After finding a Hailu Mergia tape in a shop in Ethiopia, then Googling a phone number to get in touch, Brian Shimkovitz reissued the dreamy, hypnotic 1985 solo album, Hailu Mergia And His Classical Instrument back in 2013 on his label Awesome Tapes from Africa. With it, he introduced the snake charmer synths and psychedelic-kitsch accordion sounds of this legendary Ethiopian bandleader and jazz musician to a whole new young, hip audience. It was followed up by reissues of Mergia’s 1977 beautiful Ethio-jazz albums Tche Belew and last year’s Wede Harer Guzo, built on moody ancient scales and standards.
Mergia, who was working as an airport taxi driver at the time, loved the out-of-the-blue comeback and the opportunity to tour the world, and now at 71, is keeping the momentum up with new writing. In February, Awesome Tapes released Lala Belu, Mergia’s first new album in over 15 years, recorded in London and mixed in Washington DC, near his home in Maryland.
MGM National Harbor has quickly joined the ranks of the D.C. region’s most popular Uber and Lyft destinations in 2017, a year after the bustling, $1.4 billion casino opened its doors in Prince George’s County.
After opening last December, the suburban Washington resort quickly became Maryland’s most profitable casino, with 6 million visitors in its first year.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is one of the most fun and celebrated times of the year. It is also one of the most dangerous holidays of the year for drivers and passengers. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the average number of fatalities involving alcohol-impaired drivers increases by 34 percent in the U.S.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that during Christmas and New Year’s season, nearly 95 million Americans will be on the road traveling to visit family and friends. This elevated number of vehicles combined with an increased number of parties and celebrations often times leads to more impaired drivers on the roadways.
People are much more likely to drive impaired around Jan. 1 than during any other major holiday of the year. In fact, almost half of all car crashes on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are due to an impaired driver.
In what some say is a first in the world, D.C.’s latest venture gives taxi drivers new business and simultaneously cuts its own costs.
As a program analyst for the city administrator’s office in the District of Columbia, Alexandra Caceres works with many agencies and often travels across the congested city for meetings. Every time she does, she has to reserve one of the two vehicles owned by her agency or, if those are being used, reserve a car from the city’s shared fleet. In either case, she has to schedule how long she’ll need the car, pick it up, drive to her destination and face the frustrating search for an elusive parking spot.
Well, that’s how she used to do it.
In June, D.C. launched a new transportation program that makes it much easier for city employees to get around for work. Now, Caceres uses a smartphone app to contact a taxi participating in the city’s “Vehicles on Demand” pilot. Within five to 10 minutes usually, a driver picks her up, checks her employee ID and takes her to her destination.
“It cuts the transportation time almost in half,” she says. “It’s quicker and easier all around.”
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