Things to Do

Fort Reno Concerts, DIY Video Games, and James Baldwin’s Birthday: Things to Do in DC, August 2-4

Plus: Saying goodbye.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hey friends!

We’ve got concerts at Fort Reno, DIY video games, and free fun at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Happy Birthday to James Baldwin.

Here’s what you should check out this week:

Honoring a legend: Today would have been James Baldwin’s 97th birthday. Authors Darnell Moore, Marlon Peterson, and Kiese Laymon—who have all written memoirs exploring Black manhood—will discuss Baldwin’s lasting legacy in “Historically Speaking: Reflecting on the work of James Baldwin and Black Masculinity,” a talk from the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum. Monday 8/2 at 7 PM; Free, register here.

Bring a blanket: Fort Reno is back this year with its legendary summer concert series dating back to 1968. Get some friends together for a picnic and head to the park on Mondays and Thursdays for the next few weeks to see shows including dance-punk band Clear Channel, Peruvian punk star Papi Saicos (of Los Saicos), and the recently reunited ‘90s group Branch Manager. Monday 8/2 through Thursday 8/19; Free, find out more here.

Gaming geeks unite: Today the Smithsonian American Art Museum is kicking off a week-long Arcade Game Jam where anyone (from beginner to expert) can participate in designing their own video game. Once completed, the games will be available for the public to play on the SAAM Arcade Game Day on August 8. Monday 8/2 through Saturday 8/7; Free, find out more here.

New views: DC political journalist Eric Garcia is opening up about his experiences with autism in a new book, We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation. He explores the reality of autistic people who are working and thriving despite the social and political challenges they face. Garcia will chat about the work with CBS News reporter Wesley Lowery in a virtual talk from Politics and Prose. Tuesday 8/3 at 8 PM; Free, register here.

Before it closes: The National Museum of Women in the Arts is about to close for a two-year-long renovation (sad) but this week you can visit for free (yay!). See “Mary Ellen Mark: Girlhood,” an exhibit of 30 images of girls from around the world spanning portrait photographer Mark’s 50-year career. If you want to learn more about the museum’s future, tune into a virtual talk with director Susan Fisher Sterling, who will share a historic look at the building and the changes she’s planning and the virtual programming they’ll run while the doors are closed. Museum admission is free through Sunday 8/8. Chat: Wednesday 8/4 at 6 PM; Free, register here.

Take the stage: DC comic Anthony Oakes is hosting an open mic night at Busboys and Poets’ K Street location, part of a regular event that happens on the first Wednesday of every month. There will be spoken word, music, stand-up, and more. Wednesday 8/4 at 8 PM; $5, buy tickets here.

Something final: 

Saying goodbye, con mucho, mucho amor.
Lovely readers I have some sad news—this is my last Things to Do newsletter! After five years at Washingtonian, I’m leaving the magazine this week. It’s been an absolute pleasure writing to you all in this forum for the past 17 months, despite some completely bonkers ups and downs. This newsletter was a pandemic baby, basically, so I know that each week was a challenge for many of us. We were together through the racial justice protests last summer and the overwhelming voter turnout of the 2020 election, as well as the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the inauguration of a new administration, and the recent moves to reopen the city. But we were also here two times a week to exchange reading recs, activities to stay busy in lockdown, movie takes, recipes to try, the best shows to binge, and more. I want to thank you all so much for reading and keeping up with me through one of the most difficult times of this generation. I’m grateful for every reader email, from book suggestions to questions about what one might wear to attend the opera for the first time. I was touched especially when folks reached out to thank me for writing about Puerto Rican cultural traditions important to my family, like the celebration of Three Kings Day or the folkloric music of Bomba. (Side note: I cannot end this without a big shout out to Olympic gold medalist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who just brought home Puerto Rico’s second gold medal ever when she won an upset in the 100-meter hurdles.)

Next for me: I’ll be the senior editor at Bitch Magazine: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture, where I’ll probably still be blabbering about Bad Bunny, Sailor Moon and other culture fun. I hope you’ll stay in touch and follow me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at rcartagena@washingtonian.com.

Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.