohousing condos have long had a green roof and also noting that various other buildings in S.S. also have green roofs.

Thanks to TM for providing the bird's-eye view.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday News 'N Notes

- Despite the introduction of new yard signs by The Community, the County Council voted this week to approve the re-zoning of the former Chelsea School site, allowing EYA to proceed with the construction of their planned townhouse community. They also voted to disallow oral arguments from opponents, so that's the end of that... or is it?

- The 10th annual Silverdocs film festival starts tomorrow, and the Post has a long profile of the festival.

- Also tomorrow: the 4th annual Silver Spring Blues Festival, which kicks off at 10AM and runs to 11 that night. More details here.

-  Celebrating their grand opening this weekend is Gebeta Ethiopian Restaurant, which took over the space on Georgia avenue previously occupied by Taste of Jerusalem. I'll await the first round of reviews before I commit to dining there, but the food does look delicious.

- Run a prostitution ring out of a Silver Spring hotel and it's only a $500 fine? Seems like a pretty low-risk criminal enterprise to me.

- Silver Spring's North Hills is featured in this week's neighborhood profile in the Post.

- In one of the more bizarre stories of the year a 10-foot cigarette was stolen from a Silver Spring yard and then found cut into pieces and dumped behind Takoma Park Middle School. (Note the 100+ reader comments for the second story.)

- Finally, if you happen to see any "Chilean Sea Blobs" lying around town and wonder what the hell that's all about, it's this.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Set Your DVRs: Potentially Hilarious Piratz Tavern "Bar Rescue" Episode to Air July 22

The Piratz Tavern-Corporate Bar & Grill-Piratz Tavern story is clearly the frontrunner for Silver Spring Story of the Year honors, and now we'll finally get to see the episode of Bar Rescue that precipitated all the drama.

From SpikeTV's press release:

The debut episode features Taffer and his crew of experts trying to save the Piratz Tavern in Silver Spring, MD from sinking. Opened with the intention of providing its patrons an escape from reality, the employees at Piratz Tavern have begun to take its theme too seriously – a waiter even lost an eye during a swordfight with a fellow employee. Years of mismanagement have cost owner Tracy Rebelo her life savings, and she and her daughter have been forced to move into her parents’ basement. To dig herself out of her financial hole, Taffer must find a way to convince Rebelo to abandon the theme she holds so dear in order to appeal to the neighborhood’s primarily corporate clientele.
Highlight: They didn't write "Silver Springs". Here's a preview.

Preview - Piratz Tavern
Get More: Preview - Piratz Tavern

Friday, June 08, 2012

Possible Homicide at the Veridian

Homicides in and around downtown Silver Spring are fairly uncommon, and when they do occur, it is frequently in the area surrounding the Piney Branch/University intersection. However, today police are investigating a gunshot death at the Veridian Apartments on East West highway as a possible homicide. Since the Veridian is a controlled-access building, I imagine there's a good possibility the victim knew his assailant, but I guess we'll find out as more details emerge. Hopefully the police will be able to track down the perpetrator in short order.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Coming to Theaters this Summer: The Chelsea School Chainsaw Massacre

The new trailer has dropped for the upcoming SOECA-produced horror film, set at the site of the former Chelsea School in downtown Silver Spring. So far no plot details have been leaked, but the trailer leads me to believe it centers around a gang of chainsaw-wielding psychopaths carving up neighborhood children. (It's especially effective if you close your eyes and only listen to the audio.)

Sunday, June 03, 2012

DTSS's Pint-Sized Candy Hustlers

While the practice has been commonplace for years, it is only in recent weeks that I have started to notice a pronounced increase in the number of kids hustling candy bars out of plastic bins in and around DTSS. I generally see these candy-pushers around the Metro entrance, but their territory now seems to have extended to include Ellsworth Drive.

Usually the kids look to be around middle school age, but as I was walking down Ellsworth a couple weeks back, I was solicited by a child who stood around waist-height and couldn't have been older than five. He had trouble getting the hard-sell speech down, simply looking up at me and mumbling something about "a donation" without specifying exactly what this purported donation would go toward. He wasn't big enough to lift the bin himself, so some thoughtful adult had rigged up a dolly so the kid could pull his candy supply along behind him. The whole situation was absolutely Dickensian.

How the hell this is being allowed to happen right under the noses of the DTSS security guards and the MoCo police officers who patrol the area is completely beyond me. In the past, DTSS security has been vigilant in its prevention of photography and breastfeeding, but somehow kindergartners are free to hustle candy bars in front of the Starbucks?

Never mind the lack of whatever license they probably need to sell food on the street - these kids were way to young to be doing this. If they were teenagers and doing this as part of a legit or even semi-legit job/"fundraising effort" for which they were compensated fairly, that's one thing, but these kids were barely just more than babies and are very likely being exploited by unscrupulous adults.

To be fair, maybe DTSS security and/or the police have done something to curtail these candy crews in the past couple of weeks. I was out of town for awhile and I didn't notice any of them out tonight, for what that's worth. If not, I don't know why they have been allowing this to continue.

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Community Strikes Back: Less Dense Makes Sense

Apologies the two consecutive posts on this subject, but this annoys me.

After concluding that "Leave the Zone Alone" wasn't an effective enough rhyme, The Community has regrouped following their most recent defeat and introduced new yard signs reading "Less Dense Makes Sense". I completely concur with the sentiment, though probably not with the exact meaning that was intended.

The implication of the group's non-functional URL ( that this development would somehow endanger the area's "greenness" is absurd. I myself reside in this neighborhood, and I can tell you with some certainty it has an abundance of large trees. I am reminded of this fact every time there is rain/snow/wind and a felled tree knocks my power out for days at a time.

While the property may indeed be surrounded by some older trees, most of it is covered with an ugly disused school, an unkempt sports field and the most non-green thing of all: a surface parking lot.

Clearing a few trees for this development would hardly affect the overall character of the neighborhood, and if the townhouse plan (below) is to be believed, the plot might even experience a net gain in trees.

Let's all chill out and worry about real issues that we can all agree on, like how City Place sucks. Everyone say it with me now: we're not gonna protest, we're not gonna protest...