Things to Do

Things to Do in DC This Weekend (May 23-27): Rolling Thunder’s Final Ride, Celebrating Walt Whitman’s 200th Birthday, and John Waters’ Book Talk

The final Rolling Thunder takes place on Sunday along the National Mall. Photograph by Meg Marshall.


COMEDY Stand-up comic Michael Blackson, a.k.a. “The African King of Comedy,” was discovered by Ice Cube at a Mike Epps show, and that’s how he got his theatrical debut in the 2000 film Next Friday (as “Angry African Man”). Since then, he’s appeared in music videos (B.o.B‘s “I’ll Be in the Sky”), comedy shows (P. Diddy’s Bad Boys of Comedy), and more (Repos, Are We There Yet?). Hear his act live all weekend at the DC Improv. Through May 26. $45-$55.

ART “Queer as German Folk: Celebrating Fifty Years of Transatlantic Rainbow Friendship” will open in two locations: the DC Center for the LGBT Community and the Goethe-Institut Washington. The new exhibit explores the evolution of the LGBTQ+ community and its fight since the 1969 Stonewall riots, in both Germany and the US. See materials collected by Berlin-based curators Birgit Bosold and Carina Klugbauer, plus works selected by local curator Mary Claire Phillips from Washington-based archives. These two sides of the exhibit will show queer history in both Germany and DC, showing the similarities and differences in the fights for equality that still continue today. Phillips will speak at a special opening reception at the Goethe-Institut on Thursday night. Exhibit: Through August 23. Goethe-Institut opening reception: 5/23, Free (with registration), 6:30 PM.

FESTIVAL The Walt Whitman 200 Festival celebrates the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth with a series of events including poetry readings, workshops, meditations, and a tour through downtown DC. See films based on Whitman’s life (5/31 at Rhizome) or be part of a community reading of “Song of Myself” in Spanish, Tamil, Mandarin and nine other languages (5/23 at Busboys & Poets on K Street). Through June 3. Most events are free (and/or have a suggested donation).


THEATER Fittingly for Memorial Day, the play Last Out—Elegy of a Green Beret will run this weekend at the Ernst Cultural Center at Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale Campus. The play was written by Ret. Lt. Col. Scott Mann, who founded the non-profit The Heroes Journey to help veterans transition to civilian life through storytelling. Follow an Army Green Beret in Afghanistan, performed with an all veteran and veteran-family cast. Through May 25. $30 (Vets receive a $10 discount with the code VETERAN).

BOOKS Known for Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, Baltimore artist John Waters recently documented stories from his career in his new book Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder. Waters dives into stories from Hollywood, stories about music, and tales of the stars he’s worked with (or helped push into the limelight). Waters will talk about his new book at Politics & Prose. Free, 7 PM.


TOUR Check out the inside of President Lincoln’s Cottage for a Walt Whitman and Lincoln-themed tour. Author/historian Garrett Peck will provide historical context of these men’s time in Civil War Washington, chat about their relationship, and draw parallels between their shared values. 5 PM & 7 PM, $25.

ART Lost Origins Gallery’s new exhibit “Moments Noticed” brings together 35mm street photography by DC/NJ artist Benedict Tisa from his time in Africa and Bangladesh with the Peace Corps in the 1970s. Most of the prints on display are more than 40 years old, although Tisa has reprinted a few (in large format) for this exhibit. Stop by Saturday night for an opening reception. Exhibit: Through June 9. Opening reception: 5/25, 7 PM, free.


RIDE Now in its 32nd year, the annual Rolling Thunder Run is coming to an end in 2019, due to high costs and logistical challenges. But the ride will go on this year, paying tribute to service members abandoned after the Vietnam War and in tandem with a First Amendment Demonstration Run on Sunday to bring accountability for POWs and MIAs left behind. They’ll start at noon in the Pentagon parking lot (riders will begin gathering at 7 AM), travel through the National Mall, and end at West Potomac Park, where riders can remember fallen soldiers. All weekend, Humana, a Rolling Thunder sponsor, is working with the Vietnam War Commemoration Commission to present lapel pins to Vietnam veterans as a way to acknowledge their service and welcome them home at Thunder Alley (22nd Street and Constitution Avenue NW). Free to ride or spectate.

FILM French filmmaker Marcel Pagnol was the first filmmaker elected to the Académie française. His 1938 film The Baker’s Wife (La femme du boulanger), based on a novel by Jean Giono, follows a baker whose wife leaves him for a shepherd. His sorrow leaves him unable to bake his bread, but the townsfolk work to lure her back to town. The film’s screening at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium is the Washington premiere of a new 4K restoration. Free, 2 PM.

TRIVIA Now that Game of Thrones has wrapped up, fill the void in your Sunday with Game of Thrones Trivia at Port CIty Brewing. It’s time to collect all the minute details you’ve learned over the past eight seasons to vie for the title of trivia champion; teams can be up to 6 members. Rocklands Barbeque’s food truck will be on hand if you’re hungry. $7 (plus the cost of beer), 2 PM.


THEATER Woolly Mammoth presents the 2018 Obie Award-winner for Best New American Play, Describe the Night. This play traces seven people connected across decades of history, as fictional characters cross paths with actual historical figures (like writer Isaac Babel, Stalin’s secret police officer Nikolai Yezhov, and a character who may—or may not—be Vladimir Putin). The play blurres the lines between history and fiction, but it’s all (loosely) tied together by Babel’s recently rediscovered journal. Through June 23. $20-$89.

PARADE The fifteenth National Memorial Day Parade will take place along Constitution Avenue on Monday afternoon. The parade will honor the fallen soldiers who never returned home. Special guests and performers include Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, Kiefer Sutherland, Justin Moore, and The Voice Season 16 winner Maelyn Jarmon in her first public appearance since the show’s finale. Free, 2 PM.

LAST CALL: Here’s what’s closing this weekend

“Kenneth Victor Young: Continuum” closes 5/26 at the American University Museum.

“Testament of the Spirit: Paintings by Eduardo Carrillo” closes 5/26 at the American University Museum.

“Postmen of the Skies: Celebrating 100 Years of Airmail Service” closes 5/27 at the Postal Museum.