No one else may buy it, but I'm sticking to the single-goose theory.
It all goes back to 1979. Back when Montgomery County was young and fresh and full of promise. Back when the Beltway was a teenager and sprawl was a toddler. Back when the Brit Bandits were being taught accentless suburban speech in the county's preschools and Ruthann Aron's chili tasted perfectly normal. Around when Sam Sheinbein was nearing conception and Robert Dean was writing term papers instead of love poems. The rest of the country was slogging through the last years of the Carter administration, but there was no malaise on that verdant northwest edge of Washington. At least for the humans.
The goose probably began that day feeling pretty good, too. It was springtime, and the goose was heading home to Canada for the summer, stopping off, like so many Canada geese before and since, at a green swathe of comfort out on River Road that locals knew as the Congressional Country Club. May 3, 1979, though, would be different. Like so many other suburbanites, our goose soon learned that leafy tranquility doesn't always produce emotional tranquility: On the 17th green, goose met man. And man won.
Now, geese have been on the losing end of interspecies warfare for quite a while. If the goose's assailant had been one of the old reliablesâ€”shotgun-wielding man, say, or maybe environment-despoiling manâ€”all might have been forgiven years ago. But instead, the goose met its maker thanks to an entirely new aggressor: putter-swinging man.
Dr. Sherman A. Thomas claimed it was a mercy killing. He said he'd inadvertently beaned the goose with his approach shot and merely used the putter to put it out of its misery.
Eyewitnesses told a different story. According to the more inflamed reports, Dr. Thomas was a few feet from the hole, focusing hard on sinking his putt, when the goose had the temerity to honk. The doctor, in perfect slapstick-comedy fashion, missed his shot. He lost it and decapitated the creature with a clean whack of his putter. A couple seconds later, this version goes, he was chucking the goose's head into a pond and carrying its body back to his golf cart. Oops.
Things moved quickly after that. There was an investigation, a fine, some major press coverage for a certain obscure U.S. Attorney named Kurt L. Schmoke. Thomas was busted for violating the U.S. Migratory Bird Protection Act. For one thing, May isn't goose season. For another, golf clubs are illegal goose-killing weapons, no matter what season. If our villain had been a gun-toting West Virginian doing some winter bird killing rather than a Chevy Chase golfer, he might have been fine.
It was, of course, just a blip on the radar screen. It certainly wasn't the first crime in Montgomery County. But the tone of the coverageâ€”populist, salacious, superficialâ€”signaled something new. "Honk if you think he's guilty," said a pro-goose Washington Post editorial. There were various other plays on geese being cooked, holes in one, and birdies. You get the idea.
Eventually, it all went away. Schmoke went on to become mayor of Baltimore. Dr. Thomas moved to Florida (but retained his Congressional membership). Golfers and geese mingled at the famed golf course without threats from either species. And Montgomery County seemed for a while to have incurred no heavenly wrath as a result of the clobbering. It grew over the '80s into an economic tiger with hundreds of restaurants of all ethnicities, thousands of high-wage jobs on a new "technology corridor," and tens of thousands of new residents.
Now, however, just as the county smugly basks in its wealth and power, in its political dominance of Maryland, and in its cultural dominance over metropolitan Washington, bad things are roosting in paradise. Dr. Thomas' place among the criminal rarities of near Maryland has been usurped by Sam Sheinbein and Ruthann Aron, Mike Tyson and Bob Dean and the Brit Bandits. A rising wave of mayhem on the far side of Western Avenue has splashed the comfiest county's plethora of oddities onto the front page almost weekly. The land of Silver Spring has apparently sprung: Edge City has become Edgy City.
There's only one answer: The goose, or at least its unholy ghost, is back. It has to be. It's breaking into Montgomery's houses at night with an upper-crust accent. It's soliciting hits on husbands and bringing out the worst in delinquent kids. It's crashing its car into celebrities and singing a siren song to attorneys.
Oh, MoCo. You should never have killed that goose.
The waitress has just handed me a chicken wrap when I ask about the joint's most recent claim to fame. Her eyes light up. "Yep," she says, pointing to a spot where three business-suited women are being handed doggie bags of lunchtime leftovers. "They sat right in that booth over there."
There, in this case, is the booth where Ruthann Aron allegedly solicited Montgomery County's most famous failed contract hit. It's located inside J.J. Muldoon's restaurant, in Shady Grove Plaza, just off Shady Grove Road in the suburban outpost of Gaithersburgâ€”where the Red Line ends. The strip mall is just past the 270 Center, which itself abuts Interstate 270, Montgomery County's major commuter artery. Muldoon's is next to the Sign-A-Rama and Mattress 2 Nite. The wait staff wear regulation khakis and polo shirts and white sneakers. Barroom Redskins decorations and impressionist prints reflect off the retro brass fixtures. The chicken wraps are great.
It doesn't look too seamy to me.
Maybe I should come later tonight, for the $100 dance contest. Tuesday night is karaoke night.
"Well, where'd you expect her to hang out?" says Donna, the waitress. "A pool hall?"
I'm on safari in Montgomery County, searching high and low for the wild, wild mayhem I've been reading so much about. It hasn't gone very well. In fact, J.J. Muldoon's looks downright sinister compared with the rest of my tour.
Just about a mile away, near the quiet intersection of Shady Grove and Muncaster Mill Roads, where heavyweight cannibal Mike Tyson allegedly split one commuter's lip and kicked another in the balls during a wild-eyed post-collision blowup, about the most frantic thing I saw was a sign warning potential buyers that this was their "last chance" to snatch up an airy piece of the brand-new Cypress Hill subdivision. No blood on the pavement, no conga line of road-raged freaks, just the nice, orderly non-hum of suburban life.
"I don't see where it's any different from anywhere else," said the guy at the nearby volunteer fire station. So much for red-hot celebrity insanity.
Earlier this morning, when I cruised past some of the fenced-in Potomac homes that were violated at gunpoint by the so-called Brit Banditsâ€”the two supposedly high-class burglars that had upscale MoCo-ites clamoring to be nextâ€”I found...deer. They scampered into the woods, without, apparently, black masks, bulletproof vests, semiautomatic pistols, or riches plundered from the homes of the tony suburb's wealthy. So much for menacing class-war thievery.
And on a visit to the same Rockville Pike strip where Freddy Tello once sold pet fish, I got a haircut from a guy who used to cut the hair of Sam Sheinbein. Sheinbein, of course, allegedly killed, burned, and dismembered his friend Tello one day last summer. But at the Congressional Plaza Hair Cuttery, my barber mostly remembered that young Sam used to giggle when he buzzed his hair. So much for youth gone wild.
If Montgomery County has gone nutsâ€”and there's ample evidence in the paperâ€”the good citizens aren't admitting it.
Instead, in good, solid, MoCo style, they're blathering on about education and roads and property values. Inside the aquarium store where Tello once worked, just around the corner from the Hair Cuttery, I talked to transplanted Texan Pat Kirwin. He was ravingâ€”like about a billion other people I've talked toâ€”about the good schools and safe streets that had brought him to the county.
Kirwin and his son Lewis were staring at a wall of fish tanks. The toddler was pointing excitedly at various fish inside when a sign caught my eye. The chart purported to rank the store's various species by excitability. But a disclaimer at the bottom might well tell the essential truth behind Montgomery County's recent spate of high-profile scandals. In bold letters, it reads: "ANY FISH CAN BE AGGRESSIVE."
I'll get this out of the way real quick: Montgomery County is a wretched expanse of dull, fat, ticky-tacky suburban sprawl. It is a land of Fresh Fields-engorged, Gap-addled, pollution-belching Sport Utility Boobs. It's a wasteland inside a cul-de-sac of a hellhole of suburban ennui. It represents everything that Iâ€”as an urbane, very urbane, oh-so-extraordinarily urbane capital-city sophisticateâ€”stand against. And it's ugly, too.
OK. Now that I've taken care of the hipster-journalistic basics, I can get about the real business at hand. Because I'm not writing out of contempt, or loathing, or righteous indignation. I'm venting another kind of dishonorable impulse entirely: jealousy.
Let me explain: Most of the time, I write about D.C. politics. Time was when the quality regional scandal took place right here in town. You remember, yes? A little trifle about a mayor, a hotel room, and a couple big, fat lungfuls of crack? An apparently endless parade of cronies marching from political campaign to government office to jail cell? A prominent newspaper columnist shooting at a hot-tub-poaching teen? A local-hero Super Bowl MVP sassing a Supreme Court justice? Time was when Washington had a go-go economy, a jobs-for-all government, a dynamic mayor. And right along with dynamo status came dynamite scandal.
The only other newsworthy scandals, meanwhile, came from out in Virginia, where local gawkers could always count on, say, a woman taking her kitchen knife to the penis of an abusive husband, or a governor getting a "massage" from an ex-beauty queen, or, at the very least, a nice, juicy gruesome accident on a roller coaster. It was a neat dichotomy for local reporters: There were scandalous money and power stories in D.C., field trips to hillbilly craziness in Virginny when the city got dull.
But Virginians currently seem too stuck in Beltway traffic to perpetrate, and D.C. is faced with the somniferous spectacle of a soft-spoken bow-tied dork of a mayor-elect catering to a NIMBY-ruled cadre of newsmakers. What screaming there is tends to be about such page-turners as plans for community shopping developments or whether the advisory neighborhood commissions should be reformed.
The whole sorry spectacleâ€”or, rather, the whole sorry lack of spectacleâ€”has me doing something I never imagined: scouring the dailies for stories from Maryland, that newly incarnated Nike of no-shit news. In just the past couple of weeks, close-in Maryland has produced screaming headlines about the likes of Juwan Howard's victory in a defamation lawsuit against Melissa Reed, who claimed he had assaulted her at a Potomac party. There was also the item about the Montgomery County man ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial for impersonating a pilot after he claimed that helping his lawyers would entail revealing top government secrets. And then there was Samuel Sheinbein, engaging in some legal wiggling that would apparently involve his admitting a crime on the condition that he be allowed to stay in Israel and thus avoid coming home to...Montgomery County.
The first reaction, of course, was a sense of sweet revenge: So these are the people who look down on the city of Marion Barry?
But thenâ€”maybe it was while I was reading back to the 1996 case in which fancy Lakewood Country Club's only female golf pro resigned after a golf tournament party that featured a female ice sculpture that spouted vodka from between her legsâ€”I changed my mind: This isn't about revenge. This is MoCo pirating another important local industry: They've stolen our franchise on scandal.
If you believe the papersâ€”and the D.C. area, alas, doesn't have a scandal-sheet tabloid to put the proper exclamation point on itâ€”Montgomery County is hovering on the edge of big-time, Long Island-quality demimonde status. MoCo doesn't have a Joey Buttafuoco yet, but the past handful of years has featured a veritable slew of movie-of-the-week possibilities in the area's most famously comfy county. It's enough to make you wonder whether you're reading the New York instead of the Washington Post.
An incomplete list of MoCo-as-Babylon potboilers would kick up some mighty fine tabloid headlines:
Five-Alarm Chili: The Ruthann Aron Story. After two different trials before packed Rockville courthouses, former Republican senatorial wannabe Aron last month pleaded nolo contendere to charges that she had solicited a hit on a Baltimore attorney and her famous doctor-husband. Ruthie had once been a right-wing law-and-order buff. But that didn't stop her from wearing a comical floppy hat, a trench coat, and sunglasses when she dropped off a check at a Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Research Boulevard in Rockville. The check was for a guy she thought was a hit man. Unfortunately, he was an undercover cop. Of course, before she was hatching hit schemes, Aron was allegedly home-cooking up poisoned chiliâ€”a ploy that succeeded only in giving hubby Barry Aron a good night's sleep. And she had tried to get help finding the killer-for-hire from trash-dump operator William Mossburg Jr. (This being MoCo, Mossburg's own son had himself once been investigated over allegations of trying to hire someone to kill Mossburg. As in the Aron case, the alleged someone turned out to be an undercover police officer, who in this case met him at that center of underworld activity known as Wheaton Plaza.) Aron's initial trial, in which she claimed insanity, ended with a hung jury unable to decide about the freaked-out defendant in the dock. At her Nov. 23 sentencing, a whole new class of folks able to plead insanity came back to the Rockville courthouse: TV cameras anxious to bring Aron's story to a county full of gawkers.
Aspen Hill Burning: The Hunt for Sheinbein. More a Son of Sam than a suburban kid named Sam, young Sheinbein was suspect No. 1 in Freddy Tello's death-and-dismemberment case. That's when the handsome teenager high-tailed it from Aspen Hill to Israel, where he's still fighting extradition. The all-MoCo youth, whose father was born in Israel, claimed Israeli citizenship. (His friend and accused partner in crime, Aaron Needle, no jet-setter himself, wasn't so lucky: Days before his trial, he hanged himself in his Rockville jail cell.) Montgomery County officials have been lobbying Israel to hand over their manâ€”making this the first Montgomery tabloid case to become an international incident, but probably not the last.
Loot Britannia: The Incredible True Story of the Brit Bandits. Two winters ago, a couple of small-time county hoods went on a break-in spree in and around Potomac. They used British accents and demonstrated extreme politeness while sticking up the wealthy homeowners. ("I've done a lot of theater work, and I've used Brit accents," says Wendy Katzen, whose house they robbed one night. "They were very good and very consistent.") By spring, the county had put an unprecedented 85 to 100 officers on the case. As the excitement rose, the perps earned national fame as the "Brit Bandits." Locals were said to be leaving money out for the two gentlemen-bandits, like cookies for Santa Claus. According to attorney Barry Helfand, who represented one of the two, the fame spurred them on to do more robbing than they otherwise might have. "Somebody very cleverly called them the Brit Bandits," says Helfand. "I believe that the name and the publicity made them like it and want to do more. It got them into it." When Charles Watkins and David Edwards were finally snagged, however, their actual lives were rather more prosaic: They were Silver Spring kids with varying degrees of delinquency behind them. But maybe their limey affectations got to their other lawyer, who told the Washington Post, "I dare say David Edwards is a product of Montgomery County." Tea and scandal, anyone?
Mike Tyson Kicked Me in the Balls! Former heavyweight champ Tyson, then still awaiting reinstatement into the world of boxing following his suspension for biting Evander Holyfield's ears, landed in Montgomery County a couple of years ago. The ear-muncher was officially cooling his heels in the Potomac mansion he shares with his wife when word broke on Aug. 31 of an alleged incident after a traffic dust-up between his Mercedes and two other cars near the Shady Grove Metro station. In sworn criminal complaints, Richard Dale Hardick said Tyson had kicked him in the groin, and Abimelec Saucedo said he'd been punched in the face. Tyson's criminal case goes to court early next monthâ€”an event that will once again focus nationwide media attention on Montgomery County prosecutors.
Lawyers in Love: The Poems of Robert Dean. The man charged with prosecuting Ruthann, Sheinbein, the Brit Bandits, and Iron Mike managed to wind up in his own story on the front page of the Post's Metro section in September. His fame followed the release of the love poems he had written to his alleged smoochieâ€”and prosecutorial colleagueâ€”Teresa Whalen. Instead of spending the last week of the campaign making pronunciations about the futures of Tyson, Aron, et al., Dean found himself discussing such works as "A Moment" and "To Think of You" (sample lines: "Your lips as they slightly turn to a smile/When they touch mine/They speak their own language"). News of the affair had surfaced four months earlier, after Whalen's then-boyfriend, a Montgomery County police sergeant named Michael Mancuso, allegedly left recordings of Whalen describing her relationship with Dean in the voice-mail boxes of several other prosecutors. Whalen, meantime, had filed suit against Dean for sexual discrimination. Her attorneys, of course, denied that either the timing of the lawsuit, four months before the primary, or the poetry release, six days prior to that vote, was politically motivated. For reporters used to covering endlessly dull races for minor offices in MoCo, it was their own little flytrap. Except that Bob D., unlike Bill C., got his in the end: He lost his re-election bid.
For what it's worth, the county in recent years has also hosted at least two different landscaper-killers, two spectacularâ€”and exhaustively reportedâ€”teenager car wrecks, a mastermind SAT cheat, and an alleged basketball-star assault.
The resulting onslaught of lurid attention has created a fairly peculiar reversal in the local news cycle. There's an ample dose of scandal, but it's wasted on MoCo, because they don't know what to do with it. Here, we use it to build metaphors for the city, to kick out film scripts and to frame civic life. Across the state line, they drone on about open-space laws even as those cutesy green acres are quietly filled with hastily buried bodies. Come to MoCo's scandal spots for lurid detail, and you're liable to stay for the chicken wraps.
Down on Rockville Pikeâ€”a strip that, its business leaders are quick to point out, generates more commercial dollars than Rodeo Driveâ€”the array of consumer possibilities sometimes seems downright supernatural. There are a Hooters and a TGI Fridays and a Fuddruckers, as well as an all-vegetarian joint and a Brazilian barbecue, in case you get hungry rocketing between strip malls. There's something to satisfy every human needâ€”unless you're shopping for an explanation.
When I graze for answers to the localized infestation of mayhem, there's no NIH-experiment-gone-awry hypothesis. There's no secret-emissions-from-the-technology-corridor theory. There's not even any conjecture focusing on the super powers of former TV Wonder Womanâ€”and current occasionally tabloid-worthy Potomac residentâ€”Lynda Carter. And no one mentions the goose.
"That happens everywhere," says Linda Mann, coming out of the Congressional Plaza Fresh Fields. But don't these shoppers care that bandits and hit men are stalking their very community? Apparently not. "Scandal is what you people create," says Phil Graham, at the Starbuck's nearby.
In fact, Mann and Graham are both mouthing what is by far the most common explanation for a year of screaming headlines. Let's call it the "It's All One Big, Zany Coincidence" Theory. It's a particularly appealing one for a transient county whose average citizen is likely to have been born elsewhere. Who, after all, wants to think that the only thing special about the new place he lives is that the population is cracking up? No one's willing to attribute the lunacy of late to the mystique of that new world.
That, of course, doesn't explain why MoCoâ€”not Fairfax, not Howard, and not even poor, beleaguered D.C.â€”witnessed the spectacle of two guys using fake British accents to rob people at gunpoint in their own homes and consequently becoming folk sensations. When Lorena Bobbitt lopped off her husband's penis, scandalmongers went looking for magic and lore in Northern Virginia's military-redneck fringe. It's only fair, then, that Montgomery get the once-over, too. It's in the water, or it's in the air, but it's in there somewhere.
The stepchild of the Zany Coincidence Theory is something we'll call the Eternal Equalization Theorem. It holds that MoCo managed to avoid its share of infamy for too long, and the last couple of years are simply nature's way of evening things outâ€”a kind of municipal spin on Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame.
"I guess it's just Montgomery County's turn," says filmmaker Jeff Krulik, whose work has often focused on suburbia's twisted legends. Krulik is a Prince George's County native, but lately it's been Montgomery where D.C.'s suburban action is happening. "They get the spotlight for this lurid kind of stuff," he says. "Up to now, it's just been the new rich and the old money."
Dirty lucre pulls us into a whole new theoretical realm. Montgomery County is famous for splashy, tasteless, new-dough arrivistes juxtaposed with frustrated strivers. At the Book Alcove in Rockville, a kid behind the counter named Jared leans in close to tell me secrets revealed neither by Montgomery County's maps nor by its streetscape: the Dueling MoCos Theory.
"On this side of the pike, it's juveniles and punks," he says, looking as if he's spent some time in that category. "Over there, it's the celebrities." And in the gap betweenâ€”in the metaphoric intellectual space, say, above the Rockville Pike Best Buyâ€”are still more theories on what's eating MoCo.
When I ask Jared where to go to find the punks, he tells me to check out the Silver Diner, down the pike. "You gotta go somewhere where they smoke," he says.
Unfortunately, Renata, my waitress at the '50s-retro carhop palace, tells me that they've banned smokingâ€”and the punks, as a result, are all gone, too. But she does stop to posit the Great Suburban Immorality Thesis while she's handing me my Number Three breakfast. It's a thesis as old as the American bourgeoisie itself. "I'm not saying that all rich kids are bored," she says. "But I think there's some morals missing"â€”and hence there's a vast teenage wasteland of tabloid lunacy.
The funny thing is, Donna at J.J. Muldoon's served me just the opposite thesis with my chicken wrap. The Great Suburban Morality Thesis holds that the calm and quiet and all-around goodness of a place like Montgomery County make a few bad seeds think they can get away with, well, murder. "I guess they figure they're tricking us," she says. "They think they can get away with it out here because things look so normal."
The bad-kids theories will only take us so far. But the Contractors' Paradise Theory holds substantial promise. With its burgeoning construction and endless residential redos, MoCo allows people to get used to picking up the phone and dialing for what they need. "At one point," notes Stanton Gildenhorn, a prominent county Democrat, "We were calling Montgomery County the contract-murder capital of the world, because in addition to the Aron case, Billy Mossburg, who was one of the witnesses against herâ€”his son allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill him. And we had the Horn murders, these horrible murders with a hit man. And there was one other old case involving a builder who lived in Montgomery County whose brother had hired a hit man to do him in."
Montgomery County has actually had more failed hits, like Aron's and Mossburg's, than successful ones, like the 1996 murders contracted by former Motown figure Lawrence T. Horn. In order to pocket the rewards of a lawsuit over his young son's paralysis, Horn paid a hit man to rub his family out. (Of course, that one wasn't all that successful, since Horn got caught.)
So we arrive at the Too Much Disposable Income Theory. If they were poorer, Montgomery's evil-doers would have to rub each other out less extravagantlyâ€”a much less sanitary, less inviting proposition. "To the extent that the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous thing, that whole aura, exists, it's in the areas abutting the river," says lawyer Paul Kemp, whose client list currently includes Mike Tyson.
Back in the old days, about the only athlete-celebrity in Potomac was boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. Nowadays, in the paunchy '90s, a young-athlete mafia keeps the ink flowing. "They all live in this little cell of Potomac that's about two miles wide. Tyson lives there. Dikembe Mutombo lives over there. Pat Ewing has a house over there....When Ray lived there, he was a model citizen. I don't think there were any parties 'til all hours of the night," says Kemp.
A better twist, though, may be the Good Help Is Hard to Find Theory. In addition to the flubbed contract hits, other famous crimes have been committed by servants (the 1995 Potomac slaying of four members of the Goff family by landscaper/handyman Bruman Stalin Alvarez; the 1992 slaying of Laura Houghteling by part-time gardener Hadden Clark), by people acting like servants (the Brit Bandits, veritable Alfreds at Potomac's Wayne Manors), or by people who should have had servants (the oughta-be-chauffeur-driven Mike Tyson). If there were only better help, none of them might have made the news.
Still looking for clues to MoCo's increasingly dark essence, I call Blair Lee, a MoCo patrician himself, for help. "Let me tell you about Montgomery County," says Lee. A Montgomery Journal columnist and the scion of one of the county's oldest families, Lee has in fact been telling people about Montgomery County for decades, and he says all you need is a calculator to make all the craziness add up.
"The county is now almost 830,000 people. That's almost as large as Montana. Soon we'll be twice the size of the District. We've gone from being a bedroom community to the District to being a job center for Frederick County and Howard County. Sixty-two percent of the workforce in Montgomery County work in Montgomery County. Meantime, two-thirds of Howard leave Howard to work. Frederick comes down 270 every day for work here."
The growth, says Lee, is the key to understanding the new breed of scandal in the county. Let's call his explanationâ€”which is shared by all sorts of local pillar-of-the-community types but which, to my mind, pales in the face of the single-goose theoryâ€”the Byproduct of the Brave New Future Theory. In a nutshell, MoCo's economic power has turned it, for all intents and purposes, into a big cityâ€”with suburbanite road rage simply a commuter-age version of urban madness.
"In a way," says Lee, "I see Ruthann as kind of an extension of road rage....All of a sudden, we're talking about rubbing people out. It's like we're in downtown Chicago or something. It's the ugly side of modern life that comes with urbanization, with the fundamental change in the county. In a way, we've lost our virginity."
MoCo is growing, no doubt about that. Last year, it gobbled up the last corner of Takoma Park. And this year, that famously crunchy suburb has been in the news not over a nuclear-freeze initiative or new sanctions against Burma, but thanks to the case of James A. Shrybman. Coincidence? You decide: The adoption lawyer was arrested two weeks ago in West Virginia on charges that he had kidnapped a 2-month-old baby at gunpoint in an effort to force the parents to give the child up for adoption. With the alleged gun-wielding suburban lawyer jacking up mountain folk and taking their child, Montgomery mayhem has reached a new low, or high, depending on your taste for notoriety. And Takoma's erstwhile P.G. residents might have wanted to do a little correlative headline analysis before throwing their lot in with Montgomery.
The county is growing in other ways, too. Look for it on Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown, where an architectural parade of mirrored-office and mall tackiness is marching south from Bethesda. Look for it in city politics, where the language of clean government and property values has trumped cultural pride and economic redistribution. Look for it in plans for the shiny new downtown, where D.C.'s best and brightest have decided that the future lies in malls and food courts. Like any good economic powerhouse, Montgomery is expandingâ€”and D.C. is right in its way.
Of course, it all sounds dandy at first. Who can object to good government or stable property values or good schools or successful businesses? Not me. The only worry is that along with the Friendship Heights Cheesecake Factory and the Wisconsin Avenue multiplex, we'll be getting a strip mall's worth of lunacy, too.
Watch MoCo advance and tremble for our future. Will we get the fake pilots and nude ice sculptures and poet-prosecutors? Will we have jet-set killer-dismemberers and celebrity groin-kickers? Will we have politiciansâ€”Senate candidates, evenâ€”who solicit hit men?
Will we get the goose? CP
The name of the Montgomery County man accused of impersonating a pilot has been removed from this story, because the charges were later expunged.