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January 4, 2011

On New Year's Eve, Tipsy? Taxi! dropped the ball

From the moment the Tipsy? Taxi! service was announced, readers slammed its past performance.

This year, it didn't do much better.

Yellow Cab, which operates the service, missed about 18 percent of all calls received on New Year's Eve, the company tells Sun blog Getting There.

Dismayed by complaints from residents, the State Highway Administration is now planning on investigating the free cab rides. 

In the end, the combination of unreliable phone lines and long waiting times proved to be discouraging to most Baltimore residents. (Ragina Averella, a spokeswoman for Tipsy? Taxi! sponsor AAA Mid-Atlantic,  had already told Midnight Sun last week that the expected waiting time for the cabs would be 45 minutes.)

Only 92 rides were provided by the free cab service Friday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic's preliminary count.

Averella promised to do a better job next time. "We will be looking at how we can possibly improve that service," she told Getting There.

In a separate e-mail to Midnight Sun, she defended this year's numbers, saying it was consistent with other years. In 2007, she wrote, when the service lasted from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., the service provided 114 rides. And in 2009, it provided nearly 100 rides.

Continue reading "On New Year's Eve, Tipsy? Taxi! dropped the ball " »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:03 AM | | Comments (40)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010, News
        

December 31, 2010

Update: 15 more bars staying open past 2.a.m New Year's Eve, including Pazo, Bad Decisions, Elliott's Pour House

The list of bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve has been updated again: new additions include Bad Decisions, the wine bar Vino Rosina, Leon's, Pazo, Eden's Lounge, and ten others. The list now includes nearly 40 different bars that are staying open late on 2010's last night.

It also now includes bars that will be close early, such as Charles Village Pub and Pratt Street Ale House. 

The full list is here

For Midnight Sun's guide to 11 last-minute party ideas, go here

And remember, if you're taking Tipsy Taxi, the wait time may be 45 minutes. MTA services are free until 2 a.m. and the Charm City Circulator will be working until 1 a.m. 

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010
        

December 30, 2010

New Year's Eve 2010: Eleven last-minute parties, including Bourbon Street, The Paradox, Golden West Cafe

PX00175_9.JPGThe Man knows you’re going to drink yourself into a stupor on New Year’s Eve.

Why wouldn’t you?

December 31 is the year's biggest get out of jail free card. The one day of the year when you can drink yourself numb and you won't have to answer for your actions the next day. And why? Because by the time you regain consciousness, it’ll all be in the past.

By Jan. 1, it’ll be a new you, the 2011 you: more responsible, more in shape, optimistic, armed with resolutions to face a new year that, as always, you’re certain will be better than the last. Last night's debauchery? That was the old you.

And because local government knows all this, it has taken a few steps to make sure you party as safely as possible. Just consider the Maryland Transit Administration partnership with MillerCoors to offer free bus, metro, subway and light rail services from 8 p.m. Friday until 2 a.m. Saturday. 

In addition, the MTA also partnered with Yellow Cab and AAA Mid-Atlantic to comp cab rides under $50 from any city bar to residents’ homes, a service that may not work perfectly, or even very well, but that's just another alternative to the surplus of transportation options available to residents Friday.

Even state legislators want you to have a good time. About 70 years ago, they approved Article 2B of the Annotated Code of Maryland, a law allows only cbars in the city to keep their doors open until 2 a.m. Jan. 2, said Stephan Fogleman, chairman of the city’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners.

And still, all these things have had the desired effect of tempering celebrations, so that residents have fun, but don't go overboard. Fogleman says New Year’s Eve is one of the quietest times of the year in terms of complaints. Maybe this is why Baltimore is 37th among the country's drunkest cities.

With so many bars staying open past 2 a.m., there will be no shortage of options to properly say good riddance to 2010. Here are just 11 of them:

Continue reading "New Year's Eve 2010: Eleven last-minute parties, including Bourbon Street, The Paradox, Golden West Cafe" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:03 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Live!, Local music, New Year's Eve 2010
        

December 29, 2010

J. Roddy Walston on 2010, Leon Russell, and "lifeless rock"

J. Roddy Walston and the Business have been together for six years now.

And still, critics, sounding more like movie producers, routinely refer to them as a mixture of rock standard-bearers: Jerry Lee Lewis meets AC/DC, AC/DC meets Lynyrd Skynyrd, and so on.

If Leon Russell and Elton John hadn't come together to record "The Union" this year, critics might have used them next to refer to the Business' new self-titled album.

After this year though, that might change. The band has had a remarkable 2010.  

While it took them nearly three years to sell 6,000 copies of their first album, the self-released "Hail Mega Boys," they've sold more than 4,000 copies of their new one since its release in February, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

And though they've always toured extensively, the success of the new album got them booked at more than 180 venues, many much larger than the small clubs where they got their start, like Baltimore's Talking Head.

(On Friday, the band will headline Rams Head Live's New Year's Eve party)

The rest of my interview with Walston, where he touches on leaving Baltimore to record their new self-titled album, Leon Russell's early work, and how recording on tape is more authentic than not, is here.

After the jump, the band's "Don't Break the Needle" video:

Continue reading "J. Roddy Walston on 2010, Leon Russell, and "lifeless rock"" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:08 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Live!, Local music, New Year's Eve 2010
        

December 28, 2010

Update: More bars staying open past 2 a.m.

The list of bars that are staying open past 2 a.m. has been updated. New additions include: Down the Hatch, The Laughing Pint, Cat's Eye Pub, Don't Know and No Idea, which is staying open from 10 a.m December 31 through 2 a.m. January 2, just like state legislators intended. (Don't Know, incidentally, is hosting the Midnight Sun Mixer next month - come!) B&O American Brasserie is staying open past 2 a.m Friday, but only for an after party, which has already been sold out. The full list of bars is here, ready for your barhopping pleasure.
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:26 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010
        

December 27, 2010

Explainer: How come Baltimore bars can stay open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve?

Thank the state legislature, says Stephan Fogleman, chairman of the Baltimore Liquor Board. File this under 'fun facts,' or 'random trivia': It was state legislators that signed a law allowing bars in Baltimore, and only here, to stay open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve. The liquor board has been honoring the law, it seems, "forever." "It's been around for as long as the liquor board has been around. At least 70 years," Fogleman says. "We don't want to mess with tradition."

New Year's Eve is the only time of the year when extended hours are permitted, and the exemption only applies to bars that have six- or seven-day 2 a.m. liquor licenses. Thanks to the exemption, bars can open their doors on December 31 and not close until 2 a.m. January 2. So far, few Baltimoreans have complained about the extended hours. Says Fogleman,"It's one of the quietest times of the year in terms of complaints. Maybe residents expect there will be more fun, or maybe it's because people can go home when they want to."

Earlier: bars that are staying open past 2 a.m. this year.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:57 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010
        

Free New Year's Eve cab rides return to Baltimore thanks to Tipsy Taxi

tipsytaxi.JPGFor the third year in a row, Baltimore residents will get free cab rides on New Year's Eve.

Yellow Cab Baltimore, AAA Mid-Atlantic and the State Highway Administration with the Maryland Transit Administration, have partnered to offer the Tipsy? Taxi! program this Friday to residents who've done just a little too much celebrating.  

From midnight until 4 a.m., cab rides under $50 originating in the city will be comped by the program. 

The Maryland Transit Administration will make an official announcement Tuesday at a press conference at the Inner Harbor.   

The cab rides are the third free transportation option residents will have on New Year's Eve this year. The MTA partnered with MillerCoors to offer free services until 2 a.m. that day, and the Charm City Circulator will extend operating hours until 1 a.m.

Tipsy? Taxi! aims to "deter impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel," said Lora Rakowski, a spokeswoman for SHA.

It's been offered on New Year's Eve in the city since 2008, when at least 110 residents took advantage of it. And was also on hand earlier this year on other drinking high holidays like St. Patrick's Day, the Fourth of July and Halloween.

Continue reading "Free New Year's Eve cab rides return to Baltimore thanks to Tipsy Taxi" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:44 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010
        

The Baltimore bars open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve

6015546-29094127.jpgEveryone's doing something special for New Year's Eve. The MTA will offer free public transportation until 2 a.m. and the Charm City Circulator will work until 1 a.m.

At the Inner Harbor, the city will have its annual fireworks spectacular. 

Parking meters will be free on New Year's Day. 

And, most importantly to Midnight Sun readers, many Baltimore bars will stay open past 2 a.m. (not that the MTA got that memo.)

In the interest of service journalism, here is a working list of those bars that are extending operating hours. 

Most places don't have a set closing time - when called to confirm hours, bartenders usually answered with a variation of "whenever people stop getting bombed," which is 4 a.m. (Ale's Mary's) at some places or 6 a.m. (Dionysus) at others, depending on their clientele.

Several bars will even offer complimentary champagne toasts, while others - like Brewer's Art, for example - will just be open their regular hours. B&O American Brasserie is staying open past 2 a.m. for an after party, but all tickets have been sold out.

New Year's Eve is the only day of the year when bars can stay open past 2 a.m.

Bars can do this thanks to a state law that applies only to the city. Stephan Fogleman, of the Baltimore city liquor board, explains the law's history here.

Continue reading "The Baltimore bars open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (23)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010
        

December 21, 2010

MillerCoors pays for all MTA services New Year's Eve; Circulator offers extended hours

Drink that eggnog with abandon.

The Maryland Transit Administration* will offer free services on New Year's Eve thanks to beer conglomerate MillerCoors.

The MTA and Miller partnered to provide free bus, metro subway and light rail service on New Year's Eve throughout the Baltimore region - the first time residents have had free public transportation over the holiday.

The free services begin at 8 p.m. December 31 and will last until 2 a.m January 1. 

Kim Marotta, an executive at Miller Coors, said the freebie is to help Baltimore residents plan for safe rides home from New Year's celebrations. They're calling the program Miller Lite Rides, a name they've actually trademarked. 

Miller has offered the free rides for 23 years across the country on different holidays, but this is the first time it's been offered in Baltimore.

A spokeswoman for the company said it began talks with the MTA in mid-July to offer the free rides here. The company hopes to offer more of them in the future during different holidays, as it already does in other cities.

Still, that means there'll be a surplus of free public transportation on New Year's Eve.

Continue reading "MillerCoors pays for all MTA services New Year's Eve; Circulator offers extended hours" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:51 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010
        
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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