Archive for the ‘Montgomery County’ Category

Caffeinated Cornucopia

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Bethesda over the past month (rather equivalent to falling off the face of the earth for me), working on the costume design for a student production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Imagination Stage. As this is in addition to my full-time job downtown, it’s involved a fair amount of caffeine as well…

My current downtown purveyor of the greatest legal stimulant is the cheerful fellow at The Coffee Espress, whom I’ve praised before. But however much I love that little place, I’m beginning to be seduced over to the charms of Cornucopia, a skip away from the theater at 8102 Norfolk Avenue. It’s the sort of shop I could drop a lot of dough in, filled with a (yes) cornucopia of culinary delights – chocolates, nougat, olive oil, preserves, sauces, a tempting cookie spread, vats of gelato, crostini, on and on.

Though my stress level is at a hideous height, owner Ibo Selmy never ceases to put me at ease and create the most exquisite espresso I’ve had outside of Sicily (and being as he is part Sicilian, this makes perfect sense). I don’t know what I’ll do when the show is finally up and my journeys to Bethesda cease. I may actually have to make the pilgrimage for porcini and prosciutto.

Free Our Streets – Tomorrow!

dtss-chip-py.jpg

“Road closed” – that is what the sign in the photograph of Ellsworth Drive says and that’s what PFA Silver Spring, LC, the developers of Downtown Silver Spring, said to photographers for years who thought about snapping a picture on this once fully public street. Until last month.

That’s when Chip Py started questioning the policy after he was harassed for photography. And when Metroblogging DC decided to organize a photo walk to visualize his concerns through Free Our Streets.

Now the developer has changed their policy, a first step in the right direction. But a policy statement subject to change at any time is not the answer. Welcoming photography, videography, and other filming on Ellsworth Drive, consistent with First Amendment rights as they would apply on any other public street is.

Or as Marc Fisher says:

Chip Py’s run-in with the picture policeof downtown Silver Spring has morphed into a good old American fight for the right to express oneself…

…The Peterson Companies, the developer that took advantage of $100 million in generous taxpayer support to get their lovely downtown retail strip going, is apparently running scared, and has offered what it terms a compromise.

But it’s an empty offer. Peterson will put up a “Welcome Photographers” banner, but the reality is that the company is in no way conceding that the street it controls is open to the public in any meaningful way.

So its time for you to join our good old American fight for the right to express oneself. Its time for you to Free Our Streets with a Downtown Silver Spring Photo Walk on the perfect day for a declaration of photographic freedom – July 4th!

Downtown Silver Spring Photo Walk
a declaration of photographic freedom
Wednesday, July 4, 2007, 12:00pm – Noon
At the Green Turf, the corner of Ellsworth and Fenton Streets

Free Our Streets First Step: Limited Photography Allowed

downtown silver spring
Downtown Silver Spring by Chip Py

Free Our Streets, a loose association of Chip Py and DC Metrobloggers has started to make a difference.

Through our efforts, Montgomery county citizens are now aware that the developers of Downtown Silver Spring feel they have bought control over basic First Amendment rights on Ellsworth Avenue for $1 a year. And MoCo voters are not happy.

The questions they’re asking has led PFA Silver Spring LLC, a development partnership including the Peterson Companies, Foulger Pratt and Argo Investment, to change their stance on photography. But that change is just a start, a first, baby step. As the Baltimore Sun explains:

Last night, the development team, PFA Silver Spring LLC, issued a new policy, allowing photography in the area. And on July 4, it plans to display a “Welcome Photographers” banner on the site.

But Py insists photography is not his sole concern. All types of free expression should be permitted, from political campaigning to handing out fliers and other literature, he said.

“They are telling us it’s OK to take pictures on the street, but we don’t have any other First Amendment rights,” he said. “They don’t want to talk about public-private rights on a street. … We are asking for some First Amendment considerations in our town.”

Free Our Streets is asking for PFA Silver Spring LC to welcome photography, videography, and other filming on Ellsworth Drive, consistent with First Amendment rights as they would apply on any other public street. Not a watered down “photography at our discretion, if we like you” policy for Ellsworth Drive.

The Downtown Silver Spring development includes $187 million in county and state funds and the once completely public property Ellsworth Drive, public investment that should come with public rights.

And so the Downtown Silver Spring Photo Walk is still on. A declaration of photographic freedom on July 4th.

Psycho-Monkey Mom Alert in Montgomery County

monkey lady

Have you heard about the Montgomery County “Monkey Woman”, Elyse Gazewitz, who is fighting to free her monkey, Armani, from county banishment?

While I don’t care if the powers at be say that Armani is illegal and seized him for extradition to an animal sanctuary “where a monkey can live as a monkey,” what strikes me as odd about this whole situation is Gazewitz’s commitment to her capuchin monkey man:

Gazewitz said she had made preparations this week for a homecoming, stocking up on Armani’s favorite bananas and apples. She has left his room — she built a $4,000 addition onto her home just for him, she said — untouched since he was seized.

Waiting for him are a little hammock, tire swings and infant toys. She also has his Huggies diapers (with holes cut out for his tail), his Osh Kosh B’Gosh outfits and baby bottles ready to go. “I have his little Tigger on my bed, and I have the little baby blanket that he loves,” Gazewitz said.

Pet owners, dog people, cat people, even guppy Dad’s, what do you think about that commitment to an animal, “wild” or not? I say its freaky-deeky.

To build a whole house addition with all the accruements mentioned, is a huge sign of addiction beyond the normal cat lady eccentrics or doggy mansion overbuilds. That says this lady is thinking monkey = child and going all gonzo over a primate.

That no matter what the Animal Matters Hearing Board says, maybe its best that Elyse Gazewitz be separated from her “little boy” and seek counseling for psycho-level anthropomorphism.

it’s a footbridge! it’s a crime hazard! it’s a dessert topping!

A footbridge to help pedestrians get to a Metro stop without having to cross the Capital Beltway or its exit ramps sounds like a great idea, right? Silver Spring surely thought so. That is, until the design of the footbridge put pedestrians under the Beltway, in the dark, out of view and out of earshot, and penned in by fences on both sides. Oh, that’s a GREAT idea.

I can’t decide what’s more alarming, that they built a footbridge that has become a magnet for armed robbers, or that they knew the design had these issues in advance and they built the thing anyway. We’re lucky so far that it has only been muggings (and two of them thwarted at that), but I personally don’t expect it to stay like that for long. Way to go, MoCo.

In the meantime, this seems like a good time as any to review a few basic self-defense tips for walking in dark and isolated areas:
– Turn off your portable music player so you can be more aware of your surroundings.
– Carry whatever type of self-defense implement that is legal and that you are confident in your ability to use.
– Ladies, I know we all hate to be the woman in a skirt and sneakers, but consider that high heels impede your ability to run or stay on your feet if you are attacked. Carry the cute shoes to change into, and wear the practical ones.

Reason #496 to Love Maryland: Everclear

everclear.jpg You can get a lot of things in Virginia and in DC, but one thing you can’t get is Everclear. It’s 190 proof, highly flammable, and only available in Maryland. So, as I was out on a client visit anyhow, I stopped by a liquor store on the way home and picked up a full handle of the stuff. Now, before you call out for an intervention, or send the Alcoholics’ Anonymous SWAT team to my house, I’ve got good reason to need the stuff: Limoncello. We’re making a big batch for New Years’ this year, and that’s the primary ingredient, beside the 15 lemons.

It may force you to head outside the district, Wayan, but getting the good liquors requires a trip outside the District, as VA and DC tend not to sell the really good stuff in their state-run operations.

Get Ready for a Fare Hike

Metromap.png With Metro’s giant budget gap looming, and the budget meeting to discuss new fare and service options this evening, commuters and other Metro riders ought to get ready for some pain in the wallet. Metro’s fares have remained constaint since 2003, and are now facing a significant increase.

What’s good? SmarTrip users won’t pay quite as much an increase as those who use paper tickets, with paper ticket fares going up by $0.65 to $1.75, while SmarTrip fares will go up only $0.15 to $0.45.

What’s a little weird? That the downtown core stations will get an extra $0.35 tacked on to the fare. From Courthouse to L’Enfant Plaza on the Orange Line, Pentagon to L’Enfant Plaza on the Blue Line, Pentagon to Mt. Vernon Square on the Yellow, Mt. Vernon Square to Waterfront on the Green Line and from Dupont Circle to Union Station, is the new zone (see also the graphic here) that will receive an additional $0.35 congestion charge.

The new “max fares” under the new fare regime would be $4.75 for SmarTrip customers and $6 for paper ticket customers. Also on the block are some of the weekend and holiday services, so you may end up waiting longer and longer for trains on the weekends and on certain holidays. Metro won’t be changing service for holidays like Independence Day because they’re not completely mental. As many as twelve bus-lines may also face service cutbacks or outright route cancellations. Fares for the bus may go up by $0.05 if WMATA’s plan goes into effect.

So, fares are on the rise, and services are going to be cutback. Is this too much of a fare hike? Too much of a service cutback for too much a service cut? What say you?

graphic shamelessly cropped and borrowed from this Washington Post Story, with kudos to the graphics team there and apologies because any graphic I’d have done would’ve involved stick figures or badly drawn metro maps.

It’s Gonna Get Crazy

Well, the weather advisories are out for today, and in essence, they say “Batten down the hatches, it’s about to get insane outside.” Specifically the text I received says: Please secure loose items and watch for flying debris. So, when you’re out this afternoon, don’t even bother with the umbrella unless it’s made of cast iron, it’ll just become a projectile in the storm. Thunderstorms, high winds, flying debris, it’s all part of the forecast for today.

Need a Ride to Vote?

Tomorrow is election day across the greater DC area (and the rest of the US, too) and that means lots of running around town trying to get to your polling place to vote. If you can’t afford your own transportation, though, in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, there’s a cab company coming to your rescue, as they’ll be giving free cab rides to your polling place and back starting at 10am tomorrow and concluding at 1pm so the cabbies can still make a day’s wages. While most of the cabbies cannot vote themselves, they’re still interested in making the process work. It’s all being coordinated through CASA Maryland, so give them a call if you’re interested in a ride to the polls tomorrow.

Hot Pads

Perhaps if Wayan’s couch guest is still looking for a place to stay, he should take a gander at HotPads.com. HotPads appears to be a mash-up between google maps and wikipedia, offering a user-friendly at-a-glance look at available housing options inside the beltway.

Users can customize their search requirements by zip code, city, county or state, using a variety of variables. A quick Georgetown search turned up not a whole lot, whereas a quick search of my home zip code turned up two rental possibilities.

Looking for a roommate? You apparently can use that feature too, although it turned up zilch for me. This appears to be a great tool for relocation professionals who know naught about the new city they’ll call home. Doing a quick search of cities such as Seattle and Boston turned up a whole lot of useful information.

These three Notre Dame former college roommates moved to the D.C. area and created HotPads in early ’05, relaunching the site last month. The best thing about HotPads? It’s totally free.

Between HotPads and The D.C. Crime Map newcomers to D.C. can learn much more about prospective neighbours before they even put down a deposit. Say ‘sayonara’ to moving in sight unseen, suckers.

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