19 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Art by Greg Craola Simkins
Art by Greg Craola Simkins
Courtesy of Merry Karnowsky Gallery

fri 5/22

Take a look inside noir Los Angeles of the mid–20th century with LAPD '53, a collaboration between beloved crime novelist James Ellroy and Los Angeles Police Museum's Glynn Martin. The book features photos from the museum's archives combined with Ellroy's writing; certainly, it's a must-have tome for fans of L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia. Both Ellroy and Martin will be on hand to sign copies of the book. Patrons must purchase a copy of LAPD '53 at Vroman's to get in on the signing but then are welcome to bring three other books with them for signing as well. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Fri., May 22, 7 p.m.; free (must buy book at Vroman's for signing), book is $24.95. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Jonathan Demme's body of work was far less grim in the 1980s than his post–Silence of the Lambs work might suggest, and he closed out the decade with his two most purely enjoyable films: Something Wild and Married to the Mob. The New Beverly plays them back to back tonight and tomorrow. Melanie Griffith and Michelle Pfeiffer, respectively, anchor the two jaunts — one about an impromptu road trip with a married man, the other the tale of a mob wife freeing herself from La Cosa Nostra — both of which delight in their madcap energy. Pfeiffer's turn is particularly great, and a reminder that we'd probably all be better off if she were starring in more movies today. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Fri., May 22, 7:00 p.m.; $10. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

Lots of groups describe themselves as blending genres, but few do so as successfully and genuinely as String Theory, led by Holly and Luke Rothschild. Blending dance, live music, unique long-stringed instruments and costumes that often are musicmaking, String Theory returns with Remembering Water, inspired by photographs of Robert ParkeHarrison from the book The Architect's Brother. Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Thu.-Sat., May 21-23 & May 28-30, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 24 & 31, 7 p.m.; $20, $15 students & seniors. stringtheory.brownpapertickets.com. —Ann Haskins

Awards shows are boring, even with all of Kanye West's interruptions. But for a few short years, the Source Awards was the most notorious awards show in show business — gunfire, audience brawls, East Coast versus West Coast. UCB resurrects the show in the parody The Hip-Hop Source Awardz, with some of the club's top talent representing your favorites: Kanye, Snoop Dogg, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Pitbull and Suge Knight. Hosts Kovasciar Myvette, Vlad Perez, Carl Tart and Lamar Woods (some of whom appear in UCB's all-male-and-black improv group, White Women) will present categories such as Best European Rapper and Best Hip-Hop Recipe. Who'll get Kanye'd? Whose hologram will appear? Who'll go to the emergency room? Take your life in your hands and find out. UCB Franklin, 5919 Franklin Ave., Franklin Village; Fri., May 22, mid.; $5. (323) 908-8702, losangeles.ucbtheatre.com—Siran Babayan

19 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

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sat 5/23

"Greg Simkins: Where Am I?" is the prolific street legend–turned–studio painter known as CRAOLA's latest offering of new paintings, drawings and prints — and its title is as much a statement as a question. He's a beloved presence on the tag and mural paint-bomb scene, and his epic solo and collaborative creations magically appear all over the city. He's also a dedicated fine artist whose work on the canvas is inspired by a romantic, detailed, almost classical appreciation for the natural world and the escapism of the imagination. Equally at ease with a spray tip or a single-hair brush, Simkins is just all about finding the beauty in the world — be it in an alleyway, a rainforest or a daydream. Merry Karnowsky Gallery, 170 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park; Sat., May 23, 7-10 p.m.; free, RSVP required to rsvp@mkgallery.com. Exhibition continues Thu.-Sat, noon-6 p.m., through June 20. (323) 933-4408, www.imscared.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot

About, co-written by and starring a formerly homeless heroin addict living on the streets of New York, Heaven Knows What is among the most unusual films you'll see this year. Ahead of its limited release next week, Cinefamily presents a free sneak preview of the Safdie Brothers' affecting drama, with the filmmakers in person. Arielle Holmes is a magnetic on-screen presence, and her semi-autobiographical performance is wrenching in its emotional honesty. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sat., May 23, 4 p.m.; free. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org—Michael Nordine

The Crest reminds us to always look on the bright side of life with Life of Brian at 7:30. The title character is born on the same day as his neighbor Jesus, leading to much confusion and hilarity throughout his semi-holy life. Though widely accepted as a classic, Monty Python's biblical farce remains banned in several countries even now, a full 36 years after it premiered. The Crest, 1262 Westwood Blvd., Westwood; Sat., May 23, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 470-1508, crestwestwood.com—Michael Nordine

Shoe designer Chris Francis' inspirations run the gamut from the Victorian era to Ferragamo to '70s glam. Lady Gaga would look right at home in some of his punishing, sky-high platforms. In fact, Francis has worked with a few rock stars, namely ex-Runaways guitarist/hair-metal queen Lita Ford. Raised in Indiana, Francis began his career designing leather apparel. Self-taught and working out of his downtown L.A. studio, he uses vintage tools and forgoes new materials in favor of found objects — reclaimed wood, curtains, fruit crates, cheesecloth, screws. The Craft & Folk Art Museum displays some of Francis' sculpture-like creations in "Chris Francis: Shoe Designer," and also plays home to Francis as he sets up shop right there on the museum's ground floor for the duration of the show. Craft & Folk Art Museum, 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; reception Sat., May 23, 6-9 p.m.; $12. Exhibition continues Tue.-Fri., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.; through Sept. 6; $7, $5 students & seniors. (323) 937-4230, cafam.org. —Siran Babayan

There are few sadder truths in this world than the nonexistence of magic. To temporarily escape that harsh reality, the muggles at the Aero present a weekend Harry Potter marathon starting at noon today with the first four films. (The latter four screen tomorrow, also beginning at midday.) Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets are the weakest installments, admittedly, but Alfonso Cuarón's take on Prisoner of Azkaban is the best of the entire series — it's when both Harry, and the series as a whole, turned a corner and came of age. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., May 23, noon (first four), and Sun., May 24, noon (final four); $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

Created by actor and Groundlings alum Jordan Black, The Black Version began in 2007 as a series of web videos with African-American actors spoofing scenes from such iconic films as Grease, When Harry Met Sally, Jerry Maguire and Harry Potter ("Jump on my broomstick, beyatch"). In 2011, the improvised show became a regular at the Groundlings, featuring guest stars such as Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele and Wayne Brady. For one night only, Largo hosts the original cast, including Black, Cedric Yarbrough, Gary Anthony Williams, Daniele Gaither and Phil LaMarr, who'll perform the "black version" of movies as per audience suggestion. Fifty Shades of Grey? Too easy. Mad Max: Fury Road? Challenging. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; Sat., May 23, doors 7 p.m., show 8:30 p.m.; $30. (310) 855-0350, largo-la.com. —Siran Babayan

sun 5/24

Learn about the history and art behind Japanese tea ceremonies in Peace Through a Bowl of Tea at LACMA. Genshitsu Sen of the Urasenke school of tea will present a lecture on this centuries-old tradition as a tea ceremony is performed for the audience. The event coincides with "Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl," an exhibition that includes ceramic works from 15 generations of Japan's revered Raku family. The exhibition is on view until June 7, so this is the perfect opportunity to see the tea bowls in person before the show heads off to Russia. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sun., May 24, 1 p.m.; lecture is free (regular museum admission charges may apply). (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Liz Ohanesian

Life of BrianEXPAND
Life of Brian

mon 5/25

Now in its 42nd year, the annual Valley Greek Festival will lure you in with the sounds of Greece — there is music and dancing — but it's the tastes of the Mediterranean that will keep you coming back. If you're a cheese fanatic, make sure you snack on a gooey piece of saganaki while you indulge in a little ouzo. Daily dinners include all the fixins, from feta cheese to dolmades. Make sure you save room for dessert — the pastries here are plentiful and delicious. Loukoumades, essentially doughnut holes dripping in honey, are a perfectly sweet end to the night. Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 9501 Balboa Blvd., Northridge; Sat.-Mon., May 23-25, 1-9 p.m.; $3. (818) 886-4040, valleygreekfestival.com. —Liz Ohanesian

tue 5/26

Noir abounded in the 1950s, but only Kiss Me Deadly can lay claim to the nuclear noir subgenre. The less said about its twist-laden plot the better, but let it be known that Robert Aldrich's film will constantly leave you shocked and confused in the best way possible. Many crime dramas of this era blur together in their sameness, but Kiss Me Deadly stands out from the pack like an unnaturally bright, glowing beacon. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., May 26, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org—Michael Nordine

Actor John Douglas Thompson stars in Satchmo at the Waldorf, a multiple-character solo performance from Long Wharf Theatre and Shakespeare & Company about the legendary Louis Armstrong. Along with playing the trumpet and cornet, Armstrong crooned standards such as "Hello, Dolly!" and "What a Wonderful World," making him one of America's most beloved jazz greats. Nicknamed Satchmo (a possible derivative of "satchel mouth"), Armstrong was a character with many stories, as heard in writer Terry Teachout's play. Directed by Gordon Edelstein, the show focuses on Armstrong's reflections following one of his final performances in 1971 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Lovelace Studio Theater, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Tue.-Fri., 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 3:30 & 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; through June 7; $30-$50. (310) 746-4000, thewallis.org. —Tanja M. Laden

wed 5/27

Author Audrey Shulman found she could catch more flies with honey than vinegar, as she recounts in her new book, Sitting in Bars With Cake: Lessons and Recipes From One Year of Trying to Bake My Way to a Boyfriend. Shulman used her talent for baking to bring desserts to L.A. bars in an effort to meet someone worth sharing both her life and her pantry. The book has 35 recipes based on her experiences of offering cake to strange men, and she'll share anecdotes, revelations ("any man who offers to help with dishes is better than one who can cook") and — yes — cake! Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Wed., May 27, 7 p.m.; free, book is $24.95. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —David Cotner

thu 5/28

The Los Angeles Design Festival kicks off its fifth year of programs, tours, exhibitions and special events with a benefit and awards ceremony fittingly held at the iconic and freshly restored Hollyhock House, a Frank Lloyd Wright treasure. This event is wait-list-only currently, but after Thursday night all you'll need is your GPS to get started on LADF's extensive calendar of events, many in partnership with other like-minded crews such as Dwell on Design (May 29-31), Design East of La Brea (various events), the latest in curated shopping at the Parachute Market (June 6-7) and the culminating Chinatown Design Night (June 13). Events include private home and studio tours, appreciations of undervalued historic neighborhoods and cocktail parties in unusual places. Kickoff fest is at Hollyhock House, Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Thu., May 28, 6-9 p.m.; $500+. Events continue through June 14, various times and prices. ladesignfestival.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot

You'd be hard-pressed to come up with a more tantalizing double feature of seemingly unrelated films than The Innocents and Last Year at Marienbad. They're linked by their arresting cinematography, which is on display as part of the Academy's This Is Widescreen series. Jack Clayton's deathly quiet adaptation of "The Turn of the Screw" is terrifying in its simplicity and, thanks in no small part to Deborah Kerr's haunting performance, one of the greatest horror films of all time. Last Year at Marienbad, meanwhile, is the most enigmatic and elliptical film Alain Resnais (or any French New Wave filmmaker, for that matter) ever made. Linwood Dunn Theater at the Pickford Center, 1313 Vine St., Hollywood; Thu., May 28, 7:30 p.m.; $5. (310) 247-3000, oscars.org—Michael Nordine

Co-presented by the American Cinematheque and Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, the Fassbinder and His Friends mini-retrospective begins at the Egyptian with The Marriage of Maria Braun and Fox and His Friends. A key figure of the New German Cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder was unbelievably prolific, completing 40 feature films before dying of an overdose 10 days after his 37th birthday. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., May 28, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

For years the Society for the Activation of Social Space Through Art and Sound (SASSAS) has been deliberately blurring the lines among art, performance, sound, architecture, conceptualism and experience. This year SASSAS is building on the blur, with the launch of the SASSAS Records limited-edition series of vinyl LPs pairing previously unreleased music with artist-designed covers (for example, Nels Cline/Sterling Ruby). Its annual Blast! DJ Battle fundraiser is May 31, and in anticipation of its silent-auction component, 1301PE Gallery hosts the Bootleg LP Art Auction Pop-Up Preview, on view May 27-30, with an artists reception May 28. The exhibit features some 60 of L.A.'s most adventurous visual artists, contributing original works inspired by their favorite album covers. 1301PE Gallery, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile; Thu., May 28, 6-9 p.m.; free. (323) 938-5822, 1301pe.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot

For more events see our art, stage, film and music sections, and visit laweekly.com/calendar.


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