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The 16th century Japanese territorial lord Katō Kiyomasa wrote that a samurai’s only duty was to “grasp the long and the short swords and to die.” But during the Edo period (1603–1868), peacetime meant these badasses had mostly transformed into aristocratic bureaucrats—so it’s no wonder Western politicians identified with them. As the Land of the Rising Sun opened its borders in the 19th century, many samurai—who were literate and educated—began to study abroad, acting as emissaries for Japanese culture. In “Samurai: The Warrior Transformed,” National Geographic Museum explores this Western exchange, from 1860 to 1930, showing armor given to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theordore Roosevelt, as well as illustrations and photographs documenting these Bushido warriors’ interactions with the United States. But Kiyomasa would surely be sad to find out nobody lost a limb during these exchanges. The exhibit is on view 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily to Sept. 3 at the National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th St. NW. $8. (Christopher Porter)
Whitebread, vaguely disco-friend electro-indie will never go recede too far from the buzz bin, but five years after their debut, White Rabbits are still doing some exciting things within the mostly tired sound. At its best, anyway, the band’s new album Milk Famous reminds me to dig up old Spoon favorites. Tennis and Daughter open at Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $18. (Wow, $18? Do these guys, like, have a song on Gossip Girl or something?)
Remember when Anti-Flag played Nation like 12 years ago? I do! Totally wild times; I bought a T-shirt decrying American jingoism that my mom told my to wear a sweater over. Anyway, the anarcho-pop-punks play with The Flatliners and Have Nots tonight at Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE. $15.
Frequent visitor, Ghostly International/Spectral Sound founder, and EDM polymath Matthew Dear does a live set at 10 p.m. at U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW. $10.
BOOKS AND LIT
What is Literary Death Match? More importantly: Why is Literary Death Match? Ah, I see: It’s like a storytelling competition, but all the performers are published authors, and there’s probably a lot less arm waving. Tonight’s readers include Huffington Post D.C. Associate Editor (and former WCP contributor) Arin Greenwood (Tropical Depression), Molly Gaudry (We Take Me Apart), Scott McClanahan (Stories V), and writer Amber Sparks. 7 p.m. at DC9, 1940 9th St. NW. $7-$10.
Artisphere screens El Mariachi, the debut feature of Robert Rodriguez. Violence! Guitars! 8 p.m. at Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $6.
Tonight, in the build up to Artini 2012, the boozy Mar. 31 fundraiser benefiting the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Cleveland Park’s Ardeo + Bardeo hosts a happy hour to preview the frothy contribution of its own in-house mixologist, Sam Haltiwanger. Like all bottle-slinging participants in the annual event, Haltiwanger has whipped up a type of cocktail inspired by the Corcoran’s artwork. I have no idea exactly what Haltiwanger has planned. But, if it has anything to do with the current Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro exhibit, I’m expecting something involving a splash of Coca-Cola with a Lego garnish. Twenty percent of bar proceeds go to the Corcoran’s ArtReach program. Ardeo + Bardeo, 3311 Connecticut Ave. NW, (202) 244-6750. (Chris Shott)