Wednesday, January 31, 2007

could briggs chaney get a nordstrom?

like this, but it's a bankOkay, not a Nordstrom department store (or even a Nordstrom Roack), but Commerce Bank, which calls itself the Nordstrom of banks, will be opening a new branch next to Briggs Chaney Plaza. In a nod to its idol, the new Commerce Bank will have a pianist in the lobby and overly helpful staff that follow you around the check-writing table.

MEANWHILE: Ike Leggett's been out of public office in the County for a few years, but surely he didn't think all those portables out behind our schools were there for show.
"One thing that surprised me was the lack for resources for fundamental things like books, or seats at schools." - Ike Leggett
Or maybe he did, as East County residents had to spell it out for him at a Town Hall Meeting at Northwood High last week. It's a shame that the Burtonsvillian wasn't aware of what Kemp Mill resident Beryn Randall called "some neglect of this part of the county." Ike and I are going to have a good chat next month.

WHERE'S OUR GREAT GATSBY? That trashy new movie Blood and Chocolate was apparently based on a book, and that book was written by a former Aspen Hill librarian. Between that and the beach-novel Rockville Pike (set near F. Scott Fitzgerald's grave in Rockville), Montgomery County's created a pretty miserable literary canon. Whoops: I forgot Goof and Other Stories, written by Kensington resident (and my creative writing professor at Maryland) Sean Enright. Okay, so maybe he'll redeem us.

Montgomery County needs its own Great Gatsby. I wonder who'll write it? (I'm up for it.)

UPDATE: Sligo also mentions Nora Roberts (romance novels, or if she's writing as J.D. Robb, futuristic detective novels) and George Pelecanos (crime novels). That doesn't add much to the Canon. I don't mean to be a literary elitist, but they don't inspire me either way.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

where are you, duchy trachtenberg?

Today I got a call from Marc Elrich's people and, as a result, we have a new date on the Just Up The Pike "County Government Head-to-Head Tour":

February 1Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At Large)
February 12Councilman George Leventhal (D-At Large)
February 16County Executive Ike Leggett (D)
February 22Councilwoman Marilyn Praisner (D-Calverton)
March 8Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda)
March 12Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring)
March 13Councilman Marc Elrich (D-Takoma Park)

That just leaves Duchy Trachtenberg, who never returned our calls. Where are you, Duchy? I'm just one away from completing my "Freshman Councilmember" set.

too much work to do

There's far too much going on for me to put serious thought into anything right now, but here are a few things going on that I just had to share:

ROAD TRIP FOR A RAIL LINE: As I speak, Purple Line supporters are headed to Annapolis to plead their case to our newly elected legislators and governor. If the event is successful, supporters plan to park at New Carrollton and wait for the first Purple Line train home.

TYSONS RISING: Fairfax County, with its laissez-faire attitude towards business, has long outstripped Montgomery County, but could it soon unseat D.C. as core of the region? Not quite, but it shows that Maryland is slowly but surely falling behind.

LAUREL RISING: It won't restore Maryland to its rightful place over Virginia, but take a look into the future of Laurel Mall at a presentation from the mall's developers TONIGHT at 6:30 in Laurel.

HELL IS PEOPLE IN BETHESDA: Bethesda blogger Merujo won't take crap from some rich snots at Montgomery Mall. Why do I take most of my business to Wheaton Plaza? Because even Hollister can't make Wheaton the least bit pretentious.

Finally, there's a new blog for the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association, and the Silver Spring Scene, the granddaddy of Silver Spring blogs, has turned one year old. Since then, as many as seven new Silver Spring blogs have been created (including this one, which wouldn't exist had I not stumbled on SSS one day last spring).

Oh, well. We meet Nancy Floreen on Thursday, and come back Friday to read about it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

dan's going head-to-head

STARTING THE WEEK OFF RIGHT: Martin O'Malley brings "Purple Line" back for good; Laurel residents see plans for a new mall this Tuesday (and Just Up The Pike might be attending); Blair High parents want graduations held in a megachurch again; and Derwood homeowners want more money if the ICC's going through their living rooms.

Over the past seven months, Just Up The Pike has talked the talk and walked the walk with the People Who Start Things in Montgomery County. What I haven't done yet, however, is get to know the People Who Finish Things; i.e. our elected officials. Sure, I've yelled at Ike Leggett once or twice, but do I know him as a person? Not at all.

Questions are being prepared and the emus are being corralled as Just Up The Pike heads to Rockville to sit down with our County Councilmembers and County Executive Ike Leggett and talk about whatever's bothering East County. Hopefully, we'll learn a little about them, too. (Did you know Nancy Floreen recently spent a week biking in Vietnam? It's true.) Here's a side of your elected officials you can't see on County Cable 6:

"Montgomery County people cannot come to any collective agreement - and probably never will - on whether we will be urban or suburban."

"My sense about Silver Spring . . . is that young people dig it. I think younger people want stuff to do . . . excitement! Activity!

"If you look at every election over the past sixteen years . . . I was probably the person favored to win. At no point in time was [Steve Silverman] ever ahead."

"Folks tend to get the perception that their corner of the County is unique . . . when we all have the same problems."

"We could be finding a cure for cancer if we're able to connect FDA to Johns Hopkins to biotech corridors in Shady Grove."

"We never proposed a moratorium. It was a word used by the press and developers to start a panic and scare people."

"Do we make the maintenance of our infrastructure a higher priority? I would like to see the social ills in this County make it on the map."

"Those of us who are blessed with abundance have a duty to work for the community who have less."

The big question is whether or not the People Who Finish Things will take me seriously. Can a college kid sit down and talk shop with a four-term politician? We're about to find out.

Friday, January 26, 2007

this one's for the kids

The white stuff came down hard in College Park and the rest of the area, but it didn't last too long. On the bright side, I can now tell my children I had to walk home from school in the snow for a mile, because now it's true.

ANYWAY: While Marilyn Praisner backs away from her misguided proposal in MoCo, the District throws a new one on the table, seeking to ban teenagers from city clubs such as the venerable 9:30 Club. This is a bad deal for everyone (especially for high school and college students who like music), but what about the Birchmere, especially in its endangered state? I see a silver lining in Silver Spring . . .

- Ken Ulman, Howard County Executive, is lobbying the hell out of a proposed Green Line extension to BWI via Columbia. From Martin O'Malley, Ulman says he "didn't get a strong sense of his direct position" on the project, which doesn't sound all too promising, though this Post editorial only confirms his support for the Purple Line and other local transit projects. (So, to hell with Baltimore?)

- Paint Branch High School, currently sunk well below Old Columbia Pike, is about to see a raise. Or, more specifically, a raze, as the forty-year-old building will be torn down as soon as a new structure is built next to it. "It’s a much more positive presence at the top of the hill," notes PTSA president Don Hauprich, while Principal Jeanette Dixon hopes the newly visible high school becomes "the jewel of Burtonsville." It's a funny idea, school-as-center-of-community. Not one currently practiced at my alma mater, located between the middle of nowhere and a lot of megachurches. It sounds like whomever's running the Paint Branch renovation took some ideas from these Canadian school planners.

And that's it for now. Here's hoping for more momentary blizzards!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

we don't sell out, but we really like food

The following is a [not] paid advertisement from The Peterson Companies, the good people who brought you Downtown Silver Spring.

New from Downtown Silver Spring (by which we mean The Peterson Companies), the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, and the Silver Spring Regional Center: it's Silver Spring Restaurant Week, February 5-11, 2007!
Get ready for a mouth-watering, lip-smacking week of great food from Silver Spring restaurants! Join us February 5-11 for Silver Spring Restaurant Week. Co-sponsored by Downtown Silver Spring, the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, the Silver Spring Regional Center and The Washington Post, Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to dine out. Enjoy Silver Spring Restaurant Week at your “tried and true” or somewhere new.

Participating restaurants will feature prix fixe lunch ($12) and dinner ($22 or $30) menus from Monday, February 5 to Sunday, February 11. In addition to these exclusive Restaurant Week menus, most participating restaurants will also offer standard fare at regular prices. Some restaurants may require reservations during Restaurant Week, so please call ahead. For more information, visit
Participating restaurants include:
- Addis Ababa Ethiopian Restaurant - 8233 Fenton St. Lunch $12 Dinner $22
- Asian Bistro - 8537 Georgia Ave. Dinner $30
- Austin Grill - 919 Ellsworth Dr. Dinner $30
- Capital Bleu - 8727 Colesville Road Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Ceviche - 921-J Ellsworth Dr. Dinner $30
- Crisfield Seafood Restaurant - 8012 Georgia Ave. Lunch $12
- Cubano’s - 1201 Fidler Lane Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- El Aguila Restaurant - 8649 16th St. Lunch $12 Dinner $22 and $30
- El Nopalito Grill - 2259 Bel Pre Road Lunch $12 Dinner $22
- Gallery Restaurant & Lounge - 1115 East West Highway Dinner $30
- Golden Flame Restaurant - 8630 Fenton St. Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Jackie’s Restaurant - 8081 Georgia Ave. Dinner $30
- McGinty's Public House - 911 Ellsworth Dr. Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Mi Rancho - 8701 Ramsey Ave. Lunch $12 (Mon-Fri only)
- Mrs. K's Toll House - 9201 Colesville Road Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- redDog Cafe - 8301-A Grubb Road Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Red Lobster - 8533 Georgia Ave. Dinner $30
- Red Rock Canyon Grill - 928 Ellsworth Dr. Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Sergio Ristorante Italiano - 8727 Colesville Road Lunch $12
- Spring Garden Restaurant - 8613 16th St. Lunch $12 Dinner $22
- Taste of Jerusalem - 8123 Georgia Ave. Lunch $12 Dinner $30
- Taste of Morocco - 8661 Colesville Road Lunch $12 Dinner $22
- Thai at Silver Spring - 921-E Ellsworth Dr. Lunch $12 Dinner $30

Note that one of the restaurants, El Nopalito Grill, is in East County. Why not support your East County food scene by traveling Up The Pike (or, in this case, Up Georgia Avenue To A Right At Layhill Road And Then Making A Left At Bel Pre Road) one night during restaurant week?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

bethesda's such a cheater

BUT FIRST: Downtown Silver Spring booster Susan Hoffmann is the new "mayor" of Silver Spring, according to DCist. Unlike former "mayor" Norman Lane, Susan is not homeless, though I believe she lives in Rockville, where she served on the Rockville City Council. I'm not sure if that's better than homeless.

The super-snoots at Bethesda Magazine may claim The Birchmere, Gifford's - and hell, even Poolesville - for themselves, but there's one thing they can't take from Silver Spring: our very own Restaurant Week, less than two weeks away. From February 5th until the 11th, you'll be able to enjoy a three-course dinner at many local restaurants (including Red Rock Canyon Grill, also claimed by Bethesda) for only $22. If you're not a starving college student, that's a pretty good deal.

LAUREL MALL UPDATE, or SOMEWHERE, GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN P.G.: Residents on the County line will soon get to see the future of Laurel Mall at a special presentation next Tuesday at the Laurel Municipal Center on Sandy Spring Road in Laurel. The redevelopment of the moribund mall - first brought to you by Just Up The Pike last month - will be managed by General Growth Properties (also involved in the redevelopment of Columbia Town Center).

If that's not enough Redeveloped-Route 1 glory, check out this plan for the revitalization of Beltsville and South Laurel, the result of a lengthy charrette held last October. Between this and everything going on in College Park, North Prince George's County could look wildly different in just a few years.

And then, it will be claimed by Bethesda Magazine as well.

Monday, January 22, 2007

ike leggett: it's on!

Slamming head-on into rush-hour traffic didn't take away the excitement of seeing this sign on the American Legion Bridge on my way back to Maryland, but I'm even happier to announce that after weeks of phone calls (including one from the man himself) Just Up The Pike will be meeting with County Executive Ike Leggett next month - in addition, of course, to meetings with five our County Councilmembers (we're still waiting for calls from Marc Elrich and Duchy Trachtenberg.)

During my half-hour with Ike Leggett, I'd like him to promise to kill the moratorium, build the purple line, torch the eight-million-dollar mug-o-rama the Forest Glen pedestrian bridge has become, and save the Dutch Country Farmers' Market, but it would be enough to know that he'll give East County some long-overdue attention. Sure, Clarksburg is booming, but we could use a little love, too. I mean, Leggett'll get some dirty stares at the Giant in Burtonsville if he screws us over the next four years.

Next week I'll have a calendar with each of the Just Up The Pike "Councilmember Chats," but in the meantime, read about this dying Springbrook High alum's return of a book checked out forty-two years ago. I kept a library book when I was in elementary school. If I ever find it, I'll try to hold onto it for a few decades before giving it back in order to recoup some processing fees . . .

Sunday, January 21, 2007


As of 1:42 pm EST, Just Up The Pike is proud to be the first to announce the Official Start of Winter 2007 in East County, as can be seen in this view from the Official Just Up The Pike Weather Cul-De-Sac located in snowy Silver Spring, Maryland.

Note the accumulation on the car, the island, and the roof - and also the possibility we'll see two more inches of the stuff before the day is out. Finally, we can quell all fears of Global Warming and stifle the guilt we felt after weeks of unseasonably pleasant temperatures.

Hooray! I am going to build a snowman. Eventually.

intimate circumstances in loudoun county

This is not East County news, but it follows the last entry well. I promise (now that I'm back home, of course) to return Up The Pike next week.

The following is from an e-mail sent by the PR guy of Greenvest, a major local developer, to Stephen J. Snow, Loudoun County Supervisor:
Steve Snow's vote cannot be bought and sold. I served my country in the military for 25 years to protect and preserve democracy and the buying and selling of votes was not among those values.

If Greenvest, or any other development, is successful in getting my vote, it will be because that developer has heard the mandates from this current Board of Supervisors that developers are expected to make significant contributions to the infrastructure of our County and be more responsive and responsible in meeting the needs of our citizens.
What's happening here? Has Loudoun County's cozy relationship with developers robbed them of their credibility? Or would an elected official say the same thing if he weren't sleeping with them? It sounds like Greenvest is willing to help but, then again, they're not held accountable to the Loudoun County public. If they build a school in a new development, they're being a good corporate citizen, but Stephen Snow just looks like a whore.

I mean, he can't even write his own "talking points." I can't agree with some of our new elected officials in Montgomery County, but I'd like to think they wouldn't sell themselves to outside interests (other than the Neighbors, of course.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

don't fairfax me!

WARNING: This post is both a rant and a restaurant review. If you'd not like to read about development today, please scroll down.

pictured: a bumper sticker from a Charlottesville-area NIMBY group.

Last night, while Just Up The Pike was eating dinner at Miller's, the bar where one Dave Matthews once served drinks, the NIMBYs and Evil Developers threw down in Rockville to hash out Marilyn Praisner's building moratorium that would delay the construction of 5,000 new homes in the County until August.

Despite the protests of chairman Royce Hanson - the architect of the Agricultural Reserve who was appointed to fix the planning commission - you still have Jim Humphrey from the Montgomery County Civic Federation spouting B.S. like "let's not worry about a lapse in economic vitality" as if every empty building and parcel in the County will suddenly start growing crops. Meanwhile, Marilyn Praisner leading the charge for "slow-growth," saying she's finally listening to The People.

I have to praise Valerie Ervin, however, for taking a cautioned stand against the moratorium. "If this is such a great idea, why is it necessary to have so many exemptions?" she asked, a complete reversal from last summer's statements in favor of it.

But surprisingly, the tide has turned against growth in Charlottesville as well. The Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population, perhaps the most subtle name for a NIMBY group ever, has "growth is NOT inevitable" as one of their core beliefs, sounding more than a little reminiscent of our friends the Neighbors. And the local alternative weekly, weary from the Dave Matthews Band-induced popularity of the town, is complaining that gentrification in the city and development on the fringe is causing Charlottesville to "jump the shark," losing the "Southern hippie charm" that made it so attractive in the first place.

MoCo and Charlottesville, as the nation's Most Progressive Municipality and Best Place to Live, respectively, both face a major conflict. It's clear that we have to come to terms with development, but not the terms of the shouting NIMBY minority. A few of The People may have spoken, but they're way out of line. I apologize for sounding like a broken record, but if we put growth on hold for the next eight months just to appease them, we'll come to regret it.

As for Miller's: It's a dive-ish bar in the middle of Downtown, a narrow, dark-panelled space straight out of a movie. While cheap, the food was excellent, but the loud music over the P.A. (Staind, Staind and more Staind) really hurt the ambience. I wouldn't have minded seeing old Dave on the little stage by the door, but I was about fifteen years too late.

YOU'VE GOT A SENSE OF IRONY: Buy the "Dammit, growth is NOT inevitable!" bumper sticker from the Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population at

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

county council-emu update

Just Up The Pike has just made plans to meet with another councilmember next month, bringing the grand total to five. We have yet to hear from Duchy Trachtenberg, Marc Elrich, or the increasingly elusive Ike Leggett, only bolstering my opinion that he does not like me.

As for Charlottesville - the town is amazing, and after only a little while it's clear why this is consistently rated one of the best places to live in the country. The gem of the city is the Downtown Mall, a six-block stretch of street closed off to cars and lined with restaurants, shops and theatres.

I was called "crazy" when I said that College Park could look like Charlottesville one day, and maybe I am, but it's inspiring to see what a real college town looks like.

Monday, January 15, 2007

dan goes way down the pike

The Planning Board says "no go" to Marilyn Praisner's moratorium. On Tuesday at 7:30, in the County Council Office Building on Maryland Avenue in Rockville, the County Council will hold a public hearing to decide whether or not to follow through with this legislation that would stop all major development in Montgomery County through August. IF, LIKE ME, YOU FIND THE SIGHTS AND SMELLS OF A NEW HOUSE INTOXICATING, you might want to stop by and put in your two cents. I'd go, but I'm three hours away.

Just Up The Pike is currently in scenic Charlottesville, Virginia, nestled in the mountains 125 miles down The Pike (or, as it's called here, Seminole Trail) from Silver Spring, to record a CD with the a cappella group I'm in. If I update again before Friday, you're in luck.

In the meantime, check out this Post story on the revitalization of Georgia Avenue, which is what Route 29 becomes in D.C. Formerly the spine of the city (and Silver Spring, of course), Georgia has become a shell of its former self, but in a few years, it will be returned to glory (if not in a super-gentrified state).

THOSE RACISTS IN POTOMAC - UPDATE: Speaking of gentrification - does anyone remember when Potomac was a black neighborhood? In Scotland, recently made famous by a racial tiff at Churchill High, they do. It's amazing how a place can change in a few decades.

(I heard from a Churchill alum that Principal Joan Benz, who blamed her school's problems on the "Black-on-Black violence," was just fired. It's only conjecture, though . . .)

COUNTY COUNCIL-EMU UPDATE: After a second call to his office, Ike Leggett's people still haven't made an appointment to meet with me, though I will be talking to four of seven contacted councilmembers.

Friday, January 12, 2007

model house reviews: clarksburg town center

BUT FIRST: The Post gives O'Malley's trip to Einstein a cursory mention at the end of a story about how he's slowing school funding to MCPS; meanwhile, Ike Leggett doesn't mind keeping his grandson in a "learning cottage," but my seven-year-old brother still gets money for a new school; and friend of Just Up The Pike Hans Riemer is nominated president of the Action Committee for Transit.

panorama of clarksburg town centerOne of my favorite hobbies is visiting model houses. I couldn't ever live in one, but I like to see how The Other Half must be living. Here's another installment of Model House Reviews.

Curiosity brought me up I-270 at rush hour, but it was the call of nature that brought me into Bozzuto's condominium model at Clarksburg Town Center. Even with all the controversy, the Upcounty new town has grown rapidly into a little patch of city in the middle of nowhere.

My problem with Clarksburg Town Center is not that half the houses were built too tall but that there are no bathrooms anywhere. With no stores or even a gas station to be found (yet), a new community center still locked, and no bushes planted where I might've found relief, my only hope was to find a model house, which are in ample supply.

I figured what I was about to do was in wildly poor taste, but I had to do it. As soon as I burst into the Bozzuto model condo, a woman emerged from a back room and asked "Can I help you?" "I have a strange request for you," I said. "Do you have a bathroom?" "Yes," she said nervously, perhaps unsure of my intentions. (Not because of age or race, I hope, but merely out of confusion.)

The bathroom was amazing. A simple set-up - sink, toilet, tub - but classy nonetheless, with good lighting, a large mirror, and tasteful gold-striped wallpaper. The hand towels, while thin, matched the wallpaper and dried my hands most effectively.

Emerging from the bathroom, I explained my case, but realizing that it was almost 5 and the woman had her car keys, I knew it was time to go. We commiserated about the horrible traffic and, after offering my thanks, I said goodbye and left.

As I sped south on 270 past the Cesar Pelli-designed COMSAT building, recently saved from the wrecking ball, I looked at the line of headlights going northbound, which extended from the Beltway probably as far as Frederick, and thought of the sales woman, who was heading out that way, and all the families starting their lives in Clarksburg. While the town has its charms and one of the nicest bathrooms I've had the pleasure to use in a long time, I'm not sure if it would be worth that kind of commute. Yes, I was happy coming home to East County, so long as I was getting there at 70 miles per hour.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

emus for the county council

- Yesterday's Town Hall meeting review brought Just Up The Pike approximately 260 visitors, its highest since the site meter was added in November. (In second place is November 29, the day after Ike Leggett's last Town Hall meeting.)

- Meanwhile: This week I called the offices of Ike Leggett and seven of the nine County Councilmembers (excluding Phil Andrews and Mike Knapp, who represent Rockville and the Upcounty), and I've successfully made appointments with four councilmembers for next month. Three other councilmembers have yet to return my phone calls (including the elusive Valerie Ervin). Ditto for Ike Leggett. What's up with that, Ike?

WHOOPS: Silver Springer from Silver Spring Scene asks, "What are you going to ask them?"

I intend to visit the emu farm in Howard County (not to be confused with the emo farm) and offer a poached emu as a sacrifice to each County Councilmember, and five emus for Ike Leggett, in exchange for breaking ground on the Purple Line the following day.

But, really: I want to know how Valerie Ervin challenged her old boss and Roger Berliner got elected in Bethesda despite supporting the Purple Line. I'd like to hear about the "old days" of Calverton with Marilyn Praisner and talk with George Leventhal about blogs and growth. Most importantly, I'd like to know just how ridiculously nice Ike really is. And I'd like to do it in a casual, conversational manner, the same way I did with Hans Riemer last summer. I want to know my County Council as people, not just politicians.

And we'll see how well that works over the next month . . .

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

town hall meetings in moco: part two

Back to Part One . . .

After the event ended, a mob of people rushed the front of the auditorium to speak with the panel, consuming poor John Porcari. While Brown and O'Malley both had small crowds of well-wishers around them, it was Ike Leggett who needed two security guards to protect him from the onrush of disgruntled County residents. When I was allowed to speak with him, I shook his hand and offered my card, which he took cautiously.

"So, young man, do you have all your Purple Line questions answered?" Leggett asked me, smiling in the way he might have at a belligerent Adrian Fenty when he was a law student in his class at Howard. The first thing I thought was, "Why are you so patronizing?" But, as he flipped the card over, I told Ike that I'd called his secretary the day before and that I wanted to make an appointment to speak with him. "You know, we both live in East County, I just wanted to see we're on the same page about things," I said. That shut him up pretty fast.

Which brings me to County Councilman George Leventhal, who I caught on his way out with Ida Ruben. I said "hello" and handed him my card. "A blog? Yeah, I read blogs," he said. "Just Up The Pike? I read that." I was incredulous. He turned to Ida Ruben: "Dan's blog is one of the few reasonable blogs in the County now," he continued. "He's saying, we don't have to shut the County down, we don't have to stop growth. It's really good." I told him I'd spoken to his secretary, and George responded that he'll get back to me very soon about meeting with him.

So, in conclusion:

1) I like Martin O'Malley. Even if he's eyeing bigger things than governor, that still means he'll put in a lot of work here to polish his resume.

2) Every time I meet Ike I dislike him even more.

3) Just Up The Pike is moving up, I believe. We'll see if Ike and the rest of the County Council are willing to meet with me as well.

town hall meetings in moco: "it's like comedy"

For additional coverage of the Town Hall Meeting, check out the Silver Spring Penguin and Maryland Politics Watch, along with the Baltimore Sun and the Post's Get There blog.

The parking lot at Einstein High was packed forty-five minutes before last night's Town Hall Meeting with Governor-elect Martin O'Malley, Lieutenant Governor-elect Anthony Brown, and new Secretary of Transportation John Porcari (oh, and Ike Leggett hosted, apparently), reflecting the normal Montgomery County seriousness about local politics. A standing-room-only crowd of nearly a thousand filled the auditorium, eager to see our new governor kick off his week-long "One Maryland" tour, culminating with his inauguration next Wednesday.

A dozen state, county and local officials showed up, but the first two rows of the auditorium remained conspicuously empty, reflecting a smaller-than-expected turnout. Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, whose district includes Einstein High, was notably very absent, as was Nancy Floreen, who lives in neighboring Garrett Park. (Her secretary said she is biking in Vietnam this week.) In their place, non-elected officials worked the crowd - Hans Riemer, who lost to Ervin in the Democratic primaries; Dr. Dana Beyer, a fixture at these events; and a surprise showing from former state Senator Ida Ruben.

Martin O'Malley's opening comments were a throwback to the speeches of John F. Kennedy - "I promise that if we join together, put one foot in front of the other, we will make progress" - but the statements that followed weren't nearly as idealistic or even understandable, in a few cases. The parade of disgruntled citizens speaking their piece to our elected officials was compared to "a comedy" by the woman sitting next to me.

When Ike Leggett opened the floor to questions, people filled the aisles. Perhaps seventy people were in line to ask a question, but after ninety minutes of back-and-forth between the panel and the people, Leggett pulled the plug (though not without letting several people ask the "last question"), leaving quite a few people frustrated after waiting so long.

The mood of frustration was fueled by some speakers who didn't seem to understand time limits. The spokeswoman for the Vietnamese Community of D.C., Maryland and Virginia, spent two minutes regurgitating the national anthem in broken English only to ask Martin O'Malley if her group could be invited to his inaugural parade, eliciting moans and a few laughs from the audience.

Most of the questions fielded to the panel concerned transportation, or more specifically the InterCounty Connector. One Longmead Crossing resident who launched into a tirade about the highway. "You can't do anything about [traffic], you can't even address it, and it all comes back to that six-lane highway," he snarled, eliciting a swell of applause and cheers from the audience. Rich Parsons, former president of the Chamber of Commerce and "speaking as a private citizen for the first time," was the lone supporter and got quite a few boos, which eventually turned to cheers when he brought up the Purple Line.

However, the most boos were reserved for one gentleman from Wheaton, who riffed on the money wasted by our "250,000 uninvited guests," by which he meant illegal immigrants. Even Ike didn't sound too enthusiastic telling the audience to let him speak. The gentleman, a "dorky white guy" of the dorkiest sort, told O'Malley he could find a solution: "You're a smart guy, smarter than I am-" but he was cut off: "No, if I were smart, I wouldn't have run for public office," and the man was quieted.

Despite the feeling that entire civic associations were bused in to promote their pet projects, the event was very successful. Many people have accused O'Malley of lacking substance, and his flowery, feel-good language wouldn't have done much to change their opinions, but it does inspire. He dominated the event, leaving the straight-talking Porcari, reticent Brown and a subdued Leggett to sit and stare. Afterwards, Hans Riemer suggested that Leggett "could have led the event more," a given since the sign in front of Einstein pegged him as The Host. Perhaps it's just that hard to eclipse the lead singer of a Celtic rock band.

On to Part Two . . .

george leventhal reads blogs . . .

And other revelations from last night's Town Hall meeting with Martin O'Malley and Ike Leggett, coming fairly soon on Just Up The Pike.

(So much leading up to this, right? You're probably waiting for me to drop the B.S. and just say the thing, but it'll come with time. Surprise: I'm still disappointed in Ike Leggett. Find out why, soon!)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

this blog-alogue is part of a balanced breakfast

don't you think cities are fun?It looks like Just Up The Pike has some friends in Takoma Park: the Silver Spring/Takoma Voice staff has named us (me? it?) a "blog we like," expressing surprise that I'd be so interested in the "somewhat dry topics" of development or politics.

Dry topics? No wonder my second-grade class was so bored when my teacher let me read them a book for my birthday and I read, cover to cover, an issue of Long and Foster's Extraordinary Properties. But, seriously, I think this stuff is pretty interesting. I'm sure others do, too. Everyone else just needs an inspiration.

My counterparts at the U of M, Rethink College Park, have revealed this stunning "Visionary Metro Proposal" which puts fantasy maps of the Green Line, Purple Line and Silver Line together to give people an idea of what Metro could look like in just a few years.

Between bickering over new lines and derailings and threats of fare hikes on existing lines, public faith in Metro has been shaken. The system desperately needs funding, and local governments have been reluctant to offer their support. While fantasy maps have usually been the fodder of rail buffs, maybe this one might "break into the mainstream," if you will. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks hearing "Next Stop: Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Friendship Airport" would be intoxicating.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

coming soon . . .

While Churchill High Principal Joan Benz hopes her comments on the screenplay-ready racial divide in Potomac doesn't get her fired, Just Up The Pike readers have something to look forward to this coming week.

- On Tuesday, I'll be heading to less-racist Einstein High for a Town Hall Meeting at 8 p.m. The headliner is none other than Governor Martin O'Malley (whom you may better know as the former lead singer of O'Malley's March), with our very own Ike Leggett on back-up. Let's see if Ike still remembers who I am.

- And, after that, more Model House Reviews from Calverton all the way out to Clarksburg. What happens when a blogger with a full bladder bursts into a model house? You'll soon find out.

Come back soon! My business cards just came in the mail, and they look spectacular!

Friday, January 5, 2007

the club edition

All of today's stories have a theme: Clubs.

- Two million dollars is a small figure on this wish list taken by Montgomery legislators to Annapolis this month, but it's what the County would like set aside for opening the Birchmere music club in Silver Spring. (Also on the list: A new courthouse in Rockville; an interchange at Georgia and Randolph; the Purple Line.) The "Future Home of the Birchmere" sign is already up on the former J.C. Penney building on Colesville Road. Who knows how long it'll be before I can see a show without going into D.C.?

- Club Friday, a popular social club for the tweener set at the Potomac Community Center, (membership and dues required! How Potomac.) has spread to the Fairland Community Center, but not as successfully.

What occurs to me is that neither the Scotland Community Center, located in the only housing project in Potomac (and one with a gang problem, which has led to some major race-baiting at Churchill High), nor the East County Rec Center, a mile away from Fairland in the poorer Briggs Chaney neighborhood, have Club Friday programs. If anything sounds like a gang deterrent, it'd be something that got kids off the streets on a weekend night. How about that, MoCo?

- The "big family" otherwise known as Indian Spring Country Club shared one last cocktail before the property given over solely to golfers and promgoers for decades becomes a 773-home development by Winchester Homes. Judging by the $700,000 homes I saw in Clarksburg yesterday, Lord only knows how much an Indian Spring home might cost. (I wonder if the "big family" will buy one as well.)

Hey, why not give your two cents in regards to this or other Just Up The Pike stories? You know you've always wanted to start a debate via Internet . . .

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

in and out for moco: 2007 edition

Inspired by the Post's What's In and Out for 2007, our own list at Just Up The Pike: "In and Out for MoCo: 2007 Edition":

Steve SilvermanIke Leggett
ClarksburgCrown Farm
"The Turf"Cold, hard pavement
InterCounty ConnectorPurple Line
Building snowmen in winterTanning, just like the rest of the year
Fake loftsReal pagodas
walking down Ellsworth Driveskating down Ellsworth Drive
Megachurches on New HampshireMegachurches everywhere else
AFI Silver TheatreThe Birchmere
Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton"Hey, Why Are We Driving All The Way Out To Montgomery" Mall
Silver Sprung$ilver Bling
Gifford'sColdstone Creamery
Indian Spring Country ClubIndian Spring Estates: From the $700's
Northwood High's GreaseBlake High's High School Musical
The O.C.The Mo C

The following was submitted by loyal reader Ginger:

Trader Joe'sWhole Foods
StarbucksMayorga Coffee
SoBe (South Bethesda)NoBe (North Bethesda)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

so this is the new year

Sometime on December 31, Just Up The Pike had its 3,000th counted visitor since I added the hit counter a month earlier, meaning that this blog might have gotten over 10,000 visitors since we first set up shop one evening last June. From one rant about a flooded bridge to following the County elections, it's been an amazing start, and the new year promises even bigger and better things.

like Fall Out Boy, McMansions have been declared passe.This has nothing to do with East County, but the Post's In and Out List for 2007 is here. Take heed: Fall Out Boy and McMansions (pictured) are OUT, while stovepipe jeans and Hollister (which is the creepiest store in Wheaton Plaza) are IN.

Perhaps there should be a MoCo "In and Out" List. Come back tomorrow: I think I have an idea.

a tragic start?

The New Year may not be getting off on the right foot in East County. Last Friday, a man walking up Route 29 near the under-construction Briggs Chaney interchange was struck by a van making a U-Turn. Briggs Chaney has a huge number of pedestrians - why hasn't the construction made it any safer for them? SHA needs to look into this.

And yesterday, a nurse and mother of three was stabbed to death by her estranged husband in their townhouse on Dunwood Terrace in the Saddle Creek subdivision off of Route 198. The husband then fled to Olney, where he led police on a brief car chase that evening which ended with his arrest and charges for first-degree murder.