Things to Do

Local Music History, War Stories, and Mental Health: Things to Do in DC, February 8-10

Plus: What was your favorite part of the Super Bowl?

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Happy Monday y’all!

We’ve got book talks, local music history, and war stories.

Explore DC’s punk history.

Here’s what you should check out this week:

Go-go and beyond: Want to be a DC music whiz? Guitarist and historian Ken Avis is leading a three-session virtual event series called “Music City, DC” from Smithsonian Associates. Avis will dig into go-go, jazz, punk, country, and other genres that have been created in or shaped by DC’s music scene throughout the years. In this first session, “Jazzing the Capital,” Avis will focus on Duke Ellington, the Howard Theatre, and the city’s history of jazz musicians. Future sessions will be “The Country Music Capital” (Monday 2/22) which explores the roots of “hillbilly” music in the area, and “Rocking the Capital” (Monday 3/8), which will look at punk, go-go, and the Anacostia Delta sound. Monday 2/8 at 6:45 PM; $25-$30, buy tickets here.

War stories: Novelist James Patterson’s latest book, Walk in My Combat Boots: True Stories from America’s Bravest Warriors, explores the lives and experiences of people who have served in the armed forces. Matt Eversmann, Patterson’s coauthor, is a retired First Sergeant in the Army who was involved in the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident; he and Patterson will chat about the collection with William H. McRaven, a retired Navy SEAL and Four-Star Admiral in a virtual event from Sixth & I. Monday 2/8 at 7 PM; $12-$35 (with an option to include a signed copy of the book), buy tickets here.

Portraits and prose: The DC Public Library and the National Portrait Gallery are hosting a discussion about the connection between the portrait of Alice Walker by Bernard Gotfryd and the book Training School for Negro Girls by Camille Acker. Published in 2018, the collection of short stories focuses on the experiences of Black women living in DC. Tuesday 2/9 at 5:30 PM; Free, register here.—from editorial fellow Justin Askenazy

Virginia history: Dig into stories of resistance and abolitionism with history professor Marcus Nevius in a virtual book talk hosted by Mount Vernon. In City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763-1856, Nevius explores how enslaved people created maroon communities in Virginia and North Carolina. Tuesday 2/9 at 7 PM; Free, watch it on YouTube here.

Normal is overrated: George Washington University anthropology professor Roy Richard Grinker just released Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness. He will chat about his book and the history of mental health treatments (and mistreatments) in this online event from the university. Stay for the Q&A at the end with Grinker and moderator Sarah Wagner, who’s also an anthropologist at GW. Wednesday 2/10 at 5 PM; Free, register here by Tuesday 2/9 at 5 PM.

Happy new year: The Lunar New Year is coming up this weekend (hello to the Year of the Ox!). Those looking to learn more about the holiday’s food traditions (read: longevity noodles and dumplings) can join Jan Stuart, a curator of Chinese art, and local restaurant owner Lydia Chang to learn about the culinary traditions associated with the Lunar New Year. Wednesday 2/10 at 6 PM; Free, register here. —from editorial fellow Ellen O’Brien 

Still hungry?: If you’re looking for more ways to eat your way through the Year of the Ox celebrations, we’ve got a roundup of restaurant specials.

Heart eyes: Valentine’s Day is coming up and we have a ton of ideas for how to make this Strange Times holiday fun. Here’s where you can find flower specials, gift ideas, delicious takeout, and other romantic options.

Let’s debrief: 

Party time.
What an insanely boring Super Bowl game, right? I’m not going to pretend I care too much about football (I’m loosely a Giants fan, so the last time I really paid attention was…2012) but honestly I think we all expected Kansas City to put up more of a fight. Football aside, my absolute favorite celeb-cameo commercial was Cardi B’s Wayne’s World moment, which recreated the movie’s product placement parody scene. (A close second was Michael B. Jordan a.k.a. Alexa taking off his shirt to “dim the lights.”)

Music-wise, the best part of the night happened before the kickoff, when H.E.R. absolutely shredded a rendition of “America the Beautiful.” (Shout out to Jazmine Sullivan’s mesmerizing crystal hair piece, too!) While I loved hearing the Weeknd’s old and new jams at the halftime show, he sounded pretty meh. Like this tweet pointed out, his performance pales in comparison to previous stars—not just Beyoncé (obviously) but Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira…the list goes on. Oh, and the creepy bandages definitely reminded me of that German horror movie Goodnight Mommy; anyone else see that? If you can’t get enough of them, we also rounded up some of the funniest DC-related memes of the Weeknd.

Last thing: For all its end racism marketing, the NFL is still….the NFL. As our national diva Mariah Carey says: Happy Colin Kaepernick Appreciation Day!

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.