Things to Do

Culture Vulture

A compilation of interesting—and, most important, free—lectures, cultural events, and more throughout the week.

Saturday, October 3

Baseball season may be winding down, but fans can keep that slugging spirit alive at the Baseball Americana symposium in the Library of Congress. Starting at 9 AM, Coolidge Auditorium will host a series of panel discussions about baseball’s cultural impact by former players, memorabilia experts, and a stadium groundskeeper. The last presentation will be an interview with the beloved Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks, an 11-time All Star and the first African-American to play with the Chicago Cubs. Tickets are free, but advance registration is required. To register, go here.

Some people were born for calligraphy. Others need a little help. If you’re of the latter kind, head to the Sackler Gallery for a free workshop taught by associate curator of Chinese art Joseph Chang. It begins at 2:30, and no experience is necessary. Registration is required; call 202-633-0465.

Sunday, October 4

Join renowned oceanographer and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Sylvia Earle at Washington National Cathedral for a discussion on the importance of the earth’s oceans to the future survival of the planet. Earle will examine the crucial role oceanic life plays and the dangerous circumstances affecting our waters. The discussion begins at 10:10 and will be followed by a book signing for Earle’s The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Oceans Are One.

Monday, October 5

Representative Barney Frank and author Stuart Weisberg present Weisberg’s new biography of the congressman, Barney Frank: The Story of America’s Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman, at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. Tickets are $6, but two free tickets come with the purchase of the book at Politics and Prose. Call 202-364-1919 for the book-purchase option.

Watch a sneak peak of the season premiere of the National Geographic Channel’s popular show Dog Whisperer before getting a chance to meet the star dog trainer Cesar Millan. Audience members will get to ask Millan their most pressing puppy-rearing questions as he discusses and signs his new book, How to Raise the Perfect Dog. Free tickets will be distributed at 11 on a first-come, first-served basis at the ticket desk in the Grosvenor Auditorium lobby. The presentation begins at noon.

Tuesday, October 6

Get help finishing that scarf at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Sit ’n’ Knit session. A local knitting and crocheting expert will be on hand with tips, stories, and samples of work. Bring in a work in progress and chat with fellow crafters. On the first floor of the Renwick Gallery from 11 to 1.

Author Ray Raphael will discuss and sign his new book Founders: The People Who Brought You a Nation, at Busboys & Poets at DC’s 14th and V streets, Northwest. The book is an attempt to recreate the history of America by returning to Revolutionary-era primary sources. The event begins at 6.

Wednesday, October 7

The National Air and Space Museum concludes its yearlong series on the centennial of military aviation with a symposium on the world’s first military airplane. The 1909 Wright Military Flyer, a seminal piece of aviation history, will be examined by the world’s airplane experts at 7:30 in the museum’s Lockheed Martin Imax Theater. To reserve your free tickets, go here.

The Capitol Visitor Center will hold a special screening of the award-winning documentary War Child. Tracing the life of the former Sudanese child solider turned rap artist Emmanuel Jal, the documentary won the Tribeca Audience Choice Award and the ABC News Video Award in 2008. The screening, hosted by Congressmen Donald M. Payne of New Jersey and Frank Wolf of Virginia, will include a panel discussion with the film’s director. Sponsored by Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress, the event begins at 6. For reservations and directions, go here.

Thursday, October 8

Get a chance to sit down with three-time presidential candidate and legendary consumer advocate Ralph Nader as he discusses his new novel, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! at Busboys & Poets at 14th and V streets, Northwest. In the tradition of Upton Sinclair and Stephen Crane, Nader’s book explores social responsibility by offering a fictional account of the world if America’s wealthiest citizens decided to work for the collective good. The event begins at 6 in the Langston Room.

The National Museum of American History delves into the cultural impact of Michael Jackson’s music as part of its Meet Our Museum lecture series. Associate curator Reuben Jackson will lead a discussion examining the growth of the King of Pop as an artist, the composers behind his biggest hits, and the technology that changed music during his reign at the top of the charts. The lecture begins at noon on the second floor of the museum.

Learn about “horticultural infrastructure” and its social, economic, and environmental benefits for low-income communities in “Smart Growth: Greening the Ghetto, and How Much It Won’t Cost Us” at the National Building Museum. The lecture will be delivered by Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx, whose organization led the effort to revitalize parts of the South Bronx’s Hunts Point. The talk begins at 12:30. To RSVP, click here.

Join friends and fellow colleagues of the late Washington artist Anne Truitt at the Hirshhorn Museum’s “Remembering Things Past: A Conversation Celebrating Anne Truitt.” Marking the opening night of the museum’s exhibition on the influential sculptor, the panel—including artist Martin Puryear and moderator Tim Gunn of Project Runway, a former student of Truitt’s—will share personal perspectives on the artist as well as her contributions to 20th-century abstraction and the local arts community. Free tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 5:45 in the lobby. The event begins at 7 in the Ring Auditorium. 

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Staff Writer

Michael J. Gaynor has written about fake Navy SEALs, a town without cell phones, his Russian spy landlord, and many more weird and fascinating stories for the Washingtonian. He lives in DC, where his landlord is no longer a Russian spy.