10 Great Free Things to Do in L.A. This Week

The Last Jimmy: A Hip-Hop Musical
The Last Jimmy: A Hip-Hop Musical

Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness inspired Karl "Dice Raw" Jenkins' 2013 album, Jimmy's Back, which evolved into The Last Jimmy: A Hip-Hop Musical. Choreographed by Rennie Harris and directed by Ozzie Jones, the show is about the intersection of private profit and disproportionate minority incarceration. It's part of the L.A. Aftershocks series exploring L.A. after the riots of 1965 and 1992. The performance has been dedicated to C. Bernard Jackson, the artistic director who founded L.A.'s Inner City Cultural Center, a pioneering effort in promoting multiculturalism. Grand Performances, California Plaza, 350 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri., July 17, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 687-2190, grandperformances.org—Ann Haskins

July 17 is Art Laboe Day in Los Angeles, and Hollywood shop Glitter Death is celebrating with "Dedicated to You," a memorabilia and fan art tribute to the radio icon. Laboe, who'll be 90 in August, has spent decades on the airwaves, and his fan base spans generations. Certainly, it spans genres; Glitter Death is also home of dark-indie label Records Ad Nauseam and hosts shows that are more experimental than the oldies for which Laboe is known. The curators are taking open submissions for this show, and it's not limited to art. Fans are welcome to submit letters and photos as well, all of which will be sent to the veteran DJ after the show closes on Aug. 7. Glitter Death, 1443 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; Fri., July 17, 6 p.m.; free. (323) 839-9872, facebook.com/events/853141774707590. —Liz Ohanesian

The drive-in movie is a Southern California cultural icon — but snuggling up with your sweetheart in a convertible with the top off is so 1950s. Enter Summer and Music's Bicycle Drive-In, where attendees are encouraged to cycle to the outdoor Wizard of Oz screening (park your bike at the free valet). Add a costume contest, laser light show, silent disco and craft beer garden, and you've got a movie-watching party that is thoroughly of-the-moment. Part of downtown Long Beach's summerlong concert series, the Bicycle Drive-In is free. Just bring a few bucks for beer. The Promenade North (at Broadway), downtown Long Beach; Sat., July 18, 7 p.m.; free. summerandmusic.com. —Sascha Bos

Do not be alarmed. Or do. Temporary Space L.A.'s newest exhibition, "Signs & Alarms: The Art of Margaret Nielsen and Scott Grieger, 1970-2015," is going to be a lot to take in. Nielsen creates an immersive painting and sculptural installation inspired by her recurring themes of wilderness and excitable grizzly bears. Grieger presents selections from half a dozen of his best-known series, including photographs in which he physically "impersonates" blue-chip works of sculpture, and zingy word paintings that read like Tweets from an analog era of conceptual art. The two-part exhibit covers 45 years of output per artist, so allow extra time to read the signs. Temporary Space L.A., 5522 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile; Sat., July 18, 6-10 p.m.; free. Exhibition continues Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m., through Aug. 29 (part two runs Sept. 5-Oct. 24). (323) 297-8464, temporaryspacela.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot

Museums are on the hunt for new, younger audiences, right? From the be-careful-what-you-wish-for department comes the Lancaster Museum of Art & History (MOAH) with "The Art of Toys: A Left Coast Retrospective of Designer Toys." It opens Friday night with a big-ticket VIP party, followed by a full day of free public events, demos and all-ages shenanigans today. Art toys is an expanding arena with deep roots in the lowbrow, pop surrealism, comics, fantasy, sci-fi, indie music and cult-cinema realms. This massive exhibition looks at more than 80 of its most influential and innovative artists, including Gary Baseman, Luke Chueh, Frank Kozik, Mark Ryden and Greg (CRAOLA) Simkins. Don't forget to exit through the gift shop. Lancaster MOAH, 665 W. Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster; Sat., July 18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. Exhibition continues Tue.-Wed. & Fri.-Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thu., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; through Sept. 6. (661) 723-6250, lancastermoah.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot

If disaffected but well-meaning meandering is your thing, be sure to show up at the sneak preview of the new comedy 7 Chinese Brothers, with Jason Schwartzman and director Bob Byington in person. In the film, Schwartzman tries his best to avoid responsibility, endlessly sponges off his nursing home–bound grandmother (Olympia Dukakis), scores drugs off her nurse (Tunde Adebimpe, lead singer of TV on the Radio) and moons over the supervisor at the Quick Lube. He chatters and natters constantly, his pug Arrow the only captive audience he can find. Well, apart from you in the audience, of course. Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Mon., July 20, 7:45 p.m.; free with RSVP. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —David Cotner

Despite its name, Literary Death Match is purely victimless fun. Hosted by Adrian Todd Zuniga since 2006, the reading series has traveled through dozens of cities, from L.A. to Lillehammer. Four established and emerging writers read excerpts from their work for seven minutes or less in front of a panel of big-name authors and celebrities, who judge them based on "literary merit, performance and intangibles." The two finalists go head to head to see who's crowned the winning wordsmith. Tonight's lineup features contestants Amelia Gray, Jillian Lauren, Liana Maeby and Sarah Tomlinson, and judges Jerry Stahl, Jon Cryer and a TBA guest. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tue., July 21, 7:30 p.m.; free. literarydeathmatch.com. —Siran Babayan

Molly Knight
Molly Knight

It's hard to believe it's only been a few years since Magic Johnson bought the embattled and embittered Dodgers franchise, turning it around from a damaged soap opera to something much more fascinating. Now the truth can be told as ESPN writer Molly Knight discusses her book The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers' Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse. You'll find out about the details of the sale of the team, trading machinations with the Red Sox and what the Dodgers actually knew in advance about rookie outfielder and Cuban defector Yasiel Puig. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Wed., July 22, 7 p.m.; free, book is $26. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —David Cotner

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Frank Cities may look like an art magazine, but it's much bigger than that. It's a cross-platform annual publication-based project with components of social engagement, works of art in all media and even a bit of philanthropy. Its fascinating debut issue, "No. 001: There's No Place Like Home," examines the chasm between the richer and poorer parts of L.A. It features the collaborative efforts of art-world figures such as Abel Alejandre, Edgar Arceneaux, Mattia Biagi, Ruben Esparza, Michelle Carla Handel, Anna Sew Hoy, Lauri Firstenberg, Mat Gleason, L.A. Weekly contributor Carol Cheh and Anne Ellegood. Tonight's Frank Cities launch party features an installation of the original works chronicled in the issue's print and web pages, along with an auction of that work to benefit the LAMP Community, an arts-based homeless advocacy program on Skid Row. Imperial Art Studios, 680 Imperial St., downtown; Thu., July 23, 8-11 p.m.; free with RSVP to frank@mhamedia.com. (213) 550-5405, frankcities.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot

Kim Cooper and David Smay, co-editors of the anthology Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop From the Banana Splits to Britney Spears, join contributors Becky Ebenkamp and Gene Sculatti to discuss the curious cultural history of a little-examined music genre. Originally made for kids, 1960s songs such as "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies and "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by Ohio Express have become adult favorites, cross-pollinating with sophisticated musical styles such as British glam. Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth seeks to put an end to the genre's "guilty pleasure" stigma with this A/V presentation and Saturday morning cartoons featuring some of the songs, ending with a book signing. Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena; Thu., July 23, 7-8:30 p.m.; free. (626) 744-4066, lavatransforms.org/bubblegum. —Tanja M. Laden

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