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.
Home is where the heart is. It's also where the stink bugs live -- crawling out from cracks and crevices and finding their way into your shower or kitchen cupboards. They're a major nuisance to farmers, and the USDA is now experimenting to see if the invasive insects can be brought under control by importing their natural predator, a parasitic Asian wasp. Environment reporter Sabri Ben-Achour takes a look.
[Music: "The Obsession Bug (Instrumental)" by Timewarp Inc. from Funkstramentals...
Meeting your soul mate can be tough for anyone, but for some people with disabilities, it can be hard just to get out and form new friendships. That's why DateAble, Inc. started up in the D.C. area. Rebecca Sheir talks with one couple who found love using the service: Lynn Watson and her husband, Robert, who now runs DateAble, Inc. from their home in Brandywine, Md.
[Music: "Baby We've Got a Date" by Bob Marley from Catch a Fire]
Bob Melvin, 91, fought Ocean City and Worcester County for nearly two years to get door-to-door public transportation for elderly and handicapped residents. Prior to that, residents often spent hours switching buses as they tried to get to doctor's visits and other critical appointments. Coastal reporter Bryan Russo shares Melvin's story with host Rebecca Sheir.
[Music: "Sea of Love" by Tom Waits from Brawlers / "I Get Around" by A Bluegrass Tribute from Pickin' on the Beach Boys]
The District is at odds with the inter-city bus companies that transport people to and from NYC. The city is going to start charging the companies to use its curb space. Bus companies say this will force their prices up and that city officials are using their booming industry as an ATM. Transportation reporter David Schultz heads out to the curb to get at the heart of the dispute.
[Music: "A to B" by The Futureheads from The Futureheads / "Only Living Boy in New York" by Zoom Karaoke...
Cheryl A. Lofton's family has been nipping and tucking Washington's attire since the 1930s, when her grandfather opened the first African-American-owned tailoring business in downtown D.C. Cheryl moved the family business to a new spot in Shaw, and just opened a shoe-shine shop next door. Rebecca Sheir visits the operation to hear about the family's professional heritage, and how, in a few short years, Cheryl's business has changed the face of the neighborhood.
Light pollution is what happens when too much artificial light spills in to the natural world. A recent study suggests light pollution -- in a light-drenched city like Washington, D.C., -- could be worse for us than previously thought. Emily Friedman shines a light on why we're struggling with the issue, and how we can remedy the situation.
[Music: "Fuzzy Blue Lights" by Owl City from Of June]
Most joggers hit the pavement to get a little exercise and stay fit. And then there's the Dojo of Pain -- a group of hyper-competitive runners who meet regularly in D.C. to push each other to their physical limits. Kavitha Cardoza went to Hains Point to meet the members of the Dojo, and brings us this audio postcard.
[Music: "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" by McFadden & Whitehead from Polishin' Up Our Act / "Summer Wind" by Boston Pops Orchestra from Night & Day]
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]
The prize is sometimes called the "Nobel Prize for food and agriculture." And this year's winners include Monsanto executive Robert Fraley, a pioneer in genetically engineered crops. If there's a single person who personifies the company's controversial role in American agriculture, it's probably Fraley.
Ken Rudin recaps the week in politics. Boston Globe political reporter Jim O'Sullivan previews the special election between Mass. Senate candidates Edward Markey and Gabriel Gomez on June 25. NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving looks to the future of Congress.
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