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

Taste of Night Market brings lots of delicious food to Santa Monica on Friday evening.
Taste of Night Market brings lots of delicious food to Santa Monica on Friday evening.
Photo by Kristie Hang

Charlie Brown gets a fine-art tribute, the Museum of Neon Art Finally reopens, masked Mexican wrestlers meet sexy dancers, a documentary celebrates black dancers on film and more awesome stuff to do and see in L.A. this week. 

fri 2/5

Good thing psychiatric advice is only a nickel, because missing the opening of The Peanut Gallery: A Charlie Brown–Themed Art Show would be enough to drive a person crazy. For this salute to the singular vision of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, more than 100 artists have contributed work celebrating a comic strip that represents a rare intersection of populism and existentialism. On display will be new interpretations of the Peanuts gang by artists including Joanna Barondess, Tuesday Bassen, Burrito Breath, ummmheather, Killer Acid, Tricia Mendoza, Thom Foolery, JQ Hammer, Zia Adsit-Metts, Vivan Nguyen, Ron Regé Jr., Wizard Skull and Wyeth Yates. NerdMelt Showroom, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Feb. 5, 7-10 p.m.; free. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —David Cotner

The Natural History Museum launches its discussion-and-music series First Fridays for 2016 with the theme Big Screen, Bigger Science, looking at the intersection of science and film. The evening kicks off with "Stranger Than Fiction," a guided tour on the subject led by the museum's assistant collections manager of entomology, Lisa Gonzalez. Then there's the conversation "With Great Powers Come Great Close-Ups." featuring Caltech's Spiros Michalakis, University of Texas at Austin entomologist Alex Wild and moderator Patt Morrison of the L.A. Times. The Hood Internet, Boulevards and Mark Redito (fka Spazzkid) perform live, and KCRW DJs Aaron Byrd and Anthony Valadez spin tunes into the night. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd., Exposition Park; Fri., Feb. 5, 5-10 p.m.; $18. (213) 763-DINO, nhm.org. —Siran Babayan

The folks behind the widely successful 626 Night Market in Arcadia are coming to the Westside. Taste of Night Market is a two-day, all-inclusive tasting event featuring an international mix of cuisines from local chefs and rising tastemakers. Among vendors confirmed to join the festivities at Santa Monica's Barker Hangar: Keizo Shimamoto's Original Ramen Burger, SoCal Grill Shack, China Tasty, Upper West, Komodo Kitchen, Okamoto Kitchen and many more. Barker Hangar, 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., Feb. 5, 6-11 p.m. (VIP entry 5 p.m.); $65-$75; $85-95 VIP. tasteofnightmarket.com. —Garrett Snyder

Action, Anarchy and Audacity: A Seijun Suzuki Retrospective begins at UCLA with Branded to Kill and Youth of the Beast, the latter on 35mm. A master of low-rent genre fare, Suzuki was once fired from the legendary Nikkatsu Studios because the movies he directed for them "made no sense and made no money" (his words, not ours). Don't let the self-deprecation fool you, however: Japan's criminal underworld has rarely looked as stylish as it does in films like Branded to Kill and Tokyo Drifter, as any of the filmmakers influenced by them (such as Quentin Tarantino and John Woo, to name just a few) can attest. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Fri., Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.eduMichael Nordine

sat 2/6

A quick scroll through L.A. Cookie Con and Sweet Show's Instagram is a mouth-watering experience — the real thing will be full-blown dessert overload. This two-day extravaganza, featuring treats for everyone, even if they're vegan, paleo or gluten-free, launches Saturday with special guests Ron Ben-Israel (Cake Wars) and actress/Foodstirs co-founder Sarah Michelle Gellar. Duff Goldman will be stopping by as well, making a special delivery from Charm City Cakes West. There are classes and demos for people hoping to improve their baking skills; people who've already got it down pat can sign up for the Decorators' Showcase and various other contests. There are classes and events for kids, too, and proceeds from the entry fee benefit Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa, downtown; Sat., Feb. 6, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; $17, $10-$15 for kids; (213) 741-1151; lacookiecon.com. —Liz Ohanesian

The unassumingly named An Evening of Dance on Film celebrates dancers of color who began their careers when segregation blatantly governed filmmaking. Back then, dance numbers featuring the likes of the Nicholas Brothers hoofing with white performers were edited out for theaters in the South. But the talents of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Sammy Davis Jr. and others eventually were woven into films in ways that could not easily be cut out, allowing the performers to be seen by a broader audience. The documentary is a timely reminder of efforts that eroded racial barriers but didn't quite bring about diversity in the film industry. A talk-back session with jazz archivist Mark Cantor follows the free screening. Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd., Mid-City; Sat., Feb. 6, 8 p.m.; free. (323) 964-9766, ebonyrep.org. —Ann Haskins

In 2011, L.A. became a little dimmer when the Museum of Neon Art shuttered its downtown location after 30 years in various spots. It took a few years, but MONA found a new home in Glendale, where it will reopen with a celebration on Saturday night. The museum's collection of historic signs — including the neon gem from the Brown Derby at Hollywood and Vine, the museum's "crown jewel" — will be on display, buzzing and burning bright once again. There's also music from the Neon Hunter Collective, specially assembled for the occasion, plus food and an open bar. 216 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., Feb. 6, 7-10 p.m.; $50. (213) 489-9918, neonmona.org. —Gwynedd Stuart

With all due respect to Apocalypse Now and Full Metal JacketThe Deer Hunter is the greatest of all Vietnam movies, despite how little of it actually takes place overseas. Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken (who deservedly won an Oscar) and John Cazale's characters hail from a coal-mining town in Pennsylvania, and it isn't until they return home — or, in some cases, don't — that the war's full effects take hold. The Egyptian screens Michael Cimino's devastating war drama as part of a tribute to Vilmos Zsigmond, the great cinematographer who died on New Year's Day. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.; Sat., Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

There's no place like home, but the Aero will suffice if you're in the mood to revisit The Wizard of Oz. 1939 is often canonized as the best year in Hollywood history; it's easy to see why, considering the success of Gone With the Wind (also directed by Victor Fleming) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but none of them is on quite the same level as Dorothy's trip down the Yellow Brick Road. It's the rare film that contains new surprises and thrills every time you see it, somehow never losing its magic. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., Feb. 6, 3 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.comMichael Nordine

An Evening of Dance on Film celebrates dancers of color — like SDJ — on Saturday night.
An Evening of Dance on Film celebrates dancers of color — like SDJ — on Saturday night.

sun 2/7

The Westside may have generous amounts of sand and the Eastside may have that brunch place that makes that thing you really like, but today's Esotouric L.A. History Tour takes riders on a road trip through South L.A. on a voyage titled Hot Rods, Adobes, Googie & Early Modernism. Among the attractions: artist Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's studio in Maywood, Rancho San Antonio in Bell Gardens, Harvey's Broiler in Downey and much more. It's a good excuse to marvel at how big and wonderful this megalopolis truly is. Starts at the Daily Dose, 1820 Industrial St., #260, downtown; Sun., Feb. 7, noon; $58. (213) 373-1947, lavatransforms.org/event/south-l-a-road-trip-hot-rods-adobes-googie-early-modernism. —David Cotner

mon 2/8

Boston-based comic Ken Reid's credits include opening for Patton Oswalt, Bob Saget, John Oliver and Todd Barry, but for nearly two years now, Reid also has hosted the TV Guidance Counselor podcast, inspired by his wealth of TV knowledge and enormous collection of TV Guides; he owns every issue from 1965 to 2000. Each week, Reid and a fellow comedian, actor or singer go through a random issue of the magazine and wax nostalgic about their favorite shows, mostly from the 1980s and '90s. Past guests have included Andrew W.K., Janeane Garofalo, Dana Gould, Michael Ian Black and Laraine Newman. Tonight, Greg Proops and Laura Kightlinger join Reid for a taping of his first full-length comedy album, The Vanity Project, Vol. 1: Hollywood. NerdMelt Showroom, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., Feb. 8, 9 p.m.; free with RSVP. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan

Upcoming Events

While the Academy Awards would have you believe that there's little to no superlative work made by or starring African-Americans, the Pan African Film Festival — founded by Danny Glover, Ja'Net DuBois of Good Times and fest executive director Ayuko Babu — is showcasing and celebrating the "broad spectrum of black creative works." More than 150 films will premiere at the fest, now in its 23rd year, including #Bars4Justice, a documentary about tragedy striking a second time in Ferguson, Missouri; and Don Cheadle's Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead, which screens on Feb. 14, the festival's closing night. Tonight at 5:40 p.m. check out Dirt & Deeds in Mississippi, a documentary about black landowners in the South, narrated by Glover. Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills, 4020 Marlton Ave., Baldwin Hills; through Feb. 14; ticket prices vary. (310) 337-4737, paff.org. —Gwynedd Stuart

In keeping with its inclination toward the outré and eclectic, Cinefamily presents Outsider Cinema Night. Offerings from filmmakers working beyond the realm of studio and traditional independent production take the spotlight, presented free of charge (just remember to register online in advance). This is sure to be the most out-there event of the week, with Laz Rojas — known for playing every single role, both male and female, in his work — in person. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Mon., Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.; free (first come, first served). (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.orgMichael Nordine

tue 2/9

Renowned New Orleans pianist Henry Butler darts into the fray with the Hot 9 band for some real early blues, jumping jazz and steaming swamp stompers. This Mardi Gras Bhangra features a big mess of realer-than-dirt horn & drum arrangements dating back to the 1890s and 1930s, crafted by Butler's bud, the badass brassman known as Steven Bernstein. The entire crew traverses the fertile soil and superbly tangled roots of America's most enduring and important music. New York "dhol and brass" party band Red Baraat opens the show. UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Tue., Feb. 9, 8 p.m.; preshow New Orleans-style crawfish boil starts at 7 p.m. (pre-orders required by Wed., Feb. 3); $19-$49; UCLA students $15, UCLA faculty & staff $25. (310) 825-2101, cap.ucla.edu. —John Payne

Despite lifelong battles with mental illness and substance abuse, Rob Roberge has remained insightfully articulate throughout it all, whether he's playing angular guitar with local art-punks The Urinals, teaching at UC Riverside's Palm Desert Center or writing a series of well-received novels, including Drive and The Cost of Living. With his latest book, Liar: A Memoir, the Connecticut native sheds the veneer of fiction for an even more startling and revelatory form of truth, which he describes as "a sophisticated virus that adapts to each host." In a discussion with fellow novelist David L. Ulin, Roberge explains how he ended up in an abandoned shack in the Mojave Desert trying to kill himself only to be resuscitated by a surge of bittersweet and ambivalent memories. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Tue., Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $26. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. ­—Falling James

Ingrid Bergman's most famous collaborator will probably always be Roberto Rossellini, whom she married not long after she starred in his enigmatic Stromboli. Still, her three films with Alfred Hitchcock are not to be overlooked. Spellbound, the first of these, co-stars Gregory Peck and extols the benefits of psychoanalysis — not the most popular viewpoint in 1945. Bergman plays a psychiatrist attempting to help an amnesiac accused of murder (Peck) remember the truth of what happened on the night in question. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Feb. 9, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.orgMichael Nordine


Don't do it, Christopher! For real though, go see The Deer Hunter on Saturday night.
Don't do it, Christopher! For real though, go see The Deer Hunter on Saturday night.

wed 2/10

A pleasant counterpoint to the hectic whirlwind of next week's Grammy Awards: tonight's Mele Mei in L.A., which showcases the art of slack-key guitar playing, that is to say loosening the tuning pegs on the guitar until the music channels the sounds of the Big Island. Current and past Grammy nominees and winners perform as part of the exhibit "K H0x014D'alu: Honoring the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Tradition," which opens today. No slouches at the slack here — just the finest South Sea stylings of Charles Brotman, Amy Hanaiali'i, Raiatea Helm and Jeff Peterson, Kawika Kahiapo and many others. Clive Davis Theater, Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. A-245, downtown; Wed., Feb. 10, 8 p.m.; $35. (213) 765-6800, grammymuseum.org. —David Cotner

Lucha Vavoom may be named after masked Mexicans, but its blending of wrestling, comedy and striptease is just about as American as it gets. The Valentines Day extravaganza Crazy in Love promises plenty of sex and violence, with performances from Guinness record–holding sexy hula hooper Marawa the Amazing; Jessabelle Thunder, the self-described Clark Kent of burlesque; baby-faced wrestler Joey Ryan; and more. If this spells romance for you and your sweetheart, it sure is awesome you found each other. Mayan Theater, 1038 S. Hill St., downtown; Wed.-Thu., Feb. 10-11, 7 p.m.; $40-$55 (213) 746-4674, luchavavoom.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

thu 2/11

In 2012, members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot staged a protest performance in a Russian Orthodox cathedral, opposing Vladimir Putin's regime. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were arrested for hooliganism and each served two years in prison. Since then, the members of Pussy Riot have become poster children for Russian dissent and a cause celebre for liberals worldwide. Alyokhina sits down with Edward Goldman, the Russian-born host of KCRW's Art Talk, for the discussion Art, Sex & Disobedience. Prior to the conversation, UCLA hosts in the Royce Hall Lobby and Terrace a free live screenprinting, pop-up library organized by L.A. Zine Fest and Feminist Library on Wheels, and free-speech soap box. UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Thu., Feb. 11, 8 p.m.; $19-$39. 310-825-2101, cap.ucla.edu. —Siran Babayan

New York nonprofit Printed Matter returns for the fourth time to host the L.A. Art Book Fair, which last year attracted more than 30,000 attendees. Over 250 local, national and international presses, booksellers, artists and independent publishers — from as far away as Japan and New Zealand — will sell art books, catalogs, periodicals and zines. The three-day event also offers exhibits, readings and discussions on topics ranging from Black Lives Matter to the Beatles. Thursday's preview night includes musical performances by Moon Uterus (Mel Shimkovitz, Devendra Banhart, Amy von Harrington) and Christeene. Museum of Contemporary Art, 152 N. Central Ave., downtown; Thu., Feb. 11, 6-9 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 12, 1-6 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 13, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 14, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. $10. (213) 625-4390, laartbookfair.net. —Siran Babayan

Cal State Northridge's free Thursday Nights at the Cinematheque returns with a semester-long Andrei Tarkovsky retrospective. This week's offering is Andrei Rublev, the Russian auteur's epic (read: 205 minutes) account of his nation's most celebrated icon painter. The film was heavily censored by the Soviet Union when Tarkovsky first made it in 1966 — which, in hindsight, is probably as ringing an endorsement as it could have received. CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Thu., Feb. 11, 7 p.m.; free. (818) 677-1200, csun.edu. —Michael Nordine


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