Each week, WAMU 88.5's Metro Connection reaches across D.C., Maryland and Virginia to gather the sounds and stories that capture the current events, culture and personalities driving the Washington region.
As Washington cruises through the sunny days of summer, we decided to go... to the dark side. This week, we're all about the mysterious and unknown: from hidden tunnels and zombies to the search for Sasquatch. So pull up an armchair -- or a beach chair -- and get ready for some Sherlockian digging into the strange and surreal!
[Music: "Every Little Bit Hurts" by John Davis from Title Tracks]
Humans have long been fascinated by the idea of Bigfoot. And in our region, few have pursued this mysterious creature with as much zeal as Billy Willard, a Virginia native whose interest led to the founding of Sasquatch Watch of Virginia. Rebecca Sheir heads to an undisclosed wilderness area in Fauquier County -- where Willard and his sons reportedly encountered the elusive beast -- and hears about other reported sightings around the region.
Mind-controlling wasps? Zombie critters controlled by worms? It's not just science fiction; our region recently saw a mysterious example of zombie-like behavior among insects. Environment Reporter Sabri Ben-Achour puts on his Sherlock hat to explore the enigma of how tiny parasites can take over much larger animals... including us.
[Music: "Zombie" by Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 from Zombie]
You might know about the old streetcar tunnels under Dupont Circle, but nearly a century ago, an entirely different -- and lesser-known -- series of tunnels was discovered on P Street NW. Rebecca Sheir visits the area with D.C. preservation buff Kim Bender, and hears about the mysterious tunnel system, and how this bizarre collection of passageways was the work of a man well versed in bugs and bigamy.
[Music: "Tunnel of Love" by Wanda Jackson from Queen of Rockabilly]
One of the longest-running puzzles for Washington commuters is the lack of subway service to Dulles Airport. And this week is finally bringing an apparent compromise to the dispute among local officials over how to build and pay for that Metrorail stop. Transportation reporter David Schultz gets us up to speed on this ongoing dispute, and whether all sides really are approaching an agreement.
[Music: "From A to B" by The Futureheads from The Futureheads / "Subway" by the Bee Gees...
It's been three years since the Supreme Court overturned Washington's historic ban on handguns. Before the Supreme Court decision, approximately 70,000 guns were registered in the city, mostly for law enforcement and security. But since the laws changed to allow individuals to keep a gun in their home, only 1,300 guns have been registered for that purpose. So here's the puzzle: Why isn't legal gun ownership more common in the District? Reporter Emily Friedman posed that question to a D.C....
When so much of our entertainment comes from computer and TV screens, you might not expect an old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar games store to survive. But Kathleen Donahue says people still go ga-ga over old-school puzzles. The Capitol Hill resident recently opened Labyrinth Games and Puzzles, and says while she doesn't quite peddle "puzzle drugs," she does have an increasing number of people coming in to get their fix, many begging her for the "harder stuff." Rebecca Sheir pays a visit.
Puzzles have been popular, inexpensive entertainment since the Great Depression. And for one puzzle maker in Maryland, they're not just a form of entertainment; they're art. Thom Spencer takes months to design, paint and cut wooden puzzles that involve materials from acrylic paint to cupcake sprinkles. Courtney Collins spent an afternoon in his workshop to learn about his creative process and his influences.
[Music: "Jigsaw Puzzle" by The Rolling Stones from Beggar's Banquet]
In the spirit of Independence Day, we meet some folks who like to raise a little ruckus: From a Civil War-era Radical Republican known as "the dictator of Congress" to a legendary DJ who's been rousing rabble and rhythm in Ocean City for 30 years. Plus, standing up to the world's largest retailer, and the burgeoning battle between the U.S. Park Police and pedicabs.
[Music: "Every Little Bit Hurts" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Stars and Stripes" by Jazzin' Jacks from Snatches of...
On July 4, 1861, President Lincoln called Congress into an extraordinary special session. One of the House of Representatives' most powerful members at the time was Thaddeus Stevens: a flamboyant Radical Republican committed to creating equal opportunity for all. Rebecca Sheir visits the House's official historian, Matthew Wasniewski, to learn more about the so-called "Dictator of Congress."
[Music: "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals from You Get What You Give]
It's been a rough couple of weeks for the U.S. Park Police. The latest outcry against them involves a possible crackdown against pedicabs, the bike-drawn rickshaws you see on the National Mall. Transportation reporter David Schultz brings us the latest, including an incident involving a college student who says a Park Police sergeant roughed her up and then charged her with assaulting an officer.
[Music: "A to B" by The Futureheads from The Futureheads / "Bicycle Race (Karaoke Version...
The District is in store for another summer of no-holds-barred, independent plays, musicals, dance and other performances, with the sixth annual Capital Fringe Festival. Running from July 7 through July 24, Fringe is the only unjuried, self-producing, open-access festival in the D.C. area, and Rebecca Sheir speaks with the Fest's executive director, Julianne Brienza, to learn how the anything-but-mainstream magic happens.
Four Wal-Mart stores are scheduled to open in the nation's capital next year. And that's making one coalition of community groups in the District pretty uneasy. Courtney Collins recently attended a rally held by this coalition, which says it wants to make sure the world's largest retailer plays fair.
[Music: "Fight" by The Tragically Hip from Road Apples]
The new president of the Washington Teachers Union came to power on a platform of opposing former DCPS chancellor Michelle Rhee. Education reporter Kavitha Cardoza speaks with Saunders about what he's achieved so far and how he hopes to change the current teacher evaluation system, or IMPACT.
[Music: "Teacher (Karaoke Version)" by Stingray Music (Karaoke) from Karaoke in the Style of Jethro Tull - Vol. 2]
Activists say the case against Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger is about raw milk — and much more. His supporters have turned the case into a rallying cry for personal food freedom and the rights of farmers and consumers to enter into private contracts without government intervention.
The Chicago school board on Wednesday voted to close dozens of schools, despite community protests that the closings disproportionately affect minority students. The Chicago Teachers Union and community activists plan to show their disapproval by campaigning against elected officials who disagreed with them.
You've probably seen it in your inbox before: Someone who claims to have come into a fortune needs your help. You can share in the profits — if you send along a deposit or your bank account number. Boston Globe correspondent Finn Brunton talks about the history of the "Nigerian prince" or "419" scam, which actually got its start long before email.
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