Things to Do

What We’re Excited to Read, Watch, See, and Listen to Right Now

A movie about punk, a book about plants, and much more.

Photograph courtesy of Hilton Carter.

1. Film

Punk the Capital

Much history of DC punk has focused on the scene around Dischord Records—a vital subject, to be sure, but hardly the whole story. This doc has plenty of Dischord, but it also offers a broader look at the formative early years.

2. Podcast


Hosted by Alexandria’s Ronald Young Jr., this podcast—a production of Pushkin Industries, the company started by Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg—interviews smart people about big problems.

3. Book

Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this short work of reflective nonfiction, the author—who lives in Maryland and Nigeria—grapples with the death of her father during a time of fear and isolation.

4. Book

Wild Creations by Hilton Carter

If your life needs more flora, immediately consult this guide to the joys of interior greenery, written by a Baltimore design personality whose own apartment contains more than 200 plants.

5. Film


Based on a magazine story by Franklin Foer, this true-ish story of deception and murder—direct­ed by and starring Christoph Waltz—takes place in the titular DC neighborhood.

6. Music

“Aaron Copland: American Populist”

The More Than Music video series—produced by DC’s PostClassical Ensemble—has spotlighted Bernard Herrmann and Antonín Dvořák, among other subjects. The latest installment looks at one of our country’s great composers.

7. Book

The Cruelty Is the Point by Adam Serwer

The title phrase was coined by Serwer in 2018. With this essay collection, the Atlantic staff writer offers further insight into the insanity of the Trump era.

8. Film

A Tale of Three Chinatowns

Local director Lisa Mao takes a nuanced look at how Chinatowns in Boston, Chicago, and Washington have changed. The documentary premiered at Filmfest DC and will screen at other festivals.

9. Music

Magician’s Rabbit by Nice Breeze

The fuzzed-out new album from this local trio sounds like a lost dispatch from the early-’90s heyday of Drag City records.

10. Exhibit

“Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle,” Phillips Collection

When this show was in New York last year, a visitor realized that her neighbor had one of the five paintings from the series that had gone missing. Now you can see that one reunited with most of the rest of the works.

This article appears in the July 2021 issue of Washingtonian.

Politics and Culture Editor

A DC native, Rob Brunner moved back to the city in 2017 to join Washingtonian. Previously, he was an editor and writer at Fast Company and other publications. He has also written for the New York Times Magazine, New York, and Rolling Stone, among others. He lives with his family in Chevy Chase DC.